It was very dark, that was the first thing that Natsu noticed when opening the door to Makarov's office. Dust also floated into the air, as if shaken by the light suddenly flowing in. Natsu ignored the pain that stabbed at his chest, and instead walked inside the room.
He quickly walked around the desk, reaching the curtains on the window which was just behind the desk. He grabbed them, pulling them open, and shedding more light into the room. Natsu squinted slightly, turning around to look around the room.
The desk was overloaded with papers, some was even stacked on the chair. Hanging on the back of the chair was Makarov's old capes, there was some bookshelves piled over with books, and picture frames of.. Of everyone. From when Makarov was younger, to just before Tenrou. It hurt, it made the dragon slayer upset all over again. But he knew he had to stay strong, especially if he was really going to be the new master of Fairy Tail. Everyone on Tenrou would want that.
Steeling himself, Natsu spun back around to the desk, moving forward, and beginning to filter through them. Bills.. Bills.. Bills.. Letters.. Bills.. "Damn.." Natsu muttered,"How the hell am I going to go through all this?"
"Can we help, Master?" A familiar voice called, making Natsu's head lift up towards the door, and find that the people at the door were Wakaba and Macao.
A blush crawled up his cheeks at being addressed that way, but he nodded anyways. "Yes please, I have no idea how to get through all this.." He replied desperately, pushing forward one of the stacks of paper for emphasis.
"Ho-lee Shit.." Wakaba muttered aloud, moving closer with the other older man to help fix the stacks as well. They organized them into different stacks. One was bills, another was letters, another was miscellaneous. It was taking quite a while, and it gave Natsu time to think.
"Hey.. Um.." He began awkwardly,"I know I said that I'll do this but.. What do I do? I don't know how to run a guild.. I'm just a teenager!"
Macao had never seen Natsu look insecure like that before, it surprised him more than he could describe. "Natsu.." He replied,"We wouldn't have made you the guild master if we thought you couldn't do it. Everybody in the guild agrees too, you know that, right?"
Natsu felt his cheeks heat up again, nodding awkwardly. "I know.. But.." He stuttered,"But what if I can't do it?"
He wasn't expecting the cuff on the back of his head by Wakaba. "Ow! What was that for?!" He exclaimed loudly.
"For being an idiot!" Macao declared,"I know you can do it. You're Natsu Dragneel, the most stubborn jackass I've ever met. You can do anything you put your mind to, and you know that! Just look at all you've accomplished!"
Wakaba then patted his back. "Besides, we aren't going to leave you to figure this out on your own," He promised,"Me and Macao will be your advisors, Master Dragneel. We'll help you with running the guild, you'll never be alone. So don't worry." Macao crossed his arms, nodding in agreement.
Natsu smiled widely, a warm feeling filling his heart. "Thanks guys," He said happily, before looking down at the papers. "Let's get started on this stuff, and make sure it never piles up this bad again!"
Wakaba and Macao agreed quickly, and they all got to work. Even though it was long and tedious, it still made Natsu happy. The two older men were right, he wasn't afraid. He was going to run this guild, and he was going to run it right.
After all, it wasn't just his guild.
Fairy Tail was a family.
Later that night, Natsu traveled to his home in the forest alone. Opening the door, he rubbed his eyes tiredly. Though the guild had been quiet because of everyone's returned enthusiasm towards missions, his eyes were strained and his hand cramped from hours of digging through that damned paperwork.
"Now I understand how how Makarov felt!" He exclaimed to himself, shutting the door behind him.. Only to trip over something on the floor and crash to the ground. Papers and clothing flying into the air.
Natsu groaned, sitting up. Dust flowed up towards his nose, causing him to let out a flaming sneeze. After recovering from the sudden assault, he looked around through the smoke, and cringed.
The house was a disaster. There was a mess on the floor that was at least up to his calm, frames and books had fallen from the bookshelf, dust and cobwebs were everywhere, and he was pretty sure he saw a few cockroaches crawling around.
Natsu used to not be bothered by stuff like this, but after cleaning the office up, he realized just how disgusting the room was.
He let out a soft chuckle, and rubbed the back of his neck. "I haven't been here since Doranbolt told us about.. About Tenrou. Man.. Lucy and Erza would kill me if they saw this.." He declared,"I could see it now! I wouldn't be able to stand for weeks! Erza would rub my face in the mess like a dog." He let out another amused, but sad, chuckle.
After a few more moments of silence, Natsu huffed and stood up. "Welp.. It's not going to clean itself!" He began,"So I'll just have to do it."
With an amount of aspiration that he hadn't felt in a long time, he began to clean up his house. He put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, books on shelves, folded clean stuff, and fixed all his memorabilia. After another several hours of work, his home was spotless for the first time in.. Well, ever!
Natsu sighed in relief, as his creeping exhaustion suddenly slammed into him full force. He let out a loud yawn, before crashing onto his hammock. His body went limp almost instantly, the events of the past few weeks seeming to finally catch up to him, as he fell quickly into the escape of sleep
When Natsu opened his eyes, he found himself in a swirling pool of darkness. He was standing, and yet he seemed to be floating at the same time. Despite the complete pitch black around him, he could see himself perfectly. The pinkette frowned deeply, his head turning to examine around him.
"Hello..?" He called out, his voice seeming to echo around him. "Is… Is anyone there?" But once again, his voice simply echoed back at him. Natsu wasn't sure what he could do, so he simply remained where he was, olive eyes continuing to look in every direction possible.
Suddenly, the purple shadows floating at his feet rose up in a large bulge that circled the young man. Then, it split into several smaller forms, before taking the forms of people. Hues of red, blue, yellow, white, and all different colors began to appear. Natsu let out a gasp, throwing his head around as he realized who now surrounded him.
It was Team Tenrou.
Natsu released a huge, relieved breath, tears brimming his eyes. The dragon slayer moved forward, his hand reaching out for Lucy. "Guys!" He exclaimed,"Lucy, Erza, Gramps… I missed you so-"
But before he could reach her, his hand reached an invisible wall. Natsu gasped, placing his other hand on it as well. Then, he slammed his hands hard, but it didn't seem to do a thing. "What?" He croaked, tearful eyes turning back up to his friends. "What's happening?"
The pinkette's head whipped up towards the sight of Lucy, only to find her tear filled eyes looking up at him. "Why?" She whispered again,"Why didn't you save us?!"
Natsu gasped, his heart twisting at the question. He backed away from the wall. "Lucy… I didn't- I couldn't-!" He stuttered,"We didn't know!"
"You should have!" An angry voice yelled, causing Natsu to whip around and see Lisianna. His eyes widened in horror, hugging himself tightly as she snarled,"You should have known Natsu! If you had actually cared, maybe we wouldn't be dead!"
"You failed, Natsu," A painfully familiar voice declared. It was Gramps, staring straight into Natsu's eyes. "You failed, me, you failed Fairy Tail. You're a disgrace! It's all your fault!"
Natsu's knees gave out underneath him, eyes staring straight ahead in shock. It was then that Team Tenrou moved closer, all their hands placed on the wall. They all began speaking at once, their horrible words reaching Natsu's ears with violent malice.
"You were too late."
"It's all your fault!"
Suddenly, they all began to melt. Natsu's tear filled eyes grew wide with horror, watching then sink back towards the ground as their bodies began to deconstruct in front of him. He screamed, running over to the walls. He desperately slammed against them, but he was trapped, helpless as he watched his friends- his family- die. "No! No! NO!" He sobbed, his face falling to the floor in despire. "I'm sorry… Please- Please come back! PLEASE!"
Natsu let out a shocked cry mixed with a hiss of pain, his body connecting with the floor in a tumble of limbs. His eyes snapped open, huge gasps of breath escaped him. The guild master's eyes turned, taking in the view that was his home. Then, his hands wrapped around his chest, as he burst into tears once more.
After a few long minutes, Natsu began to calm down. He shut his eyes, taking several deep breaths as he whispered,"You're okay.. It was just a dream.. Only a dream.."
Despite knowing this, he couldn't help but feel hatred towards himself. In the back of his mind, Natsu knew that Tenrou island wasn't his fault. It wasn't anyone's fault really, nobody could have predicted that Acnologia would attack the island. But sometimes, he just couldn't help but blame himself.. If he had been there.. Would it have been any different?
There was no way for him to ever find out..
Natsu sniffed softly, wiping his red rimmed eyes as his hand reached into his pocket. Pulling out the letter from his old team, he read it over once more. Feeling affection and strength fill him once more, Natsu pushed himself to a standing.
"I can't dwell on the past, I have a guild to take care of!" He declared loudly, clapping his hands together in determination. With that in mind, Natsu quickly got dressed in his regular outfit, and headed towards his guild.
When Natsu pushed the doors of the guild open, he was surprised to find it rather empty. As he turned towards the missions board, he noticed it was completely empty. "Ah, so that's where everybody is?" He asked curiously.
Kinana, Max, and Laki, who were sitting by the bar, looked towards him with a smile. "Yep!" The violet haired girl softly declared,"A lot of them left last night after the party, a few stopped in this morning before heading out as well."
Laki took a sip of her orange juice, before she spoke. "I'm waiting for one of the higher ranked missions, me and Max are going to do one together!" She chattered happily.
Wakaba, who was sitting nearby, whistled and called,"Whoop whoop! I know what that means~!" This caused Laki to let out a violent shriek, throwing an apple at the older man while she yelled about the monstrosity that was perverts.
Natsu let out a soft chuckle. "Well, I'm sure you guys will have lots of fun!" He said, causing Laki and Max to exchange a look with one another, before turning and blushing sheepishly.
Kinana smiled, noticing this, but decided to not tease the two. "What are you going to do today, master?" She questioned innocently.
Natsu felt his heart skip in surprise. Damn.. He thought. That'll take some getting used to. He then hummed, running a hand through his hair. "Well.. I was thinking about checking and making sure I never ever have to see a pile of paperwork that big again. But after that, I don't-"
The doors of guild suddenly exploded open, causing every member inside to jump up in shock. All their heads turned, seeing the billowing of a cloak as the sun obscured the figure. When the door closed, hiding the sun away once more, the pale wrinkled face and pink hair was a dead giveaway. It was-
"Porlyusica?" Wakaba exclaimed, being the first to recover from the slight scare. The old woman's reddish eyes flickered towards him for a moment, before she stalked forward. Max turned, looking as if he wanted to welcome her, but was quickly turned down by her stare as well.
The old woman didn't stop until she was right in front of Natsu. The young man's eyes widened, feeling as if he was being completely analyzed. After a few moments of awkward silence, she filled looked him straight in the eyes.
"So," She began,"You're the fourth master of Fairy Tail?"
Natsu blinked curiously, taking a second to regain his senses before he gulped slightly. "Yes, I am," He firmly replied.
Porlyusica watched him speak, before she continued. "You know what you're getting into, right kid?" She asked,"You can't just back out of this, you'll be responsible for helping the guild survive, and protecting all the members. It's a big responsibility for someone your age."
Before his accident Natsu would have violent snapped at her, yelling loudly about how nothing was too big that he couldn't beat. But after becoming master, he understood why she was worried.
"You're right, Porlyusica," He stated, causing Wakaba to choke on his drink. "It is a big responsibility. One I wouldn't have taken if I didn't think I could handle it, and if the guild hadn't chosen me to. But I will do whatever I need to in order to keep everyone safe, I will take care of Fairy Tail. I promise you that."
The old woman narrowed her eyes, taking in his words. As she looked in his strong, olive orbs, she saw no doubt in his eyes. He was determined to protect and care for the guild, she could see that easily. Natsu wasn't one to make promises he couldn't keep.
She closed her eyes for a moment, before nodding. "I see you mean your words, Natsu Dragneel," She began,"You are truly the fourth master of Fairy Tail."
Everyone in the room seemed to release a breath they didn't realize they were holding. "But!" Porlyusica suddenly snapped, causing everyone to tense once more. "There is one last thing you must know."
The pink haired woman grabbed his hand, pulling him down the hall towards one of the many doors. "DON'T follow us!" She snapped, before continuing to pull him farther along.
"W-wait! Where are we going!? Why can't they hear this?" Natsu stuttered out, nearly tripping over his feet again and again.
"You'll see," Porlyusica firmly declared, finally reaching the door. She pulled it open, shoving the young man inside. She then looked around, making sure nobody had followed them, before shutting the door and locking it right.
She then knelt down, a magic seal appearing on the ground and revealing the hidden door. The old woman then ushered him inside, the door slamming shut behind him.
Natsu's olive eyes took in the strange light that they were heading towards, a blue-purple color that continued to glow brighter in the darkness of the hall.
As they reached the bottom of the basement, Natsu had to squint against the bright light. He blinked several times, his hands going to rub his eyes. When he finally adjusted, and caught sight of what the light was, he gasped in shock, hands falling to his sides instantly.
Inside the giant crystal was Mavis Vermillion, the first Fairy Tail guild master's body. Her eyes were closed, blonde hair covering her body. But there was no doubting that this was her.
"What.. What is this?" He whispered, eyes turning towards the old woman, desperate for an answer to what he was witnessing.
Porlyusica continued to stare at the First as she said,"Fairy Heart. Fairy Tail's darkness, and yet Fairy Tail's light as well.."
"Fairy Heart?" Natsu guffawed,"T-This is Fairy Heart?"
He turned towards the Fairy Heart again, before facing Porlyusica once more. "I don't understand.." He croaked, running a hand through his pink hair.
Porlyusica turned towards him, hers eyes softening. "I didn't expect you to understand, not at first," She replied,"I know that it's a lot to take in.."
Her hand make contact with his soft one, as she lowered him to the ground before moving to sit herself. "Don't worry, I'll explain everything right here, right now." She promised.
The Dragon Slayer would be the first one to say that he wasn't a good listener, or at least, he wasn't before. But now, he was curious and utterly confused. He needed answers, he wanted to understand, he needed to understand. So, he took a deep breath, before nodding firmly.
"Okay," Natsu declared,"I'm listening. Please Porlyusica, tell me everything you know."
Porlyusica told Natsu everything she knew, even though she only knew what Makarov told her. Natsu listened intently as the old woman told him about Mavis' death, how Fairy Heart came to be, and how only Fairy Tail masters knew about it.
"Remember," Porlyusica finished,"You must keep this a secret. This secret must be kept unless there is a major emergency, or when you pass the title of Guild Master down to someone else. It is more dangerous than the Three Great Fairy Magics, and if someone were to find out about it, someone could get seriously hurt. Understand?"
Natsu nodded firmly. He knew this wasn't a laughing matter, and he would keep that secret no matter what. Porlyusica nodded in return, moving to a nearby area and picking up some scrolls. She handed them to the guild master, and,"Take these, study them. They'll help a lot. I'll be coming around often for a while to help you get used to your new duties, okay?"
The young man looked down at the scrolls, before a large smile rose up on his face. "Thank you so much, Porlyusica, for everything!" He exclaimed happily. The old woman raised her eyebrows for a moment, before smiling in return.
At that moment, they heard a loud crash followed by frantic cries, causing the two pinkettes to jump in surprise. Natsu frowned, turning to look at the door and muttering,"What the hell?"
The duo quickly left the underground room, making sure to seal it tightly beforehand. As the guild master moved into the main area of the guild hall, he grew extremely angry.
There was one tan man with dark poofy hair, a prominent nose, and strong forearms. He was wearing a light shirt with short, mildly puffy sleeves, which had some dark padding over the shoulders areas, seemingly held up by a pair of bands passing below each of his shoulders, and outlined by lighter edges extending to the shirt's thin, rectangular and elongated collar, which has a dark part to it. Around his waist was a light haramaki-like cloth covered in elongated dark spots, from which a buckled belt could be seen emerging, passing over his right shoulder and seemingly holding up the large. Behind him were several other goons wearing similar attire as well.
It wasn't the sight of so many strangers that made Natsu angry, it was the sight of Laki behind held down against the counter, Kinana in another's grip, and Wakaba and Max on the floor that enraged him the most.
Natsu wasn't even thinking of talking to them anymore, he instantly threw himself forward, slamming a flaming fist into the man's face. He cried out in pain, tumbling down, and slamming into the other side of the wall.
The group of goons turned towards Natsu just in time to watch him tear the second one off of Kinana and slam him into the ground with a well placed foot on his chest holding him down. Natsu then raised his still burning hand, and yelled,"Who the HELL do you think you-"
"Whoa.. Whoa.. Everybody stop!" A gruff voice yelled, causing Natsu to let go of the man, and move in front of the bar protectively. The goons turned towards the voice as well, before fanning to either side to let the speaker through.
He appeared to be a middle-aged man, having a shaved face with a haircut resembling a military one. He had a broad jaw, wide lips, and a thick nose. His thin eyebrows reached up into his hair, and he wore tinted glasses. In his fingers was an obnoxiously large cigar that made Natsu's nose groan in disgust.
Turning a suspicious look towards the man, Natsu asked,"Who the fuck are you?"
"Banaboster, Twilight Ogre guild master," The man firmly stated,"You're Natsu Dragneel, the guild master of Fairy Tail. Just the man I wanted to see! Women in guilds, all useless these days, can't even tell me where one man is."
Natsu frowned, opening his mouth to speak, but was instantly interrupted. "You know, buddy, I was going to come here and offer you some help, but now that you just had to attack us, I think I'm going to have to just offer with force." He declared.
He moved forward, pulling a wad of cash from his pocket and slamming it down next to Natsu. "We are going to pay for your guild's expenses, in exchange for a guild hall of our own, and we expect the rent back eventually. Got it?" Banaboster asked.
Natsu glared at the money on the table, before flicking it away like a disgusting bug. "We're not taking handouts, especially from assholes like you." He firmly declared.
"Assholes like us? After we generously offered help?" The man snapped,"Listen up buddy-"
"Don't call me buddy, we aren't buddies, and you aren't generously offering help!" Natsu declared, the room beginning to heat up. "You attack my guild members, insult them, and then have the gall to order me around!?"
Banaboster looked surprised, before growling angrily. He puffed the smoke towards Natsu, before snarling,"Listen, punk. You're taking the money. Just because you still can get over a couple of dumasses dying doesn't mean I don't got business wit'ya! SO YOU'D… Better.."
As he spoke, embers began to float around Natsu, his image shaking as the heat exploded. Wakaba had gotten back to his feet, while Laki, Kinana, and Max suddenly weren't afraid anymore. It was in this moment that Banaboster knew he had fucked up.
One outside of the guild hall at this moment would be privy to a loud explosion, followed by the front doors slamming open and a group of screaming men flying through the air.
Civilians cried out in surprise, scurrying back as Natsu stormed out after them. He walked over to the charred Banaboster, grabbing his shirt and lifting him up to his face.
"Listen up," He sneered,"If you so much as look in the direction of my guild again, if you even ever speak a dirty thought about my family, if I ever so much as see you in Magnolia, we will all find great pleasure in gutting you all like fishes, understand tough guy!?"
Banaboster looked ready to wet his pants, his eyes wide as he nodded frantically. Natsu let a satisfied smirk climb up his face, before throwing him back down. "Good! Now get lost!" The pinkette sneered. Instantly, the panicked men scrambled away, looking more like a group of children than a professional guild.
Those who witnessed Natsu's strong deceleration were shocked, and surprised. After the death, everyone had written off Fairy Tail as weak without their core members. Do see such a display of bravery and strength.. It did something to them. Suddenly, there wasn't just pity for the Fairy Tail Guild anymore.
Porlyusica watched the whole ordeal, and continued to as Natsu wandered back into the guild. When the doors shut behind him, he firmly said,"Don't listen to them, we aren't weak, and nobody here is useless. If they ever come back, we'll prove just how much stronger we are growing, just like we did today!"
The small group cheered, agreeing wholeheartedly with their master, Porlyusica's own heart seemed to feel the same way. In that moment, knew that Fairy Tail had chosen the right guild master.
A somber, melancholy smile crawled up her face.
Makarov.. You would be so proud..
At the same time, on the shores near Hargeon, something was afloat in the water. Amid a pile of floating kelp, there was a golden key..
The kelp finally reached the shore, before being pulled away by the heavy current once more. They heavy key slid off the kelp, landing in the sand and remaining there. The waves constantly splashed over it, covering it with sand before pulling it off again.
Nobody around the docks noticed the golden key, nobody saw its dull shimmer in the mere moments that it was free of the water and sand.
It was trapped, and stuck to remain until it could be found…