AN: This is my part of the Gajeevy fanfic-for-fanart exchange with the lovely Rae, whose artistic skills never cease to amaze me and who has created a friggin' spectacular artwork for this collab! She'll be posting it on her artblog (she's raedoodles on tumblr), but you can also find it on her deviantArt, where she goes by raesquared.
So, what is this exchange/collab about? As some of you might have picked up on, I've got a love-affair going with time, so this piece will feature different timelines for Gajeel and Levy, kind of a 'what would have happened IF'-thing. It features, amongst other things, Phantom Lord!Levy and kid!Gajeel, and one short is dedicated to the Twin-Paradox-Slayer theory, so if you don't know about it you should definitely look it up! (It's also a nod towards the plot in my Twin-Paradox-Slayer Quartet, if you've read that). It's got angst, romance, tragedy, the works, so I hope you'll enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it!
Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail or its characters, they belong to Hiro Mashima.
Time and Time Again
by Miss Mungoe
Time is a curious Lady, silent by her loom, weaving Her webs with its patterns forever changing. The offspring of choices good and bad, and those never made; the threads twist and turn at the whims of split-second decisions, halting at the breath of a precious moment, caught like a tangle in the fabric of life. Sometimes She unravels it, and sometimes She leaves it in, but She is forever spinning.
They might never have met. Somewhere, sometime, they never did. And yet they've also loved, and lived, and died, alone and together, friends, lovers, comrades and enemies. Time has yielded many things, and many paths for them to walk, to cross, and to intertwine.
And Time takes and gives as She sees fit.
The pattern of their existence is an ever changing thing, always shifting, fluid like water running downstream, changing its course with every bend, curving around jutting rocks in the riverbed. A last-minute decision one day sees that he never makes it to Oak Town, nor to the guild that's like a festering wound for him in so many other times. He never meets Jose, never develops a grudge against Fairy Tail. In fact, as Luck would have it, twisted fucker that She is, he finds himself quite the opposite. And so the emblem on his skin is a different one – a mark more than a brand, this time.
But his is not the only existence prone to change.
"You're one messed up chick, you know that?" he growls, wiping the sweat from his brow before he spits at the ground by his feet, though he doesn't once take his eyes off the tiny woman in front of him.
She tilts her head, cold brown eyes regarding him coolly from behind the dark rims of a pair of glasses. He'd have called her one damn nerdy lookin' chick, but that impression went straight to hell the moment she took down his team with a smooth swipe of her feather-tipped pen.
Script magic. Fuck, who would've thought?
Gajeel snorts, but doesn't spare a glance towards his fallen team-mates. They're not dead, but damn if she hadn't tried, the creepy bitch.
"Gajeel Redfox," she says, and he bristles. She's got the kind of deceptively sweet voice – the kind that could talk men our of their senses, no doubt, but the flat tone with which she speaks doesn't leave much room for sweetness. If she'd been angry, at least, he'd have known how to deal with her.
It's the indifference that gets him.
"What's it to you?" he barks back, and growls a little when she simply tilts her head. He doesn't intimidate her, and it bothers him more than he'd like to admit.
"You have a reputation," she says with a shrug of shoulders that are too damn skinny for a woman he just saw take down two grown men with a flick of the wrist. "I wanted to see if the rumours were true."
He doesn't let anything show on his face, only raises a brow. "And?" He doesn't know why he hopes she's impressed. He hasn't thought about impressing a woman since he was a spot-faced brat, but now the urge presents itself, like an itch under his skin.
And when she raises a brow – a single, decidedly unimpressed brow – she might as well have burst out laughing for how goddamned annoyed it makes him. "You're Fairy Tail," she says simply, as though that explains everything.
And in another time, it might have. But here, Gajeel is Fairy Tail, and damned fucking proud of it, and this skinny-ass wench is looking at him like he might have been something but wasted it the moment the tailed fairy was slapped on his skin.
And damn him to the deepest pits of hell if he's gonna let her get away with it.
Cracking his knuckles, Gajeel levels her with a glare. "I'll snap you in half, girly, so watch yer damn mouth."
She quirks a smile at that and it's almost something – almost, but not quite. The ghost of a smile that could outshine the sun.
But it doesn't. Not here. Not now. Somewhere else, but he doesn't know what, and neither does she. They only know the here and now, and there are no smiles between them in the here and now.
She flicks the pen, the tip sharp like a blade, and the light from the window catches in her glasses, glinting in the shadowed remains of her guild's main hall. Phantom Lord never stood a chance, Gajeel had known that from the moment the idiots had snagged Blondie, but every guild has a trump card.
His grin widens a little as he shifts his stance, pleased that for once, Salamander hadn't beat him to the main prize.
"Let's see what you've got then, Shorty."
Sometimes their paths cross unexpectedly. Different guilds, different brands, different values, but somehow they gravitate towards one another almost despite themselves. It's the too-mischievous grin, she thinks, that first did it. Or perhaps it's the flickers of good humour, and of an honour corrupted but not beyond salvaging.
There's good in him, yet.
Levy sighs, and runs a hand through her hair nervously, casting a glance behind her to make sure she hasn't been followed. She's done this a thousand times, knows the routes to take, but most of all she knows they trust her enough not to follow her. To be honest, it would surprise her to find out if they had.
That makes her feel worse, and it's not just nervousness this time, but guilt, heavy like a stone cradled beneath her ribs. Jet and Droy would blow a collective gasket if they ever found out where she spent most of her nights off.
She tries not to jump, but like all the other nights, she does, and when she turns to face the shadows a fanged grin glints in the dark.
Levy huffs. "I thought you said you were done sneaking up on me," she accuses, but it's half-hearted at best, and she can't suppress the smile that tugs at her mouth.
The grin widens, and he leans against the wall, arms crossed ostentatiously over his chest. Auburn-red eyes regard her amusedly from beneath metal-studded brows, and she meets them fearlessly, raising a brow for good measure. Another time would see her shy away from those eyes, but not here. Not now.
He reaches out a hand to ruffle her hair, and she bats it away as he chuckles. "I'm done when it stops bein' fun," he states simply, and she sticks her tongue out with all the grace of a child.
She knows he tries to catch her off guard, but he doesn't. She doesn't tell him that, though, but feigns annoyance when he nudges his nose against hers, trying to catch her tongue. The cold metal of his piercings bump against her cheeks, and she laughs against his grinning mouth.
"You're in a good mood!"
He shrugs, but doesn't correct her, and she leaves it at that, happy that he's not brooding. His smiles aren't as few and far between as they were when they'd first met, but there are still shadows behind his eyes that even she can't conquer. Shadows that have little to do with her, but everything to do with the brand on his arm.
She doesn't mention it. Doesn't, because it won't change anything. There will perhaps be a time when she can persuade him to leave, to cut his ties with the guild that clings like a sickness to his skin. To convince him that there's more to him than the damage he can cause.
But the time is not here and now, and won't be, at least not for a while yet.
He doesn't take her hand. Doesn't offer her his arm or any such thing, only trudges ahead into the night, his long dark hair swinging behind him. The gesture to follow is silent, evident only in the slight shifting of his eyes, the straightening of his shoulders.
And Levy follows, steps small at first, before she picks up her pace enough so that they're walking side-by-side. He looms tall and broad, all sharp angles and harshly furrowed brows, casting shadows that shouldn't feel safe. In another time, they feel anything but, but here – here – they do. She's never been scared of the dark, and him even less so. Those who know his reputation would call her an idiot, she knows. She wonders if perhaps there's some truth to that.
But love, stupidly unpredictable as it is, doesn't choose its victims, not even timid bookworms who really should know better.
She wonders if they'd be surprised, if they knew.
She almost shakes her head at the thought. Collective gasket, that's more like it. And more likely the whole guild than just her boys.
Casting a glance up at the man walking at her side, the guild brand sharp, dark, against the skin of his arm, Levy wonders about the events that have led to this moment, and if she wouldn't perhaps have been better off without the shit-storm waiting to happen, as the man at her side would no doubt call it.
But shit-storm or no shit-storm, she can't help but be a little glad she's met him, either way.
That night – the night, so significant in the weave of their lives – she doesn't see him perched on the rooftop above them, cloaked in shadows. The gleaming red eyes tracking her movements go unnoticed, the measured steps along the roof-tiles lost in the chatter of her eager companions.
War looms on the horizon. His guild and hers, teetering at the edge between action and inaction. A finger on the trigger, he has his orders, but she doesn't know that.
Like always, they are easy targets.
"C'mon, you two! Stop loitering, or we'll be out here all night!"
The door closes behind them, cutting them off from the terrors stalking the night – the terror, watching them from above. His mission finished, the shadows flicker with his departure. He has more orders to disobey. In his wake, the leaves of the old oak rustle softly in the breeze.
The night remains undisturbed.
Some childhoods are tougher than others, and one of them leaves marks too deep to heal. His anger is a living thing, consuming any and all rational thought.
He takes it out on the trio of weaklings perhaps a little too roughly, this time. His punches are too heavy, his cuts a little too deep. But the heat of the moment drives all sense from his mind, blots it out until all he can see is red – the colour sharp and blinding and the smell rancid enough to make him cringe, clogging his nostrils like a permanent thing, and he wonders if he'll ever get the smell away. But it doesn't stop him. He drives forward, again and again, relentless though they've long ceased resisting.
He stops eventually, but it's far later than it should be. It's far later than he did, in another time, another life, when his childhood hadn't been quite so bad. When he'd only done it to send a message.
This isn't a message, he knows that. Knows it to the marrow of his bones as he leaves the three shapes, limp and pinned against the trunk of the large oak, the soft drip-drip-drip of blood against the grass loud like the patter of rain in his ears. He looks back, once, at the littlest shape, pinned in the middle, skin too pale and arms stretched too far. The brand marring her stomach was carved in anger; there's no precision in his work, only fury. He can hardly tell what it is, with all the blood.
He hears the news that she didn't make it a second before Salamander finds him. The death is fresh on the boy's mind, Gajeel can tell. It's clear in the red rims of his eyes, and the clench of his jaw. And still he taunts, and jeers, and eggs him on, because it's been a long time since he's felt anything and even pain would be preferable now. It's not a war. Not any more – not after her death. It's a manhunt.
And he welcomes it with open arms.
"Bring it on, Salamander," he growls, but his opponent is too far gone to hear, to perceive anything but the bloodlust no doubt surging through his system, consumed by the ancient magic running through his veins.
And Gajeel follows suit.
It surprises him that what he thinks about as his world is consumed by fire, as what remains of his humanity is driven away by the single-mindedness of a raging beast, is a pair of big, brown eyes, alight in the dark with the last innocence of the world.
He's rash as a child, making decisions left and right without much thought to the consequences. Sometimes when Metalicana leaves his anger spurs him into shadows he'll not soon get out of, but sometimes – sometimes – his path curves away from the dark.
The yelp reaches his ears before the tell-tale thump that tells him the idiot who's bumped into him has fallen straight on his ass, and he turns his gaze to glare down at the small figure cowering in his shadow.
Small hands make a grab for the book resting by his feet, and the girl pulls it towards her chest as though he'd been about to step on it. Wide, brown eyes flicker up to meet his, and he feels his cheek twitch, the spiteful retort on his tongue forgotten as he turns around to stalk away with a snarl.
The call halts him in his tracks, and he turns his head to regard her. She's picked herself up, glasses askew on her head and the book clutched to her flat chest like a shield. She's a tiny thing – younger than he is, maybe no older than seven, he guesses, although he hasn't been much around human children to be much of a judge.
He'd expected her to make a run for it, or at least ignore him, but the honesty in her eyes is like a sucker-punch – as startling as it's unfamiliar. He's been bumped into before, sure – enough to known that humans are assholes and that he's about as wanted amongst them as vermin in a new house. And Magnolia is like a new house – all clean, cobbled streets and neatly lined homes. He's felt like a stain since stepping foot in it.
"Are you okay?"
And then there's this brat – the scrawny girl tentatively making her way towards him, like he's about to bolt if she makes any sudden movements. He feels like a wild animal, and a growl lurks at the bottom of his throat, but he stops himself, because he's not about to sound like one and confirm her fears.
Even if she doesn't look all that scared.
He grunts something in response, not knowing what else to do with her questions, but her voice calls out before he's taken another step away.
"I-I haven't seen you around before. Are you new here?"
He turns his head first, and then the rest of him, regarding her closely through narrowed eyes, and damn him if she isn't being serious.
He doesn't know what to do with that.
Despite himself, he answers. "Aa."
She quirks a small smile and tilts her head a little. "You have very sharp teeth," she points out then, and Gajeel clamps his mouth shut like he's been caught gaping. He tries to stifle the redness curling along his ears, and wants to storm off with all the petulance of his short eleven years. He hadn't been aware sharp teeth weren't common amongst humans until he'd had it pointed out to him, the first time by a screaming woman who'd thought him some demon out to steal her children away. He'd tried to hide them after that, but then the girl had made him forget, and of course she'd spotted them.
"I know someone who's got teeth like that. He's got a dragon for a parent." She tilts her head even further, calmly, as though her words hadn't thrown him completely off his axis. "Do you have a dragon for a parent?"
He takes a step towards her then, but she doesn't bolt, only keeps looking at him with that shy smile. Gajeel gnaws on his lower lip, suspicions skittering across his skin, but she seems sincere. Why would she lie?
"You don't look like you've got anywhere to go. Did your dragon leave too? Maybe you can look for it with Natsu – he's always talking about finding his. Would...would you like to come back with me and ask him?" she asks, this time ducking her head a bit, shyly, as if she's said too much or been too forward. She looks like she'd very much like to hide behind the book clutched to her chest.
Gajeel doesn't know what to say. He'd thought about going to Oak Town, or at least finding a town a little less...pretty than this sickeningly happy place.
But the girl looks at him like she's serious about her question. As though he isn't some monster out to eat her, or steal children. She looks at him like...
...like he's human.
He doesn't know if the grumble he utters even is consent, but she inches forward regardless, reaching out a small hand to grasp his, and he wants to pull it back immediately. He hasn't held anyone's hand before; hasn't had to, not even before Metalicana, but now she's holding it, tugging him along, and he follows her down the cobbled path coated in light by the midday sun.
"Where we goin'?"
She turns her head back to look at him, brown eyes wide in her face, and the smile that stretches from one ear to the other almost has him halting in his tracks, but he schools his expression just in time. There's a promise in that smile – the promise of something he doesn't know, and something he won't know for years yet. Time already knows, and the loom keeps weaving, the pattern shifting and changing, dark shades to warm hues of blue and yellow.
The girl tugs, and Gajeel's feet follow, thumping loud and awkward behind the small ones leading him down the street. Her short hair bounces around her ears, and he spots the emblem beneath her shirt, peeking out from where it sits at her shoulder-blade. A fairy with a tail. He's seen it before, but he doesn't know what it means. Not yet.
...and he will.
Their last words change along with the pattern of their lives, sometimes spoken in anger, other times – most times – in apology. Their lives are rarely safe, and sometimes Time's deftly twined threads are sheared off prematurely.
There is no fixing tears like that.
It'd happened too fast. One minute she'd been there and the next she'd vanished amongst the shrubbery, the insult thrown over her shoulder in parting.
He stands there for a moment, a little dumbfounded, before his shoulders sag, and a tired sigh is drawn from his lungs as he runs a hand over his face. He's messed up again, only he has no idea what's set her off this time.
He doesn't go after her. Not immediately. He waits a breath, allows her some space, then follows her trail at a languid pace. He'll give her time to cool off, time to calm down and come back on her own. Time.
Ironic, as it's the last thing he's got.
But he doesn't know that. In another time, he's already tearing through the forest, hot on her heels even as she slips away between the trees. Too damn small to easily track, but he does, either way. In another time, he senses the danger before it hits – feels it in the air, like a shiver. And he takes off after her, first, in case she's heading straight towards it.
It's always the right choice, but he doesn't always make it.
In this time, he doesn't, and so he's too late. He knows it the second his ears catch the strangled scream, and he's moving but it's not fast enough, not soon enough. He tears through the forest, but the distance is too great – she's covered too much ground in the time he'd given her. Time he didn't have in the first place, but that he's spent either way. And now it's run out.
The sword comes bearing down as he reaches the clearing, and the threads come apart in Time's hands, the pattern unfurling at Her feet. For a heartbeat, the loom stills.
The last fitful beat of her heart draws a strangled roar from his throat, and his humanity seeps away with it, leaving him bare and raw and grappling for control only to have it slip through his fingers–
–claws now, sharp and tearing, ripping–
–every staggering step towards her fallen form draws his mind further into itself, wraps it in shadows that stain Time's tattered weave like spilled ink.
They might never have met. Somewhere, sometime, they never did. And yet here, now, they've met, and loved, and lost. Enemies, comrades, friends and lovers.
And like so many other paths taken, when her Time is up, he is not far behind.
They have children more often than not: one, two, three, sometimes even as much as four. Some they see grow to old age, and some they lose years before their time. Some are like her, others like him, but amongst them all is one whose significance runs like a golden threat through Time's weave. His is the life brought on by the end of the world, and his is the existence that defies Time's deft fingers. Always he tears the pattern, but Time doesn't mind. She weaves and weaves until the fabric is whole again.
But always – always – he leaves a tear.
She looks up, finding him in the doorway, looming like a shadow. He has to bend his head to accommodate for the height, and the sight would have amused her once, in a time where exhaustion has driven the amusement from her soul. This time she only looks at him.
Her son is snug against her chest, fast asleep, small hands fisted in the worn fabric of her shirt. Her fingers have tangled in his soft hair, dark like his father's but unruly like hers. She wonders if it will always be like this, and the thought that she'll never know strikes her hard and sure like a knife beneath her ribs. For a moment she can't breathe, and the ceiling presses down on her with the full weight of the mountain over their heads.
As though knowing the path her thoughts have taken, he says nothing else, and she hears his footsteps heavy against the stone floor as he comes to stand behind her. He's not going to ask if she's okay, and for once she feels a swell of gratitude at his aversion to talking about feelings. She doesn't even know if she could talk about it, if prompted. Not tonight, when they've sealed their only child's fate with a choice that gnaws at her heartstrings like a sickness. It's such an inconceivable thought – sending their child back to the past. It's the stuff of far-fetched novels, and she might have laughed if it hadn't been their only option.
She's not okay, and neither is he, but the alternative is the lesser evil and she can deal with a world of unhappiness and not being okay if it means her son will grow up without the open skies pressing down on his back like a threat. For his sake, she'll endure a future without him – they both will. Because it means he'll have one to look forward to.
There's a weight on her head, and she leans into the touch as Gajeel winds his fingers through the tangles in her hair. She hasn't brushed it in a while; hasn't had the time or the luxury, and even less so the mind to care. She feels the weight like an anchor, rooting her in place, and she breathes easily for the first time in days.
Exhaustion tugs at her consciousness, and she doesn't have the energy to protest as warm hands reach to pull the small shape away from her embrace. The same hands nudge her head from where it's tipped back at an uncomfortable angle, and she catches sight of her husband's retreating back through bleary eyes before sleep claims her.
She wakes a little while later to the sensation of being moved, and presses her face into the warm skin of a familiar throat, and the steady leap of his pulse is a calming thrum in her ears and she clings to it because it reminds her that they're alive despite everything. Despite the dragons and the end of the world and the battles that have claimed more lives than she could ever have imagined she'd lose, they are still alive.
Tomorrow, they've got another day ahead of them. Another day alive, and another day with their son. Not the last. Not yet. It's a blessing in a world that doesn't know the meaning of the word, and though the future looms like a shadow ahead of them, she clings to the present like a lifeline.
"Put the kid to bed already," his voice rumbles below her ear, and she hums softly in response. There's a pause. "Ya don't mind?"
She tightens her grip, just a fraction. "I'd never mind you spending time with your son." The 'while you can' is silent, but heavy between them. A weight on their shoulders, always reminding them of their situation, and their choice.
She tries to remind herself that keeping him with them is no better guarantee – that he might well not live past the next year. She tries to tell herself that, because she needs to remember the reasons behind their decision.
He doesn't say anything in response to her words, but she can tell he wants to – can almost feel the words on the tip of his tongue. But she knows he won't say them. She knows there might be more children. At another time, in a safer place. But she'll never use it as a way of making herself feel better about losing the one they've got here and now. And they have got him, at least for a little while longer.
And she'll take everything Time is willing to give her.
She falls asleep before they reach their bedroom, but she doesn't miss the way he subtly veers towards their son's, pausing in his steady stride just long enough for Levy to pick up the soft humming snores from inside. It's the easy sleep of a child who's never known danger, and if they have their way, he'll never know anything else. It's the reason she needs, and she takes it, presses it to her heart as she prays for the conviction she needs to one day let him go.
One day, but not today. Not yet.
And Time will grant them these last few moments, paradoxes be damned.
Sometimes Time gives more than She takes – more than he's earned, if anyone asks, but he's not about to question it, in case She changes her mind.
"Gajeel, do you have a minute?"
He looks up from his tinkering to find her in the doorway, and has to physically restrain himself from grinning. There's a frown on her face, and he would've said she looked pretty damn pissed, but the cheerful yellow, brat-sized hand-prints covering her cheek and brow kinda destroys the effect.
The grinning toddler on her hip doesn't help, either.
He swallows his laugh with a cough, but her glare tells him he isn't hiding anything. Three brusque steps later and said toddler is shoved into his arms with all the careful grace of a loving-but-pissed mother, and he doesn't have enough time to get his hair out of the way before he finds it between the paint-coated, chubby little fingers of a still grinning one-year-old.
"Oye!" he hollers, but the brat doesn't so much as flinch, only tugs at the dark fistful of hair he's already got, now coated with yellow. A glance at his wife tells him she considers it just retribution, although how it was his fault to begin with he won't even try to question.
"Ya happy now?" he asks instead, and tries to hold the kicking brat away before he get some fingerprints to match his wife's.
She smiles a little then, and some of the tiredness is chased away from her eyes, and the growl halts on his tongue. She runs a hand through her hair, leaving yellow streaks in the blue strands, but he doesn't point it out.
The kid babbles something incoherent, tiny hands still buried in his hair, and Gajeel shifts in his seat until the small shape is sitting upright between his knees. His son claps his hands, and the motion tugs at his hair, but he doesn't remove it from the boy's grasp.
He doesn't glance up at his wife as he sets about tinkering with the small metal train-set he's made from scratch, gently nudging small, eager fingers away from sharp edges when they get too close. She stays for a moment, watching them, and her can feel her exhaustion stretching along the bond, the tension in her shoulders tight like a strung wire.
"I'll get him cleaned up, after," he says gruffly, eyes still on the toys in front of him, and the small, gurgling creature trying to make a grab for them at every opportunity.
She doesn't say anything about sharp edges – doesn't, because she knows him, trusts him, but she also knows her son and the kid is like a magnet for trouble. He hears her inhale, and the following release takes some of the tension with it.
"Okay," she says, the word soft, but there is a gratefulness there that makes him vow to take the baby off her hands more often.
Light footsteps reach his ears, though they're heavier now than usual, and her breath tickles his ear before she presses her lips to his brow. "Thank you." She runs a hand over the soft fuzz on her son's head, and then she's drawing away, her tiredness evident in the lines of her shoulders, the curve of her back.
She's almost at the door when he casts a glance her way, his hands closing around the baby's to keep them still as he finally takes his gaze off his son. "I'm gonna take a shower later," he says, simply.
She stops, and he feels her amusement as it curls along the bond. "That an invitation?"
The baby gurgles something particularly unintelligible, and Gajeel smirks. "Gotta get that paint off yer face."
She smiles, and smooths a yellow-flecked hand over the swell of her stomach, and when she moves away it's with footsteps lighter than before.
In her wake, their son keeps on babbling, and Gajeel wonders suddenly how his life could have taken this path. The thought is idle but not unfamiliar, and for a moment he dwells on the sheer improbability of it all as he watches the tiny creature sitting between his legs and wonders if he'd made different choices – taken different paths – if he'd be anywhere near where he is now.
His son reaches for the toy, and Gajeel nudges his chubby fingers away – away from the pain of cutting soft baby skin on metal pieces – and another thought follows the first, and he wonders if he'll always be there to tug his brat away from danger, or to nudge him down the right path.
He realises he probably won't, but then he didn't have anyone nudging him down the right path for most of his life, so he figures the kid will be fine, all things considered. And he's lived long enough to know that you can't predict the future any more than you can change the past. It's not set in stone, and as long as that's a fact, Gajeel figures he's got a say in things. At least for a little while longer.
Small fingers reach for the toy again, and Gajeel deftly smooths the metal edges, and when the boy finally has it in his grasp it's not half as intricate as it had been, but the happy noises the brat makes as he tries to stick it in his mouth makes up for the loss of master metalwork.
He snorts. "Yer gonna be trouble, aren't ya?" he says, and he knows that it's true, but he also knows that he'll put up with all the trouble in the goddamn world so long as the kid lives to be a troublemaker. Things could have been different, and things could still be different, but damn it if he doesn't have a say in the matter. Their path has been riddled with obstacles, and the road ahead looks no less dangerous, but it's the here and now that he lives for, and it's the here and now that he'll fight to keep.
At Her loom, Time is a silent figure, fingers never ceasing in their movements – the minuscule pulls and tugs that shifts the pattern ever so slightly this way and that. From the here and now to the there and then, the future lays open before Her, visible only to Her eyes. And She smiles, because there's something to be said about the will of Fairy Tail mages. The natural flow of things mean little when faced with that kind of determination, and she weaves her web accordingly. Resilient though her pattern may be, they have unfurled it before, not just in one time, but in several. And She smiles, for She does not doubt they will do so again. They accuse Her of taking as She sees fit, but the truth is another matter. After all, She does not decide the course of Fate. She is only the Weaver.
And as they Choose, so does She Weave.
AN: Illustrating the running theme in Fairy Tail that you decide your own destiny, fate be damned! I hope this made sense, and that it was an enjoyable read. Now if you haven't yet, go check out Rae's wonderful artwork depicting the different timelines! She's a magician the way she's captured the various moments, and I owe a lot of my inspiration for this piece to her expertise and infinite patience.