Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Fairy Tail.
"I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better."
When Naruto awoke, it was to darkness.
Not because it was dark, but because he couldn't see. Was he blind? No. It wasn't exactly blindness. Not this time anyways, but for whatever reason, his eyelids refused to obey him, staying shut despite his strained efforts otherwise. Still, he was beginning to hear again. His ears were constantly catching the slightly muffled rustle of leaves all around him.
His sense of smell seemed to be slowly returning as well, bringing with it the scent of some kind of flower. Roses, perhaps? Whatever it was, it was suffocating. He wanted to cough, but he couldn't, even as a burning pain seared through his throat and lungs.
'What... happened to me?' Naruto thought to himself.
The bright side to all of this, if you could even call it that, was that the pain meant that he could feel. And feeling meant that he was still alive; alive enough to also sense something else, at least. There was definitely some other presence there. A slightly soothing sensation against his head, as if fingers were gently wafting through his hair as he lay there.
He tried to reach up and grab hold of whatever - whoever - it was, but his arms refused to budge. Clearly, his body was in rougher shape than he thought. And unfortunately, his recent memory didn't seem to be holding up much better as he tried to piece together the events that led him to his current state.
'Who's there? Who are you?' he tried to ask. He couldn't quite manage that much though. His throat felt as dry as sandpaper and his lips wouldn't quite move the way he wanted them to. So all he could hear himself say was a few inarticulate 'Huu' sounds. He worked to clear his throat and try again, but this time, was interrupted by a soft and familiar voice.
"Finally awake, huh, Naruto?" it said. It was a feminine voice and her tone was casual, as if she were just a close friend, berating him for oversleeping. Yet he couldn't for the life of him, pin a name or a face to her voice. "How are you feeling?"
Ugh... like shit, Naruto wanted to say. But of course, he couldn't and 'whoever-this-girl-was' let out a short, almost melancholic chuckle.
"Ah, don't answer that. I just can't help but tease you, even now." The girl let out a drawn-out sigh. "Sorry."
Naruto attempted once again to move his arms and legs. He could feel them, which was a relief, but it quickly dawned on him that they were probably not in a state that was fit for moving. Even the smallest twitches of his muscles sent shockwaves of intense pain to wash over his entire being. He struggled against himself and moved slightly anyways, expecting this unknown girl to help him in some manner, but she did nothing of the sort, and continued to speak cryptically to him instead.
"Say, the magic hasn't taken effect yet, right?" she asked him out of the blue. "You can still remember it, right? When we talked about what we wanted to do with our lives and such..."
'What the hell is she talking about?' Naruto thought. He tried to speak again. He wasn't even sure of what he was trying to say. Anything really. But this time all that escaped his lips was silence.
"Remember how boring my dream was? All I ever wanted was to live a happy and carefree life in Fairy Tail. It was so simple. But... I suppose it suited a naive girl like me."
Wait a minute. Did he even know anybody with a dream like that? Naruto's mind was a jumbled mess at this point and this cryptic girl wasn't helping matters.
"But you know, your dream... "
"Your dream was weird," laughed the girl. "I don't think I'll ever forget how you told me you were from some far-away make-believe land. That you wanted to be a... what was it again? A Ho-something? Err...Ho-ka... Hokage? Mmmh, yea, that was it. You said you wanted to be a Hokage. It sounded so ridiculous. Then you said you were a ninja, remember? And I laughed in your face."
A tinge of anger lit up within Naruto at her words, though he wasn't even sure why. He didn't remember telling anyone anything of the sort. 'Why am I here? Better yet, can't you just help me up, whoever-you-are?' He wanted so badly to say these things to her as he continued to painfully test each part of his body.
The girl laughed a bit then paused, letting the silence seep in. It was like she was completely unaware of Naruto's own struggles. And when she finally continued, her tone suddenly became wholly serious. "But, you know? Over the years, I got to know you better. I started to understand that despite your brashness, you were always devoted to your friends, to me. You might have been a little thickheaded and we often fought over trivial things, but you never once tried to lie to me, or deceive me, or sell me out, even though sometimes I might have done those things to you. And it suddenly dawned on me. That maybe you weren't making up those stories about being from another world. That maybe the silly story you were defending so adamantly might be the truth. One that I was simply too stubborn to believe in. It was then, I figured that your dream wasn't so stupid after all. That you actually wanted to become somebody strong enough to change your world for the better. That was your real dream."
"And," she added, with just the barest hint of reluctance in her tone. "I think thats when I started having these feelings for you, too."
Naruto's eyes suddenly shot open, revealing the outline of a girl staring affectionately down at him. And though he squinted hard, the girl's features were too blurry and distorted to fully make out. The fact that he couldn't make out colors made the matter worse as everything seemed to be a dizzying mix of red, yellow, and blue. And her face... she seemed attractive but... It was then that he realized that his head was resting on her lap, a thought that made his heart skip a beat, despite his critical condition. But the problem was... he couldn't recognize her, even though her words suggested that they had been close. No, it wasn't that he didn't recognize her. It was more like he had somehow... forgotten who she was? Who the heck was she, anyways? Whoever she was, her expression had suddenly turned even more tortured. He could vaguely make out the beginnings of tears forming up in the corners of her eyes.
"So, it's already started, huh? Your memories are beginning to fade?"
What was she talking about? His memories were fading? Nonsense. No they weren't, were they? Nothing she said was making any sense. Naruto wanted nothing more than to make her go away. No, wait. No he didn't. He... wanted her to stay? No. that didn't make sense either. Nothing made any sense. And he couldn't even muster up his voice to ask her any of the questions burning at the tip of his tongue. It was beyond frustrating.
"Do you remember who I am?" she asked, a blurry hand pointing towards her own face. It was as if she had somehow caught the question burgeoning through his eyes.
With great pain and effort, Naruto shook his head, hoping that she would at least give him her name. He didn't get it. Instead, he received a few teardrops as they fell from her face to his.
"Ugggh. I keep trying to remind myself that it's better this way. You forgetting everything, that is. You might even be able to forgive me now," she said, before pausing to draw in a sniffle. "At least... at least this way, I can't hurt you anymore."
An instinct deep inside of him told him that something was definitely wrong. Naruto shifted his gaze to the left, desperate to recognize anything around him. Instead, he saw only an unfamiliar desecrated battlefield of what was once probably a garden of sorts. There were large smoking craters here and there, leaves, weapons, and flower petals littered chaotically about. In the distance was a strange old mansion, guarded by twin fountains, sculpted in the visage of an elaborately dressed girl, one broken the other still pristine. Varying amounts of dried blood seemed to be spattered everywhere, and pieces of torn cloth were snagged upon the jagged destruction.
But nothing. Not one thing was recognizable and he started to panic, started to shake as it was really all he could do in his current state.
"Shh, relax Naruto," the girl comforted, continuing to stroke his hair as she did. "It's okay now. Let the magic take it's course."
'No!' Naruto wanted to refuse, his mind tried so desperately to will his body to do something. Anything.
"But before you go, I want you to know that I appreciate everything you've done for me..."
Naruto could literally feel something rushing through him now, like a chilly wave that swept his away his thoughts. His feelings.
"...that I'll never forget you. That I cherished all the time we spent together in Fairy Tail..."
The name of the girl. It came. No... it was barely there on the cusp of his fading memory. He just... he couldn't quite reach it.
"I know you would never approve of the things I'll be doing from here on out, but I just can't let things go the way they are any longer. I have to take matters into my own hands now."
'No, I need to remember.' It was there. He could feel it on his tongue.
"...so please, don't try to stop me any longer. Just forget everything, Naruto."
Then, in that instant, he had it. Her name. And with it, he had also found his voice. He called upon it urgently. Desperately. And cried out to her.
But before he could, in a single movement, she bent down, her soft lips pressed up against his before he could say a thing. The sudden memory of her identity vanished instantly, along with all the feelings of confusion and pain he once had.
"But don't worry," she whispered as their lips parted. "I'll make sure you and the rest of Fairy Tail are safe when I destroy all the corruption in this world."
And just like that, everything turned to nothing.
A/N: The story probably doesn't make sense just yet. The girl in this chapter is one of the Fairy Tail girls. I'm just not going to let you know which one.