The first time Natsu realizes he likes her, it's completely random and hits him like a ton of pissed-off Gajeels and Grays.
All Lucy did was offer him a plate of fire food, but for the first time in the three years they've been on a team together, he stares at her chocolate eyes instead of the flickering flames and wonders when she became so nice.
He doesn't realize he's voiced his thoughts until she laughs and tells him that, as a matter of fact, she's always been this nice, so would he please just go back to normal and start eating, or else he'd seem ungrateful?
Natsu feels like a little, bumbling kid as he silently picks at his fire, his eyes never leaving Lucy as she talks animatedly to the statuesque Mirajane, and he wonders what the hell changed in those years he'd known her as the guild defeated dark guilds left and right, ultimately saving the magical world as they knew it-
-somehow, Natsu feels like he'd rather save the world three times over than face the fact that he may or may not be in love, and what the hell, because he's had fury and depression and empathy and friendship, but love?
Natsu, for the first time in his life, doesn't feel hungry anymore.
The first time he kisses her, she practically slaps him and in the effort to scramble away, and somehow manages to get them even more entangled together.
Natsu is stuck between bashful and shocked; he didn't expect this kind of reaction from her. They'd been friends for so long that being in each other's presence had become a natural thing. Effortless and comforting, Natsu had even begun to look forward to it after a while.
Lucy starts rambling about things like buildup, proper moments, romantic tension and the such. Natsu doesn't understand stuff like first dates or going too fast. All he knows is that Lucy is being really weird because she's never paid any mind when he hugs her after a successful mission, or when he sleeps in her bed or invades her house. They're practically a couple already!
So what's wrong with a little kiss?
He voices this thought to her; she flushes a brilliant red that Natsu abruptly decides he adores, and then…
…she really does slap him!
Natsu has no time to say anything before she storms off, equal parts fuming and something else he can't quite read, leaving him alone at the table.
The fire mage stares after her with a gaping open jaw as the other guild members chuckle at his expression because, frankly, it was about damned time!
He's able to wait all of about five seconds before tripping after Lucy as Cana mutters something about lovesick fools.
The first time he attempts to ask her out, Natsu is cornered by the guild members before he even manages to leave Fairy Tail to her apartment.
…He… doesn't quite like the look in their eyes.
Gray gives him a glare that makes Natsu feel really uncomfortable. "Lucy… is like a little sister to me… do you understand?"
"What of it?" Natsu asks gruffly, not liking where this is going, and where the hell is Lucy?
"That means if you ever dare to hurt Lucy," Erza hisses, jabbing a finger into his chest (and instead of her finger hurting from the impact, which it should have, it makes Natsu cringe like a little girl instead), "we'll hunt you down and gut you like a fish, skin you alive-"
(The rest of the guild members watch Erza with morbid fascination. It's obvious she's been on another horror movie marathon before she even finishes her lengthy threat.)
As Natsu's previous confidence diminishes into the size of a speck of dust, Mirajane gives him an angelic smile and coos about how cute he and Lucy are as a couple, and it's so freakin' torturous he'd rather take another threat of Erza's than stand this-
-Natsu dimly remembers why Mirajane was famous as a 'Demon', and wisely decides against retorting.
Lisanna approaches Natsu with steel in her eyes and gives him yet another lecture on what to do when bringing Lucy out on a date and how to do it and when and where and- this is too much. Natsu subtly sneaks off as the rest of the members become distracted by the simultaneous fangirling of Mirajane, Juvia, and Lisanna. In the background, Elfman bawls something about how to be manly when confessing, causing Cana to ask him politely to shut the fuck up. A fight breaks out in a matter of seconds.
Normally Natsu would be all for a good fist fight, but somehow, the topic of their argument makes him fumble and he swiftly makes his escape.
By the time Natsu makes it to Lucy's apartment, most of his confidence has returned; he goes in through the window, as usual, and finds that Lucy is changing.
"Hiiiii Lucy," Natsu tries, nonchalantly. Well, this was… yeah. "So, I was thinking that we could maybe-"
"GET THE HELL OUT, NATSU!"
On their first date, Natsu can't stop wondering why Lucy keeps turning red and being awkward because they've done this, like, a million times before.
But unlike the millions of times before, Lucy has decided to change her hairstyle into something really fancy looking, and adorn some frilly, equally-fancy looking clothes. He likes it better when she wears her regular, comfortable clothes and just ties her hair on the side in that cute little ponytail as usual, but when he opens his mouth to comment on this and Lucy gives him freakin' puppy dog eyes, his mind conveniently decides to shut down and he mumbles a half-hearted compliment.
Lucy grins happily and decides to smile instead of scream when he accidentally spills his drink all over her dish and chair and clothes. She responds by dousing his specially-ordered fire food with her own drink.
They beam at each other comfortably for all of about, oh, ten seconds, when they burst into argument.
"God, can't you get anything right?" Lucy screeches.
"What got stuck up your ass?" Natsu hisses, conveniently excluding the part where he admires the said ass, and focuses on the fact that his beloved fire food has been extinguished.
"It's our first date," the blonde groans, exasperated. "But here you are, ruining it like you don't even care-!"
"We've gone out to eat together plenty of times before! But you've never been all weird and red and you've never dressed up like some stuck up rich person-"
"-and you've never, ever done something as stupid as touch my fire food!"
The waiter chooses this time to arrive, unfortunately (for him), and when he offers the dessert menu, the two simultaneously whirl around to snarl at the waiter.
He shrinks back and retreats.
"And don't tell me, you probably forgot your money, too. I have to pay for myself, don't I?"
"Well, duh! You always do!" Natsu throws up his hands irritably. The spectators are torn between horror and amusement.
"You just don't get it, do you?" Lucy slams her palms onto the table, knocking over a plate or two, her eyes boring into his.
"What are you talking about?" Natsu rolls his eyes, leaning forward to meet her, move for move.
(It's random, but he has a nice view of her cleavage right now because he's a good head taller than her, and it's getting really hard to stay angry at her. But he ignores this because it's never bothered him before, so why should it now?)
"Where are you looking?" Lucy asks lowly, a dangerous tone in her voice as she interrupts his thoughts. He scowls as a spectator coughs awkwardly about young love and sexual tension.
"I'm looking at your soaked shirt. It looks terrible." Natsu grins wickedly. "I don't know why you picked the damn thing."
He almost regrets choosing her outfit as a source for revenge when her glare falters, and Natsu kinda-sorta feels guilty. Especially when her eyes start to water. Especially when it looks like she's about to cry.
Lucy opens her mouth to say something- he quickly closes his own over hers.
It's not romantic like those romance novels that Levy forced onto him always claim- they topple the table over, and what's left of their food drenches their clothes, and the tablecloth comes off with a flourish as the silverware clatters onto the floor- but Natsu doesn't really care, and keeps kissing her, even as the onlookers gasp theatrically and the manager appears to escort them out because they're being a disturbance.
"That was terrible," Lucy says with a silly grin plastered over her face as they're practically thrown out (Natsu put up a fight against the manager and successfully burned down half the tables in the restaurant).
"Horrible," Natsu agrees brightly, and captures her lips.
He doesn't really mind when she squeals and smacks him, because she's still smiling broadly.
So the first time that it's suggested that he marries her, he decides to slam his head repeatedly into a table until the idea leaves his mind, because god damn it, it won't leave his mind.
It's been five years since they've met now, but Lucy hasn't changed one bit. She's every bit as vain as she was five years ago; she's also every bit as cute and intelligent. But Natsu doesn't really care about this because it somehow matters more to him that she can bandage him when he's injured and she lights stuff on fire for him, and that she hugs him on those nights when it's the anniversary of Igneel's disappearance, and knows what to say and when to say it.
(That being said, Natsu grudgingly admits that her… assets aren't necessarily a bad thing, really.)
They're, like, in their twenties now, but they've never really changed.
They've never really started 'dating', really. They simply stayed the same as they always did; comfortable and warm. That being said, a huge step like this would probably make Lucy freak out and murder him like an insane banshee.
(Lucy, when pissed off, rivals Erza any day.)
So Natsu- the same one who starts fights daily in Fairy Tail and takes down monsters fifteen times his size, the same boy who took down many leaders of dark guilds and was the son of a dragon- puts off the idea of being engaged to the feisty blonde because he's scared.
So when it finally happens, it's even more abrupt than when he first realized he liked her.
It's midnight in Magnolia; Natsu bursts into her room because he's half-sober half-drunk, and she's just gotten out of the shower, and somehow, he crashes right into her.
"Lucy!" Natsu yawns, and crawls into her bed without a second thought to her crimson face and that lovely heart of hers that was beating, like, two thousand times per second at their proximity.
(What? He's tired.)
So he crawls into her bed (as usual), and nestles under the covers (as usual), grabbing Lucy to join him in the process (as usual), except her towel is coming off and she's kinda, y'know, naked.
"Natsu! I-I-whatareyou-Natsu!" Lucy squeaks impressively, and she twists in his grasp, but Natsu doesn't really care.
"Relax," Natsu says, his eyes barely able to keep open. "I won't do anything. You know I won't do anything. Don't worry."
And Lucy, ever-so-bashful Lucy, she relaxes in his heated arms, and they settle into comfortable silence as the moon waxes into view.
Natsu is exhausted, but his eyes crack open anyways- his dark orbs rest on her peaceful face as the moonlight shines on her, and Natsu almost, almost thinks she's kinda-sorta pretty.
(He's not in denial. Really.)
Natsu wakes up to the sound of Lucy's high-pitched screams.
Eyes bleary with sleep, the only thing he really sees is Happy, fleeing out the door as he yammers about something that sounds like AHMYGOD!
"Natsu," Lucy whispers, mortified. "We're naked."
"No shit," Natsu snorts, and buries his nose into the pillow. It smells like her.
"Noooo," her voice cracks on a whiny, frightened pitch, and Natsu dimly wonders what she's so worried about. "Happy saw us! He's going to go to the guild, and tell everyone, and arrghhh, we're doomed!"
Her face finds its way into the pillow next to his with a muted thump. The dragonslayer turns his head to peek at her- she seems so… ashamed or something.
His lower lip pushes out in annoyance. "And what's so wrong with that? Let him tell them. Who cares?"
"I care," Lucy persists, and the gnawing feeling in Natsu's gut grows even more pronounced. "There'll be rumors, and people will ask if I'm going out with you and this sucks."
"Lucy," he says suddenly, and the tone is so throaty and heated that she turns to look at him, surprised. "We are going out, aren't we?"
Oh, he's said the words. Well, then.
Lucy's silence lasts for so long that Natsu has to check to make sure she's still alive and hasn't had a heart attack or something.
Then, a strangled little cry emits from her throat as she wraps her arms around his neck in a tight embrace that has him struggling for air.
"Do you mean that?" Lucy says, her eyes wide and enrapturing, and Natsu feels really, really awkward.
Lucy gives him one of those bright smiles of hers that he loves, and he rather thinks that it's kinda worth it to be unmanly and embarrassed and sentimental when he sees her smile like that.
"Right. Going out? Yeah. Uh." Natsu blinks once, twice; in hindsight, the idea is much more daunting.
Lucy twitches, torn between hitting him and halfway putting on her shirt, and gives him a pointed look.
The young fire mage pulls on his pants with a sigh.
When they reach the guild, Lucy is still kind of irritated at him, and Natsu is still drowsy- she all but drags him through the entrance.
The first thing that reaches Natsu's keen ears is Happy's wails of; "ARE YOU PREGNANT?"
Natsu silently moans and tries to curl up and sleep on the wooden panels as Lucy frantically denies everything.
(Why did he even like a weirdo like this in the first place?)
Quite abruptly, Erza is all up in Natsu's face, and the boy is reminded of her ominous threat, and gulps.
They stare at each other. He's starting to sweat.
"Don't ever leave her side," Erza grits out, and Natsu nods frantically in response. She nods in approval. "I understand. I'm leaving her in your care now, Natsu."
"I'm telling you, it's not like that!" Lucy is saying, and Natsu feels his fear melt into something akin to irritation and…shame.
"It's happened before? O-oh, my," Mirajane says, albeit a bit breathlessly, and there's a muted thud as she faints.
"I'm not pregnant!" The Spirit mage insists. Natsu wonders what she would say if he really did sleep with her.
"Natsu, you're pregnant?" Comes Juvia's voice. The fire mage wonders where the hell she got that from, when she continues, "thank you for taking away my rival in love! I give you my full permission to date!"
"Uh, thanks?" The young man momentarily distracts himself with the fact that if he and Lucy were dating, then the approval rating seemed pretty high, and (if Lucy and Gray really did have a thing, he would kill Gray.)
"Congratulations on the baby!" Wendy giggled, sauntering up to Natsu, a small hand fluttering over his abs.
Wait. He was pregnant?
"I see, there is indeed life blooming inside," Wendy chirps, but somehow it sounds unsure. (Gee. Wonder why.)
Wondering what it would be like if it were Lucy that were pregnant (Natsu brushes aside the perverse thoughts), Natsu grinned, "You think?" A smirk crept onto his face. "Oi, Lucy. What'll we name it if it's a girl?"
"You're not pregnant! And I didn't sleep with you!" Lucy looks like she's about to tear out her hair. Natsu, on the other hand, is rather enjoying the situation.
"Oh, I see," Natsu says coyly, fake innocence saturating his voice. "Wait, but don't we sleep together all the time?"
Ignoring the gawking of Levy and Gajeel, Natsu clears his throat and says, "if it's a boy, we're naming him Igneel, Lucy."
"I didn't sleep with you," Lucy growls, tone feral. Natsu is the only one present that knows her well enough to see the twitch of her lips that threaten to break her face into a grin.
"Yes, you did," Natsu says, and suddenly, his mind backtracks to the possibility of being married to Lucy, and his stupid, stupid mind has him blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. "I see that you want to do this the right way. Okay."
He's down on one knee. What is he doing?
"Lucy." Her name is warm on his tongue. "Marry me."
She stares at him.
He stares back earnestly. It's a joking proposal, but somehow he feels as if she rejects him now, he'll go crawl into a hole or something.
"Y-you idiot!" She stammers, and backs away. "A-a-at least do it properly!"
Natsu watches in surprise as she runs out of the guild, but then he sees the almost-kinda-half-smile on the blonde's face, and he grins to himself, satisfied.
"I'll take that as a yes, then."
When he finds her, she's back at her apartment. She looks up when he enters the room, and her face is flushed and her lips are parted with excitement, and he thinks she's most attractive when she's flustered.
"Did you mean it?" She whispers to her hands. Natsu snorts.
"I think," he says slyly as he approaches her, "that it'd be much better if you were the pregnant one instead."
Lucy shrieks playfully, but she grins as their eyes meet and they're falling onto the bed.
"Marry me," she says breathlessly, and Natsu wonders where all of her insistence that they do things traditionally (and wasn't it usually the guy who asked, and not the girl?) has gone, but he doesn't mind.
"You idiot," the mage whispers as he leans forward to smile toothily against her skin. "At least do it properly.
A/N: I snuck in a reference to my other story, he says, she says. Sue me.