Fairy Tail belongs to Hiro Mashima.
There aren't too many stories that mention what happens when Lucy's team finds out that she does not have Aquarius again. It doesn't seem like anyone ever asks what happened to Lucy during the Tartarus fight. So I thought I would drop my own hand into the pot.
"Lucy! We need Aquarius!" Erza yells as she takes a breather, Natsu and Wendy still attacking the sea monster; Grey struggling to sit up.
Lucy feels fury rising in her, anger streaming down her face in hot tears. Her body glows as she takes on Aquarius's star dress. Jumping in front of Grey, blocking a wild attack Lucy growls. "I can't!"
"But it's Wednesday!" Natsu's voice echoes down from his perch.
Fighting the bile back down as more tears fall, Lucy grits her teeth. With a screech of anger she throws her arms out. The water rises around the monster before condensing around its head, applying more and more pressure before the back of the skull caves in.
The monster falls, the ground shakes causing Lucy to hit her knees. Her star dress disappears in a flash of gold as sobs rack her body, forehead to her knees as her arms wrap around her torso. She feels a cold hand rubbing up and down her back, warm hands lift her face to meet worried onyx.
"Luce?" Gentle fingers wipe at the tears still dripping down her face. She sees Happy and Carla floating above Wendy and Erza a few paces behind Natsu's kneeling form. "Hey, come on. Nothing to be crying about, we got it."
Lucy pulls back shaking her head, scooting away from Grey and Natsu's comforting hands. Natsu tilts his head, eyes trained on her while the others exchange worried looks.
"Lucy, why can't you call Aquarius?" Erza asks softly, kneeling down next to Natsu. With shaking hands she reaches up to her neck, watery brown eyes sweep over all of them before holding Natsu's. The golden chain pulls free of her clothes, Aquarius' broken key glinting in the light. Wendy gasps. hands flying to her mouth, Erza's brows cinch while Grey's eyes widen, mouth opening and closing. But it is Natsu who scrambles closer, who gingerly reaches up to cup the piece of golden metal. It's Natsu who looks at her with worry, who gathers her into his chest tightly, who holds her as her sobs fill the air around them. It's Natsu who takes control.
"Erza, why don't you gather what we need from the monster. I'll bring Lucy back to camp while Wendy looks at Grey." Gathering the still crying Lucy to his chest he walks off to where they had set up camp.
A few hours later everyone is gathered around the fire, bowls of soup in their hands. Lucy is curled up under a blanket, staring blankly at the flames; her head resting against Natsu's knees.
"It happened during the fight against Tartaros. Do you remember the reddish goo sucking you in?" Her eyes flash up to see them nodding at her. "For some reason it couldn't hold me. I was the only one who wasn't consumed by it, so Mard Geer told them who ever got me would rise in ranking. I had Sagittarius try and help, he got knocked out so I pulled Loke and Virgo. We were being rushed down the hallway by water. I lost my whip to Jackel, Leo and Virgo were both fighting a demon. I had no choice but to pull Aquarius out, Loke and Virgo got hit just as I brought her out." Taking a shuddering breath Lucy leans her head back, eyes trained on the night sky. "I could barely move, my magic was so low. She was having problems holding them back so she told me a secret. If a celestial wizard can hold open three gold keys and has a strong relationship with a gold key, that wizard can call the Celestial Spirit King. When I told her I didn't have his key, that I couldn't call him. She told me that he doesn't have a key, that to call him I had to break one of the zodiac keys." Her eyes squeeze shut as tears start leaking down her cheeks. A warm hand settles on her head, grounding her. "I didn't want to, but she told me it was the only way to save you all. So that's what I did. It's why the cube was on the ground, it's how I'm able to do the star dresses. The Celestial King gave me the ability with Aquarius' power."
The silence stretches out as her team absorbs the new information. Happy is the first to react, rushing her, her hands dropping the bowl as she hugs the crying Exceed to her chest. Wendy leaning against Grey as she cries, Carla held close to her. Erza leans forward head in her hands.
"Why didn't you tell us? Does anybody know?"
Lucy shakes her head, Natsu's hand falling off. "No one else knows but my spirits. How could I tell you? Erza you just accepted the guild shutting down and left. Grey just lost his father again and was already gone. Wendy and Natsu both just re-lost their dragons, their parents, after finally finding them again. Natsu was off training with Happy," at his name the cat nuzzles closer. "They had already left the night before. Everyone was gone by the time losing Aquarius and then the guild finally settled in." Taking a deep breath she lets her hand gently stroke Happy's head, her own leaning against Natsu's knees again. "So I kept track of you all, I gathered all the info I could and made sure you were all staying safe."
"Wait, is that how you found Juvia?" Grey asks.
"The whole wall in her bedroom was a map of Fiore, every sighting of a Fairy Tail wizard was placed on there. Even rumors." Natsu states his voice soft. "We followed the leads she had to gather you, and I set the symbol on the castle."
"How did I miss this?" Erza asks, her eyes rising to meet Lucy's tears falling down her own face. "You always see everyone else's pain but I couldn't even guess at yours!"
"Oh Erza!" Lucy gently places Happy on Natsu's lap before rushing around the fire to the red head's side. Pulling her into a hug Lucy rubs her back. "I didn't even know it still hurt me until today. It's not your fault, it's not any of yours."
The next few hours are spent hugging and crying together as they finish up their supper. Once everyone settles down for the night in their tents, Lucy slips from the one she is sharing with the girls and Happy. Walking as silently as she can she settles back against one of the logs by the dead fire, her eyes trained on the stars.
"I'm sorry I left you." Jumping Lucy's head jerks to her right. Wide eyes take in the fire dragon slayer leaning against a tree. Holding her hand out she beckons him to her. Slowly Natsu strides over to her, settling down next to her. Cuddling closer Lucy lays her head on his shoulder, eyes back on the sky.
"You didn't know."
"It doesn't excuse the fact I left you alone." His arm wraps around her waist tugging her closer to his warm body.
"Did you think I would be with Erza or Grey or even Wendy?"
A smile tugs at her lips as she imagines his brows scrunching in confusion. "Yes."
"Then it's fine." Turning her head and pulling slightly away she smiles up at him. "I forgave you a while ago."
"How can you forgive me?" Hearing his voice crack Lucy pulls away from him. Throwing nag a leg over his waist so she is straddling him she cups his face.
"You brought my family back together. How could I not forgive you?"
Onyx orbs trace her face, searching before pulling her face to him. Their foreheads rest together as he slowly breathes her scent in.
"Let's go on more adventures together, okay?" His voice washes over her.
This story was edited by my lovely mother, Lisa. Who is so happy to be doing something besides work.
Stay safe and inside!