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Time Is On Our Side (But Time Is Running Out)

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The first thing she does--after making sure the spell worked, after crying for what felt like hours on end when she realized that yes, she was back--was summon her spirits. At least, the spirits that she had at this point in time.

She was met with stone cold silence and hard eyes. Not that this surprised her.

"You," Aquarius started, the words almost a snarl, "are not Lucy Heartfilia." Cancer stood at her side in silent agreement, his fingers twitching around the scissors in his hands. Taurus, for once, was quiet, not even uttering a single word about her appearance or body. The atmosphere grew tense, as if any wrong move could result in a blood bath.

"I am," she disagreed quietly, and then held up her hand when Aquarius began to protest. "I am Lucy Heartfilia. But I am not the one you know. I am not the one of this time."

"That doesn't make any sense!" The water spirit was definitely snarling now, while Taurus just crossed his arms over his giant chest.

"There are many kinds of magicks out there. You, as Celestial Spirits, know this," her voice was gentle as she tried to explain. Her eyes, once bright with the naivete and hope of youth, were dark and knowing. Her hair lie flat down her back and her shoulders were held straight and stiff. Her stance shifted minutely, as if she were prepared to jump into battle at any second. She held herself like warrior.

She held herself like a soldier.

"Things... didn't go well," her soft voice continued, her eyes drifting away for a moment. "We tried to fight, all of us. The guilds all banded together and we did everything, tried everything, that we could think of. We lost the Master and Erza first," and here her voice became choked, like she was holding back tears that she'd long since run out of. "They held it back in order to give us time to flee. Not that it helped."

"Held what back?" Aquarius demanded impatiently, ignoring the girl's bitter tone. "You aren't making any sense, you stupid child!"

"I'm sorry," she shook her head as if to clear it, "I'm not explaining this very well, am I?"

Aquarius just scoffed while Cancer inclined his head, still just watching silently. Taurus huffed out a heavy breath, his eyes traveling back and forth between the irate spirit and their summoner. She paid it no mind. Aquarius had always been brash and temperamental, while Cancer had always been patient and observant. And while Taurus may seem like nothing but grunt muscle, he was actually very intelligent. He had very strong instincts and knew when to trust them and right now they were telling him to wait and to hear the blonde out.

"My name is Lucy Heartfilia," her voice seemed to resonate with power, and all three spirits blinked in surprise, "I am a Celestial Spirit Mage of the mage guild Fairy Tail. I am from the year x798 and I am 25 years old--"

"That still doesn't make sense!" Aquarius interrupted as she flung her finger straight into the blonde's face, forcing her to take a step back. "If you were really Lucy, you would be in your thirties by that time!"

"A lot of things happened. One of them was being trapped in a time lock for 7 years." She shrugged, as if this were an unimportant detail. "The point is, in the year x797, a dragon by the name of Acnologia begins to attack the guilds. Namely, any guild affiliated with a Dragon Slayer. Meaning that Fairy Tail, having three at the time, was first on it's list. The master and Erza died to allow us to get away, but they weren't even able to scratch that monster, let alone hold it back. And it came for us again. And again. And again. No matter what we did, it just kept coming and nothing we did seemed to have any affect."

Here she took a deep breath, as if preparing herself mentally for what she was about to say. When she spoke, her voice had the strangled quality of choked back tears again. "Finally, the guilds banded together. Or, more importantly, the Dragon Slayers banded together. All of them, even those that were artificially made like Laxus and Erik. We gave them all the support that we could. And we managed it, we defeated it. But...."

"The cost was great," Cancer intoned quietly, and it wasn't a question. The blonde just nodded, her eyes glazed with unshed tears.

"The Dragon Slayers had overtaxed themselves. Pushed far beyond their limits. There was nothing.... There was nothing to be done at that point." She paused to swallow against the lump in her throat. "And so many had already been killed during the fight. It was a hollow victory."

Her eyes snapped back into focus as she met their gazes. "There is a forbidden spell, created by Zeref. It required tremendous amounts of magical energy, but if used correctly, it can send a spirit through a temporary rip in time and into their past body. Of course, it's much more complicated than that, otherwise people would be using it left and right. But, the point is, we were able to accomplish it. And I was the one selected to come back."

"Why you?" Aquarius asked after a moment of silence. "You're nothing but a brat. Surely there was someone more suited to this task, if it is as dire as you say."

"Oh, there definitely was. I argued with Jellal for days about it. But he insisted, and continued to insist until I caved. Not that I put up as big a fight as I could've, honestly.... I had a vested interest in wanting to come back as well. We all did. We all had people we had lost, people we wanted to see again." She blew out a harsh breath, inadvertently getting her bangs out of her face at the same time. "As much as I hate to admit it, the spell probably wouldn't have worked if I had been the one directing the power. I am a powerful mage who commands powerful spirits, and I have absolute faith in their power and my own. But, I'm also not the greatest at focusing that power down to a fine point, with not an iota being out of place. I could if I had time to practice. But time, ironically enough, was something we didn't really have. And so I was the one sent."

"Say we believe you, what then?" Aquarius demanded, crossing her arms under her ample bosom. She seemed much calmer than she had when she was first summoned, and Cancer's fingers were no longer twitching as he continued to stand by her side.

"Nothing, really." The blonde raised an eyebrow at the goddesses gobsmacked expression. "What? Did you expect me to jump straight into action without a thought?"

"Actually, yes," the spirit answered snidely, her eye twitching in annoyance. "You are that brat after all."

"I'm also older, and I've seen how much that course of action really doesn't work." The blonde smirked degradingly. "Besides, we're dealing with time here. If I do things too differently, it'll change everything, and I'll lose the edge of knowing what happens next. And even more importantly, there's a lot of things I want, I need, to stay the same."

"Whatever, I'm bored of this conversation." The water spirit flipped her hair over her shoulder contemptuously before shoving her finger back into her summoners face. "And I'm missing a date with my lovely boyfriend for this, so you better be grateful, you whiny brat!" And without another word Aquarius disappeared in a flash of light. The girl blinked at the abrupt departure before shaking her head, a genuine smile lifting the corner of her mouth.

"Man, I missed her," she admitted quietly, before turning her attention on the spirits that still remained. They stood there silently for a moment, gazes locked, before Cancer finally inclined his head towards her.

"I believe you, as I know Aquarius does. While you are not our Lucy, you still carry her essence, and your spirit is much the same, if more scarred than before. We will follow you, as we did her, ebi." He tilted his sunglasses down then, to stare her straight into the eyes. "Do not think I didn't notice the blanks in your story. You have omitted many details. Important details, ebi."

"Nah," the girl argued, her smile growing into a full-fledged grin. Her cheeks hurt with the effort, now unused to the gesture. "Not that important. Not more important than the fact that I'm here."

He stared at her for a moment longer before slowly nodding his head. "Very well, ebi. In that case, I will be leaving now, ebi."

And then there was one. The large spirit had been silent this whole time, and the blonde had to admit that she was a little surprised. She didn't think she'd ever seen him be quiet for so long, not even when she'd needed him to be. But after a moment, his usual grin spread over his face and she felt something tight in her chest finally loosen in relief.

"Yooooouuuuuu can count on me, Luuuuucy! I will definitely protect that seeeeexy boooody of yooooours!!"

Taurus flashed a thumbs up and in a sudden flash of light the blonde found herself standing alone in the middle of her childhood bedroom, surrounded by rich fabrics and furnitures. Her hands absently drifted along the pale skin of her arms, her torso, her face, still surprised to find it uninjured and unscarred. Her hair, having reached her lower back the day before, now only reached to just past her shoulders.

She couldn't help but laugh as it finally hit her that yes, she was in the past and yes she was in her younger body and no, none of those catastrophes had yet to happen. Yes, her guild was still standing and yes, her friends were all still alive and well. And yes, Natsu was still alive. If they had gotten the time right, she'd be seeing him in less than a year.

She'd be going home in less than a year.

She didn't know when her laughs turned into fullbodied sobs and she honestly didn't care. As she slid to the floor and cried, picturing the faces of the family she had lost and would soon gain again, she knew she was going to change their fate. They were going to live, no matter what she had to do to ensure it, she swore it.

And Lucy Heartfilia never broke her promises.