~ Spoiler Alert ~
This story takes place after the ending of the manga. If you do not know how the manga ends and don't want anything spoiled, please do not read this.
Lucy's pencil scratched against the surface of the journal that rested upon her lap. The charcoal-etched words stared back at her, mockingly, in the dim light of the flickering fire. Her lip ticked in a grimace as she re-read what she had just written.
Stella gripped the doorhandle, her mind not believing what her eyes were seeing.
"Blaise?" Her voice quivered. Blaise smiled his typical lop-sided grin as a soft blush creeped up his cheeks. Her grip tightened on the doorknob as she steeled her resolve. "What… What are you doing here?"
He rubbed the back of his head sheepishly as his eyes darted to the side. "I'm back." His words hung there for a moment before he slowly looked back at her, hope dancing in his molten eyes. "Did you miss me?"
Stella's jaw fell open. She was torn between pure happiness and the overwhelming urge to punch him square in the face.
It had been a year.
A whole damn year without a word.
Could she really act like nothing had happened at all?
Lucy scrunched up her nose and threw her pencil onto the soft ground with a heated huff. She was completely stuck. She didn't know what she wanted to write. She didn't know what story she wanted to tell. She didn't know what would happen next to Stella or Blaise… The thought of her encroaching deadline haunted her. After writing her first book, and winning that big fancy award, she thought that writing would become easier. Yet, somehow, it had only become harder.
Her brown eyes wandered around the small campsite that their group was at for the night. Erza was snoring loudly across the fire, Gray was sleeping with only his boxers on, Happy was curled up beside Natsu, and Natsu… She gulped as her eyes roamed his sleeping form. His chest rose and fell slowly, his face peaceful. Sweat began to moisten her palms as her eyes inadvertently traveled down to his well-defined abs. Her face blushed a deep red and she quickly turned back to face the fire.
It had been over a year since their battle against Alvarez. It had been so long, yet nothing had truly changed. Well, not between them at least. Everyone else had moved forward. Gray and Juvia were together, even though Gray still couldn't outwardly admit it… Erza and Jellal had finally started seeing each other… Heck, Levy was already even pregnant with Gajeel's baby!
Yet, here she was, with nothing more than friendship between her and the love of her life.
She gulped and leaned her head back to stare up at the stars far above. Her fingers automatically moved to trace each of the keys that would call her celestial friends. A soft smile spread across her plump lips when she felt Aquarius's key… Lucy had kept her promise, she had found her and she would never again lose another one of the friends that she held so dear. With a heavy sigh she looked back at the fire before she reached over to grab another small log to toss onto the dying embers. She let the slowly growing flames warm her fingers as, for a brief moment, a sense of peace overcame her…
… That was abruptly shattered as a sharp, stabbing pain rocketed up from her fingertips.
With a soft yelp she yanked her hand back from the flames. Had she burned it? She lifted her now painless hand up to her face only to be greeted by the sight of black fingertips.
"What the?" She gasped, amazed and horrified as she watched the black color slowly recede until it disappeared.
Lucy jumped and quickly slid her hand underneath her leg as her head whipped around to see Natsu rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. "Natsu! I'm sorry, did I wake you?"
His nose wrinkled slightly before he yawned. "Are you okay? I thought I heard…"
"I'm fine… Just a little writer's block."
"Oh…" He muttered as he sat up and scooted over closer to her. She was immediately grateful for the heat that he naturally exuded. "Is that why you're up? Because you need to write?"
Lucy's soft smile fell and she turned her head so that her hair would fall. She didn't want Natsu to know…
"Yep, that's why. I have a deadline coming up and I'm completely stuck. I don't know what I'm going to tell my editor." She forced out a laugh.
She didn't want him to know that she still had nightmares… That she still had nightmares about him leaving.
"Jeez, Luce. Your first book won that giant award! Don't worry about it, I'm sure that it'll be great." He leaned into her slightly, just bumping her shoulder, yet it sent a shiver of delight rattling down her spine. She flipped the journal shut and quickly tucked it back into her bag.
"Thanks, Natsu. I think I'll be able to sleep now." She forced the words out, not really meaning any of them.
"Always, Luce." He sat close to her for another long moment and she had the distinct feeling that he wanted to say something to her, but he didn't say anything before he crawled back to where he had been soundly asleep before.
Lucy laid down and pulled her blanket over herself. She kept her back to her pink-haired secret crush as she felt the tension between them grow. "Goodnight, Natsu."
"Night, Luce." His voice was soft and blended in with the chirping of the crickets that surrounded them. She took a deep breath and sighed as she shut her eyes and tried to reassure herself.
He was here.
Natsu was alive and here, with her and everyone else.
She wasn't alone again.
With that thought, she finally fell into a somewhat restful slumber.
The following morning came all too fast as everyone began to wake and head out to finish the trip back to Magnolia. They had been gone for nearly five days and Lucy couldn't help but smirk when she saw the way that Gray seemed to bounce with each step closer that they came to the guild hall. Erza was also visibly excited as she continually babbled about her date at some super-special cake shop with Jellal that was supposed to be tonight. Even Natsu seemed chipper as he chatted away with Happy about what they were going to do as soon as they got back.
Lucy, on the other hand, had her mind stuck in her yet-to-be-completed novel.
When they finally reached the guild hall Lucy made a beeline for Levy. As soon as the blue-haired script mage caught sight of her blonde friend, she bolted up from her seat and quickly wrapped Lucy in a hug that was somewhat blocked by her protruding stomach.
"Lucy! You're back! How was the job?" Levy pulled away to quickly look her over.
"Boring, as usual, but it paid my rent for the rest of the month."
Levy smiled before she leaned back, her small hands automatically coming to rest upon her large belly before she moved to sit back down next to a scowling Gajeel. Lucy quickly moved to sit across from them.
"Squirt, I told ya not to move."
Levy rolled her eyes as Gajeel slung a protective arm around her waist. "Don't mind him Lucy, we had a doctor visit yesterday so he's feeling a little overprotective."
Lucy's eyebrow rose. "I didn't know that it was possible to become even more overprotective." Gajeel huffed and looked away, a small blush covering his iron pierced face.
"Well, he feels like he needs to be twice as protective now since we're having twins."
Lucy deadpanned. "You're having twins!" She nearly shrieked.
Levy's entire being began to glow as Gajeel pulled her even closer to him. "Yep!"
Lucy's surprise quickly shifted into delight as she smiled at her friends. She was so happy for them… Really…
Yet maybe, just maybe, she was also a teeny, tiny bit jealous.
"Congratulations, that's amazing!"
Lucy stayed at the guild for almost another hour before she left. She needed to write. By the time that she made it home it was already late afternoon and the sun was beginning to sink into the horizon. She grabbed her journal out of her bag before tossing it onto her desk. She quickly made a pot of tea before she sat down at her desk and once again began the arduous task of somehow writing a second novel.
A year's worth of memories flashed before her and her answer immediately entered her mind.
No, she couldn't forgive him just like that.
"You should leave, Blaise."
He froze as his eyes widened in disbelief. "What?" The word came out strangled, choked.
She took a deep breath and gathered her strength, resiliently meeting his amber gaze. "You heard me."
"But…" He nearly whimpered.
She shook her head, making her ebony waves crash down around her. "You left. You left without a word." Pain laced her voice as she silently left out what bothered her the most.
He hadn't just left… He had left her… Hadn't she deserved an explanation?
Hadn't she at least deserved a proper goodbye?
"Bye, Blaise." She had to force out the words through clenched teeth. His entire posture seemed to fall as he watched her slowly close the door.
As soon as the door clicked shut she fell to the ground, scraping her knees against the wood. Her chest clenched in pain as tears began to bubble from her eyes. She sucked in searing breaths as she tried to breathe.
"Stella?" His voice wormed its way through the wooden door, beckoning her to open it for him. "Come on, Stella…"
Tears chocked her throat as she clenched her shirt. Why did the sound of his voice hurt so much?
"Bye, Stella." His words came through muffled and she could feel it the moment that he left. Her world suddenly became more empty and she was struck by a kind of loneliness that was even worse than it was when he had truly been gone.
How was that even possible? How was it possible to miss him even more when she finally knew that he was back in town?
A fat tear rolled down Lucy's face and splattered onto the page. With a frustrated huff she pushed the journal away from her and roughly wiped away the tears that were slowly staining her face.
"Get it together…"
"Yo, Luce!" The sound of Natsu's body crashing into her bed made her shriek in surprise.
"Natsu!" She sucked in a deep breath to shove her emotions aside as she stood up to march over towards him. "How many times do I have to tell you to use the door?"
"But, if I use the door I can't surprise you!" His face-splitting grin forced the frown from her face.
She huffed. "Where's Happy?"
Natsu shrugged. "Where he always is lately, with Carla."
Lucy rolled her eyes as she went to make another cup of tea. Even that damn cat had a better love life than her. "Do you want any food?"
Natsu laughed. "That's a stupid question."
Lucy grinned. Yea, he was right, that was a dumb question. She began to cook some simple pasta and chicken while humming softly to herself. She let her mind wander, focusing on the plot for her novel instead of the pink-haired dragon slayer that was currently watching her every move. It wasn't long before she placed a heaping plate of food down in front of a salivating Natsu. She bit back a grin as she sat down as well.
"Thanks, Luce." The next several minutes involved the sound of him inhaling his food before he came up for air. He eyed her for a minute as she finished her food at a more human pace. "You know, I'm a little surprised you still live here after what you made on your first book."
Lucy reached for his empty plate and put the dirty dishes into the sink. "I like it here… It has so many memories."
He leaned back in his chair and looked around the small apartment. "Yea, you're right about that. This place is like you. Familiar."
Lucy frowned slightly at his word choice but she quickly forced on a smile before he turned to look back at her. "I guess." Lucy sat back down as it once again became quiet between them. It had never been like this before, but ever since her book award party they had become awkward around each other. She couldn't figure it out, she wanted to stop it, yet the distance between them just seemed to grow
"Are you okay, Luce?" His expression softened as worry seeped into his eyes.
She winced. "Of course I am, Natsu. Why?"
He shrugged and continued to watch her. "You've just seemed off recently. Like something is bugging ya."
"Come on, Natsu. If something was wrong I'd tell you. You know that."
He watched her for another long moment before his posture relaxed. "Yea, I guess you're right."
She smiled and lightly kicked his shin. "Since when did you become a worrier? Isn't that Gajeel's job lately?"
"I know! I saw him smash a chair into pieces today because it 'almost' got in Levy's way." His laughter bounced around the apartment, making her small place feel alive.
"I guess I can't blame him though, he's just worried about her."
"Yea, guess I'd probably be the same if I was in his shoes."
Lucy blushed as a thought ran rampant out of her mouth. "Is that something you want someday? To have a baby?"
His face immediately became a shade darker than his hair. His eyes stayed glued on her as his lips fumbled to form words. "Um… Yea, I guess. Do… Do you want that?" Uncertainty filled his gaze as he watched her.
All of a sudden she felt hot. Really, really, hot. Her whole body became flushed as she quickly stood up and turned on the sink so that she wouldn't have to face him when she answered. Once her hands were inside the soapy water she took a deep breath and replied, trying not to let him see how deeply he had rattled her.
"Yea, I want kids someday."
"Oh, that's um, good to know."
A shiver ran up her spine as she tried to resist the urge to turn around and look at him. "Why is that something good to know?"
"Well, ugh, you're my partner and it's good to know that one day my partner wants to have kids."
Lucy sighed and scrubbed the dish harder. "Don't worry, Natsu. Whenever I do have babies, with whomever I'm with, they won't get in the way of our friendship." She turned and threw a forced smile over her shoulder before quickly returning to face the nearly-finished dishes.
It became quiet again.
It was quiet until she turned off the water and sat the last dish to dry. When she turned back to face Natsu she found that he was still staring at her, his face contorted into an odd expression that she couldn't read. She walked passed him to sit on her bed as he angled his seat so that he could continue facing her direction.
"Hey Luce, do you think Gajeel and Levy are going to get married?"
She nodded. "Mhm. I'd also bet that its not too far off for Juvia and Gray too."
His eyebrows rose. "Really?"
"Of course? Can't you see it? Everyone's falling in love and moving forward."
His face scrunched up as he scrutinized her. "I noticed, I just didn't think that everyone was moving that fast."
"Everyone moves at their own pace. Some move faster than others."
He took a moment to think that over before he spoke again, his voice velvety. "How fast do you move, Lucy?" His sincerity floated off of him in waves.
She gulped. "I don't know, I've never been in a serious relationship."
"But, what about with me?"
Lucy's hands began to tremble and her heart felt like it was going to jump out of her chest. She could hardly breathe. A nervous laugh erupted from within her, slightly shocking her as she forced out a reply. "Natsu, what are you talking about? We're partners."
He reached up and rubbed the back of his head as he sheepishly laughed. "Yea, guess you're right."
Lucy could hardly stand looking at him. He had absolutely no idea what he did to her. His smooth voice, the way his eyes sparkled, his lopsided smile, the way her heart skipped when he looked at her… How could he not see what his mere presence did to her? Still, it was better that he didn't know. Unrequited love was hard enough, she wouldn't be able to handle it if confessing ruined their friendship as well.
Natsu… Well, he was the most important person in her life. She wouldn't ruin that.
She couldn't lose him, not again.
She leaned backwards until she fell back against the bed. She stared up at the ceiling, glad that she could no longer see his face. It didn't take long before she felt him lay down beside her, their legs dangling off of the side of the bed.
"I'm glad that we're partners, Luce." His voice was nearly a whisper. She could feel the heat that radiated off of him. He was so close, so very close, that she could almost feel his arm brushing hers.
"Me too, Natsu… I know that a lot of things are starting to change, but you can always count on me. Whoever comes into our lives, no matter what, you'll always be my partner." She turned her head to the side to look at him. He was staring straight up at the ceiling, his face blank and unreadable. He took a shallow breath and then turned so that he was facing her. She could feel his breath on her skin, making her hyper aware of every small sensation.
"Luce, is there someone you like?"
Lucy seriously couldn't breathe. She sucked in a sharp breath as his hand found its way into hers. He weaved their fingers together, making her mind go completely blank.
"It's… It's okay if you like someone. You can tell me, ya know. We…" He squeezed her hand. "This will never change. You'll never lose me."
She wanted to cry.
She bit the inside of her cheek to stop the tears that wanted to fall. "You'll never lose me either, Natsu." Still, as she laid there with their eyes clashing together she couldn't stop dangerous thoughts from circling through her mind.
He had left her once before, what was stoping him from leaving her again?
She turned to look back up the ceiling, unable to continue meeting his gaze. She squeezed his hand, reassuring herself for the millionth time that he was really there.
"Luce…" His voice had somehow managed to soften even more. "Have you ever been kissed?"
Natsu jerked, yet he kept his hand within hers. "You have?"
She nodded and closed her eyes, letting her memories wash over her. "When I was still living in that hell of a mansion a boy from school kissed me. I promptly 'Lucy Kicked' him."
Natsu's body relaxed as a nervous laugh escaped him. "That sounds like you."
She giggled softly before she continued. "And… When Fairy Tail was disbanded and I was working… I got kissed then."
His hand went limp. "You were?"
"Did you… Do you… Like him?"
"I don't know. His name was Aaric. I didn't really have time to think about feelings back then… I was so preoccupied with trying to find all of you. I was always looking for clues, searching for signs… Plus, all of my actual work. There just… Wasn't time for that sort of thing."
"Oh." He took a deep breath and she could have sworn that she felt his fingers quiver. "When was it?"
Lucy rolled her eyes and turned to look at him. "Why does it matter?"
He turned to face her, his face expressionless. "It just does, okay?" His voice was firm, unyielding, and she found herself replying to him without even questioning his odd tone.
"About two days before you came back."
He grimaced. "I'm sorry."
He smiled sadly as he slid his hand out of hers. She instantly longed for his touch. "For ruining your romance."
She scoffed. "You didn't ruin it, it was nothing to begin with."
"A kiss isn't nothing, Luce."
Her hand clenched the blanket beneath them. She needed something to steady herself. "Have you ever been kissed, Natsu?"
His face flushed, but he didn't look away. "No."
Her heart skipped and she was almost positive that he would be able to hear its erratic beats. "You haven't?" Not for the first time that night, she noticed how close he was to her. His lips parted to answer, before promptly slamming shut. He was so very close…
"No, I'm kind of nervous for it, actually. Isn't that stupid?" He laughed at himself before his expression turned deadly serious. Suddenly, she felt his fingers gently brushing against her own once again. "Hey, Luce, do you wanna be my first kiss?"
She chocked on thin air as her eyes bulged out of her head. "What?"
"Um, I mean, it wouldn't mean anything. We'd still be partners of course… Come on Luce, will you help me with this?"
Lucy didn't know what to think. She didn't know what to do. She could hardly breathe.
He was asking her to kiss him?
She was instantly torn. She wanted to kiss him. She wanted to kiss him more than he could possibly know. But, that wouldn't be right. That wouldn't be okay.
It was not okay to kiss your best friend, not if you wanted to remain friends.
Yet, she couldn't deny the way that her heart was pounding. She couldn't stop her fingers from slowly curling into his as his thumb rubbed the back of her hand. It wouldn't be right…
But, damn, did she want this.
It was simple, if she did this she would have to give him up. As impossible as it sounded, as impossible as it felt, she would have to give him up.
Maybe if she kissed him she could shove her stupid crush aside?
Maybe it would prove to her that they were nothing but friends? That they could never be more than friends?
If she felt nothing when they kissed, then she could finally push aside all hope of being with Natsu.
"You… You don't really want that, do you?"
"I wouldn't have asked you if I didn't want it."
"Natsu, I… I don't want to ruin our partnership."
He leaned in closer, resting his forehead against her own. They had both shifted onto their sides, their bodies hardly an inch apart. "Don't be stupid, it wouldn't ruin our friendship. You're my partner, always, Luce. I just want my first kiss over with."
He just wanted to get it over with?
"It's ridiculous that I still haven't kissed someone. But, I don't wanna kiss just anyone. I don't want to do that with someone that I can't trust. Come on, Luce, I trust you."
She licked her lips, her breathing unsteady as the tip of his nose lightly brushed her own. His free hand crawled up her arm, sending lightning bolts through her with every delicate touch until it gently cradled her face.
His lips shut her up.
She could hardly process it. She melted within his touch. His grip tightened slightly on her face as his lips moved slowly, tentatively, against her own. Her eyes fluttered closed as she gently pushed her lips against his.
In that moment, all her fears went into hiding. All she could hear was the beating of her own heart and the soft noises of their lips colliding.
She pushed her lips against his harder, her tongue darting out to get a better taste of him. He shuddered as his mouth popped open with a noise akin to a throaty growl. Their tongues met, just for a moment, before she forced herself back to reality and pulled away from him, just enough to separate their hungry lips.
"Luce…" His eyes were closed as he said her name softly, lovingly… He took a shaky breath before opening them. "Was I… Good?"
She jerked her head away from him. His hand fell away from her face and she felt him move a little bit away from her. "I would have never guessed that was your first kiss." Her heart thundered loudly in her chest, trying to cover up her words and the breaking of her own heart.
If this was his reaction, he didn't like her.
If this was his reaction, he truly thought of her as just a friend.
If this was his reaction… She would absolutely have to let him go.
He laughed and moved farther away from her. She couldn't feel his heat anymore. All that was left of his presence was his hand held securely within her own. "I can't believe that Aaric guy let you go if you kiss like that."
Lucy squirmed. There was no way that she was going to tell him that her kiss with Aaric hadn't been anything even remotely similar to that. Aaric had kissed her quickly and it was over before she had even realized that it had begun.
This… This had been different.
But he could never know that.
She shrugged, trying to hid her inner turmoil. "His loss, someone else's gain."
"I guess so." He sighed and she felt it as he began to pull away. His grip loosened around her hand. Her heart lurched.
He was already on his feet by the time she shot upwards. "Don't leave." Her words came out breathy and he immediately froze.
She reached out her hand to grab his, needing his warmth to give her courage. "Don't leave, please? You can sleep on the couch."
His face softened. "Luce…"
She didn't know what he was going to say, and she hated that. Without really thinking it over, she gave him a real reason to stay. "Please, Natsu? I… I've been having nightmares…"
Natsu's face immediately crumpled. "Nightmares?" Just as she had expected, he moved to sit next to her again. "Why didn't you tell me?"
She shrugged and gently withdrew her hand from his, glad that he wasn't leaving. "I didn't want to bother you with it…"
He grabbed her shoulders and roughly spun her to face him, his face dark and serious. "You could never bother me. Always tell me when something is wrong Luce, always." He squeezed her shoulders before letting go. "What were your nightmares about?"
She shook her head, she simply couldn't tell him that. "Maybe later?" She whispered.
"Okay…" He watched her carefully for a moment before he kicked off his sandals and quickly crawled onto her bed.
"Hey! What… What are you doing?"
He rolled his eyes at her as his head collided with the pillow. "Going to sleep, of course."
"But… But I said you should sleep on the couch…" She whined, her heart beating wildly.
"Why would I sleep on the couch when the bed is right here?" He was about to pull up the blankets to crawl under them when she quickly snatched them from him.
"Fine…" She stuttered. "Just, you stay on top of the blankets, okay?"
He shrugged. "Whatever."
Her face heated as she pulled up the blanket and slid underneath it. Even with the blanket separating them, she could still feel his warmth. "Nothing will ever change between us, right, Natsu?"
"Mhm, we'll always be friends." His voice was heavy with sleep and it only took moments before he was out. Lucy peeked over at him, watching his face as he fell into dreamland.
She had to give him up.
When she was absolutely sure that he was asleep she slowly reached out to gently trace the edges of his face. He leaned into her touch and emitted a soft noise reminiscent of a longing moan.
She slowly withdrew her hand and tucked it back under the blanket. He was sleeping facing her now and she let herself fall asleep to his handsome face while her heart continued to break.
She couldn't keep longing for something that would never happen.
"Sweet dreams, Natsu…" She whispered as she allowed herself to fall into a comfortable sleep…
A sleep that was soon, once again, disrupted by nightmares.
"Natsu?" Her voice echoed into the dark cavern that surrounded her. She couldn't see him anymore. She couldn't hear him anymore. Where was he? Panic filled her voice as she yelled his name. "Natsu!"
Nothing but silence answered her.
He was gone. Again.
A bright flame burst to life in the distance and she immediately began running towards it. Tears poured from her as the flame seemed to grow farther and farther away. She felt like she couldn't breathe, like all of the air in the cavern had been sucked out.
"Luce?" Natsu's voice made her spin around. But, he still wasn't there. In his place was a floating flame. She reached for it, not caring that it would burn her. "Luce?" His voice echoed out from the flame as she reached for it. "Luce, stop!" His voice begged her. But, she couldn't. She couldn't lose him again.
As soon as her fingers reached the curling flames a sharp pain shot up her arm, but she didn't pull back. A silent scream ripped from her throat as her hand dived into the fire. "Natsu!"
Lucy bolted upright in bed. Immediately, she looked to her side only to find Natsu soundly asleep with one arm draped over her waist. She sighed as a wave of relief crashed over her. "Thank goodness…" She softly whispered. His fingertips lightly dug into her as he held her a bit tighter.
She was about to lay back down when she felt it. A sharp, mind-boggling, pain that reverberated up from her fingertips. She yanked her hand back up to her face and in the dim light from the moon outside her window she saw it…
A deep black color stained her fingertips. It looked like she had dipped them in a jar of ink. She winced as the horrendous color receded, once again fading into nothingness.
She glanced back at Natsu once more, glad that he hadn't awoken, as she laid back down onto the bed. Fear gripped her heart as she clenched her fist.
What in the hell was going on?
~ Author's Note ~
So, I got a new idea for a Fairy Tail story. I'm actually already working on the third chapter to this. Please let me know if you think that I should keep going with this story. Do you like it? What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading!