Ch 1: It Changed Everything
A constant rain was coming down as a lone figure was seen walking through the woods. It was none other than the Salamander of Fairy Tail, but what stood out was that he was all by himself which almost never happened. He would usually be seen with his team and if he wasn't with them then he would at least be seen with Happy, but that was not the case today.
Why Natsu Dragneel was all by himself, he had been feeling like he needed to be alone for a while now so that he could figure out what's wrong with him. Recently he found out that the things that once brought him so much joy, such as starting guild brawls, where no longer doing that for him. If Natsu had to say when this started to happen to him it would have to be when he saw Igneel die right before his very eyes.
In that single moment he lost one of the main things that got him up in the morning, he lost one of his main purposes in life. A goal that he had since he was a little boy, the goal to find his father one day and show him how strong he had gotten over the years, but it seemed like a running theme for his life. That goal was taken away from him and he was once again completely helpless and could do nothing to prevent it.
So you could say that Natsu has been trying to find a new purpose for his life. He still knew that he would always be there to help his friends and family when they needed him, but that somehow wasn't enough for him, he needed something more. For a little while he contemplated going down the path of revenge and kill that dragon who took away his one goal in life. But then he remembered what both Igneel and Master Makarov said about revenge and gave up on that being his new goal. They both said that seeking revenge never brought happiness to you, all it does is bring more pain and suffering to the ones you care about.
So for the last few months Natsu has been trying to find a new purpose while acting like he was completely fine. And so far as he could tell, the only one to notice that he wasn't himself was Happy and Natsu could never really hide anything from his little buddy even if he wanted to. So Natsu confided in Happy hoping that he had some ideas of what he should do, of course Happy being Happy he suggested Natsu catching fish for him every day should be his new purpose. This cheered Natsu up for a bit, and Happy finally gave him a few real answers like becoming the strongest mage at Fairy Tail or even finding someone to spend the rest of his life with.
The last suggestion really threw Natsu off, since it came from Happy, but when Natsu thought about it for some reason it just felt like the wrong time for him to do that. As for trying to be the strongest mage at Fairy Tail, he thought that he might as well give that one a try. But Natsu quickly realized that he really didn't care about having such a title, he was perfectly fine with just being able to protect his friends when he needed to. He was able to become stronger while training but once again it just felt wrong, all of the other times that he would do intense training there would be a better reason behind it, rather than just going for the title of the strongest.
Which finally brings us to just two days ago when Natsu decided that he needed some alone time. So he grabbed the first flyer that he saw and took it to Mira to be approved, after which he asked Happy if he could do this one alone. Happy being the only one knowing what was going on with Natsu right now, agreed of course knowing that Natsu needed to sort this thing out for himself.
"Hey Mira have you noticed something off recently about Natsu?" asked Cana with her barrel place between her legs.
"Actually I have, but I am more surprised that you did Cana. So what did you notice?" asked Mira with a smirk.
"Okay first off Mira, wipe that smirk off of your face. Second, hey just cause it looks like I am always drunk doesn't mean that I actually am, I would wager that I know almost just as much as you about everyone here. Especially when I hear most of your secret conversations with members since you always assume that I am too drunk to remember." replied Cana with her own smirk while Mira's was soon replaced with an expression of shock.
"You sneaky little minx Cana, I had no idea that you were that clever. But you didn't answer my actual question." pointed out Mira.
"Oh yea I just took offence to your first statement. Natsu seems to have lost that spark that he once had, it's as if he is just going through the motions. For example he still start guild brawls but he doesn't smile like he used to, and that fiery passion is gone. And it could be just me here but he seems to be faking his smile a lot more recently, I at first thought that he would get over whatever is causing this but he keeps using that fake smile and it's becoming more frequent as time goes on." said Cana as she looked at the guild doors that Natsu exited through a few minutes earlier.
"No it's not just you Cana; I have seen all of those things as well. And I too thought that he would be able to get himself out of this weird funk that he is in. But it seems like it has only gotten worse especially after what I just saw happen today." replied Mira with a small frown.
"What just happened today, isn't he going on a mission with happy?" asked Cana looking at the barmaid wondering what Mira knows that she doesn't.
"Yes, but it's the mission that concerns me." responded Mira.
"Is it too hard for them to do alone?" asked Cana concerned that Natsu and Happy could be in danger.
"Actually it's the exact opposite Cana; the mission is so easy that Happy could do it alone with no problems. Natsu hasn't done a job that easy since his first week here, he always goes for ones that have a potential for numerous fights." answered Mira still frowning slightly.
"Mira I think that it might be worse than we both thought." said Cana with her eyes wide open.
"What makes you think that all of a sudden?" asked Mira raising an eyebrow at the guild drunk.
"Because Happy didn't go on that job with Natsu." replied Cana as she pointed at the blue cat that was trying to give Carla a fish.
"Oh no, this is really bad then, he has never done that. Not even when we all thought Lisanna died." said Mira with her hands in front of her mouth.
"Well I think that Happy might know what's going on since he is acting as if everything is normal. When normally he would be bawling his eyes out if Natsu tried to leave him behind." pointed out Cana.
"Good point Cana, hey Happy could you come here for a minute?" asked Mira with her beautiful smile.
"Aye sir." replied Happy as he flew over and then sat on the bar in front of Mira while Cana took the seat right behind Happy without him noticing.
"So Happy I am going to get straight to the point, what's wrong with Natsu?" asked Mira in a stern voice while still smiling.
"I don't know what you're talking about Mira." answered Happy nervously.
"Oh yes you do Happy, otherwise you would be freaking out about not being with Natsu right now." stated Mira.
"Did you hear that, someone needs me, well I have to go." said Happy now scared as he tried to take flight, but was hit on his head sending him back to his butt on the counter.
"Like we would let you get away that easily, and no one was calling for you Happy." stated Cana who was apparently the one to hit Happy on the head.
"You too?" asked Happy surprised that Cana apparently noticed the slight change in Natsu.
"Why are you that surprised?" asked Cana with a slightly pissed off expression.
"Well no offence Cana but aren't you always too drunk to remember anything?" asked Happy causing Mira to giggle at his no dancing around the topic way of talking, just like Natsu.
"No I am not Happy, because I have built up a tolerance." replied Cana now wanting to hit the cat again.
"Okay." was Happy's simple reply.
"So Happy, what's going on?" asked Mira getting the conversation back to where it should be.
"There is no way I am going to tell you one of Natsu's secrets." declared Happy as he looked away from Mira.
"Okay, well I guess I will have to throw away all of the fish that the guild has since no one here wants to eat them." replied Mira as she started to head towards the kitchen.
"I'll eat them Mira!" cheered Happy.
"Sorry Happy, but you didn't tell us what's wrong with Natsu. And we're only asking since we're his friends and want to help, but it appears that you don't think of us as friends. So why would I give the guilds supply of fish to someone who doesn't even consider us his friends?" asked Mira with her back still too Happy and Cana.
"That's not why I didn't tell you what's going on." replied Happy.
"Then why did you Happy, we only wanted to help Natsu?" asked Cana with a small smile.
"Because it's not something that anyone can help him with, believe me I have tried." answered Happy while shaking his tiny head.
"Why don't you let us be the judges on that?" asked Mira now looking at the cat with a pleading look on her face.
"Well since you guys only want to help him, but you have to promise me that you won't tell anyone else about this." demanded Happy with a serious face that neither of the women knew he was capable of.
"We promise Happy." replied both of them.
"Well, Natsu seems to have lost his purpose in life and is trying to find a new." said Happy as quietly as possible so that only Mira and Cana could hear him.
"How did that happen, I thought that he just wanted to be strong enough to protect everyone?" asked Mira thinking back to all of the times that Natsu was able to do just that, and most of the time it was when no one else could.
"He still wants to do that, but that was always a thing that he just did in order to reach his only goal he's ever had." explained Happy with a frown.
"And what goal is that?" asked Mira who at the moment wasn't really thinking.
"That would be reuniting with his father, I'm correct aren't I Happy?" asked Cana with a frown.
"Yes, and now that he can no longer do that he has lost his purpose. Everything that he has done up till now has been to help get him closer to that goal." replied Happy still frowning while Mira just wondered how she could have forgotten something like that about Natsu.
"And now that he can't do that, Natsu has lost his drive." said Mira who was now frowning with the other two.
"Yep and right when he was about to achieve that goal, Igneel died in front of him." replied Happy who looked like he was about to cry.
"How could we have not realized this sooner?" asked Mira who felt terrible that she didn't help Natsu after he lost his father. Even after he was the one that helped her when they thought Lisanna had died.
"Because that idiot is always willing to help others with their problems, but never wants to bother anyone else with his own so he has been acting like everything is alright." said Cana while shaking her head thinking about the pink haired idiot.
"Aye Sir." replied Happy but it lacked the joy that it usually did.
"Well why don't we try and help him come up with a new purpose in life, something like being the strongest at Fairy Tail that seems like something he might like?" asked Mira now trying to help Natsu in any way possible.
"I already suggested it to him, and he tried but quickly realized that he really didn't care about a title like that. And he also said that his training felt wrong for some reason like his heart wasn't in it." explained Happy.
"That makes sense when you think about it. Like you said earlier Happy, everything that he's done has always been so that someday he could be with his father again and show him how much he's grown. I know how that feels, but I was lucky enough to confront Gildarts and still get to see him every now and again. While Natsu on the other hand won't be able to every show his dad how much he has grown anymore, he was probably the only one that Natsu wanted to actually impress." explained Cana.
"But what about the rest of us, doesn't he want to impress Fairy Tail?" asked Mira.
"No, he has actually never cared about something like that as long as he was able to keep everyone safe. Since he always considers everyone here his family." replied Happy.
"But that doesn't make sense, since Igneel was definitely his family as well." stated Mira.
"True, but it's different when it's your father Mira. Especially when your father is a powerful dragon, I can somewhat relate since Gildarts is powerful as well, Natsu has probably been always wondering if he was good enough to be considered Igneel's son. And now that Igneel is gone, Natsu might start asking that question again, but this time he won't have Igneel to reassure him ever again." explained Cana since she was very similar to Natsu in some aspects.
"That's terrible, so what can we do to help him?" asked Mira.
"We can try to figure out a new purpose for him, but other than that Happy is correct. And we might just have to sit back and hope that Natsu can figure this out on his own." replied Cana.
"I guess you are probably right Cana, but how long have you had a thing for Natsu?" asked Mira with a sly grin.
"I don't have a thing for Natsu." denied Cana.
"Are you sure about that Cana, it sounds like you really understand him and are really concerned about him. Also you have been watching him intently for a while, otherwise you wouldn't have noticed anything wrong with him." pointed out Mira still grinning at Cana.
"We have just had somewhat similar experiences, and I have not been watching him intently. Anyways you also noticed that he wasn't normal, does that mean you have a thing for him as well?" asked Cana with a faint blush.
"Go ahead and keep denying it Cana, and as for your question maybe I do, is that a problem?" asked Mira with a smirk and left to go take orders from various guild members, leaving Cana and Happy alone.
"She doesn't, does she? Wait why do I even care if she likes Natsu?" asked Cana out loud as she got up to go to her usual table forgetting that Happy had been there the whole time.
"Natsu might not be ready for a relationship right now, but it looks like some others might be." thought Happy with a devious smirk already coming up with plans that he thought were genius, but were actually really stupid because they all involved fish.
Back to Natsu in the rain two days later:
Natsu had just finished his job a few hours earlier; since it was such an easy job it only took him an hour to complete. But that didn't matter he had only taken this job so that he could be alone and think things through and not put on an act which was really tough and starting to wonder if it was worth it. He was now able to be himself and not cause all of his friends to start worrying about him. Natsu was in deep thought, wondering what the meaning of life really was when he all of a sudden smelt something burning.
This raised the alarm for Natsu since he really shouldn't have smelt something like that since it was raining, which made him even more concerned since the rain should have put out the fire. As Natsu got closer he smelt one of the smells that he hated, since it was possible to achieve with his magic and that was the scent of burning flesh and since he had enhanced sense he always could instantly smell it.
So he increased his speed so that he could hopefully get there and help out in any way possible. As he arrived on the scene he was shocked at what he was witnessing, right in front of him was a little farm settlement that was completely on fire and it was clear to him that this wasn't an accident. He took off towards the house to see if he could help anyone that might be trapped in there, and as he got close he saw something that caused him to stop.
Right in front of the house on the ground about ten yards way was a women crawling towards the house who looked like she should have died a long time ago. Her skin was ghostly white; probably do to the cold rain and her blood loss, which was another thing that Natsu noticed. The front of her yellow dress was now completely red from being drenched in her own blood from a wound that Natsu guessed was under her hand that was on her gut. She had other wounds as well a few cuts and bruises littered the rest of her exposed skin, but were hard to tell how many since she was covered in mud. The mud was everywhere it was so caked in her hair that Natsu couldn't tell what her hair color was, but that didn't matter right now, what did matter was what he could do for her.
"Hey Miss stop moving so I can help you." said Natsu as he knelt next to her.
"No need to save my daughters." said the woman as she continued to drag herself towards the burning house.
"Are you saying that your daughters are in there?" asked Natsu as he looked at the house that was burning intensely and looked alike it could collapse any minute now.
"Yes, I need to save them." replied the mother as she slowly moved toward the house, but then saw Natsu dashing towards the burning house.
Without a second thought Natsu rushed into the house as soon as he heard that there might still be someone still alive. The smoke made it so that he could barely see anything, but otherwise didn't affect him since smoke and fire go hand in hand and he was pretty much one with fire. As he did a quick scan he could tell that if the fire continued for much longer the whole place was going to collapse, so he did what he usually does when he's around fire that isn't his. And that was eat it, so Natsu started to suck in all of the fire that he could which was a sight to see as it all flew into his open mouth and was then gone in an instant.
This unfortunately didn't mean that he was completely scot free yet. This house could collapse any second now so with a justifiable sense of urgency Natsu started to search the house for any sign of life. He found and heard nothing in the first room so he moved onto the next which appeared to be the kitchen, but once again found nothing and moved on. The next room looked like a bed room and unfortunately Natsu found the corpse of what he could only assume was the husband and father. He then had the urge to throw up since the husbands body was burnt meaning that some of the fire Natsu just ate was burning the man moments ago, but once again Natsu knew that didn't matter right now.
So he moved on to the next room which was the bathroom and it was empty just like the first two rooms. Natsu was starting to lose hope in finding the daughters, but he knew that he had to continue because there was still a small chance that he could find them. He opened the door to the next room and his heart dropped because this was most definitely the children's room by the décor, but what made his heart do that was the ceiling of this room had collapsed and there was rubble everywhere.
Natsu was about to leave and tell the poor mother outside that he was too late, when all of a sudden he heard a faint cough. Thanks to his great hearing he knew where it came from, so with great care he made his way over to the pile of rubble and started to clear it away as fast and carefully as possible. After a minute he cleared it away and found a girl that was probably six years on her hands and knees, curled on top of something in a protective position, obviously trying to save whatever was underneath her.
Natsu carefully pulled her out along with whatever she was protecting. Then placed the small girl down who was wearing a blue floral dress on the part of the bed that wasn't buried underneath rubble. And just when he was about to tell her everything was okay he realized that she too was already dead just like her father, but most likely died from the ceiling falling on her. Natsu couldn't deal with this right now; he had never been good at handling death whenever he encounter it. He would always blame himself for it, if he had just been faster or stronger or didn't take no for an answer he could have saved the person that died, and this was another one of those times.
He was about to go outside and destroy the forest in rage of his shortcomings and failures, but once again heard that little cough. He then looked at the bundle of cloth that the little girl was protecting and remembered the mother said daughters, meaning more than one, how he could have been so stupid as to forget such an important detail he didn't know. Natsu then carefully removed the small bundle from the dead girls clutches and looked at it once it was in his hands, in the middle of the cloth was a little face of a baby looking up at him with big eyes as a few drops of rain fell on her face.
Seeing this Natsu quickly slipped off his vest while swearing at himself in his head for being so stupid, and covered the little baby so that the rain wouldn't get to her. Natsu then quickly made his way back outside to bring the little girl to her mother, but once he got to the door way he saw that the mother was still trying to get to the house. So he made his way to her, hating that he was going to be the one that had to tell her the horrible news.
"Miss I have some good news and really bad news as well." said Natsu as he knelt down beside her with the baby still underneath his vest.
"They're dead aren't they?" asked the mother as she looked into Natsu's eyes.
"Unfortunately I came too late and for that I am sorry, your husband and eldest daughter died. But she gave her life to protect her little sister, even though she was so young." replied Natsu in complete defeat that he wasn't able to save all of them as he handed over the baby to the mother. He then quickly took the vest off of the baby and held it above the mother and child so that the rain wouldn't get them.
"My little bundle of joy, I can't believe that Leah was able to save you." said the mother with a faint smile as she looked at her baby.
"I am so sorry, that I couldn't be of more help." said Natsu who was having a hard time keeping his emotions in check.
"Sorry, what do you have to be sorry for, you didn't cause this, and without you my baby would have died as well?" asked the mother as she looked up at Natsu and could see how hurt he was by not being able to save her husband and other daughter.
"If I had just come sooner I could have saved them also." replied Natsu who was about to cry.
"Young man, you can't expect to be able to save everyone and I am pretty sure that you know this and are just choosing to not accept it. What you need to focus on are those that you have saved and because of you they get to keep on living which is a miracle in its own way." said the Mother now looking at her bady.
"You're right Lady, now let's see about getting you to a doctor to get you fixed up." replied Natsu with a small smile and no longer looking like he was about to cry.
"There's no need for that Mr. ..?" said the mother as she smiled down her baby.
"It's Natsu, there's no need for Mr. and what are you talking about, look at you of course you need a doctor. I am actually surprised that you are still able to move and talk with me." said Natsu.
"Natsu it's like you said, I shouldn't be able to talk much less move. So it is already too late for a doctor to save me." replied the mother as she looked at Natsu once again straight in his eyes.
"Come on don't talk like that, your daughter still needs you so you can't go dying on her." said Natsu who was again was close to tears as the conversation was once again dark.
"That's the only reason I am still going right now Natsu. There's just one last thing that I have to do for her before I die and that is to ensure that she has a good life, so I am going to ask you something and I know that it is a lot to ask from someone who has already done so much for me and my family." said the mother still looking directly into his eyes.
"What is it, I am willing to do whatever it is as long as it helps." replied Natsu.
"Let me ask before you agree to it Natsu." stated the mother with a slight smile.
"Okay so what is it that you need me to do?" asked Natsu.
"Natsu I need you to promise me that you will take my daughter with you and raise her as your own. I can already tell that if you agree to this that you will protect her with everything that you've got and will love and care for as much as we would have. It's just who you are Natsu, I was able to see that when I first looked into your eyes, you are just to caring sometimes for your own good." said the Mother with a caring smile as she and Natsu just looked at each other for a few more minutes.
"I promise that she will be raised as if she was my actual daughter." said Natsu with no stuttering or anything else that would convey doubt.
"You have no idea how happy you just made me Natsu, but I have one more request. Could you also promise me that you will never tell her about this, there is no need for her to ever know that the rest of her family died making her the only survivor?" asked the mother as it was now becoming harder for her to talk.
"Why would you not want her to know that her family died to protect her?" asked Natsu not understanding this weird last request.
"You can tell her that, but just don't tell her all of the details of this day. Please just promise me that you will do that for me Natsu?" asked the mother as she got closer to her final moments.
"I will but you have to tell me who did this to your family." demanded Natsu.
"All that I can tell you Natsu is that they are very evil people, but now that they think that we are all dead she will be safe. And if not, then you will be able to protect her Natsu, so will that be enough for you to promise me that you won't tell her?" asked the mother with pleading eyes directed towards him.
"I promise that I will never tell her about the details of this day." said Natsu once again conveying that he was serious.
"You and my bundle of joy here have just made my last moment on this world a happy one." said the mother as she looked at her baby with a fond smile.
"So what is her name?" asked Natsu, wanting to keep the mother talking so that he knew she was still alright. But she remained quiet and continued to look at her daughter with that motherly smile.
"Hey lady can you her me?" asked Natsu now getting worried.
"Lady this isn't the time to joke." said Natsu once again not wanting to accept the fact that she was now dead. He then reached over and instantly knew that she had passed on, so he picked up the baby and was about to leave when he thought of something. So he set her down gently under a nearby with his vest still over top of her so that she wouldn't wet and set to work on something that he really didn't want to do.
But he made a promise that he was going to protect that baby with his life which means that he had to do this. He went to the mother and drug her into the entry way of the house and then looked for some matches, since there was no way in hell he was going to use his magic for something like this. Once he found some he quickly started four different fires around the house ensuring that the whole place would burn down.
"If what she said was true I needed to make sure that they believed that everyone died so they won't come looking for the baby. And this was the easiest and best way to achieve that even if it makes me sick to my stomach, but I will not let anything hurt that baby." thought Natsu as he looked at the house that was once again on fire, but this time it was going to keep burning and cover up the fact that the youngest daughter of this family was indeed still alive.
After that he went to the baby and picked her up and checked to see if she was still alright. She was just sleeping as if nothing happened which is to be expected of a baby that if he had to guess was only five months old. This brought him a small piece of joy that he hadn't felt in a long time which made him smile at the little baby in his arms.
"We better get out of this rain, I wouldn't want my little dragon to get sick now would I?" asked Natsu as he smiled at the baby that was sleeping peacefully. And Natsu headed towards the nearest town as fast as he could without disturbing the baby so that Natsu could get her some food and a place to stay out of the rain.
End of Chapter
Thanks for reading and I hope that you all enjoyed it. So as some know I said that I was going to write this one by Saturday but I was able to finish it sooner. Now I already have plans on what Natsu is going to name the baby and what hair color she's going to have. But sometimes there is a better idea out there which is why I am going to ask for your opinion and if I really like one of them I will use it, that's about it for random stuff. So as always feel free to leave me a review.
Until the next Chapter