“Gray!” Lucy yelled at her boyfriend, her heart splitting in two. He had died many times before, but this time, it seemed real; it seemed irreversible. It was heartbreaking, seeing his limp body on the ground. She wanted to rush over there, wanted to save him, but Natsu was under some sort of spell-- now that Gray was out of the way he had started to chase her. So she ran from the sight, trying to get the image out of her mind, and hoping, with as much fervor as she could muster, that he was somehow still alive.
Natsu had always been Gray’s rival-- wasn’t it fitting for him to be the one to kill him?
He continued the chase, his flames out of control, and unending. She would’ve needed to pinch herself to see if she was dreaming, if it hadn’t been for the constant, painful burns all over her that reminded her that she was still alive.
Her face hurt the most; the salt of tears and sweat stung in her wounds like her body was trying to tell her to give up, that it wasn’t worth it. What did she have left now? She couldn’t think of anything but the guild. So she focused on that and stopped thinking about giving up. She could do it for them.
Lucy, more tired than she’d ever been, shivering in fear, ran for her life. Words of just moments ago rang through her head. “Since I can’t kill you, I’ll have Natsu kill you all. It’ll be more fun that way.” They had scoffed at the statement-- there was no way to do that. But somehow, someway...
Lucy had lots of time to think, even though she probably had better uses for that energy than her mental faculties, and she thought of a way to reverse it all. How had the villain done something like this? Something they hadn’t seen the likes of before? That scene ran through her mind, over and over, through every detail, until...
She gasped. It had been some kind of potion-- it had to be! That mage wasn’t particularly strong and did seem to have more of a holder type magic. And there was one thing about potions that gave her hope-- they almost always wore off. And as she thought about it more, it did seem to be wearing off already. The chase got progressively slower as if he was fighting against the effects. She sighed, finally relaxing. It would all be okay.
Finally, the flames faded to nothing, and she heard a ‘thud’ as her friend collapsed on the ground. She just ran, didn’t say anything, trying to stay as calm as she could. She hoped he was alright. “Natsu?” She knelt down to his body, checking to see if he was still breathing, and trying to wake him up.
He opened his eyes slowly and looked around, confused. “Where am I?” He asked, apparently not having any memory of before.
“You’re okay.” She didn’t answer the question.
Natsu’s eyes glazed over, trying to remember anything from the past few minutes. “Where’s Gray?”
Lucy panicked at the question. She had been trying to forget about that, and just focus on Natsu being alive and in front of her. She sighed, knowing she would have to tell him sometime. “Follow me.” She stood up and extended a hand to him. He took it and they followed the path of ashes that he had caused from the chase. He started to recall things from before and, seeing all the destruction, he remembered that he had caused it.
After a few silent minutes of leading him down the path, Lucy finally caught a glimpse of the scene and saw Gray’s limp body.
“Gray?” Natsu gasped as his world came crashing down. He started crying, sobbing, screaming, and clutching the dead body in front of him. Lucy stared, finding the scene excessively morbid. It was odd, he was her boyfriend, and yet she could only stand there, not crying, not feeling anything except confusion, guilt, and aggravation. Why wasn’t she sad? She would soon find out that that came later.
“Natsu, let’s go. We have to... break the news to the others.” Still no tears. But there was an indescribable sting in her gut that wouldn’t melt away for weeks.
Almost a year later, and it was still a dull pain in her stomach that would stick with her, reminding her forever of that moment. She was glad she had Natsu.
Their relationship had been surprisingly undamaged by the incident, and Lucy was grateful for that. Without him, she would’ve been lost. It was as if, even though he couldn’t make her pain disappear, he helped her remember there were other things, that giving up was never an option. Of course, she had other friends as well: Erza, Levy, and Cana, but they all helped in different ways. Natsu was mourning alongside her, just as hurt as she was. He had loved Gray too, in his own way. She was afraid she was getting to know that side of Natsu a little too well. “Don’t you think we’re going a little fast?” She asked one night. Of course, Natsu had always stayed over at her house to sleep, but over time, things had gotten more personal, and he began bringing his belongings over, not going home for weeks. She would be lying if she said she didn’t enjoy it, but she felt guilty.
“Don’t you think this is what he would’ve wanted? You to be happy?”
“Not if he knew it was you I was dating.” She replied, and he grinned back. She was slowly getting used to joking about it. She could finally see the sun on the horizon. She kissed him briefly (she had recently discovered he wasn’t the biggest fan of long, deep kisses) and headed out on her walk to the guild. He would be close behind.
“Lucy Heartfilia?” She heard a voice behind her say her name. She spun around, and it was a stranger who she had never seen before. How did he know her name? “I’m here to make a deal with you.”
She lowered her eyes, skeptical about trusting the man, but didn’t turn away: she was intrigued.
“I can grant you one wish, at a small price.”
“What price?” She asked, seriously considering the offer.
“That depends on the wish.” He smirked. How was she supposed to trust him? She was desperate, though.
“What if I wanted to revive someone?” She asked, that stabbing pain in her heart returning, stronger than it had been for a while.
He thought for a second. “The dead can never come back exactly the same as they were. Though I do promise you he won’t become a zombie or something or the like.” Well, that was a relief at least. “But, that’ll come with a larger price. How about one of your spirit keys?”
She immediately turned that down. She could barely trust this man, let alone give him one of her keys. “No way.”
“Then how about him, the one you plan to revive? Does he wield magic?” She nodded. She didn’t like where this was going, but she nodded. “That would be an adequate price.” She wanted to decline. It would be much too selfish to give up his powers for him without his say. But before she could, Natsu interrupted.
“We’ll do it,” he said, and before she could protest, they were shaking on it.
“I’ll come back at midnight to discuss the procedure,” the man said, his wording leading her to be even more unsure about him.
She suddenly had the urge to ask, “Why do you want magic power so badly?”
“How do you think I got the power to grant wishes?”
A breeze rushed through, making her shiver, as he vanished.
As Lucy regained her composure, anger built inside her. “How could you do that? The matter of his magic power isn’t one for you to decide!” Her fists clenched, but she knew she wouldn’t lay a hand on him.
That’s when she noticed the tears in his eyes. “I need him.” She began to think their love for him wasn’t that different after all.
She pulled him into a hug. “We’ll figure all this out. I promise.” She wasn’t sure they could.
Midnight came. They waited patiently outside Lucy’s apartment, getting more and more nervous as the seconds passed.
Finally, the man appeared, and they were both relieved. “You two ready?” He didn’t give them time before he snapped, manifesting a spell book and a couple lit candles sprinkled around the ground. “Okay,” he started, handing the book to Natsu, “read this incantation right here for the revival spell,” he pointed to a spot on the page, “then here for your price,” he turned to a different page and pointed again. He made it seem routine. “Easy enough?” He closed his eyes as if he was focusing, and his hands began to glow. Natsu began the spell, and man made a series of magic-looking gestures until what looked like Gray began to manifest in front of him.
Once Natsu had finished, Gray completely appeared, and collapsed on the ground. He had made it seem easy. As Lucy hurried to get Gray on his feet, Natsu asked, “How did you get this power?” She was wondering the same thing.
The man smiled. “A magician never reveals his secrets. Now time for my payments.”
Natsu looked down at the book and at the spell the man had marked for him. Taking a deep breath, he started to recite the lines with enthusiasm. The man did a similar routine with his hands, but this time pointed straight at Gray. Just regaining consciousness, he was caught off guard, and soon a trail of light blue light seemed to be leaving him through his guild mark. “Lucy?” He sounded scared. She wanted it to stop. But he was right there--
Natsu seemed to be having a similar train of thought. He quickly stepped in between Gray and the Magician, stopping the flow of magic power between them. The man just shrugged, and the process restarted, this time the magic power streaming out of Natsu. He continued reading the spell. Lucy screamed, but it was now too late. As soon as the spell ended, the man disappeared, and Natsu wobbled on his feet, visibly shaken by the event, but trying to stand strong. Still stabilizing Gray with one arm, she grabbed Natsu as well. “Are you alright?” She asked both of them.
Gray was still plenty confused and scared because of it. He took in his surroundings, smiling at both Lucy and Natsu, happy to see them, even if he didn’t know the details; even though he didn’t know how long they had been missing him. But Natsu seemed just as confident as ever.
“Natsu, why would you ever do that? You lost your power.” She was stating the obvious, trying to make sense of what had happened.
Tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, he said, “Now I can never hurt either of you again.”