I don't own Fairy Tail (otherwise it would turn into one big NatsuLucy love fest and wouldn't be quite so funny or generally enjoyable).
A/N: Wrote this because I was feeling in a Christmas-y kind of mood. And because it's almost the end of the year. And because Natsu and Lucy are dense enough to have such a huge gap between realizing their feelings and actually acting upon them. XD
It is 12 o' clock midnight, January 1st.
She is laughing in the midst of the cheers of her partially drunk guild-mates, caught in the chaos that was Fairy Tail's annual New Year blow-out, celebrating with her closest friends and thanking whatever omnipotent force for making her life so happy and worthwhile, when Natsu kisses her.
Granted, it's short, fleeting, almost-platonic.
Granted, he's drunk on fire whiskey (thanks to an amusingly low alcohol tolerance) and will probably not be able to recall a thing in the morning.
Granted, this is Natsu, for Gods' sake—her teammate who has the dangerous propensity to act before thinking things through; her friend who seemed to almost enjoy getting into unnecessary trouble; her nakama who's middle name would most fittingly be 'irrational'.
For whatever reason, Lucy is not supposed to take the kiss into any deeper context.
She is not supposed to touch her lips when he draws away, a lopsided grin on his face. She is not supposed to sigh; not supposed to redden on any other grounds besides gratuitous alcohol consumption. She is definitely not supposed to like it.
But things never really work out the way you plan, because she does.
And suddenly, almost comically, Lucy Heartphilia realizes that she's in love with Natsu Dragonil.
It is 10:16 a.m., February 14th.
She is standing outside the guild headquarters, heart thundering in her chest, a basket of fresh hand-made chocolates in her sweating palms, when she finally gathers enough resolve to attempt to move their relationship forward.
Lucy gulps and glances down at the confections she'd stayed up last night to make. Bright, careful eyes glide over the modest heart covered plastic packaging, the simplicity of four little bundles, four little tokens of friendship. Her gaze then lands on the fifth and she nearly reels.
It is a huge chocolate heart covered in cinnamon, contained in a hand-crafted box, pulled together with expensive silk ribbon.
And it is so obviously, noticeably, painfully different from the rest she hesitates a second, wondering if she can actually pull through.
She then exhales, hardens her tenacity because she must.
The blonde schools her expression into a determined smile, before pushing past the doors and stalking over to the table where her friends are gathered. Where he is no doubt making a fool of himself.
Sharp eyes turn quickly to acknowledge her presence, "Lucy!" His grin is wildly content, "Hey."
The blush is instinctive and she curses her incredibly school girl reaction.
"Happy Valentine's Day, everyone." She greets with a smile. She hustles over to Gray, Happy, Elfman, and Loki and drops the similar packages in front of them.
"Friendship chocolate." She clarifies and she temporarily amuses herself with the varying degrees of their reactions—Happy is ecstatic and jumps into her open arms; Elfman blushes sheepishly, grinning from ear to ear; Loki sinks into something akin to depression; and Gray smirks, almost knowingly.
"Thanks, Luce." He says before eyeing the final package in her basket. The black-haired ice mage grins wolfishly, "And that last one's for…?
She flusters about, hoping that sheer will, will drive away her blush before it's too late—
"Oi! Lucy!" An irritated voice interrupts her flurry and Natsu is suddenly in front of her, lightly glaring, so close, she can feel his perpetually radiating body heat, "Where's my chocolate?"
The girl fixes a tense grin on her features, heart thumping hard in her rib cage. She reaches for the chocolate, and gingerly hands it to him, eyes darting between the floor and his face.
She expects a reaction, of course. Because his chocolate is so obviously, so glaringly different from the others, it would be an incredible feat for him not to notice; everyone else does: Happy and Mirajane and Levi are absolutely elated, Erza and Gray are smirking like this was predictable in the grand scheme of things, Elfman is grinning, and Loki is blatantly complaining about the unfairness of it all.
What she doesn't expect however, is what he actually replies with: "Cool." He says with another one of his trademark grins, "Thanks." And he proceeds to consume it. Whole.
There is no eyes-widening-in-realization. No blushes. No outward acknowledgment that he recognizes her quite apparent attempt at confessing at all.
As he plops down in his seat, he is wholly unaware of everyone's slap-to-the-forehead gestures (and Loki's even more blatant complaining about the unfairness of it all).
Lucy numbly takes her place, stares a moment at the table in front of her, and promptly bangs her head against it.
It is 2:20 p.m., March 14th.
She is walking around town, her subconscious effectively veering her off the path to the guild because she genuinely wants to avoid seeing him more than she has to, when she does in fact see him.
In a shop window. With another girl.
She honestly, seriously wishes with her entire being that she wasn't so infatuated because it hurts and she's furious.
This is exactly why relationships between nakama were so looked down upon, she numbly noted, because all these emotions would gradually draw them apart!
Lucy frowns as the fire mage grins at the nameless woman, and she tries to convince herself that this isn't her business. That she is glad he hadn't realized her confession and it is all for the better that they don't end up together.
The tight knot in her throat doesn't cease however as she looks at them, conflict in her auburn eyes.
Who is this bimbo anyway—
"Oh Lucy!" Natsu calls and she vaguely apprehends the fact he is quite abruptly looking at her. He waves her over and she hesitates before waving back, and taking small steps to where he stood.
"Hey." She says rather awkwardly.
"I'd like a bouquet of flowers for this girl, please."
Lucy looks at him like he's just sprouted another head and his words don't register until the clerk woman (how had she not noticed her green apron with the words 'Sakura Flower Shop' in bold print on the front?) asks, "What kind of flowers would you like?"
The blonde reddens because the implications overwhelm her. "Ah…lilies."
As the clerk disappears into the backroom, she turns to her pink-haired companion with an expression that is more disbelieving than questioning. "What's all this?"
"White Day (1) gift." He answers simply, running a quick hand through his hair.
The clerk woman comes back with a bouquet of fresh lilies and she doesn't quite know what to say when the bundle is finally in her hands.
She blushes. Harder. If he's giving her a gift, then he'd obviously thought about Valentine's Day on some kind of level and maybe there's still hope yet…
"I'd like to order two bouquets of those same lilies." Says another masculine voice that she doesn't recognize as Natsu's. Gray suddenly appears as if from thin air and he's grinning smugly beside her.
Natsu literally growls as the flowers are brought out and she is carrying three bouquets of lilies. "Happy White Day, Lucy."
The pink haired mage slams more money on the table, snarling out a "Three more of that same order."
When she finally realizes that this, (though still rather thoughtful compared to his usual extent of chivalry (none)) is just another one of their competitions, she walks away, not knowing whether to cry or kick something.
It is 3:54 pm, April 22th.
She is in the middle of vacuuming her apartment, dusting her bookshelves, sanitizing her bathroom, and whatever else spring cleaning entails, when she realizes she can't just let him go.
The whole Valentines' incident, her first ever attempt (and her first ever failure) at confessing, had of course left her a little shaken, a little insecure. And the entire White Day debacle had been a serious let down. She had resolved to just forget about the whole thing.
Maybe it was God's way of telling her that she and Natsu were meant to be best friends, nakama, and nothing else.
Surely, she couldn't have fallen so hard for him yet, right?
The blonde finishes with the washroom and nearly drops the bucket in her hands when an abrupt, muffled voice that is not her own, reaches her ears.
She tries to convince herself that the erratic beating of her heart is adrenaline and nothing else.
"Na-natsu!" Bright, flustered eyes finally rest on the huge lump on her bed, snuggled in her covers. "When'd you get in here?!"
His head peaks out from under her comforter, expression frustrated and uncharacteristically somber. He shrugs and says, simply, "…You've been acting different."
Sure, after the Valentine's fiasco (yes, it was that big a disaster in her head) she'd avoided being in too close quarters with the fire mage. She refused a lot of missions with him, pulling last-minute excuses out of her ass. She didn't go to the guild quite as often, knowing he treated the place like a second home. But she'd thought she was being discreet.
"I've… I've just been pretty busy lately," she says without looking at him.
He scoffs, but not harshly, "Yeah. So you've said."
There is an almost palpable quietness in the air, before he throws her covers off of him and stands. He looks at her a seriousness she doesn't quite recognize, "I just…" He hesitates with the words a moment before he shrugs, "It feels weird when you're not around."
She idly wonders if he can hear her heartbeat, because it's pounding so damn loud.
"Oh." She murmurs. "Well, I uh. I'm sorry."
He's suddenly in full-blown grin mode, "Yeah. Well, just wanted to let you know. Come around more often." The pink-haired mage is at her window, about to jump when he turns around and says, "Everyone kinda misses you."
When she's sure he's fully and finally left the premises, she collapses on her bed. She then abruptly realizes her sheets have his scent all over them, and (instead of going off to wash them like she rightly should) she wonders if she'll get any sleep that night.
It is 7:32 a.m., June 21st.
She is sitting on a little wooden fishing boat with her teammates, on the way to some island in the middle of nowhere, sweating bullets and complaining about the miserable heat, when she finally apprehends the extent of Natsu's extreme physical attractiveness.
He takes off his vest when he promptly throws up all over it, and Lucy isn't as grossed out as she should be.
She doesn't know why she's so taken to the sight of him shirtless, when his chest's always in full view, but she can't gather enough rationale to care. (Must be the effect of lovesickness, she idly decides.)
She's busy drinking him in when Gray says suddenly, "Oi, Natsu. Isn't it your birthday?"
"What's it to you—" He bites with as much venom as a groggy person can muster.
"What?!" She exclaims, blatantly cutting into his and Gray's almost-fight, nearly throwing her glass of lemonade to the floor, "Your birthday?!"
He nods, unable to speak.
"Why didn't you tell me?" She screeches, feeling horrible about not knowing such a crucial piece of information about someone she held in such high regard. She backs down, brows furrowing in concern, "I'm sorry, I had no idea. I could've gotten you something—"
"Save it." He grumbles, holding his stomach. "It might not even be my real birthday."
Lucy turns confused eyes to Happy, who explains, "No one knows when Natsu was born, so Igneel, Natsu's master, decided on the first day of summer."
The stellar spirit mage realizes she hadn't known this either, and the quite apparent fact that she doesn't know a lot about Natsu in general sinks in rather painfully.
The pink haired young man groans, "Lucy, it's not a big deal." He sets his head on the wooden bench and winces at its stiffness, "Just come here and let me lay my head in your lap."
If it had been anyone else, Lucy is sure she would've been rightly furious. But of course, it's Natsu and she can't help the heat on her cheeks as she complies.
She strokes his soft hair in a manner that has always managed to soothe him and he looks up at her with dazed, appreciative eyes, "See? You know all the important things." He mutters, grinning weakly.
And the teen has the abrupt, rather compelling urge to kiss the living daylights out of him.
A kiss, she decides, is a fitting birthday present.
As she bends down, something inside her is screaming that she is stepping well past her boundaries, that she is probably taking advantage of him when he can't possibly defend himself, but the desire to touch his lips with hers is exceptionally compelling and she can't quite resist.
Lucy is within a few inches of his face—her heart is thumping crazily in her chest and she's sweating for reasons other than the heat and he still doesn't realize what she's doing, but she ignores it all until—
The boat lurches violently and he vomits all over her shoes.
Naturally, she shrieks him off of her, but she notes that the urge to kiss him never quite disappears.
It is 10:45 p.m., August 7th.
She is walking around in her cerulean, lily-patterned yukata (2), the liveliness of the Star Festival in the backdrop just barely beginning to die down, when she finds him sitting by himself near a tanabata (3) tree, paper in hand, staring up at the glittering night sky.
"Lucy." He says decidedly, before turning around to face her.
The blonde gives him a surprised look, with which he grins and explains, "You always have vanilla in your scent."
She fights down the instinct to blush as she makes her way toward him, settling at his right.
"What are you doing away from the festivities?" She finally asks, giving him her best dead-pan look, "I thought you of all people would have a thing for festivals—what with all the bright colors and the noise."
Natsu shrugs before waving the scrap of paper in his hand, "Couldn't think of what to wish for."
"Really?" She giggles shortly, "You're putting an awful lot of thought into this, I see."
He scowls, though it lacks malice, "Just want to write something good."
She nods and they settle into companionable silence. Lucy gazes up at the stars, deliriously content with the feel of him next to her. "You know," she says, putting voice to her thoughts, "The stars Orihime and Hikoboshi are meeting tonight. After being separated so long…it's really romantic."
Lucy's eyes widen in sudden realization to the implications as she blushes to the roots of her hair. Why the hell had she said that?
Thankfully, the boy is too preoccupied in his wish to take her words in any deeper context, "That so?"
"Yeah," she says, eyes softening as she looked at him.
He exhales rather loudly, putting down his piece of paper. He then unexpectedly turns to the parcel at her right. "What's that?"
"Hm?" She reaches over to the wrapped package, "Oh. It's a book. Birthday present from Levi."
He takes on a shocked sort of look, "It's your birthday today?" And his brows furrow together, "Why didn't you tell me?"
She shrugs, throwing him a look, "Just figured since you didn't tell me yours, it wouldn't be fair if you knew mine until the day of."
The mage gives her dead-pan stare in return, "That's stupid."
Lucy sticks her tongue out at him in reply.
Then, inspiration suddenly strikes and he's scribbling at his paper. When he's done, he grins that grin that makes her stomach do little flip-flops, and he shows her his wish. There, in his messy scrawl, he's written, "For Lucy to have an insanely happy birthday."
She blinks, momentarily stunned. As he goes to tie it on a branch on the tanabata tree, she stops him, "Wait." She says, flustered, gripping the hem of his vest, "Don't waste your wish on me."
He then laughs and says like it's the most obvious thing in the world, "How's wishing for your happiness a waste?"
When he's finished, he stands before her, eyes mirthful, "Happy birthday Lucy."
The blonde is almost ridiculously surprised she isn't literally dying of delight.
It is 5:46 p.m., October 31st.
She is putting the finishing details on her dragon costume, (which is really only a mini dress and thigh high boots and gloves made of snakeskin, a pair of bat-like wings, a spiked tail, and a pair of horns) for the Halloween party that night when she decides that she might just try to seduce him.
Because she knows she's pretty and Natsu's a young, healthy male. Surely there is libido in him somewhere. And didn't he have a thing for dragons? (A little fact Lucy had taken into consideration when choosing the costume in the first place)
The blonde readies herself at around 7 and is entirely pleased with the results. Everything is tight against her skin, fitting around her youthful, curvaceous body like a glove.
She then prepares what she will say, and being quite inexperienced in the game of seduction, she automatically recalls the pick up lines Loki used to use on a regular basis.
'Do you have a map? Because I keep getting lost in your eyes.'
Lucy rolls her eyes, because no one had fallen for that one and like hell was Natsu going to. She'd just have to do with her feminine wiles…
The window is open, and Natsu is sitting there in his fireman outfit, smiling and revving to go.
"Yo, Luce. Ready?"
The stellar spirit mage gathers her wits about her, and stalks in an almost predatory manner towards him. She puts a hand on her waist, lowers her eyelids in a seductive sort-of gaze. She struts over, emphasizing the movement of her hips. She is almost stepping over that imaginary line that guarded his personal space bubble when—
"What kind of monster are you supposed to be?"
And just like that, the moment disappears and the inclination to whack him comes back full-force.
It is 11:04 p.m., November 23rd.
She is running through the marble halls, the stench of disinfectant and raw apprehension stinging her eyes, frantically searching for room 104, when she finally stumbles into it, breathless.
He's sitting in bed, an enormous smile on his face, covered in bandages, and she doesn't know if she wants to kiss him or throttle him.
She does neither. Instead she yells, "What the hell is wrong with you?! How could you go off on your own like that without even telling me or Happy?"
His expression turns unpleasantly somber, "Thought I had a lead on Igneel." And he looks away, trying to appear nonchalant about it, "Too dangerous to take either of you."
"So you went alone?" She screeches, failing to see his logic, "You could've been killed, Natsu! How can you be so…so reckless! So stupid!"
"Yeah." He mutters, tone darker and expression unreadable, "I'm an idiot."
The pink-haired boy finally turns to look at her, eyes stony, before he softly admits, "…Igneel's gone. If either of you got hurt, I don't know if I'd be able to take it."
The blonde's fortitude snaps as she breaks down in tears and throws herself at him, careful to avoid his injuries.
"Oh God…" She sobs into the boys shoulder, "You moron! What if I had lost you?"
He awkwardly wraps his unbroken arm around her and she knows exactly what to be thankful for that year.
It is 6:31 a.m., December 25th.
She is sitting in her oversized recliner, fleece blanket in her lap, a mug of hot chocolate in her hands, enveloped in the warmth of a room filled with sleeping friends, when she confesses to him for the second time.
He's asleep at the foot of her chair. His hair's messy and unkempt but it's always that way so she doesn't expect anything different. His long limbs are all over the place because even in his sleep, his reserves of raw energy keep him moving and fitful. Contrary to her expectations, he snores rather softly.
She smiles when he grumbles and she says with quite apparent fondness, "You idiot." She has the compelling desire to stroke his hair like she had on the boat, "I don't know why I love you so much."
She gives a little chuckle, "No one knows why I love you so much."
"You're temperamental." She says, though affectionate, "You're tactless."
Lucy makes a face, remembering the Thanksgiving day incident, "You rush head first into things without any regard of the consequences."
"You're dense." She says, brows knitting, "I mean, any other person would notice what with how strongly I come off."
It's the beginnings of a rant, but she doesn't try to stop herself. "I'm making a fool of myself here, you know? Fumbling over your words and those stupid little grins you always make."
"I worry my head off for you. Granted, I'd worried about you before, but it'd never been so…potent. Geez, at the magnitude I'm feeling? I fear I may just die of over-concern."
She glares, but it lacks any real bite, "And then you'll be so sorry for not appreciating how much I care; for not realizing how much I love—"
"Merry Christmas Lucy!"
Happy, who had been using her restroom, had just floated in and the blonde is so surprised by his sudden appearance, she topples over the edge of her chair, falling in a manner that lets her face meet head-on with his, with (she swears that some sadistic outside force had planned it to happen this way) her lips crashing right into his.
The scuffle wakes the remaining people in the room, and the first thing they see that Christmas morning, is the two in an awkward but still rather compromising position.
Lucy automatically lurches off the (amazingly) still sleeping boy but not quickly enough. Natsu opens his eyes to the sight of his teammates face blushing like mad, lips bruised, head mere inches above his own.
But being his rather thick self, he responds with a happy grin, "Morning Lucy. Merry Christmas."
It takes all of the blonde's strength not to face fault like everyone else in the room had.
It is 11:59, December 31st.
She is talking excitedly with her guild mates, moving with the blasting music, again fixed in the frenzy that was Fairy Tail's New Year party, when Natsu pulls her aside and she groans because he has a bottle of fire whiskey in his hand and because the familiarity of the situation hits her like a truck.
"What?" She says as she's dragged a little ways away, angry though she doesn't really mean to be.
His brows furrow, "What, what?"
She sighs haggardly, "Why'd you pull me away? We're going to miss the countdown."
"How will we miss it? There's no avoiding it, I'd say." She rolls her eyes because he's always this philosophical when he's drunk. (And quite flirtatious, if last year was anything to go by.)
"See look! We're missing it!"
"You can count down from here."
"What if I wanted to welcome in the New Year over there?"
"What the hell's the difference?"
"Yeah… A little."
"Would you let go of me? (3…) Why do you need to grab on like that?"
"Because we're going to kiss."
"HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!"
And just like that Lucy and Natsu are kissing. She doesn't quite remember this much passion in last years kiss but then again, last year seemed so very far away.
As they part, she is breathless and flushed and her first words of the New Year are, "What was that for?"
"I love you." He says without qualms, without the hesitation. He says it with the same energy and rigor he invests in everything he does and she is floored. "What?"
He gives a little sigh, "I can't believe I had to say it straight."
"I thought it was pretty obvious, with the way I'm always acting." He scoffs really soft-like.
And she doesn't know what to think.
He rubs the back of his neck, "Really, I mean I got you a White Day present and there was that stupid birthday wish thing and the hug back during Thanksgiving. Isn't that what boyfriends do?" And he's grinning that huge, heart-stopping grin of his, "Really Lucy. You're kind of slow."
She wants to hit him suddenly, for making her frustrated, for making her wait, for making absolutely no sense.
But it is 12 o'clock a.m., January 1st and it is a full year later and she is a full year wiser and what they have is a full year more meaningful.
So she kisses him instead.
A/N: Whoo, Japanese culture! I know they don't even live in Japan, but I think some of the traditions over there are really sweet so I included them.
(1) White Day's the boy equivalent of Valentine's Day in Japan. (Because only girls give chocolates on Valentines.) The guys who received stuff on Valentines use this day to repay the girls for their sentiments.
(2) A yukata's a traditional summer garment often worn during festivals like the tanabata. :)
(3) The tanabata or Star Festival is a festival in Japan based on the legend of the lovers Orihime and Hiroboshi. It is said that usually these stars are separated by the entire Milky Way galaxy but they meet once a year on the 7th month of the 7th day (Some places celebrate on the 7th of July). Anyway, on the day, people put up tanabata trees. And people write wishes down on paper and tie them around the branches of said trees.