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Mareska C

Drama Action Others Fantasy


4.8  

Mareska C

Drama Action Others Fantasy


Crystal, Ice and Fire (A Fairy Tail Fanfiction)

Crystal, Ice and Fire (A Fairy Tail Fanfiction)

203 mins 25.8K 203 mins 25.8K

'NO!!!' I screamed. 'MAMA!!!' She pushed me out, and the building collapsed on her. I stared in shock and then shook my head vigorously. Mama was dead. No. No. I will not accept this. The demon had killed my mother. This was not happening. I will kill him; I will get revenge. 

I shook my head again. What came first now was an escape. I could think about revenge later. But I had to find Gray before escaping. He came second, after my mother. I walked a little away from the building on shaky legs. 'Gray!!' I yelled. 'Gray! Where are you?!' I started running towards his house, only to find it empty. 

I started running towards the outskirts of the city. He must be heading there, thinking I had fled. I found him running towards a group of people beckoning for us to run faster. 'Gray!' I yelled. This time he heard. He turned, relief clear on his face.

As I watched, his expression changed. Relief turned to panic. He opened his mouth to say something, but it was too late. Little did I know, the demon Deliora had just dropped a fifteen- storey tower on me.

The last thing I heard as the first block fell and nearly killed me was Gray crying out my name. Well, at least Gray will live. He would survive and avenge me and mama. I trusted him. But his pained cry made my heartache.

'ESTARIA!!!!!'

****

**TWO DAYS LATER**

'Hey, there's a survivor!' someone yelled. I could feel the blocks being lifted. The weight disappeared, one by one. I opened my eyes, very slowly. 

'Hey there,' a soft female voice said. 'We're here to help you. Everything will be just fine.' My blurry vision focused. I tried to breathe normally. 'That's right,' the voice said again. 'Breathe. You'll be okay.' I tried to move my body a little. I could move my fingers. I could scrunch my toes. 

I tried moving other parts of my body. Once I found out my arm was fully functional (or so I thought) I tried to prop myself up on my elbow. But as soon as I lifted myself by an inch, I fell back down.

'Hey, none of that!' the voice said, now a little sterner. I was lifted a little, and my head was placed on someone's lap. I could finally see the face of my rescuer. It was a young woman in her early twenties. She had long black hair and brown eyes. I finally found the strength to speak.

'Who? W-what?' I stuttered. 'Sh,' she said. 'I'm Phillipa. This is my friend, James.' She gestured towards another man, who I hadn't noticed before. 'We're both wizards,' she continued. I blinked. 'Wizards?' I asked. She nodded. 'We're from a guild called Fairy Tail.' The name sounded familiar. 'Fairy Tail,' I repeated in wonder. She smiled and tilted her head slightly so that I could see a figure tattooed on her neck. 

'Do you think you can stand?' she asked. 'Yes,' I said. She helped me to stand. I stood a little shakily. 'Hey,' I said. 'What are you guild wizards doing here?' James, her partner, looked around. 'We're on a mission,' he said. 'To eliminate dark guilds.' I blinked. 'Just the two of you?' I asked, confused. 'How could two wizards eliminate an entire guild?' 

Phillipa smiled. 'Don't underestimate Fairy Tail. Anyway, would you like to come with us?' she asked. 'Phil!' James scolded. 'You can't get a kid along! It's extremely dangerous!' Phillipa shook her head. 'Look at her, James! Do you think she has anything left?!' 

For the first time, I realised how I must look to them. A child, helpless and alone. Everyone she knew was dead. But how? I didn't remember. But according to them, what was the use dragging around dead weight on an important mission?

'It's okay, Phillipa-san,' I said. 'You don't need to take me along. I can fend for myself. Arigatou for the concern.' I took my arm gently out of her grip and started limping away. Every part of my body screamed at me to stop, but I wasn't going to. No way.

'Where do you think you're going?' Phillipa caught my arm again. 'You're coming with us,' she said. Then she turned to James. 'Whether you like it or not. Fairy Tail is not a guild of people who leave friends behind.' This sentence bought tears to my eyes. 'I-I'm your friend?' I asked. Phillipa turned and smiled. 'Of course, you are!'

I shook my head. 'We just met!' She rolled her eyes. 'How does that matter? A friend is a friend. Period. Anyway, what's your name, newbie?' My eyes widened. 'Um..' I gave it some thought, and I finally remembered. I smiled. 'Estaria. But you can call me Star.' Phillipa's smile broadened. 

'Wow, you have a lovely name. I wish I had a name like that too, Star.' I bumped her forearm with my shoulder. 'Your name's pretty good by itself, Phil. I like it, it suits you.' 

She took my hand, bending down a little to do so. 'That's all that matters,' she said.

****

**TWO YEARS LATER**

'Whew!' I blew my hair out of my face. They put up quite a fight.' Phil kicked a dark guild member's face. 'Of course, they did. Don't underestimate them, Star.'

'Of course not. How many did you get, James?'

'29.'

'Aha! I got 30! I won this time's bet, James!' 

'Yeah, whatever.'

I laughed and gave Phil a high-five. She and James were going to get a lot of money when they got back from this mission. James told me that for every time I defeated more dark guild members than he did, I would get 2000 jewels from his share. It was a small loss, comparing to the whole amount. 

Jewels are the currency in the magical world. In a country named Fiore, lies a city called Magnolia. And in this wondrous city is the guild that Phil and James came from, and that is Fairy Tail. Over the past two years, I had heard many stories about Fairy Tail. I loved the place already.

 Phil and James had promised me that I could join Fairy Tail once they were done with their quest. I was part of their team now, but that would become official only when I joined Fairy Tail. They had taught me everything they knew about magic. I mostly learned from Phil, since James was mostly lost in his world. But he was much nicer to me now since I wasn't dead weight, but a liability.

I was an ability-style user, which means that I use my element of magic. Phil was an ability-style user too. She used metals from the Earth, as in underground, for attacks. She could move the very Earth, and in extremely difficult situations, even make molten lava spewing from the depths of the Earth. 

But she did this very rarely, as it was extremely dangerous and it exhausted her magical power. 

As for me, I did the same thing. No, no, not moving the Earth or anything. I couldn't yet use all the metals in the ground. Only one. Crystals. I can use some others if I concentrate, but I'm too lazy for that, so it's only crystal. 

After all that long explanation, I'm a crystal style ability user. My teacher (not really ) is Phillipa, a member of Fairy tail. She and her partner James are on a mission to eliminate dark guilds. I too am part of that mission now. 

Two years ago, they had just eliminated a dark guild and were on their way back to their base when the heard a city had been attacked by the demon Deliora. They went to the city, in hopes of subduing the demon. But they were too late, the demon had already moved on. But they found me. 

I had lost all my memory. I just knew my name and one other. I didn't remember what happened before Phil woke me up and removed the blocks. That is my earliest memory. The other name which I remembered was a complete mystery to me. Just four letters. Gray. I wondered who it was.

In all of my, Phil and James' travels, I hoped to find a person named Gray. No such luck. I just hoped that-

'Star!' Phil said, snapping me out of my thoughts. 'Come on, we're going back to our base. After that, we pack our bags.' I rolled my eyes. 'To which state are we going now?' I asked in a bored tone. 

'Magnolia, Fiore,' she replied. 'We're going home.'

^^^^

On our way to our base, I was so excited I couldn't stop skipping. Phil was almost bursting with excitement. Even James was smiling. Me, well… I was going to FAIRY TAIL!!!

Once we were at our base, which was a bungalow smack in the middle in the woods, Phil bandaged my cuts. I complained about it the whole time. 'Do you have to do this?' I whined. 'If we set out now, we can reach faster. I don't care if I'm hurt.'

James chuckled. 'You've told her so much about Fairy Tail, she's even more impatient to get to it then you are.' Phil grinned and spoke to me. 'If I don't cover this up, it'll get infected. And then you won't stop whining, even when we reach Fairy Tail.' I pouted. 'True enough,' I said.

After a few minutes, it was done. I was impatient, as it was a long journey to get to Fairy Tail. James told me it would take three days. Phil told me a week. I didn't know who to believe, so I settled with four to five.

We were in a village, deep-set in the lands of the East. It was about two thousand miles away from the place where I first woke up. I was glad. I didn't know how I would react if I ever saw that place again. Anyway, from this village, it would take us about three days to reach mainland Fiore. And after travelling some more, we would reach Magnolia and Fairy Tail.

****

'Come on, slowpokes!' I yelled, running ahead. 'Don't you want to get to the guild?!' Phil, panting, caught up with me. I stopped running. 'We've been slogging behind you for the past hour,' she scolded between pants. 'You mean you've been,' I reminded her, gesturing towards James, who had just teleported using magic to our location. 'Anyway,' she continued. 'Give us a break.'

James nodded. After the first fifteen minutes of running, he had just teleported after us. It was unfair because he didn't even have to run. At all. Unlike us. 'Fine, then,' I said. 'We're taking a break.' Truthfully, even I was a little out of breath myself.

We stopped for a while and then started walking. The city came in sight. 'That's from where we're taking the train, right?' I asked Phil. 'Right,' she said. 'That'll take us to the outskirts of Fiore,' James said. 'From there, we'll see what transportation we can take to Magnolia.' I nodded.

'Hey! You there!'

We turned. A whole lot of people came up the path behind us. 'You're the mages from Fairy Tail, who killed all our friends. You think we could let you roam free?' I smirked. 'And did you think,' I stated dramatically, 'that you would be walking out of here alive?' Phil bit her lip, hiding a smile. 

'No,' the leader confessed. 'And that's why…' Two other groups came from or sides. 'we bought a backup team.' I looked around, wide-eyed. Three whole guilds at once? The maximum we had ever encountered was two. But three?! Together?!

Phil stepped closer. 'Don't worry,' she said. 'These guilds are extremely weak. You'll be able to handle one by yourself. And if you need help, we're always here.' James nodded. The words gave me courage. I laughed. 'Help?' I giggled. 'Who, me?' I laughed. 'Don't worry about me, you guys. I will Kick. Their. Butts.' I cracked my knuckles.

'Go!' the guild leader shouted. All three guilds charged at once. 'I'm going to win this bet James,' I said. 'Crystal Style: Spikes of Death!' Pink coloured deadly spikes shot out from the ground. One member snuck up behind me. I smirked. Like I didn't know.

He tried to shoot me with his magic gun, but I ducked to one side even before he pulled the trigger. I decided this guy needed special treatment. I charged and punched him in the face. Hard. He fell with his cheek swollen. 

As I was dealing with that gun guy, the rest of the guild had gotten to their feet. 'Earth Style: Sticky Mud!' one member shouted. The ground at my feet instantly turned to sand, which pulled me in. But I knew how to counter it. 

'Crystal Style: Crystal Floor!' I created a floor of crystal below the range of the quicksand and moved it upwards. I soon was standing on the crystal floor, and the sand was pulling away at nothing. The guild shouted in rage. Hmm, I thought. So that must be their strongest member. I need to take him down.

The guy with the Earth-style grit his teeth. I smiled back. I had fought him before, but when we had turned him over to the police, he had escaped. He must've come seeking revenge because his guild had already been put down.

Easy, I thought. I'll use his anger against him.

 'Earth Style: Four Wall prison!'

Okay, not so easy. Guess I needed to do what I had to.

'Crystal Style: Crystal Dome!' I created a dome around me and expanded it. The earth prison bent like putty and exploded. I sneered. 'Now it's my turn.'

'Crystal Style: Crystal Floor!' I made the sign I always do when I use Crystal magic, and banged both my palms on the floor at the same time. The whole ground in front of me had a thin layering of Crystal. These people couldn't walk on it and slipped and slid about. It was comical.

 'Crystal Style: Crystal Hail!'

Thunder crashed. Hail made of my beautifully sharp crystals rained down. I smiled when I heard yelps and yowls, and "It stings" and "ouch!" it was really funny, actually, but I was getting bored and wanted to get to Fairy Tail. 'Okay, you guys have made us late,' I growled. 'Now, face my wrath! Crystal Style: Crystal Dust!'

A pink cloud of my crystal dust floated towards them. When they inhaled it, they instantly started sneezing. While they were distracted looking for tissues, I made my Checkmate. 

'Crystal Style: Crystal Giants!'

I let my faithful creations finish my job. I turned to help Phil and James, but they were already done. 'Whoa,' James said. 'When did you learn to do that?' He was staring at the crystal giants, who were smashing the guild members under their fists. 'She's improved,' Phil said, proudly. I smiled. 'All thanks to you, Phil.' 

James cleared his throat. 'What?' we both snapped at him. 'Sorry for interrupting your "thanks so much" conversation you guys but…' he stopped, looking down at his watch. 'If we want to reach Magnolia with train number seven, it leaves in….' I blinked. 'The ambush delayed us,' Phil growled. 'How much time, James?' He looked at his watch again.

 'Exactly… Two minutes.'

'WHAT?!' Phil and I shouted together. 'Can't you teleport us there?' I begged James. 'No way,' he said. 'I can't teleport three people and six bags of luggage to a location I've not even marked.' Phil looked grim. 'No other choice,' she said. We locked eyes, silently counting. 

'RUN!!!!!'

^^^^

I ran and James teleported. But Phil stopped to grab our bags, which were a little down the path, in the opposite direction. 'Don't wait for me!' she yelled. James appeared and was about to turn back, but I stopped him. 'Just reach the station!' I yelled. 'We'll pull the emergency brake if we have to.'

'You realise we could get arrested, right?'

'No one messes with the mages of Fairy Tail.'

He murmured something like, 'It doesn't work that way...' But I didn't pay attention. We just ran on ahead. The name Fairy Tail seemed to give him the motivation to run faster. I decided to use that as fuel, too.

We ran under the arch, and into the busy streets. We entered the town square. 'That way!' James yelled, pointing. I ran, and he teleported. At each turn, he would appear to guide me in the right direction. Without him, I never would've reached in time. Finally, the station came into sight. I ran towards it, desperate now. James was already on the train. I dashed it, but then stopped. 

I may need to pull the emergency brake, I thought. Might as well be ready. So, I ran for the emergency brake. I was a huge lever, well-oiled and ready. I looked to see Phil come in sight from the station. Normally, she would be faster than this, but the bags weighed her down. Some voice over the speakers announced, 'The last call for train leaving for Fiore. Last call.' 

The porter blew his whistle, and the doors started to close. Phil was five steps away from entering the station. My hand tensed on the brake. Then everything blurred. 

And then we were inside the train.

'You teleported us!' Phil exclaimed and hugged a panting James. I just grinned. 'Awesome, man,' I said. 'The next train was leaving tomorrow evening.' He smiled, and then frowned at Phil. 'What did you put in those bags?' he asked, suspiciously. Her eyes widened. 'Um… nothing?' She said it more like a question than an answer.

He glared at her, then he turned to me. 'Star,' he said. 'Check the bags.' I smiled. 'With pleasure.' Phil begged with her eyes to not do it. But of course, I didn't listen. I opened a bag, only to find…. Lots and lots of stuff in the gift-wrapping paper.

'What is this?' James asked. She looked out of the window, stubbornly. 'Gifts,' she said. I rolled my eyes. 'For everyone in Fairy Tail?' James exclaimed. 'No,' she snapped. 'Just a few selected people.' He rolled his eyes. 'And by that, you mean half the guild.' She huffed. I laughed.

'Come on, James,' I said. 'Let it be. It's all over now. We change trains at one more station… and bam! We'll be at Fairy Tail!' He smiled his half-smile. 'Yes,' he agreed. Then, he collapsed, snoring, on Phil's shoulder. She chuckled. 'He always acts tough, the big guy,' she mused.

I rolled my eyes. 'Anyway,' I said. 'Tell me more!' She looked confused. 'About what?' she asked. I gave her the "are you kidding" look. She still didn't get it. 'fairy tail, of course!' I exploded. She laughed. 'Haven't you heard enough over the past two years?' I shook my head vigorously. 'No way,' I said. 'Tell me more!' She laughed again and started.

'Okay,' she said. 'So, first, there's Master Makarov. He's crazy powerful but rarely shows it. Then come the S-Class wizards. Mira-jane, Erza, Laxus, Gildarts and… let me see… yes! Mystery Man.' I looked confused. 'Who's the mystery man?' I asked. 'You've never mentioned him before.' She sighed. 'He likes to call himself Mystogan. He never shows his face to anyone. Whenever he comes to take a job, he puts everyone to sleep.

'Once I was eating pasta, and he came. When I woke up, I had pasta sticking to my face and a plate over my eyes. I will never forgive him for that.' I laughed. 'Okay,' I said. 'Tell me more.' She sighed. Apart from us, that's it for the S-Class wizards. Now come some worthwhile mentions.'

So the rest of the trip was spent listening to the antics of Natsu, the stiffness of Erza, the ravings of Elfman, the transformation of Mira-jane into a demon, the obsession Jet had with Levy, and Erza again, with her re-equipping. I laughed my guts out when I heard that Phil and James had once taken embarrassing photos of everyone in Fairy Tail, and had made a secret album, known only to the master.

'You should've seen him laugh,' Phil said.

They had shown it to everyone eventually, and it had caused a great uproar. A fight had broken out for the possession of the album, destroying the interior of the guild and finally, the album itself. But what everyone didn't know was that Phil ad James had kept a copy for themselves. They finally decided to hide it, as they knew what would happen if anyone ever found it. When I asked her for how long it was going to be hidden, she said, 'Only until someone who holds all of my affection ad trust finds it.'

I was confused, but I let it go. I secretly wondered who that would be. 

    Finally, we reached one of the cities on the outskirts of Fiore. From there, we took another train to Magnolia, and then….

****

'WE'RE HERE!!!' Phil and I shouted together, as the train stopped. Fast as lightning, we grabbed our bags, hopped off the train, and ran out of the station. 'WHERE IS IT?' I yelled at Phil. 

'NOT IN THE STATION, OBVIOUSLY!'

'STOP YELLING. I'M ONLY 5 FEET AWAY!'

'YOU STARTED IT.'

'I DON'T CARE. WHERE IS IT?'

'JUST SHUT UP AND COME ON!'

'IKSOU!!!'

(LET'S GO!!!)

 Madly, I ran out of the station, Phil followed in the same manner. James… well, you must know how he is by now.

'COME ON, STAR!'

Phil turned a sharp right. I followed. I suddenly realised church bells were ringing. In the back of my mind, I wondered why. Phil took another sharp turn. I was right behind her. We ran along a path beside a river. Finally, she took another turn. I turned with her and crashed into her back. 'We're here,' she whispered in awe. 

'Fairy Tail.'

^^^^

My mouth dropped open. I was living my biggest dream…

'Come on!' Phil shouted, dragging me in. James was right behind us.

'IRRASHIMASEN!'

(WELCOME BACK!)

The hall was full of the guild members of Fairy Tail. Everybody stood up to greet Phil and James. There was almost a stampede to see who could get to them first. I just stood quietly by the door, letting them have their moment and taking everything in.

Almost half an hour later, the crowd around Phil and James lessened. Phil couldn't stay calm, she was jumping up and down. She looked around, and wee locked eyes. She then marched up and stood beside me.

Hey, minna!' she called out to everyone. 'Meet Star! Our newest member! She helped me and James out on our decade quest. She's eliminated a whole dark guild by herself, and she's amazing!' The crowd erupted in cheers. I smiled shyly and waved. 'Hello, minna,' I said. 'It's amazing to be here!'

They erupted in cheers again, louder than before. After it died down, a voice boomed out-

'WELCOME, PHIL, JAMES AND STAR!'

The crowd cleared a path. The master walked through. He looked exactly like Phil said he would. She bent down to hug him. 'It's been too long, gramps!' she said. 'It's wonderful seeing you again!' The Master grinned broadly and hugged her back. After they let go, a boy with pink hair, and a white checked scarf pushed through the crowd.

'Phil!' he said. 'Fight me!' She chuckled. 'Not now, Natsu. Maybe later.' But the boy didn't listen. 'Here I come!' he yelled. 'Breath of the Fire Dragon!'

'Crystal Shield!'

Everyone stared in awe as my shield blocked the fire. The master smiled. I smirked. 'You've got a good pupil there, Phil,' he said. Phil smiled, and so did James. 'Natsu,' Phil called out. 'If you want to have any hopes of defeating me, you need to go through Star first.' I winked at Natsu.

'you're Natsu Dragneel, aren't you?' I said, extending my hand. 'I'm Estaria. Go by Star.' Natsu shook my hand. 'Don't worry,' he said. 'One of these days, I'll defeat you!' I smirked. 'Even if you defeat me, you have no hopes of defeating Phil.'

'You bet I will!'

'We'll see, Dragneel, we'll see.'

We both smiled challenging smiles.

'You're fighting style is like an ice user,' a voice said, from my right. I turned. A girl with long Scarlet hair and armour stood in front of me. I smiled. 'Erza Scarlet,' I said. 'It's a pleasure.' I shook hands with her.

'As I was saying,' she said. 'You're fighting style is like an ice user.' I raised my eyebrows. 'Is it?' I asked. Natsu looked thoughtful. 'Now that you mention it,' he said. 'It looks like Gray's magic, but only pink in colour.' I frowned. 'Okay…'

The master smiled again. 'Leave all that for later,' he said. 'Let the party begin!' Cheers erupted again. The party started. A girl came up and introduced herself. 'Hey,' she said. 'I'm Mirajane. You can call me Mira.' I smiled. 'Okay,' I said. 'As you are a member of Fairy Tail now,' she continued. 'You will need to get its tattoo. So tell me, where do you want it and which colour?'

My eyes widened, but then I smiled. 'Uh..' I said. 'I want it on the right side of my neck and midnight blue.' She smiled. 'You got it. I'll be right back.' I grinned. My crystals were pink, but I loved blue. 

'Here you go,' Mira said, as she placed the stamp looking thing on my neck and handed me a mirror. I grinned when I saw the tattoo on my neck, I had waited two years for this.

Suddenly, someone shouted, 'Gray's back!' Dragneel and Erza got up. I just froze. Gray. The only name I could remember from my past before I lost my memories. Could it be possible?

Could it be possible that the Gray I was looking for was here? In Fairy Tail? Is that why I had searched far and wide and never found a single Gray because the Gray I was looking for was here? In the last place, I'd thought he'd be?

In Fairy Tail?

I just had to know.

'Mira,' I said, a little shaken. 'Yeah?' she asked, concerned. 'Do you mind telling me when Gray joined the guild?' She frowned, a little in thought. 'Um, a little more than a year ago,' she said. 'Why do you ask?' I shook my head. 'No, nothing. Just curious.'

That was all the confirmation I needed. 

'Do you mind if I go see what all the disturbance is about?' I asked. 'No, of course not,' she said. 'Gray's come back, I expect. He was out on a job.' I nodded, and headed towards the crowd, expecting the worst. 

I didn't know what Gray was like. Did I only remember his name because he was a bad person, and had done something bad to me? I stopped pushing through, beating around the bush with that thought.

But before I could decide, that baka Dragneel interrupted. 

'Hey, Gray!' he shouted. 'Come and meet our newest member, Star!'

A black-haired boy wearing nothing but shorts was pushed before me. We stared at each other, mouths open. Minutes passed, and they felt like hours. But he came to his senses first.

'Star!' he yelled. He tackled me into a hug. I just stood there, in shock. 'You know her?' Dragneel asked. Gray ignored him, burying his head in my shoulder. 'I thought you had died,' he croaked. 'The building-' He stopped mid-sentence as he was pulled off me.

'Whoa, kid.'

That was James. 'Go easy on her,' he said. Phil leaned down and whispered something in his ear. 'No…' he said. There were so many expressions on his face. Surprised, hurt, angry, sad…. I just wanted to hug him, but I couldn't. 

He suddenly turned and ran out of the guild. 'Wait!' multiple voices shouted. But he just continued running, leaving an ice path behind him. 

Tears filled my eyes. After two years, I had found Gray, and…

Completely ruined everything.

I collapsed on a chair. The tears fell. I felt an enormous migraine coming on. After that…

I think I fainted after that.

****

I woke up staring at a ceiling I didn't recognize. 

'Hey,' a voice said. 'Awake, I see.' I turned to see Phil. 'You caused quite a commotion,' she continued. 'No one's found Gray yet.' I face-palmed. 'That didn't go well, did it?' I said. She clicked her tongue. 'No, it didn't. But things will always get better. You can sort things out.'

I grimaced. 'That's what you always say.' I said. 'But it always does,' she said. 'All's well that ends well.' I rolled my eyes. 'Actually,' I said. 'It hasn't even started yet, forget about it ending.' She cocked her head to one side. 'True,' she said. 'Did you remember him?' she asked. I sighed. 'I remember his name. That's it.

'And I haven't heard this before, because…'

I stared at the floor. 

Phil came around and hugged me. 'Nothing's going to happen unless you talk to him. So, find him, and talk. Sort this whole song.' I nodded. 'By the way,' I said. 'Is this your place?' She looked around. 'Yep.' I smiled. 'Okay. Be right back.' I exit the house and started walking around. 

I decided to go to the guild first. 

'Hey, Dragneel,' I said, as I entered. 'Seen Gray?' He thought for a second. 'He's by the creek,' a cute voice said from behind him said. A blue cat with white wings stepped out from behind him. I grinned. 'Happy, right?' I said. 'Dragneel's…. partner.' He raised his hand. 'Aye!' I pursed my lips, hiding another grin. 'Thanks for the information,' I said. 'Jana!' (See ya!)

I vaguely knew where the creek was. After a little bit of walking, I found it.

It was dark, the sun had almost set. It was difficult to see, but I could see Gray clearly, sitting with his feet in the water. I went and sat next to him, prepared for the worst, as always.

^^^^

'You don't remember anything? Not even a tiny piece?'

I sighed, sat down next to him and shook my head. 'I do remember one thing, though,' I said.

That got his hopes up.

'What?' he asked, eagerly. I looked down.

'I didn't realize who it was until now,' I explained to him. 'I just remember your name. Gray. I found the will to continue living after I had lost everything, only because of that name. Your name. I had to find the person who my brain refused to forget. But it could only remember so much, after… the tower.'

I looked at him. He was staring at the water. I raised my hand to his face and gently tilted it upwards so that he was looking at me.

'And I've found you, Gray Fullbuster, after two years of search.'

Tears filled his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. 'I may not be the Estaria you remember,' I continued. 'But, I most probably will still be me, and you get to know the new me all over again, just like I will now get to know you. From the top, no secrets. And, we will be members of Fairy Tail now.'

I smiled. 'Do you know how much I've thought about you for the past two years? And that's ironic because I didn't even know what you looked like.'

'And I thought you were dead.'

'There you go, souring the mood again.'

We both laughed. It felt good. Familiar. 

'Anyway,' I said, once we had stopped laughing 'Where were you the year before you joined Fairy Tail?'

So, he told me his story.

Ul, his to-be teacher, as well as Lyon, her student, had found him on the outskirts of the city. Ul had taken him in as her student and taught his ice-magic. But he was obsessed with revenge, just like I once was. So, when he decided he had learnt strong enough magic, he decided to find the demon Deliora and kill him. But it didn't work out. In the end, Ul had to sacrifice herself to save an entire city and her students, and trap the demon forever.

Before she had passed, she told Gray to travel west and find guilds there, and maybe even join one of them. And that's exactly what he did. 

'Oh,' I said after he was done. He sighed and looked away. 'Hey,' I said. 'I'm glad you told me.' He tried to smile. 'Yeah. Me too. And… it's your turn now.' I laughed. 'Okay.'

So, I told him my story. We didn't judge each other or tell each other what we should've done. We were just sharing events of the past. It was… neutral. 

'And on our way back,' I continued my story. 'We got ambushed by three dark guilds, together. James and Phil handled two, and I took one on by myself.'

His eyes widened. 'You did?' he asked, clearly in awe. I smirked. 'Yeah,' I said. 'But, don't give me any credit for it. They were pathetic.' 

He laughed. I laughed too and looked up, yawning. For the first time, I realized how bright the sky was. 'Do you realize we've been here all night?!' I shouted. 'Seriously?!' he asked. 'Yeah! It's dawn!' I laughed again. 'Time flies,' I said. 'It's not that hard to process,' he said. 'Considering all we've talked about.'

I gave him a smug look. 'Well,' I said. 'That's true, because more than half the night was taken up by your ravings about "Gray the Great" always saving the day.'

He gave me the look that said, "you did NOT just do that". I smiled.

'Well,' he said, gaining his composure again. 'And the other half of the night was taken up by Estaria the Amazing, with her tales of heroism, taking out a whole dark guild with one blow.'

We both looked at each other, challenging smiles on our faces.

Then we burst out laughing.

I punched his arm. We were both lying down on the bank, our feet almost in the water. I sighed. It was so peaceful. Birds were singing. I closed my eyes, but didn't nap. 'let's stay awake till sunrise,' I said. 'Then we'll have a nap.'

No response.

'Gray?'

Silence.

Then soft snores reached my ears. 

I chuckled. He was already asleep. His head fell on my shoulder. I was shaking with laughter. But then he shifted his position, and put his arm around his stomach, hugging me closer. 

I froze.

Well. This is awkward, I thought. 

But then I felt Gray's lips stretch out in a smile on my shoulder, and I laughed. Then I too snuggled up, and we fell asleep.

****

'WELL, WE FINALLY FOUND THE LOVEBIRDS!!!'

I awoke with a start. Gray stirred too. 

I looked behind me to see almost the whole of Fairy Tail standing behind us. Right in front was Master Makarov, Phil, James, Natsu and Erza. 

'What are you guys going here?' I asked, rubbing my eyes. 'We came to look for you,' Master said. 'Nobody had seen you and Gray since last night, so we got out a search party to look for you.' I frowned. 'It can't be that long,' I said. 'What's the time?' I asked. 

'It's five o'clock,' Phil said. 'In… the morning?' I asked, hopefully. 'Nope, Pinky,' Dragneel said. 'In the evening.'

 I got up threateningly. 'What did you just call me?' 

He smiled cheekily. 'Pinky!' he teased. 

I smirked. 'You asked for it, Dragneel,' I said. 'Crystal Style: Cage for the Stupid!'

Dragneel disappeared. 

'Nice one, Star,' he said. 'But where did he go?' I smirked. 'Where all people stupid enough to mess with me go to,' I said. He smirked too, catching on the mood. 'And where is that?'

I silently pointed underground. As if to answer the question, shouts and bangs shook the earth. Gray looked at me. 'Underground?' he asked. I laughed. 'You think?'

Phil laughed too. 'I should never have given you access to my prison.' Everyone in Fairy Tail was laughing too. 'Now,' Phil said. 'Get him out.'

I pouted. 'Do I have to?' She gave me a stern look.

'Get him out. Now.'

'But he'll just start annoying me again!'

'Do it. Now.'

I rolled my eyes, made the hand-sign I usually make while using crystal style, and said, 'Release!' 

Instantly, my life became worse. I mean, how could it not? I had just released the most annoying person on the planet from the only place that could hold him. 

'I'M ALL FIRED UP!! WAIT, WHERE WAS I??!! IT WAS ALL PINK, AND… WAIT, PINKY, WAS THAT YOU?!'

'Shut up, baka Dragneel.' 

^^^^

'Okay, I'm done,' I said, gathering my papers and handing it to Phil. 'Thanks,' she said. We, i.e. Phil, James and I, had to make a report on our decade quest. I had finished mine, (after three hours of complaints) and was ready to run away as fast as I could.

'I'm heading to the guild,' I said, getting up. 'I wanna look for a job.' James stretched. 'In that case,' he said. 'We're coming with you.' My eyes widened. 'No!' I shouted. Then I regained my composure. 'I mean,' I said a little more calmy. 'No. You guys just returned from your decade quest, you should get some rest. And besides, I want to do this alone. There's nothing I can't handle.'

Phil chuckled. 'There's nothing you can't handle in fighting,' she corrected. 'But a job is not always fighting.' I raised my eyebrows. 'Your point is?' I asked. She sighed. 'Just take someone along with you,' she said. 'Like Gray.'

This conversation was so over.

'I'm going. I'll be back late. Don't wait up. Jana!' I yelled and frantically left the house. 

Truth is… I don't know why I was so on edge and defensive about Gray. Of course, it had to do something with being friends before you got hit on the head with a large, large block and not see him for two years, and when you met again you were both powerful magicians and he had a tragic past in those two years, but still. 

But… while we were talking, everything faded away. 

It's like I could forget the fact I couldn't remember anything from the past two years, and that my mother and father had most probably died tragic deaths. Or the fact that I never had real parents and had an irresponsible but amazingly fun (don't forget stupid) friends as parental figures. 

Well, it wasn't that bad, I knew Gray had it a lot worse. 

And… I had to snap out of my mooching because he was walking in my direction.

As in right towards me.

I waved. He waved back.

'Hey,' he said smiling, as he reached me. 'Hi,' I replied. 'I was just about to come over,' he said. I raised my eyebrows (really, I have to stop doing that). 'You were?' I asked 'Why?' 

He scratched the back of his neck. 'Well…' he paused. 'I wanted to… ask… you…' I laughed, mostly out of awkwardness. 'Spit it out, Gray,' I said, walking in the direction of the guild. He kept pace with me.

'Well…. I was… wondering… if…' he stuttered. I clapped my hands together. 'That's it,' I said. He looked shocked. 'For the last time,' I said. 'Spit it out. Or I'm not listening. You have no reason to be nervous around me. And if I hear any hesitation again, you'll get it worse than Dragneel.'

He smirked. 'I will, won't I?' he said. I laughed. 'Of course not,' I said. 'Phil's cage is reserved for Dragneel only.'

He raised his eyebrows. 

'Fine,' I admitted. 'All the dark guilds we've captured are down there. The prison is one of the biggest in the country. It stretches out for miles and is connected to the main prison and almost all the police stations.' 

His expression was priceless. 

'But…' he started saying. Then he stopped. I groaned. 'For the last time, Gray, spit it out. Don't hesitate unless it's insulting. You know what'll happen if you don't.' 

We both laughed. 'You need to stop threatening people,' he said. 'Oh, yeah?' I asked, amused. 'Or what?'

He paused for a second, thinking. 

'You know what, I can't think of a punishment bad enough for you.'

We both laughed, and I punched his arm. After that, we walked in silence for a few minutes. Finally, I realized something. Wow, Star. 

'Gray,' I said impatiently. 'You didn't tell me why you were heading to Phil's place yet.' 

He seemed to already know this. 

'Oh,' he said. If I wasn't mistaken, he was blushing. I melted. 'No, it was nothing,' he said. 'A bad idea. I don't know what I was thinking.'

I frowned. 'Nuh-uh. Not buying that. 

He sighed. 

'Look, Gray,' I said. 'The readers are itching to know.' (That's not the exact wording, but, hey, who cares?!) 'So just spit it out. This time is the last.'

He rolled his eyes. 

'I wanted to ask you…'

I held my breath. I didn't even realize we had stopped walking. 

'If we could go out.'

I stared at him with wide eyes. 

'I mean,' he said, hastily correcting himself. 'On a job.'

I let my breath out in a whoosh.

Then I glared at him.

Then I rolled into fits of uncontrollable laughter.

'You…. Hesitated…. so... much… just to…. Ask me... that?!' I chocked out between my fits.

He thought he had made a mistake, and hurried to correct it.

'You don't have to,' he blurted out. 'It was just a silly thought. Forget about it.' 

I stopped laughing.

'Well, good,' I said. 'Cause I have no intention of going anywhere with you, Gray Fullbuster.'

He was stumped.

'So,' I continued. 'When do we leave?'

****

The job was all about finding and catching thieves in a city called Modora, a two hour's journey from Magnolia. According to Phil, it was over-run with dark guilds. 

'You should be expecting an attack any minute,' she said. 

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Phil. 

Gray showed me the poster and the reward was 8000 jewels. I didn't really care about the money, because I already had the money I made off the bets with James and I was living with Phil.

 When I told James about the job, he suspected the dark guild members were the thieves. But we weren't making any assumptions until we got there. 

As we told master about accepting the job, Dragneel over-heard us. He declared he was coming with us. Erza heard his ravings and decided she was coming, too. I didn't object to Erza since Phil had said it would be nice to take someone along, and I wanted someone who wasn't Gray. 

But Dragneel…. No way in hell.

'Shut up, baka,' Gray said. 'You're not coming.' Dragneel stuck his head up stubbornly. 'I am,' he declared.

I raised my eyebrows. 'Well, it's not your choice. Gray, Erza and I are going, and you…' I stuck a finger in his chest. 'are staying here. I would rather Happy than you come with us. At least he's useful and has got more brains than you have. And he doesn't destroy everything.'

'Aye!' Happy said, flying in. 'But I'm not going without Natsu.' 

They both gave each other high-five's and grinned. 

'Fine, then,' I said. 'Both of you stay here.' 

They both pouted. I thought they were cute but immediately pushed the thought away. Then Happy gave me the puppy-dog eyes. No, wait. Was it the kitty-cat eyes?

Urgh. But he just gave me that look.

'Please, Star-chan?'

I couldn't resist it. 'Fine,' I relented. 'But no destroying stuff. Deal?'

'Deal!' Natsu and Happy said together, smiling. 

I turned to Gray. 'You're okay with it, right?' I asked. 'If you are,' he replied. I smiled. 

'Natsu's a good fighter.'

We turned. Erza stood there like she usually stood. 

'You did good to include him in the team,' she continued. We nodded. 

'From what I've heard, he's very destructive though,' I said. 'Phil's told me enough.'

Erza smiled. 'In that way, Gray and I are also very destructive. And I think…' she paused. 'You've had your share of destroying things too.'

I shivered. 'Don't remind me,' I pleaded. 'And it's not intentional. It just happens. I swear I don't-'

Everyone laughed. 

I face-palmed, laughing too. 'We all know how that happens,' Gray said. 'Anyway,' I continued. 'We leave tomorrow morning. Everyone fine with that?'

They all nodded. 

After that, we fooled around for a while, until it was late. Then we all left, and Gray walked me home. We said goodnight and left.

When I entered, Phil and James were asleep, still at the dining table, drooling all over their precious reports. I carefully lifted their heads, took the papers out and set them aside. I imagined their horrified expressions when they woke up.

Well, I'll deal with it tomorrow morning, if it wasn't hectic enough already.

Chuckling to myself, I went to sleep.

^^^^

'Can't you hold it together?!' I exploded, after an hour of vomiting. Dragneel had the worst case of motion-sickness I had ever seen. 

'Can't… help… it…' he choked out of the window. 'Seriously, though,' Gray said. 'how much did you eat to puck like this? It's never been so bad before.'

'I'll take care of it,' Erza said. Then she punched him hard on the head, knocking him out. He almost fell out of the window, but Gray who was sitting next to the window (and beside me) caught him and pulled him back. His head fell in Erza's lap. 

Then, for the rest of the journey, we had to deal with his snoring, which was almost worse. 

We were on a train to Modora. Dragneel was "all fired up" at first, but when he finally got it through his thick skull that we were going by train, he immediately backed out.

'Happy can take me instead,' he said. But then he saw Erza, all ready with her Flame Empress armour to haul him in the train, so he changed his mind. And so, here we were.

'You know,' Gray shouted over the snores. 'We should probably throw him over-board. He won't even notice.'

We laughed. It was true, at the rate that he was snoring. 

An hour later, we reached Modora. It looked deserted. There was no one at the station. We were the only people who got off. I guess no one wanted to come to Modora with all the robberies going on. 

We roamed through the streets, hoping the AD wasn't a joke. Because if it was, I felt very sorry for the person who played it. He was going to get his butt whupped by for powerful wizards, and he most probably wouldn't survive the whupping. 

Turns out, it wasn't a joke. Dragneel was disappointed. 

A lot, a lot of people, seemed like the whole town, was gathered at the town square. Someone was standing on a podium, giving a speech. We decided to wait. After all, the job had come from the mayor himself, and I bet he was the person giving the talk. We weren't listening since we had no idea what it was about, even if we had a pretty good guess.

After the talk was over, and that is three hours later (excuse me, my watch is screaming, "IT'S BEEN FIVE MINUTES!"), we made a beeline for the mayor since Dragneel was pushing people out of the way, and the rest of us were apologizing. 

'Hello,' the mayor said. 'How may I help you?'

We decide to introduce ourselves. 

'Hi,' I said. 'We're mages from Fairy Tail. Seems like you called for our help…?'

Realization dawned. 'Oh, yes,' he said. 'You're finally here.' He hastily extended his hand and shook all of ours. 'I am Mayor Anderson,' he said. 'But you can call me Frank.'

We nodded. 'very well,' Erza said. 'What do we need to do?'

The mayor explained the situation to us. Since the past three weeks, there had been various robberies in the city. Jewellery, money, antiques…. Everything a thief would take. They had even succeeded in taking a piano-sized lacrima out of a museum, though nobody so far has even got a glimpse of them. 

The mayor was extremely flustered and worried to even talk properly. Lastly, he said that the thief would always leave a mark behind, a sign of their success. He decided to show us. We headed to the museum. 

'Hank,' called Erza. 'what of the guards?'

The mayor hung his head. 'They were found dead the next morning.'

We all exchanged glances. Thieves don't usually kill people. I began to think that James was correct. Maybe the dark guild members were the thieves. 

But still, this was getting complicated. 

Wait.

I said that before we saw that mark.

But after I saw the mark…

Guess what?

Yep.

It got even more complicated. 

The mark was a pentacle, a sign used only in advanced magic. Besides that, there was a sentence that made as much sense as a cat with a top hat. 

The blocks are back for pay.

My brain was one huge question mark. 

We just stared at it. Not making head or tail out of it. 

'Who are the blocks?' Dragneel. We all sighed. 

'That's what we're here to find out,' I replied. 

****

After lunch, Erza said we should search the library for information on the city's history. 

'They might have something on a guild call the "Blacks,"' she said. 'The message says that they're back,' I said. 'So, they must've come here before and since they did, the library must have a record of it.'

Erza nodded.

Then Gray agreed that it was worth checking out. 

'Okay, minna,' Dragneel said. 'You go on ahead, Happy and I will catch up with you later.'

I raised my eyebrows, but let it go.

Unfortunately for Dragneel, Erza knew him too well. 

'You're coming with us, Natsu,' she said. Then she knocked him out again and dragged him to the library. Happy, the smart at he was, quietly followed. 

Turns out, this city was attacked two years ago by the demon Deliora, at which Gray and I exchanged meaningful glances.

**three hours later**

'I'm done,' Gray moaned. 'This library is useless.' I sighed and put my book down. 'I agree,' I said. 'Total waste.'

'No.'

I stumped my shoulders.

'We must look into the mayor's records,' she said. 'They might have something that's not public information.'

We wearily got to our feet. There was no arguing with Erza. I was starting to regret bringing her on this job. At least Dragneel was quiet. I mean, if you exclude snores that shook the earth.

We sleepwalked to the mayor's office. Well, everyone except for Erza sleepwalked. She walked in her usual way. She was the only person in our group who could do hours of useless research and not get bored or sleepy. Well, after all, Erza is Erza. 

We entered the mayor's office and asked to see his records. The Mayor was a little hesitant at first but agreed. Then we sat down again to do hours of useless research. 

Then finally Gray found something.

'Hey, Star,' he said. 'Have a look at this.'

I looked up from the history of 22394. (that was 70 years ago, for your information). 'Look,' he said. 'It's written here that when the mayor found out that the demon Deliora was coming, he hired a group of assassins called the Loepods.'

My face lit up, then fell.'

'Wait, Leopods, not Blacks?' Dragneel asked. 

Gray shook his head. 

'Wait,' I said. 'Read the rest.'

'"In 22462, Mayor Fell hired a group of assassins to protect the city from the demon Deliora and defeat it,"' Gray read. '"They did not succeed in doing so and the city was destroyed. More than half the guild was wiped out. As they had not succeeded in their task, the Mayor did not give them any of their promised rewards. The Leopod's leader, glide, was good friends with the mayor. When he did not receive the reward, they became bitter enemies. He swore revenge and left."' 

Natsu was snoring. I kicked him, but he didn't budge.

'Wait,' Erza said. 'Is the reward mentioned?' 

'Yes,' Gray replied. '20 of the city's best antiques, along with 50000 jewels, and a large lacrima with enough power to destroy a whole city.'

We looked at each other with wide eyes. 

'But the names differ,' I said. Erza shook her head.

'There's no doubt about it,' she said. 'The Leopods are back. They must have changed their name in the message.'

We nodded. 'Dragneel,' I said. 'Can you-' 

Loud snores reached my ear.

'Urgh!' I said. I kicked him again. And he didn't budge. Again. I was annoyed, so I knelt and whisper-shouted-

'Crystal Style: Cage for the Stupid!'

'PINKY!' He yelled, and sat up immediately, looking around in alarm. We all started laughing. After a few minutes (yes, he was that slow), he realized my trick.

'Pinky, I swear…'

'what, Dragneel? What are you going to do?' 

'I-I'll... Breath of the Fire Dragon!' 

'Crystal Shield!'

I smirked. 

Natsu grit his teeth.

'Enough, you two!' Erza shouted. 'We're in the mayor's office!' 

I looked at her, horror-struck.

'You're right!' I gushed. Gray looked at me in confusion. I smirked, just a little. 'I would hate,' I continued most dramatically, 'to kick the Salamander's ass in front of so many people! Imagine what that would do to Fairy Tail's reputation!'

Gray burst out laughing. And so did the Mayor, who had just entered. 

'It's fine, Titania, Estaria,' he said. 

'Frank,' Erza said. 'What can we do for you right now?'

The mayor waved his hand in dismissal. 'Oh, nothing,' he said. 'I just wanted to know if you found something of any use.'

We all looked at each other. 

Should we say anything?

'No, Frank,' Erza said, in a cool voice. 'We did not find anything of any use. Thank you for your time.'

All of us stared at her for a second, but thankfully even that baka Dragneel understood. We hastily took our leave and exited the building. Once we were in the alley next to it, we all turned to Erza.

'why did you say that?'

'Is he a suspect too?'

'Is it that he-'

'STOP!'

We all shut up. 

'We don't fully understand what's going on,' she said. 'We need more information. And, as for Frank, the more he knows, the more in danger he is. Apart from that,' she lowered her voice. 'Anyone could over-hear us.'

I raised an eyebrow. 'What about now?' I asked. 'I sense no one,' she replied. 'Natsu?'

Dragneel closed his eyes, sniffing the air and turning in a slow circle. 

'No one,' he confirmed. 'Well then,' Gray said. 'What do we do now?' 

Erza opened her mouth, but I was faster. 

'I think we should split up and keep watch at separate houses with valuable antiques,' I rattled off. 'In that way, we'll cover more ground.'

Erza nodded. 'Yes, that will work,' she said. Gray agreed too. Nobody needed Dragneel consent if he stuck to the plan.

'But,' Gray said. 'What do we do if something happens? If the thieves enter our house?'

'You signal us immediately,' Erza said. 'You will not face them alone, no matter how weak or strong they are. Got it, Gray, Natsu?'

They nodded hastily. 'Erza,' I said. 'That applies to you too, you know.' Erza turned to me. 

Gray and Natsu were shaking their heads vigorously as if trying to warn me. I gave them a death glare in return and looked at Erza. She sighed. 'You're right,' she said. Gray and Natsu looked at her like she suddenly sprouted wings and was singing "I'm a happy neko-chan!"

Well, it wasn't entirely impossible since she could fly in some of her armours, but the singing was an entirely different story.

'Right,' I said. 'But what will be our signal?' 

We all thought about that, even happy. Then finally, Dragneel bust out, 'Well, what's our magic for?!' We all stared at him. 

Then I sighed. 

'As much as I hate to admit it,' I said. 'He's right.'

Dragneel nodded eagerly. 'I'll blow fire,' he said. 

'I'll….' Gray paused. 'Make snowfall?'

I gave him a disgusted look. 

'Seriously?' I asked. 'snowfall? You'll waste too much power.'

Gray raised his eyebrows and looked at me. 'Then what shall me signal be,' he said. 'O mighty Star?'

I was stumped. 

'Uh… um… snowfall….NO!' I shouted, wiping the smug look off Gray's face. 'Just build something tall,' I said in my "duh" tone.

'Oh, yeah?' Gray asked. 'Like what?'

I rolled my eyes. 'Like this. Crystal Style: Crystal Pillar!'

A pillar shot out from the ground. It glinted in the sunset. Natsu cocked his head to one side. 

'Pretty,' he said. 'Like you.'

We all stared at him.

'He liiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes her!!!'

'Happy!' I snarled. 'Shut up!'

Natsu and E

Erza laughed, and I joined in too. I noticed Gray stayed silent. The laughter died down. 

'Anyway,' Erza said. 'We should split up, choose the antiques that we are going to watch. No sleeping on duty tonight.'

'I don't think we should split up.'

We all stared at Gray, who had just said this. 'It might be dangerous,' he explained. 'We don't know how many of them are there. We might be ambushed at any second.'

I blinked. This was so not Gray. 'we'll stay out of sight,' I said. 'We'll cover more ground if we split up. And besides, we can always signal each other if we need help.' 

Gray shook his head. 'It's your first job,' he said. 'Splitting up is not a good idea.'

I scowled. Why was he trying to ruin the perfect plan?! 

Then Erza came close to him and whispered something in his ear. His face went blank. After a few seconds of stiffness, he suddenly said, 'Fine, then, let's go ahead with it.' 

Dragneel and I stared at him.

Why the sudden change of heart?

Well, come to think of it, the previous one was sudden too. He was all for it before we discussed our signals. 

Whoa, wait a sec.

Our signals; my signal…

And Dragneel's comment.

I felt like shouting "Aha!" 

I got it. 

Seriously, Gray? I didn't know you could be…..

Jealous. 

Especially of that baka Dragneel.

I decided to take a page out of Erza's book.

I leaned in close and whispered in his ear- 'If this is about that baka Dragneel's comment, you have nothing to worry about. And besides, it was just a compliment.'

He stared at me in shock, then embarrassment.

I just smiled.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Erza smiling too. 

'WHY ARE YOU ALL WHISPERING?!!!' Dragneel shouted. I laughed. 'Come on, baka,' I said. 'Time to kick-ass.'

^^^^

We all chose houses with valuable antiques to guard through the night. Natsu and Gray, in particular, were warned to stay hidden, not destroy anything and be quiet, so that they would not give away their position. We split up after dinner.

I walked around the house I had chosen. It was a big two-storey with a nice red roof. The front door was facing the town square, the back door was facing a side street. I decided to go up on the roof, it would be a good spectator point because I could see everything pretty well over the sides.

After about two hours of constantly looking over the sides, I got bored and sleepy. I almost fell off. I was sleepily thinking about the others, maybe they had seen some action. I was also looking up, in case any one of us had to signal. And, I was also expecting the thieves to show up any second, so I was sleepy but ready.

And guess what?

I sensed movement and heard whispers. 

Then I heard glass breaking.

Urgh.

Irony has to have its limits.

I turned, fast as lightning, and jumped over the side. 

Yes, I could make that jump.

I landed on one side of the house, the opposite of where I had heard the whispers from. I quickly rounded around two corners, my maker-magic ready. When I came round, the thieves had already gone inside.

Well, that was quick.

I heard someone trip, and something breaks inside.

Well, these thieves weren't professionals. 

That had to count for something. 

I climbed in through the window they had broken in a side closet, making sure I wasn't seen. I landed on all fours and moved in a crouch, soundlessly.

The thieves, however, were a different case.

I could hear multiple groans and "oops"'s. They were constantly dropping something and tripping over it. It was ridiculous. The amount of noise they were making should've woken up all the neighbours. 

But with that amount of noise, came numbers. 

There were four rooms on the ground floor, I made sure to check before locking up and starting patrol. So, if there were four rooms, there had to be at least eight thieves, if none had gone up to the second floor. 

I moved out of the room and into the corridor. I could hear whispers from all the rooms. 

I was right.

Obviously.

I moved into the room closest to me. I could hear the whispers now. 

'Did you get it?'

'No, I can't find it.'

'Why can't we just destroy this place?'

'It's too risky. We're not supposed to hurt the innocent.'

'Well, no one argues with Glide. I'll check in on the others.'

'Right.'

Okay, so we were right. 

These are the Leopods.

I held my breath as one of the thieves passes me. If I called Gray and the others, I would lose the upper hand. They didn't know I was here. This was my chance.

I quietly followed the guy to one of the other rooms. 

'Hey Mike,' the guy said. 

'Yeah?' Mike said. 

'Bull and I haven't found anything. Maybe they moved it.'

'Well, quickly search the other rooms. If it isn't here, we'll move to the other house.'

Mike grunted and left. I followed him again, out into the corridor. I looked up and through the window, only to see….

A column of fire. 

Dragneel.

So, he had thieves at his place too?!

Well, isn't this a hardworking bunch.

I looked through the other window behind me, just in case.

And saw an ice pillar. 

WHAT?

I whipped my head back to the window I had originally looked from. 

The column of fire had disappeared. I sighed in relief when I saw the blank sky.

At least Erza would be there if any of us needed backup!

Not.

As I watched, a circle of swords appeared in the sky.

Damn it.

ALL OF US?

How could a gang of thieves, no matter how good (not that they were good to begin with), hit four locations at once?!

And Dragneel was across town!

All of them would think I would come as backup. 

Well, to hell with stealth. 

'Crystal Pillar!'

With the gleam of my crystal pillar (now poking through the roof) I could see the thieves rushing out of the rooms clearly. 

They were wearing black masks, and their entire attire was black.

Wait a sec.

Black.

The blacks are back for pay.

Were they called the "blacks" not because of the colour of their skin, but because of their clothes?

Well, the origin of the name isn't going to help me in a fight. 

'Crystal Style: Crystal Floor!'

The floor was covered in a coating of crystal, and of course, all of them fell. 

'Crystal Snakes!'

'Wrecking Ball!'

'Pancake Formula!'

All done. 

'Crystal Style: Prison for the Thieves!'

I'll get them out when I need them. 

But I'm glad they were only eight, I couldn't handle any more than that in the Crystal Prison.

I headed over to Gray's house to see if he needed backup. Turns out, he didn't. All the thieves had raided his house were clumped together in the centre of the street, with barrels around their torso's. Gray was holding up one by his shirt and threatening to give him frostbite and make his nose fall off if he didn't tell him the location of their HQ. 

'hey, Gray,' I said as I approached. 'You can put him down now. He looks like he's going to wet his pants.'

He lowered the thief, shocked. 

'Boy, don't you looked shocked to see me,' I muttered. 

'Hey, Star,' he said. 'You're done pretty quick. I was just going to come over…' He shot a disgusted look at the trembling thief before him. 'after I was done with him.'

I laughed. 'Come on, Gray,' I said. 'Put him down and I'll send him to my prison. Then put a shirt down. Let's head over to Dragneel.'

Turns out, Dragneel didn't need help either. All his eight thieves had been beaten up and tied together with rope. He too was yelling at them, trying to figure out the location of HQ. He stopped as soon as he saw us. 

'Hey, Dragneel,' I said. 'Do you know the location of their HQ?' He pouted. 'No one's talking,' he replied. I sighed. 'Erza must have something,' I said. We headed over to her.

Well, she had something for us.

Just not what we expected. 

'Look,' she explained. 'The people we caught are not the actual embers of the Leopods. They are the blacks. A large criminal group hired by the blacks. Turns out, they were hired two years ago and promised an undelivered reward too. That explains the message.'

And that explained a lot. 

Cue the shocked expressions. 

'They're just pawns,' she continued. 'the real members of the guild are at their HQ, in the east forest.'

Dragneel cracked his knuckles. 'What do you say?' he asked. 'Let's make more of the Blacks butts black,' I said. 

I got weird looks. 

'And blue,' I added. 

We stalked towards the eastern forest. 

'We don't know how powerful our opponents are,' she said, as we walked. 'do not underestimate them, and do not let them know that we have infiltrated their HQ.' 

We nodded. According to me, we would be out-numbered. I speak from experience. But we had our bonds, confidence and magic to make up for those numbers, just like the other countless times I had fought dark wizard guilds, so we would be fine. 

Duh.

I smirked as a huge bungalow came in sight. 

'Dragneel, do you smell anyone inside?' I asked. 'A lot of people,' he replied. 'But I don't think there's anyone outside.'

I frowned. It had to be a trap. Come on, a dark guild HQ with no guards? 

Well, they had to be either extremely over-confident or extremely stupid for that one. 

I'll go with extremely stupid. 

'You guys go 'round the front door,' I said. 'Gray and I will take them back.'

We split up, again. 

The back door was locked, but Gray used his ice-magic to make a key. I made a mental note to remember tricks like these. They were really helpful.

'Ready?' Gray asked, his hand on the knob.

'Ready,' I replied. 

He opened the door quickly. 

Inside, I saw something I didn't expect.

A… Party.

^^^^

There was music, disco-balls, pulsating lights, glowing lacrima and just about everything a top-notch wizard party would have. Gray and I just stood there in shock for a minute, looking like idiots. Then I tugged him inside and shut the door.

'Gray, give me your coat,' I whisper-shouted. He shot me a confused look. 'Why? Are you cold?' he asked. I rolled my eyes. 'No, baka. My Fairy Tail tattoo is in plain sight. Anyone looking for it will see it immediately.'

Realization dawned. 'Oh,' he said and took it off. I held out my hand. He surprised me by putting it on for me. 

'Well, isn't someone being a gentleman,' I commented. He smirked. 'Only for you,' he replied. I smiled. 'Come on,' I said. 'Let's uh… get a drink.'

We headed over to the refreshment table. When Gray leaned forward to take a drink, he whispered in my ear. 'Why does a dark guild have a party in their HQ right now? Is this the wrong place?' 

I looked around warily. 'I don't know,' I said. 'But since it's a party, we don't need to sneak around. Come on. Let's find Dragneel and Erza.'

We headed towards the front of the room, and into a hallway. We walked up and met with Natsu and Erza. 

'We knocked out a couple of guards when they said we weren't on the guest list,' Dragneel. 'I wonder why they would have a guest list, though.'

'There's a party out back,' Gray said. 'But I don't know if this is the correct place or not.'

'I doubt it,' Happy said. Sometimes I forget he was here. 

'Hey! You four!'

We turned. A squadron of guards in uniform surrounded us. 'You're going to have to come with us,' the lead guard said, looking at Dragneel's and Erza's tattoos. I grit my teeth. 

But to my surprise, Erza said, 'Okay.' We all looked at her like she was crazy. She gave us that look. 'Fine,' I agreed. Dragneel and Gray didn't say anything. The guards escorted us to another corridor. Then we turned left. Then we turned left again. Then right. Then I just didn't bother remembering anymore. 

We marched for a long time, continuously taking turns. I was starting to get a headache. 

Finally, we reached the door. The guard reached to open it, but then Erza knocked him out and re-equipped. We took our cue and attacked. Soon, all the guards were lying unconscious on the floor.

'Iksou!' Erza said. She opened the door. We all filed into an underground domed chamber with pipes running across the ceiling. It was huge. 

And we were not alone. 

There were four guys (dressed in black, obviously) in there with us. Lackeys of Glide, I presume.

'Where is Glide?' Erza thundered. 'Oh, he's outback,' one of the guys answered carelessly. 'it's not like you're going to get to him.' 

I raised my eyebrows. 'Mind what you say,' I warned. 'Or we might just kick your ass harder than we have to.'

He smirked. 'You can try,' he taunted. 'but with the Divine Lacrima on our side, you don't stand a chance. Now, fight!'

I was going to make a smart comment, but I couldn't because I was too busy dodging attacks and attacking. This guy was fast.

All of us divided up and took on one. And wait for it…

My opponent also manipulated the mineral in the earth.

If he had any skills, this was going to be a hard fight.

'Crystal Style: Crystal Dragons!'

'Iron Cage!'

I grit my teeth. 

I glanced around. 

Erza was fighting someone who re-equipped, just like her.

Gray was fighting someone with ice maker magic. 

Dragneel was fighting someone with… black flames??!!!

I gulped. All the battles weren't going too well, and we had just started. 

'Iron make Spikes!'

'Crystal Shell!'

'Copper Trip Wires!'

I jumped and stepped over the tripwires. 

'Cobalt Shards!'

'Crystal Shield!'

'Silver Scorpions!'

'Crystal Cage!'

I was breathing hard. This couldn't go on. At this rate, I would lose. I had to attack.

'Crystal Style: Pancake Formula!'

A huge slab of crystal appeared above him and dead-dropped, to crush him flat. But he was too fast. 

'Cobalt Shards!'

These ones came too fast. I managed to dodge the worst of them but got a bad cut on my arm. I grit my teeth, pressing on the wound. 

'Kuneyaru,' I spat. I staggered to my feet. I wasn't going down. Phil would never let me hear the last of it if someone had to save my butt. 

'Crystal Mice!' 

'Crystal..' I paused, debating on whether he was worth it. Then I decided he was. 

'Crystal Entombment!' 

A coffin closed over him. I exhaled in relief. It was over. I turned my back on it.

Only to hear it shatter into a million pieces.

'Okay, now you've irritated me,' I growled and turned back. But inside, I was panicking. My tomb wasn't strong enough to hold him. I couldn't put him underground, he would find a way out, he was a metal ability style user. 

So, I was left with only one option. 

To defeat him.

But how?!

It was like fighting Phil.

But only an evil version. 

And a guy.

I wondered what she would do in this situation. 

And… I had no idea. 

Well, I'm screwed. 

But I wasn't giving up. 

'Crystal Spikes!'

'Diamond Shield!'

My breathing hitched as I stared at it. 

DIAMOND???????!!!!!!!!!!

I took deep breaths. 

'You did good, little girl,' my opponent said. 'But a pest like you has no right to live. You don't even have enough power t defeat me. My master will crush you like an ant.'

I didn't respond. I was concentrating on something else. 

Dissolve the ceiling….yeah….that's done…now lift it….higher….higher….

'Diamond shards!'

'Crystal Shield!'

My shield cracked under the pressure, but I smirked. 

Phil had come through. 

'Crystal Style: Prison for the Stupid!'

The prison sprung out from underground, putting him in an enclosure. Then, before he could do anything…

'Pancake Formula!'

It was over.

I collapsed on my knees, holding the cut. 

It had taken a lot to raise the prison to the surface. 

But, you know, if my prison couldn't, Phil's could!

I sighed in relief. 

Then I looked around. 

Erza was still fighting, but I knew she could hold her own. 

Gray was on his hands and knees. His opponent was a popsicle. 

Dragneel was lying on the floor. So was the guy with the black flames, but there were no flames to be seen now. I crawled to Dragneel's side, ducking to avoid flying swords. 

I found him breathing. I sighed in relief. Gray crawled over too. 'Are you okay?' I asked him. 'Am I okay?!' he exclaimed. 'Look at you!' I looked down at the cut on my arm, which was bleeding severely. 

'It's just a small cut,' I said, waving my hand dismissively. Gray sighed. He then held his hand up to my cut and covered it in ice to stop the bleeding. 'Thanks,' I said. 

I put Dragneel's head on my lap as Erza's enemy went down. She joined our group, then flopped down on the floor. 'Is everyone alright?' she asked. 'Yes,' I replied. 'Dragneel's unconscious, but he'll be fine.' Erza nodded. 

'They put up a really good fight,' Gray said. 'Yeah,' I agreed. 'For a second there, I was worried I might lose.' Erza sighed. 'He was faster than me in re-equipping. I won by sheer wit and strategy.' 

I looked worriedly at Dragneel on the mention of wit. I hoped that all the brainpower he refused to use in everyday life got used in battle situations like this.

'I wonder,' I said, how the opponents had the same magic as us.' 

Erza opened her mouth to say something, but she was rudely interrupted by someone else. 

'Good question, girl.'

^^^^

We all turned. In the doorway leading to the corridor stood a massive man in a huge bear fur overcoat, grinning.

We can only assume it was Glide.

'You must be Gide,' Erza said, stiff as ever, despite how tired she was. She stood up. Gray stood up with her. I attempted to wake up Dragneel for one last time before handing the job to Happy and joining them.

'Surrender,' Erza commanded. 'You're outnumbered and overpowered. Give back the items you have stolen and come quietly, and we might just out in a good word for you with the officers.'

Glide laughed. It was the laugh of a maniac. 'Outnumbered?' he said. 'Yes. But overpowered? Titania, I thought you were smarter than that.'

I rolled my eyes. Did this guy seriously think he could take all four of us?

I could feel Erza's patience wearing out. 'Look, Glide,' I said. 'you can escape the life sentence. Or you can have it the hard way and face this city's wrath, which us at Fairy Tail will be more than happy to deliver. So, you'd better make your decision fast. And wisely, if I may add.'

Gray smirked. We shared smug looks. 'Well said, Estaria,' Glide responded. 'But do not be so confident that I will be the one going down tonight.' He spread his arms out.

'I have the ultimate weapon.'

Part of the domed wall dissolved, revealing a giant multicoloured lacrima.

It was by far the largest lacrima I had ever seen in my life.

We just gawked at it, unable to say anything.

'Behold,' Glide said, 'the Divine Lacrima.'

My eyes widened when I sensed the power rolling off it.

To give you an example, this could hold as much power as the Magic Council's ultimate weapon, Aetherion!

Can you imagine the power now?!

How did he even make such a powerful lacrima?!

'Over the past two years, I have travelled all over the world, searching for pieces of the most powerful lacrima in existence,' Glide continued.

'Once I fused them together, they created this. I have now implanted part of this in myself and am the most powerful wizard in the world! The lacrima gives me the power to mimic every style of magic there is, whether it is flame magic, re-equipping or mineral magic!'

We all stared at him as he did the maniac laugh again.

'I am now unstoppable!'

'Oh, really?'

Natsu was up.

'How about you battle someone with the same powers as yours?!'

With that, he ran to the lacrima, broke off a large chunk of it and started to it.

'No! My Divine lacrima!' Glide wailed.

'No, Natsu!' happy shouted. 'You'll got sick!'

'It....doesn't...matter,' Dragneel aid between mouthfuls.

'It's the only way,' erza said quietly. 'we need to have the same powers as him to defeat him.'

I nodded.

'Earth magic!'

Glide wasn't idle this whole time.

The giant lacrima sunk underground.

Dragneel broke off a final large chunk and stuffed it down his throat.

He started glowing with magic power.

'Fire dragon's Iron Fist!'

He charged Glide and hit him full on his face.

Only this time, Dragneel's flames were.... WHITE?!

'Come on,' Erza said. 'We can't stand idle.'

We charged too.

'Crystal Snakes!'

'Lightning Empress armour!'

'Ice Make lance!'

Glide deflected all our attacks easily.

'In case you didn't notice,' he said, 'I can do all kinds of magic. That includes deflecting magic.'

I grit my teeth.

All of us together and not even a scratch?

This is gonna be a long day.

'Fire Dragon's Wing Attack!'

'Crystal Dragons!'

'Heaven's Wheel!'

'Ice make Hammer!'

We all drew back, panting.

Aha!

This time, he couldn't deflect Erza's attack.

'Natsu,' Erza breathed. 'Pretend like your attacking upfront, then go 'round back. We'll create a distraction.'

Dragneel nodded.

'The last time,' Erza promised us. 'Iksou!'

'Ice Make Fishnet!'

'Re-equip! Black Wing armour!'

'Crystal Dragons!'

While Glide was focused on our attacks, Dragneel charged, veered right and attacked from behind.

'FIRE DRAGON'S FLAME ELBOW!'

Glide went down.

'Yes!'

We gave each other high-five's and pumped our fists in the air.

We didn't see it coming.

'Atomic dismembering!'

There was a wave of that unimaginable power.

Then it was black.

****

When I came to, I realized what had happened.

Glide had attacked us and we didn't even see it coming.

Erza had re-equipped into the armour that gives her crazy defensive power, the Immense Defence armour as fast as lightning and used it to protect us.

All of us were lying on the floor, too injured to move.

Shit.

What could we do now?

Dragneel's power surge had worn off if he ate any more of that lacrima his life could be in danger.

Gray and I were out of magic power.

Erza was on the ground in front of us, unconscious, her armour steaming.

No, there had to be another way.

We are Fairy Tail, Phil's voice echoed in my head. Our bonds are our strength.

I took a deep breath and struggled to get up. We weren't going down, not now, not ever.

We are Fairy Tail.

Seeing me, Dragneel, Gray and Happy also started to get up.

I pushed myself up in a defensive stance and shuffled back, just close enough to talk to them.

Glide just stood there, grinning.

'Not many can take a direct hit from my Atomic magic and still live,' he commented. 'I would expect nothing less from the great Titania of Fairy Tail. But with the power the Divine Lacrima Crystal gives me, I am invincible.'

I froze.

Divine Lacrima Crystal.

OH GOD, HOW COULD I BE SO STUPID???!!!

Even if that lacrima was the most powerful one in existence, it was still crystal.

Every lacrima was.

And, if it was Crystal...

I could do something about it.

'Guys, I've got a plan,' I said. 'Run?' Happy suggested hopefully. I gave him a dirty look.

'No, Fairy Tail Doesn't run,' Dragneel said. 'We stand and fight.' We all smiled. 'Therefore, the plan,' Gray prompted.

'Okay,' I said, taking a deep breath. 'The lacrima is a crystal, so I can probably control it. If I can just get close enough, we could win.'

Gray cocked his head to one side.

'Probably?' he asked.

'Uh, most probably,' I said.

'And if you can't?' Dragneel asked. I sighed. 'We'll cross that bridge when we come to it,' I replied. 

We all turned to Glide, who was mocking us by pretending to clean his nails with a piece of iron.

'Oh, you guys done planning your worthless strategy?' Glide said.

'Nothing's... worthless... here... except... for... you,' Erza choked out, attempting to stand.

We helped her up. 'Distract him,' I whispered.

We all got into a ready stance.

'Purgatory armour!' Erza attacked.

'Ice make Hammer!'

'Fire Dragon's Wing attack!'

We were on our last legs. If this plan failed, we were done for.

And Glide knew that.

'Oh, come on, little ants,' he said. 'that didn't even sting.'

I reached the place where he had buried the lacrima. I closed my eyes, sensing it.

Then all at once, with a huge effort, I raised it up.

The ground shook.

'NO!' Glide shouted.

I reached my arm out to touch it.

'STAR!'

I turned too late.

Diamond shards pierced my back.

I fell to my knees.

'NO!' I could hear the pained cries of my friends, but even they were getting faint.

I fell forward, my head resting against the lacrima.

Then all at once, everything was different.

Power surged through me. I felt like I could do anything.

Huh, diamonds shards impaled me?

No biggie.

I knew I was glowing with power.

I could sense the enemy's fear, a little coming even from my comrades.

I got up and turned.

There was a sound like a whip crack.

Then Glide fell to his knees.

'You... can't.... do this... to me,' he choked out.

'Glide of the Leopods,' I thundered. 'You deserve to die for your crimes. You have taken lives of the innocent.'

'NO, STAR!'

I jerked back to reality when Dragneel and Gray yelled. 

I gulped.

Was I just about to take that man's life?!

I took a deep breath. I couldn't let the power control me.

'I'm getting it over with,' I told my friends. 'Don't worry, I won't kill him.'

I summoned all the metal and minerals I possibly could.

And with this amount of power, that was a lot.

The ground shook, there was a mini earthquake.

For a minute, the cavern was filled with floating minerals. Then I directed them all at Glide with as much force as I could muster.

They formed a giant shell around him.

A giant, 100 billion jewels priced shell.

I fell to my knees.

My friends swarmed me.

Then, I fainted.

Again.

****

When I came to, we were still in the cavern. All of my friends were looking at me worriedly. My head was on Gray's lap.

'We won, right?' I mumbled. Everyone's faces broke out in smiles. 'We won,' Gray confirmed. I smiled and closed my eyes. I opened them when I felt someone hold my hands.

'You did amazing, Pinky,' Dragneel said. 'You saved this city and everyone in it. And you established Fairy Tail's power once and for all.'

He gestured to all the cops standing behind us, who I hadn't noticed before, who were gawking at the shell around Glide.

I got up, so I was in a sitting position.

'I didn't realize the shell was so big,' I said. Everyone laughed. 'Can we take some of those rubies and jewels, Star-chan?' Happy asked. I smiled.

'We'll take all of them,' I said. 'and whatever money we make, we'll give it to charity.'

Everyone agreed. Well, everyone except Happy.

'Can't we keep it for ourselves?' he whined. 'No,' I snapped. 'Others need it more than we do.'

Dragneel pouted. 'Can't we give some of it to the guild?' he asked. I thought about that. 'Okay,' I said. 'We're giving half of it to charity, one-fourth to our guild, and keep one-fourth for our team.'

I realized my mistake too late, and clamped my hands over my mouth. Then I removed it, and asked hesitantly, 'Are we a team?'

'Of course, we are!' everyone replied immediately. I grinned and stood up. I was feeling better now and had enough physical strength to stand.

'Come on, team,' I said. 'Let's crash.'

'Wait,' Erza said. I looked at her curiously.

'You just discovered a new talent, you know,' she said. 'to be able to control a lacrima and its powers.'

I grinned.

'And,' Gray added, pointing to the officers. 'They can't get Glide out, your shell's too strong. So, why don't yo do their work for them and we can collect all the gems and move out?'

'So much work,' I groaned. 'Well, we'd better finish it quickly.'

Come on, guys. I just defeated the guy who could do every kind of magic that existed!

Could you please cut me some slack?!

Guess not, because here I am, stuffing the gems in my sack. 

^^^^

'The town of Modora can't thank you enough,' Frank, the Mayor (I know you forgot Frank.) said. 'you have saved us from great peril. And that's why the town has decided to raise your reward to 50,000 jewels.'

My eyes widened. More money?!

The estimated worth of all the gems we had collected yesterday was 2 billion, according to an expert in town. That means 1 billion goes to charity, 50,000,000 for the guild and 50,000,000 between the five of us. Yes, five, as happy insisted on getting his own share. 

What a cat will do with 10 million, I have no idea. 

Back to the Mayor.

'I'm sorry, Frank,' I said, 'but we can accept the money. I mean, we thank the citizens and everything, but it was our pleasure. We don't want any of it, even the promised reward.' 

The mayor was shell-shocked. 'Why don't you give it to charity instead?' Erza suggested. 'Uh, okay,' Frank said. 'but I don't understand why you won't accept our rewards, especially after everything you've done.'

We just smiled. 'Well,' Frank said, 'thank you again, for saving this town.' We said our goodbyes and headed to the station, collecting our bags from the hotel on the way. We found our seats and settled in. 

As soon as the train started moving, Dragneel's "in gonna barf" face came on. I knocked him out immediately before he could barf all over us. His head fell on my lap, but thankfully he didn't snore this time. 

'I wonder what the guild's gonna do with the money,' I said, after a while. 'They're probably going to put it in the bank unless they find something better to do with it,' Erza replied. 'I hope the bank doesn't get robbed,' I said. 'Or we're gonna have another job on our hands.'

Everyone laughed, except Gray. He didn't even crack a smile. 

'Gray, what's up?' I asked. 'Nothing,' he mumbled and went back to staring out of the window. I shot a questioning look at Erza, but she just looked away.

Something's wrong. 

Had something bad happened and no one wanted to tell me?!

Did someone die?

Did we go bankrupt?

Well, if we did, that wouldn't be a problem, but still.

There was something, and I was going to get to the bottom of it. 

Erza and I idly chatted about nothing while Gray just looked out of the window and soft, cute snores were heard from my lap. 

Well, at least it isn't a thunderstorm this time.

A while later, we reached Magnolia. 

'Home, sweet home,' I said. 

'Land! Sweet Land!' Dragneel shouted. He danced around like he was on fire. No, wait. Usually, he was on fire, so he just danced around. 

'Come on, Star!' he said. He put his arm around my shoulders and dragged me out of the station, carrying both my bag and his. I just grinned and went along. 

We burst into the guild.

'Master!' I yelled. 'We need to talk to you!' 

Phil came over. 'Are you drunk?' she asked. I gave her a scornful look. She didn't get to reply, because the Master was here. 

'Star! Natsu! Erza! Gray!' he said. 'How was the job?' 

Dragneel grinned. 'Awesome!' he said. 'Star was amazing!'

I blushed. 'It was nothing,' I said. Then Dragneel, Erza and Happy started blurting out their versions of the story, all at once. The Master just grinned the whole time, standing patiently. 

Once they were done, Master said, 'Very good! Now, Star, come to the bar and tell me what happened, because from what I could hear you were the hero!'

I smiled. Dragneel, Gray, Erza, Happy and I headed to the bar. I passed on the drinks, then started my story, from the top. This time, Phil heard it too. 

As I spoke, the others added the parts I forgot to mention or purposely didn't (like the part where Glide impaled me with the diamond shards and I decided to murder him for a second) and by the time I was finished, almost the whole guild was around us. 

'Three cheers for Star!'

I blushed and looked at the floor. 

Phil tilted my chin up. 

'You made me proud,' she said. 'It didn't even occur to me that you could control lacrima.' 

I grinned.

Then I turned to face James. 

'I told you it was a dark guild,' he said, jokingly. I laughed and hugged him. 

'Oh yeah, I almost forgot,' I said, pulling back. I then pulled the cheque out of my pocket. 'We collected all the gems from the shell and sold it on the way. The total worth was 2 billion. One billion goes for charity, and this….' I handed the cheque to Master. '….is for the guild.'

People gawked as Master held it up. His eyes were shining. 

'Imagine what we could do with this!' Mira exclaimed. 'We wouldn't have to worry about maintenance anymore!'

Then…. You can imagine what happened. 

'We can build a pool!'

'A party house!'

'Renovate everything!'

I grinned and got out of there really quick before to turned into an all-out fight, which it usually does. I turned back when I was at a safe distance to look for Gray. I wanted to ask him why he was acting weird. I expected to see him arguing with Dragneel as usual, but he was nowhere to be seen. Dragneel was arguing with Jet instead.

I pulled him away. 

'Have you seen Gray?' I asked. 'No,' he replied. 'he walked out of the guild before we told everyone what happened.'

Before?

I always assumed he was right behind us. 

'Anyway,' I said, 'you're going home. You still haven't recovered from eating that stupid lacrima.' 

He weakly tried to argue, telling me what the guild could do with the 50 million if he was not there. 'Come on,' I said. I could see the exhaustion in his eyes, even after all the rest he got on the train.

I apologise for the knot on his head, though. 

We entered his cute little house and I tucked him in. He smiled in thanks, and I returned it. 

'Rest up, Natsu,' I whispered. But he was already asleep. I kissed him on the cheek and left, shutting the front door softly. 

Now for Gray.

I knocked on his apartment door.

No answer.

Where was he?

There was only one other place I knew he would be, apart from the guild. 

I headed to the river. 

I found him there, sitting at the edge of the water, staring at nothing. 

I was going to kick the person who made him so sad. 

I walked up to him and sat next to him.

He flinched away from me.

I looked at him, hurt. 

What did I do?!

'Gray, are you okay?' I asked. 

'Do I look okay?' he snapped. 

Now it was my turn to flinch. 

'Why are you like this?' I asked. 

****

**Gray's P.O.V.**

Why am I like this?!

Because I experienced sever heartbreak, that's why. 

And that's laughable because we weren't even together in the first place.

'It's none of your business,' I snapped at her. I could see the reflection of the pained look on her face in the water, but at that precise moment, I didn't care. 

Not anymore. 

'What did I do, Gray?' she asked, helplessly. 'Just tell me, and I'll make it right.'

I scoffed.

Make it right?!

What did she have, a time machine?!

'I can't take this anymore,' I said.

Then I got up and stalked away from her. I could feel her come after me. 

'What's your problem, Gray?!'

She finally lost her temper. 

If we were still friends, I would apologise and make I up to her quick.

But not today. 

I said nothing, just continued to walk away. 

She ran and stood in front of me, blocking my path. 

'Stop being like this, Gray,' she said. 'I can't lose you. Just tell me what I did, and I'll do everything in my power to make it right.'

Then I finally lost it. 

'YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DID?!' I roared. 'HOW CAN YOU PRETEND LIKE EVERYTHING'S OKAY, AND LIKE YOU CARE HOW I FEEL?!'

She opened her mouth to say something, but I didn't let her. 

'HOW COULD YOU DO THAT, STAR?! HOW COULD YOU BETRAY ME?!'

'I DON'T UNDERSTAND, GRAY, I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING!'

Now she was lying straight to my face?!

Couldn't she just admit it, reject me and rid me of my pain?

'GET LOST, STAR!'

I stalked away and when she started following me again, I turned the ground into ice.

That gave her the message loud and clear. 

^^^^

**STAR'S P.O.V.**

'I don't understand what I did!' I yelled, banging my mug on the table. 'He was perfectly normal yesterday!'

Phil patted me on the back sympathetically. 'Sometimes they need their space,' she said. 'and you do too. From the beer.' 

She took my mug away. 'I seed that!' I snarled, trying to snatch it back. 'No, you don't,' Phil snapped. I sighed. 'Gomen ne,' I said. 'I'm just so pissed. She nodded sympathetically. 'He'll come around,' she assured me. 

Just then, Erza entered the guild. 

'Hey, Erza!' I yelled. 'Here!' 

She came over. 

'Do you know what's up with Gray?' I asked. Erza gave me a dirty look. 

Yes, Erza Scarlet of Fairy Tail gave me, Estaria Walker, a dirty look. 

I was… well, surprised, to say in the least. 

'Erza, please, please tell me,' I said. She gave me a cold look. 'What do I need to say?' she asked me. 'It's done, there's nothing you can do to change it.'

With difficulty, I kept my cool. 

'What. Did. I. Do?' 

'You slept with Natsu, why are you asking me that?'

It didn't even register. 

'Sorry, can you repeat that?' 

'You. Slept. With. Natsu. And. Broke. Gray's. Heart.'

'WHAT?!' I shouted. 'I DIDN'T!'

Erza looked at me accusingly. 'Are you sure?' she asked. 

Now I gave her a dirty look.

 'Of course, I'm sure! Dragneel and I slept on the same bed, but not in that way! He was sick because he ate the lacrima. And he was also having a nightmare! I was taking care of him, there was absolutely nothing going on!'

I gave her a hurt expression. 

'Plus, how could you think so lowly of me, Erza? Sleep with him, of all people?! Seriously?!'

Erza looked at the floor. 'But I saw you kissing him,' she mumbled. 

'On the cheek!' I shrieked. 

Phil laughed. 

'This is all a misunderstanding,' She said. 'Given, the funniest one I ever encountered, but the fact remains the same. You…' she pointed at me, '…need to break down his door and talk to him. And you…' she pointed at Erza, 'need to back her up.'

I was out of the guild even before she finished her sentence and stalked to his apartment.

Finally, his outburst at the river made sense. 

I knew he felt that way about me, for a long time. 

'Gray!' I yelled, banging on his door. 'Open up, I know you're in there!' 

I waited. No reply. 

'Crystal Dragons!'

His door fell to the ground in pieces. 

I barged into his apartment. 

'Gray!' I shouted. I saw his bedroom door quickly close. 

I ran to it and broke it down too. 

I barged in, only to find him standing there, in the middle of the room, fists clenched, his expression hostile. 

'Come to make excuses?' he sneered. 

I walked up to him and slapped him. 

Hard. 

'Don't you even trust your best friend?!' I cried. 'How could you even think that?' 

He stared at me, shocked. 

'So, you guys didn't-' 

'NO!'

He blinked. 

'But I saw you! You were together-'

'We. Were. Not.'

He gulped. 

'Nothing happened between us, Gray,' I said. 'He's my best friend and you are too. You just…. Made the wrong assumptions.' 

I let that sink in.

He pulled me in for a hug. 

'I'm sorry,' he said. I hugged him back. 'No, I'm sorry,' I said, 'For not realizing it sooner.' 

He laughed. 'I think I'm going paranoid,' he said. 

'Even if you are,' I said, 'I'll still love you.'

I felt Erza leave the room. 

I had forgotten she was there until she left. 

Gray hugged me tighter and I kissed his cheek. 

'You have nothing to worry about,' I said. 'If anything happens, you'll be the first to know. So, next time, don't make assumptions.' 

I could feel him grin.

****

'Bye, Star!' Phil said. 'We'll be back soon. Just going to monitor some major dark guild activity up north.' 

I pouted. 'I'll come with you,' I said. 'No,' she replied immediately. 'James and I want to do this alone, and besides, you've got new friends. And, let's not forget, you're a millionaire! Go have fun!'

I grinned at the mention of the 10 million in my bank account. 

'Why don't you ever sell your metals?' I asked. 

'I don't want to,' she replied. 'There's just…. So much.'

I nodded. It was true. 

'Well, see you then,' James said, joining us. 'We'll be back in two weeks or so.' 

I nodded. 'Be safe!' I said, waving. I ignored the scornful look she was giving me. 

Once they were out of sight, I headed back to the guild. 

'Hey, guys!' I greeted them. I was very happy (or sad, I don't know) to say that Dragneel was back to his normal extremely annoying self. 

'Hey,' they replied. I opened my mouth to tell them about Phil and James' departure, but I was interrupted by Mirajane. 

'Star! Master wants to speak to you!'

I got up, and so did Dragneel and Gray. I shot them a questioning look, but they just shrugged. 

Oh god, please don't let me have the same problem as Levy. 

Master was sitting at the bar, as usual. I went and sat next to him. 

'master, did you call me?' I asked. 

'Star!' Master said. 'I need to talk to you about something.' He shot Gray and Dragneel and a quizzical look. 

'Let them be,' I said. Master sighed. 'Very well,' he said. 'I may have found a way to get your memory back.'

Shocked silence. 

'I want you to think about it,' he said. 'if you truly want to get it back, just ask.'

With that, he hopped off the barstool and headed up the stairs. 

^^^^

How could Master drop such a big bomb on me and just leave like that?!

Did I want my memory back?!

Of course, I did!

But wait.

There might be consequences. 

Maybe I'll get a brain-overload and lose the memories I have.

 Is that even possible?

Maybe my past is so painful, I'll want to forget it again. 

Maybe I have siblings?

Parents?!

I feel like I have a brain-overload right now. 

I took a deep breath. 

'Star?' Dragneel asked, 'what have you chosen to do?'

I looked at both of them, suddenly sure. 

'I'm gonna get my memories back.'

****

I regretted my choice when I was stuck neck-deep in the snow. 

'Get me out!' I screamed.

 'We're trying!' All four of them shouted. 

Wait, wait, I'll back up.

Once I told Master that I wanted my memories back, he told me what to do. 

I had to head up to the snowy mountain ranges up north. From there, we had to climb up the mountain called "Peak" and had to meet someone on top of it. Some Sage called "Praige".

Sorry, too many funny names at once.

Anyway, Praige would ask you a question. A riddle. If you answered correctly, he would grant you one wish. Just one, even if you travelled in a group. He could grant only one wish every 7 days. So, if you wanted your wish to be granted without a wait, you'd better get there first. 

I mean, if you could. 

Master had described the journey as extremely dangerous and life-threatening. Of course. We had brushed it off and prepared to leave. 

Two and a half days later, I regretted not listening to him.

The Mountain ranges in the North were a two day's train journey from Magnolia. Once we got there, we needed to hike up to the peak of Peak, and find Praige. If we got there successfully, there was a chance that a week wasn't completed from the last wish. In that case, we had to extend the trip. 

Plus, the riddle. If we could answer that, and it was a week since the last wish, awesome!

We could get my memories back and high tail it out of there.

I didn't like the look of that mountain. 

So, here we are, half a day's trek up Peak, where Dragneel and Gray's fight had caused an avalanche. Which buried me up to my neck in snow. 

Everyone was desperately trying to pull me out, but I was stuck…. Bad. 

'Come on!' I shouted. Everyone pulled harder. Finally, I told them to stop. I felt like my arms were going to come out of their sockets. 

'Star sure is fat,' Happy commented. 

'Shut up!' I, Dragneel and Gray said at the same time. 

Then the two of them started getting into a fight again.

'Stop it!' I yelled, 'I'm freezing! Do something, anything!'

Erza was quiet the whole time, thinking. 

'Gray,' she said, why don't you turn the snow around her to ice and then shatter it?'

Gray smirked. 

Suddenly, the space around me was so tight I couldn't breathe. 

'Can't…. breathe….' I choked out. 'Oh, sorry!' Gray said. He shattered the ice. I fell inside my the five-foot hole and cut my hand on the shards of ice.

'Ow!' I complained. 'Sorry!' Gray shouted. Then he and Dragneel helped me out. 

I cursed as I pulled out a large piece of ice shard from my hands. 

I glared at Erza. 

'You did not think that through, did you?' I asked her. She looked sheepish under the mask. 

Once Gray bandaged my hands and Dragneel warmed me up with his fire, we continued moving. 

Finally, all of us collapsed from exhaustion. 

'Are we there yet?' Happy asked. 

I looked at the gigantic mountain above me. 

'Not even close,' I muttered. 

****

**1 Day Later**

I hauled myself over the ledge. We had to climb a 50-foot tall cliff to get to the peak of Peak. 

Urgh, damn Sages. Did they always have to live in the mountains?!

Once I recovered, I took a look at my surroundings.

No nice view, clouds covered everything below.

No pretty flowers, or anything else like that. What did I expect, we were on top of a mountain. 

If fact, there was no sign of life anywhere. 

Except for straight in front of me, where the dark mouth of a cave loomed, out of the gloom. 

O looked back at the others, who were still on the ground. I walked back to them and helped them up. 

'Come on,' I said, 'we're finally here.'

We walked into the cave, Dragneel in the lead with his fire. It was pitch black all around us, except, of course, the places the fire lit up. There was also no sound except out footsteps. Creepy. 

Finally, after a while of walking, I heard a sound. 

Like…. rushing water?

We rounded a corner in the otherwise straight cave, and I came face-to-face with the most amazing view in my life. 

^^^^

Paradise. 

That's the word for it. 

Suddenly, all the trouble we had gone through getting there was worth it, because….

A gigantic waterfall crashed down from our right. The ceiling was so high, eagles could do loop-the-loops. Tress and flowers surrounded us in a complex but simple pattern. Or was it random? I was just too mesmerized to see. Animals and birds roamed freely too. 

I even saw a rainbow.

See?

Paradise. 

We just walked through it, shocked to the point where we couldn't even talk.

Finally, Erza said, 'It's... beautiful.'

'Amazing,' Gray agreed. 

Dragneel, Happy and I didn't say anything for a while. Finally, I said, 'This is awesome beyond words, but weren't we here for something?'

They all snapped out of it. 

And then suddenly, it all disappeared. 

'Whoa, what?' Dragneel asked. It was pitch black, I couldn't even see Happy's bright blue colour. 'Um, is everyone alright?' I asked. Before they could reply, a voice boomed out. 

'Welcome!'

On instinct, I whirled around to the direction from which the sound was coming from. When I did, everything lightened, and my sight came back. I saw a man sitting on a mat, fanning himself. He was wearing a kimono, with an oil lamp sitting beside him. 

'Welcome,' he repeated. I arched an eyebrow. 

'Where did the beautiful scenery go?' Dragneel whined. I rolled my eyes. Did he still not figure out that it was illusion magic?!

Bakayaru.

'Are you the sage? Uh… Praige?' I asked. He beamed at us. 'The one and only!' he said. 'Now, what can I do to help you?'

We all shared looks. 

'I need to understand something first,' I said, 'you use illusion magic, don't you?' 

He nodded. 

'I will explain it all,' he said, 'if you have come for a wish to be granted, first, I will put you in an illusion, to see if you can snap out of it. You have passed the first test. Now, I will ask you a riddle. If you answer it correctly, I will grant you a wish.'

I scowled. 'But,' I argued, 'if you use Illusion Magic, then how is it a reality to everyone except the person who the spell is cast on?' 

Praige shook his head. 

'That's now how it works,' he said, 'after I put the person who asked for a wish in an illusion, he passes the illusion to every person he meets. Then, they pass it to every person they meet. In that way, once everyone believes the illusion, it slowly becomes a reality.'

I stared at him, wide-eyed. 

'You possess magic this powerful?!' I gushed. 'And you grant wishes. What if you grant the wish to the wrong person for the wrong thing?'

Praige grinned. 

'That's what the previous illusion and riddle are for,' he said. 'Only the righteous can solve it.'

I blinked. Wow, that was awesome. 

'So,' Praige continued, 'shall I ask my riddle?' 

We nodded. He cleared his throat and said-

"'It can't be seen, it can't be felt, can't be heard and can't be smelt. It lies behind the stars and under the hills, empty holes it fills. It comes and follows after, ends life and kills laughter. What is it?'"

We just stared at him. 

'I'm sorry, could you repeat that?' I asked, stumped. 

So, Praige repeated it. We were still no closer to the answer. 

'Oh,' Praige said, 'take your time. I'm in no hurry.'

We all went out in the snow and stood there, thinking hard. 

'Um, air?' I asked. 'It can't be seen, heard, felt…. Oh, wait. I can be heard. My bad.'

Everyone sighed. 

'Okay,' I said, 'what lies under the hills?'

'Tunnels?'

'Soil?'

'Rocks?'

'Star's body?'

I pouted. 'None of it matches, with the other lines,' I complained, trying out each one. 'And I'm going to get you back, Happy.'

He audibly gulped. 

'Okay, let's try again,' I said, 'what lies behind the stars? Space?'

'Dark matter?'

'Emptiness?'

'A multiverse?'

'Um…planets?'

'Happy's brains?'

I shook my head. 

'Again,' I said. 'No match. Moving on. What kills laughter?'

'Lack of air?'

'Lame joke?'

'Grave situation?'

'Something scary?'

I sighed. We weren't getting anywhere. 

'Wait,' I said, 'Laughter is killed by something scary. So, the Grim Reaper?' 

They all thought for a while. 

'It fits, but I don't know if it's correct,' Erza said, hesitantly. I pouted. It was the best I got,' I said. 

'Well,' Gray said, 'any dark wizard would've guessed it because it was made by a dark….'

We all froze. 

All of us, except Dragneel. 

'Darkness!' We shouted. 

****

'Well done,' Praige complemented. 'You are indeed bright wizards. So, what is your wish?'

Everyone looked expectantly at me. 

'Well,' I said, 'I lost my memories in an accident. I want to get them back. Wait!' I shouted as Praige lifted his arms, an understanding look on his face. That changed when I shouted. He looked at me in confusion. 

'Um, well,' I said, 'could you put only me in an illusion? And when you take me out of the illusion in which I had my memories in, I'll remember everything from the illusion, so I'll have my memories back. Will that work?' 

Praige stroked his beard, deep in thought. 

'Yes,' he mumbled, 'it could work. And I wouldn't even have to use any magic power.' I looked at him expectantly. 'So?' I asked. 'I'll do it,' he replied. 

I nodded and sat down in front of him. He raised his arms and a huge blue pentacle appeared around us. 

My god, this was a whole new level of magic.

No wonder it took him a week to recover. 

I didn't know what happened after that. 

The next thing I knew, I was been shaken violently and an annoying nickname was being yelled repeatedly in my ear. 

'Pinky! Pinky! Wake up! Pinky!'

My eyes fluttered open. I heard everyone breathe out a collective sigh of relief. 

'Wha-what happened?' I stuttered. 

'The memories were too much for you,' Erza explained. 'You passed out.'

I relaxed in Gray's lap, where Dragneel had placed my head when I had woken up. 

I gently reached out in my head and searched for the years before Phil and James found me. 

Instead, I found something else. 

I gasped in horror. 

'What?' Everyone asked together. 

I sat bolt upright, staring at Gray, then shifted my gaze to Natsu. 

'I-' I stopped. I couldn't get the words out. Thankfully, that baka understood and made the connection. 

'She's the Crystal Dragon Slayer,' he whispered in awe. 

^^^^

'What was her name?' Dragneel asked excitedly, after we had thanked and said our goodbye's to Praige and heading down the mountain. 

'S-Shimera,' I said. 'Her name was Shimera. After she left, I wandered around until I came to the city and then, my "mother", Mrs Richard, adopted me. That's where I met Gray.'

We shared glances. 

'Why didn't you tell me?' Gray asked, not looking at me. I sighed. I knew he was going to ask me. 'Dragons were supposedly "extinct", remember?' I explained. 'No one would've believed me, especially at that age.'

He opened his mouth to argue, but I held my hand out. 'Don't,' I said. 'You and I both know you wouldn't believe me. Mr and Mrs. Fullbuster were strong non-believers.' 

I smiled lightly at the mention of Gray's parents. I loved them like they were my own. I missed them, to be honest. A lot. But I wasn't going to mention that just yet. 

'Well,' Erza said, 'what else do you remember?'

'The night of the attack,' I replied. 'Ms. Richard... she pushed me out of the house just as it collapsed on her.' My voice cracked. Everyone looked at me in concern, but I looked away and continued. 'I didn't have any time to grieve,' I said,' I had to find Gray. But as soon as we saw each other…'

'It dropped a tower on her,' Gray spat. 'For two years, I thought my best friend was dead. Two years. And when she came back, she didn't have any memories of me.'

I smiled sadly and side-hugged him as we walked. 'But I'm back!' I assured. 'The Shining Star!'

Gray looked at me in shock.

'You remember that?' he gushed, at the sound of my old nickname. I nodded. He laughed. I laughed with him. 

'Hey, Pinky,' Dragneel said, 'can you show me your Dragon Slayer Magic?'

I smirked. 'With pleasure,' I replied. 

I turned to the vast expanse of the mountain on my left. 

'CRYSTAL DRAGON'S ROAR!!!'

A gigantic gust of wind along with deadly crystal shards left my mouth, peppering the mountainside of a millisecond. 

And…. causing an avalanche. 

'Run!' I screamed. 

This avalanche was a huge once, much bigger than the one Dragneel and Gray had created. But, fun fact.

You can't out-run an avalanche. 

We tried, anyway. 

Finally, Gray created an ice-shell around us to prevent us from getting buried. No, not that stupid fatal ice-shell, just a normal one. 

I breathed out a sigh of relief, but it was kind of hard because I was squashed between Gray and Erza and Dragneel was half on top of me. I pushed him off making him upside down. He yelled at me, but I ignored him, because one problem solved, another one arises. 

How were we going to get out?

We didn't even know how dep we were buried. 

Hell, I didn't even know which way was up. 

Great. 

We needed to get out fast since we were running out of oxygen. I ran multiple possibilities through my head. 

I could ask Gray to dissolve the ice shell.

But then we would be completely buried. 

Or, I could tell him to dissolve only a part of it and Dragneel could melt the snow with his fire. 

But then, water would fill the shell, possibly before we could get out. 

'Erza?' I asked, 'anything?'

She shook her head. Great. If even Titania didn't know how I doubt anyone did. 

'Natsu,' I warned, 'no fire.'

I was feeling suffocated. Fortunately, Gray found us a way out. 

It happened too quickly for me to understand what he did, one second, we were dying in there and the next we were on the snow, gasping for air. Gray more than the rest of us. 

'Gray,' I panted, 'how?'

He smirked, still breathing heavily. 'I have my ways,' he replied. I gave him a dirty look. 

'Fine,' he conceded. 'I made an ice hammer way above us and dropped it. When I felt vibrations, I knew it was the right way up. Then, I lifted the whole ice-shell to the surface and dissolved it.'

I raised my eyebrows. 'That was quick thinking,' I complimented, helping him up. 'But I know that took a lot of magic power, being a maker magic wizard myself.'

He smiled. 'Thanks,' he said. 

'Anytime.'

****

'So?' everyone asked, once we entered the guild. I took a deep breath. 

'I'm a Dragon Slayer,' I declared. Gasps all around. 

'Yes,' Dragneel supported me. 'she's a Dragon Slayer. I couldn't sense it before because I didn't know, but it's clear, now that I do.'

There was silence for a second. 

Then all hell broke loose. 

'We have two Dragon Slayers in our Guild!'

'This just renews our status!'

'No one will mess with Fairy Tail!'

I just smiled. 

'Come on,' Gray said, 'let's get out of here.'

I shook my head, concentrating. Suddenly, the whole guild fell silent. 

I hopped up on a table. 

'Thank you,' I said, 'everybody please take a seat.'

They all did as I said. 

'Now,' I continued, 'you must be wondering why you feel so calm and collected.'

The crowd nodded. 

'Okay,' I continued, 'you know I use Dragon Slayer magic. So, if you look up, you'll see a classic example of one of my techniques.'

They all looked up. Hanging from the ceiling were multiple wind chimes, each making a pleasant ting sound. 

'This technique is used to calm unnecessary emotions,' I explained. 'It's really useful, you know when you're in Fairy Tail.' I smiled. 'Now, if master permits, I will use this technique whenever the guild breaks out in an all-out fight and destroys everything.'

'Why?' Dragneel whined. 

I glared at him.

'I approve!'

Heads turned. Master had just entered the guild. He walked up and hopped on the table next to me. 

'Star has a point,' he said, 'All you men fight a lot, over unnecessary things. It is tiring to buy furniture again and again. But I'm not restricting a brawl. Just take it outside, or it's cancelled.' 

Normally, the guild would've burst out in protests. But this time, my Peace chime spell kept them in place. They had no choice but to agree. 

I smiled in satisfaction. 

It's not like I didn't enjoy the occasional brawl, but the men in our guild…..

I sighed. 

^^^^

The news till hadn't sunk in completely. I was walking on autopilot, unaware of everything around me. When my brain was feeling a little less numb and I realized where I was, I felt even worse than I already did, which wasn't even humanely possible. 

I was at Phil's house. I saw her, smiling and laughing in all the pictures around me with James there by her side, always. I saw the reports of their decade quest, with drool still on them. 

I was as if they had left for a few minutes and would be back any second. 

And I couldn't believe they were gone. 

I couldn't believe I would never hear Phil's nasty comments about me losing a fight and then felling her arm around me, patting my back and saying, "it happens". 

I couldn't believe I would never see James again, standing quietly in a corner, attentive as a hawk, ready to jump into action at any second to protect us. 

I couldn't believe I would never again hear or see them laughing, fighting, yelling, or excited.

Every moment I had spent with them rushed into my head.

All those memories. 

I couldn't bear it. 

I sunk to my knees as my eyes closed, looking at their smiling faces in an old photo. 

***Gray's P.O.V.***

I knew Star needed space. True, I was extremely sad and angry about the news, but I was more worried about Star. She's a Dragon Slayer, and they… destroy, without even realising it. 

And now, with so many emotions…

Just because she had never explored before didn't mean she couldn't now. 

I was done waiting around. 

'Natsu,' I snapped, 'come on. We're going to get Star, it's been too long.'

'The rest of you,' Erza commanded, 'we will have time to grieve later. We must get moving now. We need to inform the Magic Council and other official guilds. There is no time to waste, we have a war on our hands.'

The whole guild stirred with a renewed sense of purpose and vengeance. 

Natsu and I headed out. 

'Where could she be?' Natsu asked. I stopped at a crossway. 'Check at the mansion,' I told him, 'I'll check the river. Meet me back here in five minutes. If I'm not there, you know I found Star.' 

Natsu nodded and took off. I took off to, but in the opposite direction. I reached the riverbank and stopped, looking around both ways and even scanning the opposite side. No luck. 

I headed back to the crossway to wait for or meet Natsu. 

As I jogged up the path, I saw him running up too.

'She's not there?' we both asked the other, together. 

A tense few seconds passed.

'Phil's house,' We both said together, again. 

***Back to Star's P.O.V.***

I woke up to see a familiar ceiling. Memories of the past few hours came rushing through my head. I sat up slowly on Phil's couch, rubbing my temples. I was pretty sure I blacked out. Everyone was probably worried sick. Yay. 

'Hey.'

I whipped my head around (and that did NOT make my migraine better) to see Dragneel leaning against the doorway leading to the kitchen. 

'Hey,' I replied. He came over and sat next to me, putting his arm around my shoulder. I leaned my head against him, my eyes filling with tears. 

'Why do they always have to go?' I asked, my voice breaking. 'First Shimera, then Ms Richard, and now…'

I couldn't complete my sentence. 

Dragneel didn't say anything and just hugged me tightly, and that was all I needed. I cried silently on his shoulder. 

A while later, I had run out of tears to wet his scarf. 

'What about the guild?' I asked him. 'They're on their way to inform the others,' Dragneel replied, 'I volunteered to stay back and keep you company.'

I closed my eyes, breathing in his scent. 'Thank you,' I whispered. 'It means a lot.'

He rested his chin on my head. 'Anything for you,' he said. 

I didn't have an answer for that. 

'So,' I said, 'what's the plan?'

'War,' he replied, 'if they're going to attack, we're not going to sit idle.' I snorted. 'You're going to love that, aren't you?' I asked. 

I could feel his smirk. 

'Anyway,' he said, 'what do you want to do now?' 

I sighed. 'Well,' I replied, 'we can't do much until the others come back, so… stay like this?' I asked, hopefully, looking up at him. 

His face was blank for a millisecond and then it broke out into the full grin that I loved. 

'I thought you'd never ask,' he replied, getting comfortable and setting me on his lap. I smiled, forgetting about the whole world for a second. I got comfortable too.

'So,' he asked, still grinning, 'care to tell me about Shimera?'

****

***Erza's P.O.V.***

The other official guilds had got the message and responded immediately. The Magic Council, however, was a different case. 

'How do you know the letter was genuine?' One of the Ten Wizard Saints questioned. 

'Of course, we do,' Master growled. 'Phil and James always keep in touch, and they have not contacted us in over a month. And we mustn't waste time! We must get ready for war!'

'How do we know that this letter was not sent by one of the dark guilds themselves?' the same Wizard Saint questioned. 'And how do we know that you are not tricking us?'

I knew Master was at the end of his patience, so I stepped in. 

'We would never trick the Magic Council,' I said, 'we agreed to that when we became an official guild. And besides, you know of the mass dark guild activity up North. Phil and James had gone to investigate that. They could be easily… captured. And, we have confirmation that the handwriting on the letter is genuine.' 

The leader of the Magic Council stroked his beard. 

'We cannot accept this,' he said, 'until we see it with our own eyes. This matter is closed. Please show yourself out quietly and without any disturbance.' 

That was it. 

The whole company which had come to the Magic Council, which were Mirajane, Master, Gildarts, Elfman and me, lost it. 

'SHOW OURSELVES OUT??!!' Gildarts thundered. 'GO QUIETLY??!! DO YOU NOT KNOW WHO WE ARE???!!!'

The whole building shook.

'SHOULD WE NOT HONOR OUR DEAD?!' Mira snarled in her demon form. 

'JAMES WAS A TRUE MAN!' Elfman shouted, 'HIS DEATH CANNOT GO UNACKNOWLEDGED!' 

'MY CHILDREN!' Master boomed, so angry he wasn't able to say anything else. 

'WE WILL NOT LET THIS INSULT GO!' I shouted. 'IKSOU!'

We destroyed the Magic Council HQ and stalked out. 

^^^^

The news still hadn't sunk in completely. I was walking on autopilot, unaware of everything around me. When my brain was feeling a little less numb and I realized where I was, I felt even worse than I already did, which wasn't even humanly possible.

I was at Phil's house. I saw her, smiling and laughing in all the pictures around me with James there by her side, always. I saw the reports of their decade quest, with drool still on them.

I was as if they had left for a few minutes and would be back any second.

And I couldn't believe they were gone.

I couldn't believe I would never hear Phil's nasty comments about me losing a fight and then felling her arm around me, patting my back and saying, "it happens".

I couldn't believe I would never see James again, standing quietly in a corner, attentive as a hawk, ready to jump into action at any second to protect us.

I couldn't believe I would never again hear or see them laughing, fighting, yelling, or excited.

Every moment I had spent with them rushed into my head.

All those memories.

I couldn't bear it.

I sunk to my knees as my eyes closed, looking at their smiling faces in an old photo.

***Gray's P.O.V.***

I knew Star needed space. True, I was extremely sad and angry about the news, but I was more worried about Star. She's a Dragon Slayer, and they... destroy, without even realizing it.

And now, with so many emotions...

Just because she had never exploded before didn't mean she couldn't now.

I was done waiting around.

'Natsu,' I snapped, 'come on. We're going to get Star, it's been too long.'

'The rest of you,' Erza commanded, 'we will have time to grieve later. We must get moving now. We need to inform the Magic Council and other official guilds. There is no time to waste, we have a war on our hands.'

The whole guild stirred with a renewed sense of purpose and vengeance.

Natsu and I headed out.

'Where could she be?' Natsu asked. I stopped at a crossway. 'Check at the mansion,' I told him, 'I'll check the river. Meet me back here in five minutes. If I'm not there, you know I found Star.'

Natsu nodded and took off. I took off to, but in the opposite direction. I reached the riverbank and stopped, looking around both ways and even scanning the opposite side. No luck.

I headed back to the crossway to wait for or meet Natsu.

As I jogged up the path, I saw him running up too.

'She's not there?' we both asked the other, together.

A tense few seconds passed.

'Phil's house,' We both said together, again.

***Back to Star's P.O.V.***

I woke up to see a familiar ceiling. Memories of the past few hours came rushing through my head. I sat up slowly on Phil's couch, rubbing my temples. I was pretty sure I blacked out. Everyone was probably worried sick. Yay.

'Hey.'

I whipped my head around (and that did NOT make my migraine better) to see Dragneel leaning against the doorway leading to the kitchen.

'Hey,' I replied. He came over and sat next to me, putting his arm around my shoulder. I leaned my head against him, my eyes filling with tears.

'Why do they always have to go?' I asked, my voice breaking. 'First Shimera, then Ms Richard, and now...'

I couldn't complete my sentence.

Dragneel didn't say anything and just hugged me tightly, and that was all I needed. I cried silently on his shoulder.

A while later, I had run out of tears to wet his scarf.

'What about the guild?' I asked him. 'They're on their way to inform the others,' Dragneel replied, 'I volunteered to stay back and keep you company.'

I closed my eyes, breathing in his scent. 'Thank you,' I whispered. 'It means a lot.'

He rested his chin on my head. 'Anything for you,' he said.

I didn't have an answer for that.

'So,' I said, 'what's the plan?'

'War,' he replied, 'if they're going to attack, we're not going to sit idle.' I snorted. 'You're going to love that, aren't you?' I asked.

I could feel his smirk.

'Anyway,' he said, 'what do you want to do now?'

I sighed. 'Well,' I replied, 'we can't do much until the others come back, so... stay like this?' I asked, hopefully, looking up at him.

His face was blank for a millisecond and then it broke out into the full grin that I loved.

'I thought you'd never ask,' he replied, getting comfortable and setting me on his lap. I smiled, forgetting about the whole world for a second. I got comfortable too.

'So,' he asked, still grinning, 'care to tell me about Shimera?'

****

***Erza's P.O.V.***

The other official guilds had got the message and responded immediately. The Magic Council, however, was a different case.

'How do you know the letter was genuine?' One of the Ten Wizard Saints questioned.

'Of course, we do,' Master growled. 'Phil and James always keep in touch, and they have not contacted us in over a month. And we mustn't waste time! We must get ready for war!'

'How do we know that this letter was not sent by one of the dark guilds themselves?' the same Wizard Saint questioned. 'And how do we know that you are not tricking us?'

I knew Master was at the end of his patience, so I stepped in.

'We would never trick the Magic Council,' I said, 'we agreed to that when we became an official guild. And besides, you know of the mass dark guild activity up North. Phil and James had gone to investigate that. They could be easily... captured. And, we have confirmation that the handwriting on the letter is genuine.'

The leader of the Magic Council stroked his beard.

'We cannot accept this,' he said, 'until we see it with our own eyes. This matter is closed. Please show yourself out quietly and without any disturbance.'

That was it.

The whole company which had come to the Magic Council, which were Mirajane, Master, Gildarts, Elfman and me, lost it.

'SHOW OURSELVES OUT??!!' Gildarts thundered. 'GO QUIETLY??!! DO YOU NOT KNOW WHO WE ARE???!!!'

The whole building shook.

'SHOULD WE NOT HONOR OUR DEAD?!' Mira snarled in her demon form.

'JAMES WAS A TRUE MAN!' Elfman shouted, 'HIS DEATH CANNOT GO UNACKNOWLEDGED!'

'MY CHILDREN!' Master boomed, so angry he wasn't able to say anything else.

'WE WILL NOT LET THIS INSULT GO!' I shouted. 'IKSOU!'

We destroyed the Magic Council HQ and stalked out. 

^^^^

At night, Dragneel and I headed for the guild to wait for the others. Five minutes later, Gray and the Raijin Shu (excluding Laxus) burst in.

'Blue Pegasus is on the way,' Gray confirmed, hugging me. 'Are you alright?' he asked. 'Yeah,' I said, 'fine.'

Seconds later, Shadow Gear walked in, Levy in the lead. 'Lamia Scale is coming,' she said, 'with Sabretooth.'

We nodded. We had three guilds coming to war with us. And I didn't feel embarrassed about the fact that they were coming to help us, this was war. Against all of us. We were in this together.

Just then, the team that went to the magic council stormed in, looking furious.

'I don't want to know,' I whispered to Gray and Dragneel. They both nodded. Levy decided to ask the big question, but she wasn't stupid enough to shout it for everyone to hear. Their expressions were... I don't have a word for it. And the fact that they were still angry after the long journey back from the Magic Council HQ was unnerving.

Finally, Levy decided to face the big question in the room. So, keeping her voice very low, she asked Mira, 'Is the Imperial Army on the way?'

'NO!' Mira snarled, flickering to her demon form. I flinched at the venom in her voice, I had never heard Mira so angry. 'Please tell me you did not destroy the Magic Council,' Levy pleaded.

'They deserved it,' Gildarts growled. I face-palmed, but I knew they wouldn't have done it unless they had a good reason.

But I also knew the whole Magic Council and the army was most probably going to wage war on us instead of the enemy.

I just hoped they weren't angry enough to fire Aetherion.

'Okay,' I said, 'when will the other guilds arrive?'

'In an hour,' someone said from behind me. I turned to see Laxus walking in.

'Laxus!' Mira said. 'Who else is coming?'

'No one,' he growled, 'everyone's too much of a chicken.'

'You probably just scared them away,' I muttered under my breath. 'What girlie?' Laxus snapped. Oops.

I raised my eyebrows, not showing that I was afraid.

'I said, you probably scared them away,' I repeated. 'That attitude of yours doesn't make a very good first impression.'

'WHAT?' He roared.

'Is your hearing depleting? Would you like me to repeat that?'

He started crackling with lighting. I just gave an easy smile. I needed to get my emotions out, and I was doing it the wrong way.

'ENOUGH!' Erza yelled. I frowned and turned.

Alzack and Bisca had just stumbled into the guild, badly beaten up. Cana Mira and I rushed to help them. Mira took Bisca while Cana and I took Alzack.

'Hey,' I said gently, checking for serious injuries, 'what happened?'

'They ambushed us!' Bisca cried. 'And they beat us up. They told us to give you a message.'

My eyes widened. Was it the magic Council, or the dark guilds?

'They said told us,' Alzack wheezed, 'to say we had more than one enemy.'

My eyes widened. 'More than one?' I asked. 'So, the Magic Council?'

Everyone nodded grimly.

'That's not all,' Bisca said bitterly, 'we were attacked again.'

'AGAIN?' all of us shouted.

Alzack nodded. 'This time, beat us up and said they wanted to meet under a flag of truce. In the deserted town, Yamada.'

I stomped my foot. The Magic Council and the Dark guilds were going to get their asses kicked for treating my family this way.

And as if I didn't have enough motived to kill them already.

'Star,' Master said, 'you have the most experience with dark guilds. Tell us about them.'

I sighed, remembering the day Phil ad explained everything to me.

***FLASHBACK***

**Two weeks after Star met Phil and James**

'Before you start your training,' Phil said, 'you need to know everything about dark guilds. Who they are, what they are, and what they're capable of.'

She laid out a chart in front of me, with some names crossed out. There were three big circles in the middle, to which everything was connected.

'These are all the dark guilds in existence,' she explained. 'These,' she said, pointing to each of the big circles in turn, 'are the Barram Alliance. The strongest of them all. The Reaper Guild, the Fluminata guild and the Broomstick guild.'

I giggled, re-reading the names.

'What kind of person names their guild Broomsticks?' I laughed. But for the first time since I saw her, Phil's face was serious.

'This is no joking matter,' she said, 'however ridiculous the name. They are extremely dangerous. Once James and I stumbled across them and barely made it out with our lives.'

She rolled up her sleeve, revealing a long, ugly scar on her forearm.

I gasped.

'They did that?' I gushed. She nodded grimly. 'How?' I asked.

'It's a long story,' James interrupted, shooting a look at Phil which I didn't really understand. 'We'll tell you tomorrow. You need to rest, for now.'

I grudgingly let him lead me to my room, promising myself that I would get the story out of Phil the next day. 

The next day, upon my request, Phil told me what had happened. Turns out, they didn't just "stumble" upon them, like she had said the previous day.

'We stalked the Broomstick guild across eight towns,' Phil started. 'They left destruction and carnage in their wake. But we couldn't find an opening to ambush them. They were always on their guard. Finally, we got a chance. We ambushed them while they were resting in the forest. We gave them a chance to surrender, but they chose to fight.

'So, we fought. And lost, badly. They couldn't kill us, though. James and I escaped through our prison. We came out in the Police HQ, badly wounded. We never came across the Broomstick guild after that. They were completely off the map. The only thing that lets me sleep at night is knowing that we put one of them down. That just tells you, Star, how dangerous the Barram Alliance is.'

I frowned. Phil was one of the strongest mages I knew. If she was badly wounded with James... I shuddered, pushing the image of demons away. They didn't exist.

'How many were there?' I asked, thinking they would be badly outnumbered. Phil was silent for a few seconds.

'Three,' she replied softly.

'Oh. Wait, WHAT? Three people could defeat you both?'

Phil nodded bitterly.

'But why couldn't you just put them in your prison?' I asked her. She sighed.

'All major mages have to be weakened before I put them in my prison, or they will break out, taking others with them. I can't risk that happening. They're not ordinary wizards.'

***END OF FLASHBACK***

'That's just the Broomstick guild,' I said, 'with their Air magic. The others, the Reaper guild, and the Fluminata guild are even more dangerous. The Reaper guild consists of the laziest mages in the history of Magic. They don't want to do their dirty work, so they use mind control to make others do it. Once you look into their eyes, you're a goner. And as for the Fluminata guild, don't even let me start. They fry their victims.'

'Fry?' Gray asked. I nodded.

'They're lightning users,' I said, 'they fry their victims to death. And I mean they literally strike them with lightning.'

Shocked silence.

'Those are the kind of enemies we're facing?' Mira whispered.

'Those are the only ones you need to be afraid of,' I said, 'apart from the Barram Alliance, we should be fine. And with the help of the other guilds, we could take them down too. My only worry is the unknown enemy and the Imperial Army. I don't think only three guilds can take them down.'

The others nodded.

'Well,' Master said, 'we should discuss the meeting with the enemy under the flag of truce first. We will worry about that later. The other guilds should arrive in a few minutes. Once they do, we will decide who goes to the meeting.'

'Wait, Master, I think I have an idea,' Gray said. 'I think I know how to solve the problem of being outnumbered.'

All of us looked at him. Some with hope, some with disbelief and some just impassive, like me.

'We could be back in a few days. The meeting isn't until next week,' Gray continued

'Yeah, but what's the idea?' I asked.

And so, he told us.

****

'NOT AGAIN, YOU MORONS!' I screamed.

I swear I am never going up a mountain again with these guys.

'It was his fault!' they said together, wrenching their arms out of the snow to point.

'Shut up and get me out of here!' I growled.

There I was, stuck neck-deep in the snow.

Again.

This time, Dragneel melted the ice and got me out. I had no intention of getting my hands butchered again.

Finally, we reached Praige's cave.

We had moved extra-fast today, considering the grim circumstances and excluding the stupidity of the ice and fire mages.

We stalked inside the cave and were immediately surrounded by fluffy clouds and feeling like we were floating. With difficulty, I ignored it and shouted-

'PRAIGE!'

The illusion disappeared and there was darkness. Then Praige appeared, in the same way as he was the last time we saw him.

'Welcome, my friends!' he boomed. 'I am Praige, the all-powerful, wish-granting...'

'Yes, yes, we know,' I snapped. 'Look, Praige, it's us again, and we're short on time.'

For the first time since we stepped in, he seemed to realize this.

'Oh,' he said. 'It's you again. Come for another wish? I knew you wouldn't be satisfied with that one. No one is satisfied until their wish takes me a week to recover from. Seriously, youngsters these days...'

I let him finish rambling, tapping my foot impatiently.

'Are you done?' I asked when he paused to take a breath. Before he could reply, I blurted out, 'We need your help!' just as he started another sentence.

'You... excuse me?'

'Yes,' Erza supported me. 'There is a war looming. We need you to be on our side.'

He was silent for a long time. Then finally, he said,

'Tell me everything.'

And so, we did.

After we were done, there was silence again. Praige looked like he was in deep thought, he was stroking his beard like the way people do when they're deep in thought. At least, that's what I thought.

Sorry, too many thoughts.

'You have only three allies?' Praige asked.

We nodded. He sighed.

'very well, then,' he said. Then he started floating. Yes, floating.

Or was that his carpet?

I have no freaking clue.

But whatever it was, it was awesome.

'Hop on,' he told us. 'I'm going to visit Fairy Tail.'

^^^^

Flying is awesome.

Just not when you have a motion-sick Dragon Slayer puking all over you.

I need a bath.

We finally reached Magnolia and landed in front of the guild, with windswept hair and feeling giddy. I stumbled as I got off, but Gray, who was still on the carpet, reached out and steadied me. I sent him a small smile in thanks and walked into the guild, prepared for the worst, as usual.

As soon as the doors opened, I was hit by a hundred voices at once. I put my hands on my ears and immediately cast a Peace spell almost as a reflex. The room quietened considerably. I looked up to see a lot of people standing in the guild. And I mean a LOT. All the other guilds were here- Lamia Scale, Blue Pegasus and Sabretooth.

They all were standing down, but the S-Ranked wizards and the Masters were nowhere to be seen. Upon my inquiry, they told me they were on the second floor. Well, shit. Only S-Ranked Wizards can go up to the second floor, and the only S-Rank was...

'I'll go get Master,' Erza said and stormed up the stairs. Well, more like "stumbled". We hadn't completely recovered from our ride. Seriously, there should be a speed limit to zipping around on magic carpets. Not like that thing had a speedometer anyway.

Just then, all the Masters and S-Ranked Wizards marched down with Erza. When people turned their heads to see them coming, only then did I realize that they were all staring at Praige a second before, with strange looks. Distrust, caution, disgust, amusement, etc, etc. I decided to introduce him to everyone to spare him those negative gazes.

'Hello, everyone,' I said, 'we're members of Fairy Tail, and with us is the Sage Praige, who lives in the mountains up North and grants wishes just out of the goodness of his heart. He has decided to help us fight.'

All the stares instantly turned into awe-struck gazes. Yeah, Praige was kind of a celebrity now. Everyone had heard about him. Or so I've been told.

'Welcome!' Master Makarov said. 'Thank you for coming to our aid. But if you don't mind me asking, why did you? You could've sat peacefully in the mountains, not putting your life at risk. Yet, you want to fight on the frontlines. Why?'

Praige's usually kind and impassive gaze suddenly showed a hint of anger, but he suppressed it immediately.

'I have an old grudge against the Fluminata guild,' he said, rather stiffly, 'I wish to say no more than that.'

'Very well,' Master Makarov said, turning away to face everyone else. 'We can take a break for now,' he continued, 'we will decide who goes to meet the enemy under the flag of truce after dinner.'

Everyone muttered agreement and drifted away in groups. Dragneel, Gray, Erza, Happy and I walked to our mansion.

'I just hope everyone will be alright after this is over,' I said, breaking the silence. 'I can't lose anyone else. Especially you guys.'

Dragneel and Gray automatically altered their pace to walk beside me.

'Don't worry,' Gray said, 'everyone will try their best.'

'Yeah!' Dragneel agreed, 'no one can beat Fairy Tail!'

I gave them a small smile. They both put their arms around my shoulders and walked me into the mansion, talking and laughing.

I was glad to have them. They were my pillars, always standing tall and strong even when things looked bleak.

****

'We will be taking three S-Ranked Wizards along with a Master of a Guild,' Master Jiemma (Of Sabertooth) said. 'The rest of us will stay back and prepare for an attack. The group going will send a signal if there is any trouble.'

Everyone muttered their consent.

'We will also be taking our dark guild expert, Estaria, with us, Master Makarov said. 'Any objections?'

To my immense surprise and indignation, my whole team raised their hands.

'Wh-' I started saying.

'Star will not be going anywhere without us,' Dragneel said, cutting me off.

'N-'

'We are a team, we will not let her go alone.' Gray started cutting me off yet again.

'Ple-'

'Yes, our team can go instead of the three S-Ranked Wizards,' Erza interrupted. 'One Master, one S-Rank, two Dragon Slayer and a Maker Magic wizard will be enough to discuss a flag of truce.'

Erza's tone was so final that no one dared oppose her.

'It's settled, then,' Master Jiemma said. 'Makarov will go with the Dark Guild expert and her friends.'

Again, no one objected.

'Very well,' Master said. 'The rest of us should adjourn and get some sleep. We must rest while we can. The members of Lamia Scale, Blue Pegasus and Sabertooth can stay in our residential quarters. Have a nice evening.'

^^^^

A few days later, we left for Yamada. No one spoke much during the journey, not even Happy. We stepped out once the vehicles stopped. We were on two bull carts, Praige's curtsy. If you're wondering, he had stayed back with everyone else.

'We're here,' Master said, once everyone had got off.

'Yamada...' I said, 'the Tortured City.'

HISTORY LESSON!!!

In XX500, Yamada faced a viral sickness that killed anyone it infected within days.

The cure was never found, but eventually, it disappeared.

In XX550, there was a great war. Yamada was the city everyone targeted because of its economic value. The city was destroyed, and half the population was massacred.

In XX600, Yamada faced riots and mob attacks because of unhappy and unsatisfied citizens.

This was about the time when people began leaving the city.

XX625. Terrorized by dark guilds.

XX675. Prison breakout, serial killers on the loose.

XX700. Governor is mysteriously murdered.

XX775. Dragon Slayer gone insane. City terrified.

This was when people started calling it the "Tortured City". People fled in thousands. Finally, no one was left.

The end of our history lesson.

Yamada has been an abandoned, dead mass of buildings, monuments and living space which had once been a grand city, and now just craves a tiny spring of activity or human life.

Well, until now, when it was going to be tortured again because of our little meeting. None of us trusted the so-called "flag of truce". It was most probably going to turn into an all-out battle.

We passed under a broken arch. It was late evening; sunset. We walked through a dusty, deserted street. A door creaked. I jumped. Gray noticed, smirked, and walked closer to me. I pulled Dragneel to my side too, but he was more interested in exploring the city.

Just as I was about to let him go, he noticed I wanted him beside me. He looked at me with a little shock, but I just looked away. Then I felt an arm snake around my waist and smiled.

I felt another arm encircle my waist. I looked down in confusion. Gray too, had put his arm around me. I felt sparks fly and looked back up.

Gray and Dragneel were glaring at each other, each using their arms around me to pull me to their side. I couldn't walk properly and got irritated. I knocked them both on the head, hard.

'Stop it!' I hissed. I stalked away from them and walked next to Erza and Master. I wasn't going to be near them if they behaved like this, creepy city or not.

'Master,' Erza said, breaking the silence, 'who else do you think could be our enemy, apart from Dark guilds and the Magic Council?'

Master's grim expression darkened.

'Well,' he said, 'there are the Independent Guilds, which are guilds who are not approved by the Magic Council but are not criminals. They rarely participate in Legal Guild affairs, I do not see a reason they would do so now. There are Bandit guilds, but they usually keep to themselves also.'

Erza nodded. 'Anyone else?' she asked. Master looked at the ground not saying anything.

'Since we are in this dire situation, it is best if you know,' Master said, looking like he had just solved an internal conflict. I wondered who could possibly oppose us apart from the people we already mentioned.

'We call them the Unspeakables,' Master continued, 'but their original name is Infinity.'

I gestured for Gray and Dragneel to listen.

'What does it stand for?' I asked. Master was silent for a few seconds.

'Infinite power,' he said, finally. I stiffened.

'How can anyone have infinite power?' Gray asked. 'Even the greatest wizards have a limit.'

'Not these,' Master said.

'I want infinite power!' Dragneel chimed in.

'NO, you don't, baka,' I snapped. 'Everything comes for a price. Master, please elaborate.'

Master nodded.

'The Unspeakables use magic beyond Forbidden Magic or Lost Magic. They use Ancient Spell, magic so feared it was wiped out of existence. Yet, Infinity uses it. It was there from the start of time but discovered by the great Dark Wizard Zeref. And even he was too afraid to use it.'

I gulped. Magic Zeref avoided?

'We don't know the identities of the Unspeakables, nor their numbers,' master continued. 'We only know the kind of magic they use. And if they are our unknown enemies...'

He trailed off. But we all knew the end of that sentence.

'But what magic do they use?' Happy asked.

Master sighed.

Magic that uses the power of death,' he said, 'Death Magic. Whenever a Wizard dies, he releases a particular type of magic or power. Infinity's magic harnesses that power.'

I shuddered.

'What can they do with it?' Erza asked.

'Well, anything,' Master replied. 'I depends of how many mage's power they have captured and what kind of magic the deceased had used. If they captured the power of a Maker-Magic Wizard, they would be able to do it. If they captured the power of a Holder-Magic Wizard, they can do it.'

'What about the Celestial Keys?' I asked. Master stopped walking.

'They have the whole Celestial Spirit realm under their control.'

'WHAT?!'

Master didn't say anything.

'Well, how do we defeat them?' Erza asked.

'There is a way,' Master said.

'WHAT??!!'

'I don't know.'

'WHAT?!!!!!'

'Only the Unspeakables know it. And they won't tell.'

'Well, damn it,' I cursed. I hoped we weren't walking into a trap set by Infinite.

But why would they bother with a trap when they had unlimited power at the tips of their fingers?

'What is the price to use that kind of magic?' I asked.

'AS far as we know,' Master said, 'you need to give up your soul.'

Goosebumps rose on my arms. 

^^^^

We walked through the main plaza. It was deserted and creepy, of course. Once Master had told us about Infinity, Dragneel and Gray never left my side. Dragneel, especially, had abandoned his interest in exploring the city and was looking around warily, using his Dragon Slayer senses.

Gray was just walking next to me (shirtless, of course), impassive and sharp-tongued as ever. But I could tell he was on high alert.

I, myself, wasn't sitting idle. I was doing the same thing Erza and Master were doing- thinking about ways to defeat Infinity. Defeat unlimited, unimaginable power. Infinity draws power from death.

But how do you stop death?

Especially in a war, where the casualties will increase tenfold?

How are we supposed to beat that?

I fervently wished Shimera was here. She would know what to do, she always did. But the Dragons were gone, and I couldn't just summon them out of thin air. I shook my head slightly and refocused myself.

A few minutes of brainstorming later, I heard something. I instantly snapped my head in that direction. Dragneel heard it too and was immediately in a fighting stance, covering me.

The others saw us and understood immediately. I saw them get into an attacking position, and I did too. 'They are here,' Master said.

Then everything went black.

****

When I came to, I realized I was being carried. I kept my eyes closed and focused on my senses, a trick Phil had taught me in case I was ever kidnapped.

Thanks, Phil.

I could hear multiple sets of breathing. They outnumbered my team. The people who were carrying me were a running. I opened my eye a tiny bit to see a black cloak, then shut it again.

How is this possible?

No, I'm not talking about being kidnapped.

The pair of arms holding me felt familiar. Felt like home. Felt like...

James.

No, I thought to myself. It's an illusion. They're using illusion magic on you. Snap out of it.

I tried my best to break the illusion. I tried harder than I had ever done before. But the feeling still didn't go away.

I had no choice to pretend like I was asleep still unconscious and see where they were taking me. I couldn't fight, I was overpowered and outnumbered, I could sense great (and very familiar, again) magic power.

This frustrated me to no end.

Suddenly, the whole group of my kidnappers came to a halt.

Only the person who was carrying me started walking. He climbed a few flights of stairs. Finally, when I assume, he reached the top step, he dropped me. Ouch. Even an evil James wouldn't do that.

I didn't cringe. I still pretended like I was unconscious. I focused on my sensed instead.

Here, I could sense five sets of breathing, excluding my kidnapper's and mine. Four directly in front while on was on the side. My kidnapper walked away from me and stood on the opposite side of the sixth breather, basically flanking the four and giving me no room for escape. Yay.

It was silent for a few minutes, I could feel all eyes on me. Finally, a voice coming from one of the four in front of me said, 'Is she the one?'

'Yes,' a cold voice confirmed. I froze.

Phil.

No, no, no! It's an illusion! Don't let it get to you! Phil and James are gone!

I was expecting kicks or blows any second. My muscles were tensed, I was in fight or flight mode.

But I would be fighting a battle I couldn't win and having a hopeless attempt at running.

Let's just hope they didn't realize I was pretending.

I didn't know if this was the Magic Council, Dark Guilds or Infinity. I, of course, suspected Infinity. The speed and the way of kidnapping me was so subtle they didn't know I was gone till I was.

'Shouldn't she be awake by now?' One of the four sets of breathing asked.

'Yes,' my kidnapper replied. I froze, yet again.

James. My kidnapper.

'She's pretending,' Phil's cold voice said, 'I would know. I taught her to do that.'

WHAT?!

How could an impostor possibly have known that?

But my cover had been blown. There was no use pretending now. I had tried my best to break the illusion.

I opened my eyes, looking at the night sky. I took a glance at the stars.

Looks like I wasn't even in Fiore anymore.

I turned on my side and hopped up.

I was facing four masked people, with completely black identical masks and completely white identical cloaks.

The ones on either side of me, the people who had voices like Phil and James, were wearing half white and half black masks, with identical grey cloaks.

I glanced over my shoulder.

The rest of my kidnappers were completely black with white masks, completely identical.

I looked forward again.

Behind the four loomed a giant black fortress, with white cannons and a white flag with some kind of black symbol on it.

Well, guess these people loved black and white.

Way to be old fashioned.

I took everything in warily. This was Infinity, it had to be.

'Who are you and what do you want?' I spat.

'We are Infinity,' four voices said together. 'And we want your soul.'

^^^^

**Natsu's P.O.V.**

I heard footsteps. I immediately got into a fighting stance, covering Star.

Then I realized she wasn't there.

I panicked.

'WHERE'S STAR?!' Gray and I yelled at the same time.

'She's with us.'

A group of people wearing black cloaks appeared over the rooftops. The one in the lead was carrying an unconscious Star and wearing a grey cloak. Seeing her like that made my blood boil. My hands were instantly blazing.

'Give. Her. Back.' I snarled, rage projected through my every word.

'No.' Grey cloak answered. The voice sounded strangely familiar, but I was too angry to care.

'I thought this was a meeting under a flag of truce,' Erza growled.

'Then you were stupid,' Grey cloak retorted.

'Very well, then,' Old Man said, glowing with magic power, 'might as well let off some steam.'

'You got that right, Gramps,' Gray smirked.

We charged towards them and attacked. They dodged every single one and started to retreat through the city.

'Cowards!' Erza shouted, re-equipping to her Heaven's Wheel armour, 'stand and fight!'

'Fire Dragon's Iron Fist!'

I went for a black cloak, but suddenly, the whole group just disappeared.

Including Star.

'Come back here!' I thundered. I looked around and sniffed the air, but there was no trace of them.

As if they had never been here.

Except for the fact that Star was gone.

'NO!' I shouted, tearing through the city. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Gray was just as furious as I was. Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled. After destroying everything I possibly could, I finally stopped rampaging.

'She's... gone,' I whispered, and my voice broke. A tear fell. I quickly wiped it. No. I would not give up hope. I would get her back, whatever the cost.

Even if it was my soul.

**Erza's P.O.V.**

I furiously stabbed my sword into a pillar. We couldn't stop them. They had taken her.

However, I knew that if they went through so much trouble, they wouldn't kill her immediately. I just hoped that... they didn't... do anything...

No.

I couldn't think like that.

Star would be fine, she's strong enough to take care of herself.

But she's outnumbered and overpowered, even if she was strong.

I hated it, but we had to wait. We had to plan. To my immense surprise, Natsu and Gray came walking back to Master and I. True, the city was destroyed, half-burnt to ash and half completely frozen, but I thought it would take more than that to calm them down.

Master and I were having trouble, shaking with anger.

And shame, partly. For not being able to protect the family.

The two reached us.

'We will get her back,' Gray said.

'We will,' Master replied, 'but for now, we need to wait. We need to plan out our strategy carefully. We need more information. Only then can we rescue Star.'

I knew Natsu wasn't happy with this, but he kept quiet. I also knew that later today, he would sneak out of the guild and run to rescue Star. Gray would follow.

And against my better judgement, so would I.

'We need to get back,' I said, 'we need to inform everyone immediately.'

'Yes,' Master agreed. 'It's time this war started.'

We stalked through the deserted city, Natsu and I shared a look. For once, we were thinking the same thing.

Where was Happy?

**Star's P.O.V**

The black cloaks threw me into a cell and locked the door, disappearing. Ugh! How could I let myself be captured?

I knew my team would come looking for me, possibly the whole guild. But it would take time. I was on my own until then. I wondered if they thought I was dead, like Phil and James.

I shook my head vigorously. No. I wouldn't think like that. Baka, baka, baka!

But I couldn't just sit idle in this stupid cell. I tried to think about some ways to escape. Come on, Star! I thought to myself. You're a Dragon Slayer, this should be easy for you!

I took a deep breath.

I could destroy this and get out, but I could hear the black cloaks not too far away. They would come running when they heard my roar because that's the only attack I could think of at that second to burst open the door.

Sure, I could fight them, but I could end up making too much noise and drawing too much attention. Then the white cloaks would come here. I couldn't risk that.

So, breaking this stupid cell was out of the discussion.

There was another way, though.

I closed my eyes and focused on the ground below me. I sent out my sixth sense, reaching underground.

Then I let out an audible gasp.

I checked again just to be sure.

It was still there.

Phil's Crystal Prison.

It should've collapsed since she was dead.

But it was still intact, which meant...

Phillipa Hauser was alive. 

^^^^

I was frozen with shock and horror.

Phil was alive.

How?

Was the letter a fake?

Did she betray us?

No, I refused to believe that.

Was she brainwashed?

Or bribed?

With what?

If she was alive, was James too?

Was he brainwashed and bribed too?

So many questions, so little answers.

Just then, a grey cloak appeared in front of my cell door, peeking through the glass square.

Answers.

He opened my door (I assumed it was a male because of his figure) and came in, just staring at me. A few seconds later, the other grey cloak walked in, followed by the four whites.

'What do you want?' I snarled, 'Why have you kept me here?'

I was uncertain and afraid, but I wasn't going to show it.

'You will know soon,' four voices answered. 'Very soon.'

It seemed like the white cloaks were speaking together, yet the voice didn't seem to be coming from them at all. It echoed all around me, bouncing off the walls.

'What of my friends?' I asked.

'They are safe, for now,' the voices answered. 'but we do not think their condition will last.'

'Why? Why are you doing this? What do you think will be the result of all this?'

When I asked this question, they did something that took me completely by surprise, I, the Crystal Dragon Slayer, who specialises in reading people and emotions.

They took off their masks.

**Gray's P.O.V.**

We let the guild know what was going on. They jumped into action at once, anxious to rescue Star. We couldn't lose her too.

While we had gone, the dark guilds had attacked. We had returned fire. They had retreated for now, but we were sure they would be back by sunset. We were regrouping, too.

The Barram Alliance hadn't made an appearance and that worried everyone. What were they waiting for?

We always assumed that they were the ones to organize all the dark guilds, and now they were M.I.A.

This is bad.

They might spring an attack on us at any second, and our guard was down.

'...think they're together?' Natsu was asking. 'What?' I said. Erza turned to face me with a grim expression.

'Happy's gone,' she said, 'we think he's with Star.'

I noticed this for the first time. For the whole ride back, I was too busy worrying bout Star and not getting puke all over me to think about our furry, blue and extremely annoying blue friend. Or cat. Whatever.

'Then... we'll rescue Happy when we rescue Star,' I said. Natsu and Erza nodded.

'But,' Erza said, 'I don't think Happy was kidnapped. I think he went after Star to rescue her. Alone.'

I sighed.

'We'll see if he succeeds,' I said.

**Star's P.O.V**

In front of me were the true faces off the white cloaks.

Two males, two females.

Their once beautiful faces were badly scarred.

So were their personalities and souls.

I could see it in their eyes.

'I hope you understand why, now,' one of the girls said. She had light brown hair and golden eyes. The second female had dark blue hair and green eyes. She looked like she was close to tears. I looked at her weirdly. My gaze moved on to the two males. One looked just like the first female, the other just like the second.

It was like they were two sets of twins. 

Time for the cliche questions. 

'Who are you?' was the question that came out of my mouth.

'We are The Four,' they replied, together, 'The founders of Infinity, Masters of Death.'

'What do you want?'

'To bring justice. To rule the world.'

^^^^

'But... why?' I asked, 'Why is it so important? Why can't you just live your life in peace?'

'Because,' the blue-hair-green-eyes male said, 'we were treated horribly. We can't let that happen to anyone else.'

'The righteous will be rewarded,' the blue-hair-green-eyes female said, 'and the evil will be punished.'

I remained silent, not knowing how to argue with these psychos and sensing their emotions.

These people were supposed to be soulless monsters.

Yet, they looked hurt.

They were hurt.

And the pain still haunts them.

'What are your names?' Was my awesome question. I was shocked that I just blurted it out without even thinking. The Four looked at each other in confusion, then looked at me.

'We do not wish to reveal them,' blonde-hair-golden-eyes female said, 'they remind us of our pasts.'

'Then... what do you call each other?'

'One.'

'Two.'

'Three.'

'Four.'

I just stared at them, wide-eyes. I knew they were my enemies, but that was just plain sad.

I exhaled, gathering my thoughts.

'Okay, you guys, I want to say something.'

These are your enemies. These are your enemies.

'I know you're my enemies. I know you're evil, soulless monsters, etc., etc. But somehow, I think there's more to you than that.'

I looked at each of them. They kept their expressions impassive and neutral, but I could see that they were thinking extremely hard.

What was my agenda?

What was I trying to do?

'I think,' I continued, 'that because you guys were ill-treated, you came closer together against a force you couldn't defeat at the time. So, you decided to master Death Magic. And deep down, underneath the masks and facades, I don't think you like what you've become.'

They stared at me, still impassive.

'You've still got it after all this time,' One (Brown-Hair-Golden -Eyes female) said. I frowned.

'Sorry, what?'

'You will know soon,' Three (her twin) said.

'Oh-kay,' I replied, 'sorry, have we met before?'

'You will know soon.'

**Happy's P.O.V**

Panting, I landed on a black wall. It was dawn, I had been flying for almost the whole night, only taking short breaks when I couldn't go any further.

I was exhausted, but... Star was more important.

I hopped off the wall and climbed into a window in the giant black fortress.

I had climbed into what looked like a throne room/ court, with four thrones on a podium and a seat on both sides. There was nothing but carpets and pillars other than that.

I walked cautiously, sticking close to the wall. I tried not to make any noise.

Suddenly, a group of people entered the room. I darted behind a pillar and froze, not daring to breathe.

When they passed through a door behind the thrones (which I hadn't noticed before) without even coming to my side of the room, I let out a sigh of relief.

I began creeping towards the door again and when I was pretty sure no one was coming, I flat out sprinted for it.

I sprung towards the right and flattened myself to the wall next to the doorframe, panting hard. I peeked 'round.

I saw a black (duh!) corridor, lit by torches kept at long intervals. I squinted through the darkness, hoping I could see something. Unfortunately, it was too dark.

Once I caught my breath, I went down one side of the corridor, keeping to the dark patches the best I could and constantly sniffing and listening for Star.

Just then, the corridor forked into two. I stopped, not knowing where to go. This fortress was huge.

I carefully sniffed the air in both. I got excited and forgot all my tiredness when I caught her faint scent in the second one. I started running down it, anxious to find her.

I rounded a corner, and...

Came face-to-face with a person in a grey cloak.

I froze. The person stiffened too. He seemed just as surprised as I was. I couldn't see his face because he wore a weird mask.

How had I not heard him?

It was like he just appeared there.

Suddenly, he grabbed me.

I tried to make a run for it, but he was too fast.

And suddenly I was on the outskirts of the fortress again, alone.

I slumped down in defeat, then sprung up again in anger.

I was getting Star back.

**Star's P.O.V.**

Two grey cloaks joined the whites in my cell. I narrowed my eyes at them.

'You may do it now,' Two (Blue-Hair-Green-Eyes Female) said. The two grey cloaks nodded under their masks.

Then... they took them off.

And in front of me stood Philipa Hauser and James Sanctum. 

^^^^

**Phil's P.O.V.**

When we took off our masks, Star just stared at us for a second.

Then she did something that was beyond my understanding.

She burst out laughing.

James and I shared a look.

Out of all the ways she could react, she laughed?!

Surprising.

I half-expected her to hug me or something. Or get livid.

'Seriously?' Star choked out, 'You think I would fall for that?'

The Four exchanged looks.

Ah, so she thought this was a trick or illusion of some kind.

'Phil and James are dead!' she cried, 'Don't stain their memory!'

I almost winced. James sent me a warning look, then spoke to Star.

'As you can very well see, we are not.'

'Lies,' she spat, 'this isn't my first time being under an illusion.'

I had never heard her use that tone around me. It was full of pure loathing. But...

WHAT?!

She fought an Illusion magic-user?!

Was it that Sage who lived up in the mountains?!

And she survived?!

Damn, she had gotten stronger than I'd thought.

Well, she was one of my own, after all.

'You are not under an illusion,' Four stated calmly, 'you must accept the truth. They're alive.'

'Fine, then!' she yelled, 'they're alive! But there's no way in hell that they would ever side with you!'

Silence.

The ground was shaking.

Star needed to stop the habit of causing an earthquake whenever she was angry.

Or sad.

Or shocked.

Or bored.

The list goes on.

'I guess there is a way,' I finally said, 'because we are with them.'

She looked at me, her face a mixture of emotions. Shock, horror, anger betrayal. Almost every negative emotion you could think of was there.

Star was the one who taught me how to read expressions.

Now I regret it.

I fixed my "cold" gaze on her.

'No...' she whispered, 'you never would...'

'But we did,' James said, 'and we liked it.'

There was a full-on earthquake now. I used my magic to stop it a little when One gave me a pointed look.

'You would never,' Star snarled, 'you would never betray your family!'

Again, the tone of loathing surprised.

I gave out a dry chuckle.

'After all that you saw, you still have faith in us?' I asked.

Star was subconsciously glowing with magic power, livid. I could tell she desperately wanted to fly at me but held back.

She's still the same weak and pathetic girl I picked up two years ago, I thought-projected to the Four. They didn't even crack a smile.

I suspected the Four had known Star for a long time. When I told them about her, they listened patiently, but I could tell they already knew. I was still trying to make the connection though.

Was it before she lost her memories?

Not after.

'Star,' James said, 'care to say anything?'

He was just provoking her, making her think he was the bad guy.

Star glared straight at me and suddenly I was staring into the eyes of an angry Dragon. Shit.

'You...' she snarled, 'You took me in! You told me that Fairy Tail doesn't leave friends behind! You taught me everything I know! Then why?!'

When I didn't answer, she lost it.

'WHY?!!!' she screamed.

'You and your guild are pathetic fools,' I spat, 'I can't believe I was one of you. Love. Friendship. Family. That's all nonsense! There's only one thing in this world.'

I glared at her.

'The cycle of hatred.'

It physically pained me to lie to her.

**Star's P.O.V.**

'You're wrong!' I yelled after I recovered from the initial shock, 'there's so much more and you know it!'

'Oh, really?' James asked her, 'then tell me what you feel right now.'

I froze.

He smirked. He knew he was right.

Hatred.

That' all I felt. I felt it bubble up and ooze out of me.

No! I screamed in my head, Don't give in! Don't become one of them!

I took a deep breath.

'You're wrong,' I stated, 'everything negative must have something positive to contradict it. It's the law of nature. So, if hatred exists...'

I looked into both of their eyes.

'So does love.'

**Gray's P.O.V.**

I sneaked out, ready to travel back to Yamada.

I was going after Star.

I was going to save her.

I rounded a corner and bumped into someone.

'Gray?' a voice whispered.

I instantly jumped back and was in a fighting stance. But at that moment, the dark street was suddenly lit by flames.

'It's me,' baka Natsu said, 'I assume you're going too?'

I nodded.

'Very well, then,' someone said from behind me. I turned to see Erza walking up from behind.

'Let's go rescue Star and Happy,' she said. 

^^^^

The Four seemed entirely bored with our conversation, though they did not show it. With a curt nod to Phil and James, they filed out of the room, masks, and hoods back on.

There were a tense few minutes of silence.

Finally, when I couldn't sense them anymore I looked at Phil. She breathed out a sigh and looked at James.

The silent conversations were getting to me.

'What?' I snapped. Phil shot me a look of... warning? Suddenly she whispered something that left me speechless.

'Star,' she whispered, 'I'm sorry! Those were all lies!'

'W-what?' I stuttered.

'Yes!' James whispered, 'we were putting on a show!'

Suddenly, a huge weight was lifted off me. I didn't say anything as tears came to my eyes. But I blinked them away, I was strong. 

Before I could process what was happening, they were hugging me.

And... my tears fell.

'I'm sorry,' Phil said. I was horrified when I saw a tear slide down her cheek. Phil never cried.


NEVER.

'It's okay,' I said. James pulled back with a little difficulty and helped me and Phil up. 

'Come on,' he said, 'we have to leave before they notice. We'll have time together later.'

I nodded and got up shakily. Phil led us out of the room, senses on full alert. 

Suddenly, James froze.

'What?' Phil asked. 

'We have a problem,' James replied.

'The Four?' I asked. 'No,' James said, 'a problem that can fly.'

Phil and I exchanged confused glances.

'Happy,' James said, 'he's here. But he's alone. I teleported him outside to keep him occupied, but he might've made his way back in.'

'If Happy's here,' I said, surprised he was alone, 'he's coming in. And the others can't be too far away. if we're leaving, we've got to hurry.'

Phil and I locked gazes.

3...2...1....

'RUN!!!'

****

We ran through the fortress, James in the lead. He seemed to know the way like the back of his hand. We met some guards on the way, but Phil quickly knocked them out as James and I lugged them into a room one by one so that they would not draw attention. 

We continued running after that until suddenly, James flickered and disappeared. I froze in my tracks, but Phil pulled me forward.

'Come on,' she said, 'he'll catch up!'

I nodded and ran forward.

Sure enough, less than a minute after he appeared in front of us holding a pair of black robes and a white mask in his hands, grinning triumphantly. 

'Here,' he said, handing them to me, 'one problem solved.'

I smiled in return and quickly put them over my clothes. We started moving again, taking a roundabout and longer route to avoid people. 

James kept disappearing and reappearing. Phil told me he was going back and forth along our current route to ensure we were alone.

'Have you found Happy?' Phil asked as he materialized in front of us. 'No,' he replied, panting slightly, 'I'm taking detours to check but there's no sign of him.' 

I cursed under my breath. We HAD TO find Happy before we left. We weren't leaving without him.

After several more disappearances and materializations, James said, 'We're almost there. I checked the place where I left Happy and around it, he's nowhere to be seen.' 

Phil didn't reply immediately but stayed quiet for a few seconds, thinking, like me. Finally, she said, 'We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.'

Suddenly, we took a sharp turn and burst into the night. I inhaled deeply, the air refreshing. My lungs were tired of breathing smoke infected air. 

'Is it too dangerous to call for him?' I whispered. 'Yes,' James answered in his normal decibel. 'There are guards stationed everywhere. This is the only route to leave unnoticed.'

'But..' I said, ' we can't leave! Happy came to save me and he still thinks I'm in there.'

I held my head, not knowing what to do.

'We're going back,' Phil said, 'without you. We'll get Happy and get back here. then we'll leave.'

'NO!' I hissed, 'I already lost you once, I can't lose you again!'

I glared at them, determined to go. I was impossible when I was stubborn and they knew that. This was an argument they couldn't win. 

'Fine,' James conceded.

We headed back into the gloomy darkness of the black fort.  

^^^^

*Laxus' P.O.V.*

The guilds headed put to the battlefield. Me, being the cool guy I was, lagged and let the Raijinshuu move on ahead. I had some thinking to do.


I didn't believe Phil and James could die that easily. I also knew that girl Star could take care of herself, but she didn't stand a chance against Infinity. The Masters had told us all about it.

I couldn't believe they would keep such a dangerous secret. I pitied the weaklings who had run into them, not knowing who they were. 

Well, they were going to get their ass kicked, powerful or not.


Fighting broke put as the dark guilds appeared over the horizon and charged. I watched from a distance, I would intervene when needed. Since the Baka, the Stripper and Erza had gone off to look for that girl, the attacking power fo our guild had decreased drastically.

Weaklings. 

I walked slowly towards the chaos. I wanted to run off and face Infinity by myself since I couldn't sense their presence on the battlefield.

I was bored.

I decided to go and search for the Death Magic users. At least I would be doing something.

I knocked out a charging dark mage and walked to stand next to Gramps. 

'I'm going to look for Infinity,' I told him. He pinched a guy and sent him flying, then looked at me.


'Fine,' he said, 'but be careful. Even one of them is stronger than you.'

I snorted at the last comment and walked away, kicking dark mages who were in my path.

*Natsu's P.O.V.*

We searched the forests around Yamada, but to no avail. Star was gone and there was no sign of a struggle anywhere. 

I stopped walking for a minute and slumped against a tree. Gray and Erza came towards me, defeated looks on their faces. The wind howled.

Just then, I got a scent. 

No, not Star's.

Happy's. 

It was very faint, but it was there.

I began running, following it through the forest. 

Gray and Erza shouted questions at me, but I didn't stop to answer them. 

They followed me anyway like I knew they would. We ran for about... I don't know, I didn't pay attention.

The wind blew again and Star's scent hit me like a slap in the face. 

We were close.

We broke through the forest and came face to face with a giant black fortress. 

'She's in there!' I said, running towards it.

Then I slammed face-first into an invisible barrier. 

Ouch.

As I staggered back, blue runes made themselves visible for a split second in a dome all around the fortress. 

I punched the wall in anger.

Star was in there, scared, alone and possibly hurt. And we couldn't rescue her because of these stupid barriers. 

'What do these say?' I asked Erza, 'What's the condition to enter?'

She touched the barrier and a portion of it appeared.

'I'm not good at reading runes,' she admitted, 'but I think this one says "Imposters have arrived," or "Importance of pride".'

We all looked at each other in confusion. 

'Wait, there's more,' she said, '"You must bear permission to enter or the mark" or, "Yummy beer has a poor owner."'

'I bet Cana would be interested in that,' Gray mumbled. 

'Yeah,' I agreed.

'How do we get permission from the owner?' Ezra wondered. 

'Guess we have to ask,' I muttered. Before anyone could say or do anything, I yelled 'HEY! ANYONE THERE? WE WANT TO COME IN!'

No answer.

We waited silently.

then suddenly, a voice said, 'Stay out at all costs. Star will come to you.' Then the presence was gone. 

'Hey, come back!' I yelled. I smelt something, at that moment. Something familiar...

'What was that?' Gray asked. 

'I don't know,' I replied, 'but it smelt familiar.'

'Well, do we listen to them pr not?' Gray asked. 

'We have no choice,' Erza replied.

'How could Happy get in?' I asked. 

'This rune could apply only for humans,' Erza answered, 'every rune has a loophole.'

'Well,' I said, 'we just have to rely on mystery man and Happy to get Star out safely. '

I punched the wall again, just to be sure we couldn't get in.

The others agreed, not happy about this at all. 

^^^^

**STAR'S P.O.V.**

We ran through the dark corridors, frantically looking around at every intersection for a speck of blue in this house of hell. 

James was teleporting around so much, he was like a flickering projection next to us.

'I can't sense him,' Phil complained from beside me, 'there are too many people with different kinds of magic.' 

'Wait,' I said, holding my hand up. James materialized in front of us.

'Your team is here,' he panted, 'I told them to wait. The rune barrier around the fortress is keeping them out, but they're getting impatient.' 

I nodded. 'That's just as well,' I said, 'because I caught Happy's scent. He's this way.'

Phil nodded, a little surprised, and followed me down a corridor. James disappeared. 

'Phil?' I asked as we fast-walked. She hummed in response, her body tense, looking back continuously.

I finally got fed up with it. 

'Stop it,' I commanded, 'I'll be able to hear or smell anyone who comes.'

She sighed and looked at me. 

'What did you want to ask?'

'How did you know I was a Dragon Slayer?' 

She was silent for a few minutes.

'Even before I taught you my attacks, you were already familiar with Crystal Magic,' Phil said, after a long pause. 'I could sense different magic coming from you. I recognized it because I had sensed the same thing with Natsu and Laxus. You had Dragon Slayer magic. But there was something else.'

My brow furrowed.

'What do you mean?' I asked. She shrugged. 

'In my entire life, I've never sensed anything like it,' she replied, 'So don't have a name for it. But...' she paused.

'What?' I asked. She looked at me, her eyes sad. 

'It's dark magic,' she said, 'powerful, and... evil. Magic that could even beat the Four.'

I froze. 'What?!' I hissed. 

Magic that could beat Death Magic????!!!!

Magic... darker than Death Magic?

Goosebumps rose on my arms. I started shaking.

'No, no!' Phil said, 'It's not that bad!' 

It did nothing to calm me down. Phil's senses were always right, always. If she says it was there, it was there.

She grabbed my shoulders and forced me to look into her eyes. 

'Stop!' she hissed, 'You're causing an earthquake!'

I took a deep breath and tried to calm down. 

'That's better,' Phil said, as the rumblings stopped.

'You're magic isn't all bad,' Phil said, 'it's dark, but not evil. Do you understand?'

I shook my head.

Wasn't all dark magic evil?

Phil grabbed my hand and started fast-walking again.

'Look,' she said, 'almost all Lost and Ancient magic is classified as "dark". That's what I meant. 

I sighed in relief, then looked up in alarm at another thought.


'Do you mean I have Ancient Magic in me?'

Phil nodded. 

'But...' I trailed off, 'I only use Crystal Magic. No other kind.'

Phil shrugged. 'It's in you,' she said, 'and I don't know what it is. I've been everywhere, but I've never sensed anything like it before. And that fact that you've never used it or don't even know its there...' she paused, 'worries me.'

'What's the worst that could happen?' I asked. Phil gave me a sideways glance, then looked straight ahead.

'If you're in a life or death situation,' she said, 'and you're completely drained of your magic power, then that magic could come out. And since you don't know how to control it...'

'I could kill someone,' I gasped.

'Or, yourself,' Phil reminded. 

We came to a fork and I tugged her into the right corridor.

'Forget it,' I said, 'now's not the time. Happy's close. Let's win this war, then worry about his stupid magic in me.' 

There was only one doorway in this corridor. I ran towards it, Phil right behind me. Just before I could barge in, she stopped me.

'What?' I hissed, thoroughly pissed off. 

Happy was right there!

'That's the throne room,' Phi' said, 'people could enter any second.' 

'I have my disguise and I'll be able to smell them.'

'No, you won't,' Phil snapped. Just then, James appeared. 

I fumed for a second as he gave me a stern look, understanding the situation at once.

'Fine,' I gave up. Phil smiled a little, out her finger to her lips, telling me to stay quiet, caught James' hand and went through the doorway. 

I slumped against the wall. 

^^^^

I waited for a few minutes, my senses on high alert for anyone who was coming this way. I was extremely tempted to take a peek inside, but I couldn't risk it, even in my new black cloak and mask disguise.

Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. I peeked through the darkness of the doorway, surprised that it felt like a thin layer of... slime? Ew.

I opened my eyes, only to see a throne room complete with pillars and torches and...

The Four. 

**Laxus' P.O.V.**

I walked through the streets of Yamada, the Tortured city. It looked like someone had breathed fore on half of it and burnt the other to toast.

The Stripper and the Baka's doing, no doubt, when they found out they were too weak to' save that girl Star. 

Weaklings. 

When Fairy Tail is mine, they'll get it. 

I decided to head into the forest. If there was anywhere they would be, it was in there. 

As I walked, I realized that the Baka's cat had also lost its way. Great. 

After about an hour of walking, I heard bangs and crashes. The sounds of a fight. I burst into a gigantic clearing, in which stood a huge black fortress, with flags waving and everything. The sounds were coming from inside. 

I ran towards it, only to slam face-first into a...

Rune barrier. 

This is one of the times I regret not bringing the Raijinshu with me. Freid could've gotten me in there. 

In anger, I started glowing with magic power. I was so close to the Four, yet so far. I knew they were there. 

I walked around the rune barrier, bumping my toe into it from time to time (I never admitted that). When I reached the opposite side from where I had started, I found the Baka, the Stripper and that girl Erza. 

'Laxus?!' they all yelled in shock. I merely grunted in response. 

Time to get this show started. 

**Star's P.O.V.**

'...not planned,' Phil was saying. I missed the start of the sentence. 'Was it?' Three asked, 'We are beginning to doubt where your loyalties lie.' 

'We assure you,' James said, 'that our loyalties lie with you and only you. We promise his appearance was merely a coincidence.' 

'Very well,' Three said, kicking something forward. Since they were so far away, I had to crane my neck to see it. 

It was Happy's limp, beaten up body. 

For a second, I was overcome with grief. 

Then I saw red.

I chared towards them and attacked. They didn't even see it coming. They flew back, crashing into the wall above their thrones. They slid to the ground.

'HOW DARE YOU?!' I screamed, 'HOW DARE YOU HURT MY FAMILY?!' 

I threw down my cloak and mask and stored on them. Then I picked Happy up and gave him to James. 

After that, I attacked blow after blow, livid. The fortress began to crumble. 

At one point in time, after James had teleported Happy out safely, they tried to stop me. To get me to run. But I acted like they weren't there. I just continued attacking. 

They joined me after a few minutes, extremely hesitantly. I noticed they were holding back. A lot. The reason disturbed me, but I shrugged it off.

Finally, I fell to my knees in exhaustion, palms on the ground. I was still glaring at their lifeless figures with the debris all over them, though. Noting, not even having an extremely rough past gave them the right to hurt my family. 

For a few minutes, everything was quiet. Everyone remained frozen. 

Phil and James flanking me, in their respective attack stances. 

Me on my hands and knees in exhaustion.


The Four on the other side of the room. 

Then, slowly but steadily, the Four began to rise. 

My pants started to get shaky. Black spots started dancing in my eyes. I realized I was losing consciousness. 

The last thing I remember was seeing them standing up straight, hoods off, tears running down all their faces. 

Then, like a lens, my eyelids closed and everything was black.

**Natsu's P.O.V.**

We all heard Laxus' plan. Erza was a little sceptical, but I was all for it. 

At least we had something useful to do now. 

Sitting around, doing nothing in this situation was just way too painful. 

Being outside, seeing the fortress crumble without being able to do a thing?

Especially with Star and Happy in there?

The worst kind of torture possible. 

My fists started to blaze as I got into a fighting stance. Gray, Erza and Laxus moved away, giving me meaningful looks. I nodded. 

When I had given them enough time to get into position, I breathed a column of fire into the sky. That was the signal to put the plan into action. 

We were going to attack the rune barrier from its main points, there were four on the outskirts and the most important one in the centre, on top. Erza had branded that into my brain. 

We were going to attack those points. If we put enough force behind those attacks, the barrier should crumble. 

But, the biggest problem was the main point, on top of the barrier. 

Laxus had gild Erza that he would hit it with a lightning strike while she threw a few swords at it. But they were afraid that it could miss since the rune barrier was invisible in that place. 

Anyway, it was our best shot.

Everyone's attacks hit the barrier like a tsunami. For that second, the huge dome became visible completely. 

Laxus' lightning struck from above.

And...missed. 

So did Erza's swords, which were following it. 

But in that same second, a tower of jagged diamond shot out from that remains of the fortress, piercing the main point. 

The lightning and the swords hit one side of it. 

Because of the sheer power, the tower shattered to pieces. 

But all I could think of was...

Could Star have possibly done this? 

Or had the Four captured her soul?

^^^^

**Star's P.O.V.**

The next thing I felt was a familiar buzzing in my ears. I remember it being the sensation I felt whenever James was teleporting me. 

Then, I heard loud shouts and an argument. I was too far out to understand what it was all about. I remember feeling multiple mixed up emotions in the surroundings. 

Shock, fear, regret, anger... determination. 

That one emotion, somehow, was ever-present in my life. Whether it was for a good cause or a bad cause or who it was coming from... depended on the situation. 

After that, I zoned out. When I came to, as in, became aware again, I felt a kiss on my forehead. This time, the emotions around were too much. As I drifted away again, I felt myself being passed to another pair of arms. They didn't feel familiar but felt safe, nevertheless.

I felt the pair of arms running in the opposite direction of loud bangs and crashes. Somehow, I wanted to go to that place. I was being drawn towards it, but the pair of arms were carrying me further away. I felt a life slipping through my fingers.

But I was too weak and too far put to do anything. 

So, I trusted the air of arms to keep me safe and drifted into dreamland once more. 

****

I woke up to see Laxus staring down at me. 

Wait. A. Second. 

LAXUS???!!!

What was Laxus doing here??!!

I shot bolt upright but immediately regretted doing it immediately, because my head started pounding like someone had hit it with a baseball bat.

Wait, maybe that's what happened?

In that second, I realized I had been sleeping on Laxus' lap.

My eyes widened and I'm sure there was a blush on my face. 

'Relax,' Laxus said, 'you've had a long day.' 

In that second, everything came rushing back to me. 

Oh shit. 

I jumped up, ignoring my migraine and my complaining muscles. 

'What happened?' I demanded, 'Where are Phil and James? Where's Happy? Are they alright?' 

When he didn't reply immediately, I yelled, 'Laxus!' 

'SHUT UP!' he roared.

Gray, Dragneel, Erza, and Happy walked into my line of vision. 

I momentarily forgot about Laxus and ran up to Happy and hugged him tightly. 

'You're okay!' I exclaimed, 'Thank you for coming to save me!' 

He didn't hug back. He didn't say anything.

I pulled back and set him on the ground, a little worried now. 

'What's up?' I asked, 'Where are Phil and James?' 

No one said anything. 

'Tell me!' I yelled. 

'They're...' Erza whispered.

'Back at the fortress,' Gray continued for her. 

I stared at them for a second.

Suddenly, everything made sense. 

The buzzing sensation. 

James teleporting me out. 

The shouts and arguments. 

Him telling them to take me and run. 

The kiss on the forehead. 

They kiss goodbye. 

The transfer of arms. 

I was given to Laxus. 

He ran, telling the others to follow him. 

Me blacking out. 

While Phil and James were left behind, fighting the Four on their own. 

Again. 

I didn't even realize tears were pooling from my eyes, obscuring my vision, until I tripped over a root as I ran back to the fortress. 

They had to be alive. 

I pushed myself to run faster until I suddenly rammed into something.

I stepped back, disoriented and realized it was Laxus. 

To my immense surprise, he hugged me. 

'James made us promise not to let you go back there,' he muttered, 'don't make this harder than it already is.' 

I hugged him back briefly then stepped out of his embrace. 

'I expected him to say something like that,' I said, 'but you know I can't stay. So don't try to stop me.' I said the last part a little louder, so Dragneel, who I sensed was waiting further up the trail, could hear me. 

Laxus sighed. 

'Fine,' he conceded, 'but I'm coming with you.'

'So are we.' 

Erza, Gray, and Happy came up behind us. 

I nodded. Without another word, I started running towards the fortress.

****

I searched through the ruins of what once used to be a giant mass of despair, desperately screaming Phil and James' names. The others did the same. 

As I frantically searched through the remains of the throne room, I heard a faint, 'I'm... here,' being whispered. 

I was by that mountain of rubble in an instant. I only hesitated enough to yell, 'She's here!' to the others before starting to tear it down. 

Everyone was by my side in a second and helped me. 

At last, I was looking at the broken, crushed, barely breathing form of my best friend, my mentor, my saviour, my everything. 

I fell to my knees, realizing that with every teardrop that fell from my overflowing eyes, her life was ebbing away. 

^^^^

**Erza's P.O.V.**

I was shocked beyond words. Phil, who was second only to Master and Gildart's power level... like this?!

Who could be so powerful, to have reduced her to this state?

And who dared lay a hand on my family?!

I was jerked back to reality when Star whispered, 'No..' 

She took Phil's head and very gently placed it in her lap. 

'Don't leave me...' She whispered, 'I need you!' 

Phil attempted a smile. 

'Star,' she said, 'you're strong. Stronger than me. That power you have... use it. I know you can. Live on and be strong. You're a Dragon Slayer. Don't forget that. Don't get stuck in the past, make your future. Don't let me and James be the cause of your pain, the reason for your tears.'

She paused, taking a shaky breath. 

'Win this war,' she said, 'for me. For us. And...'

Phil's words were becoming strained and she was having difficulty speaking. 

'...remember the letter,' she continued. 

She then raised her hand, making the sign of Fairy Tail. Tears overflowing from all our eyes, we did the same. 

Phil smiled. Star inhaled sharply. 

Time slowed down. 

Phil's body slowly turned into a diamond. Cracks appeared all over her body. Then it started to glow. It got so bright, we had to cover our eyes. 

Slowly, the light faded.

Phil's body was gone. 

There was a slight shimmer in the air. I could still feel Phil's presence, her warmth. 

The feeling slowly faded away. 

Everything was completely silent. 

'NO!' Star screamed. 

Tears fell from my eye as I looked at the sky. 

The ground started shaking. Towers of jagged diamond rose from the ground, forming a giant circle around us, gleaming in the rising sun. 

Slowly, the trembles receded. 

'The Crystal Prison...' Star whispered, 'I can't feel it. It's... gone. SHE'S GONE!'

She slammed her palms on the ground. The earth shook with the force. We were still in shock. 

Star stood up, her fists clenched. I could see her tears falling on the ground. 

'James,' she said, 'her voice breaking, 'I understand you need to leave. I'll miss you.' 

She briefly turned to the right and I followed suit. I saw the silhouette of a man standing on a block a few feet away. A tear fell on the bock. The shadow flickered and disappeared. 

So... James was alive. 

But Phil was... gone. 

My fist clenched around my sword. 

All that grief and pain had just turned into one emotion. 

Rage. 

And the others felt the same way. 

Star pointed at the ground. A podium of pure crystal rose, clearing the debris on its way. When it was three feet high, Star stopped its ascent. 

She then flicked her wrist in an upward motion. A gravestone of pure diamond appeared. It read-

"PHILIPA HAUSER

X755-X780"

And then the Fairy Tail symbol. 

Star stood in front of it for a few seconds, her head bowed. 

She then whispered only one word before turning to us. It was extremely soft, but I heard it. 

'Arigatou.'

**Star's P.O.V.**

I turned to my friends, wiping my tears. 

'Come on,' I said, 'time to avenge Phil.' 

'It's gone too far now,' Gray said. 

'Yeah,' Draagneel growled. 

'For Phil,' Erza said. 

'For Phil,' We all agreed. 

We ran towards Yamada, Happy flying behind us. 

We changed course after we got there. Laxus led us to the battlefield. 

When we finally got there, things looked... bleak. 

It was worse than I had anticipated. The prisoners who had managed to escape from Phil's prison had also arrived, screaming bloody murder. The Barram Alliance was unstoppable. 

The Four were nowhere to be seen.

I growled. 

I jumped right into the middle of enemy territory, killing everything in my path. Right now, I was livid. My vision went red. It zeroed in on some laughing people, flying above everyone and kicking my friends' heads. 

The Broomstick guild. 

'Crystal Dragon's Roar!' 

They fell to the ground in surprise. 

'Crystal Dragon's Mighty Hail!' 

They wasted no time in getting up and launching a counter-attack. 

'Formation 7: Cyclone!' 

I was blown back a few hundred feet and slammed into the ground. I felt something crack. 

I didn't even realize what I was doing until I did it. 

'DIAMOND-CRYSTAL DRAGON'S MIND TSUNAMI!'

^^^^

The Broomstick Guild fell to the ground, clawing at their scalps, blood flowing from their noses and ears. After a minute, they remained still. 

I walked over to them, a smug and triumphant smile on my face. 

'Karma is a-' 

I was interrupted by a roar. I froze and whipped my head around because I recognized it. 

Dragneel. 

And, I saw my whole team standing face-to-face with the Four. 

I took off immediately, dodging attacks and weaving through fights to get to them. And, at last, I was standing with my family, ready to put down those who had killed one of our own. 

'Dragneel,' I said. He nodded in understanding. 

'Fire Dragon's...'

'Crystal Dragon's...

'ROAR!!!'

**Gray's P.O.V.**

As their roars mixed and hit the Four, I noticed that even though they got hit in the face, they weren't injured at all. 

Star and Natsu were panting. They had put in too much magic power in that attack, not that they had much, to begin with. 

'Come on,' I told Erza, 'time for vengeance.'

She nodded, livid. 

'Ice-Make: Lance!'

'Purgatory Armour!'

Our attacks hit them but had the same result. Erza seemed to notice this too. 

'Physical attacks won't work,' she said, 'their defence is too strong.'

'Then what will?' Dragneel asked.

'Mental attacks,' Star said, 'and that's great because I've got a few tricks up my sleeve.'

She got into a ready stance, facing the Four. She put her hand out and a glowing magic circle appeared. 

'Crystal Dragon's...' she started and took a deep breath to shout out the spell and cast it, but she had a coughing fit instead. It was so bad, she wobbled and almost fell, but I caught her. Her hand flew up t cover her mouth as her body shook from the strain. 

She stopped coughing and held her hand up.

Blood. 

'What... did you do to me?' she croaked. 

**Star's P.O.V.**

 I feel like everything's on fire. I feel like clawing my throat out. I feel like dying. Nothing is worse than this torture.

I feel like someone injected never-cooling lava into my system. It's setting fire to my veins, burning my blood and my organs. 

Everything became a blur. My ears were ringing. My eyes were rolling around in their sockets. 

In the back of my head, I knew Gray was supporting my whole weight and Dragneel was holding my head up, level with his. He was saying something, but I was too far gone to understand what it was. 

I also knew Erza was attacking to Four, livid. I could feel her power as she constantly re-equipped, attacking relentlessly. 

After a few seconds, I forced myself to focus. Dragneel's face came into view. He was saying... "old house?" 

What?

No... he was saying... was saying...

"Hold on."

Yes. Hold on. But I wasn't sure if I could do that. 

I heard the ground rumble. The pain decreased ever so slightly, but it was enough for me to get a little of my mobility back. 

I screamed. 

And screamed. 

And screamed some more. 

Tears were flowing freely from my eyes.

And the worst part was, I didn't even know what was happening to me. 

But I was too far out to lat my mind wander. 

I started clawing at my arms. I needed to focus on something other than the pain, anything. 

Even if it was another river of hot lava. 

I felt the other river slowly recede. As in, my hands were being restrained. 

I screamed in protest. 

It felt like screaming was all I could do now. 

Someone shook me and shouted something in my ear. 

I tried to block the pain and quieten down so I could listen to it. 

I finally recognized Gray's voice. 

He was saying... was saying...

I strained to listen and finally, my Dragon ears picked something up. 

I put a gigantic amount of effort and finally, I could hear it. 

Probably because it was something I wanted to hear subconsciously all along and just needed that little push. 

Gray was saying...

'Block the pain! You can do it, it's not real!' 

That was all. 

I took a deep breath and remembered. 

In. 

I am Estaria Solitaire. 

Out. 

Daughter of Shimera. 

In.

The Crystal Dragon. 

Out. 

I am the Crystal Dragon Slayer. 

In.

I had my second mother, Ms Richard, who gave her life for mine. 

Out. 

I had my mentor and best friend, Philipa Hauser, who had done the same. 

In. 

I will avenge her. 

Out. 

I also had James, who was always by my side, even if he wasn't physically present. 

In. 

I had my team.

Out. 

I had my family.

In. 

I had the whole of Fairy Tail. 

Out.

I will not let them down. 

In.

I will survive.

Out.

This pain? It's nothing. 

In. 

I will live.

Out.

For everyone's sake. 

And just like that, the pain was... gone. 

My eyes flew open. 

I was out for blood and wouldn't stop until I got it. 

The blood of my enemies. 

^^^^

I sat upright and became aware of my surroundings. Gray's arms loosed around me, and I knew he knew I wasn't in pain anymore. 

I looked at him. The relief was etched on every feature of his face, but I still remembered the panicked and helpless look in his eyes. I hugged him tightly for a second, then let go. 

'Thank you,' I said, 'for reminding me.' 

I turned to Dragneel, who had a huge smile on his face. The relief was in his eyes too. He extended his hand to me. I took it and pulled myself up. 

'Time to kick ass,' I smirked. 

'Fire Dragon's Iron Fist!'

'Ice-Make: Hammer!'

'Purgatory Armour!'

'Crystal Dragon's Mighty Hail!'

'Lightning Blast!

'Satan Soul!'

'Ahhh!' (That was Happy).

The next hour consisted of the most violent minutes of my life. I fought like I never had before, and I was a little afraid of how angry I sounded. And felt. And acted. 

A little later, the only people standing were The Four. They had made no move the whole time, just blocking our attacks and standing motionless in the centre of the field. 

It annoyed me to no end. 

I couldn't use any attacks in that weird state of power I'd gone into earlier because I just didn't have enough magic power. 

"I need to up my game", I thought, as I stared at the bright afternoon sky, "I can't lose just as yet."

I turned to my side and pushed myself up into a sitting position. It took a lot of effort, since I had a cracked rib, thanks to the Broomstick Guild. 

Looking at me, my guildmates and friends tried to get up too.

And so did my enemies. 

I took a deep breath (which hurt a lot) and told them, 'Stay down, please, and stay alive. Don't let them capture your soul.' 

Erza was already sitting up, just like I was. Well, I knew she wasn't going to listen to me. 

Nor were the bakas, who was trying to stand. 

'Don't push yourself,' I muttered. 

'Yeah, right,' Gray panted. He was barely able to support his weight, much less use magic. 

'We... won't... go down... that easy,' Dragneel breathed. A weak "Aye sir," was heard from behind him. Laxus, who was near Erxa, pushed himself up too. 

'Don't worry,' he said, 'reinforcements have arrived.'

 I sniffed the air and realized he was right. 

'GILDARTS IS HERE!!!' someone screamed. 

*****

Gildarts.

The strongest mage in Fairy Tail. 

'Well,' an approaching figure proclaimed, 'I don't come alone.' 

Another person appeared. There was thick mist around him, blocking him from view. 

'Mystogan,' Erza gushed. I didn't know how she knew since she had never seen him before. Even Phil wasn't resistant to his sleep magic. 

And...

He was the man who made Phil face-plant in her pasta??!!

He was so going to get it after this war. 

The thought of Phil made me want to break down in tears again but I clenched my fists and pushed the thought aside. 

I pushed myself up into a standing position. I finally had a clear view of Gildarts. 

He had orangish-brown hair and wore a tattered cloak. He had a chiselled face with a smirk on it, but as he took in the situation, it slowly melted, rage boiling instead. I could feel his emotion. His eyes held burning resolve as he glared at the Four. 

'Leave this to us,' he said. 

I looked around, nodding encouragingly. At that moment, for the first time, I realized none of the Masters was present. 

How could they leave us at a time like this?!!

Well, thank the dragons the S-Class mages were here.

If we put our heads together, might just figure out a way to win this, defeat death magic. 

'Gildarts Clive,' a voice said. 

One. 

'Mystogan, as you like to call yourself.'

Three. 

'The strongest of the Fairies.'

Two.

 'Your souls are of great value.'

Four. 

'You will die.' 

^^^^

Gildarts attacked. He used a different kind of magic, Crash magic. It was amazing. I stared wide-eyed as he practically changed the shape of the land. 

The Four were not idle, though. They were dodging Gildarts' attacks and hovering around him but still not attacking. Mystogan just stood there, idle. 

Well, maybe he wasn't, because Gildarts was not taking any damage and the Four were dodging, which meant their shields were down.

Which also meant...

An opening.

 I took a deep breath and stood up. I entered the state of raging power I had before, realizing it was the Dragon Force. My eyes widened in shock, then I smirked. 

Great. 

Dragneel looked at me like I was crazy when I started glowing with power. A crown of crystal appeared on my head, similar to Shimera. My vision had a distant tinge of jade green like my eyes were suddenly that colour. 

My vision zeroed in on the Four, whipping around Gildarts. 

'Diamond-Crystal Dragon's Emotion Tornado!!!'

I fell to my knees after the attack. My Dragon Force faded away. 

I raised my head a little to see the fruits of my hard work. 

The Four lay on the ground. 

Gildarts stood over them, a proud smirk on his face. 

I. Wish. 

Because guess what?

My final attack, in which I put all of my remaining strength and magic power...

Missed. 

And guess what's even worse?

It. Hit. Gildarts. 

And he now lay on the ground in front of the Four, experiencing every excruciatingly painful moment of his life, over and over and over again. 

 ****

WHAT HAVE I DONE???!!!

Everyone was staring at Gildarts, wide-eyed, their fears slowly building. 

'Reverse the spell!' Laxus yelled. 

'I can't!' I cried, 'I'm not strong enough!' 

There was a deathly silence as everyone prepared to die. 

The weight of what I'd done came crashing down on me. 

I had destroyed our last hope of survival. 

It was my fault. 

The blood of all my comrades would be on my hands. 

My tears fell on the ground. 

To my extreme surprise, Laxus sat down next to me and put his arm around me. 

'Here,' he muttered. I felt his power flowing into me. 

'Why are you giving me your power?' I whispered. 

He shrugged, his arm still around me. I could feel Mira watching us. 

Oopsie. 

'A few seconds later, Laxus was leaning on me completely and I could support his weight. 

'Thank you.' I mumbled, 'I don't deserve this.' 

He shook his head, too tired to respond. I gently set him on the ground. 

'Wait. Take this.'

I turned to Mira, who had put her hand on my shoulder.

'Why?' I said, 'Why are you doing this?'

'Because I trust Laxus,' Mira said, 'and I trust you.'

Her words bought tears to my eyes. Her magic power flowed into me and replenished mine completely. She fell forward and I caught her. 

I set her down next to Laxus, where I knew she would be happy. 

'Thank you,' I muttered. I then turned to face the Four and Gildarts. I gulped when I felt his emotions wash over me like a wave. 

Pain.

That's all he felt. 

And still, he didn't show it.

He was going through one of the worst mental tortures possible and still... 

I took a deep breath and concentrated on undoing the spell. 

Fortunately, it worked. 

Gildarts' shoulders slumped. He didn't look up, even though his enemies were twenty feet away. I winced at the thought of him crying. 

That I had made him cry. 

I quickly walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder. 'I am so sorry,' I said, 'and I will do everything in my power to make it up to you.' 

He flinched when I touched him, but relaxed the next second. I knew he knew the attack wasn't intentional and would probably take down one of the Four if it had hit. 

Whoa, wait a second. 

I just got it. 

'I found a way!' I gasped. Gildarts looked at me in confusion. 

I crouched down next to him and whispered something in his ear. A smirk broke out on his face. 

'That could work,' he muttered. I helped him to get up. 

'You should head back to the others and tell them the plan. Whoever can stand can fight. We are on our last legs. Let's make it count.'

I nodded and ran back to the others and told them the plan as Gildarts slowly retreated, keeping a close eye on the Four. 

They just stood there. Like, seriously, if you're strong enough to tame even the Barram Alliance, can't you show us your power? 

Did they have a "no attack first" policy or something?!

Who was I kidding?!

They didn't play by the rules. 

They were the biggest, worst wizards the world had ever seen, apart from Zeref. 

And we had to take them down. I finished telling everyone about my strategy. They nodded. All in all, there were about ten of us standing. None of the enemies was able to get up, apart from the Four. 

Well, we did had got them good. 

My team and I shared a determined look. 

'Attack!' I yelled. 

^^^^

We all charged. As we ran towards them, some of us already attacking, time slowed. 

Literally. 

A confused expression remained frozen on my features. 

Why couldn't I move at all?

My eyeballs slowly moved to look at Erza, who wore a similar expression. Then it hit me. 

Time Magic. 

The Four were finally fighting. 

And it just had to be Time Magic. 

Well, it was going to take a week to stand ten feet away from them, at this rate. 

'You cannot defeat us,' One said, speaking normally.

'It is best if you don't try,' Three said. 

'We don't want to do this to you,' Two pleaded. 

'But its the only way.' Four concluded. 

And suddenly, I was experiencing pain worse than in the depths of hell. 

Again. 

"No!"  I thought, "I can fight this! Remember who you are, Star! You can't give up! This. Isn't. Real!" 

Sure enough, the pain eased. I focused on all the good memories I had with my friends and my family, and it was gone. 

I opened my eyes and got off the ground, noticing I was able to move normally again. 

The others, however, were a completely different case. 

They were all on the ground, withering and trashing. Even Erza and Gildarts. Even the injured people who couldn't get up to fight.

'STOP IT!' I yelled, tears pouring from my eyes, 'STOP THIS! I'LL DO ANYTHING, PLEASE, JUST STOP IT!'

'Anything?' Four asked, 'Anything, Star?' 

I nodded, tears still pouring. Then Three did something very unexpected. 

He laughed. 

'Pathetic!' he spat, 'This is what you've been reduced to!' 

My eyes widened. 

'I'm sorry, Star-chan,' Two said, 'but I can't stop it. No matter what you say.' 

And... the earth in front of us split in two. 

I screamed in rage and flew at them, faster than they could see. 

I felt familiar power coursing through my veins. I attacked them so fast, they couldn't even block it. 

'LIGHTNING-CRYSTAL DEMON DRAGON'S APOCALYPSE!!!'

I didn't know where that came from, but it was awesome, even if I say so myself. 

Black crystal crackling with lightning came at them from all directions. They couldn't dodge. They couldn't block. My crystal cut them. It was satisfying to watch. Their blood dripped off the sharp edges. 

Now they knew the consequences of hurting my comrades. 

The others stopped thrashing around. I assumed they weren't in pain anymore, which was great. 

Gildarts rose next to me, panting. 

'You wanna test your theory?' He asked. 

'With pleasure,' I replied. 

I got into a ready stance, facing the Four. I spared a glance to my friends, who were behind me and the thick mist standing a little off to my right. 

This will work.

It has to. 

'LIGHTNING-CRYSTAL DEMON DRAGON'S WRATH!' 

The Four charged just as I attacked. They tried to evade it, but the blast radius was just too big. They were thrown back a hundred feet slammed into a wall. 

Minutes passed. They didn't get back up. 

Was this war over?

Had I defeated Infinity?

Well, I got my answer when everything felt like jelly and a circle of back flames appeared around us. 

The Four rose. No, wait. Only three of them. One of them remained on the ground. One, Three and Four walked towards us like they just didn't get their asses whopped five ways to Sunday. Two remained on the ground below the wall. 

Oh, I see what they did. 

Inhuman beasts. 

'We are all connected,' One proclaimed. 

They did some creepy forbidden magic and let Two bear the whole damage of the attack. 

Suddenly, everything was black. 

I reached out to where Gildarts was standing, I could feel him, but at the same time, I couldn't. It was as if my mind had body had somehow... disconnected. 

The Four, even Two appeared in front of me, hoods off. I glared at them. 

'What do you want?' I snapped. 

'Peace,' they replied instantly. 

'Really?' I said, 'Peace? After all this bloodshed? This hatred and anger?' 

'It will all be erased,' they cooed. 

It was almost hard to believe Four was laughing like a maniac just a few minutes ago. 

'How?' I asked, 'By yanking memories out of people's brains? Good luck with that.' 

They seemed to think about this for a second. 

'Not quite,' Three said, 'but close.' 

'It's the only way,' One said. 

'Oh yeah?' I asked, 'The only way to obtain peace is by stripping people of their free will, erasing their memories and ruling them in your version of utopia?' 

'You must understand that we didn't mean to betray you,' Two said, 'but we weren't lying. It is the only way. We can't let anyone else suffer the way we have.' 

Huh?

They didn't mean to betray me?

'I don't get it,' I said, 'if you guys care so much about betraying MY trust... why did you kill Phil?'

Their answer stunned me to silence. 

'She wanted to die.' 

^^^^

'Liars!' I snarled, tears falling, 'she would never do that to us!' 

'She told us to pass a message,' Four said. He looked at his partners. They gave him a small nod. 

'SHe told us to tell you and the others that she's sorry,' Four continued, 'and that she knew too much about the future and the past. If she continued living, she could put everyone in danger and not just from greedy people who wanted that knowledge. She would be angering enemies whose names should never be uttered.' 

'Who?' I asked. Four gave me a look that said, "weren't you listening to a word I just said?" 

They shared looks again. 

'It is too soon to tell you,' One said, 'we wish we could, but we can't. Phil also told you to take care of yourself and James.' 

'Why... why did you kill her?' 

Their faces adopted slightly sad expressions. 

'We did not want to,' Three said, 'but it was the right thing to do. You won't understand now, but you definitely will, in the future. Perhaps, we will explain it to you one day, but we make no promises.' 

I took deep breaths to calm myself. 

'At least tell me who would come after Phil,' I said through my teeth. 

'We can't,' they said together. This time, though, it seemed involuntary. 

'Why?' I snapped, 'Because it'll make me a target too?'

 They nodded. 

'Star, you must understand,' Three said, 'we're good people. You know what happened to us, though you cannot remember it. We haven't attacked anyone unless it was necessary.'

'And you think that makes killing Phil okay?' 

'No!'

There were truth and sincerity behind his words. But, honestly, I didn't care. 

'No,'  I said, 'no matter how hard your past may be, it doesn't give you the right to hurt people. It doesn't give you the right to rule the world. I may have known you in the past and you may have known me, but I'm pretty sure I never told anyone to conquer the world. And, I know you hold some kind of respect for me, so if you value my advice, stop this. Stop all of this death and destruction and this war. Destroy the book of Death Magic. And...'

My eyes softened. 

'Come join Fairy Tail.' 

I don't know why I said that, but I did, and now it can't be taken back. 

Shocked expressions dawned on the Four's faces. 

'You could have a family,' I said, 'new friends. People that will take care of you and that will share your burden. Family, that will even die for you without batting an eye. You can have all of that if you just stop this instant. Sure, you've done some bad things, but I'm sore people will forgive, if not forget.'

There was silence after I said this. 

'I could be part of your family,' I whispered. 

One looked at me, shock still on her features. 

'Really?' she said, 'After all we've done... starting a war... killing someone you love... injuring your family... you still invite us?'

I nodded. 

'Because that's what Fairy Tail is. A family. And... I believe you're good people. Somewhere deep inside. I believe you deserve a second chance.' 

My face suddenly morphed into confusion, remembering the world outside our little bubble. 

'Um...' I paused, unsure of what to say, 'Where is everyone else? Where are we? Are they still fighting?'

 'Your friends are right where you left them,' Two said, 'they're just fighting our physical forms. Just because of your physical ability to sense emotions, we were able to pull your conscience away from your body for a while.'

'Wait...' I said, 'What?'

'Nothing,' Three blurted, 'complicated stuff even I don't understand. Two's the one that did it.' 

Two, who had been quiet the whole time before this, blushed a little. 

'Well...' I said, 'Shall we go back... then? I mean, have you decided to stop going after this pointless ambition and join Fairy Tail?' 

They looked at one another. 

'We are,' they said. I grinned. 

'Then let's go back!' 

'We never went anywhere in the first place,' I heard Four grumble.

I heard Three snap at him to shut up.

Then suddenly, I was facing him, locked in a fighting stance. He gave me a wink from under his hood and retreated. At that moment, my heart leapt. 

'EVERYONE STOP!' I shouted. 

In that second, everyone froze. 

'I HAVE NEGOTIATED WITH THE ENEMY! WE HAVE A TRUCE!' 

This wasn't the entire truth, but it was enough for now.

'THEY HAVE GIVEN UP AND WON'T FIGHT ANYMORE!!'

'Great!' Someone shouted, 'Now we can capture them and torture them!' 

'NO!' I yelled. 

Everyone was taken aback from my sudden ferocity. 

'This is an agreement. We can't break it,' I calmly stated. 'They've had a hard past. They thought this was the only way to resolve their problems. Honestly, haven't you realized that they could've crushed us all in an instant, by the amount of power they have? Yet, they resisted. Because they're not truly evil. We're nothing compared to their power. We're tiny. Insignificant. Yet, they spared us.'

I paused for a breath. 

'Because they're not bad at heart and deserve a second chance. If you do not think the same way I do, continue fighting. But know you'll be fighting against me too.'

There was silence as everyone contemplated my words. 

I felt a soft hand on my shoulder. 

'Thank you, Star-chan,' Two said, 'I don't know where we would be without you.'

'With or without me,' I told her, smiling, 'you would be a great person.' 

^^^^

After a few seconds, I heard, 'If Pinky says something is right then it is.' 

Dragneel turned to face the crowd.

'The Salamander stands with her!'

'Titania stands with her!' Erza yelled. 

'Gildarts stands with her!' Gildarts yelled. 

'The whole of Fairy Tail stands with her!' Laxus yelled. 

I grinned at the Four. 

'Anyone else?' I asked.

Now that Fairy Tail was with me, no one would dare oppose us. 

'Blue Pegasus stands with her!'

'Lamia Scale stands with her!' 

'Sabertooth stands with her!' 

'Great!' I grinned, 'This war is over! We have a truce! Or, rather, let's welcome our new friends!' 

There was a cheer across the battlefield, but I noticed neither my team or other specific members of Fairy Tail did not take part. 

I turned to face the Four but was engulfed in a huge hug. 

'Thank you,' Three said, 'you have no idea how much this means.' 

'You don't need to thank me,' I said, 'we're friends!' 

I pulled back and for the first time since I saw them, there were full smiles under their hoods. 

'Now,' I said, 'you better tell me your names. I can't stand anyone calling anyone else a number. Ever.' 

They laughed. 

'My real name is... Oshirai,' One said.

'That's a beautiful name!' I said, 'Why don't you use it?' 

'Because...' Oshirai paused, 'it brings back bad memories. Times I never want to think of again.' 

Suddenly, I had a vivid flashback with screams and splattered blood on a wall. I shook a little but pushed it away. 

'It's going to be hard,' I said, 'but you need to face those memories.'

Oshirai nodded and so did the other three. 

'What's your name?' I gently asked Two. 

'Ajisai,' she replied. 

Wow, I thought to myself. 

'Yours?' I asked Four. 

'Rozu.'

'And yours?' I asked Three.

'Kikyo,' he replied, smiling. 

I smiled back, blushing a little.

'Wow,' I said, 'you have gorgeous names.'

'Extremely ironic too,' Kikyo said.

I nodded, said that they saw it the same way I did. (Oshirai, Ajisai, Rozu and Kikyo are all names of flowers in Japanese). 

We were snapped out of our little bubble when our team joined us. 

'Hey, guys!' I greeted cheerfully. Gray stepped closer and whispered, 'You do know that they killed Phil, right?' 

'It's... complicated,' I replied with a frown. I didn't appreciate him bring that up, but it had to be said.

 'Erza Scarlet,' Erza said, extending her hand. I was surprised, I didn't expect her to make the first move. But that's Erza for you. 

I had expected suspicious stares and awkward pauses, but the conversations felt completely natural. The two sets of twins introduced themselves and Rozu was practically swooning over Erza.

Well, it's not every day that you meet Titania, the Queen of the Fairies. 

'Hey, Erza,' I said, as Dragneel and Gray introduced themselves (giving Dragneel a bonk on the head because he was about to start a fight), 'Why don't you and Rozu go and discuss your magic? He's very interested. In your re-equip, I mean.' 

Rozu went red but composed himself immediately. 

'Very well, then,' Erza said and started storming off. Rozu followed like a lost puppy. 

Kikyo turned and mouthed "thank you" to me. I mouthed "all the best" back, laughing. 

He had no idea what he had gotten himself into. 

Oshirai chuckled with me. 

'So... did you guys-' I stopped mid-sentence, listening. 

Dragneel and Laxus could hear it too. 

Soon, people without dragon senses could hear it. 

There were two hundred people. 

No, three hundred. 

They were all coming this way. 

For a few seconds, I was completely confused. 

But then, I got it. 

In a split second, I had grabbed Ajisai and Kikyo and was sprinting at full speed in the opposite direction. 

'Oshirai!' I screamed. She was at my heels in a second. Rozu took a second to catch up since he had to mutter an apology to Erza and use time magic to catch up. 

'What's happening?' Kikyo asked, completely confused. 

'Explanations later,' I panted. 

Thankfully, they followed without questions. 

My team and the rest of Fairy Tail hadn't moved. Even from this distance, I could see the horrified look on Erza's face. 

I looked forward and continued to sprint. 

Then suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks. 

Kikyo slammed into me, but I didn't fall. 

'They've got us surrounded,' I whispered. 

'Who?' Oshi demanded, impatiently. 

I gulped. 'Do you have teleportation magic?' I said shakily. 

'No,' Kikyo responded, 'we'd have to... you know.' 

I didn't respond, my mind going at a thousand miles per hour.

I was out of magic power and so was most of my family. There was nothing I could do. 

'There's no way,' I said, 'they're almost here. No time for a plan either.' 

'WHO, Star-chan?' Ajisai demanded. 

I turned my stare to her. 

'The whole of the Magic Council, Royal Army, Magical forces and Wizard Saints.' 

^^^^

'We've got to go back,' I said, pulling them, 'you have to blend in so that they can concentrate on capturing the other dark guilds. Worst case scenario, we fight, you run.'

There was a burst of protests. 

'Stop it,' I snapped, 'it's the only way. For now.' 

'I'm not leaving you,' Kikyo (Three) said. My eyes softened a little, but I looked straight ahead. 

'You've got no choice,' I replied, straining to keep my voice in its former hard tone. He noticed. 

'Cloaks off,' Oshirai said. There was a whoosh as they were flung off. 

We reached the others, panting. Well, at least I was. Erza had explained the situation to them, but Dragneel didn't understand or was being stupid on purpose. 

'Why did you run away only to come back...' he grumbled. 

'Shut up,' Gray snapped. Thankfully, he did. 

'We'll have to trick them,' I told Erza as I anxiously stared at the line of doom over the horizon. It was late evening, almost dusk. IT's good we have a flamethrower on our side. 

'Yes,' Erza agreed, 'or it's going to be an ugly fight.' 

'We'll fight with you,' Kikyo said. 

'No,' Erza and I said simultaneously. 

'If you fight, they'll know who you are,' Erza explained, 'if they don't already. It's going to get more complicated than it already is.' 

The siblings weren't happy about it, but they agreed. 

'Come on,' Gray said, 'get ready. They're almost here.'

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I was looking at a very beaten up army with very beaten up leaders. 

Oh.

Now I get it. 

The guild masters weren't sitting around after all. 

What probably happened was that at first, they set out to speed the army up, but then they received Warren's telepathic message and turned to attack them instead. 

The Masters appeared, surrounded by soldiers and in magical handcuffs. 

I expected it. There was no way they could go up against all of the Ten Wizard Saints and an army and win. 

'It looks like there isn't much to do!' One of the Wizard Saints commented, 'Unless, of course, you youngsters would like to follow your guild masters and fight us? You have done our job for us and done it very well, it would be a waste to imprison you!' 

I grit my teeth, not wanting to have an outburst and reduce our already slim chances. 

'This war is over!' Erza declared, 'Your prisoners lie at our feet.' 

There was a nasty gleam in the Wizard Saint's eye. 

'Well said, Titania,' he said, 'but you lie. The demons are in our midst and we know it.' 

'Demons?' Dragneel spat. 

'Yes, demons,' the Wizard Saint continued, 'the right-hand men of Zeref.' 

I desperately wanted to yell, "You discriminative kuneyaru!" and kick him in the groin, but I held back. 

'What are your intentions?'Mira asked, flickering to her demon form. 

'Why, to kill the people known as The Four, of course,' the kuneyaru mused, 'and anyone else who stands in my way.'

Wait, what?

Where did the word "kill" come from?

The Magic Council didn't give death sentences.

What's going on here?

There was a moment of silence as everyone digested this. Kikyo, a determined look on his face, breathed in and prepared to say something, but I clamped my hand over his mouth. He glared at me. I glared back. 

'We have to turn ourselves in,' he said softly after I moved my hand, 'it's the only way.' 

'No,' I insisted, 'we can still fight.' 

All the Four shook their heads. 

Oshirai opened her mouth to speak, but I beat her to it. 

'I'M THEIR LEADER!'

You could cut the tension with a knife. 

'Take me! The others are innocent, I forced them! If there is any justice in the law. take me and spare them! I'm the one who started it all, the Master of Death Magic!'

I took a deep breath, gathering my courage. 

'I'm the one who killed Philipa Hauser!'

Tears welled up in my eyes, but I held them back. There was a deafening silence as I finished my rant.

Then the kuneyaru shouted one order. 

'KILL HER!' 

****

The army charged. I walked forward, standing in front of all my friends. they were still frozen in shock and I took advantage of that, walking forward some more. 

Unfortunately, the Four were the first to recover. 

'NO!' they roared, running towards me. I looked at them sorrowfully. The Army would reach me first. 

But, of course, with family and friends like this, it wasn't going to happen. 

'Ice-Make: Hammer!'

'Fire Dragon's Roar!' 

'Maximum Defense Armor!'

'Lightning Bolt!' 

'Satan Soul!'

'Crash!'

'Aah!' 

(Happy, again)

'Snow Magic!'

'Air Magic!' 

'Parfum!'

I shrugged. 

'CRYSTAL DRAGON'S ROAR!!!'

The army was blown back. 

I grinned, despite myself. 

^^^^

'ARE YOU CRAZY?!!!'

I winced. 

'Sorry,' I muttered, 'but...'

'But nothing,' Kikyo and Oshirai snapped together. 

'You're the stupidest person I've ever met,' Rozu said, punching my arm lightly. 

'Um... Ajisai,' I whispered, 'you can let go now. I'm fine.'

She shook her head against my shoulder. I sighed. 

Ajisai was soon joined by the tow bakas. Erza plonked me on the head, followed by the rest of Fairy Tail and my other friends. Cana wasn't happy with one, so she just had to give me five. 

Ouch. 

And Ajisai still hadn't let go. 

Nor had the two bakas. 

'TREASON!' 

Everyone was immediately in a fighting stance. 

The Kuneyaru Wizard Saint was on his feet, screaming bloody murder. 

Well, it wasn't my fault he was so weak. 

'ALL OF YOU WILL DIE!' 

Had he forgotten the Council didn't give death penalties?

Or was he just plain stupid?

I don't know and I don't care. 

Time for ass-kicking. 

'Crystal Dragon's Roar!' 

And he calls himself a wizard saint?

Oh, my bad. Mystogan blocked whatever he was going to do. 

Well, at least I could let loose now. 

My friends launched a volley of attacks after me, including the Four. 

Their magic was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. 

It was like a splash of colours. Deadly colours. Killing everything in its path. It was sudden and painless. 

I wanted to die like that when I did. 

No, what am I thinking?! There's no way I'm gonna go down without a fight!

But...

But nothing!

As I resolved this internal conflict, I didn't realize Oshirai was shaking me.

'Don't!' she yelled, 'Don't get lost in our magic!' 

I blinked and became aware again. 

'What was that...?' I muttered. 

'Our magic is treacherous,' Ajisai mutters, 'it looks for a way to kill.' 

I was too shocked to respond, still staring at the colours in front of me. 

'This is why we don't use it!' Kikyo exploded. Feeling his emotions was enough to make me act. 

'Shh!' I shushed them. They all looked at me incredulously. 

'Your magic is beautiful,' I said, 'period. Now, let's kick ass.'

I can't believe I just called Death Magic beautiful, but you can't change the fact. 

I entered my other mode, my eyes zeroing into where the Kuneyaru was standing. I screamed, channelling everyone's anger into that one attack. 

'LIGHTNING-CRYSTAL DEMON DRAGON'S MIND TSUNAMI!' 

And this time, it didn't miss. 

I was happy to have put him down (and about a quarter of the army with him). He deserved every ounce of pain he was feeling. 

I felt like kicking him while he was down, but I wasn't going to stoop to that level. There wouldn't be any difference between us if I did that. 

I closed my eyes and took deep breaths, exiting my dual-mode and clearing my head of all thoughts of the Kuneyaru. He was long gone, anyway. I opened my eyes and continued fighting. 

I pushed myself past my limit. In the end, I was leaning on Kikyo for support. Five Wizard Saints were still standing, with about a little less than half of the army. We hadn't lost many people, but everyone was tired, unable to keep fighting. 

Kikyo scooped me up in his arms when my knees buckled. 

'You've gone way past your limit,' he muttered, 'but don't worry. We'll take care of this.' 

He hugged me lightly and set me down. The siblings made sure I was okay, then turned to face the army. I got a glimpse of the murderous look on Kikyo's face. Wow. I didn't know he could be like that. 

The beautiful colours started splashing again. I closed my eyes and turned my head away, not wanting to receive another lecture form Oshirai. 

I opened one eye just a little after a minute, expecting the job to be done by now. 

Boy was I wrong. 

They were still standing, all of them. 

But how?

The Four was panting, looking worn out. 

But how?

'What's happening?' I heard Erza mutter. 

'I don't know,' I said, 'but it's bad.' 

Kikyo and Rozu had their hands curled into fists. The girls were silently fuming. 

'It can't be Mystogan...' I muttered. Erza gave me a dirty look for considering it.

'What?' I asked her. 

I still hadn't forgiven him for Phil's face-plant!

'How could they deflect everything?' I heard Gray say. 

As if to answer his question, one of the Wizard Saints spoke. 

'We had to sacrifice half our kin during the wait for the spell to activate,' he said, 'but we have found the Book of Death Magic.' 

'Impossible,' Kikyo spat.

'We now know how to defeat you...' the Wizard Saint trailed off. 


Aw, shit.

^^^^

The siblings were too far away for me to ask them any of the thousand questions running through my head, most importantly-

Where had they hidden the book?

How could you stop Death Magic?

How were they going to fight without it?

I desperately wanted to be at their side, fighting, but I had crossed my limit a long time ago. I couldn't get up, no matter how hard I tried. 

'Well, it seems like our Death Magic does not affect,' Oshirai said.

Was it my imagination or did I just hear a smile in her voice?

'Seems like it,' Rozu agreed.

Wait, what? He was smirking too.

'Looks like we're gonna have to use that,' Kikyo commented.

'We need the practice anyway,' Ajisai yawned, 'and I'm dying to use it freely after so long.'

Could some be so kind as to explain what the hell is going on here?!!!

'You thought we only used Death Magic, did you?' Oshirai laughed.

'You thought wrong...' Kikyo chided in a sing-song voice that sent shivers up my spine because of how dangerous it sounded.

I would hate to be the enemy right now. I saw one of the Wizard Saints was doing breathing exercises to calm his heart rate and another one was trying his best not to piss his pants.

Do you think I was exaggerating on how scary they can be?

'So, you guys up for it or wanna let met do it?' Kikyo smirked.

'Hey, hey, there you go being all overconfident,' Ajisai said, 'we're doing this together. No way are we going to let you take all the glory.'

'Fine, you spoilt brat.'

'What did you call me?'

'A spoilt brat. The truth hurts, doesn't it?'

The enemy too their chance and charged. I face-grounded because a face-palm just won't cover it.

'Shut up, Kikyo,' Oshirai snapped. 'Let's do this.'

Together, they shouted-

'SECRET ART OF THE GOD SLAYERS!!!'

'Light!'

Oshirai.

'Earth!'

Ajisai.

'Darkness!'

Kikyo.

'Space!'

Rozu.

There was a bright flash.

And then, finally...

It was all over.

****

**One Day Later**

'Bye!' I shouted, 'Take care! I'll miss you!'

'Bye!' they shouted back, 'We'll miss you too! Don't get into any trouble!'

I laughed and waved as they shouted that impossible statement.

'See you soon!' they yelled.

'You'd better!' I yelled back, a tear slipping.

And then, they were gone.

I turned to my family. They were all smiling. I joined the group and we started walking inside the guild house, talking and laughing.

Once we got in, we all separated and hung out with our groups. Dragneel and Gray got into a fight. After that, it was inevitably turned into a full-out brawl, though everyone was injured.

This time, I didn't bother using my Peace spell and just let everyone have their fun. Things had been too serious for too long. We needed this.

As for me, I still wasn't completely over everything that had happened. I would be, though, given time. I dodged a flying chair and made my way out, shaking my head in amusement.

I walked out of the town and into the forest not so far away, thinking hard about yesterday's events.

After the siblings had destroyed the Imperial Army and the Wizard Saints, they had... modified their memories. Now, all the Saints were to step down and a new council was to be formed. Death Magic never existed and nor did the Four. Kikyo found the Book of Death Magic on one of the Saints and destroyed it.

And that was the end of Death Magic. Fortunately, the siblings were not harmed in any way. Turns out, the book could be destroyed only be using Death Magic itself. Ironic, huh?

We went back to the guild after saying "Jana!" to all our friends in the other guilds. Dragneel badly wanted to pick a fight with one of the powerful guild-masters, but I bonked him on the head and threatened to put him on a train and leave him there for a week. I dragged him away just in time with Erza apologizing for his actions.

When we returned to Magnolia, we were shocked to find out that almost everyone knew about the war and rumours were flying around about dark, ancient magic and Zeref's demons.

It was that moment when the siblings decided to leave.

Mind you, they didn't want to. But with the rumours and suspicions, they thought it was necessary.

I asked them to stay many times, but in the end, I respected their decision and let them go.

Mind you, I wasn't happy at all.

Before they left, Kikyo pulled me aside.

'Star,' he said, 'I've been thinking about something for a while now.'

'What is it?' I asked.

He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. 'Well,' he said, 'I don't mean to offend you or anything but... you invited us into the guild so suddenly. I was extremely surprised. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful. But... I just wanted to ask, what were your reasons?'

I raised my eyebrows. 'Really?' I asked, 'That's the question you're hesitating to ask me?'

'Well...'

I gave out a small giggle.

'It's a perfectly valid question, Kikyo. I'm sorry I didn't realize that you guys might wanna know the answer. Well... I invited you to the guild for two reasons, mainly. Reasons I didn't realize at the time, but they came to me eventually. 

'One, frankly, I felt sorry for you. I don't know what it feels like to be alone, to have only yourselves to rely on. I always had someone there for me and I took it for granted. I... wanted to give you guys a family.

'Even though you were my enemies, I didn't think you were bad at heart. I saw... Ajisai crying. Something inside me broke. I couldn't bear it.'

I sighed.

'The second reason is that I felt like you deserved another chance. You don't seem like bad people, even though you put up a bad front. Those are my reasons.'

Kikyo was staring at me.

'What?' I asked, suddenly self-conscious.

'You...' he gaped like a fish. I softly slapped him across the face. Softly.

'Sorry, what?' he snapped out of it.

I just gave him a look.

'Sorry...' he apologized.

'Weirdo...' I muttered. He sighed.

'We should get back,' he said, 'the others will be waiting for us.'

'Yeah, I guess,' I said, 'but I don't want you guys to leave.'

'We have to, Star-chan,' he said, a sad expression on his face. I smiled sadly too. 

'I get it, don't worry. I'm just being selfish.'

We both smiled and looked at each other. The moment lasted a little too long and I looked away, embarrassed. I felt a finger under my chin. I looked up to see Kikyo very close. 

'You have no idea how much I'm going to miss you...' he whispered, looking into my eyes. Suddenly, I had a flashback. I remember seeing Kikyo's face... he was so young...

'You don't know how much I'm going to miss you either,' I whispered, shaking it off. My brain is just so weird.

He smiled, then leaned closer. My breathing hitched. He kissed me very softly on my forehead. 

'Guess we'll find out if we'll see each other again, huh?'

'We'll find out when we will,' I corrected him. We both hugged and walked back to the others. 

Rozu had a hard time leaving Erza. He was hooked. 

'I'll see you later, Erza,' he said, depressed, and walked away. I smiled at the sight. 

Then, to everyone's surprise, Praige, the sage, appeared. 

'I'll take these brats under my wing,' he muttered, 'they have so much to learn.'

Oshirai, as always, was the first to recover. 

'Thank you so much, Praige-san,' she said, 'but it isn't necessary. We are capable of taking care of ourselves.'

'I know, I know,' Praige muttered, 'but you're coming with me anyway. Or should I say, "I'm coming with you."'

Everyone had confused expressions on their faces. 

'Well,' Ajisai said, 'if Praige-san wants to take us under his wing, I'll be glad he offered! Come on, minna, it'll be fun!'

Kikyo sighed. 'I agree,' he said. 

'I do too,' Rozu drawled. 

'Okay then,' Oshirai decided, 'we will go with Praige-san!'

There were cheers. Praige-san summoned a flying carpet (like the one baka-Dragneel had barfed all over) and they got on. 

'When I asked them where they were going and what they were going to do, they said, 'We're going to the place where ti all stared and try to atone for our sins.'

 When I told them I didn't understand and pointed out that they hadn't sinned that much, they simply laughed. Kikyo pet my hair and I huffed. Then suddenly they were hugging me, whispering promises and goodbyes. I smiled and let a tear slip, knowing it was time to let go. 

****

I reached the outskirts of the forest, thinking of all the sins they could atone for. Then it hit me. 

I am such a baka. Someone kill me now. 

^^^^

I froze, then whipped around and ran back to the guild at record speed. Within a minute, I was standing in the doorway, panting.

'Minna, iksou!' I yelled, 'We need to go somewhere!'

then I whipped around and ran again, this time in a different direction. The others followed, a little confused. Correction. VERY confused. 

I ran through the city, mentally kicking myself again and again. 

How could I be so stupid as to forget Phil's final wish??!!

I breezed past the others until I finally stood in front of the one I wanted. The huge Sakura tree where Phil's final wish would be fulfilled. 

"Remember the letter."

The words echoed in my head. 

The others came up behind me, panting. 

'What happened?' they asked, 'Why are we here?'

'Phil's final wish,' I replied, 'Was for me to dig under this tree and find... something. I wanted you all to be here to witness it.'

'What is it?' Dragneel asked. 

'I don't know,' I replied. 

They nodded in understanding. I scanned the ground around the tree with my sixth sense reserved for metals. I felt something dense and heavy. I immediately recognized it and summoned it. 

I knelt and placed the glittering diamond box on my lap. 

'Is there something inside?' Gray asked. I gulped and opened it with hands on the verge of trembling. 

It was a book. 

It was a plain, spiral-bound book with no title and no decoration. 

What could it contain?

Letters?

Records?

Spells? 

Secrets?

I honestly didn't know. 

'Open it,' Erza prompted. 

'We'll always be the same to whoever it concerns,' Mira promised. 

The others muttered consent. Gray and Dragneel just stared at me, one with excitement and one with concern. 

I took a deep breath and opened the book. Inside, there was a handwritten note. I read it out loud. 

"To whoever is reading,

"This book originally belonged to Philipa Hauser and James Sanctum. Since you're holding this, we've either passed on or just decided to put the whole of Fairy Tail into a major... tragedy. Since you've found this, it now belongs to you. But if one of us told you where it is, I want you to know that you are very special to us. Like family. Like the rest of Fairy Tail. If we're not there right now, we would like the whole guild to know that we love them a lot and we will always be alive in their hearts, no matter what. 

"This book might be an instant reply of what happened a few years ago when we had just recently joined the guild. But trust us, seeing these will make all the fights you're going to get into worth it. If we told you where to find it, the reason is..."

I realized I couldn't see anymore because of my tears. I felt two hands on my shoulders and instantly, I regained my composure. 

"...because we don't want you to cry for us. We want you to live life to the fullest, come what may. We'll always be a part of Fairy Tail and you'll always be family to us. Because family is the most important thing that ever existed. 

With lots of love,

Phil and James."

My tears fell. I looked at my right and left to see Gray and Dragneel respectively with Erza standing behind me and Happy on my head. The rest of the guild with tears in their eyes standing behind us too. With my courage replenished, I flipped the page. 

And almost choked. 

With laughter. 

The others were immediately around me, thinking I was in danger. But when they saw my face after the choking fit passed, they were confused. 

'Are you okay?' Mira asked. 

'I'm better than okay!' I laughed, grabbing the book that had fallen on the ground because of all the hustle. 

Laxus peeked over my shoulder and caught a glimpse of the contents. He immediately took it out of my hands. 

'Hey!' I snapped. 

There was a look of horror in his face. I smirked, knowing the reason very well. Laxus then flipped the page and...

Burst out laughing. 

'What?' the others asked, 'What happened?' 

Laxus just continued laughing (on the ground now) and didn't bother to reply. 

Dragneel, not being able to bear it anymore, snatched the book from him. Then, an extremely weird expression overcame his features. 

Ha. Guess there must've been two. 

And he didn't have enough brain cells to cope with them.

Phil and James never ceased to surprise me. 

^^^^

After every member of the guild had snatched it from someone else and taken a peek, they were either staring into space with horrified expressions or rolling on the floor, crying with laughter. 

And it was so, so much fun for me, because...

I didn't even have one!!!!

I was one of the people rolling around with laughter. 

I giggled when I saw Bisca frantically flipping through it. I grabbed it and glanced through for the third time, making sure I hadn't missed everything. I turned to the last page and the back cover, noticing there was an envelope there. I quickly took out the contents, not knowing what to expect. 

When I saw what they were, they slipped out of my hand and fell to the ground. 

And in an instant, I went from the lucky exception to the horrified victim. 

'NO!' I screamed. Why???!!!!

Her words echoed in my head. 

"I will only give it to someone I love and trust to the ends of the earth."

Slowly, the horrified expression changed into a smile. 

Then a fit of laughter, looking at everyone else. 

Gray had picked up the bunch from the floor and looked. Then the process had repeated until everyone had seen it and was laughing no only at the contents but also at the irony. I joined them. 

Serves me right. 

For about an hour after that, we remained in the park, recounting times form where they were taken. Everyone heard about my adventures with Phil and James and were also informed about a specific someone who kept going in and out of my life. That topic was kind of sad so I quickly changed it, but the memories were fresh in my head. 

When it got dark everyone headed back to the guild, the special book held safely in my hands. As soon as we got near the guildhall, everyone started going their separate ways. Before Dragneel and Happy could head home, I pulled the baka aside. 

'Star?' he asked, confused, 'What's wrong?' 

I gave Happy a pointed look. 

'Aye,' he said dejectedly and left us alone. I sighed. 

'Dragneel,' I said, 'there's something I've been meaning to talk to you about for a while now. But so much has happened, it didn't seem important.'

'What is it?' he asked, concerned. I looked at the ground, trying to figure out how to phrase my words. 

'When... we went to Praige the first time, to get my memories back... I remembered everything. Well, almost. I remember meeting Igneel... once. I was very, very young. I also remember meeting a shadow dragon and a dark-haired kid... though I don't know who that is. The point is, I don't feel like it happened recently. Not even in the past ten years, when it should've.'

I paused, trying to get the next part out clearly. 

'I also remember this nice lady with blonde hair... and once her face flashed in my mind... for some reason... I feel like our dragons didn't leave us. I was so sure before I lost my memory... that Shimera left me. But now... that memory is kind of... cracked. Surreal.'

I looked at him, taking in his reaction, which wasn't much. He was giving me a blank look. 

'Do you mean that Igneel and Shimera didn't leave us? 'Cause that's what I remember.' 

'I.. don't know. I've always felt like it's wrong, Shimera won't leave me for no reason. And that blonde-haired lady... I need to figure out who she is.'

Dragneel nodded. 'I'll help you,' he stated, 'we'll figure this out together.' 

I smiled and nodded. 'We sure will, Natsu.'

****

'So,' Erza said, as we walked to our mansion, 'what do you want to do with it?'

I stared at the book in my hands. 

'Well...' I hesitated, not knowing how she was going to take it. 

'Spit it out,' Gray chided. I gave him a look and took a deep breath. 

'Well, I was thinking... that we don't need the mansion. We all have our places to stay. So, we could turn the mansion into... part of the guild? It could work as a dorm, or even as a museum.'

I bit my lip and looked at everyone nervously. They were all silent for a second. Then...

'AYE!' Happy shouted, 'That's a great idea!' 

'I'm all for it!' Dragneel cheered. 

'I agree,' Gray said. 'And it's your mansion anyway.' 

I smiled and looked at Erza expectantly. 

'I... don't think so,' she said. 

'WHAT?!!!' Dragneel, Gray and Happy shouted. 

'It would be unwise,' Erza continued, 'for the mansion to be turned into a museum...'

There was a tensed paused. 

'WITH MY CAKE IN THERE!!!'

Erza then ran to the mansion, waving her sword and screaming, 'Strawberry cake!!! I'm coming to save you!!!'

We all laughed hard, but not as hard as when we had seen the album containing all the funny pictures of everyone in Fairy Tail and the envelope containing mine. 

I always wondered what Erza did with that 10 million jewels. 

Well, now I know. 

^^^^^

The next morning, I woke up very warm and very cold at the same time. 

Wait, what?! How is that possible?

Well, it was, because two bakas had snuck into my bed at night. And I don't mean it in that way, dirty minds. 

I was feeling hot on one side because Dragneel is your heater. 

I was feeling cold because Gray had taken my whole blanket and I had nothing to put over me. 

I woke up completely pissed, to add to the mixture of hot and cold. 

What a nice way to start your day. 

I sat up slowly, not wanting to wake them. It's not like I could with that action anyway, their snores were worse than chainsaws revving. 

Oh, they were going to get it. 

'Crystal Needles!!!'

Gray fell off the bed in surprise. 

Dragneel, however, was a different case. 

When Gray or he had snuck in last night, one of them had left my balcony doors open. And my balcony didn't have long railings. 

Dragneel fell off the bed and went rolling across the room, through the balcony doors and...

Over the railing. 

'I'll meet you five floors down!!!' I yelled after him after I heard the crash, happy he got what he deserved. 

Of course, being the baka Dragon Slayer he was, he wouldn't have any major injuries. I'm not that cruel. 

But Gray still hadn't got his punishment. 

'Pancake Formula!'

He was left struggling against my giant slab of crystal. 'There,' I said, 'now you've both got your punishment for sneaking into my house last night. 

I left both of them as they were and went along with my daily routine to get ready to go to the guild. 

About half an hour later, I was sitting on my bed, enjoying the bakas getting roasted. 

While I was getting ready and they were struggling, Erza had passed by my apartment building and saw Dragneel snoring in a hole in the pavement outside. She had dragged him up with her as she came to ask what was going on. When I explained, she was furious. 

Now, the bakas were acting like they were best friends, prancing around my room and yelling "Hai!" to everything Erza said. 

And that, everyone, is how a normal day for our team begins. 

Oh, and before I forget, Happy was on my kitchen counter, observing everything from the start and laughing his ass off. 

****

After a while, all five of us headed to the guild. Erza and I walked side by side, talking about nothing, while the bakas followed, arguing about something as usual, while Happy flew above us. 

Suddenly, I realized something. 

'Ne, Erza,' I said, 'we've never fought, have we?'

She seemed to realize this for the first time too. 'You're right,' she said. 'What do you have in mind?'

 'Let's brawl,' I said, smirking. 

'Yay!' I heard Happy sing, 'Star and Erza are going to fight!' 

Singing that, he flew into the guild (we weren't that far away). 

Great. Now everyone knew. I was planning on making a small-scale thing, just me and her and maybe the bakas. 

'That dumb cat,' I muttered, 'I wanted it to be just us.' 

'You guys are going to fight?' Gray asked, abandoning his pointless argument. 

I shrugged. 'It will spice things up a bit.' 

Dragneel smirked. 'That's one battle I would love to watch,' he said. 

'Who do you think will win?' Gray asked as we entered the guild.

 'Probably Erza,' I confessed, 'but I'll try my best.'

Erza just remained silent. 

A little later in the day, we were standing opposite each other while a wide circle of guild members surrounded us. We were in a large clearing in the forest. I didn't want the match to be in the city because there would be way too many people to watch. 

'HAJIMERU!' Master yelled.

Erza and I moved slowly in a circle, waiting for the other to make the first move. While we were doing this, I quickly ran battle strategies through my head. 

I could never beat her in a sword fight, so that was out of the question. 

Well then, I would just have to give her a taste of the combo attacks I had been working on. They weren't perfect, but I was itching to try them out. Now was the perfect opportunity. 

After the war, I had been working on my Maker and Dragon Slayer Magic, trying to combine them to make stronger attacks. I had failed in combining them completely, but I discovered that for each of my dragon Slayer spells, I had a one from my Maker magic to complement it. 

And so, I created my combo attacks. 

Time to show Titania exactly what the daughter of Shimera could do. 

^^^^^

Finally, Erza came right at me, summoning another sword to slice me from the side while she charged. I braced myself, my eyes alternating between the path of the sword and Erza's footsteps. 

And then she was on me.

I dodged and sidestepped, trying to get a feel of her style. Since we had never fought before, I had absolutely no idea of her speed, reflexes, agility, balance or armour preferences. 

I knew that there was a long list of things I didn't know about her and that she was great at everything, but it's different when you're up close and fighting. You can experience the strength of your opponent and not observe it from afar, which ignites a feeling of urgency, telling you that this is it, it's now or never. 

I wasn't fighting for my life, but it felt like it. 

Of course, Erza would never cause me any major harm until I proved to be a worthy opponent. This put me at a slight advantage. I saw the hesitation in her strikes. She wasn't anywhere near her full potential. 

I jumped back, panting. I had a rough idea of her strength, agility and stuff like that now, but I had no idea what armour she would change into to fight me. I wasn't Dragneel, her Flame Empress armour would not affect me. So far, the only armour that would put me at a disadvantage would be…

'You're being very cautious today,' Erza remarked. 'why don't you loosen up a bit and show me what you're capable of?'

 'Very well, then,' I smirked, 'but just remember, you asked for it.'

Erza smirked back, then re-equipped into the very armour I was hoping she wouldn't.

'Reequip! Purgatory Armor!'

I grit my teeth. That armour was trouble, I had to force her to change as soon as possible. 

Time for my combo attacks. 

'Let's get serious,' I said. There were cheers all around. 

Erza flew at me. I planted my feet firmly in the ground. 

'Improvised Crystal Hail!'


It slowed her down enough for me to launch my next attack.


'Crystal Dragon's Scale Attack!' 

Erza was quick enough to deflect most of the scales and the hail, but some of it got through and hurt her. I used these wide-scale attacks on purpose so that they would force her to change into a new armour which gave her more defence. 

'Reequip! Black Wing Armor!'

Jackpot. 

Though I had to worry about her flying around now, it was better than her Purgatory Armor, because wearing that, she could break through most of my attacks. 

'Pancake Formula! Crystal Dragon's Tail Slap!'

Erza was on defence now, blocking my attacks and gouging whatever information she could out of it. 

This was it. Time for my Premium Combo. 

'Crystal Dragon's Dance of Death!'

I jumped high with Crystal Mirrors forming all around us, like a dome.

This blocked everyone's else's view and disrupted Erza's. Because of my reflections in the crystal, she wouldn't know which one was the real me. I quickly traded positions with one of my clones. 

Erza was at the centre of the dome, looking around cautiously. I knew she didn't know which one the real me. I needed to defeat her fast before she figured out how to get out of here or which one was real. 

I came to her. According to Erza, a hundred of me were charging at once. She slashed the air while I sneaked up from behind. As I was about to land the fatal blow, she turned and blocked it.

I was shell shocked. 

How did she know??!!!

Since I stopped moving, all the other reflections were still too.

 Erza smirked. 

Crap.

I quickly evaded what would've been the death blow. I dissolved the dome, knowing that it was no use now, she had it all figured out. 

In my head, I was panicking. 

What should I do? She made my Premium Combo useless, and I hadn't even gotten to the combo part yet. I had only cast half the spell. Think. Her weakness…

I got it. 

Now, I just had to make this count, because after I did it, I would be completely wiped out. 

I started preparing myself. But then suddenly…

The match was over. 

Erza stood above me, wearing her Purgatory Armor. 

'Chikuso,' I cursed. She got me. 

'I sensed what you were about to do,' she said. 'if that had hit me, I would have been defeated for sure. You put up a good fight, Star. Be more careful next time.' 

She gave me a small smile. 'You've improved a lot,' she said, helping me up.

'Thanks,' I said, 'but next time, I'll beat you for sure.' 

'We'll see.'

'THE WINNER OF THIS MATCH IS ERZA!' Master proclaimed. 'STAR COMES IN SECOND PLACE!'

'Uh, Master,' Mira interjected, 'there were only two people, to begin with.'

'I know,' he said, 'but I wanted to congratulate Star for putting up a very good fight. Most people who go up against Erza get taken down in a flash. Good job, Star!' 

I smiled. 'Thanks! But it's Erza who should get all the praise, she took me down even before I could cast another spell.'

'Yes, Star,' Gray said, 'Erza's amazing. But then, so are you.'

'Aye!'

I couldn't stop smiling, even though I was defeated. That's the kind of guild Fairy Tail is. 

'Star.' I heard a very serious voice say. I turned to see Dragneel.

'Next time,' he said, 'I'm going to challenge you to a match. And when I win, I'll challenge Erza again.'

I laughed. 'Looking forward to it, Dragneel,' I said, 'but you've gotta go way further than beating me to defeat Erza. She's on another level…' 

I gave Erza an innocent smile, then

continued my statement. 

'…for now.'

^^^^

'You were awesome, Star,' Gray told me as we walked by the river. I shrugged. 

'I still lost, though. I don't know what I was expecting the result to be, anyway. This is Erza we're talking about. Queen of the Fairies.' 

Gray rolled his eyes. We continued walking for a while.

'It's been a while since we've last been here,' he said. I laughed. 

'Yeah,' I agreed. 'The last time, you turned the floor into ice and stormed away.'

He gave me a small ashamed smile. 

'It's fine,' I said, 'we sorted it out. It was pretty confusing for me while it lasted though.' 

I looked at the steadily setting sun. 

'I'm sorry,' Gray said. I waved the apology away. 

'It was a mistake on both parts. And anyway, it's all water under the bridge.'

He nodded. We walked in silence for a long time after that. 

After the match, Gray had pulled me aside to walk with him by the riverbank. I gladly went along. I needed to get away from the crowd. 

'You know,' I said, 'I was just so... scared. During the war. I feared you all would die.' 

Gray nodded silently for me to go on. That was one thing I loved about him, he listened. Unlike Dragneel who would shout from the mountains that we were alive. Mid-sentence. 

'I was afraid, because... I'm too weak. Phil... she gave up her life to save me. James almost died too. I just feel... so helpless. I couldn't do anything, just watch as it all unfolded. What's worse is that it wasn't only Phil. Ms Richard... maybe even Shimera... I'm like a beacon for bad luck. Everyone around me is in danger. I'm so useless.'

I punched a wall. 

'Weak.'

I kicked it. 

'Pathetic.'

The wall crumbled. I glared at it for a while. 

I swear I have mood swings when I talk about stuff like this. 

I turned to Gray to find him shaking, his hands covering his mouth. 

My anger subsided a little turning into concern. 

'Gray?' I asked, 'What's wrong?'

He uncovered his face and it was completely stoic. 

'Nothing,' he said, 'please continue.'

I gave him a look. 'I won't until you tell me what's wrong.' 

Suddenly, he...burst out laughing. 

I just stared at him, baffled. 

'What're you... laughing at?' I asked. 

'Not what,' he choked, 'who.'

That was it. 

'Gray!' I snarled, tackling him. We went rolling down the hill for a few seconds and then...

Splashed into the water. 

'YOU COMPLETE BAKA!' I yelled. 

'ME? BAKA? IT WAS YOU WHO TACKLED ME!'

'BUT IT WAS YOUR FAULT!

'WHAT? CAN'T I LAUGH?'

'NOT AT YOUR BEST FRIEND!'

'WELL, SHE WAS THE ONE BEHAVING STUPID!' 

'SHUT UP! AS IF YOU'RE ANY SMARTER!'

'ACTUALLY, I AM.'

'OH YEAH? NO SANE PERSON WILL STRIP IN PUBLIC!'

'IT'S A HABIT!'

'HAVE YOU NO SHAME?'

'EVEN IF I DON'T HAVE SHAME, AT LEAST I'M AWARE OF WHAT'S GOING ON.'

Only then did I realize almost half the city had gathered on the banks, staring open-mouthed at our banter.

^^^^

I took a look around and my face turned red. I saw some people smirking, some laughing, some staring at us in disgust. 

Urgh. I had just insulted one of my best friends in front of the whole town. 

And he had done the same. 

I took a deep breath and dived under, pulling Gray with me. We swam downriver and away from the crowd. I started forming a crystal shell to protect us from prying eyes. He did the same with his ice. 

It was weird how our magic welded together perfectly, without us even trying. The shell turned out to be made of crystal and ice. 

Wait. A. Second. 

It just struck me.

How could he breathe??!!!

 I had Dragon lungs, I could stay underwater comfortably for long periods. Gray was starting to go red in the face, but he wouldn't leave me and go to the surface. 

I frantically gestured for him to leave, even melting my part of the shell, but he wouldn't go. I grit my teeth. There was no other choice. 

I grabbed him and pulled him closer. Then...

We kissed. 

I tried not to get to distracted by that fact and give him some of my air, which he gladly accepted. 

I didn't even realize we were already at the surface until we broke apart for air, not breaking eye contact though. Gray smirked. My eyes widened, realizing what I'd done. 

'You do know I was just trying to save your life, right?' I asked, my eyebrows raised. 

'That was my plan all along,' he said. I rolled my eyes. Sneaky brat. 

We moved closer again. Just as our lips were about to touch, I realized we weren't alone. 

I pulled back abruptly and jerked my head around when I felt a wave of emotions. There were so many, I couldn't even recognize them. And all of them were unimaginably strong. 

My eyes travelled to the edge of the bank, where I saw a lone figure standing. 

****

My eyes widened when I realized who it was. 

Crap. 

'Uh... hey, Dragneel,' I said, 'What's up?'

Baka, baka, baka!!

He didn't reply, just stared at us. 

'Are you okay?' I asked. I felt Gray's hands tighten into fists around my waist. I gave him a confused glance and turned back to Dragneel. 

His body was shaking and he was looking at the ground, fists clenched at his sides. 

And he was not laughing. 

He took one step forward, then seemed to think better of it. He turned on his heel and bolted into the forest, leaving a trail of fire in his wake.

'Put that out!' I yelled at Gray, frantically swimming to the bank. He put it out in an instant and asked me, 'Where are you going?'

 I froze. I was halfway out of the water. 

But where was I going?

Even if I chased after Dragneel, what would I say to him? 

That it was a mistake?

That he misunderstood what he saw?

That I'm sorry that I did it?

Because almost everything that would come out of my mouth would be a lie. 

I splashed back down in the water. I would just have to let Dragneel be. Gray came up behind me. 

'Do you regret it?' he asked. I felt his emotions swirl around me. He was sad. 

I turned to him with determination. 'I don't,' I stated firmly, 'I just didn't expect Dragneel to see it.' 

Gray sighed. 'You know he loves you, right?'

'I sort of... suspected it.' 

'What about you?'

'Please don't go there.' 

Gray plonked down next to me. We sat like that for hours, until the sun went down and it was dark. we both were far away in our thoughts. 

Finally, Gray said, 'We should go home. If we sit here for too long, you might catch a cold.' 

I nodded and took Gray's hand as he helped me up. 

'You okay?' he asked. 

'Why wouldn't I be?'

'You just seem... never mind.' 

'I was just thinking about how things could become so complicated so fast. All it took was one moment.' 

He stilled, then started walking away from me. He stopped for a second. 

'Oyasumi, Star. Get home safe.'

'Try not to miss me too much,' I whispered a small trace of my full smile tugging at my lips. 

 He continued walking away. I sighed, watching his retreating figure.

That was the last time he saw me for the next two years. 

I wandered through the forest, tracking Dragneel from his scent. He had a very unique one, which smelt like earth and smoke, mixed with something else I couldn't name. 

I finally found him leaning against a lone tree in a clearing full of ashes. 

I took a good look around and tears formed in my eyes when his feelings overwhelmed me. 

I walked up to him and hugged tightly him from behind, whispering, 'I'm sorry.'

Then I left. 

___***___***___***___***___***___

AUTHOR'S NOTE!

Thank you so much for reading "Crystal, Ice and Fire"!


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