Light Casts a Shadow

Mark of the Fairy

The sunrise appeared, lying upon the horizon. The light shone brightly through the windows, piercing through the dark shadows within the tiny apartment. Sting sat up in the bed and rubbed his eyes. This was probably the first time in months since he actually had a whole night's worth of sleep.

It took a while for his eyes to adjust to the cheery brightness of the room. He tried getting up, but he noticed that the blonde mage was sleeping right next to him. She was practically leaning on top of him with her chin resting atop of his shoulders. They only met the day before, but how could she trust him so easily to even sleep next to him?

Sting rolled his eyes, as he stared uneasily at the ceiling, Why is that Blondie even sleeping next to me? Well, he was her guest after all. And it was her bed in the first place. Even though he was stuck with her ever since they had met, he had never come to the realization that she was pretty.

He listened, fascinated by how softly she breathed while sleeping. He felt uncomfortable lying next to her, so he tried sliding out of her grasp, but her warm embrace pinned him down closer to her. Unable to move, Sting found himself stuck in her arms, facing her large chest.

Sting didn't know why he felt so embarrassed, but he tried looking away. He instead found himself carefully observing her face, memorizing every single detail. It bothered him how the loose strands of her hair matted to her face, partially blocking his view. He unconsciously brushed aside her bangs to get a clearer glimpse.

He stared at her, dumbfounded by her beautiful complexion. He was completely absorbed; her warm breaths made him shiver. Her gentle touch made him feel so… out of it. He gazed at her, barely a few inches away from her face… Her eyes were gently closed and her mouth hung slightly open… He was only a centimeter away when her brown eyes suddenly shot open.

"Kyaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" Lucy shrieked in terror and kicked the trespasser into the wall upon instinct.

Lucy helped Sting up into a sitting position as he massaged his head.

"This is why you need to learn how to treat people with respect." She scolded him, "If you invade other people's personal space, you'll end up with something worse than a tiny bump on your head."

Sting had recalled being in worse injuries, but he had to admit that it did hurt a little when the blonde mage had kicked him into the wall. He didn't even know what he did so wrong. After all, she was the one who chose to sleep next to him.

Lucy clasped her hands together in excitement. "Oh, I completely forgot to tell you last night!" She squealed, "We got a lot of money for turning in that thug from yesterday!"


"It turns out that the guy we turned into the town guard yesterday was actually the leader of some band that had been terrorizing this town! There are very few mages in Hargeon, so no one had been able to stop them."

"So we helped the citizens of the town?"

"Well yeah… But more importantly, I finally have enough money to buy a brand new gate key from the town's magic shop!" Lucy's eyes sparkled.

Sting felt his sweat drop as she slowly started drifting off into her own little world, chatting away. He remained sitting on the ground, watching her skip around the room as if she was dancing in a field of flowers. He usually had an incredibly small attention span, but he listened intently to her goal of becoming the greatest celestial spirit mage.

The idea of making friends with spirits who would never leave her side astounded him. Lucy treated her spirits as friends and not as tools for fighting. When she cried, they could feel her sorrow and when she laughed, they could feel her joy. With friends by her side, she never suffered alone.

Lucy finally stopped daydreaming and changed into her traveling clothes. She hummed happily out the door with a grin stretched across her face, "Let's go shopping!"

Sting was forced to go on a mild shopping spree with Lucy, but it wasn't like he had anything better to do. He strode behind her with his hands inside his pockets as they finally exited the magic shop.

Lucy had managed to buy the gate key of the dog constellation, but when she tried seducing the shop keeper to lower the price, she miserably failed.

"He only lowered it by 1,000 jewel… Is that the most my feminine charm is worth?" Lucy angrily stormed ahead as Sting steadily paced behind her.

"We still have plenty of money left." Sting reminded her bluntly.

"Yeah, but only 1,000 jewel?!" Lucy retorted with a vein popping out of her head, "That guy wouldn't know true beauty if it slapped him across the face—"

Sting continued walking behind her, ignoring her noisy rant, until a bunch of stupid girls sprinted past them, squealing.

"The famous wizard is here!""Mr. Salamander!"

Sting looked at Lucy a little confused, but was surprised to see her staring off into space again. Well, talk about mood swings…

"The Salamander?" Lucy thought out loud. Then a twinkle of excitement shone in her eye, "Wait, the famous wizard who doesn't use magic you can get in stores—He's in this town?!"

Sting didn't even have time to express his annoyance when she grabbed his hand and thrust themselves into the band of screaming girls.

A mob of fangirls crowded around the old man.

"You're so dreamy!""Please burn me!"

Sting eyed Lucy carefully. She was acting very strange when they saw the man with the flowing blue hair. When the man glanced in their direction, she practically fell to the ground, clutching at her chest. With his keen dragon-like senses, he swore he could hear her heart beating out of her ribcage, gradually becoming faster within each passing second. He didn't know why, but the way she stared at the old man was somehow making him feel extremely pissed.

"Oi, Blondie!" He tried getting her attention.

He pulled her away from the crowd, but she wouldn't budge. It was if she was transfixed to the ground or something. That old man obviously did something.

Sting watched as Lucy's eyes suddenly popped into hearts. She furiously started hopping towards the so-called 'Salamander'. Okay, that's not healthy. Sting had just about enough. He was about to charge through the mob of crazy fangirls and confront the old man, until someone beat him to it.

"Igneel!" A teenager with pink hair and a blue cat pushed through the crowd and stumbled towards the old man. There was an awkward silence as they stared directly at the man for a few seconds. He finally blinked, "Who are you?"

The man with blue hair jumped back in complete shock. He quickly flipped his hair to the side with his hand to recompose himself. A shiny gold ring on his finger reflected a bright light into Sting and Lucy's eyes. Sting sensed a weird tension in the air as he saw the hearts in Lucy's eyes shatter.

"Would the name 'Salamander' ring a bell?" the man smirked. He was dumbstruck when he saw the boy already walking away, completely ignoring him.

The fangirls glared murderously at the ignorant boy. They charged up to him and started beating him up to a pulp, until the Salamander suddenly announced that it was time for him to leave. The fangirls immediately forgot about Natsu and crowded around the man, begging him to stay. He laughed and invited everyone present to a party on his boat that night. He arrogantly smirked in Lucy's direction before flying away on a carpet made of flames.

"Who was that guy?" Natsu rubbed his head.

"It turns out it wasn't Igneel after all." Happy sighed.

Sting followed Lucy as she went up to the guy with pink hair and waved to him. "That guy was a creep." She flashed a smile, "Thanks for the help."

Natsu stared at her, "Huh?"

~And then~

Lucy took them all to a nearby restaurant as a sign of thanks. Sting, Natsu, and Happy were chowing down all the food in sight. They had already finished over 50 courses.

"My name is Lucy," She forced a smile, "It's nice to meet you!"

Lucy watched the three of them eat away all her money. They were monsters…

She tried starting another conversation, "Umm, Natsu and Happy, was it?"

"You're really nice!" Natsu roared.

"Aye!" the blue cat echoed.

"Okay, just slow down a little," She laughed nervously as a piece of meat stuck to her face, "Stuff is flying everywhere…" Well there goes all our reward money… She thought darkly.

"You see, that Salamander guy was using a charm spell." She explained, "It can attract people to the holder, even against their will. But I broke free from the spell thanks to you guys barging in! So this is my thanks."

The only way to break free from a charm spell is to become aware of it. When the light, reflected from the Salamander's golden ring, flashed into Lucy's eyes, she noticed the charm and became aware of the spell, thus breaking free.

"Such a creep, using magic to become popular..."

"—I see."

"Believe it or not, I'm actually a wizard myself!"

"—Oh, yeah?"

"But I haven't managed to join a guild yet."

Sting stopped eating and turned to look at her with a puzzled look on his face. "What's a guild?"

"Oh, guilds are organizations where wizards gather to share information and find work. You can't be considered a full-fledged wizard unless you're in a guild…" She again stared off into space and clasped her hands in excitement, "There are lots of guilds around the world, but the one I want to join has a lot of strong wizards in it!"

Sting stared at his food again, strong…

Happy looked at the two blondes and noticed that the boy was much younger than the noisy girl. "Are you guys, brother and sister?"

Sting's gaze immediately shot up at the cat, "N-no, we're just—"

Lucy covered his mouth and laughed, "Yup, I'm his big sister!"

Sting was enraged. He dragged the blondie with him underneath the table. Natsu and Happy looked at each other and shrugged. They continued to stuff their faces with food.

"Why would you say that?" Sting whispered as he shot her a deadly glare.

"Now, now…" Lucy smiled innocently, "It's disrespectful to drag your Onee-chan underneath the table."

"You're not my sister!" He roared, "You're just a… stupid blondie!" He stood up suddenly and bumped his head under the table. He massaged his head in pain.

"Aww, you're just so cute!" Lucy squeezed his cheeks. Sting flinched at the word 'cute'. "Ne, since you won't call me by my name, I suppose you'll just have to call me Onee-chan from now on."

"Like hell I will, Blondie." He spat out.

"Onee-chaaan." She squeezed harder as she emphasized the word.

Sting rubbed his cheeks as they got up from underneath the table. Natsu and Happy were still munching on their food as if nothing happened. Lucy grabbed all her precious reward money and set it on the table.

"Well, we should be going. Enjoy your food." Lucy and Sting began walking out of the diner.

Before they could exit the door, Natsu and Happy prostrated themselves on the ground before her, catching everyone's attention. "Thank you for the food!"

Her face flustered as she earned weird gazes from the other customers, "S-stop it, you're embarrassing me! It's okay, you helped me, so now we're even!" She took Sting by his hand and they rushed out of the diner.

"We weren't really trying to help her though..." Natsu sighed.

"Aye, I still feel indebted…" Happy said glumly.

They sat on the ground, still thinking.

"We'll pay her back somehow!"


Night had already fallen and Sting was sitting on a hill, overlooking the sea. Regret struck his face as he remembered the occurring events.

After they had exited the restaurant, he and Lucy were walking though the park until that Salamander guy jumped out of the bushes and confronted them. Lucy stated firmly that she was aware of his charm and the spell wouldn't work on her. However, that pervy old geezer was eavesdropping on their conversation about guilds. Once he mentioned Fairy Tail, she became dead silent. Lucy agreed to come to his boat party on one condition: He would put a good word for her in Fairy Tail.

Sting remembered when Lucy asked if he wanted to come onto the boat too, but what she didn't know about him was that he had extreme motion sickness. He told her that he just couldn't. She patted his head and he looked into her comforting gaze. 'This may be the only chance I get to join Fairy Tail!' She promised him he'd be back by the time the party was over.

He watched the large party boat float further and further away, but something wasn't right. The party should have ended already.

"Hey, it's you!" Natsu eagerly spotted him. He laughed heartily and sat next to him, "Say, where's Luigi? I thought she'd be with you."

"Luigi?" Sting eyed him weirdly, "Her name's Lucy…" His voice trailed off. The boat looked so much smaller from farther away.

"… Is something wrong?" Natsu asked.

Sting was reluctant at first, but talking with someone as easy-going as Natsu made him feel a little better. "It's just that…" Sting explained everything that had happened up to this point. When he finished, Natsu's grim expression frightened him. His shadowed eyes gleamed under his messy pink hair. He looked dead serious.

"Lucy's in danger." Natsu murmured.

Danger. Sting's eyes widened. A painful, numbing jolt took over his whole body. He couldn't feel his arms and legs. Lucy was in trouble, and he wasn't there to save her. He should have agreed to come with her, despite his motion sickness. If anything happened to her, it would be all his fault... It would be just like the incident with his dragon all over again.

Natsu ran his fingers through Sting's hair, stirring him out of his thoughts. He gave him a heart-felt smile, "Don't worry… I'll get her back!" Natsu leapt off the hill in the direction of the sea, "Happy!"

"Aye, Sir!" Happy sprouted wings and skillfully caught him in the air.

Sting could only watch in amazement as an ant-sized Natsu flew all the way to the boat on the horizon. Minutes passed and gigantic tidal wave sent the boat crashing into the shore.

"You're a Fairy Tail wizard?" Natsu glared at the Salamander.

"Yeah, so what?" The man smirked. He sent a full blazing fireball hurtling towards Natsu, "GIGA PROMINENCE!" The large flame completely enshrouded him, burning him to a crisp.

"Natsu!" Sting yelled, running onto the beach as Lucy placed her hands over her mouth. Happy snickered, which made the two glare at him furiously.

"Why are you laughing, you dumb cat?!" Lucy yelled, "Isn't he your friend?"

"I should have mentioned this earlier, but Natsu's a wizard too." Happy replied. "Fire doesn't work on him."

The fire dissipated as Natsu engulfed the flames. His coat was burned off, revealing a red emblem on his right shoulder.

"The mark of the Fairy…" Lucy's eyes widened.

Natsu glared at the false Salamander indignantly. "I am Natsu of Fairy Tail. And I have never seen you before in my life!"

"Wha—?!" The man stuttered in shock.

"Fairy Tail!?" She gasped, "Natsu's a Fairy Tail wizard?!"

"I don't care if you're a good guy or a bad guy… But I won't let you tarnish Fairy Tail's name!" His voice thundered.

Sting watched Natsu battle the old man with a newfound respect. His eyes lightened as he saw his brilliant flames sear against his opponent. He had finally had someone to look up to. He watched his new role model clash with flames clenched in each of his hands.


Natsu readied a final attack, "Fire Dragon's…" He fists blazed with fire, "IRON FIST!" The false Salamander was punched in the gut and sent flying into the town's bell tower.

"That was great…" Lucy stared in awe. Half of the town was already destroyed. "But don't you think he went a little overboard!?"

A squadron of the Magic Council's guards came rushing into the demolished town of Hargeon. Their suits of armor clanked in rhythm as they stomped up the streets. Amazed, Sting watched his new hero turn to look at him and Lucy.

"Crap, the Magic Council's here!" Natsu took both of their hands and swiftly dashed out of the town, "RUN!"

"EHHHHHHHHH?" Lucy stammered as she and Sting chased after him. "Why do we have to?"

Natsu gave her a puzzled look, "You guys wanna join our guild, right?!"

Time seemed to slow down as Natsu turned to look at them. Lucy and Sting were breathless when his welcoming presence dawned upon them.

"Come on!" He smiled brightly.

Lucy and Sting turned to look at each other. A moment later, they started bursting in laughter. "Aye!" Happy cheered.

The four figures ran away from the town, laughing happily in the cool night air. This was just the beginning of a new adventure.

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