Leo never knew he could feel so much love. He loved his fellow spirits, the Zodiac and the silver ones. He appreciated his world so much more now that he was back. He treasured being with them. He loved Fairy Tail, that chaotic guild with the passion and hope that could move mountains. The guild that considers each of Lucy’s spirits their own friends, his guild that loves him. And above all, he loved Lucy. Truly, he did. He may exaggerate a little with his flirts, but there is some degree of truth to them. Even in Fairy Tail, though he was wary of her, he still shared the belief that every member of the guild is a family. She saved him, simply because she considered him a friend and didn’t want him to be in pain. Something so….Fairy Tail. He hated when she doubted her place among the guild. A celestial mage’s strength was not something that could be seen. It was not about weapons or muscle strength or raw power. It’s about endurance and stamina, magical and physical, and even more so with her own insistence to fight alongside them. Hell, she was able to sustain the Celestial Spirit King while in a Star Dress, her first one at that. There were so very few that could do the first part, let alone both. And she did it with tears in her eyes, after hours of vicious fighting. Lucy was a star in her own right, one he admired and adored. Never in his wildest dreams did he think there was a celestial mage that was so kind, so warm, so smart, so strong and cherish each spirit with all their heart. And Lucy would be etched on each of their hearts forever.
Lucy had been writing for a little over an hour, three letters. She was just finishing up sealing and addressing the last envelope when she felt a familiar presence behind her. She chuckled, “I didn’t even call you yet.” Leo had appeared and was sitting at the edge of her bed, looking at her, smiling.
“It just shows how strong our love is.” Lucy rolled her eyes and huffed amusedly. Leo stood up and walked over to her. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and laid his head on her shoulder, closing his eyes, still . She smiled and leaned back a little, letting them both enjoy the gentle comfort.
“Well aren’t you affectionate today,” She teased. He simply smiled, still warm from his earlier thoughts. After a comfortable pause, her smile dropped a bit. “Hey, Leo?” she asked quietly.
“Can you still talk with Aquarius? Like she isn’t cut off from everyone because she doesn’t have a key anymore, right?” Her voice hitched a bit. Leo could sense her sadness, and emotion swelled in him.
“Yeah, we can still talk with her. She still has a place among us and she’s not going anywhere. I promise.”
Lucy took a shaky breathe.“G-good.”
Leo smiled slightly, then stood up and leaned against her desk. “Now, did my love need me for something?” Lucy just smiled and shook her head slightly before responding.
“I was just wondering if you could deliver these for me.” She lifted the letters up to him. He took them and looked at the names. Cancer. Aquarius. Capricorn. He frowned.
“You can still summon Cancer and Capricorn. Wouldn’t you want to give these to them personally?”
She shook her head. “It wouldn’t feel right.” He raised an eyebrow. She sighed, “It’s hard to explain. Just…Please?”
He smiled softly, “Of course.”
She looked up at him, a somberness and gratefulness in her eyes (though the latter was always there when she looked at her spirits). “Thank you.” He vanished.
Back in the spirit world, the first one he ran into was Capricorn, reading. “Hey, Capricorn.” He looked up and Leo handed the letter to him.
“From whom is this?” he asked.
Capricorn raised his eyebrows and gently opened the letter, reading silently. He started to tear up, and after finishing the letter he said, “Thank you for delivering this.”
“No problem.” But Leo casually lingered for a moment, hoping the goat spirit would share a little.
Capricorn smiled gently, knowing this. “Today marks another anniversary of her mother’s passing,” he said, “Given that the three of us are in her care, I believe she was feeling sentimental.”
“What was her mother like?”
He looked up wistfully, “Layla was kind, strong, intelligent, persistent, gentle, loving. She poured her heart into everything.”
Leo smiled faintly, “Sounds just like Lucy.”
“Indeed. They are very similar, and near identical in appearance. The only difference being Lucy’s vocal volume and wild spirit. The leader she received from her father, the latter is of her own desire to break away from the elegance and embroidery of her family and class. Her mother blossomed in it, while she deemed it a prison. Perhaps, had I been there, her pain may have been less.” His face tightened.
Leo looked at him with sympathy, knowing that feeling and similar ones, and said, “Well, you’re with her now.”
He smiled, “As are you.” He gestured to all of the spirits in the hall, silver and gold, “As are all of us. For this, I am thankful.”
Leo’s next task was finding the crab spirit. “Cancer.”
Cancer greeted him, “Ah, Leo! How are you, ebi?”
“Just fine. Letter for you, from Lucy.”
“Eh? A letter from Lucy?” He held his hand up, signaling for Leo to not go away as he read the letter. “Has it been so long in earth years already?” he mumbled. He looked up and clarified, “Ah, it’s the anniversary of Layla Heartfilia’s death. Her mother.”
“Was she close with her mother?”
“Ah, sadly Capricorn, Aquarius and I were not there while it was both of them, ebi. She retired us to three servants for safe keeping until Lucy was strong enough to summon us, and so she could focus on her health, which was starting to weaken. But, I believe so. From being around her, Aquarius and I could see Layla taught Lucy much about magic and being a celestial mage. Especially about respecting spirits and being friends.”
“That’s no small lesson.”
“Ah, that’s why she taught it so young, ebi. A little child doesn’t want power, they want friends. Kindness and learning come natural. They treat toys like they’re real, with feelings and thoughts. It makes sense to them then, if they see pictures of things that are real and are told stories of things that are real, that they have those too. Layla knew there were cruel stellar mages out there, and the last thing she wanted was her daughter to be one of them, especially if she was going to inherit the three of us. We were…no, we are Layla’s friends, and she taught Lucy that the best way to be a celestial mage is to earn that friendship herself.”
Leo didn’t bother sticking around Aquarius, figuring she wouldn’t open up to him about Layla and Lucy like Capricorn and Cancer. He simply delivered it and left. He wasn’t even sure she would open it immediately, having made a face when he said it was from Lucy. He was watching the stars and magic move about, when he felt a presence come up behind him and leaned next to him.
“Hey,” Aquarius said.
Surprised slightly, he answered, “Hey.” There was a calm pause.
“She wrote a letter to Cancer too, didn’t she?”
“…I suppose he would have been there too, if he had the choice. He would have been a better father figure than that awful man.”
“Her father came around in the end.”
“Heh, if you would have seen him back then, you wouldn’t be so forgiving. None of you would.” She grimaced in anger. “Cancer and I, we hate him. Capricorn too, when he asked us what he missed out on. Her father forced her to be alone so often. She cried out for Layla, and it was the servants who told her she was dead. Layla gave her so much love, and then she was left with someone who barely acknowledged her, too caught up in his own pain. Such a disgrace of Layla’s memory. Of all the things Lucy has done that annoy me, I will agree the best thing she did was runaway.”
He smiled. “You know, for someone who complained about her so often and hated her, you care a lot.”
Her features softened, her eyes full of sadness and regret. “…I never hated her. Her lack of elegance annoys me, yes. She cries, she complains, she’s loud. She…summoned me from annoying places. She constantly wanted a playmate when she was little. Cancer was her hairdresser and costumer, the one for dressups and playing pretend. The servants sometimes were able to play with her, but I was everything else. She was a child, and I can’t stand children. I always just considered her to still be a child, until now. But I never hated her. She’s still a lot like Layla. She’s a great mage and she’s gotten strong. Layla would be proud of her.”
“I wish I could have met her.”
“You have, in a sense. When Lucy smiles, when she sleeps, when she’s focused, the way she looks around a room full of people she knows, the look she has when she’s thinking of us, the gentle friendliness at each new contract. That’s Layla, smiling down on her daughter.” They sat in silence, until she said, “I’ve never gotten a clear idea. As a whole, what is Fairy Tail like?”
Leo chuckled fondly, “That’s a hard question.”
“Because it’s so much at once. It’s loud, it’s destructive, it’s passionate, it’s fun, it’s rowdy, it’s colorful, it’s strong, it’s diverse, it’s welcoming. We are bound together forever, not just by mark but by spirit, by kinship, by heart. And it’s a bond that is taken seriously. We move and feel as one. And it’s something others have tried time and time again to destroy, and we just rise back up again. It’s…a family. One that never gives up, and one that never gives up on their own.”
“So no one is left out by themselves?”
“Not a chance. Sure if people want to do things solo, they can, but everyone is pulled together often anyway. If someone doesn’t want to be alone, they aren’t going to be, guaranteed.”
Aquarius breathed in relief and smiled, tension releasing from her shoulders. “Good,” she said, her voice cracking from the emotion, tears forming, “I’m glad Lucy found them.”
Leo looked at her, and placed a hand on hers. “Everyone adores her, and are proud to be her friends. Natsu and Happy, especially, will always be with her.” He grinned and winked, “And of course she’s got the rest of us. Including me.”
She smiled mischievously, “Yes, because you and Natsu at the helm is completely assuring and totally will keep Lucy out of trouble.”
Leo stepped back and gasped dramatically, clutching his heart, “Your lack of faith wounds me.”
“I’m sure you’re used to it by now.”
“Love you too." They both laughed, silently reveling in each other's company. Aquarius clenched her hands as she looked up at the stars, letting her tears fall freely.
Leo spoke sadly, “She would have died. You waited until we were gone. You didn’t want Virgo or I to offer.”
She chuckled softly, “So you all noticed.”
“You took the fall for all of us. We never did thank you.”
“She’s still alive. Still smiling. That’s thanks enough.”
Fairy Tail was having a lively evening, as usual. Some random outbursts here and there, lurkers in the corner, regulars at the bar. All in all, enjoying each others' company and presence on this gentle night. Lucy was enjoying the view of it all from her seat at the bar, leaning back. Suddenly there was a big gust of warm wind through the front doors. Though it was more magic than wind, and it filled up the ceiling like a mini galaxy. Then it dispersed into sparkles, lighting up the room and everyone's spirits tenfold. When no one was fazed by it, Lucy realized she was the only one that could see it. She smirked, getting a hunch of where it came from when Virgo and Leo appeared on the seats right and left of her facing the same way she was, towards the center of the guild, attempting to be nonchalant. However, their eyes, lit with mischief and amusement, gave them away. After a moment, still facing forward, she said "Either of you going to explain?"
"Hm?" Leo said.
"Explain what?" Virgo said.
She chuckled. "Uh huh. So that burst of celestial magic that just came through here was totally a coincidence and didn't come from any of you."
"No idea what you're talking about," Virgo said. Leo just shrugged.
Lucy hid her smile and chuckled softly. "Who sent it?", she said, a light finality in her tone. Leo and Virgo glanced sideways at Lucy and then back at each other, holding back smirks.
"The three of them wanted to thank you, and to show they are proud of you," Virgo said, smiling lightly.
"And there's no better way to do that than giving a blessing on the whole guild." Leo smiled brightly.
Gemini popped on her shoulders from where the center of the magic was on the ceiling, they being the ones actually bringing the wind. "One end of your family to the other. With love and light. From stars to mages!"
Lucy looked at each of them, deeply touched with a feeling beyond words. Then she smiled the brightest smile, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. She turned back to her guild mates, all now moving about with a renewed vigor.
From the stars, Layla’s spirits, the masterminds of the blessing, looked down on the scene.
"Look how far she has come, ebi!" Cancer beamed.
"In such a relatively short time, she has become a strong and respected celestial mage in her own right. Truly remarkable indeed." Capricorn agreed.
Aquarius simply smiled. She couldn't find the words to express what she felt. Sad. Happy. Bitter. Relieved. All too weak. The closest would be Pride. Pride in her owner, her best friend, her child. She took note of those spirits that Lucy was closest with; Leo, Virgo, and Gemini. Of course each of the spirits in her care were close with her and loved her dearly, but these specifically have become very protective and personally close with her. Lucy would be in good hands. With all of them. Still...Aquarius crossed her arms. She never thought, or rather never let herself think, she would deeply miss Lucy or that she would have any regrets. It's been so long since a key has been broken, she'll have to look up to see what rules there were. Specifically, if she can create a new one immediately and if the same owner can use it. If so, she would give Lucy her key personally, and with that a renewed promise to work with her and tell her she loves her more often. If she couldn't be Lucy's spirit again, well... There was a specific loneliness and sorrow in that thought. To be passed on to another mage due to death was one thing, but she intended to be with Lucy until then, since she couldn't with Layla. But these were thoughts for another time. She leaned on the edge of her pool, her smiled returned. "She's still got a long road ahead, and with that rowdy bunch I doubt it will be easy, but she's proven herself. I'm proud of her. I know Layla would be as well."
Capricorn and Cancer glanced at each other, silently exchanging warmth and pride in hearing Aquarius praising Lucy and hoping that their beloved young mage could one day hear those words herself. Until then, they all will be at Lucy's side, no matter where she is.
Lucy walked home that night thanking every star in sight, and thanking her mother for teaching her this wonderful gift and hoping she's watching her get stronger in her magic and closer with all of her friends, on earth and in the stars. Looking up, she quietly said "Hope you're proud of me, mom." A star twinkled and shot across the sky, and that was answer enough.