Hello, people. Nightlingbolt here! Welcome to the final chapter of "The ABCs of Natsu and Erza," "Z for Zigzag!" I know, weird word for the final letter, but I think it makes sense, given the context.

Thank you to everyone who's read and reviewed each chapter and supported me on this yearlong journey. I'd like to think I've evolved as a writer over the past year. It's even given rise to a couple of original ideas, but sadly, I still lack the confidence to actually type them up. Well, maybe someday, even though I'm not a writer by trade. I'm just an IT student with Asperger's who's spent his career trying to start his career. Even though my stories drive me crazy sometimes, writing them has kept me sane. It truly gives me some confidence to be able to have a completed multi-chapter story to my name, and hopefully, I'll be able to apply that same follow-through to my job search, because hey, I'm 22 years old and not getting any younger.

I think I've said all I need to say, so without further ado, the final (official) chapter of "The ABCs of Natsu and Erza."

I don't own Fairy Tail or its characters, Hiro Mashima does.

Natsu Dragneel had a lot to think about in the past twenty-four hours. Erza, currently the Master of the Fairy Tail Guild as well as his wife, had decided that when she passed on, he would take her place. To that end, she had shown him Lumen Histoire, the guild's greatest secret, just as Laxus had shown her, Gildartz had shown him, and as the other past Masters had done.

Needless to say, he was overwhelmed. Never in his 96 years of living had he imagined Fairy Tail would harbor something like... that! How did the old man react? Gildartz, Laxus... Erza? Well, obviously it didn't change anything for them, and he wouldn't let it change anything for him, either. Fairy Tail had been his home since he was a boy. To turn his back on it in his twilight years would be nothing short of a disgrace.

With that thought of conviction, he made his way to the second floor of the guild to join Erza in watching the members' antics. "Mornin', Erza!" he greeted.

Erza looked up from her knitting and smiled back at him. At 97 years old, her magical power had started to deplete on its own. It wouldn't be long before it was all gone, leaving her powerless to protect the guild. After that... she would see all their nakama that had left this world.

So she had chosen Natsu to become Fairy Tail's Ninth Master (technically Seventh Master; Gildartz had given Makarov back the postion, and only his death would convince him to take it again). True, she should probably have appointed someone younger than them, but Natsu's Dragon Slayer magic would ensure that he would live another thirty or forty years.

"Hello, Natsu," said Erza kindly. Old age had really taken off a lot of her edge.

Natsu frowned. "You're knitting again?" he said "That is such an old people hobby!"

Erza glared. "Well, you're no spring chicken yourself, Dragneel," she said sharply. A lot of her edge, but not all of it.

When they had started dating, Natsu lived in fear of Erza's fury. Almost eighty years later, he had become almost immune to it, and it had only served to make him smile.

"You kidding? I bet you a thousand Jewels I can kick Saru's ass right now!" said Natsu, referring to his grandson, currently an S-Class mage of the guild.

Erza sighed. Time had done nothing to dampen his fiery spirit. "Natsu, you're next in line to become Master," she sighed.


"So you can't just pick fights with guild members!" said Erza sternly. "Your role is to set an example for the guild, and-"

"All right, all right, I don't need the damn lecture," said Natsu, holding up his hands in a surrender pose. In an effort to distract her, he said, "What'cha knitting?"

Erza's smile brightened. "A new guild tradition," she said happily, holding it up.

"Looks like a sweater to me," said Natsu. He was right. It was a black sweater with a vermillion zigzag pattern, adorned with blue Fairy Tail symbols.

"It's the Master's Sweater," explained Erza. "The intent is for each new Master of Fairy Tail – this means you – to wear it on their first day."

"Erza, it's July," said Natsu. "I may be a Fire Dragon, but even I get hot wearing a wool sweater during the summer!"

"It would only be for one day, Natsu," said Erza. "And I worked hard on this sweater. All my memories of Fairy Tail have culminated into this one sweater. It's my fondest wish that by wearing it, our successors inherit the beautiful memories we have of this guild." She looked at her husband with pleading eyes. "Please, Natsu."

Natsu smiled. Erza really was passionate about that sweater. How could he say no to that same passion that had made him fall in love with her when they were young? "All right, Erza," he said. "I'll wear it. But just for my first day as Master, and that's it."

"Wonderful!" said Erza brightly. "And Natsu..."

"Yes, Erza?"

"I made that sweater with you in mind."

Natsu could only blush at his wife's confession. She still had it in her after all these years.

July 7th. 85 years since Igneel had left him. Natsu had briefly seen him again in the final struggle to destroy Zeref and Acnologia once and for all, but once and for all, he and the other dragons had left the world of humans once and for all. Though it pained him and his fellow Dragon Slayers, they had all come to the realization that as long as dissidents like Acnologia existed, humans and dragons could never peacefully share the world.

Eventually, the pain had dulled, but the date still left Natsu with an ache every year. Still, he'd always had Erza, his friend, his comrade, and finally his wife to help him muddle through. He turned to look at his still-sleeping wife and Guild Master... only to see her not moving.

Natsu sniffed the air, but could not detect her scent. He gently cupped her face, but her skin had turned cold. She had a contented smile on her face, but she gave no reaction. A tear slid down his cheek as he realized she was with Lucy and the others now.

"Fate has a cruel sense of irony, huh, Igneel?" Natsu whispered. "Who would have figured you and Erza would leave me on exactly the same day?"

An hour later, Wendy had arrived at their home. She looked over Erza's body before deciding she had died of natural causes. "We've lost many of our nakama over the years," she said. "It never gets any easier."

Natsu gave a grim smile. "Not a bit," he agreed. "I remember Gray's funeral. I bawled like a baby!" He laughed at the memory. "I bet the bastard had a good laugh about it."

Wendy gave the older Dragon Slayer a glare, but inside she was smiling. Even with Gray gone, Natsu still hated his guts, and that was something she held onto as the next few generations took their rightful places as mages of Fairy Tail.

"I have to tell my kids the news," said Natsu. "Funeral to plan, and all."

Wendy nodded. "I'm sorry for your loss, Natsu," she said.

"Thank you," replied Natsu. "And for future reference, it's Master now. Erza appointed me before she died."

"Of course, Master," said Wendy. With that, she excused herself, using her magic to move the body.

Natsu sighed again. "I'm going to need your help on this, Erza," he said. "You, Laxus, Gildartz, Makarov... help me make this guild what it deserves to be."

He slipped on the zigzag sweater – the Master's Sweater, as Erza called it, and with one more glance at the bed they had once shared, he whispered the last words he would ever say to his beloved.

"Sleep tight, Baby Red."

The Ninth Master left his home, leaving behind a single tear.

And lo, it is done.

I had mixed feelings about killing off Erza. On the one hand, killing off a character for any reason distresses me, one of the reasons why I will probably never write professionally. But on the other hand, I wanted to convey a sense of finality to the story, and I think this was the best way possible.

So what's next for Nightlingbolt? Well, I still need to give you guys something to finish off Lucky Star with, then I'll put up a poll to see which of my ideas you guys want me to focus on. Scenes has at least one more chapter before it goes on indefinite hiatus, and Meddling doesn't seem to be that popular. There will be a sequel to Lucky Star, but it's not likely to come out any time soon. Speaking of Lucky Star, I may rewrite the beginning to fit in between Edolas and Tenrou Island. But of course, there's the issue of Mest/Doranbolt to worry about, which may in turn give rise to a side-story regarding his involvement in the Grimoire Heart war... Meh, I don't think it's worth the effort.

One more important detail: This story is, for all intents and purposes, complete, and will be listed as such. However, that does not mean I'm totally done with ABCs. There will be side stories later on. For example, Natsu and Erza dealing with the aftermath of the Cheat trilogy, as well as their wedding. I'm also open to suggestions for stories revolving around the characters exclusive to this fic (Faye, Tai, Shizuka, etc.), though I can't promise anything will be done straightaway. They'll come as I get ideas.

So in closing, thank you all for reading this, thank you all for your positive reviews (except one of you... You know who you are!), thank you for your criticism, and as always, I hope to provide more NatsuxErza fanfiction. So until my next project, peace and love from Nightlingbolt.