This was inspired, not only by the fan art picture in the book cover, but mostly by a child at a Halloween event I attended that was dressed as a dragon. He was way too adorable, and I honestly squealed "OMIGAWD IT'S A BABY NATSU!" So to whoever that child was, and whoever drew this picture of chibi dragon Natsu, thanks!
Baby Dragon Boy
a Fairy Tail fanfic
Lucy was over at Natsu's house trying to tidy up. She had no clue why she did this, but it had become a habit. Once a month, she went over while Natsu and Happy were away on a mission and tidied up for them. Every month, she came back to the same mess.
Somehow, Natsu had collected even more memorabilia this time. She knew he liked to keep mementos, and it was sweet to see what sorts of things he felt like holding on to. However, this stuff had to eventually be put into storage boxes.
She looked around for a box that was not already filled to bursting with the stuff Natsu collected. As she opened boxes and peeked in, she saw most were utterly crammed. One, however, felt light as soon as she lifted it. On the outsides was just written KID'S STUFF. Lucy was slightly curious what sort of things even a person as childish as Natsu considered to be "for kids."
She opened the box to see the usual ridiculously random items that seemed pointless to her: a quill pen, a tiny hat, a broken wooden doll with no face, some oddly shaped rock, and a scrap of paper with childish writing of "The dragon goes roar" with a crayon picture of something she assumed was supposed to be a dragon spouting red crayon scribbles she guessed were meant to be flames.
Stuck to the side of the box was a photograph, an old one from the looks of it. It was a little boy sitting on top of a pumpkin, and he wore a full-body costume of a dragon with just his face peeking out from a scaly red hood. She guessed from the comical face, he had been roaring at the camera. By the boy's pink hair and those narrow eyes, she knew it had to be Natsu. She had never seen a photo of him so young, though. He looked like he was barely four.
"That is so adorable," she whispered, almost squealing at the cuteness of the tiny boy in that picture.
Lucy leaped and dropped the photo. It fluttered out of her hands. In two steps, Natsu was right beside her and snatched the photo before it hit the ground. He looked at it, confused at first. Then his eyes widened, something clicked, a memory, and he began to blush.
"That's you, isn't it?" Lucy cried out.
"P-probably," he muttered, shoving the photo back into the box.
"What do you mean, probably? That's definitely you."
Natsu's face turned bright red. "Do you always go searching through my stuff when you clean up?" he asked, trying to sound upset to hide his embarrassment.
Lucy folded her arms stubbornly. "I wasn't searching. I was trying to find a box I can use."
"Well, don't use that one. That box is special."
She looked at the stuff she had pulled out and set across his bed. "Are these things from your childhood?"
"Yeah," he smiled. He picked up the quill. "This is what I used when Igneel first taught me how to write. It's really old fashion, isn't it? I have no clue how long he must have had this pen. He hoarded weird stuff."
"So do you," she tittered. "So this?" She held up the crayon picture with the writing. "Was this yours?"
"Yep! My first story."
"Story?" Lucy gawked. "You wrote a story?"
"A picture book. That's the only page I kept, though. It was a story about a dragon and a boy. Well, it was really about me and Igneel, but I had used different names."
"You didn't keep the whole story?" she asked, really impressed that Natsu had ever written a story in his entire life, let alone so young.
"Nah," he laughed, shaking his head. "It was probably really lame. I mean, I was maybe seven."
"Still," she muttered, looking at the picture and wondering what else he had drawn. A picture book! By Natsu! Lucy would have paid a year's worth of rent money just to see something like that.
"Wow, I forgot that I kept this," Natsu said, lifting up the knitted hat. "Can you believe my head was this small? This was the hat from my last winter with Igneel." He put it on top of his head, but it could not stretch over all the pink hair.
"What about the rock?" asked Lucy. "That's a weird thing to keep."
"Oh, this!" Natsu said, picking the rock up gently. "This is special."
"A rock?" she asked, wondering what was so great about it. The lump was shaped oddly, pointed on one side and fluted along the edges. The color was a rusty shade of red mixed with stripes of turquoise blue and speckles of green. It was a bizarre rock, not actually beautiful, but strange in its uniqueness.
"Igneel always gave me a present for my birthday. Sometimes, we didn't have much. I figured he stole most of what he gave me. Like this," he said, holding up the broken wooden doll. "He stole this one for my sixth birthday. It came broke like this, and I could smell someone's scent on it, so I knew right away that it belonged to some other kid. The next year, I got mad and yelled at him that he couldn't steal anything as my birthday gift. He called me a brat and stormed off. I thought it was the worst birthday ever. Then a while later, almost nighttime, he came back with the rock. He didn't steal it. He searched everywhere for it."
"It's … a rock," she frowned.
Natsu laughed and shook his head. "That's what I said. Then he told me to spin it. Go on, Lucy! Spin it! Go, go!" he said eagerly.
Lucy chuckled awkwardly at his enthusiasm. She shrugged, giving into his whims. She took the rock, placed it on the floor with its pointy end facing down, and gave it a sharp spin like a toy top. Suddenly, she swore she heard singing. Lucy gasped as ethereal music came out of the rock, like a choir of angels.
"It's a singing rock. They only exist on Igneel's mountain, and they're really rare. He searched the entire mountain for that one-in-a-million rock."
"He really loved you," she realized as the rock slowed and the music faded.
"Yeah, he did," Natsu smiled wistfully. He picked up the rock and held it with reverence. "Lots of people have told me to sell this rock. I could apparently buy a whole house for the price of this one stone. I'll never sell it, though. It's a birthday gift from Igneel, one he didn't buy or steal. He must have worked really hard to find it. That makes it priceless to me."
Lucy felt a burning in her chest as she heard the loyalty and love in his words. "Natsu…" she whispered plaintively. She looked down at the box. It was all junk to her, but each item held priceless memories to him. "And so, the photo?"
"Ah, that. Halloween. I was four or five, I can't remember. I had never even heard of Halloween before. Igneel took me to a farm near our mountain. The farmers were an elderly couple, and they knew Igneel really well. The farmer's wife dressed me in one of her children's old costumes. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, playing dress-up. We ate roast mutton and sweet potatoes, I played around in a cornfield until I got lost, and then we picked a pumpkin. The old farmer wanted to take my picture. Igneel refused to let anyone take a picture of him, but it was okay if they took one of me, since I'm a human. It's the only picture of me from all the years I lived with Igneel."
"They didn't take more pictures as you grew up?" Lucy asked, wishing she could see more photos of Natsu this young.
He sadly shook his head. "The old man died that winter, and his wife had to sell the farm and move to the city to be near family. Igneel bought the farm, paid her with gemstones. He said he didn't want neighbors he didn't like. However, no one planted crops, the farm and its lands were pretty much abandoned, so we never went back for another Halloween."
"That's sad," Lucy whispered.
"After that, I really didn't see humans that often as a kid, not until Igneel vanished." He grinned broadly to her. "Then I came here, and I met lots of people. I made friends, and I met you. Now we take lots of pictures together."
She nodded happily. "We should take lots and lots, so that years down the road, we can look back at them and remember this time."
Natsu chuckled and shook his head. "I don't need pictures to remember my time with you, Lucy. These moments will always be in my heart, even without all the mementos."
She felt her cheeks grow hot, and Lucy bashfully dropped her head. She looked at the baby dragon boy in the photo again. He really was adorable. Then she glanced up and saw the grownup Fire Dragon Slayer in front of her.
The real thing was always better than a picture.
She set the photo back in the box with the other items from Natsu's childhood. He yanked on her hand, insisting that she had to come eat lunch with him and Happy. Lucy laughed as she followed, but now whenever she saw Natsu's childish grin, she could hardly help but picture that adorable baby dragon boy.