The Grand Magic Games had finally come to a close. The dragons had been defeated and the city had been returned to normal. Fairy Tail was once again recognized for what it was: an amazing guild with powerful mages. Lucy couldn't have been happier to know that the people whom she loved and admired and respected so much were no longer the fools of scorn.
It had been a momentous event in more ways than one. So much had happened. Lucy had seen herself die and felt a new lease on life that she was going to live every day to its fullest. She remembered Natsu's constant words of optimism of never giving up and mentally wished she could engrave them into her personality a little more each day and strive to do what he always said when things got tough.
It was kind of sad to leave Crocus, but all good stories had to have an ending and she was kind of looking forward to going back home. It was almost quaint to be in the room with everyone and spend the time to just paint her toes like she did. She was sad and happy at the same time when she saw Wendy pull up with the carriage to take them home. But a bit of her cringed at the thought of it carrying them ALL back home.
They were forced to stop along the way, barely reaching the outskirts of the city, when Natsu looked ready to finally lose any breakfast he had before they left. Not wanting the carriage to reek with no way to clean it, the group practically shoved him out to get him outside.
Lucy got out and stretched, feeling the fantastic sun on her skin and inhaled the landscape deeply with a smile. Such nice, fresh air! She watched Natsu practically pass out on a rock and smiled as she sat a little ways away. She let him recuperate while she sat down amongst the field of wildflowers and started picking them off for a crown with Wendy. She listened to Natsu's and Gray's banter about his inability to handle movement and giggled. How nostalgic it was to be doing this right now! "You'll just have to suck it up for a little more." She interjected, mostly focusing on her work.
"Hey, hey Natsu...what are you going to do when we get home?"
"Let's see...Well, I wanna go on a bunch of fun quests."
"I wanna go fishing!"
Her ears perked up at her team's words. She didn't mind that they did some more missions because she was going to need the rent money soon. Plus, she wanted to do something normal now that the games were over. But there was actually something else she had in mind first.
"What about you Lucy-san? What do you want to do after we get home?"
She looked to Wendy. "Hmm...I came up with an idea for a story at the Grand Magic Games so maybe I'll finally get back to my novel writing."
"What's the story about?"
"It's a secret!"
Actually it was kind of embarrassing is what it was. There was an amazing dream she had during her time in the infirmary which had given her an idea for a story, but there was no way she was going to show it to anyone! It was hard to remember the dream exactly, but the fragments that she could remember now sparked her muse to want to create something from it. The idea was weak, but the inspiration was there. She had a feeling this was going to be a great story! However...due to the idea she had, she would rather die than tell anyone about it. She wrote all sorts of genres and this...this wasn't going to be something she wanted Wendy to know about...
The problem was that she was forgetting those details that she managed to remember after she rudely jolted awake while having it. Not just because she interrupted her sleeping process, but also due to the Games going on and then the dragon invasion. There was too much to worry about first before thinking she could work on her hobby. The dream almost seemed now like it had never happened and Lucy sincerely hoped that she could recall it because she had a feeling it would make for really great literature! She would just need to take some time and brainstorm on some paper to see if any of it came back to her.
She didn't have any time for that when they got home however. There was such a warm homecoming awaiting them that Lucy forgot all about her plan to work on her writing. She was amazed and touched at the amount of people that came to see them home. She tried not to cry in front of them and instead show her thanks in her brilliant smile.
They had saved the world and won the games; it seemed only fitting that they got their previous guild back from before the seven year gap. It truly was like coming home and things just felt right. Things were turning back in their own way and Lucy's heart swelled at the generosity of the mayor and the townsfolk. She wished to memorize this feeling and this scene forever. Perhaps she could use this as inspiration for another short story in the future...
Finding her landlady in the crowd was a curse and a blessing. She liked the old woman, but the mention of rent money made her flinch. She wasn't going to be allotted any actual time off it seemed. She knew she was going to have to go on a mission soon because Natsu wanted to go, but she didn't think she'd need to do so this soon! All she wanted was a small break to relax and think about that elusive dream that she had.
Oddly enough, she ended up picking their job that turned out be the weirdest thing. Stupid mole hunting in all that mud! She had to shower three times to get rid of that stench in her hair, not to mention how bad her clothes were!
She refused to take on a job after that until she got something written down. Notes or short stories or brainstorms...anything so that she didn't lose this idea she had! Her rent was paid even after having less of the reward money between the five of them and she was fine for a few more days. She would worry about next month after she did this. Natsu would just have to understand. It wasn't like he and Happy would be bored; there was the guild to hang out with, people to challenge, fishing to do... He'd be fine, she just knew it.
In order to keep him away, she wrote "Keep out" and "Do not disturb" and "Don't come inside" on some papers and put them on her windows so he would see from the street. She didn't bother with the front door because that had a lock and she knew Natsu never bothered using the actual door! Hopefully he would respect her wish for a day before he barged in! She wasn't too hopeful as it was with these current precautions...
She sat at her desk, twirling her pen idly in one hand as she stared at the blank page. How many minutes had it been already? How many hours had it felt like? The more she thought about this, the more it ran away from her. All this white her eyes were staring at seemed to mock her. Ah, the cursed writer's block. How she hated it with a passion. It had defeated her so many times when she didn't know how to begin something. The bane of any writer's ability...
Forcing herself to remember was only going to have the opposite effect. Really, it would be best if she could focus on one or two things and then tried to get some sleep and see what it produced, but she hadn't had that dream since her time in the infirmary. Lucy finally leaned back in her chair with a frustrated sigh.
How could she pull something out of her subconscious? Was such a thing even possible? She sat there and pondered that ability. She didn't know much of anything about it, but she knew someone who might. She got off the chair and headed to where her keys were kept. She grabbed a silver one and summoned Crux and had him search for her. His information wasn't as good as she wanted, but she thanked him for trying anyway.
"I guess I'll do this the old-fashioned way..." Grabbing her keys and some jewels, she headed out and marched directly to a bookstore. She searched high and low on the shelves for anything that had to do with dreams. She finally found a book titled 'How to Remember Your Dreams' and eagerly flipped it open. What she saw wasn't very inspiring.
Most of the book was about waking up constantly to get in the habit of being in the middle of the dream before it was forgotten and then write down as much as one could remember. 'Record your dreams? That's what I'm trying to do here! I'm not getting up at all hours of the night just to practice remembering what I dream about when all I want is one in particular!' If she had the ability to write the dream down then she wouldn't be in the bookstore in the first place! 'Wait...'
"Cling to any clues of what you might have been experiencing: moods, feelings, fragments of images, and try to rebuild a story from them. When you recall a scene, try to recall what happened before that, and before that, reliving the dream in reverse. If you can recall nothing, try imagining a dream you might have had - note your present feelings, list your current concerns to yourself, and ask yourself, 'Did I dream about that?' Even if you can't recall anything in bed, events or scenes of the day may remind you of something you dreamed the night before. Be ready to notice this when it happens, and record whatever you remember."
She sighed and put the book back. Interesting, but not what she was really hoping for, although she noted that point for possible use later. She kept searching the titles, finding a book that used magic to remember dreams. She pulled it from the shelf and leafed through it a bit.
"This spell will help you remember your dreams, and after a while (the time varies) you can even lucid dream!"
She eagerly scanned the next few pages and ultimately decided to take the book home. She paid for it and headed out. The next stop was a magic shop. She used the list from the book and paid for everything before hurrying back to her apartment. She put everything on the table and opened the book to the page with the spell. She mixed all the ingredients and suddenly noted that it had to sit for an hour before being used. "What? But I was hoping to use it after I put all the stuff away!" She groused, head drooping with a sigh.
What did she do for an hour? She was going to lose her muse at this rate! She reread the instructions again, hoping to find something more about the wait. "Do not take before at least one hour has passed. The effects will be unpleasant?!" She flinched, hoping this wasn't a total waste of jewels and her writing time. Was this thing reputable? Her eyes scanned the pages. "This spell is best done when you are going to sleep..."
Lucy sighed and resigned herself to wait. All this wasted time! She was going to end up with nothing by the time she got done and be no better than just trying to think this up. Natsu was going to show up and demand she stop ignoring him and she would have nothing to show for cloistering herself in her room for so long.
She put the items in storage and checked the clock to gauge her agony. It was almost dinnertime; too soon to take if it was supposed to be at bedtime. She could always have something to eat and a bath at least. She closed the book and gathered everything in her arms. At least one hour...so the minimum was possibly more than one? What did it mean the effects will be unpleasant? She decided to ponder the writing as she headed to her kitchen for a snack.
The whole time she spent cooking, she was worried that Natsu was going to barge in and demand they all have dinner together. She hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary when she got back from the bookstore and it would've been hard to miss if Natsu entered her immaculate apartment. His house was alone was proof of his messiness!
After the dishes were taken care of, She saw she had managed to kill fifty minutes of cooking her food and getting the place cleaned up. Surely ten minutes wasn't anything detrimental for the hour? Lucy's hand reached out and paused just before grabbing the container. Teeth bit her lip as she hesitated. "Do not take before at least one hour has passed. The effects will be unpleasant..." She mumbled, eyes boring holes into her experiment. She must have waited at least another two minutes as she hesitated and finally decided that the time was close enough. She grabbed the container and downed it, almost gagging against the taste. "Nasty!"
After a quick trip to the kitchen for some water, Lucy headed to the shower. She decided to soak in the tub and thus indulged herself after so long away from the quaint room. She sunk down with a happy sigh and stared at the ceiling. She watched the steam rise in silence, still wondering what the spell would show her. How was it supposed to help her remember a dream that she had once and how many days, or weeks, ago? She only remembered that the setting was in Crocus and that was probably due to the fact that so much was going on at the time. Of course she would have dreams about that city.
What she knew of dreams was that you often dealt with things on the unconscious level that couldn't be figured out whilst awake when you were asleep. A dream could be anything from a premonition to common events in your life that carried over to trying to figure something out. She didn't know which one it was, but she was really expectant to experience it again! Maybe if she was lucky, she'd be able to do as that one book said and get up immediately after it was over and record all of it so that she had her story plot.
She mentally crossed her fingers and closed her eyes. A contented sigh escaped as the water heated her from neck to toe. A hot bath was the best thing in the world. It was great for cold nights too.
Through the chill of the night with the lack of warm clothes she wore, and how wet they still were, he was so warm. Her mindset changed from sadness to needing to keep warm. Heat...glorious warmth.
Her eyes shot open, looking at the ceiling yet not really seeing it. Her brows furrowed in confusion, wondering where that came from. Her heart was suddenly pounding, but it wasn't from the heat of the water. A shot of adrenaline had coursed through her so quickly that she thought she was being attacked. A shaking hand raised from the water, bringing forth dripping noises to break the stillness. 'What...was that?' She stared at her dripping, trembling hand.
She splashed more water on her face to hide the smell of tears as he kept walking her way.
She sat up quickly, ignoring the splash of overflow to the ground below, staring at her knees. What was this? Why was she seeing this? Where was it coming from?! She tried to get her breathing under control.
Her eyes closed as the sound of crashing water filled her with peace. She needed this break, this solitude, this sanctuary. Things had been so hectic in more ways than one and there had been nothing like this moment for what seemed a very long time.
A hand gripped her face, still trembling from the adrenaline rush...or was it from the hot water? Was her heartbeat from the bath or what was happening to her? She didn't know right now; she couldn't tell them apart. Was the potion working? She thought it was supposed to show her a dream, but she vaguely felt like this actually happened. Did she dream it too?
"Maybe it's time I got out..." She mumbled, slowly standing. The room was still hot and steam was everywhere. She stared at the doorway as she adjusted to the temperature and being vertical. She didn't experience anything else and wracked her brain for what those images and thoughts were. Were they...memories? When? Where? How long ago were they from?
'He' was warm...? Her eyes narrowed as she got out and grabbed a towel. She teetered a little and caught herself before falling. She was dizzy; did she spend too much time soaking? She needed to get into the cold and cool off a bit. She prayed the dizziness wasn't a side effect of the potion and her not obeying the rules.
"You're nice and warm Natsu... It's cold out here."
Her head shook to clear itself. Natsu? What was he doing in her dream...or was it memories? Not that Natsu wasn't always in her memories; they were friends and partners. Of course he'd be a part of her memories! She left the bathroom and made a beeline for her clothes, not wanting to be stuck in the nude if Natsu ignored all her signs and barged in overnight.
"You're so nice Natsu! You always get hurt because of me and yet you don't hate me for it! You always help me whenever I'm sad and you always know how to say the right things to make me feel better. You really are the best guy in the world!"
Her face flushed even more. Did she really say that to him or did she hopefully just dream it?! Oh god if she did, she would never be able to look him in the eye! That almost sounded like a confession!
The dizziness wasn't going away even in the minutes after she left the bathroom. She wasn't hot anymore; in fact she was quite cold with her hair still soaking wet. She threw it up in a towel and went to the book. She tried to find the page she needed for side effects and warnings, but all the eye movement wasn't helping her and she gave up.
She was getting nauseous from standing and her room twirling. She leaned over the table, trying to take slow breaths. She was so confused! Natsu? What was this all about? She wondered what else she would see, but was starting to become afraid. Those words that floated through her ears were so heartfelt and honest...even if they were true. But she had never thought they would be said with as embarrassing as they were!
She wasn't safe standing. She stumbled the few paces to her bed and flopped onto the mattress, barely getting her legs onto it. The towel came apart and obscured her vision.
She grabbed a black shirt that she suddenly spotted peeking from her bag and tossed it over his eyes.
She was practically shaking like a leaf in a wind storm as this vision assaulted her. She tried to take proper breaths before she started hyperventilating. She stared at the towel barely an inch from her eyes. His eyes? Natsu's eyes?! No...that must be wrong...why would she do that? A shaking hand reached up to the other side of the bed, trying to pull her all the way onto it.
She startled when she felt a touch on her hip. Her skin picked up the trembling, warm contact of his rough hands. She took note that his lips were also shaking. In fact, there wasn't a spot which she felt that was still.
Her head was foggy and thinking clearly was difficult. Her heart was running away from her. Her face was still red and she was sure her ears and neck were too. She still had a huge adrenaline rush, but something now mixed in with it that was scary and delicious at the same time. Was the potion showing her a dream she had? Was this it? Even still...what was this?! His hands were trembling...and they were touching her hip? Why? Why were his lips shaking?
How could this have actually happened to her? She didn't remember any of this! Natsu was just her friend! Natsu! "Natsu..." She panted. "W...what's...happening...to me?" Blackness was invading her senses. Her feet were numb. Her head felt so heavy. She tried to grab the towel and pull it off her so she didn't suffocate. "Natsu...h – help...me..." The last thing Lucy felt was the pulsating in her hands from such a heavy rush of blood before she sunk into the bed and lost consciousness.