Never Let You Go

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Lucy sighed as Natsu bounced up the dark wooden stairs, his hand firmly tangled with her hand. She was surprised by how jubilant he seemed to be about accompanying her. She would have thought that Natsu would have been retired, and more sullen to be leaving his friends for such a long period of time. But, he had astounded her. He was giddily tugging her along, a toothy grin plastered on his tan features as if he couldn't be happier.

Natsu bangs his fist on Makarov's door, it's deafening noise earning flinches from members downstairs. Master sighed, too used to it to care, and waltzed over to the door to open it. His eyes widened when he spotted Natsu and Lucy, with Happy snuggled on her head like a strange azure hat. He had a sense he'd been through this scene before. A pang of grief hit him at the thought. Yes, he had been through this before. When his own grandson had appeared one day with her, the blonde who had walked into Fairy Tail pure and awe-struck, and had walked out broken-hearted and with a down-hearted expression.

He had no idea were Laxus was, and the thought pained him. He was fuzzy on the details, but from what he could conclude from Lucy, was he went mad from a spell. All he wanted was his grandson to return, just to help loosen up Lucy's stiff posture and chilly glare. She was hurting.

"Gramps! Luce, Happy, and I would like to temporarily leave for a little while!"

Makarov internally chuckled. So, it was happening again.

"Whatever for?" He asked, his eyes trained on Lucy who was trying to smile, but it was obviously strained.

"That bastard Sting wants her to go to Sabertooth for a while to help with...y'know that. So I thought Happy and I could go with her!" Natsu said, his voice wavering when he had to mention why they were going to Sabertooth. Makarov raised an eyebrow but didn't comment. He understood from Natsu's tone that he was talking about Laxus.

"I suppose that's fine. I would really like to see you happy, Lucy. Don't think I haven't noticed how morose and depressed you've been lately. I may be old, but I'm not blind," Makarov said firmly, directing his words at Lucy. Though they seemed tough, his words were laced with a hidden softness and pain. Afterall, he was going through the exact same thing as her.

"Yay! Thank's, gramps! Come on, Happy, Luce! Let's go!" Natsu cheered.

"Aye, sir!" Happy cried, flapping his cream-colored white angel-like wings. He flew after Natsu, leaving Lucy in the office with Makarov.

She stared unconcernedly at the floor, lost in thought. Laxus...she was leaving. And as much as she wanted to hide it, a part of her didn't want to go. There was an irrational, impulsive side of her that wanted to stay and wait for him. To wait for the dragon himself. That naive side of herself was so utterly dense. She thought she could just walk through his webs of cracking sparks as if they were mere strings. She thought she could get through to him, and find a way to drag him out of the gloom of his own mind. But, it was all so wholly futile. She...she couldn't even beat him when he had been holding back.

She shoved her hand into her cotton pocket and sighed with both dread and relief as her hand met the satisfyingly familiar crinkle of paper. It felt like lead in her pocket, constantly weighing her down, and tugging at her brain. Her hand curled around it as if her alarm and negative emotions would be leeched away by the paper. By now, it was peppered with tears, which had created smears in the ink, making the whole letter blotchy and cloudy.

"Lucy. I know lately...you've been going through some hard times. I have as well. But I-...we have to accept Laxus may never be coming back. Please, just...try to get better, for me, eh? I hate seeing such a tortured expression on your face."

Lucy smiled, forcing a genuine smile to light up her face.

'If only he knew....'

"Of course! I'll make sure to take full advantage of Natsu, Happy, and I's break. Hopefully, by the time we're back, I'll be feeling better," Lucy asserted cheerfully, channeling her positivity. The display took a great deal of her strength. She hadn't been sleeping much lately.

Lucy turned around, and silently padded her way to the large mahogany door. Her head was lowered, and she felt extremely tired. Both physically and mentally. Before she could reach the exit, a hand clamped around her wrist and squeezed. Lucy knew immediately by the bony grip it was Master Makarov. His hand trembled, and he seemed to be holding back a river of emotions.

"Just...please be safe. If Laxus really is insane...you could be a possible target. I love you like my own grandchild, so please just be cautious. I love Laxus, but if he does anything to harm anyone, someone has to take him out," Makarov whispered.

Lucy smiled and twisted around to wrap her arms around the much smaller male. He made a noise of protest when she almost plucked him off the ground.

"Thank you, master. Don't worry, I promise I'll be back in two months at the most. I love everyone here to pieces. I'm a Fairy Tail wizard for life!"

Lucy finally peeled herself away and headed out the door with her head held high. She rose her hand into the air, with the signature Fairy Tail goodbye. She made sure Makarov saw it, and continued on her way, a little more pep to her walk.

"Blondie!" Lucy tried not to flinch when Sting called her by that oh so familiar name. She knew he had been calling her that since she met him years ago, but she couldn't help but remember another blonde. The one who had sheltered her in his arms when she had broken down, the one who had trained with her, the one who had strengthened her soul itself.

"Hey, Stingy bee."

"I told you not to call me that!" He whined, embarrassed in front of the snickering Gray, Elfman, and Gajeel.

"Well, then don't call me blondie, stingy bee. You're blonde too, dumbass," Lucy huffed, crossing her arms. She waltzed over to her forgotten suitcase and bags and loaded them into her arms. She numbly glanced around, wondering were Natsu and Happy had gone. Dumbly, she realized they were most likely packing.

"There you are, Luce!"

"Hey, Natsu. Ready to go?" She asked curiously.

"Yep!"

"Do...do you have a suitcase?"

"No! All I need is my sack. It's got all my food!"

"Oh...well that's reasonable. Food is delicious," Lucy nodded in agreement, and Sting stared at them.

"Since when was, he coming? I don't personally enjoy spending time with assholes who break girls' hearts," Sting bit out seethingly, his death glare aimed at the man who had hurt Lucy all those years ago.

The pink-haired male had no problem returning the glare with his own personal cocky smile.

"I can't have Luce spending time alone with a pervert like you! You're only wearing half a shirt for god's sake!"

"Shut up, Dragneel! At least my hair isn't fricking pink!"

"It's salmon!"

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