Natsu wakes up screaming sometimes. When he sits up, he's usually panting and sweating. He gets up and ignores my questions about his wellbeing until he has had a chance to down a glass of water. My friend stares out the window as he does so; his hands shaking in the dimly lit darkness. He assures me that he's ok and offers a smile before he goes back to sleep.
However, tonight was different. Tonight he woke screaming a name. Lucy's name. Natsu sat up gasping for air, tears streaming from his eyes. I slowly sat up and carefully watched as he tried to regulate his breathing and his magic. The room was stuffy and way too hot for my liking. His fire magic must've been reacting to the intense emotion he was feeling in his sleep.
"Natsu?" I cautiously asked. "Are you okay? Do you want me to get you some water?"
My friend didn't want to respond right away. I noticed his pupils were narrow and full of fear, confusion, and something else that I couldn't quite place. To be honest, his eyes reminded me of a dragon's…
"Please… Happy, if you don't mind," Natsu finally answered. I jumped up and saluted.
"Aye, sir!" I quickly flew to the kitchen. When I returned, the dragon slayer was sitting on the floor with his knees pressed to his chest. His scarf was in his hands and he was clutching it rather tightly.
I offered the glass to him and he took it with an exhausted smile.
"Thank you little buddy," Natsu told as I sat down next to him.
"Did you have another nightmare?" I was careful not to mention the fact that he screamed Lucy's name. He has always been reluctant to sharing information about his dreams, let alone his nightmares.
The fire mage gingerly drank from his glass and a silent sigh of relief left my lips when I felt the atmosphere start to cool.
"Yeah…" The other male's voice was quiet and filled with sorrow.
"They have been getting more frequent. They started soon after we got back from the games, right?"
I knew that he really needed to talk about what was bothering him. It was obvious that it was starting to eat him up from the inside slowly and I hated seeing him in such a state night after night.
"Natsu…" I whispered. I had no idea how to even begin what I wanted to ask. My friend set his drink down and rested his head on his knees.
"L-Lucy is safe, r-right?" he inquired with such a soft, shaky tone that I barely heard him. I nodded with conviction and a light smile.
"Aye! She's at home, probably snoozing the night away. We saw her earlier today, remember? She was being weird about her new swim suit. Going on about it but refusing to show it to us."
"Heh… Yeah. That's Lucy for you," Natsu said with a light chuckle.
We were both silent for a while. I didn't need to look at the lacrima-clock to know that it was pretty late. The whole house was quiet save for the fire mage's slightly shaky breathing. I have seen him upset and worried many times before but these past few nightmare ridden nights felt different from those other times. More often now, his usual joyful and reckless manner had times when it would falter and an expression that I don't recognize would flash across his face for a moment.
I didn't understand. We won the tournament, prevented the dragons from taking over, saved our comrades, made some new friends, and protected our futures. So why was my dear friend being haunted by horrors that only he could see?
"Happy… I k- I keep seeing it over and over again," Natsu began slowly. I glanced at him with slight surprise. He was finally going to tell me what was going on in his head.
"Seeing what?" His head lifted slightly and I saw his dark eyes staring forward. They were filled with a mix of rage and pain.
I felt my entire body freeze at his words. Everything started making more sense now. He didn't need to say her name for me to know who he was talking about.
The air around Natsu began to get hot again. "I keep seeing her die right in front of me and there's never anything I can do to stop it! That bastard always gets to her before I do!" His fists clenched and he glared intensely at them. "I can still hear her screams! I still feel her trembling body in my arms! The smell of her blood in my nose! She cries and then-!" the dragon slayer stopped himself as he choked back what I assumed to be a growl. His finger nails had dug deep into his palms; blood oozing out as proof.
I'll admit I'm not always the best when it comes to comfort. But I've always been the type to give it my all. And I knew that Natsu wasn't the type who wanted pity. So I climbed up onto his knees and sat on them.
"You did manage to save Lucy though. You protected our Lucy from danger and managed to save future Lucy by destroying the gate. Lucy is safe and sound thanks to you and our comrades. We won, Natsu," I told him with a smile. It took a bit, but he eventually did the same.
"You're right, little buddy."
"Aye! And I know that you will continue to protect her and everyone. So please believe in yourself! The nightmares are just that. The mighty fire dragon slayer Natsu Dragneel can overcome any challenge that comes his way!"
My speech earned a light chuckle from my friend. He wiped his palms on his pants and stood. "Nothing can beat me! Except Gildarts…and maybe Erza," he admitted before he patted me on my head. "We'll always be here to protect our comrades. We all look out for each other."
"Aye, sir! We are Fairy Tail wizards!" We both smiled and got settled into our bed again. I curled up onto his chest (my favorite place) while he snuggled into his covers.
I thought the conversation was all done so I was about to fall asleep when I heard the dragon slayer mumble, "Thank you for your support Happy. I know they are just nightmares but they terrify me… because I can't imagine my life without her anymore…"
My eyes shot opened. "Did I just hear that last part correctly?" I looked at my best friend with skeptical eyes.
"Natsu, do you like Lucy?" I couldn't help but ask. He had been acting more odd than usual around the blonde celestial mage for a while but he always dodged my questions I sent his way on the matter.
Upon seeing that the fire mage had fallen asleep, I gave up on getting my answer tonight. Though, I had a feeling I already knew the answer.
So now I sit with a light sigh, watching Natsu snore contently. Tomorrow I will continue to watch him as he (somewhat) secretly watches the girl he knows he can't live without with caring and concerned eyes.
Now if only he could just be a little less dense about it.
So, I was originally going to make this a stand alone one-shot, but I have decided to turn this into a series of one-shots that deal with fairy tail members and their encounters with the NaLu moments. It will probably be a slow build but I hope you will all keep reading them :). I hope to post the next one (with Gray narrating) later this week. Please feel free to comment!