She was blushing, it was horrible. It didn't used to be like this and it shouldn't be like this. What had happened to the good old days, when she didn't have to think about every little thing he did? He did one thing, it would make her irritated, he did another, it would make her hopeful. It really didn't used to be like this.
Her cheeks were burning and it was all his fault. He started talking about Happy and Charle, he asked her what her thoughts on the subject were and he smiled a toothy grin when she agreed with him. That smile never used to make her feel like this. Back then, it had been a normal thing, just another part of the big whole called Natsu.
She somehow wished she could stop feeling like this, but then regretted it. Liking Natsu that way would never lead to anything anyway, the boy was clueless after all. He didn't have the slightest idea about stuff like crushes and love, the guy was raised by a dragon for god's sake. She didn't think Igneel had taught him about the birds and the bees. Any less had the talk, he had been to young for that.
What's the matter, he asks. Well, what did she know? She couldn't tell him about these feelings of her's, he would right out reject her on the spot, or take it as some kind of joke. That might be worse. Fright was her enemy, being rejected would end her. Not physically, but mentally. The day she would be rejected by Natsu, was the day she would hit rock bottom on the social food-chain.
"Why don't you just tell him?" Mirajane gave her advise. She couldn't, it was too terrifying. So she told her as much.
"Well, maybe he wont reject you." The whitette said, her exterior calm and collected. He would, he definitely would.
"He doesn't see me like that." The blonde told her friend. She hid her face in her pillow and gave off a whimper, thinking about the fire mage. He would think she had gone temporally insane and panic like the idiot he was. He would call on the entire guild, saying something was wrong with her, embarrassing her even further. It was hopeless, much less with a guy like Natsu.
Mira sighed in her spot at the table. The two girls were occupying Lucy's room, having planned a sleep-over. Mira had started talking about boys and the truth slipped out of Lucy's cursed mouth. She had explained her horrible situation and Mira understood her dilemma.
"You don't know that." Mira said. "He might be more interested then you think."
"Did he tell you that?" Lucy peeked out from her pillow.
"Not exactly, but-" She got interrupted by another whine from the blonde, who hid her face once again. "But that doesn't mean it's not true!" She continued, her voice a little louder to drown out Lucy's noise.
"He'll think I'm stupid.." The blonde sighed into her pillow, making it almost impossible for Mira to hear.
"Lucy.." Mira's look of worry went unnoticed by her distressed friend.
Lucy was acting strange, that much he could tell. She was oddly depressed somehow and he didn't know what was bothering her. He did try to ask, but she wouldn't spill. All she said was that it was nothing important, nothing relevant. He had tried asking her on missions, but she got all weird about it and declined. What was her deal? They were friends, she could tell him if something wasn't right. He would understand, probably. Maybe it was something girly, like bras or maybe she couldn't pay rent again. Then why wouldn't she go on missions with him?
She spoke a lot with Mirajane lately, the whitette probably knew something. It irritated him, did the blonde trust Mira more than him? Didn't she trust him enough to share her problems with him?
"I don't get it.." Natsu mumbled to himself, making Happy, who sat on the table in front of him, tilt his head in confusion. The fire mage grumpily kicked the floor, cross about Lucy's sudden change in attitude. Drumming his fingers impatiently, he eyed Lucy at the bar, talking to Mira, again.
Did she have anything to hide? Was it some terrible secret? She was wearing one of her favorite outfits, a blue sleeveless west with small golden stripes by her shoulders, a simple blue skirt and some of her hair tied with a blue scarf on one side of her head.
Scratching at the table's surface, Natsu breathed an irritated sigh. Sure, he knew Lucy wouldn't hide anything super serious from him. Then again, she had hidden the fact that she was the daughter of the Heartfilia family, which seemed to have been serious at the time. He didn't blame her or anything, he thought as memories of the whole Phantom Lord incident revived in his mind.
"Natsu, is something the matter?" Happy asked, his voice a little worried. Natsu snapped his head up to look at his long time friend, his mind rushing back to the day he found Happy's egg with Lisanna. Old memories, he thought, a small smile making it onto his lips.
"It's fine Happy, no big deal." Natsu said and flashed the cat one of his trademark grins. Happy seemed to visibly relax after that and at some point flew off to find Charle. Natsu smiled at his blue furred friend, but quickly went back to watch Lucy, freezing the minute he did.
She was just sitting there, looking at Mira in panic. Her eyes portrayed a deep embarrassment and worry, as a deep red color settled over her cheekbones. The blonde seemed to be rapidly denying something Mira had said, judging by the way her hands snapped up in defense and waved around to signal defiance. She seemed to panic even more as Mirajane laughed at her bashful response. Not being able to hold back her deep blush, she rushed off to the bathroom, leaving a smirking and all knowing Mira behind.
Curiosity got the better of him as Natsu suddenly found himself making his way over there. He felt strange. Seeing Lucy with that kind of expression had him feeling very odd on the inside of his flipping stomach. Wait, his stomach was flipping?! Probably just hunger, he blamed and continued over to the bar, where a satisfied Mira smiled to herself. Seeing Natsu however, wiped the smirk right off her face and she looked at him nervously. Why did she do that?
"What was that all about?" Natsu asked, resisting the urge to sneer, as he slammed his lower arm onto the bar table. It irritated him how much he wanted to know something that probably was none of his business anyway. Why couldn't he just let it go? Was it the fact Lucy had seemed to blush deeper then he had ever seen her do before? If so, why did he care? Mirajane stared at him in horror for a second, to then regain calm exposure.
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Mira stated, her calm tone irritating Natsu greatly. She was lying right to his face.
"Lucy's been acting weird lately and you know why!" Natsu exclaimed, but not loud enough for the rest of the room to hear.
Mirajane seemed surprised for a moment, going into deep thought. So Natsu had noticed that Lucy was different. He was reacting rather violently to it, she noted. She also wondered briefly, what Natsu thought of Lucy, romantically. He was probably clueless of her feelings. "Calm down Natsu, and explain."
The fire mage stared at her for a second, but then let out a huge sigh and dumped himself in the chair Lucy had been occupying. He ran a frustrated hand through his pink hair and looked to Mira. He felt slightly guilty for almost yelling at her and when he apologized, she nodded with a smile.
"It's alright." She told him.
"It's just, I feel like she's hiding something important from me, something that could hurt her." Natsu told of his worries. "She seems sad and I hate that." Natsu proceeded with drawing an invisible eight on the table's surface, a never ending circle.
Mirajane eyed Natsu's worried features as he sat there, scratching at the bar. "Have you asked her?" The whitette voiced, heat again showing on Natsu's face.
"Of course I have! I don't know what to do, she's just acting weird!" He complained hastily, glaring at his hands.
"What do you expect? Any girl in love wold be acting that way." Mira sneered back, smacking a hand across her mouth when she realized what she had let slip.
Natsu had frozen in his seat, slowly lifting his eyes to look at Mira. The whitette's wide eyes stared back at him, her mouth covered by her trembling hands. It was an accident, she hadn't meant to say that, at least not out loud. Natsu's confused eyes portrayed nothing, but wild life as he stared at the barkeep.
"What?" He voiced, confused to the core.
"Nothing!" Mira peeped, hopeful that Natsu hadn't really heard her. Her horrors were confirmed however, when Natsu violently rose from his seat, tipping over the chair in the process.
"Lucy's in love?!" He asked wildly, his eyes full of unspoken curiosity.
"No! Whatever made you think.." She trailed off when she saw his tired stare. He clearly didn't believe her. "Yes okay, but don't tell her I said anything!"
Natsu got this weird look in his eyes as he let his stare fall to his hands again. He began twisting his fingers between his hands, seeming relatively off. What could he be thinking about at that moment? Was he angry?
"Who is it?" He suddenly spoke, his eyes landing on Mira again. They portrayed an odd look of worry, but at the same time, excitement.
"Oh no, I'm not saying anymore!" Mirajane declined, crossing her arms at her chest. "Go ask her yourself." She added for the heck of it.
"You're right, I should." Natsu agreed, snapping Mira out of her defiant posture. The fire mage leaned back from the bar and scanned for the blonde.
"W-wait Natsu, I didn't mean it like you should-" Mira tried, but he was already on his way into the mass of people. "Me and my big mouth." She sighed when he was out of sight.
Lucy had barely made it out of the bathroom before the fire mage grabbed her wrist and dragged her along. She had been in there for quite a while, splashing her face with cold water. Mirajane's comment had made her blush deeper then she ever thought possible for her.
They had been whispering about him, of course they had been whispering about him. He was all they ever talked about lately. Natsu this, Natsu that. Maybe it had been a mistake telling Mira about her 'problem'. It didn't really help anyone, much less herself. No, that wasn't true. Having a person to vent to had it's benefits, no mental breakdown for one. Keeping all these feelings bottled up and not sharing them with at least one person would possibly drive her mad in the end, so she was grateful for Mira's sudden involvement.
"I really think you should tell him" Mira had whispered, winking at her for fun. She couldn't possibly do that and Mira knew that all to well.
"I can't, I just can't." The blonde had whispered back.
"But Lucy, don't you wanna know? Don't you wanna know how he feels? Don't you wanna know if there's the slightest chance?" Mira asked, her eyes full of possibilities. Lucy seemed to grumble on that for a while, thinking hard. She opened her mouth a couple of times, ready to speak, but no words came over her lips.
"I just can't risk it." She finally said, her voice defeated.
"Risk it? I don't understand." Mira was confused.
Lucy sighed and stared down to her hands. "If he rejects me, and he will," she added when Mira gave her a look of disapproval, "we wont be friends anymore, it would be too awkward. I don't want to lose him as a friend because I was stupid enough to fall for the guy."
Mirajane frowned. "Come on now, you know Natsu would never dump you as a friend, even if he doesn't see you as a girlfriend. He's not like that and I trust you know that." The whitette placed a caring hand on Lucy's shoulder and gave her a reassuring smile. "Besides, he might like you."
"And if he does? What if we actually do get together and it doesn't work out? Our friendship would be over, I can't risk that." The blonde sighed again.
"You are wallowing around in 'what if's, you don't know what's gonna happen and you'll never know if you don't try." Mira smiled again and blinked to Lucy's sad face. "And if you don't try, you'll regret it for the rest of your life. Do you really wanna be eighty and ask yourself 'what if'?"
"Mira.." Lucy stared at her friend.
"Besides, he might be a good kisser." She suddenly added, smirking. Lucy's face flared up and she threw her hands up in denial.
"W-what a-are you t-talking about?! I-I don't want to k-kiss him!" Lucy spluttered and covered her red face with shaking hands. It had been too emmbarrasing, so she had rushed off to the bathroom, not missing Mira's smirking face as she went.
Rushing back to the present, Natsu had given her wrist a hard tug, making her wince. Something was up, he was acting strange. His footsteps had a certain determination about them and his eyes were faced forward as he dragged her out the back door and onto the area of green just beside the cliff down to the ocean. The waves slammed harshly against the rock, trying to reach the two teens. The violent water had a stormy feel to it, unlike any other day when it was calm and not trying to drown every human it came in contact with.
Natsu stopped a few feet from the edge, his hand still closed tightly around the blonde's wrist. It hurt, she noted. His strong grip didn't let up even as they came to a stop. Lucy wondered what was going on, what had made Natsu drag her out here in the windy September air?
"Natsu, you're hurting me." Lucy said in a calm, low voice, fearing he might be angry. Natsu's dark eyes sparked with something Lucy didn't quite catch and he withdrew his hand like he had burned it. Kind of ironic for Natsu, the fire mage.
"Sorry." He voiced an apology, making no eye contact what so ever.
"What's the matter?" Lucy asked, concerned about him. He was acting weird, out of character. Natsu was never this quiet, but now he stood there silent as a mouse. It was odd to say the least.
His eyes flickered from side to side, refusing to meet hers as a frown made it onto his features. "You're in love?"
It slipped out of his mouth so quickly, Lucy wasn't sure he had said anything at all. It had been hard to hear over the howling wind and it made Lucy doubt it had actually left the fire mage's mouth, but it had and it scared her. It sounded more like a statement then a question and she stared at him in bewilderment. It suddenly felt very uncomfortable being alone with him, a feeling she had never experienced near Natsu before. She wasn't supposed to dislike his company, but in fact welcome it, right?
He knew, he knew about her feelings, about her thoughts of him, about her weakness. He knew she was in love with him and he was angry. She knew he would reject her, but for him to be violent and angry about it hadn't struck her as a possibility.
"You know?" She heard herself ask, but had no control over her panicked thoughts.
Her question seemed to serve him as confirmation and yet again something unknown flashed in his eyes. He shifted on his feet, seeming slightly nervous all of a sudden. "Yeah.." He voiced to Lucy's horror.
"Oh my god.." She breathed, realizing what this meant. He knew, so now he would reject her flat out and end their friendship as they knew it. She wasn't ready, she wasn't ready to let go yet. They had been friends for so long and been through so much together. Phantom Lord, Edolas, Tenro Island, all of that washed away because of her stupid feelings. They couldn't go back anymore, back to when they drew out to find the missing Macao, back to when they went on that s-class job and got in trouble with Erza, back to when she threw herself from a sky-cell knowing he would catch her no matter what, because they were friends. It would all end, today, now.
"So, who is it?" The fire mage asked, not noticing the slight snapping sound coming from the blonde.
Lucy had frozen in place, her entire being, white as a ghost. Her right eye twitched slightly as she clenched her hands by her sides. Had he really just asked her that? Did he mean to say he really didn't know? Had she been standing here in pure agony about their long term friendship falling apart and it not even being true? Had she really just been about to tell him everything because she thought he already knew? Anger seeped out from an unknown place deep within, a place she avoided touching if at all necessary. She was angry, but not at Natsu. Not yet at least.
How could the boy be this stupid? Sure, she had done a pretty good job of hiding her feelings, but she had left hints here and there, hints the male clearly hadn't picked up on. And now he thought she was in love with some unknown dude. The thought of her liking him had never even crossed his mind, the idea was probably bizarre to him. He had never seen her that way and therefore didn't even consider the possibility of her being in love with him. She had to admit, the thought hurt. More than hurt, it was painful just to think about it now.
Suddenly she wished her feelings gone. She wished she didn't like him, so it wouldn't hurt not to be with him. They would never become like that and it was clear to her now. She had probably been holding on to some small hope deep inside, but it had died out. She didn't want to love him anymore, she didn't want to want him anymore, she just wanted to go back to being his friend, putting this entire episode behind her. But it wasn't that easy, was it? She did love him, she did want him and she couldn't do anything about it.
She could lie, she realized. She could lie to him and the world, and then never speak of it again. Hide it away deep down until it would eventually, far in the future, disapparate on it's own. Either that or tell the truth. Her mind wandered back to her earlier thoughts, it would break them. It would ruin their friendship and she couldn't live with that, so she only had one choice.
"Why do you ask?" She let her voice absorb a cold tone, one of which didn't go unnoticed by the fire mage who slightly frowned.
"I wanna know, I'm curious you know?" He sent her a small smile, it seemed nervous of sorts. Confusing, Lucy thought.
"It's really none of your business." She stated with an icy voice, making Natsu flinch. She felt bad, she didn't like being mean to him, it was painful in fact. She loved him and she was being cold to him for her own selfish reasons. She didn't want to lose him, therefore she couldn't tell him how she really felt. It would be the end for them and she wasn't ready for that. She would rather have him mad at her now, than lose him forever.
Natsu's brows knitted together, slight anger showing on his face. It was to be expected, she was counting on him getting mad. All she had to do was stick it out and before she knew it, they would be back as friends in no time.. Right?
"Is that so, well excuse me for asking." He said sourly, crossing his arms over his chest as he looked to the wild ocean. "At least tell me if the guy is in fairy Tail." He voiced at last, curiosity winning over anger.
It was no good, she thought. She wanted so desperately to tell him everything, but she couldn't, not ever. "I told you, it's none of your business!" She raised her voice, faking the anger in her tone.
Her sudden outburst seemed to have surprised Natsu who stepped back a little.
"Well I'm sorry for taking an interest in my friend!" He slightly sneered back, clear anger now haunting his eyes.
That's not the kind of interest I want, you idiot, she thought softly to herself.
"Well maybe you shouldn't!" She yelled.
"Yeah, maybe I shouldn't." He voiced coldly, a tone he had never used with her.
Please don't leave..
"Fine!" She snapped at him, her heart feeling like it broke in two.
I don't want you to leave..
"Fine!" He snapped back, turning on his heel and started storming away, leaving behind a broken Lucy.
I love you..
"Fine.." She breathed softly, crouching down as she tried holding back a sob.
The guild was filled to the brim with mages, all talking to one another, all laughing cheerfully. They didn't seem like they had a care in the world, like everything was gumdrops and ice-cream. Their faces were blackened out, making it impossible to identify any of them. They did have a familiar feeling about them, but none unique to the next. They were all friends, part of the fairy tail family consisting of a giant number of members. They all had smiles on their black faces, that being the only part visible on their exterior.
Natsu wandered among them, looking at each and every face, hoping to find something different, something that would stick out. They were all the same though, some male, some female, all smiling. A classical peace of music played gracefully in the background, making the whole scene feel like a ball. A masquerade, all wearing smiling masks to hide their inner thoughts. All denying themselves what they really wanted.
The crowd got tighter as the fire mage continued on his way through the guild hall. He didn't really know where he was going, only that he was searching for something, something important. It had gone missing and he had to look for it before it was too late, before the night was over. A ring of laughter once again filled his ears and the sound suddenly disgusted him. He wished they would stop, stop laughing, stop smiling. How could they even smile when it was not there? How could they even live without it? How did they function? How could they do anything at all?
He had to find it. He couldn't go on without it. He felt suffocated, drowning in the godforsaken laughter, blinded by the fake smiles meeting his eyes everywhere. It was too much for him to handle alone.
Natsu, is something the matter?
It was Happy's voice, sounding all around him, from the crowd, from the walls, even from inside his head. Why was he hearing Happy's voice? He was busy looking for it. He didn't have time to be concerned with trivial matters such as Happy's voice when he was this close. He could feel it, it was nearby, he was sure of it.
He had to look for it, for her. She wasn't here, among the laughing crowd. He just knew none of the masked guild members were her, she was unique. She and she alone. Why wasn't she here? Why was she hiding from him? It wasn't fair, it was selfish of her. She couldn't abandon him now in his time of need. Not in this room with all the masks.
The classical peace repeated, sending another wave of eerie laughter out into the room. Natsu shivered, feeling oddly cold. The smiling people turned and looked at him as he walked by, all laughing at him. If only they would stop laughing. The fire mage shut his eyes tight, not wanting to meet the masks. They were zooming in on him, slowly coming closer and closer.
"Natsu?" A gentle voice called from behind him. He instantly recognized the heavenly sound of her voice. She was finally there, he didn't have to look anymore. He felt relief rush his very core and let the feeling consume him. He turned on his heel, set on facing her beautiful face, her piercing, chocolate brown eyes and her soft, blonde hair.
Instead what he saw made him frown. She was there, gorgeous as ever, but what bothered him was the fact that her hand was placed in someone else's. The man who stood beside her was tall, even taller than Natsu. He was big, broad and probably handsome if his face had been visible. It was darkened like all the rest and like all the rest, a smile played on his black face.
It had taken him a while to realize that the music had stopped and every single person in the room now looked at him. Their smiles had turned up-side-down and they all looked creepily sad, yet angry. His eyes scanned around him as the masks stepped closer and closer, suffocating him even more.
He looked back to Lucy who was the only person with a visible face. She looked at him in disgust as she turned to her tall companion, smiling at him. It turned in Natsu's stomach, why would she look at Natsu like that and then not at the guy she was with, it didn't make sense in his head.
The masks moved ever closer, slowly shoving their frowns in his face. Lucy didn't seem to care as she gave her guy a look of love, making rage form in Natsu's chest. She couldn't look at him like that! It wasn't fair. He didn't want her to look at the guy like that, or any guy for that matter. The thought confused him, why did he feel that way? She could do what she wanted, right? Wrong. He wouldn't allow it, she couldn't do that. She couldn't look at any other guy like that! She was only allowed to look at Natsu like that!
The smiling Lucy placed a hand on the back of the guy's neck, trying to pry him down so she could get closer to him.
"Lucy, don't do that!" Natsu was surprised by the anger in his own voice and frowned for a second, before Lucy turned to him and scowled.
"I thought I told you that it's none of your business." She voiced coldly. She was right, wasn't she? He couldn't really tell her what to do. It was her choice who she would spend her time with, who she would look at and who she would fall in love with.
"It is my business!" He surprised himself yet again by the words leaving his mouth.
"And why is that?" She asked, her voice curious.
"I don't know." He admitted, asking himself that very same question.
Suddenly a hand landed roughly on his shoulder. He turned his head in a quick motion, only coming face-to-face with one of the creepy masks. It was smiling again, snickering at him as it's grip on him got tighter. He tried ripping himself loose, but to no avail as another hand closed around his wrist. The masks kept crawling closer and closer, each of them taking a hold on him. He fought against their hands, but they were too strong. They tangled around him, making escape impossible. As he fought, he threw a glance in Lucy's direction. She looked non-caring as she placed an arm around her guy's neck, pulling him closer.
"Lucy, stop!" Natsu screamed, but his voice was muffled out by the masks' giggling. The blonde smiled as she brought the guy's face closer and closer to her's, making Natsu's chest sting with unexpected pain.
"No!" He yelled as a hand smacked right across his mouth. The masks were everywhere, tying him down in his own mind. Pale, white fingers went for his eyes and everything went black.
It was dark and silent, the only exception being someone's noisy breathing. Why wouldn't the person shut up? It was nice in the darkness, no more masks, no more classical music and no more wild questions bugging his mind. The heavy breathing continued to annoy Natsu, so he finally spoke up.
"Shut up!" He called into the room and the noisy breathing ceased. Only then did he realize that the panicked breathing was his own and he snapped his eyes open. They met the ceiling in his house and he sighed a shaky breath before throwing his arm over his eyes. Laying there for a while, he thought about the dream and it's message to him. What could it mean, he wondered.
Remembering the cold Lucy of his nightmare had him biting his tongue. He then remembered his fight with said girl the day before. He assumed it was past midnight.
"Damn it.." He whispered into the darkness of his room.
She couldn't sleep. No matter what she tried, sleep would not aid her. Warm milk, reading, writing a letter to her mom, nothing seemed to be able to calm her enough for her to step into unconsciousness. It was irritating to say the least. She wanted to sleep, to escape the cruel reality she found herself in. All night she had been pacing her room, occasionally stumbling into her coffee table and cursing by doing so. A mug of warm tea rested in her hand as she sat on the edge of her bed, staring into space. Her pink pajamas sat quite wrinkled on her body, do to some tossing around on the bed earlier.
Uncertainty hit her like thunder when the sun peaked in the horizon, casting it's first rays over the sleeping city. Magnolia had always been beautiful in the morning, she noted. The buildings produced long shadows on the streets below, piercing the early morning fog. The girl could only guess it was cold outside and considered wearing a scarf when she would take off.
Lucy couldn't wait to leave her empty apartment though. Boredom was her worst enemy in the rented place and she longed to see her friends. Levy, Erza, Gray and Mirajane. A couple of those friends she so desperately wanted to meet. On the other hand, Natsu would be there.
Lucy's memories flashed back to the fire mage and their argument. It was horrible, painful really. She didn't want to see him, if only she could avoid meeting him at all. It was impossible, she realized. For one, they were on the same team and had to go on missions with the others. And two, if she avoided him all together the others would definitely get suspicious. The last thing she needed was Gray or Erza getting on her case.
It would be alright, she told herself. Even if she and Natsu had a fight, didn't mean they couldn't be professional about their work, right? Lucy knew she could suck it up and do her job, but what about Natsu? The fire mage was a very emotional person at heart, could he really forgive and forget?
And then there was still the issue of her feelings. They, of course, still lingered like a flee on a pet. If only she could get over it, if only she could just forget all about being in love with her best friend. Well, former best friend. She didn't want to get into another fight with Natsu, the first one hurt enough. She had been right out cold to him, and all he was, was curious. She would've been too. If someone had told the blonde that Natsu was crushing on a fine lady-friend, she would've been curious as well. Jealous too, but that was beside the point. She couldn't really blame the guy for being nosy, she would have done the exact same.
Thinking back on how hurt he had looked, she cursed under her breath. She hadn't meant for it to go that far. She had been cold and distant only for the sole purpose of not losing him as a friend and now she had done exactly that, lost him. He must really hate her now and if not hate, severely dislike.
It was a mixed bag of feelings.
On one side, she wanted to forget. She wanted to stop liking the guy and move on with life. No good would come of liking him, no requited feelings, no merit and no profit. Wow, now she sounded greedy. If liking him means losing him as a friend, she would rather shut her feelings up forever and pretend everything was a-okay. It really would wreck everything if he knew. Their friendship would be over, it would be awkward around them all the time, they wouldn't be able to work together ever again. The thought was literally scaring her. No way should that happen.
On another side, this was Natsu. Sweet, caring, funny Natsu. The most dreamy guy ever. Sure he was clueless sometimes, but that kind of made him cute. He was good-looking, strong, brave and courageous. The best friend anyone could hope for, but there was one problem. Lucy didn't want Natsu as a friend. Of course she didn't want to be less than that, but she didn't want to be exactly that either. She wanted more, more of Natsu. She didn't want to be just his friend anymore. If they could go on being good friends, that would be ideal, but she knew deep down that that wouldn't be enough. She didn't want no more stolen glances, no more secret feelings. She wanted to tell him everything. How she came to realize her feelings, how much he meant to her, how much she wanted to throw her arms around him everyday. She wanted to tell him, but she couldn't and she knew that all too well.
"He might be a good kisser."
Lucy blushed ferociously and slammed the mug in her hands onto the table, making a little tea spill over the side. She stood up in a sudden movement, one which gave her a slight head-rush. She cursed the winds when one of her toes collided with the table's leg. That hurt.
What was she thinking? Kissing Natsu? No way would that happen. That wasn't to say she thought he was bad at it, he might even be great. She mentally slapped herself again and started pacing the room once again. Had he done it? What if he had kissed someone before? No, Natsu was, as mentioned, clueless about this stuff, right? There would have been no way he had a girlfriend once. What if it was Lisanna?
She didn't know why that name suddenly popped up.
Jealousy flared within the blonde. Lucy liked Lisanna, the girl had been an absolute darling. She was pretty, smart and kind, what guy wouldn't fall for her? Had Natsu? It didn't much matter, now did it? Why should she care if Natsu had a thing with Lisanna, or any girl for that matter? If it was, it was in the past and not currently going on. That didn't matter either! Lucy shouldn't care if Natsu had someone he liked. Her and the fire mage would never become anything after all. She wouldn't allow that, not at the risk of losing him. It didn't matter, he could like whoever he wanted.
If only she could convince herself of that.
Mirajane was worried. The whitette knew when something was wrong, and something was very wrong. They hadn't spoken at all to each other for a while. And when she said a while, she really meant just a couple of hours, but hey.. That was a while if you spoke about best friends like Lucy and Natsu. The funny thing was, nothing really seemed to be out of place. Lucy was happily chatting away with Wendy, while Natsu sneered at Gray as usual. Their behavior shouldn't seem odd in any way, but still wasn't right. From the moment they arrived, they hadn't spoken a single word to one another and that was worrying. How come, Mirajane thought, how come they didn't speak, didn't even look at each other? It really was odd by any standards. One just avoided the other.
This had gone on for about three hours before Mira took it upon herself to do something about it. It really was just plain uncomfortable to look at. Setting down a beer mug she had been drying off, Mirajane went around the bar and made a b-line right for her blonde friend. She gently took hold of Lucy's elbow interrupting her in an exciting conversation about rent money, a conversation Mira was sure Wendy could do without.
Lucy seemed confused by being pulled away from the tiny bluenette and silently apologized as she let herself be dragged off. Only once they were behind closed doors in the infirmary, did Mirajane dare to speak.
"What is going on?" She voiced as she let go of the blonde.
Lucy didn't answer right away, which made Mira simmer with slight irritation. She gave her friend a stern look, "well?"
The blonde twisted her fingers nervously as she shifted on her feet, she really didn't want to have this conversation now. "I don't know what you're talking about.."
"Bullshit!" Mira exclaimed, her eyes widening slightly, "pardon the language."
Lucy looked about to laugh, but then forced her eyes away, studying an apparently very intriguing vase in the corner of the room.
"Look Lucy, I know something went down between you and Natsu yesterday, so why don't you tell me what so I can help you?" Mirajane stretched out a hand towards Lucy, but it was brushed off as Lucy moved farther away from her touch. Never had the blonde done that before, so it only served to make the barkeep more worried. "Lucy?"
"You know, I don't feel like talking about it." The words were broken as they left Lucy's mouth, only the blonde didn't care how defeated she sounded.
She had messed up and she knew it. The fact that Natsu had been ignoring her all day was only a sign that he wasn't going to forgive her. It had been a silly little spat, but somehow it had hit them harder than ever. They had never actually fought before, so this was an entirely new experience for her and she didn't know how to handle it. The whole reason she had started the damn fight was to keep Natsu from finding out about her feelings for him, only it worked too well. The fight had seemed like nothing, a tiny argument to most people, but it had put a strain on their friendship as they knew it and it was all Lucy's fault. She wasn't expecting Natsu to forgive her, heck she most likely couldn't even forgive herself, so why bother hoping for a miracle. She didn't want to lose him, but it seemed like she was going to anyway.
It hit her hard every time she looked at him, every single glance, every little moment her eyes locked on him. How much she just wanted to hug him tight, how much she wanted to put his face in her hands and caress his cheeks, how much she wanted to entangle her fingers in his hair and feel the softness flow over her skin. No matter how many times she tried running from her feelings, they always caught up with her, merciless and cruel. They would forever haunt her, a never ending nightmare.
He of course, wouldn't feel the same way. They had been friends for ages, he hadn't even considered the possibility; that's why he thought she was in love with some random dude. She just thought he knew her better than that. She would be rejected and that would kill their friendship forever. It just hurt, knowing her feelings would never be reciprocated.
A couple of warm arms locked around the blonde, confusing her to the core. Mirajane had thrown her limbs around her and they held on tight. Lucy was confused by the sudden touch, but soon realized that Mira was caressing her head. "It's gonna be okay, you're gonna be fine." She chanted, again and again. Why would she do that? A salty drop of water wandered around her mouth, gracing her quivering lip.
Am I crying?
The thought was confirmed when the blonde felt several more tears follow the first and soon she was a shaking mess, hanging on to Mira tightly. Small sobs made their way to the surface and escaped painfully through her slightly parted lips. Why? Why was she crying? She had gone all night without a single tear, she had even gone to the guild this morning, seen Natsu's cheerful smile and not a single drop, so why now?
"Shh~" Mira's voice sounded in her ear, "it's gonna be alright, you'll see." Her hand rubbed gently on Lucy's back, waiting for the celestial mage to calm down.
After what felt like hours, Lucy finally stopped crying and settled down on one of the many beds spread throughout the infirmary. She kept itching at her eyes, suddenly feeling exhausted. Having been up all night didn't help on the sudden sleepiness.
"So, are you gonna tell me what's going on?" Mira asked as she sat down on a bed across from the blonde.
Lucy shook her head, not knowing what to say. She knew the whitette would blame her as well; call her immature and selfish, which was probably what she was. It really was her fault about the whole argument. "Mira, I.."
The s-class mage tilted her head, waiting for Lucy to speak. What could've happened?
So Lucy told the story, everything that happened the day before.
"And now, everything is so messed up." Lucy finished with a sigh. Mirajane had yet to say a word, she just sat there, drumming her fingers on her thigh. Her white hair flowed gracefully down her back as she shifted on the bed. A moment later, she looked at Lucy with angry eyes, just like the blonde thought she would. However the thing she imagined coming out of Mira's mouth was not the words that in fact left her lips a moment later.
"What are you gonna do?" Her tone was irritated, but calm none the less. Lucy was confused as to what to answer to such a question. The whitette's stare was piercing and it sent a slight shiver up Lucy's spine.
"What do you mean?" Lucy asked.
"Well, this can't go on," Mira said with a rapid hand gesture, "so what are you planning to do about it?"
"I.. Nothing!" Lucy exclaimed, unable to see a solution to her predicament. There really wasn't anything to do.
Mirajane crossed her arms over her chest. "Lucy, what you did was incredibly selfish," Lucy knew she would say that, "but how do you think Natsu feels?"
Lucy frowned down on her hands.
"The guy suddenly finds out his best friend is in love with someone he doesn't know and when he asks her about it, she gets mad at him, can you imagine how confusing that must be for him?" Mira jumped from her seat and made her way towards the blonde, who once again twisted her fingers in her hands. "Apart from being jealous, can you imagine how worried he must have been?"
"Jealous? Why would Natsu be jealous? You know he doesn't feel that way about m-"
"Either way, when someone you care about gets an important person in their lives that aren't you, you'll feel left behind, jealous even.. Come on, you know this." Mira cut her off. "Think of how all these thoughts would have affected his head. Who is this guy? Is he treating her right? Has he ever made her cry? All these questions must have entered his mind, resulting in him being extremely worried about you. He just cares, okay?"
Lucy could see it now, how mean and cruel she had been. All she wanted was to keep him in her life and she ended up hurting him instead. "I know, you're right." Lucy let slip before she ran a hand through her blonde hair.
"So, what are you gonna do?" Mira pressed on, finally getting through to her friend.
"What can I do?" Lucy sighed defeated, "I've been so horrible to him. I love him so much and I'm sure I can't live without him, but how does that help anyone? I wish we could go back to laughing together, go on missions, just be with each other.."
"Then tell him that." Mira stated, like it was the easiest thing in the world.
Lucy went silent for a minute or two after that. "Thanks Mirajane, you're the best."
Natsu was forcing his smiles. This he didn't do very often, mostly because there wasn't a reason to, but here he was, putting on a fake grin for everyone's enjoyment. A laugh here, a sneer there, everything seemed normal, except she wasn't there. She had been avoiding him all day, a clear sign she was still mad at him. He must have butted in where he shouldn't, but it only seemed fair she could tell a little about this guy who was supposed to protect and cherish her from now on. Only he didn't want that. Why did some guy get to do what Natsu had been doing for a long time now? After all this time, she just went and fell in love with someone else.
His thoughts withdrew back to his nightmare with the masks. He had seen her with someone else and he hated it. He hated the way she looked at him, the way touched him, even the way she smiled at him. She couldn't do that in front of Natsu, he couldn't take it. The thought of her doing it away from him tore even more in his chest. Having her be alone with some guy at a place Natsu wasn't there to protect her. What if the dude did something to her? What if he hurt her? Natsu couldn't stand the thought, he wanted her safe at all times, preferably with himself nearby. All he wanted was to lock her in his arms and never let her go to some other guy.
Revealing that however, would only make her more angry. She made it very clear she didn't want him butting into her business. He physically didn't want to, but he had to respect her wishes.
"Dude, what's wrong with you?" Gray interrupted his inner monologue and waved a hand by Natsu's spaced out face. Natsu immediately thrusted Gray's hand out of his face, a clear scowl settling on his features. He suddenly wasn't in the mood for petty fights with the ice mage. He didn't get far with that thought before Gray had elbowed him in he rips, sending a spark of pain through his side. That bastard!
Going for the chest, Natsu launched himself at Gray, set on defeating the ice mage once and for all. Unexpected anger rose within him and he needed to went it off on someone, so why not Gray?
After about 15 minutes of rolling around on the floor, Natsu was spent. A sudden tiredness drew over him and he dumped himself in a near standing chair. Gray doing the same, looked around the guild hall. A certain blue haired water mage hadn't bothered him today, which he thought was very strange. Puffing out breaths of air, Gray looked at Natsu once again. The fire mage had been out of it all day and Gray wondered what had peed in his breakfast this morning. Well, whatever it was, not much could be done before Natsu himself worked it out.
Precisely at that moment, Mirajane and Lucy stepped out of the infirmary. The sight worried Gray because of Lucy's defeated, swollen eyes and Mira's stern, yet gentle look. What the-!
"What's with Lucy?" Gray voiced out loud and didn't miss Natsu's flinch. The fire mage whipped around in his chair at the sound of the blonde's name and stared intensely at her red, cry-swollen face. A look of confliction came over Natsu's eyes as his nails dug into the back of the chair. What was with him? Gray thought. Natsu looked at war with himself, bouncing on his toes as he debated with his inner thoughts.
However only when Lucy rubbed at her eyes, did Natsu pounce from the chair and go straight for her. It only took him seconds to reach her, grab her wrist and hail her off back into the infirmary. Too many thoughts went through his head at that moment, one of them being how much this reminded him of the day before, where he also had dragged her off.
"Jeez, why do people feel like dragging me everywhere?" Lucy tried joking, but when Natsu didn't laugh, she went silent. Her cheeks were burning red, but Natsu couldn't tell if it was from the crying. Feeling his heart beat faster from just being in contact with her skin, Natsu slowly let go of her wrist and stepped back a foot or two, leaning slightly against the door. An awkward silence filled the room as Lucy started twisting her fingers once again. Natsu, however much he wanted to, couldn't take his eyes away from her and that made for a very strange feeling in his chest. Finally, he sighed.
"I'm sorry." He meant it when it left his lips, but somehow it felt wrong. "I shouldn't have gotten all up in your business when I'm clearly not welcome. It was insensitive and I really didn't mean to make you uncomfortable in any way."
Lucy stared at him with big, round eyes. Natsu was apologizing? Why? It wasn't his fault! Unable to form words, Lucy just stood there, staring at the fire mage.
"It's just.." Natsu sunk away from the door and stepped closer again. Ignoring the flipping his stomach decided to do, he took hold of Lucy's shoulders. "I hate this," Natsu admitted, "I hate fighting with you, I hate not being able to speak to you, I just hate having you mad at me." He bowed his head, as he thought of his next words. "You have to forgive me, no matter what I did, please don't be mad at me anymore.." Natsu was on a roll now, unable to stop himself. "I don't want to lose you or the times we had together. I want us to be friends forever, so please don't let this break us.. Don't let it." Shaking Lucy slightly, Natsu had a pained look in his eyes as he said those words, leaving Lucy speechless. "I mean, you being in love with someone, it shouldn't affect us, right? I really shouldn't care, but somehow I do," Natsu was panicking now, saying things he was determined to hide away. "I guess I really should just butt out huh? I don't car-"
It was silent and small, but it shut Natsu up instantly. What? Lucy looked absolutely mortified and blinked rapidly as she looked at everything, but Natsu.
"Please don't apologize," Lucy voiced when she had gathered the courage to speak, "it really wasn't your fault. I'm such an idiot, acting so cold towards you."
Natsu had frozen in place, his hands still resting on Lucy's shoulders. "Natsu, I should be the one apologizing. I went and shut you out because I didn't want you to know about my feelings. I thought that as soon as you knew, you would reject me and we would lose our friendship." A small flinch went through the fire mage. "But I guess being cold to you and making you hate me was the only way to prevent that from happening and I would just have to live with you hating me. So I'm sorry, for making you think there was someone else, for worrying you and for acting like a jerk. But, it's you and it's been you the entire time, you're the one me and Mira was talking about at the bar yesterday; she actually joked about you being a good kisser and stuff." Lucy blushed deeply again, releasing a nervous laughter. "I was just afraid we'd break apart if you knew.. If you knew how much I love you." Lucy refused looking at Natsu and settled with keeping the floor's eye-contact.
"Heh.. Look at me, rambling on abou-" Lucy was suddenly cut off when Natsu's hands tightened around her shoulders as he drew her close. His lips forcefully met her's in a hasty kiss. Her eyes widened when she felt the softness hit her mouth and she went stiff in his hands. Not many thoughts went through her mind as Natsu held on to her. Only things such as; What is happening right now? Am I still awake? Moving his lips slightly over her's, Lucy slowly put her hands around the fire mage's waist, only then succumbing to the magical moment. Natsu's kiss was gentle and sweet, filled with care and affection. His hands slowly traveled from her shoulders to her neck and into her hair. One was being kept carefully behind her ear, while the other explored her many blonde strands. Lucy's fingers tangled with Natsu's west when she curled them into a grip. She gently kissed him back, her knees melting by his loving touch.
Moving his hands down from her neck and to her waist, he forced her to move her arms so they came around his neck. Now she was the one who had fingers in his hair and she sighed deeper into the kiss. Drawing her closer still, Natsu smiled slightly, feeling his heart do double flips. This felt right, it felt so right. Having Lucy here in his arms, it was the best feeling. Having her gently kiss back, showing she spoke true of her affections. And boy did that feel amazing, knowing that he himself was the one Lucy loved, only in dreams had he experienced that kind of joy. Now she was here, telling him she loved him. It overwhelmed him how much he had wanted that, how much he realized he returned her feelings. He hadn't seen it before, but the thought of losing Lucy to some other guy must have opened his eyes to the truth, to his own feelings. His heart ached for her and she was about to fall for someone else, he couldn't take that.
When Lucy protested for air, Natsu unwillingly pulled back and already seconds after, missing her lips. Connecting their foreheads as they caught their breaths, Natsu blushed slightly, only now realizing they would have to talk about this. Panting lightly, Lucy started giggling, confusing Natsu, who frowned. "What's so funny?" He asked. The blonde was blushing as well, although smiling like an idiot.
"I'm sorry, I'm just really happy right now." She gave him a small grin, resulting in more blushing from the fire mage.
"Yeah well.." He trailed off, not really knowing what to say. Remaining in silence for a moment, Natsu finally spoke. "So that's why you got so angry, it was on purpose.." It sounded like he conversed with himself, but Lucy answered anyway.
"Yeah, again sorry about that.." Lucy's spirit seemed to drop slightly, which didn't fit well with Natsu.
"I get it okay? No more apologizing." He ordered and bumped his head slightly against hers for punishment. She just smiled a little sadly. "And while we're on that, don't ever make me think you're in love with someone else ever again, that shit hurts." Natsu commanded. Lucy just looked at him in astonishment, not saying a single word. "I just couldn't stop picturing you with some random dude, it messed with my brain." Embarrassed, Natsu looked to the floor, but tightened his grip on her hips.
"Natsu?" Lucy's voice sounded, gentle as a summer breeze.
"Hmm?" When Natsu looked up to meet her eyes, his lips was assaulted by hers, albeit softly. Having her lips on his for a second time made Natsu lose control. His hands traveled around her waist and up her back, drawing her close. It was bliss, every time she breathed on his mouth, every time her eyelashes vibrated slightly and every time her fingers tangled in his hair. Their lips seemed to fit perfectly together, like two pieces of a puzzle just waiting to be reunited. How he had lived on without Lucy's special affection was beyond him. She had been just a girl he met on his travels to find his father, Igneel the Fire Dragon, but now she was such a big part of his life, his best friend, the person he cared for. How had she gotten from being just a stranger, to being the one he..
Pulling apart once more, Natsu was left missing her soft lips again.
"You know I love you, right?" Lucy asked, making the fire mage blush again. She could say it now, no reason to hide it anymore. She loved Natsu and she didn't care what happened in the future, all that mattered was now, here with him.
Natsu's cheeks were still red when he reached up, untangled her arms from his neck and braided his fingers with hers. "I love you too."
"That is fantastic! Congratulation Lucy!" Mirajane and Levy squealed in unison.
Only moments before had Lucy told them of Natsu becoming her boyfriend, how it happened and how excited she felt. Not only were Natsu her boyfriend, but he had also confessed to loving her, which made her swoon like a maiden in love.. Oh wait..
"So, did you guys kiss yet?" Levy asked, her cheeks a little red by the question. Levy was the kind of girl who loved her books and usually stayed away from boys, but lately one particular guy had been on her mind and no doubt was she thinking of him when asking this question. Gajeel Redfox might be a good kisser.. Really, who knows?
Lucy's blushing seemed to silently answer her question and she giggled when she sent the blonde a grin. Mira only had a knowing look in her eyes. "Didn't I tell you so?" The whitette boasted.
"Shut up." Lucy grinned and began nervously playing with her hair.
"Woaw.. You and Natsu huh?" Levy summed up, still smiling widely.
"Yeah.." Lucy sighed happily.
Looking up to see Mirajane smirking, confused Lucy until it all made sense when a pair of strong arms locked around her from behind. Soft lips met her left cheek as a familiar gentle voice rung in her ear.
"Hey beautiful." Natsu greeted her and pulled her back against his chest. Levy was now tomato-red in the face, while Mirajane smirked delightfully. "What are you guys chatting about?"
"Oh, just you." Mira admitted, sending Lucy a wink. Natsu didn't seem too surprised, he just smiled gleefully as Lucy turned in his arms to face him. Lining up, Natsu surprised the celestial mage by giving her a small peck on the nose, an action Lucy thought was beyond Natsu's brain. Not that he was stupid or anything, just that he hadn't portrayed any form of romantic gestures to anyone in the past, so Lucy didn't think he knew how to be clingy and loving. It didn't bother her though. The following question slipped from her mouth before she even thought about it.
"Am I dreaming?"
Natsu raised an eyebrow, mocking her slightly while he smirked. "If you are, I hope you never wake up."