Author's Note: Ohhh man, I never like to tear up after these things, but if you all could see my keyboard...
Guys all kidding aside this has been quite the god damned trip for me to experience. Wow, what a story for me to write. If you look on my page, though I am very proud of all my work, my stories never generate large crowds.
That being said thanks to all you wonderful people this story has actually generated a very nice sized crowd! I even broke 200 reviews, which is one of the greatest things I could have asked for from the audience! I also must confess...
I 've always wanted to write an in-depth romance like this one, but my main reason for starting it was a sort of experiment. If you do happen to look at my previous stories you'll note my plots and genres stretch all across the board, but some of my more popular ones show some bit of romance. Also, when reviewing this website it seems that romance always tends to be a people pleaser. Therefore when I developed the idea for Hardcourt Heroes I did so as an experiment to see if romances were truly the desired genre I made them out to be...and I sort of proved myself right? Eh it doesn't matter, but anyway thank you all very much for tuning in!
Before I let you read the chapter I want to say one last thing...although I am not making any promises, and although it make take a very long time to develop...look out for 2 or 3 key "Easter eggs" in this finale chapter. They may lead into an eventual sequel...?
Finally, to quote Trevor Noah and Jon Stewart; Here it is, your "Moment of Zen."
Also for the f*cking last time I DO NOT OWN FAIRY TAIL!
Chapter Fifty Two - When it's all said and done
"IT'S OVER! THE WINNER OF THE FBA CHAMPIONSHIP ARE THE MAGNOLIA FAIRIES!"
The headline of the night could not have sounded sweeter as Chapati Lola yelled into his on-camera microphone. Fans erupted around him in boisterous numbers as Yajima just stopped and laughed to admire the scene.
"I told you, you worry too much. The Fairies had this game won all along." He then stopped and looked up to see colored confetti drop down from the ceiling, letting him lean back and sigh with relief.
"Ah, just like the days playing under Yury and Precht…way to go Maki. Ya really deserved this one."
The Fairies themselves were also enjoying the moment of glory as most of the team tackled Natsu to the ground in an all-out frenzy. Jellal and Laxus stayed out but were both just as happy none the less.
Tartaros on the other hand stomped and roared on their way out of the arena. Torafuzer, Tempester, Kyoka, and Seilah kept level heads, but members like Franmalth, Ezel, and Jackal could be heard yapping and yelling all the way into the locker room. As they left, Mest shook his head and laughed as he held the game ball in his hands. He then walked up and slapped Lahar on the back.
"Hey, I think it's safe to say the Devils will be playing like normal from now on."
Lahar sighed. "I guess so. Listen Mest...I apologize for trying to change the call earlier. I wasn't aware we were doing our own thing, and now..."
Mest laughed and waved it away. "Nah, just buy me a drink after we're done here. Yea, we may have let Tartaros get away with a bit more than we should have...but the only people who were gonna call us out to the league were the Fairies, and I have a feeling they've completely forgotten about that now." He then smiled with sarcasm and gestured to Natsu lying inside a mound of his Magnolia teammates.
Up in the owner's boxes, both Jude Heartfilia and Mard Geer were greeted by mixed emotions.
Jude was smiling and quickly received a spontaneous hug from his young GM Levy, and as Caprico gave him a smile, Jude turned to look a crossed the stadium at the Tartarus head crew.
Keyes had already left, but Mard Geer was still sitting in shock as his mouth was wide open and his tongue looked like it was about to fall out. Additionally, although Jude could barely see, it looked like Mard's eyes were twitching as well.
Either way, he shook his head a bit and stood up in a jolt of irritation. Quickly re-adjusting his suit blazer, he looked to find Jude giving him a sarcastic salute with two fingers over his forehead, and as a result Mard simply cracked a tiny smile and nodded for minor congratulations.
However, as Mard Geer walked through the back room of his booth, he received a mysterious cell phone call.
"Hello…? Oh it's you…"
"Mard Geer? It's good to hear from you...I just finished watching the game. My my, what a finish that was." Said a very young voice on the other line in a passive bout of sarcasm.
Mard rolled his eyes. "Yes, well as you put it before…Fiore basketball isn't that impressive these days. We probably could have won by your standards of basketball."
The young man laughed. "Oh come now, I believe that league is on the rise…nothing like the teams we have here in Alvarez, but they make do with their own level of skill."
"I suppose…" Mard then raised his head. "You know…the one who made the shot was Natsu Dragneel?"
"Hah…" The young man laughed. "I actually did see that…so very funny, I can almost say I'm proud of him."
Mard Geer tried to wrap things up. "Yes, well you can muster up some courage and tell him, yourself. I'll be leaving now, good night." He then hung up the line and ended the conversation then and there as he retreated to his sanctuary at the Plutogrim Coliseum.
~Meanwhile, down on the court.
"OY! GET OUTTA MY WAY!"
Natsu plowed through a sea of angry press reporters as he ignored each and every request they had for an interview. One by one he shoved a hand in all their faces as he tried tracking down the first person he wanted to see.
"LUCY!?" He cried out, trying to find the missing photographer he had just seen moments ago during the game.
"NATSU...I'm over here!" Lucy was yelling as she too was trying to push her way to find him.
"Ugh…ah just hold on a minute." Natsu rolled his eyes at all the people and quickly ran through the crowd, mowing over everyone who got in his way.
"NATSU WHAT THE…!?" Lucy cried out in fear as he quickly came over and wrapped her up in his arms.
"Man, I've been lookin all over for ya!" He laughed as he now got a better look at her new camera. "Wow, that thing's pretty cool!"
"Y-yea, it really is actually." She timidly started flipping through some of her first time shots. "Here! This is the one I got after you just made the game winning shot…a guy from Sports Report Weekly saw it and wants to use it as his next cover shot. I think his name was Jason? I dunno I got his card…"
Natsu tilted his head because Lucy sounded kind of off for some reason. "Whoa Lucy you doing all right?"
Lucy nodded. "No yea I'm great! Um…I just went through a lot of stuff in the last 30 minutes and I'm trying to collect it all because everything was a little too great to believe and I would hate to ruin your big night with all of it so I'll just shut up and..."
She was beginning to ramble, but Natsu leaned in and made her shut up after giving her a firm kiss on the lips. Lucy gasped for a moment before retreating with a breath and a smile.
"Right…It's been so long since we've done that, haha."
Natsu raised an eyebrow. "Lucy? We saw each other before the game! Heck we've been in the same hotel room for the past few nights!? …Anyway start asking me questions, would ya?"
"Huh!?" Lucy fumbled with her camera and then remembered. "Oh right! Y-you wanted an interview!"
He cracked a big smile and shook his head. "Or hey, you seem pretty out of it. We can just wait til later tonight if ya…"
Natsu and Lucy both raised their heads, and after the regular fans were allowed entry on the court they both looked up to find Wendy and Romeo running towards them.
"Hey Wendy!" Natsu waited for his sister to run over and then wrapped her in a big hug. "Hey, I told ya I'd win the game, didn't I?"
Wendy nodded. "Yea, but I wasn't the one who was worried! It was Romeo, remember?"
Natsu laughed and tapped his fist on Romeo's arm. "Oh right, this loser. Hey I hope you took notes, pal. You'll have to copy all that if you ever wanna play in the big leagues too."
Romeo smiled and gave him a high five. "Shut up, Natsu."
Natsu then smiled, and also saw his elder aunt Porlyusca walking his way as well.
"Hey! Even Aunt Porlyusca made it here!" He then wrapped his arms around her too.
"Yes, and I must say that was quite the game. You did scare me a few times, but it honestly was one of your best basketball games I've ever been able to watch."
"Yea? It was a hell of a lot better than the crap he used to pull on my team, that's for sure."
Everyone turned to find Gildarts, Haru, and Ellie walk over as they all three had smiles on their faces. Gildarts was the one who made the previous comment, and made no hesitation in making his second. "Nice win, kid. You really made me proud."
Haru then stepped up and gave Natsu a fist bump. "Eh, don't let coach confuse you. He's been feasting on popcorn for the past two hours. Good game by the way!"
Natsu was overly happy to see these two old faces there too. "No kidding! Glad you two could come! I haven't seen you guys since the wedding! What was that like last July?"
Ellie never answered as she barreled through and wrapped one arm around Natsu's neck, and the other around the unfamiliar Lucy's.
"Oooooh! Congrats Natsu! I'm sooo proud of you!" She then released them both and grabbed Lucy's hand. "HI! I'm Ellie! I'm sooo happy to finally meet you! I can't believe you were able to get a date with this loser, he never dated in college once!"
"Oh is that so…?" Lucy laughed and looked at a grumpy Natsu.
"Hmff…that was by choice." Natsu said with a pouty face and the turned around. "Whatever, I'm gonna go find the other guys. Not to mention Coach, you probably wanna see Gray…?"
At that time Gray Fullbuster was all wrapped up in his own little moment as Juvia had his lips all to herself. She managed to beat his parents there and snagged a few moments for herself before they finally joined them.
Mika ran over and gave her speechless (and breathless) son a hug. "Oh Congrats, baby! I'm so proud of you! Wow it sounds like your still out of breath!"
"Y-yea…" Gray's eyes were still spinning after his surprise kiss form Juvia. "It was a hell of a game…"
Mika released her son and let Silver smack him hard on the back. "Nice win, son. Daddy's proud of ya…and apparently so is your girlfriend." Silver had a smirk on his face because he was much taller than his wife, and caught Gray and Juvia enjoying their time alone in the crowd.
"It seems like it." Gray finally had enough energy to smile. "Anyway thanks for giving her some company."
Silver and Mika nodded as Gray and Juvia hugged one more time, but as they broke it, they both looked up to a near-empty seating area to Jenny and Bora leaving the seats.
Jenny was out the door and down the steps, but Bora stayed back to stop and deliver a quick head nod and salute to the champion and his girl before he left.
Gray raised an eyebrow. "Wow, I guess he's done with us. Maybe we can live in peace without him?"
Juvia smiled. "Yea…or maybe we can have dinner with them again, and I can get a few more laughs from the blonde bimbo he's dating. Ooo she's the best!" Juvia rang out with sarcasm, and as they both turned Meldy, Lyon, Sting, Yukino, and Rogue came over to give them congratulations as well.
"OHHH MAGNOLIA WON!" Meldy ran into both their arms and delivered a smile, while Lyon crossed his arms over his chest and held a prideful smirk across his face.
"I guess they did. Fitting…now you can come after the Lamias with a full force next year."
Sting agreed. "No kidding! Saber City will have ta fight you for it next time around! Nice job either way!"
Gray laughed and shook his head with Juvia around his arm. "Thanks guys. Glad to see everyone enjoyed themselves."
As those two were enjoying the moment Jude, Caprico, and Levy had already made it down to the stadium, but right away Levy ran around and quickly found Gajeel wondering about the crowd of crazed fans and reporters.
"Agh this sucks! Can't I just get the damned trophy and get the hell outta here…!?"
"GAJEEL!" Levy spontaneously ran forward and jumped into Gajeel's large arms, which were just big enough to catch the petite blue haired girl in mid-flight as Gajeel let out a smile.
"Boy, Shrimp you gotta calm down. You're gonna need that voice for your dorky little press conferences."
Levy looked at him and smiled. "Nah, I can just let you do the talking, champ. After all we can all talk as a team tonight!"
She then leaned forward and gave him a kiss as her legs wrapped tighter around his waist. Gajeel brought her in closer to get a better hold on her before they finished up and he set her back down. Levy then started thinking. "Oh wait…Coach Makarov had something important to tell Ezra, tonight. I wonder if he did it or not."
Erza was too busy wading through the crowd to find a passive but excited Jellal talking with a few reporters. She then smiled and waited for him to finish, which he did early as soon as he saw her waiting.
"So, how's it feel to finally win an FBA championship?" Erza said with her eyebrow raised.
Jellal shrugged. "I'm not sure, why don't you tell me?"
Erza rolled her eyes and grabbed a wad of his jersey as she brought him forward and kissed him on the lips. They held it out for quite a while until Jellal leaned back.
"Have you seen Minerva? I needed to tell her something after the game ended…"
Erza noticed her was smiling and slapped him on the arm before draping her arms around his shoulders.
"Relax, I doubt you or I will be seeing her anytime soon."
Jellal looked impressed. "Wow, my girlfriend is quite the forceful lady. I suppose it only befits a recently named FBA champion like me."
Erza shook her head and began looking around. "Oh stop. Now, we have to wait around for a while before they start to…"
"May I have everyone's attention, please!?"
Commissioner Arcadios stood on a newly rolled out podium as the entire crowd walked over in a slow movement. He then continued once they all calmed down.
"Thank you…ahem…in accordance to this fine league and beautiful sport, it is my pleasure to hand you, and the city of Magnolia, this year's championship title! Now, I'd like to present you with the symbol of this league, and legacy of your very organization's founder, the Mavis Vermilion Trophy! From here, I'd like to award this trophy to the X791 FBA Champions; the Magnolia Fairies!"
Fans of the Fairies and the Fairies themselves all roared with cheers as a teary eyed Makarov walked up onto the podium, followed by a waving and smiling Jude Heartfilia behind him.
Commissioner Arcadios smiled and handed Makarov the trophy. He then gave the mic off to Jude and stepped back for the owner's speech.
"Well, I must say that this has been quite an amusing season, but now that it's over, I'd like to thank these fine young men of the organization for bringing the trophy back home where it belongs."
Jude waited for the clapping to start up and cease before he continued. "Also, now that I have the spot light, I'd like to officially kill any and all rumors that I might be selling the team, and I will in fact be staying with this organization for many years to come."
"YEA!" The Fairy players all cheered for their owner, and Natsu laughed as Lucy wiped a tear from her eye. Then, Jude smiled again and handed the mic off to a now sobbing Makarov.
"BAAAAAAH! I LOVE THESE DAMNED STUPID KIDS! HERE'S TO MAGNOLIA FOLKS!" He then laughed and held up the Vermilion trophy for everyone to see.
Then, he used the moment after to wipe a tear from his eye and continued on a serious note. "Now, for my own speech…I have grown up with Magnolia basketball all my life. I remember my mother taking me to the early practices with my father and coach Vermilion in the old days. I also remember playing with my father's team and winning six championships in the former leagues. Then, I tried my hand at coaching too, and I never really acquired a good year of play…until this year came. I felt so blessed with this group of boys, I almost thought it was a cruel dream that was set to end at any moment. They all proved me wrong in the end, and damn it, they actually won. Therefore, all's I have to say is…congratulations to all my children. You have done this league, and myself, very proud."
People clapped their hands, and the Fairy players all yelled out in support of their favorite coach on Earth-land. Then, Commissioner Arcadios took the mic once again. "And now, it is finally my pleasure to announce this year's FBA Finals MVP…Natsu Dragneel!"
Fans roared once again, and Lucy lit up as she gave Natsu a great big hug. However, Natsu looked displeased, and although he accepted a hug and kiss from Lucy, he walked up and took the mic and trophy with a frown.
"Nah man, I don't deserve any of this. I threw up some lousy shot and it went in at the last second. Heck, that was in overtime, and I didn't even send us into overtime, but I will say…" He then looked down to his team captain and friend Laxus.
"Laxus Dreyar came in and saved all our asses right on the spot. He made that free throw and took us all into to over time. Hell, the dude even came in from an injury and still played his ass off! Sure, I played well all season…but Laxus has played well for Magnolia all his life. That's why I'm givin' this thing to him."
Then, Natsu walked off the podium and handed the trophy off to Laxus, and although the big brute was no fan of soft moments, he reluctantly let an unwanted tear run down from his eye.
Mira laughed and wiped it away for him, which gave Laxus a moment to speak. "Ah…you're one stupid guy, Natsu…thanks man."
Natsu smiled and raised his hands again to try and energize the crowd, but Laxus stopped him right there as he set down the trophy. Now, with everyone completely confused, the once proud captain of the Fairies finally felt fear overcome his heart.
"Heh…I've been trying to avoid this all season long, and now I have to do it in front of a crowd? Well, I guess that's my own fault…"
Laxus spun around and looked at Mira without say a word as he held onto both of her hands tightly. Her big blue eyes looked like they were about to melt away in confusion, and that was not about to change as Laxus bent down on one knee, and pulled a tiny black box from his uniform shorts pocket.
He met a chorus of gasps and awes as he lowered to the ground. Lucy and all the other girls stood by with gaping mouths, and Erza was now biting onto part of her collared shirt to try and stop the tears from falling.
Meanwhile, Lisanna and Elfman both smiled with joy, and as everything fell silent, Laxus looked up to Mirajane.
"Hey Mira, you'll marry me right?"
Mira coughed up a laugh through her tears and nodded her head. "Oooo I'm not even mad that you didn't ask me the regular way! OF COURSE I WILL, LAXUS!"
She pulled him up off the ground and kissed him in front of the entire world of sports. Cameras and fans surrounded as they all hooted and hollered at the moment before Cana Alberona ran over and broke them apart by taking the mic from Natsu.
"OKAY YOU LOSERS! WE'LL SEE YA ONCE THESE TWO LOVE BIRDS GET MARRIED! NOW WE'RE HEADING TO THE BARS!"
Everyone howled with laughter and praise as they all agreed, and even though they probably had a private party set up instead of the bars, it was just enough to send everyone from Magnolia home in good spirits, champions of basketball once again.
~Several months later, inside the beautiful Kardia Cathedral in downtown Magnolia…
"Agh…Lucy do I have to keep wearing this stupid tie?" Natsu picked at his tie as he, Lucy and all the other wedding guests sat in the audience during a very quiet moment of the ceremony. "I didn't even wanna wear a blue one..."
Lucy smacked him on the arm and put a finger to her lips as she held her voice to a whisper. "Natsu, be quiet! Mira could walk out any minute, and I doubt she'd like to find you ruining her big day by yapping about your outfit!"
Although she tried to whisper, people around them turned to look at the loud couple. Natsu chuckled with laughter, but then began to pout again as Lucy started fixing his tie. "Besides, I like it. It makes you look more mature. Plus, I wanted to wear blue, and that tie goes perfectly with my dress."
Natsu rolled his eyes. "Mgggh…I liked the red one better…"
Lucy smacked him on the arm one more time. "Ugh just do it for me, Natsu…" She then looked around with everyone else in pure confusion. "Hmm, I wonder what's taking her so long?"
Up at the alter, Laxus was with his entire wedding court and the local preacher as he stood there with nerves. Bickslow stood at his side (standing as his Best Man) and gave him a grin.
"Calm down, buddy, she's probably just drinking at the bars with Cana. Maybe she thought about dumpin' ya, and now she's trying to use booze ta save the relationship!"
Cana yelled in a whisper from the female side of the podium. "I'm right here, you ass…come to think of it, I have no idea where she is. Lisanna?"
Lisanna stood at the front of the line (situated as Mira's Maid of Honor) and she too looked confused. "I dunno…I guess she could be fixing her dress?"
"Hey guys…" Elfman said standing behind Bickslow and Freed. "My back is really starting to kill me. The doc said it was supposed to be fine after taking these pills, but now it's starting back up."
"Ugh, just shut up Elfman!" Evergreen stood firmly behind Lisanna and Cana as she went to throw her flowers at him.
To compensate, Freed, who stood one step above Elfman gave him a firm pat on the back. "Relax, in time you'll be able to sit down at the reception."
"Yea?" Elfman grunted as Freed was making it worse. "Well can we just skip ahead to that part…?"
"Ugh…idiots." Laxus stood alone with squinting eyes as the right one began to twitch. He went to say more, but stopped as the music changed, and everyone turned to the door at the end of the aisle.
From the doorway, Makarov was walking the all-white bride-to-be down the aisle in a gorgeous gown that fit her body like a glove, and it puffed out slightly at the base and left a tiny trail behind her as her face was barely covered in a veil.
Still, Mirajane's beautiful blue eyes and radiant smile pierced though the veil as she lit up to the entire crowd. Seeing how her parents were no longer around, Makarov volunteered to be the one to walk her down the aisle for her very important day.
Juvia and Gray stood by the aisle section as the former grabbed his arm. "Oh sweetie, maybe that will be us some day?"
Gray smiled but shook his head. "Yea, let's wait a while before we make that life-altering decision." He did not necessarily hate the idea, but he sighed with a laugh as his overly ambitious girlfriend continued grabbing his arm and gaze at the lovely bride's entrance.
To their right, Erza was trying to hold back the tears, and now she was using Jellal's tie to stop them from falling. "Oh…It could be me up there this time next year!"
Jellal gasped. "Um…well I think it takes two people being on the same page for that to happen."
As Erza, Jellal, Gray, and Juvia were all now making a scene, Levy looked over from beside Lucy and smiled. "They sure are lively, aren't they?"
Lucy laughed and nodded. "That's one way of putting it, I guess."
Natsu raised his voice to them, but still kept it at a whisper. "Hold on, why can you two talk and I can't!?"
"Cause you're annoying, Salamander. Now shut up!" Gajeel yelled from the other side of Levy, but as he did the tiny Wendy leaned forward with Romeo quietly to her other side.
"Hey now, you don't have to be that mean to my brother…he's only annoying some of the time."
Everyone smiled and snickered, and looked on as Mira finally made it to the altar and took Laxus's hand. This prompted Lucy to grab Natsu's hand in pure delight, and allowed him to hold her tighter in return. Then, Lucy smiled as she let the past few months pass by in her memory.
"Wow, what a crazy little trip this has been. Magnolia won the championship, and now we're watching Mira and Laxus get married! I'm so glad my dad didn't end up moving his company…I've really enjoyed my mini tours of Magnolia U so far, and it looks like I'll be ready to enroll for classes any time soon!"
She then smiled and looked over to Gray and Juvia. "Juvia is enrolling full time to finish her degree with me, but I think she's taking her classes online...plus, it'll give time for Natsu and Gray to hang out more, which might be good and bad."
She then turned to see Erza and Jellal standing next to them. "I can't believe Coach Makarov is retiring, but I'm really glad Levy gave the job to Erza! She'll be such a good head coach…though it's probably pretty weird for Jellal to be dating his boss. Speaking of which..."
Then, she slid her head in the opposite direction and looked down the same bench she was sitting at. "Levy and my dad seem to be hard at work in the off season. They keep taking their meetings to Crocus though. I guess there's talk about FBA players playing in next year's Olympics for Fiore's national team? I dunno…all's it's done is prompted Gajeel to come over at unwanted times to bug me and play video games with Natsu and Romeo..."
That led her into her next thought as she moved to the youngest couple.
"Wendy and Romeo will be sophomores in high school now too! Wendy's taking my place in yearbook, and Romeo made the Varsity Basketball team! They'll have such a fun time in their last few years. It's pretty crazy to think Meldy and Yukino are going off to colleges in other towns, heck I'll probably even miss Sherry an Sherria too…"
Then, as Lucy finished that thought Laxus and Mira sealed their wedding with the kiss of a life time, encouraging everyone to cheer, and allowing time for Lucy to look up at Natsu. Finally, Lucy tightened her grip on his arm and rested her head on his shoulder. "Natsu's rookie year in the FBA is all said-and-done. A league title, plus the League MVP award and Rookie of the Year to round out a great starting season for him. He let Laxus take home the FBA Final's MVP trophy, but I have a feeling he won't be so nice if they make it back into the big game, next season...He can be rather ornery at times, but if I have to spend my days in Magnolia with anyone, I'm glad it gets to be Natsu..."
Then Lucy, Natsu, and all the other guests clapped and cheered as Laxus and Mira led the wedding court back down the aisle to enjoy the reception, leading into their new lives as a happily married couple. From there Laxus and his happy Fairy teammates could then enjoy the rest of the off season, before they had to step back up in the fall and defend their title as champions of the FBA.
WTF's with that guy who called Mard Geer in the beginning of the chapter? Eh that's not really important...
GUYS THANK YOU ALL ONCE AGAIN FOR BEING THE BEST AUDIENCE I COULD EVER ASK FOR! I know I tried and failed at showing scenes from your favorite ships, and I know I disobeyed you a lot when you told me to relax and quit uploading chapters so fast, but remember I do it by choice, and only because you guys are so fun! You guys have been the first audience to actually thank me for my quick releases, and hearing feedback like that and more is really what makes me write for this website. And now...
F*CK I GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE TOMORROW! WHERE DID MY LAST FOUR YEARS RUN OFF TO!? Anyway I'll see ya around, and if you're waiting around for my sequel story try stopping by my page and reading current and future stories, you may like what you see!
(It should also be mentioned that this story now has a SEQUEL! Check out my profile to find out what Natsu and the basketball gang get into next!)
Anyway I'll see ya around! :D