Posted 09 June 2013 - 07:59 PM
So, random theory time. Like a number of other people, the latest chapter has me speculating that Ultear might sacrifice her life to save Gray.
That's kind of vague though, so I'll clean it up and elaborate it a bit.
Way back at the start of this arc, when Ultear offered Natsu's training group Second Origin, the reason she gave for being able to offer it was that her Arc of Time had improved to the point of working on living creatures. Not that surprising considering that the previous arc revealed that her true goal for learning Arc of Time was time travel/turning back time to when she was happy with her mother. So we know it can affect people to some extent.
Gray for his part I don't think is dead yet. Mashima said in an interview he does not like resurrecting characters. I'm sure that statement is provoking laughter in some quarters at the moment, but it's true. It's part of the reason why he'll bend over backwards to retcon's someone's death but doesn't do what Kishimoto did in Naruto and have characters flat out resurrected by various means.
So moving on a fairly natural theory is that Ultear will use her magic to reverse Gray's wounds at the cost of her life. That would maintain the drama of someone dying, while shifting it away from being Gray doing the dying. People are rather vague about why it would cost her her life, especially seeing as she can affect living creatures now, so here's where I really get to my theory.
Lost Magic tends to have some nasty catches to it. Limitations, side effects, etc where if you screw up it does something unpleasant to you.
Great Tree Arc: Over extend yourself using it, and you will turn into a tree.
Human Subordination: Use it on a non-human, and you lose your body and fuse with them. Even if you manage to separate from them to get back to your original body, you're likely to melt away to nothing at that point.
Arc of Embodiment: Rusty Rose assures us it has some restrictions and limitations.
Dragon Slayer: Use of it will eventually turn you into a dragon.
We don't know about the rest, though presumably there is something just waiting to screw over an incautious user for them as well.
Anyways, we don't know what sort of backlash Arc of Time would have, but given the way the others have worked, it'd be pretty logical to guess that it screws up the user's aging. For example, if you attempt to age someone when you are unable to, you yourself end up getting aged to the point of death. Now, Ultear stated that she could now affect living creatures, but that's kind of vague. It's entirely possible that she can't rewind people, she can only fast forward them to a limited extent (so far). Good for carefully speeding up the development of their second origin, not so good for fixing up a person that's been shot up.
So, with her Arc of Time not quite up to the task yet, Ultear goes ahead and heals Gray anyways. She succeeds at turning him back to the state just before he was shot up, but as it's something she's not supposed to be able to do yet, it causes deadly side effects to her. Only since she was trying to rewind Gray, instead of Fast Forward him, instead of being aged to the point of death, she's de-aged to the point of birth.
End result, Gray's saved, Ultear's effectively killed off in a PG-13 appropriate manner like Azuma and Zoldeo were. Merudy gets an infant Ultear to raise the way Ultear move to raise her, and in a twisted way Ultear gets part of her original wish and goes back to an age when she was happy.