I can't believe it…The Lost Dragon Slayer is finally completed! But don't forget the sequel is still inbound! As always,
THANKS FOR READING!
Chapter 45: I'm Home
The group returning from Edolas reappeared in the sky above the East Forest.
The Dragon Slayers's Dragon Force ran out, canceling their draconic transformation and reverting it to normal before it vanished. Then they fell into a heap on the ground, crushing each other in a dog pile.
Sting got up and looked around with a grin, "We're home!"
The others got on their feet and observed the area, also confirming they really were back in Earthland. They also dragged back some surprise guests. The entire exceed population from Extalia had followed them home, and after some odd business between Charle and the Queen, (As well as Natsu apologizing for blowing their country to smithereens) the exceed flew off.
Sting frowned, knowing he had forgotten something, but it took a moment to dawn on him, "Natsu, I've still got your scarf!"
He unwrapped it from his neck and held it out to his brother. Natsu stared at the clothing for a moment before he took it and tossed it around his neck. The Salamander was silent for a moment before he started to laugh, "I'm really home, aren't I?"
Erza smiled and put a hand on his shoulder, "Not quite. When we walk through the doors of Fairy Tail, then you'll be home."
Natsu looked a little nervous at the prospect of seeing his guild again after two years, but something else caught his attention.
He looked around, and realized something-or rather, someone- was missing.
Natsu called out, "Lily! Where are you?"
The group looked over to find the huge black exceed, but they frowned when he was nowhere in sight. There was a sigh, and then they heard him again, "Down."
Natsu looked to the ground, and his jaw dropped when he saw Lily had shrunk. The Salamander smiled uncertainly, "You sure got tiny."
The black exceed rolled his eyes, "It seems Earthland doesn't agree with me. Anyways, my priority is getting into this guild that took care of Natsu and the Prince. All of the other Dragon Slayers have exceed partners," He pointed at the Iron Dragon, "Except for you, Gajeel. I'll work with you from this point on."
Gajeel smirked, then to everyone's surprise, he grabbed the exceed and hugged him, crying, "I finally got a cat!"
Sting's jaw dropped, "Wow, guess he just need his own cat. What a difference."
But they had other things to do than just mess around.
Sting grabbed his twin's arm with a grin, "Let's get you home."
He just nodded and let his brother tug him in the direction of Magnolia. They ran through the forest for a while, and it rained all the while. As it hit their heads, Natsu's white hair started to return to it's normal salmon color as the water washed the dye out. By the time they saw Magnolia, only the tips of his spiky hair were still white.
Natsu caught sight of the city he called home, and in the background, Fairy Tail. He took a step forward, but Sting stopped him, "Oh, hold on! I forgot something, so could the rest of you go ahead? We'll catch up with you at the guild. Don't tell anyone about Natsu yet."
Lucy frowned for a moment, then realization dawned on her and she smiled, "I'm going too."
Erza also seemed to catch on, "That's fine. We'll see you at Fairy Tail, Natsu."
She ushered the rest of the puzzled group on, away from Natsu, Sting, and Lucy. The Salamander cocked his head to the side, "Sting, where are we going?"
The White Dragon took a deep breath and looked him in the eye before answering, "Kardia Cathedral."
Natsu stared at him for a moment. Then his eyes widened and he whispered, "Is that where…?"
Sting grinned, "Let's see if you remember home. We'll race you, just follow my scent if you can't remember how to get there."
He swung Lucy over his shoulder piggy-back, (and made her squeal in surprise) activated his White Drive, and shot off towards the city. Natsu bolted after him, feet alight in flame.
Sting zigzagged through the buildings to throw his brother off the trail and put some distance between them. He wanted to put a quick surprise together. Lucy laughed as he ran, and the White Dragon seemed to draw more speed out of her enthusiasm.
In no time, they were at the entrance to the graveyard. Sting put Lucy down and ran towards Natsu's grave after deactivating his White Drive.
He led the blonde girl through the gravestones until the stone dragon on the pedestal was in sight. Someone wearing a black raincoat was standing in front of it with an umbrella over her head.
Sting whispered to Lucy quickly, "I've got a plan. Just go with it, and try not to give me away."
"Do you think they'll confess or something?" Lucy giggled. "I mean, I know they kissed, but it was just that one time two years ago. What do you think will happen now?"
"One way to find out." Sting snickered. If he screws up I will NEVER let him hear the end of it!
Lucy put a hand over her mouth to keep from laughing, and nodded silently. She and the White Dragon walked over to Lisanna, surprising her with a tap on the shoulder.
She smiled at them, "Hey, you guys! I was afraid you weren't coming. What-! You two are soaking wet! Sting, you didn't even get Lucy a raincoat!"
Sting raised an eyebrow, "Why's it my fault?"
Lisanna rolled her eyes, "Oh, come on! Even you can be a gentleman sometimes, can't you?"
"Hey!" he protested.
Lucy giggled at that, causing him to frown in mock anger. The three turned back to the stone dragon, and Lucy stared at it in awe. "I never knew about this…It's incredible, maybe as good as my mom's."
Lisanna smiled sadly, "It's the least he deserved."
Sting watched her closely, before he turned to the dragon and closed his eyes with a smile, "Yeah. That's for sure."
The Take-Over mage clenched the umbrella tightly and took a shaky breath, "Sting, I…I think I..might have lost…Natsu's scarf."
Lucy covered her mouth with a hand, but she wasn't shocked, just trying to hide her smile. The White Dragon did a better job. He stared at Lisanna for a second before looking behind him.
Natsu walked in the graveyard silently. His brother caught sight of them and stopped in his tracks. Sting gave him a grin and turned back to the grave with Lisanna.
He sighed, "It's no problem."
She flashed a glare at him and almost shouted, "No problem?! That was the scarf Natsu got from Igneel! He loved that scarf!"
The White Dragon held his hands up in surrender, "Easy there! I don't mean it's not important, it's just that I already found it."
Lisanna stopped ranting and her mouth was left in a little 'o'. She closed it, then opened it again, "Sorry I snapped at you, but where is it?"
Sting couldn't resist the ridiculously big smile on his face that exposed his fangs. He jerked a thumb over his shoulder, "Over there."
Lisanna frowned and turned to look behind her, "What do you…!"
She saw him.
It took her a second to process that there was someone there, another second to see that that someone was wearing the scaled scarf she kept, then…She saw his face. His jacket was unzipped, so she got a clear look at his anxious expression. Lisanna took in the dark eyes, the spiky hair…her breath caught in her throat when she realized just how familiar he was. Sure, he was a little older and taller, but he hadn't changed that much.
Lisanna dropped the umbrella and completely froze, letting out a breathy whisper, "…Nat…su…?"
The Salamander swallowed and nodded nervously.
For a few seconds, neither of them dared to move. Lisanna's blue eyes were wide in shock, her body trembling as she covered her mouth with her hands.
Natsu was stuck to the spot, unsure what to do or even say. Sure, he'd thought about how this would go, but had no idea how to approach her now that he was actually here. His mind had gone blank.
Lucy whispered in Sting's ear, "Are they just gonna stare at each other all day?"
The White Dragon looked between the two of them, and was about to say something that would snap them back into reality, but Lisanna beat him to it.
She raced forward and threw her arms around Natsu. He froze for a second, then did the same, almost lifting her off the ground.
Sting grinned and whispered back to Lucy, "That's more like it. Let's leave em' be for a while, yeah?" The blonde girl smiled and nodded, before the two of them quietly left the graveyard.
Lisanna was crying, completely caught off-guard by his appearance in the graveyard. She couldn't believe that she had her arms around him- the only thing that convinced her it was really him was the warmth. She remembered this soft warmth. Natsu's warmth.
It was him.
Natsu shifted back a little as Lisanna whispered faintly. Tears were pouring down her face, but he'd never seen anyone look so happy. Her hands came up to cup his cheeks. "I finally get to see you again…Natsu…"
Her heart skipped a beat at that smile he made, the big cheeky grin that could only be Natsu's. He pulled her back to him and pressed his face into her neck to take a deep breath of her scent. "God, I missed you so much…"
"I missed you too." she whispered to him. Lisanna's fingers ran through his spiky pink hair, feeling how soft it was while she held him as closely as she could. She wished she wouldn't ever have to let him go.
She had managed to compose herself for the most part when she quietly asked, "Do the others know?"
"Not yet." he murmured, still holding onto her. "I wanted to see you before anyone else."
Those words made heat rush to her cheeks and her heart pounded faster than ever. She briefly wondered if he could hear it…wondered if he knew exactly what he did to her.
"Natsu?" Lisanna looked down at the ground nervously. "Um…about what happened on that mission…W-well, I…"
How do I tell him something like this?!
Truthfully, she wanted nothing more than to tell him just how much she really cared about him, how much she wanted him to be hers. But the concept was much easier said than done.
Natsu tilted his head slightly with a frown. "Lisanna, are you ok?"
Yeah, it just feels like my face is on fire! She thought helplessly. Lisanna had never been at a loss for words before and had no idea what to do about it now.
"Back then…when I sort of..kissed you…" Lisanna felt like her words were stumbling all over each other. "W-well, I…I guess I never told you..how I felt before that, but I…I really-Hhh!"
Natsu kissed her.
Lisanna's gasp was cut off as his mouth covered hers. She froze for a moment before closing her eyes and started to kiss him back. Her hands latched shakily onto the collar of his jacket to pull him closer, pressing her body against him.
He lost himself to the feel of her soft lips against his, kissing her harder when she sighed softly into his mouth. Natsu had never done this before, he just followed his instincts. He didn't know how he knew what he was doing, he just did. The way Lisanna was reacting also made it clear that he must have been doing something right.
By the time they finally pulled apart they were breathless. Natsu recovered first and rested his forehead against hers.
"Y'know…I've always been better showing how I feel with actions…Never really with words..and it's the same for you…it's just not who we are…"
Natsu's dark eyes had a wild light in them, one that made her legs weak. She felt her already stained cheeks burn even hotter. Lisanna played with the ends of his scarf, avoiding his gaze and blushing furiously.
His hands fell to her waist and he just looked into her eyes. After she caught her breath, she finally looked back up at him, still blushing, but her eyes were soft. "Yeah. We really aren't the kind of people that do long confessions, huh?"
Natsu couldn't help but smile at her expression.
"I'll say it anyway, though." Lisanna murmured, leaning forward to whisper in his ear.
"I love you, Natsu. Welcome home."
The way she said that made it feel like someone was squeezing Natsu's heart. Not in a bad way; quite the contrary, he couldn't remember ever feeling so happy. Even when he and Lisanna had been kids and just playing around, he'd never imagined that they would be like this once they were older.
Thinking back on it…he couldn't really remember the first time he realized he loved her too. Maybe he always had and now those feeling were just…maturing.
He'd always be rowdy and wild. He'd always be Natsu. But…he'd always love her too. He always had.
"I love you too, Lisanna." Natsu said softly. "I'm home…"
Had her face not been buried in his neck and shoulder, Natsu would've seen an expression pure joy in Lisanna's eyes.
As it was, she hugged him tightly, but stopped when Natsu winced. She moved back a little, frowning in concern. "What's wrong?"
Natsu gave her a pained smile, "Nothing. It was just kind of rough getting back here."
Lisanna stared at him for a moment, before looking him over. She realized his midsection was bandaged up, causing her eyes to widen in alarm. "You're hurt! What happened?"
"He was just being an idiot."
They turned in surprise to see Sting reentering the graveyard with Lucy. The White Dragon smirked at his salmon-haired brother. "I win. Too bad Gajeel didn't get to see that. He'd have laughed his ass off."
Natsu tch'd and growled at him, "Oh, shut up."
Sting laughed at him while Lucy and Lisanna gave them confused looks. When the White Dragon finally recovered from his merriment attack, he flashed another grin Natsu's way. "I know you two are enjoying yourself here,"
He sniggered, causing Natsu to growl again and Lisanna to blush. Sting went on, "But the others at Fairy Tail still don't know you're alive. I'd say it's time you came home."
The Salamander stopped growling and was quiet for a moment. Then he bared his fangs in his classic smile. "I'm all fired up!"
Sting laughed again, but turned around and started walking out of the graveyard again, Lucy behind him. Lisanna took Natsu's hand and led him out after them.
She frowned again at his wound. "Are you sure you're alright?"
"I'm fine." Natsu replied, then looked a little uncertain. "Hey…do you want to tell the others that, y'know…you and I are kinda…"
Lisanna blinked and reddened a bit, but giggled. "I don't see why we should keep it a secret…with Mira around, it's not like we'd be able to hide anything for long anyway."
Natsu thought about it for a moment, then grinned again. "Yeah, you're right. Guess we'll tell them."
When they got in front of Fairy Tail, they heard a commotion inside the building. Lisanna gave Natsu an encouraging smile. "You ready?"
The Salamander nodded, and released her hand to push the doors open.
Inside, Erza had pretty much taken everyone hostage so they couldn't leave the guild. She, as well as the rest of the Edolas group were keeping them all there to wait for Natsu, but the guild members didn't know that. True, they were interested in Pantherlily, but they didn't know why Erza and the others wouldn't let them go.
As the doors opened, Gajeel bellowed, "All you idiots shaddup! They're back!"
The angry guild yelled back, totally ignoring him.
"Don't tell ME to shut up!"
"What the hell's your deal?"
Natsu couldn't help but laugh, "Wow. Two years, and nothing's changed."
The guild went totally silent. Erza smiled, "You took your time."
The Salamander shrugged at her, "Couldn't help it. I had to keep them in suspense for a little while, what kinda surprise would it be if everyone wasn't all wound up?"
He grinned at the guild members of Fairy Tail, whose eyes were getting huge as they realized who he was.
"It's been a while, guys." Natsu said.
The guild went completely, absolutely still. It was as though time had frozen and no one could react to what was happening. Then as one, Fairy Tail screamed. "NATSU!"
The guild members all started shouting questions.
"Where have you been?!"
"Are you hurt?!"
"What the hell happened?!"
Natsu put his hands up in surrender, but a mass of people charged him all at once with excessive tears and stupid smiles, "NATSU!"
"Shut up you idiots!"
Sting roared and blasted them away. He crossed his arms and barked at them, "Yes, he's alive. Seriously! And yeah, he's all beat up, so try not to kill him right when he's gotten home! Ask him for the rest."
Makarov walked up with a serious face, causing the guild to quiet down. Natsu looked down at the old man with a nervous expression. "Master…"
But the old man smiled at him, "I, no, everyone here believed in a corner of our hearts that you would come home. I'm glad we were right. Erza told us about Edolas. I'm not sure what hardships you've been through, but you're home now. That's what matters. Sting, you and Natsu should talk to me about what happened later."
The White Dragon shrugged, "Sure, gramps."
Makarov laughed, "Anyways, welcome home, Natsu!"
The guild exploded into cheers. Natsu stared around at them, grinning. "Man, there are faces here I ain't ever seen before. The place sure has changed…plus a few people's vibes are a bit different too."
Lisanna tilted her head. "You think so?"
"Are you kidding me?" Natsu pointed at Mira, who seemed very much too nice compared to her younger, gothic self that he was familiar with. "If I asked your sister to get me something at the bar two years ago, she'd have kicked my ass."
Sting laughed. "Haha, that is true!"
Mira giggled a bit. "I don't think I've changed that much."
Natsu sweat-dropped. "Could've fooled me."
"What a celebratory day it is, eh babies?!" That was Bixlow as he, Freed, and Evergreen walked over.
Freed offered a smile. "Truly, it's great news that you're alright, Natsu."
Surprise lit up Natsu's face. "The Thunder God Tribe? You guys hardly ever come to the guild! Talk about rare!"
Evergreen pulled out her fans and smirked. "That's not completely true…after all, I am a Fairy!"
Natsu shrugged and grinned. "Well, Fairy Tail is Fairy Tail. It's the best guild for a reason."
Gildarts' call from the bar got the Salamander's attention quickly. The S-Class mage grinned. "I'm glad to see you safe and sound…do you think you could fill us all in on what's been going on with you over the last couple of years?"
Natsu grinned. "Sure!"
After telling the gist of what he'd been doing in Edolas for the past two years, the guild was quite amazed.
"I never would've thought that Natsu would take up swordsmanship." Mira remarked.
"Well, I never thought you'd take up begin a barmaid." Natsu returned.
She smiled a bit. "I guess so."
Lucy's eyes were sparkling. "Hey, those are some great ideas I could put into my own story! Do you think maybe you could tell me more about those adventures in Edolas sometime?"
Natsu smiled. "Sure!"
Gildarts was nodding his head after listening to the tale. "Well, it seems to me…you've definitely grown up a lot, huh Natsu? Was there anything else of particular interest that occurred?"
He tapped his chin. "Hmm…was there?"
"I think there was one other thing, right, Natsu?"
Lisanna came up from behind and leaned around to kiss his cheek. She giggled at the dumbstruck faces as she took Natsu's hand and squeezed it gently.
Natsu grinned cheerfully. "The looks on your faces really are the best."
Cana took another swig of alcohol. "I don't know what they're all surprised for. I remember when we took bets on how long you two would be going out. I thought a year or two just because Mira would probably kill Natsu, and…oh, speak of the devil."
The Salamander blanched as he felt a deadly presence behind them. Mirajane was back to her demonic persona. "If you even entertain the thought of breaking my baby sister's heart, Natsu…"
"…Yes ma'am." he managed, but managed to flash an uncertain grin her way. "You don't have to get all high-strung about it though…I won't let anything bad happen to Lisanna."
"Aww! So cute~" And just like that, Mira was back to her typical, cheery matchmaker attitude. The entire guild simultaneously sweat-dropped.
Elfman stepped forward hesitantly, "Hey, Natsu…I'm sorry."
Natsu looked at him in surprise, "What for?"
Elfman scratched the back of his head, "For what happened two years ago..on that mission. I lost control, and you took the hurt for it to protect everyone…I get it if you can't forgive me, but-gah!"
Suddenly, Natsu punched him to the ground. The guild went into a shocked silence. The Salamander cracked his knuckles as he looked down on Elfman, his face expressionless.
Lisanna took a step forward, "Natsu-" Sting stopped her by placing a hand on her shoulder.
Natsu stared at Elfman for a while, before he grinned, "You idiot. The hell are you apologizing for?"
The Take-Over mage stammered, "Wh-what?"
Natsu made it seem like the answer was obvious, "I punched you because you thought you had to apologize. I hope everyone else told you this already, so for the last time, it wasn't your fault. And,"
He gave him an evil smile, "This wouldn't be a party without a fight!"
The guild roared in approval.
Elfman grinned back at Natsu and charged him.
Gajeel laughed as he joined them, "Bout' damn time!"
Gray yelled, "Bring it on, squinty eyes!"
"Get ready, Natsu!" Sting roared. After that, all hell broke loose.
Fairy Tail went totally ballistic throughout the day and well into the night. Drinks were chugged until even Cana was stupid drunk, laughs rang out until throats were sore, and everyone beat the hell out of each other until even the Dragon Slayers were too tired to move.
All the people fell asleep where they collapsed, too wasted to go home. They rejoiced in Natsu's return, celebrating with everything they had. It was around midnight when everyone finally went down for the count. Bodies were lying down in the oddest of places and at the weirdest of angles. The guild hall was a total wreck, but it had been more than worth it. Natsu was home.
The next morning, Natsu blinked his eyes open. Everyone else in the guild was still out cold, filling the hall with snores. He yawned, and heard someone murmur in his ear.
He looked to his side and saw Lisanna sitting beside him, still asleep, with her head on his shoulder. She looked happy, smiling in whatever dream she was having. Natsu's eyes softened when he saw that Happy was in her arms.
The Salamander scratched Happy's head before raising his arm to caress Lisanna's face. She sighed and blinked her eyes open. Natsu froze, caught red-handed.
Lisanna stared at him for a moment, but smiled, "Good morning."
Natsu sighed in relief inwardly before giving her his characteristic grin, "Morning."
She laughed before it gave way to a yawn, "Ahhhh! We should get up…"
"Probably." the Salamander admitted.
Lisanna closed her eyes and held her arms out, "Carry me, please?"
Natsu laughed and picked her up bridal style. She still held Happy between her arms, the little exceed snoring softly. He decided to take Lisanna back to her house, and was walking out the door when something unusual caught his eye. He blinked a few times to make sure he wasn't seeing things, but...
Natsu stopped in his tracks as his jaw dropped.
Lisanna noticed this and opened one eye to look up at him, "What's wrong?"
He nodded his head over to the side. Lisanna followed his gaze and her eyes widened. She whispered, "No…Way…"
Natsu couldn't take it. He walked over to a table and put Lisanna and Happy down with a huge grin. "I'm gonna get Reedus. Hold on a sec."
The Take-Over mage's eyes got even wider as she realized what he was going to do, and she smiled deviously, "He'll try to kill you when he finds out. You know that, right?"
Natsu tried not to laugh, "Oh, I know."
He snuck off and woke up Reedus, dragging him back to the scene. The artist was usually a timid soul, but alcohol had gotten the better of him, and he matched the Salamander's evil intentions with enthusiasm. He began to paint a picture of the scene before them, Natsu sniggering quietly as he watched.
The rest of the guild woke up quickly after that, and came over to see what the commotion was about. Their reactions were all the same, disbelieving, but totally loving Natsu's evil idea. Pretty soon, a crowd of sniggering people stood at the scene, trying not to die laughing.
Mira had been the most excited, so much so, that Natsu and the newly-awakened Gajeel had to restrain her to make sure she didn't squeal her life out.
Rogue shook his head at the victims, "I can't believe they're still sleeping through all this."
Yukino giggled, "Promise you guys will never let them forget this?"
Natsu and Gajeel grinned at her from where they were restraining Mira, "Never!"
Sting woke up with the feeling of something very warm draped over his body. He blinked his eyes open and looked around. There was a crowd of people surrounding him, trying not to laugh.
He frowned, "What's your deal?"
Reedus gave a piece of paper to Natsu, who literally fell to his knees from laughter for several seconds before he managed to stand up again. He took a deep breath and turned the paper in his hands around so Sting could get a good look at it.
It was a picture of him, obviously, lying down on his back. He was asleep, but there was something…off. Or maybe on. Sting blinked to make sure he wasn't seeing things, but then paled when he saw that Lucy was lying on top of him in the picture.
Something clicked in his head, and he whipped his gaze down. Sure enough, Lucy was sleeping on him, her face buried in his chest and her arms wrapped around him. With a shock, he realized his arms were around her as well. In fact, both of his hands were ah, right on her rear.
The White Dragon's face went bright red. You have GOT to be kidding me!
The guild couldn't take it anymore, and let it all out. They roared with laughter while Gajeel released Mira, who squealed at an unbelievable volume, "SO CUTE!"
This caused Lucy to wake up.
She raised her head and looked Sting straight in the face, centimeters away, for several seconds. Then she went red in the face and started stammering gibberish that made absolutely no sense whatsoever.
They flew apart, trying to make sense of what had just happened. The White Dragon had an instinct for situations like this: Kill the instigator.
His eyes flashed to Natsu, who pointed a finger at him and laughed so hard he couldn't breathe, "The…the l-look on your f-face! Hahahahahaha! Oh man..th-this picture's totally going in a..s-scrapbook, kahahahaha!"
Sting roared, "NATSU YOU BASTARD! GIVE ME THAT!"
Natsu spun around and ran for it past the crowd, screaming with glee, "NOT ON YOUR LIFE!"
The brothers ran around the guild hall while Sting screeched threats and curses after Natsu.
Lucy continued to speak gibberish and almost passed out from embarrassment. Fortunately or unfortunately, Cana offered her a drink to make the whole thing a bit easier.
Happy flew over to Reedus and then back to Lisanna with a piece of paper. The Take-Over mage raised an eyebrow, "Happy, what's that?"
The exceed sniggered, "The second copy. Just in case Natsu gets caught."
He turned it around to show a second version of the original painting. Lisanna laughed as he flew off to hide it in a scrapbook somewhere. She smiled as everyone watched the furious White Dragon chase down the Salamander.
"YOU'LL PAY FOR THIS, NATSU!"
"AGH, SHIT, HE ALMOST HAD ME!"
Welcome home, Natsu...