"Hey Lucy, how much longer until we reach the town?" Natsu asked his female companion. The blonde tutted and looked up form studying the map.
"Well, we're still in Magnolia. I think it'll take about two to three hours to get to the border. Then, once we get into Onibus, it'll take us another hour and a half to get to the village that sent the mission poster," She quickly added up the total time in her head, then turned to face her pink haired partner. "So in total we've got around three and a half to four and a half more hours before we reach our destination."
Natsu and Happy both groaned.
"But Lucy, that'll take forever. And we haven't got much of the day left," He looked at the sun's position in the sky. "Yeah, the sun will set in like two and a bit hours."
"Aye, and my feet hurt from travelling so far!" Happy cried out, even though he had either been flying or carried for the whole of the walk.
"Look, it was your idea to walk to Onibus, just so you wouldn't have to catch the train and feel motion sick for the whole ride," Lucy whirled at him, hitting his head with the rolled up map. "So just quit complaining both of you. If you're so worried about the sun, then pick up the pace so we'll get there before it sets!"
"Aye!" Natsu and Happy said, dejectedly. Lucy sighed, and told herself it was for the best. Even then she didn't like the sad look on Natsu's face. 'Why is he such a child!' Lucy thought to herself.
"Look, if it'll make you happy, we can go and have dinner at the next restaurant we see!" Lucy immediately regretted saying that the moment she saw their faces. Natsu and Happy cheered, and fist bumped. Natsu clutched his bag, and began to walk faster, picking up dust from the mud path.
"Oh I am starved!" He shouted, Happy whole heartedly agreeing. Soon Lucy couldn't see them. They had ran so far they were specks on the horizon.
"HEY! Wait for me!" She yelled, and ran after them.
Catching up, she doubled over and tried to catch her breath.
"Oh there you are Luce, we were wondering where you went!" Natsu told her, sending a dazzling smile her way. Lucy huffed, but smiled on the inside. No matter how hard she tried to convince herself, she was falling in love with the Fire Dragon.
The team set off again, at a reasonable pace, forced by Lucy's constant shouting. For two hours they walked, until they crossed the border of Magnolia and Onibus.
"Natsu, why do you keep glancing up at the sky?" Lucy asked, when she counted him looking up at the darkening sky nineteen times in one minute. Natsu turned to her, from where he had been leading, his face no longer carefree.
"The sun's going to set in less than fifteen minutes. We're still at least an hour away. Travelling in the dark in dangerous, especially when we're in a forest, we may trip on tree roots. The best plan is to find somewhere to spend the night. Sorry Lucy, if only I had walked quicker, we may have made it."
Lucy was taken back at how serious he sounded. Her brown eyes widened in shock. Never had she thought she would live to see the day when Natsu was serious about something that didn't involve fighting.
"O...Okay!" Lucy stuttered, trying to make sense of the new Natsu. Had he hit his head on a low hanging branch? No, she would have seen it, as he had taken the lead when they had entered the forest.
They carried on walking, all the time searching for somewhere to make camp. Lucy noted with dismay that the sun had almost set, and they still hadn't found a good place to rest.
"Hey Lucy, I've found a cottage!" Natsu's voice cut through her despairing thoughts. Looking back at him, she could see a small cottage behind him. She smiled, extremely happy that she was going to have a roof over her head for the night. She shuffled towards him, sliding her feet over the mud. This way she would be able to feel if there were any branches or rocks in her way, that could possibly trip her.
She managed to make it to Natsu without falling over, which was a relief. In front of her way a massive tree which had fallen over in a storm, and was blocking the path. On it stood Natsu. He thrust a hand down, waiting for her to take it. Lucy hesitantly placed her smaller hand in his, and let him help her up the tree. Once she was standing next to him, he gave her a closed eye smiled and jumped down. Lucy looked at the hand that Natsu had grabbed. She understood why it felt warmer than normal, Natsu was a Fire Dragon Slayer. What she didn't understand though, was the spark she felt when their hands connected.
"Lucy, jump down, I'll catch you!" Natsu shouted up at her, spreading his arms wide. Lucy bit her pink lip, it was a pretty high jump. If he didn't catch her, then she could have a broken ankle.
"Lucy, I promise I'll catch you!" Natsu told her sincerely, as if he could feel her anxiety. When she heard that, the blonde knew she shouldn't have doubted his word. Natsu never broke a promise. He would catch, she knew it. Closing her eyes, she leapt from the wood. She felt the wind through her hair, pushing the locks up as she fell. Natsu gazed in wonder at her. In his eyes it looked like she was an angel. Lucy hit something warm and hard. Looking up, she saw Natsu smiling down at her.
"See, I told you!" He beamed down at her. Lucy felt her lips tugging into a smile as well. Natsu grabbed her hand, and lead her towards the cottage. The blonde girl could feel her cheeks burning up at the gesture. With Natsu's help, she stepped over braches, and avoided rocks. Soon they were both at the cottage entrance, Happy flying lazily in circles.
"What took you so long?" He asked, boredom lacing in his words. Natsu let go off her hand and opened the door. Lucy tried to push down the disappointment but didn't quite succeed.
Walking in, she turned on the spot, taking in the cottage. It was falling to pieces, one of the walls completely gone. The roof had collapsed in some parts, and there were roots and other plants growing in the rooms. Natsu sat down, in front of the fireplace and began to place his bed roll down. Lucy followed him, placing her boots, belt and Celestial Keys near to her head. She laid down on the roll, and pulled her blanket up to her chest/
"Lucy, if you're cold I can put some wood in the fireplace and light it with my magic!" Natsu offered. Lucy bolted up right, shaking her head and putting her hands out.
"No no it's okay. No offence Natsu, but you'll probably burn the whole place!" She told him. Natsu mumbled an objection and looked off to the side. He then began to rummage in to his bag, looking for something. When he found it her pulled it out, and offered it to Lucy. The blonde girl looked at the blanket he was offering. Raising her eyes to his, she saw a faint blush dusting his cheeks.
"In case you get cold. It does get a bit chilly out here at night!" He told her, rubbing his neck.
"But won't you need it?" She asked.
"Nah, I'm a Fire Dragon Slayer, I stay warm all the time!" Natsu reassured her. She took the blanket with a soft 'thanks'. She placed the extra blanket over her one, and settled down.
"Night Natsu, Happy!" She mumbled out, sleep already beginning to claim her. Natsu smiled at the adorable sight in front of him.
"Night Luce!" He whispered, not wanting to wake her. He glanced around the cottage again, making sure that there was no danger. When he couldn't spot anything, he glanced at Lucy one last time, wanting her to be the last thing he saw before he fell asleep.