I know it's been a while since I've updated Dragonearth, but I've been stuck on deciding a decent plot. So I've decided to get this chapter out at least and decide from there how I'm going to handle things. I've got the conclusion already written out, so it's just a matter of figuring what I'll do for the middle bits.

As always, please review and thanks for reading!

P.S- After much debate, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided that my other fic, Fast and Fiery, will likely not be continued due to my lack of inspiration to write for it and no luck developing a good plot. At this point, Dragonearth and the Outcast Dragon King will be the only Fairy Tail stories I am going to work on. In the future, I may or may not look into doing an Eragon Fanfiction, but that is still a concept in its infancy.

If someone wants to take Fast and Fiery and adapt it into their own story, just PM to let me know!

Chapter 30: What Has Been and What Will Be

Natsu and Lisanna got a big surprise when they flew back to Magnolia.

All the dragons were assembled in the Thunder Hall, the entrance of which was guarded by a young drake with red scales and a white underbelly. The dragon had gold colored horns, giving him a somewhat regal look, and his dark eyes only heightened that perception.

"What do we have here?" The drake prompted as Natsu and Lisanna landed at the entrance. "Are you two here for the meeting? You're rather late."

Natsu cocked his head. "What meeting?"

"Oh? Your memory does not serve you well, I see." Smirked the drake. "The meeting with the princess of Fiore and Makarov over that dragon who destroyed Rosemary."

Lisanna's eyes widened. "Princess Hisui is here?!"

"In the flesh." Confirmed the drake. "I'm here as her bodyguard. You may call me Rufus."

Natsu stepped forward. "Let us in. I gotta talk to Smaug."

"I cannot." Rufus blocked his way. "You're late, for one. Also, no one but the princess and Makarov get to talk with that dragon. The likelihood of him being executed is high anyways."

Fangs began to bare as the Fire Drake's lip curled. "I'm not letting anyone kill Smaug."

Rufus saw the threat and grinned cockily back, showing off his own sharp teeth. "Oh? Looking for a fight? I'll be more than willing to oblige."

"Natsu! Lisanna!"

Lucy came running up with a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness you two finally showed up! You can let them pass, Rufus. They're members of the Thunder."

Rufus shrugged, "Alright."

So the drake let them pass without another word, allowing them to sprint into the hall.

"I'm afraid the situation isn't quite as simple as it appears, Makarov."

That first string of words that Natsu heard wasn't exactly a comfort. He and Lisanna quietly padded to the back of the Thunder Hall where the meeting was being held. The woman speaking to Makarov and Layla was a young, emerald-haired woman dressed appropriately as a princess. Beside her were two armored knights, who remained at attention and said not a word.

The princess (Hisui, Natsu remembered) continued on from where she left off. "As inclined as I am to believe that Smaug was searching for the son of his deceased friend, it doesn't excuse the methods he used to find him. Destroying Rosemary was a step too far. Rather, regardless of what I decide, this matter is already being addressed by the Council."

Makarov seemed to age then and sighed. "And what, exactly, have they decided?"

"That I don't know." Hisui replied. "But I'm entirely certain that Gran Doma is not going to be light on you. That you've taken to harboring Smaug here was not wise. You know how much the council dislikes you."

Layla frowned. "I think their disapproval is more directed at me than the Thunder, but…"

"It's not a matter of whether or not the priestess believes that the Thunder Laws should be altered." Hisui stopped her. "It's that Makarov and the rest of Fairy Tail have not in any way agreed or disagreed with you. The Council does not like your indecisiveness and so Gran Doma will always assume the worst of you. That's tantamount to you supporting that the law regarding dragon mates is flawed."

"This is why that old beast and I never saw eye to eye." Makarov grunted. "It always had to be his way. There was never any room for negotiations."

Hisui sighed. "No human can change his mind. Despite us Royals working alongside the Dragon Council for mutual peace between our species, the dragons don't actually need to listen to a thing we say. Often times, the Council listens more out of politeness than actual interest. Neither the Royal Family or the Spirit Priestesses hold any real authority with them."

"Why even bother then?" Smaug regarded the princess from beside Makarov. "I'm not even of this country, so why should I listen to old dragons who can't even listen to others?"

"Because right now, you're in their territory." Layla said sternly. "And you've violated that territory by attacking it. You could be charged for war crimes."

"War?" the Volcanic Drake snorted. "How naive. As though Fiore could declare war on a search and rescue party from Ishgar."

"Ishgar?" Lucy whispered to Natsu. "What's that?"

He muttered a response. "It's another name for our continent, Pri-mal. It's referred to by humans as Ishgar. Either one works."

Hisui watched him cautiously. "As much as I hate to admit it, you make a valid point. Ishgar, ruled entirely by dragons, is one of this world's most ferocious powers. Even with the respective Dragon Clans separated, each and every one is led by a ruler who could probably put our most effective fighting forces to shame. Threatening you with death isn't realistic."

Natsu interjected at this point with a fanged grin. "Well of course not. There's not much that can kill this old drake."

Smaug lifted a scaled brow at him and took in his charge's sincere expression. If he recognized remorse for their earlier argument in Natsu's eyes, he didn't say anything about it.

Hisui looked over her shoulder at the young drake and seemed to gauge him. "You're Smaug's quarry, then. As happy as I am that you've reunited with your father's friend, it's not up to me what happens to him. I've been told that they'll be sending a messenger soon to give Smaug's sentence. If Gran Doma so decides, he may kill you anyway. He's very strict in regards to the law."

"Rules are made to be broken." Natsu replied.

Hisui's eyes flashed as she regarded him again. "Indeed…your father…was Igneel, correct?"

"You knew him?"

"Not personally." Answered the princess. "But I've heard rumors…especially regarding Igneel's mate."

Smaug suddenly stiffened. Layla as well shifted uncomfortably.

Hisui's eyes were narrowed. "Who was your mother?"

"What has that got to do with any of this?" Natsu asked.

"What was her name?" Hisui shot back.

The Fire Drake's lip curled. "Why should I tell you?"

"You live in the lands of my father and my people." Explained the princess. "There safety is my first concern. If you bring danger with you, then I will know about it one way or another. What was your mother's name?"

Natsu growled. "Sunrose."

Hisui's eyes briefly flickered with something akin to alarm, but it vanished quickly. "I see. Very well, this is all I have to discuss as of now. I'll take my leave."

She walked out with the knights right behind her. One of them (a young woman) paused to give Natsu a curious glance, and he caught sight of something gleaming around her neck. It was a red dragon scale. One of his.

Natsu's eyes widened in realization. Kagura!

The female knight looked at him and smiled when he nodded at her. She glanced back to the princess and called out. "Your majesty, would it be acceptable if I remained here for a short time?"

Hisui looked a little surprised, but she nodded. "Yes. We'll be staying the night in Magnolia. Spend your time as you wish."

Kagura bowed her head gratefully and walked over to Natsu. She smiled up at him and held his scale in her hand.

Natsu grinned toothily. "You've gotten bigger, little one."

"But not as big as you." She replied happily.

The young woman managed to keep herself from running forward, but had a definite rush to her step as she moved to hug his snout. Natsu lowered his head for her and made a slight purr. Truth be told, he was happy to see her again.

Most of the other dragons looked completely bewildered by Natsu's behavior. No one had expected him to actually look happy to meet a knight, much less one who recognized him.

Lucy blinked in utter confusion. "Um…Natsu, who is this?"

"Oh, where are my manners?" Kagura detached herself from the Fire Drake and bowed to Lucy. "I'm Kagura Mikazuchi, a knight of the kingdom. Natsu saved me when I was very small."

"You're Kagura?" Surprise blossomed over Lucy's face. "What a coincidence!"

"Maybe." Kagura giggled a bit. "Once I heard there was a Fire Dragon who seemed to be a lot like Natsu, I had to come see if it was really him."

"And what was it that you heard about him?" Erza asked.

Kagura gave Natsu a mischievous look. "Destructive, insane, pyromaniac."

"Hey!" Natsu growled indignantly.

The others laughed to Natsu's chagrin. Kagura eventually got a hold of herself and lay her hand on his snout again. Her eyes softened. "You've really grown up…Do you think I could ride you again?"

To answer her question, Natsu used his tail to lift the female knight up onto his back and set her securely between his large dorsal spines. The next second, he was running out of the hall and leaping into open air, ignoring the shouts behind him.

Kagura laughed. Natsu spiraled upwards and let out a jubilant roar. He reached a peak and then dropped out of the sky, listening to his friend's joyous laughing. Once they were out of the clouds, Natsu made a sharp turn and made for the wilderness, determined to catch up with his first human friend.

"I see…so that's what happened, huh…"

Kagura was nodding to herself as she heard Natsu's tale end. It was a long story, but the sun was still overhead. Natsu merely sat before her and waited while she processed everything he had said.

He had even told her of how he secretly met with Lisanna before joining Fairy Tail. Kagura had been rather shocked.

She had told her own story to him first. After they had separated at Rosemary, she and Simon had spent a few years together in the city before moving to the Capital, Crocas, after Simon received a promotion in the military. Kagura decided she wanted to follow her brother's footsteps because she wished to protect people. She was a wonderful young woman, and Natsu respected the person his friend had grown up to be.

Kagura eventually smiled. "It sounds like you've had quite a few adventures, Natsu. Honestly, seven years of raiding towns and villages? And then secretly rendezvousing with a dragonelle who already belonged to a Thunder…my, my, you really can't stay out of trouble, can you?"

"Don't say that like we were doing bad things." Natsu snorted. "I wanted to meet her. I'd never met a dragonelle my own age before. She's a very good person. And really strong, too."

"Oh, my." Giggled the female knight. "Could it be you like her?"

"Why wouldn't I like her?"

"Don't play coy with me, Natsu." Kagura smirked. "I know you. I know you aren't as foolish as others initially assume. When I ask if you like her…you know what I mean. So do you?"

Natsu hesitated and he growled uneasily. "You're so troublesome…"

Her eyes softened somewhat. "Am I prying too much?"

"Yes…no…I'm not sure…" Natsu sighed. He shook his head a few times and murmured. "If I'm honest…I admire her. She's strong and kind and gentle…She's given me really good advice whenever I have a problem. And whenever we talk lately, well…things just seem different. Not bad or good, just…different. I feel like there's something that needs to be said, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to say anything at all, if that makes sense."

"There's also that stupid law about taking a mate in the way." He growled and lashed his tail in irritation. "Only the leaders can take a mate. Whenever I think about that and imagine a drake like Laxus taking her as a mate…it makes my blood boil. That's part of the reason why I don't like him at all. Just the concept disgusts me, so I don't like him. It's easier that way."

Kagura brought her hands to his snout and rubbed the scales there softly. "Laws and rules don't restrain love, Natsu. It's a force of nature, like the wind, the sea, and fire. Especially like fire. Like you. There's no chaining it up. There's no taming it. Even if someone tries to contain a flame, it always breaks free."

Natsu snorted. "Since when did you become so wise, little one?"

"Who knows?" She replied, then patted his scaly cheek. "And? Are you going to do anything about your attraction?"

"If I do, I'll be banished and she might get into trouble." He answered. "I can't do that to her."

"Hmm." Kagura said thoughtfully.

Natsu gave her a wary glance. "What are you plotting?"

"Nothing, nothing at all."

There was something suspicious about the way her eyes flitted with mischievous light.

"I wonder what Hisui was so alarmed about earlier today." Wendy wondered.

The dragonelles were all in their human forms with Lucy and Kagura. All had ended up in Lucy's room for the night, just to do usual girl things; gossip, chat, and have fun.

Lucy nodded. "Smaug seemed a bit uneasy too whenever Hisui asked Natsu about his mother. I wonder why?"

"Do you know anything about it, Kagura?" Erza asked.

The young knight shrugged. "I don't. I'm just an escort, but I can't imagine why they'd be so interested in who Natsu's mother was. She died seven years ago…I still remember that."

"I saw what happened when I first bonded with Natsu." Lucy murmured, her brown eyes closing slightly. "He was devastated. Even today when Hisui asked, he-"

She paused and winced slightly. Lisanna blinked at her in concern. "Is something wrong?"

"Yeah. Natsu's pissed that we're talking about his feelings." Lucy rubbed her forehead after being subject to the obvious mental roar from her fiery partner. "I forgot to shut the link down for that."

Mira giggled. "He really doesn't like to show his emotions to anyone, does he?"

"Not at all." Kagura agreed. "He's been like that even when he was young. Stubborn dragon."

Juvia glanced at Levy, who had kept her nose stuck in an old book since they'd gotten to Lucy's room hours ago. "Levy, what are you reading?"

"She's been engrossed in that book for a long time." Erza admitted. "But Levy does like to read."

"I'm trying to find something." Levy told them without looking up. "I feel like I've heard that name before."

Lisanna tilted her head. "Who?"

"Sunrose. Natsu's mother. I swear I've read about that name before…! Here!"

Kagura was surprised. "Why would her name be mentioned in a book?"

"It's a book about dragon history." Lucy explained. "I got it from my mom. It goes all the way back to when humans had no civilization and dragons ruled the world indefinitely."

"And I told you to keep it to yourself."

Layla was at the door with a frown on her face.

"I don't just show it to anyone." Lucy frowned back. "They're dragons. Well, except for Kagura, but still. They can read about their own history."

"Lucy, this is a bloodline." Levy muttered, still scanning the book. "Sunrose was part of something really important-"

"Levy, stop reading."

The room got very quiet. Layla's face was stern, but she was getting pale. She held her hand out. "Give me the book."

Levy had no idea how to respond. She had not expected Lucy's mother to get so visibly upset and handed over the book without another word. Layla took it and tucked it safely under her arm before glancing at Lucy. "Come with me."

Lucy almost groaned because she could sense a lecture coming, but there was something off about the way her mother looked. She was curious too.

She looked back at her friends and murmured. "I'll be back in a moment."

The two blondes left the room, leaving the rest of the girls bewildered.

Layla brought Lucy to her room without another word and locked the door, then faced her daughter. "Is your link with Natsu turned off?"

At her nod, Layla continued. "You cannot let the others investigate Natsu's lineage."

"Why?" Lucy frowned in confusion. "What harm does it do?"

"To them? Nothing. To Natsu? It could cost his life." Layla told her seriously. "I am going to tell you, but under no circumstances are you to speak of this to anyone. Not until Natsu's fully grown."

"Mom, he's like sixty feet long. He's definitely fully grown, or at least considered an adult, isn't he?"

"Natsu is like no other dragon you will ever meet, Lucy." Layla warned. "He is unique, a dragon the likes of which the world has not seen in a very long time."

"When dragons first ruled the world hundreds of thousands of years ago, there were among them some with powers beyond any imagination of ours. Dragons that could raise forests and erase entire deserts, dragons that could raise oceans and flood countries, dragons that could summon volcanos and devastate the landscape. They weren't so much dragons as forces of nature incarnate. For all intents and purposes, they were the dragons equivalent of gods."

"Those dragons were called Omegas, because they could end absolutely everything. In one terrible war between an Omega of the land and an Omega of the sea, just those two dragons obliterated an entire continent. The loss of life in just that one event was unspeakable. And these battles between Omegas were not rare. They were not intelligent like dragons, and lived simply. No one knows how the Omegas truly came to be, but they eventually fought themselves to extinction."

"Their offspring were more like the dragons we know now, but they possessed a good deal of the Omega's power. Those dragons we refer to as Alphas. They held the intelligence dragons today have, and brought together the very first Thunders. The first dragon societies. And the children of these Alphas were dragons such as the ones we know. However, the Alphas were feared because of their terrible power. Many of the ones who did not kill each other were assassinated."

"Even those belonging to their closest bloodlines were initially hunted down, until the dragons decided it would prevent more bloodshed by simply keeping viable dragons apart from each other. That way, no more Alphas could be born. Thousands of years passed, and many of the bloodlines simply vanished from existence. Only a few remain."

"What does this have to do with Natsu?" Lucy asked.

"It has everything to do with Natsu." Layla told her daughter. "His father, Igneel, the Flame Dragon King, was the descendent of a Fire Alpha. His mother, Sunrose, was the descendent of an Alpha as well. The last two of the Flame Alpha's direct bloodlines."

Lucy froze.

"He could be an Alpha, Lucy." Layla's voice became very hushed. "It was said that a dragon's Alpha abilities would show up when they reached roughly thirty years of age. If the bloodlines are accurate, Natsu could very well be the first real Alpha in several millennia."

"If he is, then what?" Lucy whispered.

"Then the amount of men and dragons who will try to slay or capture him for their own benefits will be absolutely limitless. Alphas were said to be capable of controlling other dragons of their own element. Can you imagine the devastation Natsu could cause if he were captured and used to control the entire Flame Dragon Kingdom?"

"So what do we do? Can we hide him?"

"Keeping Natsu here right now is the best thing we can do." Layla murmured. "I think Smaug believes the same thing. He's not strong enough yet to return to the Flame Dragon Kingdom. Any of Igneel's rivals would rip him apart if they found out he is an Alpha. Igneel and Sunrose's love was kept almost entirely secret but to a select few. It was entirely forbidden to them."

"Most importantly, it's vital that his location be kept a secret from the black dragon."

Lucy's eyes widened in alarm. "You mean Acnologia? I mean, I agree, but why?"

"Acnologia is a special dragon, too." Layla said quietly. "He was originally a dragon just like any other. One half of him was Alpha, the other was not. When a dragon like that is born, there's often no difference other than a slight increase in their magical powers. But Acnologia was changed by a dark wizard in an effort to create an artificial Alpha. Now he's little more than a mindless beast, but with an Alpha's true strength. I believe the reason he attacked Natsu's family is because he sensed the blood of a rival Alpha and tried to kill a competitor."

Layla grabbed her daughter's hands and looked her straight in the eyes. "You mustn't let the others find out. Not until Natsu has grown into his true strengths. If Acnologia finds him again, he will kill Natsu without hesitation. Do you understand me, Lucy?"

Lucy nodded quickly. "I understand. Mom…will Natsu be okay? I mean, this is…"

"He was always bound to have a difficult life." Layla sighed. "This will no doubt make it more difficult, but he has you and the others to keep his heart strong. I think he'll live through this. It'll be a few years yet until we know whether he's truly an Alpha or not. Until then…I ask that you keep this to yourself…and keep Natsu strong."

Natsu found Smaug sitting atop the crest of the mountain as usual, overlooking the city. The massive drake obviously sensed him by the way his nostrils flared, but he didn't react immediately. Natsu sat down beside him and shuffled his wings awkwardly.

"I'm sorry for what I said the other day." Natsu muttered quietly.

"As am I." Smaug sighed, surprising his young charge. "I pushed you rather farther than I should have."

"We were both at fault. That's what Lisanna told me."

Smaug snorted in amusement. "Then she's more sensible than either of us."

Natsu grinned a little. "Yeah, she is."

The two drakes remained side by side in silence for a long while until Smaug quietly uttered. "It's come to my attention that I haven't told you about my mate before."

"You have a mate?" Natsu was surprised.

"Had." Smaug breathed out lowly. "No longer."

"What happened to her?"

"She is dead."

Natsu's eyes widened. Smaug stared over the city, which was bathed in the soft light of dusk.

"I was your age. So young and brash and reckless. Perhaps more good-looking." He chuckled and smirked at the younger drake, who rolled his eyes. "We met when I was traveling around Ishgar, looking for a territory to claim as my own. I never sought more than power until then. But I had eyes only for her after that."

"So what, you two became mates?"

"Oh, no. Not that quickly. On the contrary, she gave me a good scar during our first meeting." Smaug chuckled at the memory and went on. "No, we didn't become mates then. Rather, we went our separate ways. I didn't see her again for another decade."

"The next time I met her was also the first time I met Igneel. I was fighting against a faction of the dragons ruled by him and his father, Dragnoir. She had spotted me intruding and attacked without hesitation. Dragnoir managed to stop the fight and invited me to join the Flame Dragon Kingdom. I went along with it, mostly just because I wanted to spend more time with her. She, on the other hand, gave me yet another scar in that encounter."

Natsu was beginning to wonder if this dragonelle Smaug spoke of was actually his mate. "Third time's the charm?"

"Bahahaha!" Smaug roared with laughter. "Not even close. I admired her for her strength, ferocity, and beauty. She was wonderful, but saw me as little more than just a troublesome youngling. It was years before she even started to look at me differently. Decades."

"That's an awfully long time to chase after someone." The younger drake remarked.

"It was worth every second I spent with her, though." Sighed the elder. Smaug's eyes became softer than Natsu had ever remembered them to be. "Don't take the moments you have with someone precious to you for granted, Natsu. Don't allow your feelings to be restrained by rules or standards. Be true to yourself, keep your heart safe, but if you should ever come to love someone, tell them, and tell them from the very whole of your being."

He took the words to heart. Natsu had never seen Smaug so serene, and he doubted anyone other than Smaug's mate had seen this side of him either.

"Why tell me this?" Natsu had to ask. "I know this is important, but…you strike me as the last person who would talk about feelings to anyone."

Smaug turned his head and fixed Natsu with a look that the younger drake couldn't quite place. The old dragon's voice grew low, just low enough so that only he could hear it. "Because my mate and I were never able to have hatchlings of our own. But if I might say so, you are the very image of the child we wanted to have."

Those two simple sentences almost overwhelmed Natsu with their intensity. He dropped his gaze, feeling very unworthy of such a thing. "I…I don't know what to say…"

"That is a first." Snorted Smaug, whose tail twitched only slightly. He turned his gaze back to the city and rumbled again. "Go find your human now. She asked about you earlier, and I'm certain she'd like to know that you're alright."

Natsu nodded and made to leave, but paused and asked one more thing. "Smaug? What was her name?"

"Her name?" Smaug didn't turn back and instead let out a low sigh that Natsu almost didn't catch.

"Her name was Gwendolyn."

Lucy was surprised when she found Natsu in his human form at her door. He seemed happy, but troubled at the same time. She invited him in quickly.

"Is something wrong?"

Natsu cracked a grin. "So you were worried. Smaug thought so. He told me I should check in with you. Sorry I stormed off the other day. The old drake and I were pushing each others' buttons and took it too far."

"Lisanna told me." Lucy swore she saw him tense just the slightest. She wouldn't have noticed if not for her bond with him.

"I figured as much." Natsu had his hands shoved into his pockets, but Lucy could imagine them clenched into fists right about now. "Can I get something to drink? Water?"

She smiled brightly. "Sure!"

He followed her to the kitchen and waited as she got him the drink he'd asked for. Lucy waited as he took a long draught and giggled a bit when he sighed in satisfaction.

"That hit the spot. Thanks."

"No problem. So what's up? I know you wanted to check in with me, but there's something else on your mind, isn't there?"

Natsu set the glass down on the counter and glanced sideways. (Are the others here as well?)

(They are…talk to me, Natsu. What's bothering you?)

(…I trust you, Lucy.)

(Don't scare me like that.)

(Haha…you know, your mother is right about me…)

(She's right about what?)

(I want something I'm forbidden to have. But I'm going to try anyways.)

(Of course you are. You're Natsu. You wouldn't be you if you didn't break the rules. You rogue fireball.)

(I won't deny that.)

(So? What are you waiting for? Will you tell me what it is?)

(…you'll get an idea of it tonight if you keep your mind open…)

With that last thought, he shut the conversation off and proceeded to leave the building. Lucy watched him go off and blinked thoughtfully. She wondered when it was that Natsu had come to trust her like this. It had to have been recently. Despite being bonded for over two months now, he was slow to give her any sort of serious trust with his thoughts and desires.

She smiled and happiness radiated through her. It didn't matter if Natsu might be an ancient dragon species with the literal force of a natural apocalypse brimming in his body. It didn't matter if he was wild, violent, and annoying sometimes. They were opposites that somehow complemented each other rather perfectly.

Lucy thought about her dragon partner and giggled as a humorous thought came to her mind. They could quite literally be soul mates.

So she took her dragons words to heart and kept her mind open throughout the night.

Lisanna was about to fly to back to the Thunder Hall when she caught sight of Natsu flying overhead in the darkness. It was easy to spot him if one looked because he had a habit of breathing out little puffs of flame now and again. She frowned at the sight. He was obviously thinking about something very hard.

He only did that when something was troubling him.

She flew up to him and was quickly noticed by the crimson and black male. He glanced at her and motioned slightly to the forest across the lake. Lisanna had no idea what was so important that they couldn't talk now, but she nodded and followed him.

Once he landed, Natsu took on his human form and she mimicked him to face the young drake. She frowned again when he didn't turn to face her.


"I want to go back to the waterfall cave."

She was surprised by the idea. "Why?"

"Because it's the place that I met you. I miss it."

"Miss it?"

"Yes. I miss the freedom, miss just the two of us flying around…I miss being so close to you."

Lisanna stiffened. "Natsu…"

He turned around to face her and she had no idea what to make of the expression on his face. It was an overwhelming battle of emotions- trust, fear, longing, apprehension, patience, frustration, and-

Her heart stopped for a moment. She dared not think it. She dared not put a name to that tiny glimmer she could see in his eyes, that glimpse so small that she wondered if he himself was aware of it.

"I want to try." Natsu murmured to her, in a way that could not and would not be misunderstood.

She slowly shook her head, barely managing to choke out a response. "We can't…Natsu, we…this is…"

"Look me in the eyes and tell me you don't want to."

When she realized what he'd said, terror leapt into the blue of her eyes. He knew. Somehow, Natsu knew that she had feelings for him. Feelings that were entirely forbidden for her to have. Her mind went absolutely blank.

Lisanna almost staggered backwards in an effort to put some distance between them and gasped when her heel caught a rock. Before she could fall, Natsu moved swift as a snake and wrapped his arm around her waist, keeping her up and pulling her against him. Her hands just barely managed to find his chest and keep some distance between them.

Their faces were inches apart.

His eyes were determined, but soft, and it was the gentleness of that fiery gaze that made her forget how to breathe. When he spoke, his voice was low and calming.

"You're afraid."

It wasn't a question. She hardly stammered out a response. "Natsu, th-this can't ever end well. Even if I- if we- we'd be dancing with the devil!"

"I've danced with him already." Natsu replied. "He was more dangerous than this."

A moment was all she needed to know he was talking about Acnologia. "This is not the same as a fight! What'll happen if someone finds out? Do you know what happens to the ones who break this law?!"

"I'm not afraid of them." He told her. "I'm afraid of not being who I am. Those old dragons might have my allegiance, but they do not own my heart. That fire is mine, and mine alone, but I want to try and share it with you."

She couldn't believe he was saying this to her and a part of her demanded that she give him exactly what he wanted right then and there. Here was a chance to be with someone she honestly cared for as more than a friend. But the sensible part of her was screaming that this could only end in pain and heartbreak for both of them.

"This will destroy us…" Lisanna breathed, all-too aware of the fact that his face was still only inches away from hers.

"I won't let it." Natsu promised, with a strength that almost made her believe him on the spot. He wasn't done. "I want to try…if..if it doesn't work out between us, then we'll part ways I guess…but I want to try so badly with you. No one else. Just you, Lisanna…Let me try…"

She looked down, away from those dark eyes that were letting her emotions run riot. Her face ended up being buried in his neck, burning with embarrassment and fear. She flinched when his hand rested at her back, scared of the contact despite wanting it more than anything else.

Natsu could sense her fear hadn't diminished and lowered his voice again. "I'm going to the waterfall in a week…"

He pulled back slightly and lifted his hands to cup her cheeks. She looked absolutely terrified and knew exactly what he was going to say.

"If you decide you want to give me a chance…meet me there."

"Natsu…we can't…" She whimpered, reaching up to clutch his right hand in her left tightly. "You and I…"

"We can, Lisanna. I've already made up my mind…" His fingers took her chin gently. Dark eyes transfixed her blue and left her absolutely breathless.

"What happens next is your choice. But I have to do this at least once."

His lips captured hers then, fierce and delicate all at once. Lisanna's eyes fluttered shut and she couldn't help but kiss him back. It was simple, but perfect and she wanted time to just stop. To just let her stay in this moment and never allow her to worry about rules or traditions or the forbidden relationship she had with this fiery drake ever again.

When he pulled back from her mouth, she was dazed and breathless and wanted so badly to grab his face and bring him in for another kiss, but he stepped away. Natsu gave her one last, longing look, one that gave away how badly he truly wanted to stay. But before he could second guess himself, he turned back into a dragon and quickly flew off, crimson scales glittering in the silver moonlight.

Lisanna was left in the silent forest, bringing up her fingers to touch her lips. They still burned with his warmth and she couldn't stop the ridiculously huge smile on her face even as tears pricked at her eyes. There was no constraining the torrent of thoughts and emotions roiling through her.

Oh, you stupid hothead…You're completely unfair…

I'm such a fool for thinking this could work out.

How can I not try after everything you said?

This isn't going to have a happy ending.

How can I not try after you kissed me?

I know my heart will be broken.

How can I not just try?

I won't survive.

I want to try.

I cannot.

I will.