Lucy plopped down on her bed, alone for the eighth night in a row (not like she was counting, of course). Natsu had begun acting strange when she joined him today. Again.
The pinkette, she had noticed, always seemed to tense up whenever she walked into the guild. Whenever she'd walk through the door and he was laughing, he would suddenly stop and gradually drift away from his friend's conversations, even going to the lengths of excusing himself from the guild for the rest of the day after making up some lame excuse. Yet no one else seemed to notice. As if she was the only one who realized his mood flipped like a switch whenever she'd approach them.
And today, she had entered the guild hall when he and Gray had been fighting. Nothing unusual there. But it was when Natsu looked at her, admitted whatever Gray had been saying was right, and quickly excused himself that she knew something was very wrong. Of course the said ice mage had been shocked at first, but then he decided to let the pyro's strange actions slip as he gloated about making even "the great Salamander" admit to his might. Juvia's praise didn't help that situation much.
Deciding she would ask Mira about it tomorrow, Lucy quickly got off her bed, swapped into her pajamas, and hopped under the covers, leaving her window unlocked in case her beloved personal heater chose to accompany her in the middle of the night, despite knowing it wasn't going to happen.
The next morning, the blonde awoke to bright sunshine streaming in through her window. She shivered, noticing how cold her bed was. Just as she thought, no Natsu.
After getting dressed, strapping her keys and whip to her waist and summoning Plue to keep her company (since a certain pink-haired Dragon Slayer wasn't), Lucy made her way towards the guild, walking along the edge of the canal.
Upon entering the building, the blonde noticed Natsu hadn't arrived yet. Somewhat thankful she wouldn't have to witness him slinking away again for whatever unknown reason, she took a seat at the bar.
"What can I get you, Lucy?" The barmaid asked with a smile.
"Actually, I need to talk to you. Have you noticed something strange going on with Natsu?"
The Strauss sister put a finger to her chin. "Actually, now that you mention it, he hasn't been spending as much time in the guild anymore. And he's been going on a few missions by himself, or just with Happy..."
Lucy nodded. "I think it might have been something I did..." She glanced down at her hands, placed delicately in her lap. "It's like whenever I come in, he makes up some excuse and leaves..."
Mira giggled. "I think it's just your imagination, Lucy. Why would Natsu avoid you? You know him, if he had something to say, there would be no holding him back."
The blonde let out a sigh. "Perhaps you're right..." At that moment, the topic of their conversation strolled in. As soon as he did, his eyes landed on the blonde. He stopped mid-step, turned on his heels, and walked out. "Or not." She hissed.
The barmaid looked on in surprise. "I see what you mean... Maybe he is avoiding you, I wonder why? You should go ask him."
Lucy ground her teeth. "That's a good idea. That little punk better have a good reason for treating me like the plague." The Celestial wizard hopped off the stool she sat on and stormed out the door, following the retreating figure. "Natsu!" Her voice dripped with venom. She was way past being confused, now she was just plain furious.
The pinkette froze. Slowly, he turned to face the girl. "Ah! L-Lucy, hey..."
"Don't you "hey" me, asshole!" The Dragon Slayer flinched. Somewhere in the back of her mind, Lucy thought he seemed to look a bit like his Edolas counterpart, the way he cringed at her voice, but then again, he had a reason to. "Why the hell have you been avoiding me?" She demanded, coming to a stop in front of the fire mage and fixing him with an icy glare.
"What are you talking abo-"
"Don't play dumb with me, Dragneel, you've been running off as soon as you lay your eyes on me. It's been eight days Natsu, stop treating me like I'm some sort of disease."
The Dragon Slayer blinked in surprise. "You counted?"
"You admit to avoiding me?" The blonde retorted, corning him.
Natsu's gaze softened. "I'm sorry, Luce... I didn't mean to insult you, it's just..." He avoided his gaze, a light blush making its way onto his features.
Lucy felt her anger evaporate. She had never seen him look so nervous before, it was starting to worry her. "It's just what?" She prodded.
The pinkette stuck his hand in his pocket and fished around till he found what he was looking for. Using his free hand, he took her hand in his, holding it so her palm was facing upwards. He pulled what he had been looking for out of his pocket and placed it in her open palm. He couldn't hide the tinge of pink that stained his cheeks. "I gotta go, Luce, I'll see you later." Before she could complain, he took off, leaving the blonde dumbfounded.
"Wha?..." Lucy glanced down at the cool object that was in her fingers. Holding it up, she examined it closely.
It was a golden key, much like the keys of the Zodiac she owned, but she couldn't sense any magic power coming from it. At the end where it was to be held, the gold was in the shape of a heart. In the center of it, was a dazzling red flame carved out of a ruby. From what she could tell, the entire key was made out of pure gold. Lucy gazed at the object, silently admiring it's beauty.
"This is... incredible..." She wasn't quite sure why Natsu had given it to her, but it was like nothing she had ever seen before. Even though she couldn't sense any magic, was it still possible it was a Celestial key? "Open!" She shouted, sticking the key out in front of her, but was greeted with silence. Looking over it again, Lucy frowned. Why did the Dragon Slayer give it to her? It was possible he found it in a shop and thought of her, but he had never given her a present before, and somehow she doubted he would have the money to pay for something so expensive-looking, and why would he seem so embarrassed to give it to her?
Giving up on trying to figure out what the fire mage was thinking, Lucy let out a sigh. She would just have to ask him tomorrow. Realizing he wasn't going to be coming with her on a quest today, she decided to just head home an work on her novel. Her rent wasn't going to be due for a while and she had enough money for the moment, so she could afford to take one more day to relax.
The next day, Natsu failed to show at the guild. Lucy frowned. Had he gone back to ignoring her? The blonde desperately hoped not, she wasn't sure how much longer she could go being ignored by her best friend. Admittedly, she was really missing his cheerful aura, contagious laughter, and adorable toothy grins.
Deciding to wait another day before paying his home a visit, Lucy took a simple mission, just to accompany a lonely old lady on a shopping trip, and completed it with ease, enjoying the distraction.
Another day passed, and Lucy was slightly taken aback when she entered the guild to find Natsu at their usual table, laughing as if nothing had happened. With a twitch of his nose, he turned his head and gazed at the blonde. Expecting him to suddenly leave again, Lucy was taken aback when he grinned broadly at her and beckoned her over to the table to join their friends.
"Natsu..." The said mage looked up at her, curious. "Why did you give me that key?"
He grinned at her. "Am I not allowed to give presents to my partner?"
"Natsu!" Happy spoke up, his tone scolding. "You didn't tell her?"
Natsu suddenly went silent as all eyes turned to him. "N-No..." He was back to his embarrassed state.
The Exceed's mouth fell open. "Then what's the point?!"
Lucy looked back and forth between the two. "What are you talking about?"
"You better tell her, Natsu, or I'll do it for you!" The cat warned.
"Fine, fine..." He turned to the Celestial wizard, looking her in the eyes. "About that key... I made it for you."
Lucy let out a silent gasp. "You made it?" She exclaimed. She had no idea he was so talented. She pulled on the chain the key hung on, encircling her neck, and admired it again. "It's really beautiful, Natsu, thank you." She gave him a bright smile.
The Dragon Slayer turned his head away slightly, a tinge of pink staining his cheeks. "Well, I can breath fire, so I just had to melt a bit of gold and sculpt it..."
Natsu blinked and stared at the blonde, wondering what she meant. "Huh?"
"Why would you go through all that trouble to make me a simple present when you could just buy me something?" She clarified.
The fire mage's mouth broke into that famous grin she loved so much. "What are you talking about? If I had bought you something, it wouldn't mean anything!"
"Then... what does this mean?" She wondered aloud.
"It's not just a plain old key, Luce... Don't you get it? I gave you the key to my heart!"
The entire guild went silent. Everyone silently gaped at the pinkette.
"I love you, Luce. Will you accept my feelings?"
Lucy's heart was pounding a million miles a minute. She felt like it was about to burst out from her chest. "Y-Your feelings?!" The girl stammered, eyes wide. Natsu had never been known as very smart, but the way he had just confessed to her had been so classy she wasn't even sure how to respond.
The Dragon Slayer nodded. "Lucy Heartfilia, will you give me the pleasure of being your boyfriend?"
"Natsu..." The said mage stared at her, anxiously anticipating her response. "I thought you'd never ask, idiot!"
"So... Does that mean..." The fire mage gaped at the blonde, hardly being able to process her words. Lucy confirmed what he had assumed with a nod. Not wasting a second, Natsu shot up, thrusting his fists in the air. "SHE SAID YES!" He screamed at no one in particular. The entire guild burst into cheers and applause.
Lucy couldn't help but giggle at her Dragon Slayer. His cheerfulness really was contagious.
"Natsu," she suddenly called, catching the pinkette's attention, "why were you avoiding me?"
A slight blush made its way onto Natsu's cheeks. "Well... I... I was embarrassed... And every time I looked at you my stomach clenched and I couldn't think straight." He gave out a nervous chuckle. "I still can't."
Lucy blushed. The reason he had been avoiding her was because he was scared he would mess up and get turned down? She couldn't help but smile. He really was adorable. She's never seen the slayer get scared before, so she was sure asking her out must have meant a lot to him. Although others may say he only cared about fighting and food, Lucy could tell that she must mean even more to him.
Her thoughts were put on hold as she felt warm hands grab her shoulders. Before she could process what was happening, fiery lips smashed into hers. Lucy stood there, stiff as a board, too shocked to respond. His lips were soft and sweet, and his kiss full of passion. And all too soon, they were gone.
Their guild mates' cheers grew into a deafening uproar. The blonde couldn't help but blush and put her delicate fingers to her lips, where they still tingled from the contact. She suddenly felt extremely lightheaded, trying to process everything that just happened.
Natsu noticed her distress and smiled comfortingly at her. "You okay, Luce?"
"I-Idiot!" She stammered, her face flushed. "You can't just kiss me out of nowhere like that!"
The pinkette tilted his head. "Why not? I'm your boyfriend, right? I need to show the other guys that you're taken so they won't come near you!"
"Not in the guild, you don't!"
"So I can kiss you as much as you want at your house?"
"That's not what I said!" Lucy snapped, convinced she was about to die from embarrassment. She could feel her cheeks were aflame, and knew their shade probably rivaled Erza's hair in color.
"Oi, Salamander!" The fire mage turned his gaze towards his pierced rival. Gajeel smirked, sharp canines glistening darkly in the light. "You could always make her smell like you and no other guy would dare come near her. I assume you know how to do that?"
Natsu's lips curled into an excited grin. "That's a great idea! Come on, Luce, we're going to your place!"
"Wh-What?!" Before she could say anything else, her new boyfriend wrapped his arm around her waist and hoisted her over his shoulder. "Natsu! Hold on!"
Ignoring all complaints from the petite blonde, Natsu took off, leaving behind dumbfounded guild members and a cackling iron Dragon Slayer.
Took me forever to do the art, so if you're in mobile mode, you're missing out!
Honestly expected this story to be like .8k words, not 2.3k O_o