Chapter One - Waking Up
Natsu felt warm. Like he was shivering and suddenly he had been moved next to a fire.
He didn't know when he started to grow aware of the feeling - it felt like it had been there forever - but as soon as he was it made him feel light, better, like it had washed away all the fears he had long forgotten.
He wasn't sure he was fully aware of what was happening, but a sudden cold breeze running over his skin made him shiver.
Where did the warmth go?
He curled up tighter into a ball, trying desperately to reclaim the warmth he had found only seconds ago.
The ground felt rough against his skin, scraping at it. Where was he? Why did the ground suddenly hurt?
As soon he was aware of the soreness, he tried to move again, only causing further pain. His whole side felt raw and it had done nothing to dispel the cold.
He shut his eyes further, scrunching them up, trying to find the source of the heat he had felt before. Letting out a large sigh, he concentrated, finding the warmth was centred around his neck. A familiar warmth. One he had not felt in a long time. Not since he had become a dragon.
Dragon. He almost forgot. But if he was a dragon, why was his skin hurting? Surely his scales should be protecting him from the roughness of the ground. Surely his fire should keep him warm.
Natsu frowned, still yet to open his eyes and decipher the problem.
He knew he was a dragon. He didn't feel much difference, other than the roughness of the ground, and the cold from the wind. His mind was still the same; still eager for its animal needs, still distant from its human ones.
Was he asleep? Why was he asleep?
He couldn't remember much...leaving the castle after Zeref died, finding shelter for him and Happy...fishing and trying to forget the horrors of their old life, then….then what? What happened after that? It felt like something big, something important. But he couldn't remember. He sighed again, then, as if his body was finally telling him it was time to wake up, he yawned, an ear-splitting yawn that made him fully aware of his aching body.
Slowly, but surely, he opened his eyes.
His vision was blurry at first, like his eyes took longer to adjust through lack of use, but they eventually focused, his surroundings becoming clear.
He was in his cave, as he remembered, but it all looked a little bigger than what he saw in his memory. Whereas before, it had just been large enough to fit his hulking form, with a little room to spare, now it was at least ten times his size. He frowned, did he shrink or did it grow?
Natsu rolled his head over to find the entrance of the cave looking exactly the same as it always had. So he must have shrunk! It looked bright outside, the grassy clearing was sun-kissed and glistening with what Natsu could only assume was morning dew. It looked so inviting. He longed to curl up in the grass under the sun. He smiled weakly but felt his lips crack as he did so.
He paused. Wait. Lips?! His eyes widened as he scrambled to get up. It took him longer than usual because all his limbs were achy, but soon enough he was on all fours.
Then he looked down.
"Holy crap!" He shouted, his voice raw and hoarse, as he saw his body. His completely naked, human body.
He was human?! When the hell did that happen? And he could speak?!
He jumped up, testing his legs and falling feebly over, his limbs giving in with the strength he had lost through his sleep. He must have slept for a long time…
He sat on his knees, without a doubt that he was human again, but why?
He looked back at the place he had lain and saw something he had not seen in a long time.
"My scarf!" He cried, jumping over the small space and quickly grabbing up the garment, tying it firmly around his neck. He sighed, finally feeling a little warmer.
He looked down at himself again, blushing when he remembered he was without clothes. No wonder he was so cold. He wondered what he looked like...he was young when Zeref cursed him, had he grown? Was he an old man? He didn't look old. He looked young. His body was taut, covered in corded muscles that suggested the physique of someone no older than their late twenties.
He reached his hands up over his head and pushed them into his hair. It was longer than he remembered but still spiky. He pulled some down his forehead, trying to get a look at it. He almost collapsed. It was PINK! When the hell did it turn PINK?
He was pretty sure he remembered it being black...who's hair was pink anyway? What kind of man had pink hair?!
He looked down just to check if the curtains matched the drapes, or if it was just a cruel prank Happy had pulled. Oh god! They did match! He was all pink down there too! He let out a groan. How was he supposed to impress his mate with pink hair?
Wait. Mate? He had a mate? Since when did he have a mate? And, if he did have one, why was he sleeping alone? Natsu frowned again. He was about to push his memories further until he heard a shriek coming from the entrance of the cave.
"Natsu?!" He heard a cry, immediately turning around to face the culprit.
Happy! He was about to run and hug the cat we he remembered he was nude. And his legs were acting up.
"N-Natsu? What happened to you?! How are you human again? Why did you wake up?!" Happy cried, flying over to inspect his friend, "WHY IS YOUR HAIR PINK?" The flying cat cried.
Natsu scratched the back of his head and tentatively tried to stand up again. Although he was a little wobbly, this time he was able to stand on his own two feet. Once again forgetting his nakedness.
"WHY ARE YOU NAKED?" Happy screeched.
"Jeez, Happy! Quiet down, will ya? I only jus' woke up! An' I have no idea what happened to me. I only just realised I was human...but hey! I got my scarf back! Where did that even come from?" He asked, seeming to calm Happy down with his answers. He absent-mindedly fingered his scarf, glad it was back where it belonged.
Happy frowned. "You don't remember?" He asked.
"Er, mind mind is a little fuzzy at the moment, Buddy." he admitted.
"Oh, well, Gray bought it to you after you decided to go to sleep…" Happy trailed off.
Natsu wracked his brains, trying to remember a 'Gray'...
"Oh, yeah! Ice breath! Can't believe I forgot that I asked him to get the scarf for me! Man...wasn't that like a couple of months ago...and what do you mean about decidin' to go to sleep?" Natsu asked, frowning at how long it was taking his memories to resurface.
"Well...Natsu you've been asleep for nearly a year…" Happy said quietly.
"WHAT?! How? I don't even remember why I went to sleep in the first place…" he frowned, trying to grasp at the memories but all he got was the feeling of heartbreak.
Mate? What happened….
He looked desperately at Happy for answers. The cat looked sad, not able to meet his eyes.
"What happened, Happy? What did I do?" He asked, horrified at the idea that he could have done something so terrible as to make him want to sleep for eternity.
"You didn't do anything, Natsu!" Happy assured him, fire in his eyes, "but she left and you didn't know what else to do...you loved her so much…"
Love? Loved who? It was all still a little blurry but the idea didn't seem foreign, he could remember that warm fuzzy feeling, hear laughter like a chiming bell...so pretty, so perfect…just for him. No. Not for him, his mind reprimanded.
"Who left, Happy?" He asked desperately. He needed to know. He needed to remember her.
"Lucy left," Happy whispered, his voice hauntingly sad.
Lucy...and then all the memories came back. Her pretty face, those warm brown eyes, that curvy figure and that beautiful smile. The one she did just for him.
But she left. She left him. She was engaged - probably married by now - and she said she might never see him again. To her, he had been just a dragon. Not a man. Not someone capable of love. A dragon. A beast. A monster.
Natsu collapsed back to his knees, ignoring the skin scraping on the rough floor, ignoring Happy's desperate cries. Why did he have to wake up? Did he have to be tortured more? Now he was finally human again, finally in a position to make his mate truly happy, but she had already left him. What did he do to deserve this?
He looked at his hands on the floor and watched as liquid dripped onto them. He frowned. He was in a cave so how could it be raining? It's not like he could be crying...dragons couldn't cry. He knew, he had already tried. But human's could. He had almost forgotten he was human. His heart still hurt, dragon or human. He wasn't sure they were too different any more. Lucy didn't want him either way.
As soon as Natsu was aware of his own tears, he did what he hadn't done since his he had become a dragon; he cried. He cried hard, a tear for every year he had been trapped as a dragon, one for every bad thing that had ever happened to him and one for every friend he had made along the way. A cry for the dead and the living. The good and the bad. He just needed to cry.
Once he felt like he was finally all out of tears, he whipped the last of them from his eyes with the back of his hand, and looked back to Happy. He looked devastated, full of tears and snot, having his own tear parade as well. Natsu sighed and gave him a soft smile, they both deserved it after all they had been through.
Natsu picked himself back up, wincing as he felt the morning breeze on his scraped knees, but it was nice to bleed; he hadn't been able to as a dragon.
He walked over to Happy and scooped the cat up in his arms, letting him cry into his scarf.
Though his heart still hurt, the ache was duller, and he finally felt like things were right with the world. Even if Lucy wasn't with him.
After spending their whole morning wallowing, Natsu and Happy finally decided to talk about what they were going to do next.
Natsu was human now, if they wanted, they could rejoin civilisation, make friends and maybe even join a guild. They didn't have to be alone.
"I think we'd have to get you some clothes first!" Happy snickered, reminding Natsu, once again, that he was without them. He blushed fiercely, trying to ignore it.
As a dragon, it hadn't mattered if he wore clothes, but now he felt so exposed and vulnerable.
And so much less invincible.
Natsu sighed, lying on his back, watching the roof of the cave like he was watching the stars she loved so much. He loved them too, once. Now it felt selfish to love them. Like he was stealing something of hers. He winced, turning his head back to look outside, wishing he could roam free, but it was hardly sensible in his state dress.
How was he supposed to get clothes anyway?
He was sure that, by now, all of the clothes he once owned were nothing but dust. His castle had been abandoned and his crown had been passed down. Not that he had ever cared for that crown, but the castle had been his home. Even if most of his memories there were trapped in the tower, longing to be free.
"I think Gray should be coming around in the next few days, so he might have some clothes to spare," Happy murmured.
Natsu sat up. Gray was coming? He still visited? Even after a year, even after his vow of endless slumber…he suddenly felt guilty. He would have to make it up to Gray one day.
"Gray's coming?" He asked, surprised at his own eagerness.
"Yeah, he comes around as often as he can," Happy smiled, "He has to work a lot more lately with the baby, but he still comes every month or so."
"Baby?" Natsu asked with a frown.
"Aye! He got married to Juvia not long after you went to sleep...and the baby was born a couple of months ago. Gray is working super hard so that he can give him everything he needs," Happy said, a big grin on his face.
"Wow! That's amazing!" Natsu said, returning his gaze to the roof of the cave.
He gave small smile, glad that his bad luck hadn't rubbed off on his friends. At least good things could happen to the people he cared about.
"So amazing…" he whispered, as if quietly wishing the universe would let him have his own little piece of happiness.
"Aye, he's a good dad." Happy sighed.
They laid there for a few minutes, just revelling in the miracles of life. Natsu had never seen a baby before, but the dragon part of him had always longed for kids. Little him and Lucy's running around and wreaking havoc. He laughed despite the ache in his chest. Maybe in another life.
"Oi, Happy! You around? I know I'm a few days early but I figured you wouldn't care!"
As soon as Natsu heard the shout, he knew who the voice belonged to. He shot up, eager to see his friend. He and Happy turned to each other at the same time, huge smiles on their faces.
"Gray!" They shouted in unison.
"Uh, yeah. That's me. You in the cave then Happy? Man, I didn't know it had an echo…" Gray muttered, finding his way to the cave entrance. He opened his mouth to say another word but his eyes landed on Natsu and he stopped in his tracks, eyes wide open.
He took in the naked man in the scaly scarf, the lack of a dragon, and a cheerful Happy slowly. Natsu could see the cogs turning in his head, his jaw dropping when it all finally clicked.
"NATSU?!" He shouted in disbelief. "SINCE WHEN ARE YOU A HUMAN?!"
"Er, since today?" Natsu answered awkwardly, scratching the back of his head.
"YOU TALK TOO?"
"Stop gaping like an idiot!" Natsu scoffed, crossing his arms.
"WHY THE HELL ARE YOU NAKED?" He screamed.
"WHY THE HELL ARE YOU NAKED?" Natsu replied.
"I'm not…" Gray paused and looked down, "WHY AM I NAKED?!"
"AHH, MY EYES!" Happy moaned.
"Shut up!" They both grumbled at him.
"So…" Gray started, after a minute of silence, and putting his clothes back on, "You're human…"
"Er, yeah. I guess I can tell you everything now...I mean Happy would have, but that was part of his curse. Zeref just wanted me to suffer…" Natsu sighed, his brother was still haunting him, even in a place he couldn't touch him.
"Zeref?!" Gray asked, "You don't mean King Zeref of Fiore?!"
"That's the one," Natsu frowned, he had never really known Zeref as a king. After Igneel died, he had been trapped in the tower, not seeing daylight until Zeref died.
"Wait! How old are you?! You can't be more than twenty five...and you were a dragon! What happened?"
"Sheesh, Gray! Jus' shut up an' let me talk!"
Gray grumbled but, ultimately, stayed quiet and waited for Natsu's story to be told.
"Sorry if I forget some of the details, it was all such a long time ago…
Natsu had grown up being one of the happiest children in all of Fiore.
Not only was his father a king, but he was the best dad in the world! On top of that, he had a great brother. Although sometimes Zeref would spend hours locked away in his room, he was always a good brother when he left.
When he was younger, Natsu had believed that life would be that perfect forever.
Although his mother had died when they were young, Natsu didn't really know how to miss her; he had only been a baby when she died so he never really knew what life was like with a mother. His father often spoke of her though.
But all the happiness Natsu knew had quickly shattered in the face of his father's death.
He had been too young to realise that not all men had good intentions.
War had ravaged Fiore for years now. Though King Igneel was winning, the enemy was not afraid to be underhanded. Acnologia of Alvarez was the worst of them all. Natsu had learnt this all too late.
He had always been a wild child, unafraid of what the forests near the castle held. But that day, as he ran through them - even the darker corners - without a care, he encountered a man.
He was tall, with long, light blue hair and strange markings all over his body. He wore simple clothing; a basic cloak and pants, his chest remaining bare. He was watching Natsu intensely, making the boy frown at him.
Natsu wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. Was he supposed to talk to the man? His father had told him to never talk to strangers. Was he supposed to run back the way he came? That sounded more sensible. Something about the man seemed unsettling.
As soon as Natsu made a move to run back the way he came, the man ran at him, a sinister smile suddenly made its way onto his face. Natsu felt fear snake its way into his heart and he knew it was time to run.
If it wasn't for the fact that Natsu knew the forest well, the man would have caught up to him in seconds. Instead, Natsu ducked and weaved in between tricky areas, slowing the man down, giving him enough time to scream and shout for his father.
Natsu could see the end of the forest coming near; soon enough the man would have no barriers, easily capturing him. Despite all the odds, Natsu shouted again, pushing faster with determination.
As soon as he heard his father's booming voice he sighed in relief, but he didn't stop running until he could see his figure.
"DAD!" He screamed back, his father running to him as soon as he caught his eye.
But the man was quick on his trail, relentlessly pushing forward. As soon as his father saw the man he froze for a second, then pushed harder to get to his son.
Natsu watched as his father drew his sword.
"NATSU! GET OUT OF THE WAY!" He warned, running faster with fear and anger swirling in his eyes.
Natsu veered off to the side, doing what his father asked. He turned back to see what happened, but it was too late. He had heard the clash of swords and he saw the two men against each other, bloody steel behind each of their backs. When they stumbled away, Natsu saw the man that had been chasing him has been badly injured, a huge bloody mess at his side. He limped away, leaving Natsu with a horrifying view of his father.
"DAD?!" He shouted, tears filling his vision as he ran over to the man who was collapsed on the floor.
His father, a happy and jolly man, that had always been full of smiles, was pale-skinned and covered in blood. Natsu dropped to his knees by his father's side.
"Dad?" He sniffed, clutching onto the man's hand, only a weak pulse remaining.
"Natsu," he breathed - seeming to be in a lot of pain - as he watched his son carefully.
"I'm sorry, Dad! I'm so sorry!" Natsu cried, clutching his hand tighter.
"It's not your fault, Son. It was always bound to end this way. If not now, then on a battlefield where I would not have been able to see your face, not able to know you were safe. In a way, I am glad...glad that I can tell you all that I wanted before I am gone…"
"Dad, no! Don't talk like that!" Natsu cried, shaking in fear and sadness.
"It's okay, Natsu. I just need you to listen…"
"Okay, Dad. I'll listen! Just don't give up!" He cried and Igneel gave a small smile.
"That's my boy...the days I've spent with you, were the happiest in my life. Though you may not be my son by blood, you are by my heart, and that means more than anything. I know I have been away a lot these past few years and I'm so proud of how much you've grown…" he sighed, trying to lift his hand to wipe away Natsu's tears but he was too weak. "Don't cry, Natsu. Hey, what do you do when you're sad? I taught you didn't I?" He asked, looking to the distraught boy.
"Yeah," Natsu sniffed, furiously wiping at his tears.
"So do it, stand up. Show me how much you've grown, all those things you've learnt…"
Natsu stood on two shaky legs as his father gave him a proud and loving smile.
"I won't give up! I'll keep on training until I'm as strong as you! I wanna a great king and be a great dad! And do all those things you did!" Natsu cried, doing his best to stay strong.
Igneel gave a wheezy laugh, coughing up blood in the end, causing Natsu to once again kneel beside him.
"That's my boy...speak of your future, and it will become your will to live." He said, with last of his strength.
With those final words spoken, Igneel's eyes fell shut and his breathing came to a steady end.
Natsu felt icy panic grip his heart as he tried to shake his father awake.
"Dad! DAD! I told you not to give up! Don't die! I need you! I still have so many things I want to show you!" He broke down in hysterics, hugging his father's bloody chest, shaking as the tears ran out.
He stayed like that until the guards found him, his brother finally being called to the scene.
Zeref pulled Nastu away from Igneel's body, his face a mix of shock and horror.
"WHAT DID YOU DO, NATSU?! WHAT DID YOU DO?!" He shouted at the traumatised boy.
Natsu couldn't speak. He didn't know how to do anything at that moment. So he just stared blankly as his brother shook him in a rage, covered in his father's blood.
"Shit, Natsu! No one should have to go through that!" Gray interrupted, a solemn look on his face.
Natsu sighed, he could still feel the loss in his heart. It weighed him down. But he had always lived by Igneel's words, and being proud of his father always lessened his heartache a little.
"It was a very long time ago, Gray." he said, not being able to lie about the fact that he still missed his father dearly.
"Yeah but watching your father die. That always feels like shit…" Gray spoke, his jaw tensing. "I should know, my parents died when I was young, both in village fire. I couldn't save them. I know how it feels to be helpless."
His sharing made Natsu feel better, like he had found a kindred soul.
"Thanks, Gray." he smiled.
"Yeah, well don't get used to it!" He joked, smacking him on the arm. "I aint one for heart to hearts!"
Natsu saw Happy shedding a few tears in the corner in remembrance of his father. Although Happy had never known Igneel well, he thought of him fondly because of how much Natsu loved him.
"Wait," Gray frowned. "That still doesn't explain why the hell you were a dragon!"
"I was gettin' to that before you interrupted me!" Natsu growled. "But it don't make sense unless you hear that bit first…" he sighed. "Can I continue?"
"Yeah, I guess." Gray said, crossing his arms, preparing for the next part of the story.
It took weeks for Natsu to finally start talking again, after the attack.
In the time leading up to that, rumours of Natsu killing his own father floated around the castle causing conflict in the household. People picked sides. Zeref remained reasonably quiet himself. Not even bothering to visit his own brother until the day he started talking again.
As soon as Zeref had been informed, Natsu had watched as his brother burst into his room, shooing the maids away and slamming the door behind them as they left. Natsu couldn't help but wince.
"So you'll finally talk again?" Zeref asked, a little too harshly.
"Y-yes," Natsu replied.
He felt like he had just woken up from a daydream. He had just been letting life fly by since his father died but, as he had run his father's final word through his head again, Natsu had finally decided to live life again. Not the same as before, better. He was living for him and his father now.
"Good," Zeref snapped. "Now you can finally tell me what happened!"
Natsu could tell that it was Zeref's grief that drove him to anger. He had always had a dark part of his soul. Though usually gentle by nature, Zeref found it hard not to let negative emotions cloud his judgement and swallow him up into the darkness.
"There was a man," Natsu started.
"What man?" Zeref interrupted, pacing around the room.
"He had light blue hair and funny markings all over him…"
"Acnologia?" Zeref paused, his eyes widened. "It couldn't have been…"
"Well the man found me when I was playing in the woods. He looked like he was going to hurt me so I ran away but he followed me. I called for dad and I ran back to the castle. Dad heard me and saw me running and went to help but as soon as he saw the man he stopped. Then he pulled out his sword and told me to run away from them so I did. But when I turned back…" Natsu tried to swallow his tears. "When I turned back the man had a bad cut on his side and dad was on the floor...the man ran away but dad...dad, he...he died!" Natsu cried, unable to keep his tears at bay.
Zeref listened intently, his face a blank slate.
"So the man was after you?" Zeref asked.
"I think so,"
"And you did nothing to try and help father when he was dying?"
"He told me to let him speak…"
"You didn't even cry for help?" Zeref snapped, and the boy winced.
"I...I...he was dying! I didn't want to leave him!"
Zeref hissed disapprovingly.
"You might as well have killed him yourself," he spat. "You're the reason our father died."
With that, Zeref left the room, leaving Natsu to wonder if it really was all his fault.
A few weeks later, after Zeref had - once again - spent all of his time in his rooms, Natsu was revisited by his brother. This time late at night.
Natsu heard the door slam and had woken up, groggy from sleep, he looked around the room and found his brother at his bedside.
"Oh! Zeref! You almost scared me!" Natsu sighed, noting the strange expression on his brother's face.
"Sorry, Natsu. I know it's late but I wanted to show you something. Do you think you can come with me?" He asked, his voice gentle but it had a disturbing edge to it.
Natsu shook off the bad feeling he had and nodded his head, letting his brother guide him from his head and around the castle until they reached the bottom of the tower. Natsu paused.
"Come on, Natsu. It's not that much further," Zeref ensured him.
"But Dad always said not to go up to the tower…" Natsu said, a worried look on his face.
"Well dad isn't here!" Zeref snapped, making Natsu flinch. Zeref paused, the harsh look leaving his face. "Sorry, Natsu. I meant that it's probably okay if we do it together - look out for each other, yeah?"
"Okay," Natsu replied, wanting to trust his brother.
Zeref led him up the long, winding stairs dragging him into the room at the top. The room was almost completely empty except for a light blue, white circle in the middle.
"Natsu, can you stand in that circle for me?" He asked.
Natsu nodded slowly, making his way over to the circle cautiously. It seemed harmless so he stepped inside, but as soon as he did he felt his body freeze.
The sweet look that Zeref had worn before fell away, replaced with a dark mask; an amused face with angry eyes.
"You are so gullible, aren't you, Natsu?" He laughed. "So weak and pathetic. It's a wonder how a boy like that can still be a monster!"
Natsu couldn't move his body. He felt hot tears fall down his face. Monster? He was a monster? Why would his brother say all these things to him?
"But it's alright. I'll make sure everyone see's you like I do. I'll make you unlovable. For what you did to our father, you can suffer for an eternity." He laughed again, a madness clearly infecting his mind.
Natsu tried to scream, tried to cry, but his body wouldn't obey. He could only listen, tormented by the terror of Zeref's curse.
"For all your crimes, for all the death that follows you, I curse you to become the beast that's in your heart. To become a creature that all fear and despise, an animal that only deserves to be damned!" Zeref shouted, an intense pain consuming Natsu's body as the words left his brothers mouth. He would have dropped to his knees if he was not trapped inside the circle.
Out of the corner of his eye, Natsu spotted Happy out of the corner of his eye. The cat looked scared but determined. He wanted to shout. Tell Happy to flee, so that Zeref didn't punish him too, but his mouth refused to move. He could only watch in despair as the cat made his move.
"I curse you to," Zeref started, not noticing as Happy flew over to Natsu, he seemed to try and pull him out but got stuck in the circle as well. "Live for eternity. Cast out from society, alone for an eternity!" Zeref shouted stopping when he noticed the blue cat had joined Natsu, he snarled in anger.
"For you, cat! I curse you to never be able to speak a word of what has happened here, if any mad person wants to know! You shall live in isolation with my brother, and shall never see your family again!"
There was nothing Natsu could do. He really was a monster if he couldn't even save his best friend.
As Zeref finished, the circle's light disappeared and Natsu collapsed on the floor, his scarf slipping from his neck, the pain he felt earlier intensified, and soon enough the world gave way to darkness.
Natsu woke with a start. It was dark outside and the pain he had felt from Zeref curse was gone; like it was never there in the first place. Was it really real?
Natsu blinked and looked around. He was in the tower. So it had been real.
The tower seemed a lot smaller than it was before and, despite the rustle he felt of the breeze against his skin, it was no longer cold.
He turned around to look for Happy, hoping nothing had happened to his friend.
As soon as he turned to face Happy the cat let out a loud scream.
"D-Dragon!" the cat cried.
A dragon?! Where? Natsu turned his head in excitement, looking for the mythical creature he had always had such a love for.
Natsu tried to speak, to ask where the creature was, but he found he couldn't. When he growled in frustration, it came out loud and booming, echoing around the tower. Strange.
Natsu turned once again. This time, out the corner of his eye, he caught his reflection in a large mirror, inconspicuously placed next to the door, which seemed to be bolted shut.
Natsu turned fully to face the mirror. At first he was shocked. There was a dragon looking back at him. A large, red-scaled dragon. His brain ran through every possible explanation before he realised every time he moved, so did the dragon.
When the reality sunk in he roared.
He was a dragon. His brother had cursed him to become a dragon and trapped him in the tower.
He roared again, a heart wrenching, sad roar that echoed through the castle. He was a monster.
He dropped his head, no longer being able to face the mirror.
He turned back to Happy, the cat still being scared out of his life.
He tried to talk, to explain what happened but nothing came out. He dropped his head again, a soft whine, barely audible, rolling off his tongue.
The cat stopped shaking and looked at him more closely, not daring to move an inch closer.
"N-Natsu?" Happy asked timidly.
The dragon looked up, eyes sparkling with hope, and did his best to nod.
"Y-You're a dragon! Why are you a dragon? Zeref did that?!" he asked.
Natsu did his best to nod again.
The cat finally sighed and came closer.
"I'm sorry, Natsu!" Happy cried.
Natsu sighed, not knowing what his life would be bring now.
Seven years after Igneel had died, and Zeref had become king, the castle was attacked.
In the middle of the night, Natsu woke up, sensing danger nearby. He nudged Happy awake and listened for any disturbances in the darkness outside.
It was all silent at first, like the calm before the storm, and then, looking out of the window from the tower, Natsu saw a man he had not seen for seven years - Acnologia.
An intense rage overcame him as he watched the man ride up to the castle gates, disappearing out of Natsu's line of sight.
Feeling an overwhelming and desperate need to escape, Natsu threw his body against the door leading out of the tower. He didn't care that he had never been able to open it before, he didn't care if it crunched his bones and made him bleed, the only thing he could comprehend in his frenzied state was the fact that he needed to get out.
He smashed against the door, again and again, feeling helpless as he heard the clash of swords and the screams of men all over the castle. It only made him hit the door harder, ignoring the cries of his companion. He needed to get out.
After another ten minutes of trying the door finally gave a creak. Despite the burning pain in his arm, Natsu threw himself against the door once more and let out a satisfied growl as it collapsed in front of his.
Natsu raced down the stairs, not caring as he knocked bricks out of the wall and smashed ornaments that decorated the castle. He didn't stop moving until he reached the throne room. He could smell Acnologia there, like a vile, festering disease.
He smashed open the doors to the throne room, only one thing being able to stop him in his track through his blinding rage.
Acnologia looked up at his entrance, a twisted smile on his face and he pulled a bloody sword out of Zeref's body.
It seemed to go in slow motion. Zeref's crown clattered to the ground, he buckled to his knees and fell forward, a sad smile of his face as he looked Natsu in the eye. He fell face first to the cold ground, blood slowly pooling around his paling body.
Natsu roared, racing towards his brothers body. Seeing red as Acnologia laughed. Turning his attention to the man that had slayed all of his family, Natsu did something he had never done before and would never do again; he killed a man. It only took a second, Acnologia was too cocky, too convinced the dragon wouldn't touch him. It was enough time for Natsu to slash his claws directly over the man's heart.
Natsu watched as he dropped to the floor beside his brother, both in horror and in relief. He only had a second to turn his brother over - finding him lifeless - before guards flooded in the doors. Spitting nasty words and attacking him, Natsu fled the castle, finding Happy close behind him.
They flew for hours, Natsu getting used to his wings, trying to get away from the king's guards. Eventually they settled in a forest clearing outside of Magnolia. Finding a cave big enough for both of them, they decided to rest. Thinking it would be a temporary home, not aware how permanent their stay really was.
"Shit," was the first word out of Gray's mouth when Natsu ended the story.
Natsu tensed his jaw, not sure what to say. He hadn't thought about his past in a long time and it was like experiencing all again.
Silence enveloped the cave. Nobody seemed to know what to do next. Natsu knew it wasn't exactly a light hearted story, be he hoped that it didn't scare Gray away. He needed a friend now more than ever.
"I'm sorry, Natsu." were the only words Gray spoke after a long silence.
Natsu wasn't sure what it was about the words that got to him, or whether it was simply reliving his past, but before he could stop himself, he gave the man a massive hug.
There was a whole minute that passed by before Gray threw him off, realising that he was still without clothes on.
"Dude! Just because I'm bein' nice doesn't mean I'm hitting on you!" Gray snapped.
"Oi! I wasn't hittin' on you! I just forgot I was naked!" Natsu shouted back.
"Well put some pants on idiot!"
"I don't have any, ice princess!"
Gray paused picking up his stuff from the floor and tossed the bag at Natsu.
"I have some spare clothes in there," he grumbled, then added "but don't bother giving them back, I don't want your stink on me!" Natsu huffed, but was quick to pull the clothes out of the bag and quickly throw them on.
He sighed as he finally started to heat up, happy that he - nor any of his companions - was no longer naked.
"Look, Natsu," Gray started giving him a solemn face. "I'm guessin' you don't have anywhere ta go seeing as what happened with your family and with…" he trailed off shaking his head before he could say any more. Natsu was about to ask what it was about when Gray continued. "Well, anyway, if ya need a place to stay before we make a plan, then you guys can come and stay with us. The place aint that big, and the baby'll probably keep you up…"
"Are you serious?!" Natsu asked in glee before Gray could finish.
Gray snorted. "Of course, idiot. As long as you don't tell Juvia about that weird hug…" he muttered.
Natsu, confused, asked "Why?"
"Ah, she has a weird thing about 'love rivals'" Gray frowned. "Anyway, we better get goin' I gotta get back before its dark and its a long trek through the forest."
Natsu nodded as followed Gray and Happy who led the way out of the cave.
Natsu turned back for a minute, for one last look at the place that had been his home for so long, before he turned his head back to his friends, leaving the cave - and his life as a dragon - long behind him.
Thanks for all the support for this fic! I'm really loving the world it's set in and I already have the whole thing planned out! I'm tempted to do Lucy's side of the story seeing as it's a little hard to argue her side in this!
I literally just handed in my dissertation today and in a months time I will be completely done with uni! I will probably spend that time finishing all of the stories I have started so, to anyone who likes my stuff, you will be inundated!