Chapter 1: Something More
Just say yes, just say there's nothing holding you back. It's not a test nor a trick of the mind, only love.
"I don't understand what you're trying to do, Lucy."
The blonde pursed her lips at him, irritated by his lack of acceptance to her demands.
"It's a party! You have to dance. Everyone knows that, Natsu, you idiot." She glared but there was no real anger behind her eyes, and the boy simply crossed his arms over his chest, still unable to see the point in her trying to teach him anything. "Please?" She tried again, changing her strategy as she moved to look up at him through lowered lashes. "There must be some girl you want to impress. You are reaching twenty one years old, after all. Dancing can help with that!"
The implication in her words made Natsu stagger, a light warmth taking his cheeks as the birthday boy tried to take a step back to distance himself from the mocking grin of his best friend.
"W-What are you talking about, you damn pervert?!"
The girl laughed, obviously appreciating her ability to make even the great Salamander blush.
"See? I knew you weren't as clueless as you like to make others think you are!" She tilted her head to the side, winking at Natsu. "And quit thinking such weird things, I didn't mean it like that. If there is a girl, dancing will help to get her to notice you."
The boy looked to the side, trying to act nonchalant even though his face remained a bit pink.
"You're the weirdo." He mumbled under his breath, before finally noticing that Mirajane was staring at them from across the room, observing in a manner the barmaid obviously thought to be inconspicuous. Her sister, Lisanna, wasn't far behind, giggling into her hand with something akin to mischief.
Mischief and the Strauss sisters didn't sit well with the dragon slayer.
They had grown up together, which should be reason enough for anyone to understand why Natsu disliked the idea that those two were plotting something. If it wasn't, the fact that they had caught him blushing over Lucy being near him would definitely explain his sudden discomfort.
"Just bear with me, okay?" The blonde girl was tugging at his vest and trying to force herself into his line of sight. Her lips twisted into a pout and Lucy pulled him to her, almost leaning against him.
He stumbled slightly, pushing his friend away as gently as he could.
"Will you stop doing that?"
The blonde's face scrunched up in confusion, in a way that almost made Natsu hit himself to stop his mind from thinking about how incredibly cute she looked sometimes.
Despite her previous experiences with the opposite sex – much more of an experience than he ever had – and her book-related knowledge, Lucy could be strangely oblivious to the way she affected him. Her innocence was adorable and her trust in him, astonishing, but there were moments that the pink haired boy wished the celestial mage would realize that he was a male and she was a female and no matter how not-sexual he could be, even he had his limits.
There would be… incidents. Situations in which he would look at Lucy and see something more than the girl he'd helped join his guild, something more than his best friend and nakama. He would see a beautiful young woman, with skirts that were a bit too tight and tank tops that went more than a bit too low.
Natsu didn't really understand what these confusing thoughts meant, but he wasn't about to let them ruin their friendship. There was, of course, no way that Lucy could ever see him like that, so what was the point?
And, then, she did things like this; hugging and holding his hand and wanting to dance.
"Natsu, I'm not doing anything!" She sighed, annoyed by the lack of sense in her partner's actions.
The girl was shifting her weight from one leg to the other, her hands closed into fists by her sides. It had been years since she had perfected that look, the one she'd most likely learned from watching Erza as the redhead handled Natsu and Gray. It hadn't, however, lost its effects over the dragon slayer and he cowered under her gaze.
It was a no win situation, of that Natsu was sure. He was already pushing his luck by refusing her pleas, but Lucy could go to incredible lengths when she put an idea in her head. It was endearing that she wanted to help him so badly, but it was also weirdly frustrating that she saw no problem in being at such intimacy with him.
"Why do you want to do this, anyway? I wanted to just go on another mission, but you insisted in this damn party!" He replied, defensively.
The statement made her deflate. The blonde let her eyes drop to the floor and her fists unclenched, so her arms were hanging lifelessly. Natsu had no idea what he'd done wrong, but the realization that it was his sudden irritation that had somehow depressed Lucy made despair flood his chest.
"It's just…" She hesitated, grabbing her left arm in a half self-hug. "It was a costume back when I lived with my parents. The kids of their friends would turn twenty one and they would have these beautiful parties, in which they danced with their special people: parents, siblings, lovers… My birthday passed, and my family is dead, so I never got to –" She let out a sob, and the panic within Natsu increased. "I just thought… You are always saying how Fairy Tail is your family. You truly see us as your siblings. So I thought it would be okay if I continued with the tradition by dancing with you."
It wasn't odd that Lucy was sharing such a thing with him. After the ordeal with Phantom Lord, she had stopped being so tight lipped about her life before the guild. But those memories were difficult for her, specially after her father's death, and Natsu had grown accustomed to hearing only bits and pieces, like when she would comment on her mother's cooking being similar to Mirajane's or when she mentioned a certain object that belonged to her Heartfilia heritage.
"I- I didn't mean…"
She looked up with a watery smile, taking the hand he'd extended and squeezing gently.
"W-we don't even know how old I actually am, since Igneel was the only one that could be sure and…"
Lucy chuckled this time, gripping his hand more firmly and pulling him closer, so that she could rest her other hand in his shoulder.
The boy relaxed a bit, letting his arm involve her waist as they swayed to the soft tone that came from the guild's speakers. The music was slow and calming, and it made Natsu remember how Lisanna and Mirajane had been awfully close to the sound equipment when he'd seen them earlier.
The sensation of Lucy's form against his wasn't alien to the pink-haired boy. After knowing her for so long, there had been more than a few awkward situations involving her body. For some reason, fate seemed to have a problem with letting the celestial mage keep her clothes on.
"Not that I am about to complain", he thought gingerly, feeling as, once again, warmth crept up his cheeks.
"Oh my, my, what have we here?" Mirajane's voice came to them with a sigh. She was walking by with a tray, circling the two with a very unsafe kind of smile. "Don't stop on my account."
Lisanna had joined her sister, appearing on the other side of them.
"Yes, the dance is a very important thing when a man turns twenty one." She uttered happily. "If you want, I can dance with you as your sibling." The sisters shared a look as Lucy and Natsu stood, frozen with embarrassment, between them.
Lisanna moved to leave them alone, but not before the boy heard her mutter something along the lines of "since you already seem to have found yourself a lover…" in a voice that was entirely too giddy.
Making a point not to look at Lucy's face, he tried to regain the pace they'd set moments earlier. The girl in his arms complied, but her hands moved to his neck and her face found its way to his shoulder, where Lucy hid herself.
Mira walked into his line of sight, crossing the room to the bar and winking at him as she did so.
"Look at those matching blushes!" She mock whispered, and the celestial mage shifted in his embrace, tensing and mumbling into his neck about how the barmaid always saw too much into these moments and how her relationship with Natsu wasn't like that, in a tone of almost panic, but made no move to get away.
The boy ignored the teasing, realizing that he was way too comfortable to try and start a fight with any of the Strauss. Not to forget that Lucy would probably kill him if he purposely ruined their dance after she'd finally confessed why the whole thing was so important to her.
"Thank you, Natsu." The blonde looked up, revealing that Mirajane hadn't been lying about her flushed face. They matched. "You're my best friend and I- I love you."
"Of course I love my best friend back, you weirdo." Natsu hugged Lucy closer, suddenly extremely glad that he'd agreed to do this.
Most of the time, Natsu saw Lucy as his best friend. But there were some moments – moments like these – in which he couldn't help but think that she might be something… more.
This was a whim and it wouldn't leave me until I wrote it. It's a bit silly but I enjoyed it. I might make it into a series. The song is Just say yes, by Snow Patrol.