Welcome everyone to my first ever Fairy Tail fanfiction. Thanks for checking it out.

I'm gonna be straight with you, I'm not a native, so the story might not be written as well as it could be, but I would be really glad if you gave it a chance.

This isn't exactly a romance, but it will have hints (rather strong hints actually) for Nalu.

Any and all kind of feedback and suggestions for ongoing chapters is more than welcome. Though I have the story mostly figured out, there is nothing that says that certain things can't be added or changed if someone has a good idea for the plot.

This story plays sometime after the Grand Magic Games. Please keep in mind that I have only read up to the latest chapter so far and don't know how things are going to turn out. So any developments in characters or their powers will simply be ignored for the sake of this fic. I probably won't even mention the GMG at all. As it isn't important for the plot. I just mentioned it so you know that Laxus is an accepted and wanted part of the guild and all that.

I tried beta-ing the story myself, but I might have missed some errors. If you spot some (or not) and would like to help me with future chapters, please contact me through review or PM.

On another note, I'm really not good when it comes to formatting on this site. I don't know why this seems to be so complicated for me, but I just don't get how it works here. I hope the story is readable non the less.

Chapter 1

Lucy sighed happily as she finally got off the train - after six long hours - at Magnolia station.

She took a deep breath of fresh air, smiling as the warm sun hit her face.

It felt good to be home again. Smiling, she took the handle of her suitcase and started in the direction of her apartment. Occasionally stopping to return the greetings many of the passerby's called out to her, Lucy thought back to the reason for her latest journey.

Approximately three weeks ago, a letter from the capitol bank of Fiore had been delivered to her home. The capitol bank of Fiore was not only the biggest bank on the continent, it was also the only one that handled all upper class and royal real-estate and property arrangements.

One of those was the old Heartfilia Mansion and land.

The letter had stated that if Lucy, as the only heir of the Heartfilia title, wished to have any future claim over her family's assets, she needed to make the necessary arrangements with the bank's manager, a Mr. Scroots, in the span of the next fourteen days.

Lucy had at first been confused. After her father had lost all his money, she didn't even know that she had any claim over her childhood home.

So, after swiftly getting her affairs in order, she had packed her suitcase and boarded the next train.

Of course, she had first needed to dissuade her team from accompanying her.

Somehow the three of them had gotten it into their heads that it might be a trap and someone was trying to lure Lucy away from her friends and family to kidnap her.

It had taken Lucy every imaginable threat and reassurance she could think of to finally calm Erza and Gray down enough to make them understand that their fears were unfounded.

She shuddered to think what an impatient and domineering Titania and an ice mage that couldn't keep his clothes on for any lengths of time would have done to her dealings with Mr. Scroots.

Natsu though had been a harder nut to crack.

Not even the threat of the six hour train ride had stopped him from insisting he accompany her. Though Lucy was touched that he was willing to endure twelve hours of motion sickness just to make sure she was safe, she didn't think it was a sacrifice worth making.

She didn't relish in the thought of watching him suffer through the train ride and then dealing with his boredom when he finally realized that there was no evil villain for him to beat up.

So she had promised him that she would keep both Loke and Horologium on standby, so that if anything happened, her strongest spirit would hold off whoever was attacking her, while the grandfather clock would transport her to the spirit world.

When Natsu had still been unsure though, Lucy summoned Virgo and asked the maid spirit to supply her with enough clothes from the spirit world for her entire time away, just so her pink haired best friend was reassured that Lucy would actually be able to stay in the spirit world, where she would be safe.

Of course, all that hadn't been necessary as the arranged talk with Mr. Scroots had gone smoothly.

It had still taken them more than a week to sort everything out, though.

But now, after two weeks of tiring discussions and mountains of paperwork (and daily insta-lacrima messages to her friends back home so that they, and especially Natsu, wouldn't lose the last bits of rationality and decide to storm the town in order to safe her from some kind of imagined danger) she was finally back home!

The blonde celestial mage grinned in anticipation when she thought about going to the guild and seeing all her friends again.

Her step quickened a little, wanting to drop off her luggage at her apartment already so that she could head to Fairy Tail.

She thought about the book she had found in one of the big city stores that she just knew Levy would love.

She thought about the friendly old receptionist at the hotel she had been staying in, who had given her a special strawberry cake recipe, which she wanted Erza to try (after asking Mirajane if she would help her make it.)

She thought about the magic tome she had read in the towns great library, that had mentioned a useful trick for ice users she wanted to tell Gray about.

The many different kind of fish she had seen at the market there that would make Happy's eyes bug out.

The bottle of special brand rum she had bought for Cana (which had nearly cost as much as her rent), the cute hair band she had found for Wendy (who had been talking about wanting to try out a new hairstyle), the staff weapon for Romeo and the music crystal containing all the latest rock songs for Juvia. Who knew the girl would grow to like this kind of music after their battle against Vidalus Taka.

And Natsu.

Her pace slowed a little.

She had been thinking about her salmon haired partner a lot lately.

Especially during the last two weeks. Of course, he would have probably driven her insane had he tagged along with her, but she had missed him.

Him and his stupid big grin and his dark charcoal eyes and the warmth of his body.

His whining during the train ride that would only lessen when she finally gave in and let him lay his head on her lap.

Then he would start whining anew, until she began running her fingers through his hair in a soothing rhythm.

Most of the time this still wasn't enough to lull him to sleep, but at least he wasn't close to puking his guts out, like he usually would be while on transportation.

Sometimes he even felt good enough for some light conversation.

Lucy smiled softly.

She really loved all of her guild mates, but she had recently discovered that Natsu had a special place in her heart.

Which wasn't really all that surprising. She rationalized.

It had been Natsu who had found her, saved her and brought her to Fairy Tail all those years ago.

It had been Natsu who protected and saved her again and again when an opponent proved too much for her to handle.

It had been Natsu who had uprooted a tree for her.

Her smile got wider.

That tree was one of her fondest, most cherished memories.

Lucy doubted Natsu even knew what his gesture had meant to her. The memory added a little skip to her step as she was finally headed to the guild after quickly dumping her luggage at home. She had shortly thought about grabbing all the presents for her guild mates, but that would have involved unpacking and sorting through everything and she simply didn't have the patience for that right now.

She would get them later.

Right now she was too anxious to see her family again.

So anxious, in fact, that she at first didn't notice the unusual sight right before the guild doors.

Only when she was mere feet away did she see the familiar forms of the two youngest guild members and three Exceeds.

And their rather depressed expressions.

"Romeo, Wendy, Happy Charle, Lily? What are you doing out here? And what is with those long faces?"

The five in question looked up at the voice, their faces instantly brightening with joy.


They jumped up from their positions on the ground and ran towards the blonde. Happy got there first, having activated his arial magic and flying into the soft comfort of Lucy's chest. Wendy and Romeo nearly tackled her to the ground, latching on to her waist. Charle and Lily kept back a little, but the smiles on their faces were proof enough that they were glad to have Lucy back.

After regaining her balance, Lucy did her best to return all three hugs with her two arms. She laughed.

"I missed you guys too. So, what's been going on while I was away?"

And suddenly the happy reunion was over as Romeo and Wendy looked up at Lucy with worried expressions and Happy buried himself deeper into her generous chest.

"Lucy it's terrible!" said Wendy, balling her hands into her light orange dress.

Romeo beside her nodded, a bitter look on his face as he directed his stare to the ground, fists clenched tightly at his sides. The smiles on Charle's and Lily's faces disappeared.

Lucy's happy mood vanished in an instant.

"What happened? Was the guild attacked? Is anyone hurt?"

Panic and dread rose inside her at the thought. What could have happened to her family while she was gone? Guilt was the next to assault her. She never should have insisted on a 'one-way-message-lacrima'. She had thought it would be better if the others could only receive her messages.

Lucy had been afraid that if they could contact her themselves, Natsu would constantly call, probably at the most inopportune times, trying to convince her to let him come after her. And she had honestly doubted her ability to withstand his puppy eyes for too long.

Had her selfish wish for some peace and quiet prevented her comrades from reaching her in a state of emergency? Bile rose up her throat. She would never forgive herself if one of her precious people had come to harm while she had been blissfully unaware of the danger they were facing.

Erza, Gray, Levy, Cana, Natsu – What if Natsu was hurt?

But before the panicking celestial mage could storm inside the guild to assure herself that her loved ones were alright, Romeo quickly shook his head.

"It's nothing like that. No one is hurt. But…" He broke off, seemingly not knowing how to continue.

The wave of relieve that Lucy felt when she heard that everyone was alright, was washed away by the new worry of what else might be wrong. She was about to panic anew, when Happy lifted his head out of her bosom and looked at her with wide, teary eyes.

"Everyone is fighting, Lucy!"

Lucy looked at the blue Exceed in her arms and blinked once, then twice.


Thinking she hadn't heard him right, Happy quickly repeated his statement.

"Everyone is being mean to each other and they are fighting all the time!"

After a quick look at the other four for confirmation, Lucy let out a huge sigh of relieve.

"That's it? Really guys, you almost gave me a heart attack!"

Wendy, seeing that their friend was misjudging the situation, quickly shook her head.

"But it's really serious Lucy!"

The blonde just smiled down at the young girl though and gently petted her head.

"The guys are always fighting, it's like their way of communicating with each other. Don't worry."

Lucy was about to take a step towards the guild when Romeo grabbed her hand, looking at her with great distress.

"It's different this time Lucy! This one isn't like their usual fights at all! And it's been going on for three days already!"

Now Lucy was getting worried again. Maybe this really was more serious than she had at first thought. Realizing she needed more information she steered her five companions to a group of benches close to them and all sat down.

"Okay, tell me what happened."

Relieved that the celestial mage was now taking them seriously, Wendy began the story.

"It all started about 8 days ago, when the guild received a very special request from the Smithonian family."

Lucy gasped at hearing that name.

"The Smithonian family? They are like the second wealthiest family in all of Fiore! They had even more property than us, before father lost everything."

Romeo nodded, taking over the explanation.

"At first it looked like a simple rescue mission. The fiance of their oldest son had been kidnapped by unknown mages, though from what the bodyguards said, they were powerful. Which is why Mr. Smithonian insisted the mission be marked as S-Class."

Lucy nodded, looking over to Lily as he opened his mouth.

"The problem was that the family didn't have the slightest idea who had taken the girl. And though a ransom demand had been delivered, it wasn't much to go on. The family asked to spare as many qualified mages as possible, to cover more ground for investigation and Master agreed."

Lucy nodded again, approving of the tactic. As a former heiress, she knew all too well the many enemies too much money made and how extremely these enemies could differ in not only appearance, power and motives, but personal background and social status as well. And even if the family paid the ransom money, the safe return of the kidnapped person was never guaranteed. So, many avenues had to be investigated. Wendy continued.

"The Master thought it best to use a group of mages and divide them into two, each with their own purpose. One for information gathering and finding the woman, the other for fighting the kidnappers."

That also made sense to Lucy. As information was so sparse, trying to find it could send it's seekers in many a different direction. And since time and discretion were of essence in kidnapping cases, - as to not tip off the kidnappers - traveling in a large group was counterproductive.

And since no one knew of the extent or element of the enemy mages power, facing them alone could have had disastrous consequences.

This way though, one group of mages, the seekers, would use their skills and energy to find the opponents hideout, while the other group, the fighters, would lie in wait until one of the seekers found their target and then storm in, ready to battle.

"Master chose Mirajane, Erza, Levy and Cana to search for information and Laxus, Gajeel, Natsu and Gray to handle the kidnappers as soon as one of the girls found them."

It was a good match up.

The client had requested as much fire power as possible with making the mission an S-Class one. So the three available S-Class mages would naturally be part of the mission. The groups composition was logical as well.

Though Erza was the strongest woman in Fairy Tail, she was also very experienced when it came to interrogation. Levy could crack any code she came across and connect different pieces of information easily. Mirajane would either be able to charm anyone into telling her what she wanted to know, or summon her Demon soul to intimidate the information out of them. And Cana blended perfectly in any bar or tavern in any town, were the 'word on the street' and latest rumors would be easy to pick up.

Laxus, Natsu and Gajeel as three of the four resident dragon slayers also had their place on the battle team and Gray could more than hold his own and adapted quickly to different fighting situations.

Happy took over the next part of the story, having made himself comfortable on Lucy's lap.

"They finished the mission in only three days. Levy found the kidnappers hideout and contacted the guild. Then the guys hurried to her location, while Master called Erza, Mirajane and Cana back. While Levy took care of the kidnapped woman, Natsu, Laxus, Gray and Gajeel kicked the evil mages asses!"

So far everything sounded fine to Lucy. She was in fact very proud of her friends.

Fairy Tails teamwork was simply the best.

But Charle's next words brought her happy thoughts down.

"And that's when the trouble began. See, the Smithonians had offered a huge reward for the rescue of their future daughter in law. And since it was a group effort, the Master thought it would only be fair that the money gets used in a way that benefits everyone. He gave the two groups a choice to either invest the money in a new training hall with the newest D.P. magic,"

Lucy's eyes widened at that. D.P. was short for Damage Prevention. This kind of magic was relatively new on the market and highly expensive. She had read about it in the latest 'Weekly Sorcerer'. The magic council themselves had created this lacrima powered magic system that was able to reinforce any kind of building to a degree that it could withstand standard attacks from a power level of one of the wizard saints.

With this kind of training hall, the hotheads of Fairy Tail could beat each other stupid without destroying the guild every time.

"- or build a new lounge for the members, outfitted with the newest lacrima comfort system."

Now her jaw dropped open.

The Lacrima comfort system, or LCS for short, was pure luxury.

It could turn any room into a five star hotel.

The LCS was interlinked with many different, and mostly prestigious, shops all around Fiore. It also had a huge database encompassing various topics.

It's design was similar to Hibiki's archive magic. A little bit of magic power and the right words would summon a magical display with control keys that would then allow the person using it to browse through its various commodities.

One could, for example, select and order clothes from a shop connected to the system without having to leave the room. As well as other purchase-able goods.

It's databank offered not only knowledge, but also entertainment as some of the more famous authors of this time chose to publish their works there first. Some magazines, like the Weekly Sorcerer, also had an information network linked to the system. And the room itself, as well as its furniture, was bespelled to respond to different commands as well.

Be it air conditioning during a heat wave, or comfortable warmth in the cold of winter.

And many other features.

As the others saw Lucy process the information, Romeo spoke again.

"Natsu, Gray, Gajeel and Laxus voted for the D.P. Training hall, but Erza, Mirajane, Cana and Levy immediately shot them down, saying they wanted the new lounge instead. And then the arguing began. At first it was all pretty normal, with the guys insisting on their right to choose, while the girls pressed their own. Some more guild members made their opinions known, but it was all still normal 'Fairy Tail fighting', you know?"

Lucy nodded, signaling him to go on.

"But then suddenly someone – I don't even remember who it was anymore – said that since the guys did all the 'real work' on this mission, they should get to choose."

At that point, Lucy frowned angrily. Just because Natsu, Gray, Gajeel and Laxus were the ones fighting, didn't mean the work that Erza, Cana, Levy and Mira did was any less significant.

Seeing the blondes reaction to this part of the story, Wendy took over.

"As you can probably guess, the girls didn't take all too kindly to that. So Erza pointed out that without them, they wouldn't even have known where to find their opponents to beat up. Then Laxus said that she, Cana and Mira weren't the ones who found them and that Levy, the one who actually did, hadn't even needed to fight and only looked after the girl. So then Cana said something to the extent that the only reason the teams had been divided as they had been, was that guys were too stupid to do anything beyond letting their muscles speak for them, which caused Gajeel to counter that obviously, the reason was that girls were simply too weak to do a man's job. And then it kinda snowballed from there."

Lily spoke next.

"All the girls were offended by what the guys said, and all the guys were offended by what the girls said. And suddenly it was like a rift had formed between the genders. Pretty soon everyone was fighting, but only verbally and only versus the opposite sex.

Every stereotypical insult you can think of was thrown around. 'Women are weak.' 'Men are stupid.' 'Women only care about their looks.' 'Men only think with their libido.' 'Women are fickle.' 'Men are egomaniacs.'

It wasn't even about the reward money and its use anymore."

Lucy looked at her companions, troubled and confused.

"This doesn't sound like them at all. I mean, most of the members of Fairy Tail are hotheads just waiting for any excuse for a fight, but this… And there has never been an issue with gender discrimination before in our guild! Everyone knows just how strong Erza is and Mira is an S-Class mage for a reason. And Freed is one of our smartest members! And Natsu-, I know he can get swept up in the excitement of a fight, but he would normally rather just pummel Gray than occupy himself with a verbal spar against the girls."

Happy looked up at Lucy, his eyes showing the same troubled expression as hers.

"At first he wasn't really a part of the argument, even though he wanted the training hall, but then he just got angrier and angrier and all of a sudden, he was in a shouting match with Erza and the others. I don't understand it either!"

Lucy was at a loss.

"And this has been going on for the past three days?"

The others nodded solemnly.

"Why hasn't Master done anything to stop them?"

Charle snorted.

"I think at first he didn't interfere because he secretly wanted the guys to win. Probably so that he won't have to repair the guild hall every time those morons nearly tear it down in their fights. But then he got caught up in the arguments himself. This just went completely out of control."

Lily shook his head, a tired sigh escaping him.

"The guild is split into two fronts. Guys and girls. When they aren't insulting each other, they ignore the other side. No one has even gone on a mission in the last two days, far too occupied with sending their friends angry looks."

Lucy was astonished.

She couldn't believe what she was hearing. They had to be exaggerating. Fairy Tail was family, right? Every family fought from time to time, right? It simply couldn't be this bad!

With what she hoped was more hopeful determination than dreadful desperation, she stood up, drawing everyone's attention to her.

"I have to see this for myself."

And then she quickly walked over to the guild doors, various emotions warring with each other as she put a shaky hand up to push open the door.

It couldn't be that bad!