The doors to the guildhall are kicked open with a loud cry of, "Lucyyyy!" Had this not been a normal occurrence, the guild probably would've fallen silent.

However everyone is more than used to one of their resident dragon slayer's callings for his blonde haired partner.

Said partner simply sighs at her spot at the bar, hearing Mirajane quietly giggle behind her hand. Lucy pays no mind to Mira's giggles, instead turning her attention to the figures standing in the doorway. "Good morning to you too, Natsu." She greets.

Natsu grins at her as he walks over, Happy not too far behind. "Let's go on a job!" He exclaims joyfully, excited as usual.

At his exclamation, Lucy perks up, "A job?" She parrots.

"Aye! We haven't taken one in a while, so Natsu and I thought we should!" Happy chimes in, standing on the counter in front of her.

"Yeah, yeah! So let's go on one!" Natsu exclaims once again, his eyes burning with excitement.

Lucy hums in contemplation. The last job they had taken was two weeks ago, and rent is due soon. She's pretty sure she still has enough money for rent, but a little extra never hurt anyone. With this in mind, she meets Natsu's bright grin with a smile of her own, "Sounds good to me!"

"Yes!" Natsu cheers before grabbing her hand and dragging her over to the request board. Lucy yelps in surprise as she's dragged, and nearly manages to avoid stumbling. "We picked the job last time, so you pick!" He tells her as he lets go of her hand.

Stabilizing herself once Natsu lets go, she hums and scans the board in front of her. Her eyes drift over the pages, searching for something that catches her eye.

"Oh? I didn't realize we were taking a new mission." Erza's voice sounds right by Lucy's ear, making her yelp in surprise.

Natsu, completely unbothered by Erza's sudden appearance, grins. "Lucy's lookin' for one!"

"Lucy's picking a job? Good, I was getting tired of Ash for Brains picking them." Gray comments, making his appearance known.

Lucy sees Wendy approach with a nervous laugh, "Natsu-san's picks aren't always bad…"

Natsu immediately whirls on Gray, itching to pick a fight as always. "What was that Icy?!"

Gray takes the bait as always, "I said the jobs you pick are always crappy!"

"Like yours are any better!" Natsu retorts and Lucy sighs as the two wizards clunk foreheads, getting into a fight. She turns her attention back to the request board as Erza breaks up their fight before it can get out of hand.

Lucy's eyes scan the numerous requests in front of her before they land on one that's particularly interesting. She reaches for it and takes the paper. As she skims it, she thoughtfully hums, catching the attention of the youngest of their team. Wendy looks over at her curiously, "Did you find one, Lucy-san?"

In response, Lucy tilts the paper toward her and Carla, who's resting in her arms. "It looks like a job about a cursed lake. People are mysteriously vanishing after visiting the lake, and the mayor needs a group of mages to get rid of the curse." She explains. "I know it's not our team's usual job but…"

"Nonsense, it sounds like this village could certainly use our help." Erza says, having successfully stopped Natsu and Gray from fighting.

Lucy turns to her with a smile. She then feels an arm come to drape across her shoulders and her heart leaps as she feels a familiar warmth behind her. "Not bad, Luce!" Natsu exclaims as he reads the paper in her hands. "I'm getting fired up now!"

Lucy simply giggles at his enthusiasm and heads over to Mirajane to let her know about the job. Once that's done, she heads back to her team.

Now that they've got a goal to work towards, Erza is quick to give them orders, "It sounds like these people are in urgent need of help, so no dilly dallying! Everyone, go pack your bags and meet me at Magnolia Station in twenty!" Already used to the routine before the mission, everyone splits off to their respective homes to gather their things.

Wendy is the last to leave, having been distracted by Carla's sudden quietness. "Is something wrong, Carla?" She asks, looking down at the Exceed in her arms.

Carla's mouth tugs down, forming a line, "I'm not sure but… I have a bad feeling about this job."

Lucy can't help but wince at the sound of Natsu's groans on the train ride. At this point it's a typical routine for the team, and for the first ten minutes or so she tries to ignore it. However, that becomes a bit difficult when Natsu is seated right next to her, slumped against the chair.

She glances over to Wendy, seeing that she isn't faring any better. Erza has the young dragon slayer's head in her lap, and Lucy is relieved to see that Erza hasn't knocked the girl unconscious like she normally does to Natsu.

Speaking of Natsu, he's still groaning and grumbling in discomfort.

She can't help but frown at the sight and sigh softly. "Come here, Natsu." She says to him before gently maneuvering him to rest his head in her lap. Natsu responds with a quiet groan. She can feel Erza and Gray's eyes on her, but she does her best to ignore them. Keeping her eyes on the suffering Salamander in her lap, she begins to gently run her hands through his hair, lightly massaging his scalp.

It seems to ease his discomfort slightly, and Lucy keeps it up for the entire train ride.

When the train finally pulls into the station, Natsu is suddenly leaping from her lap, energized once again. Lucy yelps as he nearly hits his forehead against hers. "We finally stopped moving!" He cheers as Wendy sits up, and as soon as she realizes the train is no longer moving, she cheers along with him.

"Oi, Flame Brain! Get a move on or else you're gonna be left on the train again!" Gray exclaims, already walking to get off the train.

"Oh you're asking for it now, Popsicle! Let's go Happy!" Natsu retorts, practically running after him, the little blue cat following after him with a cry of "aye sir!". Lucy and Wendy share a look as the two boys run off the train, taking advantage of the fact that Erza is busy with gathering her luggage.

"Those boys will never learn." Carla comments, her voice full of disapproval as she shakes her head. Wendy can only nervously laugh.

As the girls make their way off of the train, Lucy mutters, "Let's just hope that they keep that energy up for this job."

They meet up with Gray and Natsu just in time to see Erza make an appearance before them. With the requip mage's sudden presence, Natsu and Gray put on their buddy buddy act, only shooting one another glares every time Erza looks away.

Lucy can only sigh at their childishness.

After meeting with the client, the group decides to head to the lake to investigate. The client had urged them to be incredibly careful and to avoid getting too close to the lake. He had given them a map to the lake along with the warning, hoping for both their safe return and possible solution.

Lucy shivers as she remembers the terrified look on the man's face.

Noticing her shiver, Happy looks over at her, "What's wrong Lucy, you cold?" He asks, catching Natsu's attention.

"I can warm ya up if you want." The dragon slayer offers, cheerfully.

"Uh, no thanks. I'd like for my clothes to stay intact." Lucy replies blandly. She fell for that once on a previous job, and Natsu, not knowing when to hold back, had burned away her clothes in an attempt to warm her up. She definitely wasn't going to make that mistake again.

Natsu pouts at her response, "It was one time, Luce." He whines.

Lucy looks at him with a glare, "It was more than once! Do you know how many shirts I've lost because you go overboard?!" She snaps.

Happy snickers, "It's kinda funny though, how you fall for it."

Eyebrow twitching, Lucy grumbles, "Shut it, cat!" She hears Gray chuckle at her predicament and she sticks her tongue out at him in response. She then glances at Natsu and finds him pouting still, making her sigh. "I'm just… a little creeped out by this job request. I mean, people disappearing after going to this lake? A cursed lake? Talk about creepy! And did you see how spooked our client was?"

Deciding to add her input, Erza nods. "I have to admit I have a few of my own concerns. We can't afford to be lallygagging and playing around." She says, glancing over at Natsu and Gray specifically. The two boys tense and sweat under her stare. "We need to be incredibly serious about this! We don't know what consequences will befall us if we fool around."

"Yes, it would be bad if something happened because three of you decide to act like fools," Carla adds on, casting a glance at the boys and Happy.

"Right." Lucy and Wendy hum in agreement.

"A-Aye…" Natsu, Gray, and Happy stammer, sweating buckets already.

"Now that that's out of the way, the client said the lake should be around here somewhere…" Erza hums, beginning to take a look around. She then glances over Wendy's shoulder, who's in possession of the map given to them.

"I think we're on the right path, but I don't see anything yet." The young dragon slayer sighs.

Lucy looks around a bit herself, trying to spot something. All she can see are trees though, and she's pretty sure the trees just continue for miles and miles. As Lucy glances around in an attempt to see past the forest, she sees both Natsu and Wendy freeze before starting to sniff the air. "Do you guys smell something?" She asks, curious.

Wendy nods as she lowers the map in her hands, "There's an odd scent in the air."

"Smells kinda funky." Natsu adds on, continuing to sniff the air. He turns on his heel, "It's coming from that direction!" He exclaims before taking off.

"Natsu, wait!" Erza shouts after him, but he's already running into the bushes.

Lucy sighs, "There he goes again."

"That idiot will never learn." Gray comments before following him.

"He wouldn't be Natsu if he did." Happy says cheerfully.

Erza turns to the group, "Quickly, let's follow him!" Lucy and the others nod before breaking out into a run. Wendy leads the group since she can not only smell Natsu, but she can also pick up on the weird scent that was mentioned before.

When they catch up with Natsu, they find him standing in a clearing surrounded by trees. There's a light mist floating around, but it's thin enough that Lucy can see through it. "What is this place…" She wonders as she takes a step. Her eyes finally land on the large body of water in front of her and her eyes widen. "The lake!" She exclaims, "We found it!"

"Let's begin searching then." Erza says, causing everyone to nod. They each start investigating the area, trying to find any abnormalities. Natsu seems to be sniffing around while Gray and Erza inspect the trees. Wendy glances over at the lake a few times, but sticks to looking at the ground for any markings.

Lucy walks over to the lake, being mindful to avoid getting too close to it. She glances around at the nearby trees, wondering if there's some sort of enchantment in the area. She narrows her eyes in thought, humming quietly. Happy, who's the closest to her, looks at her, "What's up, Lucy?"

"I thought it might've been possible that someone may have used some sort of spell or enchantment on the lake, but I'm not picking up on any sort of magic." She explains, crossing her arms. "If I didn't know any better I'd say that this is just a regular lake."

"Yes, it's quite strange." Erza jumps in, placing a hand on her chin. "I haven't sensed anyone nearby either."

"So basically we've got nothing to go off of?" Gray asks, sighing.

Lucy glances over at him, noticing the mage in nothing but his boxers. She sighs, not even fazed by it anymore, "Gray, your clothes."

"Oh, crap!" Natsu snickers at him but shuts up as soon as Erza glares at him.

Turning her attention back to the lake, Lucy frowns. There's something weird going on here, that's for sure. "Gah, come on! I'm so bored!" Natsu suddenly exclaims, flopping backwards onto the ground.

"Well too bad. We have to search if we want to figure out what's going on, now get up and help us!" Erza exclaims, making Natsu groan.

"But we haven't found anything! Wouldn't it be better to search some other place or something?" Natsu argues, picking his head up to stare at the requip mage.

Lucy decides to jump in before the two can argue any more, "Natsu does have a point, Erza. It might be a good idea if we all split up and search somewhere else." She points out gently. "Why don't you guys ask around town while I stay here and try to figure out what's going on?" Lucy suggests.

Natsu sits up, "Are you sure that's a good idea Lucy?" He asks. As always, Natsu is an open book to her, for she can already see the concern on his face.

Lucy smiles at him to ease his worries, "Of course! We'll just be wasting time if all of us are here trying to figure out this lake. It's better to spread out and get more information from the townspeople."

Erza crosses her arms, nodding along. "You raise a fair point." She hums. "Alright then, Lucy will stay here while the rest of us split up and investigate. Gray, Wendy, I want you two to investigate the west side of town. Natsu, you and I will investigate the east." She directs, and Lucy tries to quiet her giggles at Natsu's pout.

"Sounds like a plan to me." Gray agrees while Wendy nods in agreement.

"Good. We'll all meet back up at the hotel in five hours, got it?" Erza says, causing everyone to nod. "Let's get moving then. Come on, Natsu."

"Aye…" Said dragon slayer sighs, pushing himself up.

"I'll let you guys know if I find anything!" Lucy calls as they walk off. Nodding to herself, she turns back to face the lake. "Okay! I can do this!" She encourages herself.

Before doing anything, Lucy does a second sweep of the area. She figures it's a good idea to get another look at the lake to double check that she hasn't missed anything. "It's definitely a lot easier now that the others are gone." She can't help muttering with a tired sigh.

Once more, she tries feeling for any magical energy but comes up empty handed.

She thoroughly checks through the grass and tree trunks, making sure she leaves no area unchecked. After spending a good while checking the lake, Lucy draws the same conclusion as before. There's nothing strange on the surface.

"I'm still not finding anything, what's going on?!" She exclamations in frustration. Pinching the bridge of her nose, Lucy approaches the lake. She squats down and without getting too close, leans over the edge. She stares down at the calm waters, murmuring "Lake of Reflections, huh? Just what is going on here?"

After staring at the lake for a bit longer and receiving no answer, Lucy pushes herself up. "Well, might as well try to meet up with the others. I can always help ask the townspeople about what's been going on." She says to herself, turning her back to the lake. A sudden thought strikes her as she puts a finger to her cheek in thought, "I wonder if there's a library we could check out. There's bound to be some sort of information there."

Nodding to herself, she smiles. "A little reading never hurt anyone~." She hums, giggling as she imagines Natsu's complaining. She can already picture it perfectly.

Just as she's about to start to walk away, she feels something grab her by the waist.

Lucy lets out a sharp cry, jumping. "What the?!" She looks down and sees a hand gripping her, and she's startled to realize that it's a hand made of water. She glances behind her to see the hand sprouting from the lake behind her.

"Oh no you don't!" She cries, reaching for her keys. Just as she grabs Loke's key, another water hand wraps around her arm, traveling down to her fingers that hold the key, stopping her. Lucy's eyes widen in horror before narrowing in determination. "Fine then, guess I'll just have to use a star dress!"

With a flash of light she transforms into Aquarius' Star Dress, and frees herself from the lake's clutches. "With this form I can control the water!" She exclaims, pleased as she lands in a crouch back on the ground.

The lake, seeming angry with her fighting, creates more water hands, sending them all toward her. Lucy summons her magic, fighting back against the water. Throwing her arms out in front of her, she pulls the water to the side, avoiding the attack.

More hands sprout from the water, but Lucy easily deflects them, either using her magic to avoid the attack or jumping out of the way.

Before she can even blink, a large storm of water is heading straight for her. Wasting no time, Lucy summons her magic, creating a barrier of water. The hands easily disperse into the wall of water, and to retaliate against the attack, she thrusts both her arms out with a cry of, "Aqua Metria!"

The magical waves from her attack mix with the hands of water, forcing them back. She pushes them right back into the large lake of water until there's no more.

As soon as she sees the hands recede back into the lake, she grins. "Take that, you creepy water hands!" She shouts victoriously. She releases the star dress and turns around, "I've gotta hurry and find the others. They have to know what happened just now!" She goes to run, but the sound of water makes her stop.

Lucy turns around sharply, eyes widening at the moving water over the lake. It forms a sphere of rushing waves and it looks uncontrollable. "What the?" She gasps.

The sphere opens and reveals a woman inside. She wears a sky blue kimono that hangs off her shoulders, a fan in her hand. Her silver hair falls around her in gentle waves, golden eyes crinkled by her smile. As she focuses on Lucy with an analytical gaze, she hums, "So you're the one giving my little ones so much trouble, hm?"

Lucy immediately takes a defensive stance, narrowing her eyes. "I take it you're the one controlling this lake." She says, and the woman smiles.

"Allow me to introduce myself, I'm the water spirit, Marina. I've taken quite a liking to this lake, as well as my little ones." She responds.

Lucy frowns at her response, trying to formulate some sort of plan. The others are all in town, so it's up to her and her spirits to deal with this. "Tell me, are you the one behind the disappearances of the townspeople?!" Lucy demands, taking a step forward.

The spirit chuckles, "It seems I've been caught red handed." She says. "You humans just make it too easy, you know. It's been quite entertaining."

"Entertaining?! These are people's lives we're talking about here!" Lucy exclaims.

"Oh? What does that have to do with me?" Marina hums, raising a brow.

"You're the one who kidnapped them! Let them go!" Lucy orders, pointing at her.

The water spirit laughs, unbothered by Lucy's exclamations. "And what will you do if I don't?" She questions, looking at the mage curiously.

"I'll make you!" Lucy declares.

Without wasting a single second, Lucy acts. She summons Cancer's Star Dress and takes off. A blade in each hand, she aims an attack of her blades at Marina, but a wall of water blocks her before her attack can land.

Attempting to avoid being hit by a possible counter attack, Lucy leaps back towards the ground. She keeps her eyes on the spirit.

"So you're a mage, hm? Interesting…" Marina notices, a sly smile appearing on her face. "I like you, Blondie. I hope you'll provide me with nice entertainment~." She purrs.

Narrowing her eyes, Lucy tries to come up with some sort of strategy. 'I can't risk getting too close to her or else she might be able to immobilize me. I'm going to have to use long range attacks if I want to defeat her.' She briefly considers using her Aquarius dress again, but she isn't entirely sure how much help it'd be.

This water spirit is powerful, Lucy can tell. How Marina managed to hide her power like that is beyond her, but Lucy has to be careful.

Before she can continue her thoughts, a wave crashes over her. With a yell, she's slammed into a tree. "Don't you know you should always pay attention in a fight?" She hears the spirit taunt.

Ignoring the severe pain in her back, Lucy stands. Summoning Taurus' dress, she cracks her whip against the ground in an attempt to reach the water spirit. The whip wraps around Marina's waist, and with two hands, Lucy throws her into a nearby cluster of trees. "I am paying attention!" She can't help but snap.

Chuckles sound from the spot the spirit had just been thrown at. Lucy stares as the kicked up dust clears, seeing Marina standing from the trees. "Yes, very impressive." She hums before raising a hand.

Water is hitting her before she's even aware of what's going on. Lucy gasps as she finds herself trapped in some sort of water bubble. It almost reminds her of Juvia's Water Lock spell, but more vicious.

She can feel herself losing air.

As she tries to fight for oxygen, her eyes involuntarily shut. Struggling to breathe, Lucy forces herself to move. One of her eyes open and she spots a nearby tree. It's close enough that if she can just…

Trying to act as quickly as possible, Lucy ignores the black dots clouding her vision as she lifts her arm. She flicks her wrist and her whip moves out of the water space, wrapping around the trunk of the tree.

Squeezing her eyes shut, Lucy wills herself to move. Using the tree as an anchor, she grabs her whip with both hands and pulls herself forward.

She isn't quite sure how she does it, but she escapes. As soon as she's free, Lucy hits the ground, coughing harshly. Marina watches her, intrigued.

As soon as she can properly breathe again, Lucy jumps up and glares at the water spirit. "My, I didn't think you'd be able to escape that! Quite intriguing!"

"It definitely wasn't easy." Lucy grumbles in response, trying to determine her next move. She switches her Star Dress again, opting for Sagittarius' form instead. As the bow appears in her hands, Lucy is already aiming her attack. She fires a few shots of her arrows, but Marina flicks her fan, opening it as she does so.

Her arrows are blocked by a barrier of water.

As Lucy grits her teeth, she hears the spirit hum, "I've never seen magic such as yours before. Tell me, what is it?"

Lucy keeps her bow raised and she looks at Marina with suspicion. "Celestial Spirit magic." She says, never once looking away.

"Hoooh?" A smile spreads across the water spirit's face as she moves her fan to cover it. "Very interesting indeed. Why not—" She's cut off as arrows whiz right past her.

Lucy's attack cuts right through the spirit's fan, cutting her cheek. Marina freezes, raising a hand to the cut, eyes widening. "Don't you know to never get distracted during a fight?" Lucy taunts as she remains tense, waiting for the spirit's next attack.

"You…" The spirit mutters, bangs covering her face. When she raises her head, an angry scowl mares her features. "Now you've gone and made me quite angry!" She shouts, flicking her hand.

Before she can counter it, two huge waves of water come crashing down on her, making Lucy cry out. She moves through the current, but doesn't get very far. Marina appears in front of her, hitting her with another wave of water, which sends her right into the lake.

Lucy barely has time to recover. She pushes herself up, trying to escape the lake and ready her counter attack. Marina is faster however, and appears in front of her a second time. Lucy gasps. "Now then, enough games." The spirit says, glaring at Lucy before grabbing her shoulders and pushing her into the lake.

"No!" Lucy cries, squirming as much as she possibly can to escape. However in terms of raw strength, Lucy is easily overpowered. She feels herself start to sink into the water, and it sends her into a panic. The hands from before come up to wrap around her middle, and they're tight.

But they don't stop there.

The hands wrap around her legs and arms, successfully trapping her. Lucy cries out as her head is forced under water, the woman simply grinning cruelly at her as she goes under. She thrashes wildly, refusing to be taken without a fight.

Her breath is caught in her throat, however, and without meaning to, Lucy gasps for air. She raises a hand for help, but that only causes more water arms to wrap around her and pull her down. 'No! Not like this!'

Black dots start to paint her vision, and Lucy can't breathe. With the lack of oxygen, her body starts to go limp and her outstretched arm falters. Her eyes start to close against her will as she tries to clutch onto consciousness.

She sinks.

'Na… tsu…'

wooo first fic of 2021! kajdkfjdkf okay so I'll admit— this fic definitely ran away from me. I've had this plot bunny for forever and I was finally able to write enough to post the first chapter. this was definitely a bigger piece than my previous ones, and my first time truly writing everyone besides natsu and lucy. if anyone is ooc I'm sorry ;;;

I hope you all enjoyed the first chapter, I'll have the next one posted next friday! please feel free to drop a kudos or comment 3 thank you for reading!

catch me on twitter & tumblr dreamsofmochi , ao3 mochiwrites