Fire Dragon Roar

A/N: Hi guys! This idea popped into my head a few days ago, and I had to write it. I hope you like it! (Just so you know, when Igneel speaks to Natsu, it is telepathically. I just wrote it like a regular conversation) Enjoy, and please review!

Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail or any of its characters.

"Focus!" Igneel cried. "Feel the fire inside you, and release it!"

Natsu clenched his teeth and closed his eyes, straining to do as Igneel said. Then he growled in frustration, and his eyes snapped open. "I'm trying. It's not working!"

Igneel exhaled, and Natsu felt the great dragon's breath behind him. He turned around to face him, crossing his arms over his chest. "Why are you making me learn this so fast?" He had a note of stubbornness in his voice, something that almost never left it.

Igneel sighed. The boy was so promising, but he sounded so angry at the moment. He had been training hard recently. Perhaps he needed a different approach for this specific move. "You have done so well in your training, Natsu. But you don't have any attacks that are powerful enough yet."

"What's that supposed to mean!? I'm plenty powerful!" Natsu yelled.

Igneel narrowed his eyes, fighting off his irritation at the interruption. That boy was right to control fire; his temper ignited in an instant. "I'm not saying the moves you know aren't powerful, but this one is very strong. The fire dragon's roar is the key to unlocking more of your power."

Natsu uncrossed his arms. Igneel could see that the boy's curiosity had driven away most of his frustration. "Why is it so hard?" he asked. "Everything else you taught me I got right away. This one I've been trying for two days!"

There was a trace of vulnerability in his voice, something Igneel knew the boy rarely showed. He softened his tone. "You have to be patient. Compared to the other moves I've taught you, this one is many times stronger. It therefore requires much more energy and focus."

He watched as Natsu took a deep breath and turned so his back was to the great dragon. That's it, Igneel thought. Feel it inside. He watched as a flame came to Natsu's fist, and he punched out. The flame doubled in intensity, and when he brought his fist back it slowly died out.

"I'm ready." Natsu said.

Igneel could have smiled, but he knew they weren't done yet. He could hear the determination in Natsu's voice, and sense how much more focused he was. He was ready.

"Get into the stance I taught you." He softly coached. "Move your fists up to your mouth, making a tunnel between your open fingers."

Natsu did as Igneel directed, his focus never wavering.

"Now take a deep breath, and roar!"

Natsu took in a huge gulp of air, started to release it, and yelled as a thin column of intense flame shot from his mouth. It went feet in front of the boy, and Igneel was startled by the power in both the flame and his voice.

Natsu turned around and wiped at his mouth. He had a sharp look in his eyes, still hard with determination, and his mouth curved up in a smile, a small glimmer of satisfaction finding its way into his eyes after a moment.

"That's better." Igneel said. Natsu started to soften his facial expression, but Igneel didn't let him relax. "Do it again."

"But you said I got it!" Natsu complained, a spark of anger igniting.

"I said it was better. Now do it again, and this time with more power."

He knew he was pushing the boy hard, but he could feel the others calling him. He needed to go soon.

Natsu growled. "Fine!" He moved into a balanced stance and brought his open fists to his mouth. "Fire dragon… ROAR!"

Igneel felt the shock the move created, coming into being so fast that he felt the sound in his bones. And the flame? Igneel gave a deep roar of approval, combining his sound with Natsu's. The flame Natsu had made was extremely strong, so much that the heat touched the dragon's skin, comforting him. Natsu ended the move and turned around, breathing heavily. This time he didn't have a goofy smile on his face. He had a look of such hard-earned success that Igneel felt a wave of compassion rise up in him.

"Be proud, my boy! You've done better than I had dreamed. Enjoy your success, as you have truly earned it."

Once he heard Igneel say this Natsu grinned, the childishness coming back into his features. It was only right. Igneel needed him to be strong; he didn't need the boy to grow up just yet.

Natsu jumped up and gave another roar, pumping his fist as he celebrated. "I did it, Igneel!" he cried. "I finally did it!"

Igneel let loose a deep chuckle as he watched Natsu. He let the boy be for the rest of the day, dreading what he had to do that night. Once Natsu was set with his dinner, Igneel walked to his den and grabbed a small piece of fabric in his mouth.

"What's that?" Natsu asked when Igneel came back. He was just finishing his meal, and stuffed the last of it in his mouth after he asked the question.

"I have a gift for you." Igneel said.

Natsu looked shocked, but started to smile immediately. "Cool. What is it?"

Igneel laid the fabric on the ground next to Natsu. "It's a scarf. There will be times when your internal fire isn't enough to warm you. This will help."

Natsu picked it up and studied it, sniffing it and rubbing it against his cheek. "It's really soft." He said. "What do I do with it?"

"Put it around your neck."

Natsu did, and after he placed it he looked up at Igneel and laughed. "This is great! I'll never take it off!"

Igneel settled himself down on the ground, and laid his head down. "Come and sleep, Natsu. It's been a hard day."

The sky was dark, the stars coming out, so Natsu didn't argue. Igneel knew the boy must be exhausted. He had used a lot of energy. Natsu walked over to Igneel and lay down beside him, using his scarf as a blanket.

Igneel pulled him closer, so the boy was resting against his side. "Always remember how proud I am of you." He said softly. "Though I may not be able to be with you, I will always help when you most need it."

Natsu smiled sleepily at him. "I know." He said. "You're always there for me."

Igneel curled his neck so his body sheltered Natsu, and closed his eyes. "Sleep well, my son."

It wouldn't last, but Igneel allowed himself to doze and simply be with the boy. Perhaps this night would make it easier to be forgiven. He knew that he had to leave before the next dawn. Grandeeney was calling to him, telling him that even now he was late. But he didn't care. Natsu had needed him to stay, so he could learn the fire dragon's roar.

Leaving him was one of the hardest things he had done in years, but it had to be done. He just hoped Natsu would understand, someday. In many ways, you are my son, he thought as he looked at the sleeping child. Fight well, and find somewhere you can belong. We will meet again.

He lit a small fire a short distance from Natsu, and carefully made sure the scarf covered him. He let out a small breath of air over the boy, and then he took off to the sky. Trust your inner fire, he thought as he flew. It will guide you wherever you need to go.

Natsu didn't wake when Igneel left, but he felt the warm breath of air over him, and wrapped himself tighter in his scarf. He thought he heard Igneel in his dreams, but he was never sure once he woke up. All he definitely knew was that his best friend and protector was gone.

"Where are you Igneel?" he shouted to the sky.

He sent a column of flame up into the sky with his fire dragon's roar, searching for Igneel, expecting him to fly back to him any second.

When he had seen no sign of him he looked at the ground, his eyes burning with unshed tears and his fists shaking. "I'll find you." He said, his voice thick with emotion. He wrapped the scarf around his throat and looked at the site of the fire he guessed Igneel had built for him.

"I'll find you!" he yelled.

He didn't know that Igneel heard his cries, and saw the column of flame he made from his place with the other dragons. I hope you do, he thought after feeling the boy's anguish. I sincerely hope you do.