Chapter 3
The Prince


The Prince of Fire
by Elliot Lief

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past two months, you've heard of Natsu Dragneel, dubbed the 'Prince of Fire' by many of his adoring fans. Standing at an unimpressive four foot eight, you might think Natsu is nothing but an overhyped story – and I was inclined to think so too, until I researched this kid a little bit. I was astounded, to put it lightly.

First, let's take a quick look at the facts – this guy's seven years old. What were you doing at seven, I ask? Nothing close to what this kid's doing, that's for sure. He's completed two hundred D-rank missions in one week – not only is that unheard of, it seems literally impossible. How do you even do that? His C-rank missions are equally as impressive, with one hundred completed. He has completed forty-eight B-ranks, but most impressively, he has completed twenty A-ranks.


Step back a minute. Remind yourself that this kid is seven years old. Remind yourself that this kid has only been in the magical world for two months.

Now, in twenty minutes, when you wake up after fainting, keep reading this article – but this time, have someone around, because you're going to faint again.

This little guy uses a magic that was thought to be lost eons ago – Dragonslayer Magic. To my readers who aren't as involved in the magical world, Dragonslayer magic was used to combat dragons in the infamous wars between humans and dragons millennia ago. Dragons are said to be the ones to train these humans, and these humans would in turn kill evil dragons, or dragons that didn't support the dragons and humans coexisting.

What this means is either one of two things: either a) this kid is lying, or b) he was trained by a dragon. While if this were anyone else, I would immediately go with option a, this kid's track record is nothing to scoff at.

I think we've got a real live Dragonslayer here, folks. Hold onto your hats, I assure you, Natsu Dragneel is not going to stop shocking all of us.

A man put the edition of Sorcerer's Weekly down, lighting his pipe and puffing small rings of smoke into the air. While he normally never read trash like the magazine in front of him, his daughter had nearly forced him to read it, claiming that if he didn't, she would run away.

A small smile wormed its way onto his lips. He had a business trip he needed to go on, and he hadn't been willing to bring Lucy along, in case of any danger they might face – but it looked like he had found the solution to his problems.

Natsu Dragneel… I have a feeling this is not the last time our paths will meet.

Fairy Tail was the home to many mages – young and old, strong and weak. There was no discrimination at Fairy Tail, and that was why nearly every single person there could call it their home, and could call the other members their family.

"To be a man –"

"I swear to God, if you don't shut up Elfman, I'm going to kill you."

Well… even families have fights.

Natsu smiled at the sight of Cana and Elfman glaring at each other, their noses pressed right againt each other and lightning crackling between their eyes. Times like these were what he missed as he grew older and the world stopped being so friendly and warm.

"Oy, Natsu!" Gray cried from near the message board, and Natsu lifted his gaze towards him. "There's a mission here specifically requesting you!"

The guild quieted.

"What?" Erza demanded, standing up and snatching the piece of paper from Gray's hands. "But… wow. This is incredible, Natsu!"

"Hm," Natsu muttered. This was new – well, that wasn't entirely unexpected. A lot of things had turned out differently just because he was more powerful and mature. For example, his moniker had changed from the Salamander to the Prince of Fire – something he wished hadn't happened, as Gray had taken to mock bowing and saying 'your highness' whenever he had a chance. "Who requested the mission?"

Erza glanced at the paper in her hands and her eyes widened. "W-woah…"

"What?" Natsu stood up, looking worriedly at the paper. What could have made Erza speechless? Cana and Elfman both took a peek at the paper, and they had a similar reaction to Erza.

Soon, everyone in the guild was scrambling to see the paper, and they all had similar reactions – slackjawed disbelief.

"Hey!" Natsu growled, but no one paid any attention to him. "It's my damn mission, who requested it?! Why are you guys acting like this?"

"N-Natsu…" Erza mumbled, and suddenly, the entire guild focused on him. "Jude Heartfilia requests your presence to bodyguard his daughter for one month. One of the richest men in Fiore requests your presence."

"Oh," Natsu sat down, playing off the utter shock that he felt. "I thought it was something important."

The entire guild went into an uproar, many people shouting at Natsu to 'stop trying to act cool!'

Natsu smirked. This was going to be an interesting mission.

Heartfilia Manor
One Week Later

"Hello," Natsu said pleasantly to the guard, who was gazing at him with suspicion. "I'm here to see Jude Heartfilia. A mission request was made out to me?"

"And who would you be?" the man said gruffly, and Natsu could see that he didn't think much of him. Why don't we change that? Natsu thought with a small grin.

"I'm Natsu Dragneel of Fairy Tail."

"O-oh shit!" the man dropped the pad he was holding which he used to record visitors and stared with something akin to awe at him. "I'm so sorry, Mr. Dragneel, sir! Right this way! Do you think you could sign this for my daughter? She's a real fan of you."

Natsu held back a frown as he autographed a CD case for the man. He was going to challenge the man to a fight or something – this isn't what I want, Natsu thought angrily. Fame isn't for me – not anymore. Natsu followed the man to the entrance of the manor, where the man entered a code sequence and the doors opened.

"Mr. Heartfilia is up the stairs, to the left," the man said brightly, shooting Natsu a happy grin which he weakly returned. "Thanks so much, Mr. Dragneel!"

As Natsu continued towards Mr. Heartfilia's room, he briefly contemplated creating an alterego and letting him do all the missions while the real Natsu Dragneel would become a 'bum' – but no, he definitely couldn't do that. Besides the matter of him needing to be famous so his later plans could work, it was also a matter of pride. He would never let himself be degraded like that.

Just gotta deal with the fame then, Natsu thought. He smirked a little bit – might as well enjoy himself, then. Let the old Natsu out. But that was for later – today, he was going to meet Lucy for the first time in this timeline, almost eight years before he had in the original timeline.

He was going to make damn sure he left a good impression on his future girlfriend.

"Enter," Jude Heartfilia said with a gruff voice (damn, when had his voice started sounding like that? Maybe he should lay off the pipe?). A boy walked in with a confident look in his eyes that made Jude confident that his decision was the right one.

"Hello, sir," Natsu said politely, internally seething – this was the man that had caused Lucy so much pain early in her life. They had reconciled later on, but he would never be able to forgive this man for that. "How are you?"

"I'm fine, but I'd rather skip the small talk," the man replied, and Natsu nodded. "Sit down, we have a lot to discuss."

"Sure, sir," Natsu said, taking a seat and noticing the painting behind Jude – a larger than life size poster of himself. Wow, that's kind of egotistical… though he couldn't really be talking. He was the cockiest brat to ever live in his original life. "If I may ask, why did you ask for me specifically? I'm pretty young, and relatively new to guilds and missions."

Jude chuckled, a throaty sounding laugh. Natsu resisted the urge to wipe the spit off his shirt.

"Look," he began. "I'm not stupid. I always go for the strong, younger ones (Natsu internally laughed at the innuendo) because they're not cocky, but they also have strength and a drive to not fail, no matter what the cost. The older ones – they get overconfident. Proud of their abilities. They know their skills can't be bought, and that they're the cream of the crop. Arrogance leads to complacency, and complacency leads to failure of the mission."

Natsu sat still for a moment, contemplating the man's words. He wouldn't lie – the words had a ring of truth to them. Before Acnologia attacked, he had considered himself one of the most powerful mages in the world – oh, what a joke. The truth was, he was nowhere close to being the most powerful mage in the world at that time, and he was even farther from being stronger than Acnologia. Even now, he was weaker than the Ten Wizard Saints – by the time he reached sixteen, he probably would reach that level of strength again. But there was still a longs way to go until he would be able to defeat Acnologia, Zeref, and all the other various other enemies that so desperately wanted to kill everyone near and dear to him. Arrogance had cost him all his friends' lives. But not again. Never again.

"I understand," Natsu responded.

"Good," the man said brightly, and Natsu noticed that he was barely anything like the demon Lucy had described him as. Maybe he got worse as time progressed? Like the opposite of fine wine, perhaps. "Now, about the mission…"

Lucy Heartfilia, age seven, desperately tried listening in on the meeting her father was having with the 'boy wonder' as everyone was calling him. She was curious to hear what they were saying, but knew unless her father wanted her to know, she would never find out – through him, at least.

Lucy wasn't a stupid girl, however. Her father had a business trip coming up that required him to travel to semi-dangerous lands, and he had been unwilling to leave Lucy alone. But he had also been unwilling to put Lucy in that kind of danger. And then, all of a sudden, the boy that she admired for being so strong and everyone had been talking about suddenly appeared?

Lucy smiled to herself. She was going to meet her hero.

All of a sudden, the door opened, and Lucy fell to the ground. She heard a chuckle above her, and realized with growing horror that that was not her dad's chuckle.

Please, please, Lucy begged with both eyes closed. Please, God, don't let it be him who saw me fall. Please.

Slowly, warily, Lucy began to raise her head, and her heart crashed as she realized she recognized the boy standing above her with his hand out to help her get up.

She recognized him from the Sorcerer's Weekly articles that had photos of him dotting the side, and she recognized him from the pictures she had of him taped to her walls.

"Hi," the boy smiled at her, and Lucy felt her face glow. "You must be Lucy Heartfilia. I'm Natsu Dragneel. We're going to be seeing a lot of each other for the next month."

A/N: Honestly, I have nothing to say. I'm so sorry for not updating this. I was looking through the archive of Fairy Tail stories, looking for a decent read, and coming up with nothing, so I decided to just write this.

I'm so sorry for not updating, but honestly, I can't say that this won't happen again. I'm not a frequent updater. I write whenever the muse hits, and the muse hit today (mostly because of the reviews left by a few of you saying how great of a story this Is and how you wished I would update). So thank you guys, all of you, for remaining loyal to the story.

Maybe I'll update soon, maybe not. But I hope for as long as you read this, you do enjoy what you read.

By the way, I'm really not a romance writer, so don't expect too much of it. A blush here, a pickup line there (not for a couple of years) and that's really all you're getting for a long time. So… yeah.

Sorry again.