No Ribbons

It had all started as a simple mission.

They were to seek out a missing boy, and bring him home to his father. It was going to be the greatest mission they ever did together, and the most rewarding. They were looking forward to the look of joy on the father's face when his son was returned.

But that was before they found how truly life-threatening this mission was.

Natsu was thrown backwards, nearly slamming into a rock wall.

"Natsu!" screamed Lucy, who'd been knocked down.

"Don't worry about me, you need to get to the boy!" he said, quickly standing again.

Lucy looked and saw the boy to which he indicated.

He was crying, tied up in ropes.

Erza swung her sword, taking out dozens of dark guild members all at once.

"We can't let them use that boy!" she barked in agreement with Natsu.

Gray made an ice mallet, smashing away alongside Erza.

"Go Lucy, before they take him!" he said.

Lucy nodded.

Almost barely able to stand from her fall, she rushed over as quickly as she could to the boy.

"Stop her." came a voice from somewhere.

A strange man dressed in a a sparkly black jumpsuit appeared.

"Look out Lucy! That man's an illusionist!" yelled Natsu, who was getting beaten pretty bad.

"Ah.. your friend is quite the quick-witted one." said the man in a lust, almost haunting voice.

Lucy, taking no hesitation, thrust her whip at him, which caught him on the side of the face.

There was a sharp tap on her shoulder.

She turned, shocked.

He'd made a duplicate of himself.

"Missed me." he said, swiping for her.

She ducked down quickly.

The boy had been able to free himself of the ropes in the time Lucy had bought him, but now Lucy was in danger of this new man.

"LUCY LOOK OUT!" shouted Natsu, just as his opponents fist slammed into his face, knocking him back again.

Lucy whipped around just as the man struck her with his fist.

Her body scraped against the rocks as it flew, cutting her in several places.

"LUCY!" said Natsu, jumping up.

With a quick punch, he knocked his enemy to the side, rushing over to Lucy.

"Lucy! Are you okay?" he asked, helping her up.

A small cry of pain escaped her lips, as she grabbed at her leg.

Natsu looked down and gasped in horror.

Her little flight drove a huge gash into the calf of her left leg.

If he left her now, she might bleed to death.

"Happy!" he called for the blue cat.

"AYE!" replied Happy, flying over.

Natsu quickly took off his scarf, handing it to the blue cat.

"I need you to tie this above Lucy's knee," he said, showing the cat her wound.

He gasped.

"But Natsu, this is your Dragon-scale scarf!" he said, shocked.

Natsu glanced down at Lucy, who had tears of pain in her eyes.

"I know, but we need to stop the bleeding before she dies." he said, his voice breaking on the last word.

"Natsu.." Lucy breathed, gazing up at him weakly.

"It's okay Lucy, you're going to be fine. I'm going to go teach that guy a lesson." he said.

Gently he laid her against the wall, where Happy proceeded to bandage Lucy's leg.

The man in the jumpsuit exchanged a long glare with the fire mage, as he stood, fists burning.

"There's no way you're going to beat me in that state!" scoffed the man, laughing at Natsu's beaten and bloodied face.

"That doesn't matter. You hurt Lucy, for that, I can't forgive you!" Natsu snarled, billowing fire.

The man neatly dodged his flame, splitting into two.. then four.. then eight..

They all laughed at the same time.

Natsu blasted them away until there was only the real one left.

He heard Happy shouting and glanced back over his shoulder momentarily.

Lucy's leg refused to stop bleeding. Natsu's scarf was totaled, and Lucy was loosing consciousness fast.

Quickly he turned back, grinding his teeth.

He was surprised to find another Natsu, staring back at him.

No, this was another one of the man's tricks.

He grinned.

"You know, I could get use to this." he said, admiring the flames in his hand.

Natsu went rigid.

"He can imitate attacks?!" he said.

Before he could think, the fake Natsu's flaming hand smashed into his jaw, sending him backwards.

He too was scraped against the rocks, just like Lucy.

Lucy stared at him, horrified.

"NATSU!" she screamed.

Natsu wiped blood from the corner of his mouth, turning back to Lucy.

"Don't worry about me, save your energy-"

The fake Natsu kicked him in the stomach.

Natsu flew to the ground in pain.

"You really are slow.."

Natsu coughed up blood.

Gray and Erza glanced over at him, paling.

"How are these guys so strong?" said Gray, smashing his way through a few dozen more.

Erza blew away about twenty of them with just one swing of her over-large sword.

"I don't know. I've never had such a hard time fighting a dark guild before." she said grimly.

Natsu clutched his stomach, gasping for breath.

Taking advantage of this, the fake Natsu kicked him in the side, making him reel in pain again.

Happy cried, watching as he was kicked and tossed effortlessly, again and again..

Lucy was crying too.

He was being hurt because of her, because she had been to weak to fight for herself.

She mashed her teeth together.

'No..' she thought, as the tears flooded her vision.

'I have to be strong for him this time..'

Gray glared at Natsu.

"Natsu get up," he urged.

Natsu looked up at him weakly, a bit surprised.

"Lucy needs you." he said.

Natsu seemed to freeze at the sound of her name.

"Lucy-" he said in a strangled voice.

The man pulled Natsu up, choking him in mid-air.

"I must say, I'm disappointed in you, Salamander.." he said, watching as he struggled to catch his breath.

"I never thought you would turn out to be such a weak opponent."

Natsu glared at him, using what little strength he had to try and pry the man's fingers from his throat.

"Get the fuck off of him." came a stern voice.

"L-Luc.." gasped Natsu, staring at her in horror.

"What was that?" asked the fake Natsu, turning his head slightly.

Faster than anyone could think, Lucy had her whip wound tightly around his neck, strangling him half to death.

"You heard me." she said, as he reverted back to his normal form.

His hands came up to his neck, letting go of Natsu.

Natsu was immediately on his feet.

Lucy, who was in even worse condition now, glared icily at the man.

She threw the man aside, leaving him to slam against the rocks as he had done with Natsu and Lucy.

He stumbled, standing, and tried to grab hold of Lucy's wounded leg.

Natsu grabbed his arm firmly, glaring at him.

"Don't you dare touch my nakama again." he said.

He sent the man flying into a few of the other dark guild members that Gray and Erza were trying to hold back.

Lucy stared at Natsu, and looked as if she was about to faint.

Natsu rushed over to her, catching her just as she began to fall.

"Lucy, what were you thinking?!" he said, carefully coming down to his knees on the hard rock beneath them.

Lucy brought her hand up to his face, and he instantly froze.

"You're hurt, Natsu.." she said.

Natsu gave her a reprimanding look.

"I'm not nearly as hurt as you are. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine." he said, despite all the cuts and bruises all over him.

"I'm sorry Natsu.." she whispered.

He looked hurt, not only on the outside, but there was a deep, sad look in his eyes.

"Don't be." he said.

In a moment of silence, the boy came over to them.

"She needs to rest." he said quietly.

Natsu looked over at him.

"Don't worry, I'm sure she'll be fine." he said.

"We're going to have you home with your father soon, I'm sure."

The boy came up to Lucy, who peered at him.

She tried to smile, but it looked more like she was going to start crying again.

"Sleep." said the boy gently, placing his hand just over his forehead.

A magic circle glowed just under the boy's hand.

Lucy's eyes slid shut, as Natsu stared in shock.

"What did you do to her?" he asked, trying to remain calm.

"I've helped her to rest." said the boy, taking his hand away.

"She'll be able to heal faster now."

Erza appeared behind them, along with Gray whom had presumably just finished off the last of the dark guild members.

"What other magic can you use?" questioned Erza.

"My magic is based around Life and Creation. I can create living things at will, and help heal those who are wounded." he said simply.

"That would explain why they were after you then." said Erza, a sudden dark look in her eye.

"What?" asked Gray, gazing at her.

"Their leader wanted to use me to raise his lover from the dead." the boy said, not seeming even the slightest bit shaken.

Natsu went pale.

"But doesn't he know that you can't bring people back to life?" he asked.

"He planned to do a soul take-over, using my body to channel her spirit."

"That's horrible.." said Natsu, glancing back down at Lucy.

…..................................................................................................................................................................

Lucy opened her eyes, and saw that her room was quite dark.

She turned to see the grave faces of Erza, and Gray.

"Erza? Gray?" What are you doing here?" she asked.

She froze.

"W..Where's Natsu?"

Erza got a dark look on her face.

"Lucy," she said in a voice close to a whisper.

"Natsu's dead."

Lucy was shocked.

"W-what do you mean, he's dead? He- he can't be! No, he's alive!" Lucy said, growing angry.

Tears were pouring down her cheeks.

"He didn't make it back. His wounds were too great." said Erza, who looked as though she were fighting tears herself. She hugged Lucy tightly.

"NO!" Lucy screamed, banging her fists uselessly against her metal armor.

"YOU'RE LYING! HE'S NOT DEAD! HE CAN'T BE!"

Gray balled his fists until they were almost white.

"She's not lying Lucy. I watched the life leave his eyes myself." he said in a grim voice.

Lucy collapsed to her hands and knees, sobbing.

"No..." she whispered, feeling herself die a little on the inside.

…..................................................................................................................................................................

Lucy woke up screaming.

Next thing she new, Erza was kneeling next to her, wearing a concerned look on her face.

"Lucy, what's wrong, are you hurt?"

Lucy looked up at Erza, tears in her eyes.

"Is..Is he dead?" Lucy asked, dreading the answer.

Erza settled down a bit.

"Natsu is fine, Lucy." she said.

Lucy felt a wave of relief wash over her as she fell back onto her pillow with a sigh.

'It was just a dream..' she thought.

"How did you know who I meant?" asked Lucy, wondering if maybe Erza secretly had mind-reading powers.

Erza laughed a little.

"Who else would you be so worried about?" she asked.

"No one else I know worries about him nearly as much as you do.."

Lucy blushed, and Erza smiled.

"Don't worry, I don't think he knows how you feel yet." she said, reassuringly.

Lucy looked up, glad Natsu wasn't in the room.

"Where is Natsu anyway?"

"He's at home at the moment. He needed some rest, but he should be awake by now."

"--I need to see him." said Lucy, standing up.

Erza stared at her with a stern sort of look.

"You really should rest, Lucy, you might hurt yourself."

Lucy stared deep into her friends brown eyes. If she wasn't strong now, Erza would never let her leave.

"Erza. I appreciate your concern, but I need to go," she said.

"I have to make sure he's okay."

Erza stared at her, taken slightly aback.

She nodded, releasing her grip on Lucy.

"Okay, but if you're gone for too long, I'm going to have to come find you." she said.

Lucy smiled, hugging her.

"Thank you Erza, this means the world to me."

Erza smiled at her friends kindness.

. . .

. . .

Lucy glanced up at the shopkeeper.

"Your sure this is the real thing?" Lucy asked him for the umpteenth time.

He rolled his eyes, slightly irritated.

"As sure as the nose on my face." he said.

Lucy took a deep breath.

"Alright then, how much?"

"80,000 Jewel."

Lucy nearly collapsed.

"That's almost as much as my rent!" she cursed inwardly.

'I'll just have to go on another mission after this..' she thought to herself, hesitantly handing the cash over to the man.

"You know, these are extremely rare.." said the man, passing it to her.

"You don't really seem like the kind of person that would need it."

Lucy smiled at him.

"It's not for me."

. . .

. . .

Lucy walked, carefully, back down her street.

Natsu's house wasn't too far away from hers, so she would probably have enough time to check on him before Erza dragged her back.

She smiled as she clutched the package, knowing he would love it.

Hiding it behind her back, she walked up the brick steps to Natsu's home.

Just as her hand was about to knock on the door, it swung open.

"Lucy?"

. . .

. . .

She looked up, and immediately tears of joy came into her eyes.

"Natsu.." she whispered.

They embraced, but stopped abruptly when Natsu stared at the odd-looking package she was carrying.

"What's that?" he asked.

Lucy smiled biting her lip.

"It's for you." she said, handing it to him.

"I think you'll like it."

Natsu grinned.

"No Ribbons?" he teased in mock disappointment.

"No ribbons." she said, smiling.

Natsu took the package carefully in his hands.

Lucy watched as he opened it.

Suddenly he became very still, staring at it in shock.

"Lucy.." he said, feeling the soft texture of the new, white, dragon-scale scarf.

Lucy gasped.

Was he.. crying?..

He confirmed it by smiling up at her warmly with tears of joy in his eyes.

"How did you find this?" he asked softly.

Lucy stared at him, unsure what to say.

She never thought she'd be alive to see the day that some one like Natsu cried.

"There are only three of these in existence.." he murmured, glancing back at the scarf in disbelief.

"I wanted to thank you, for saving me.." said Lucy, looking away slightly.

"I felt bad about ruining your scarf, so, I wanted to get you something nice.. I know it doesn't replace the one you had before but--"

She was cut off suddenly, when Natsu lifted her chin, brushing his lips against hers.

Lucy stared at him in silence as a soft breeze swirled around them, blowing softly through their hair.

Natsu stared back, not an ounce of regret in his eyes.

"Lucy, this is the most wonderful thing anyone has ever done for me." he said.

"I love you."

Lucy smiled, taking the scarf in her hands.

She wrapped it around his neck.

"I love you too," she said, standing on her tiptoes to kiss him.

He leaned forward, catching her lips with his.

Maybe he'd lost his original scarf, but he'd found the girl of his dreams.

And she'd been there all along.

(A.N.) * sniff * This was... * sniff * So hard.. * sniff * To write.. * sniff *

I WANT A NATSU, DAMMIT!!! TT^TT

Well.. As promised, my next story. Another one-shot.

Hope you enjoyed. :)

MUCHMUCHMUCHMUCHLOVE

P.S. I do the changing of the layout for my stories on purpose. I think it gives it more dimension! ;D

- Anni Mae15