Recognition was absent in the woman’s gaze, even while the man who called her ‘Ultear’ extended his reach towards her battered form, no sign of recollecting his visage, or even to the young woman that stood by his side. A note was taken from the mute woman while her listless gaze took full account of her anguished features that painted the girls’ countenance. What could cause such a reaction the woman did not know.
A blink broke her still expression as the syllables that formed out a name reached her ears, and a pang of familiarity echoed its beat deep in her soul.
Yes, that was her name. It was, right? That was the name she was given, it was how she was acknowledged, how she was recognized, for what she was worth.
It seemed to be that case, and was what she felt was the truth- a statement of fact that could not be swayed, no matter the possibility. The name passed from the man’s lips with such reassurance that it left the woman without any doubts. His statement was firm, though harried with unease- yet that too was understandable. Their surroundings were wrought with destruction and gore, the earth ripped open and splintered by malicious beasts, giants of chaos and death.
Escape or death— those were her only options. What other choice was there, but to grasp the cloaked male’s hand, and continue living to face tomorrow? Oblivion of her mental state made her unable to look forward to any tomorrow, and these people, these kind souls who dragged her further away from the danger held no sentiment in her. What stake did they have in saving her?
Slender limbs wrapped around her middle to help her stand, her legs a blotted color that caused a look of alarm to pass the pink-haired girls countenance. Mutely she watched her sweep her gaze across her form, her semi-nude state catching the girls’ attentions long enough to shed her coat from her body and cover her own tattered form. From there, they lead her out on the outskirts of the city and into a wilderness that shrouded them under the cover of foliage and darkness, a canvas of peace and safety.
When they finally stopped, their company was in a slight state of breathlessness, yet enough air filled her lungs to speak words of inquiry.
"Tell me…who you both are…please…"
Rescuing Ultear certainly was a near-run thing. Even the most magically inept person could not have ignored the nexus of magical power that had been unleashed on Crocus. Thankfully, neither Jellal nor Meredy were untrained in the art of escape. As soon as the woman, in her near-advanced state of nudity had accepted their hand, Jellal had gripped onto both her, and Meredy. With a burst of celestial energy, he felt himself removing the limiters on his ability. Just before the advance guard of the Magic Council was drawn to their location, he had invoked the power of ‘Meteor’. At that point, it wouldn’t have mattered if there was an entire legion surrounding them. Only a blinding light marked their passing, and their eventual retreat into the depths of the outlying forest.
After their relative safety had been ascertained, Jellal picked up on a single query from the woman. This query managed to earn a saddened look from his pink-haired companion, and he could not blame her. This woman had once been the closest thing Meredy had to a mother, and now, she remember nothing. All the joys, pains, and reconciliations they had endured meant nothing to her. Jellal’s history with the woman was just as coloured, but in the end, he managed to blink past whatever sorrow he might have felt.
Ultear’s sacrifice had not been without merit, and he was not about to bemoan the trade-off’s dire effect on her. Without her action, as abrupt as it was, humanity’s end would have brief, and painful. All he could do was be grateful for magic itself rescinding on its desire to end the woman’s life. Perhaps, if Ultear ever recovered the full extent of her memories, he’d ask about that particular miracle. Until then, he would simply focus on giving this woman a new lease on life.
"I am Jellal Fernandes," he began, while picking out a tree to lean his back against. "You bewitched me when I was a young child, and through my hand, proceeded to commit atrocities with my body. For a time, our relationship was that of master and puppet. When I learned of this, I hated you, and I wanted you to die. At the same time, I was also rotting in jail, so my desires did not matter much. In time, you freed me, for reasons that I cannot even understand today.
From there, my hatred of your being faded away, as I understood the woman you had become. You were no longer callous, or cold. What I saw in you was a woman of light, and from that light, I found a measure of peace. I never properly thanked you for that, for I knew that I would never hear the end of it. But now, I can thank you for that. Without you, I would not have found redemption.
The woman that gave you her cloak is Meredy. You plucked her out from a village that you had destroyed, and you took her on as your daughter figure. In your darkness, she was perhaps the only light that you truly had. She too took after you, and grew in coldness as you once had. In the end, an encounter with Fairy Tail saved her soul, and it saved yours as well.
Since then, the both of you were close, and you had a bond that was unbreakable. As did the three of us. All of us sought redemption by destroying guilds of darkness, even if we were never to receive it. That was our goal. But now, I believe our goal is to make sure you have a good life.”
It was crowded enough that their exchange wouldn’t be observed by prying eyes of stranger’s and Council member’s walking around as the day proceeded its course. Curiosity came and went as the flow of the crowds pace seemed to slow, a motion that coupled Lucy’s straining sense of cognizance of him and the situation they were about to be in. “E-eh? I-then—” words seemed to fail her then- what was he talking about? Raven Tail use her?
Laughter that haunted her nightmares began to echo within her mind, laughter that no matter how much she tried to block, the laughter- that shrill, awful laughter would always come back. “A-ah…but…Fairy Tail- what about them— I should stand with them right? I don’t want to runaway Jellal…” she whispered, stepping closer so that her words wouldn’t reach anyone else passing by them.
"I-I can still fight too!"
"Fairy Tail has not given you enough room to breathe, and to properly develop your magical potential. If you fought the enemies of your guild now, you would be irrelevant at best, and a liability at worst. Come with me, Lucy. I have a way to make sure that you will never again be looked down on as ‘useless’."
The first day of the Grand Magic Games had stimulated a thought which had rested in the back of Jellal’s mind for some time. Lucy Heartfilia held the wisdom, and the magical presence to become one of the greatest wizards of her time. Unfortunately, Fairy Tail cared far too much for her to let that occur. Time and time again, she was either kidnapped, or defeated. Following those things, one nakama or another would make a promise to protect her, and all would suddenly be made right. Theirs was a compassionate way of doing things, but they did not see what he saw.
This aid was causing her ambition to die a slow, and painful death. Natsu, Gray, Erza, and Wendy would continue to shine on, while Lucy’s own star dimmed. Jellal could not permit that to happen. Her light would be made to shine. The male simply shook his head towards the idea of her ‘running away’, and once again, spoke with the harsh, yet realistic tone that seemed to break through to her being.
"You would not fight well enough to justify your presence in that battle. I can change that, if you come with me."
"You shouldn’t be here though—!"
Her uncertain whisper was fervent with anxiety- though his form was obscured and shrouded in stealth, there was always a chance of a misstep- one slip up, and the servants of the Magic Council would slap chains to his wrists and lock him away for good. “It doesn’t matter if its for my sake, what if you’re discovered because you came to see me?” A pause before wistful eyes gazed curiously up at the fugitive. “Why are you here anyways? Erza’s at the Honey Bone if you’re looking for her—.”
"Erza Scarlet is not the reason behind my visit. Not today, at least."
His heart did ache for Titania, and he knew his heart would never stop in aching for her. Unfortunately, she walked in the light, and he walked in darkness. What he desired could never come to pass, and the more he longed for her, the more that would only hurt him. Not only that, but thinking about her would muddle his mind towards his true purpose. He kept his eyes locked on his true goal, and looked to nudge her towards him by motioning with his head. "I won’t be discovered if you come quickly, and you won’t be used as a pawn by Raven Tail if you accept my protection. Understood?"
Will sit up quickly, a quick look of disconcert passing briefly along her features before her hazel eyes give an owlish blink up at the fugitive. “Jellal…?” A quick look back and forth was given before she whispered. “What are you doing here?”
"I would not come without cause," he whispered back, while choosing not to say anything further than that. There were several reasons why he had come, and the blonde was chief amongst them. Of course, she was yet to know why he had deemed her so valuable, but that would come soon. "Only know that I am here for your sake."
Just gonna lie here quietly and think about sleep.
[/look at that, Jellal is going to show up, and stand over you with a hooded look.]
"You know what- I don’t think I wanna know those places thanks." A false statement, but she had to throw him off her back somehow- so long as Ultear didn’t get any wind of this, she would be free to venture forth into the realm of carnal pleasures- or, form a simpler solution—
"Though I don’t think Ultear would be happy to hear that you’ve been spending our funds on your girly magizines~."
—who knew black mail could be so handy~?
Meredy had indeed inherited some of Ultear’s more dubious characteristics. So worried was Jellal about the time lady’s reprisal that he managed to overlook Meredy’s curious double-standard. Why, after all, would she have sought out what he so fervently hid, if she didn’t have an interest in that sort of thing? Regardless, Jellal found himself swallowing his discontent, and managing a tight smile towards the woman who looked to blackmail him. She had a strong hand, and despite his discontent, he had to accept that.
"Ultear, whether she appreciates it or not, is well aware of our small personal stipends. What I do with my stipend is none of her concern. It’s none of yours, either.
Not that such a thing will ever stop you from taking an unhealthy interest in my…erm, desires.”
"Funny- that sounds like a personal problem. Surely you couldn’t find at least somewhere to hide your smut?” Will frown sternly at him, though amused by his visible squirming.
"I found somewhere, Ultear. It just so happens that Meredy found said somewhere as well,” he replied, while desiring nothing more than to escape from this situation. “And now I will find somewhere to recover from this sudden misstep.”
"I’m sure you could- though ‘Fiore’s Busty Babe’s’ isn’t exactly easy to hide though…how’d you even get it?"
"Meredy, there are some places in this world where your face does not matter as much as the amount of coin you are willing to spend. I hope you are never privy to these kinds of places. Ever.”
"Jellal- didn’t I warn you not to let Meredy see your…collection.”
"I cannot be expected to account for Meredy’s every last movement! She has taken after you in the worst kind of ways!"
"…seriously…? Eww…” [/gonna make a disgusted yet curious face]
"…Is there really anything left that I can keep from you indefinitely?"