Returned to Normalcy

"My dear, sweet Lucy…My beautiful, tiny miracle…I love you…I love you…Remember, child…I love you…I want you to find happiness, I want you to be loved, and I want you to laugh and smile and to never be afraid to be yourself. Do not fear what you are, what you will become. Open yourself to the people who will want to know you and be with you…"

"It burns, Mama…It hurts…"

"It will not always hurt, sweet sunshine. It will get better. You will learn to wield it. You will learn to use it to protect what's precious to you. For now, you must endure it…"

"Can you sing a song, Mama? I think I'll feel better if you sing. It always makes me feel better."

A strange, hypnotising voice filled her ears as a tall shadowed figure lifted her into a warm embrace and began to whisper words she could not understand. She was filled with a sense of comfort that almost overruled the painful burning that seemed to set her insides aflame.

She began to scream as the feeling of burning continued to grow stronger. Everything was suddenly darker, and she wasn't in her mother's arms anymore. She was being consumed by fire, and no one was there to put it out. She yelled and shouted and cried, but help did not come.

"I love you…my sunshine…"

"MAMA!" Lucy wrenched herself upward, her eyes opened wide at the shock that fled down her spine from waking up so suddenly. She looked around and realized she was in her bedroom. It was becoming dark outside, and when she looked at her clock it read 7:25 P.M. Confused and disoriented, Lucy tried moving off her bed, finding it a harder task than she normally would. She was parched and in need of a shower. How did she get back to Magnolia? When had she fallen asleep? How long had she been sleeping for? Where was Natsu?

"Oh my gosh," A familiar voice gasped from across the room, followed by the sound of wood hitting the floor. "Lu-chan!"

Sitting with her legs over the side of the bed, her head fuzzy and her eyes bleary, Lucy glanced up and found her friend Levi standing near the front door with her hands clapped over her mouth. The clatter she had heard was a broom falling from the blue-haired book-worm's hands.

"Oh, Levi-chan," Lucy smiled weakly at the girl, and forced herself to her feet. "When did you-," She felt the room spin as she tried to stay upright, and slapped a hand over her forehead and closed her eyes a moment, as though to steady herself.

"Lu-chan! Lie down, you're in no condition to move just yet-!" Levi guided her friend to the bed and propped her head up against a stack of pillows. "Here, drink," She pushed a glass of water into Lucy's hands, and watched as the blonde proceeded to gulp down the liquid hurriedly. "Natsu's coming back with some groceries, so I'll make you something to eat soon. It won't be long, so don't fall asleep again until after you've eaten something. "

"Ok…" Lucy's voice was hoarse, even after drinking. "Levi-chan, what happened?"

"I'll let Natsu clarify that. To be honest, his explanation was a little confusing and I was really only concerned with looking after you."

As though on cue, a knock sounded on the window above Lucy's bed and Levi opened it up so Natsu could climb through. However, when the obnoxious boy saw the blonde's eyes were open and she was fully conscious, he nearly fell back out the way he came in. Levi took him by the arm before he could lose his balance, and pulled him into the room.

"Natsu, Lucy's awake!" Levi grinned brightly at the fire mage, whose expression could only be described as a cross between surprise and excitement. "Isn't that great? Oh-thanks for doing the shopping, I'll take this into the kitchen and- Natsu?"

Natsu hadn't moved from where he had landed on Lucy's bed, and was simply staring at the bedridden girl, who looked back at him blankly. He leaned closer to her, and kept his eyes locked on the pair of familiar chocolate brown irises that hadn't opened or looked in his direction for one whole week.

"Natsu, I think Levi wants the groceries…" Lucy spoke up quietly, working up a smirk to diffuse the heavy atmosphere. Natsu raised his eyebrows and looked down at the large paper bag he was still clutching in his arms. He shook his head and climbed off the bed somewhat clumsily, passing the bag of supplies to Levi.

"How does soup sound, Lu-chan?" The blue-haired girl asked.

"Heavenly," Lucy almost laughed. "You could offer me boiled dirt and I'd eat it."

"Don't worry, I'm still a novice, but I guarantee that this will taste better than dirt," Levi laughed, then looked at Natsu and raised a pointed finger in his face. "Make sure she doesn't get out of that bed. You know better than anyone that she needs rest. Got it?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Natsu saluted the petite girl, who then turned on her heel and disappeared into the kitchen. "How are you feeling?" He now directed his attention to Lucy again, sitting on the edge of her mattress with a studious look in his eyes, as though expecting her to admit something interesting.

"Um, fine, I guess…" Lucy returned his curious look with a suspicious pursing of her lips, before she sighed and relaxed into her pillows. "I don't really remember what happened before I passed out though. I remember talking to Izayoi about my mother…and she kept apologizing for something…But then, nothing."

"I can't say I'm really surprised, but we'll talk about that stuff later," Natsu slid off her bed to stand beside her, placing an awkward hand on the top of her head. "You should rest for now though."

"But I-!"

"Look, just don't worry for now, ok?" Natsu's voice came out a tad sharper than he meant it to, and he realized that quickly enough to rephrase. "Sorry, I just think that now isn't the best time. You need to get better before we discuss anything…serious."

To his surprise, Lucy reached up and patted his outstretched arm as a smile lightened up her features, "If you feel so strongly about it, then I guess I'll let it go for now. But I hope I didn't cause anyone too much trouble while I was like this. Can I at least ask how long I've been asleep for?"

Natsu seemed hesitant to answer, but knew there wasn't anything unreasonable about asking such a question. "One week tomorrow." He mumbled these words, hoping against hope that Lucy wouldn't completely freak out, but not everything could go his way that evening, no matter how much he hoped it would.

"A WEEK?" Lucy gaped at the boy, who withdrew his hand that had begun sending tingling sensations up his arm from the close contact with his friend. "What the heck? Oh, no I was supposed to have given my rent to the land-lady as soon as I got back! She must be so mad! I should probably go pay her-! But did we even get paid? Natsu, did we-?"

"Chill out, Luce," Natsu gave a teasing wave of the hand. "I already dealt with that crazy lady. The rent's been paid, all is well."

"Oh…" Lucy sighed, relief washing over her face. "Did you do that for me? Thanks."

"That's not all he's done though," Levi suddenly reappeared, a bowl of thick, steaming liquid in hand. "He's been here every day looking after you, making sure you weren't running a fever, cleaning the house, practically playing mother and housewife simultaneously. It's been kind of hysterical actually. He's been worried, so I'm glad you've finally woken up." Not seeming to notice the blushes that had bloomed on both Lucy and Natsu's faces, Levi handed the food to Lucy, humming a quiet tune, before picking up a bag slouched against the wall. "Well, I'm off. Got to go tell everyone the good news. Will you be coming out tomorrow, Lu-chan? Everyone really wants to see you."

"Sure, I'll be there bright and early, like always." Lucy hugged her friend. "Thanks for coming Levi-chan, I'm glad I got to see you."

"No problem. Are you staying here for the night again, Natsu?"

"Um, yeah, probably," Natsu muttered in reply. "Just in case, you know…"

"Again?" Lucy frowned at the words. "You don't mean to say that you've been staying over at my house the entire time I've been asleep…?"

"Well, I-!"

"Of course!" Levi spoke over Natsu and winked at the blonde, blushing girl. "Like I said, he's barely left your side since you both got back-!"

"Levi, shut up! You were worried too-!"

"Yeah, but my worried isn't the same as yours-!"

Natsu raised his fist threateningly at the chatty girl, who raised her own hands up in surrender, although she laughed heartily at the reaction, "I got it, I got it! I'm going now. See you both later!" Levi then dashed out the door before Natsu could bully her further.

"Way to make things awkward, Levi-chan…" Lucy thought to herself, brushing her fingers against her blazing cheeks and trying not to notice that Natsu's colour matched her own.

"So is the soup any good?"

Lucy jumped when she realized Natsu was kneeling at her bedside with his head resting lopsided on his arms that were making a dent in her mattress. She sipped at the soup and found it to be delicious, although she was so hungry that her judgement might have been a bit off that evening.

"It's great," Lucy managed to say with a straight face. She hoped that he would think the heat from the soup the cause for her flushed face. "Have you eaten yet? Do you want me to make you something?"

"No, just stay in the bed. When you're done eating, go back to sleep, ok?"

"Come on, Natsu, I've been sleeping for a whole week. Can't we go for a walk or something?"

"Nope. Tomorrow, if you're feeling better."

"I feel better now…" Lucy said under her breath, setting aside her empty bowl, which Natsu took to the kitchen. He seemed dead set on keeping her where she was, and she didn't feel much like fighting with him at the moment, so instead, she compromised. "Well, can I at least go for a shower? I smell gross…"

"Really? You smell the same to me-," Natsu quickly dodged a pillow Lucy tossed hard at him as he came out of the kitchen. "Hey, what was that for?"

"That was rude!"

"How was that rude? It's true, you always smell of some weird flower."

"Wait, so I don't smell of sweat or anything to you?"

"Well, no. I guess it's because my nose is different to everyone else's. You just have the Lucy smell. Don't worry, it's a good smell."

"Right…" Lucy gave him a strange look and moved her legs from under the covers to the floor. "Regrettably, I don't have your weird nose, so I must insist that I go for a shower."

"Fine," Natsu grumbled. "Don't take too long though otherwise I'll force open the bathroom door and drag you out."

"Natsu, that isn't something you should say to a girl, even if we're friends," Lucy said. "Just sit tight, I'll be out in ten."

"What do you mean? Was it offensive or something?"

"I'll leave you to think about that…" Lucy sighed, passing him up and closing the bathroom door behind her, making sure to lock it before undressing and turning on the water.

After stepping out the shower and throwing on a clean pair of flannel pyjamas, she gathered her hair up into a half-hearted bun, brushed her teeth, and pulled on a pair of fuzzy pink socks. It was surprisingly quiet as she exited the bathroom, and she realized why when her eyes fell upon Natsu, who had huddled beneath her duvet cover and fallen into a comfortable sleep. Lucy shook her head at him in a hopeless gesture and sat down at her desk, taking out a sheet of blank paper and a feather-pen. She set to work writing a letter to her mother, like she so often had done in the past.

Dear Mama,

A lot has happened since I last wrote you. I was able to learn a lot about your past from your old friend, Lady Izayoi, although I'm not sure how much of it was actually true. She told me things that didn't make much sense to me, like how you are actually this legendary "Sun and Shadow dragon", and that you have powers that were passed on to me. Is any of that true, Mama? I wonder…

Natsu knows something, but he won't tell me what it is until I'm recovered, or until he's convinced I'm recovered. Since I woke up, it's like I was just tossed out of a really long dream. I also have this weird feeling that something is about to happen. I know there's plenty to worry about actually, like Father, he's going to be a big problem. But there's something else that I'm worrying about. I have a weird feeling in my stomach that something's…wrong. Admittedly, it's frightening, but I can't dwell on it. I have to move forward. Never look back, keep walking.

That's a good rule to live by, right?

Love, Lucy

BOOM. Back. Haha, faster than you thought it would be, huh? Well, here's the first chapter. I tried to make it longer than it usually is, and i have a feeling the rest of the chapters will have this same sort of length. The reason I never really make chapters especially long is because I don't want to tire you all out with 2 much in one chapter. Separation just makes everything easier to read (or is it just me who's too lazy to read/write long chapters?) Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this first installment. Don't worry, it'll get much too serious soon enough. I'm trying really hard to find my way around 2 many dramatic scenes, but I think there may be quite a few of them anyway (sorry in advance if it makes you sick 2 read them -.-)

Saranghae! MWA!