Maybe it's a little weird, but Lucy likes to watch Natsu as he sleeps when it's two in the morning and he won't stop snoring.
The stubborn dragonslayer refuses to stop irritating her, but somehow she can't bring herself to mind too much whenever he sneaks into her house through the window and won't leave until the sun has started to rise.
(It's an entirely different matter when he walks in on her while she's changing, however.)
But Natsu and Happy sometimes refuse to leave, and she finally ("At last!" Natsu always rejoices) relents after hours of pointless bantering, allowing the two to burrow under the covers. They always leave the window open, but the cold night breeze is something she can't bring herself to really care about when Natsu's very presence emanates heat. Even though she often finds herself sweltering, it comforts her.
Natsu is the most peaceful when he is asleep; Lucy has never truly appreciated some of the softer angles of his face until she watches him as he dozes on the guild's grimy floor, surrounded by their various (snoring) friends. It is peaceful despite the disorganized chaos, and the light manages to hit the dragonslayer's face at just the right angle to make Lucy blush the tiniest bit and think that he really can be cute sometimes.
(Then he punches her straight through the roof and she wonders why she even bothered to think so in the first place.)
It's an odd habit of his, but Natsu likes to sneak peeks at Lucy when he thinks that no one's looking.
It's not her beauty that entrances him (and, pft, who said he was entranced to start with? Certainly not him) and nor is it her intelligence. She may not be the strongest, but she has skill- no, that's not it, either.
Natsu has watched her for at least a month (or five- he's lost count), when he finally understands why his eyes seem to follow her figure instinctively whenever she laughs, or why he always turns to make sure that she's still alright before everyone else when they're in a fight (but of course, she's Lucy, so she always is).
To put it simply, he is entranced by her smile.
Natsu has never seen anything as bright as her smile- it makes his insides warmer than they already are, and his head becomes rather muddled. It's a weird feeling- no, she's weird. He makes a point to attempt to stop watching her as closely and as often as he does.
Still, on the rare quiet days that Fairy Tail gets, Natsu will look over from his table as his head is resting on his arms, and smile the tiniest bit whenever Lucy laughs.
He always looks away, indignant at his own weakness for allowing himself to look at her.
And Natsu never catches it when she looks back, allowing the faintest shade of crimson to stain her skin.
The night Lisanna returns, Natsu is conspicuously absent from her apartment. It seems more empty than usual, oddly enough, and it unsettles Lucy.
The blonde doesn't realize that she's sitting upright in her bed, staring at the window anxiously, until her alarm goes off and it vaguely enters her mind that the morning sun is somehow staring right back at her, and yet the sheets are still cold with the absence of a presence that she's far too used to.
She irritably slams down on the alarm clock to shut it up, and glances at the time- she's stayed up all night, and yet she's not tired. The only thing she feels is a sort of unease that won't stop nagging at her subconscious. Then, quite suddenly she is tired; to be exact, she's exhausted. Lucy slams her face into her pillow, breathing into it and savoring the warmth spreading throughout the cloth. There is an intangible, pent-up frustration that she can't identify- and grudgingly admits that she doesn't want to.
Today, Lucy decides, may just be a good day to take a break from the guild.
The thought itself is enough to shock Lucy; she loves Fairy Tail down to her marrow, and she's never 'taken a break' from her beloved friends before. The mental image of a girl with alabaster hair and crystal eyes flashes in her mind, however, and she can't suppress the groan that is threatening to burst from her throat.
Lucy (privately) insists that she isn't jealous.
She doesn't know how long she's been in bed (she refuses to allow herself to be bored or hungry; her whole body and her mind feel numb), but she's not broken out of her reverie until he is there, saying her name. She looks up rather unwillingly and refuses to meet his gaze. She waves him away with a weak hand.
Natsu's calloused, heated palm wraps around her own and forces her to sit up. She's dressed in her pajamas and nothing more, but she doesn't feel embarrassed because she's too busy moping- wait, no! She's not moping.
When she says that she's not feeling well, and he innocently inquires if it's physical or mental. Lucy falls for the bait (after all, she's not sick or anything, so there's no reason to lie).
"I always knew you were insane," Natsu replies slyly, and she immediately clutches her pillow and throws it at his head; it falls harmlessly, but she suddenly feels a suddensmile break across her face at his idiocy. Her cheeks hurt, and he's smiling back, and oh!
Lucy bursts out into laughter. It's ironic that he can simultaneously cause her stress and relieve her of it. Natsu laughs with her, and he's not even touching her, yet her entire body is warm. The bed is warm. Her face is warm, and it's oh-so-very foolish.
For the first time, the two remain at her apartment for the day rather than going to the guild. It's silent, yet it's never once awkward. They sit in a simple silence, as if Natsu recognizes that it's his presence rather than his entertainment that she needs. They lean out the window and watch the world go by. Somehow, the distance between them shrinks, until the sensation of his warm arm against hers sends a shudder up her spine.
It's the good kind of shudder, the kind that she bashfully refuses to acknowledge. Lucy leans against him ever so slightly. He doesn't nudge her off.
The sun has only just begun its descent toward the western horizon when the pink-haired dragonslayer is close enough to dip his head and head-butt her gently.
"What was that for?" She blinks, startled.
Natsu murmurs something to his hands that she barely catches- that she's not a replacement for Lisanna, and she's Lucy. "There's no need to make a fuss about it," he whispers.
She looks at his face as he turns it away; she can't say he's embarrassed, but his ears are kind of red. She wonders if he's spent all these hours with her wondering what to say to her, and whether or not it would be the right thing to say or not. It's as thoughtful as it is rare of him, and it's touching.
She smiles and replies, "I know."
It's the anniversary of their parents' disappearance- her mother, his dragon- and Lucy sits in the guild for an entire hour before she ventures off to find him in his house.
She finds Happy outside their cottage, heading towards the guild. He nods somberly at Lucy, and continues on his way, his eyes conveying what he doesn't say.
Happy will acknowledge that today is a day that even he, as Natsu's best friend, cannot share.
Lucy presses her hand against the wooden door, allowing it to creak- something falls onto the ground with a crash as a result, and Lucy briefly wonders just how messy his house is.
She steps over piles of his memoirs (she dimly remembers cleaning it not too long ago, and smiles, amused that he has managed to mess it up once again).
Natsu is not there. Lucy's mouth dips downwards into a frown- she would think that on a day where they both suffered a loss, he would spare her a little of his company. The thought that he's purposely avoiding everyone (especially her!) stings her heart, just a little.
Stubbornly, Lucy turns on her heel and decides haughtily that if Natsu doesn't want her company, then she won't offer it. She stalks back to her apartment, ignoring the calls of the fishermen who always warn her to be careful, and the smiles and nods of her neighbors.
So it shocks her when she unlocks the door to her apartment, and there, in all his pink glory, is Natsu sitting on her bed.
He smiles crookedly and scoots over to make room for her. Lucy hesitantly walks over to stand in front of him. His smile droops, and his eyes are downcast- with a sudden shock, she realizes that she knows this face, as she herself has donned it every year, once a year. Today.
"Why aren't you smiling?" Natsu croaks out, and Lucy almost says, 'Why aren't you?', but she already knows the reason. Today is the one day that they allow their facades to drop and dissolve.
It's the same reason Lucy has all those letters tucked in her shelf, written carefully yet never read.
So Lucy smiles because today is the single day that Natsu can't, and sits down next to him. Their hands are close, their fingers barely brushing each other's. But they don't need to hold hands.
Their shared pain is more than enough to convey what they feel.
Natsu frowns when Lucy sneezes. She looks so… adorably miserable. Natsu has never had a cold (after all, he is Natsu), so he can't empathize with her. Still, he can't remember ever feeling so rejected when she says that she's not well enough to go to that picnic she was looking forward to, much less view the cherry blossoms.
He pouts as she floats away to her bed and sneaks under the sheets with another cute 'A-choo!'
Happy follows Natsu as they shut the door.
Lucy's disappointment sticks with him, and even Happy seems… not happy. They don't even think about going to the picnic- instead, they wordlessly agree on a path of action.
It takes a little too long, wallowing in the banks of the river, but between him and Happy, they gather moist mud that threatens to slip between their fingers, and with teamwork and Natsu's flames, they finally create a pot large enough to meet their requirements. Natsu is impatient, and he leaves Happy to guard the pot by the riverside ("Aye!" Happy says dutifully), and approaches the beloved town's Cherry tree, eyes narrowing.
He gathers the feelings that he gets when he sees Lucy's disappointment and the fact that he doesn't like it when she's upset- it's more than enough to fuel Natsu's determination. He places his fingers as far around the gnarled bark as he can. With a heavy grunt and a heave, Natsu uproots the tree and dashes straight to Happy, tottering from the weight like a penguin might.
The pot barely manages to hold the rainbow tree, but it does, and that's what counts. Natsu and Happy eagerly send it down the river in Lucy's direction in a boat they've borrowed (stolen), and run after it, slowly blending into the awed crowd that is gradually accumulating as the colorful spectacle floats downstream.
The noise of the crowd quickly becomes uproarious and bustling, but Natsu's ears are so attuned to her that he can very distinctly hear her little gasp as the rainbow cherry tree floats down the river, the breeze gently shifting through its branches, allowing stray petals to fly through strands of wind.
"It's so beautiful," he hears Lucy murmur over the roar of the crowd.
Looking up at her unsuspecting face from below (and it's shining with such happiness and gratefulness that Natsu can't help but beam in response), he silently agrees, his eyes never leaving her features.
It's moments like these that make them almost believe in silly, flighty things like 'love' and 'forever'. But they never voice these thoughts, and they never force their relationship, simply providing each other company as the days fly by. They don't hold hands needlessly, and their companionship is not roses and poetry.
Because they don't need to say petty things like 'I love you', or anything of the sort.
What they have is already something a little more than that.
A/N: Dedicated to the wonderful songstar13 for painstakingly editing everything I write~ This is for you! (And I am going to be so embarrassed when it turns out that my Author's Note needs to be edited, too.)