Our entire relationship was strange; the whole thing started in a bar and damn well near ended in a bar. That's only half of our story though. Loving someone in the military was hard. Losing contact with them for nearly a year was harder. Granted, getting a letter saying that they were currently missing in action was the hardest part of all.

AN: First One Shot! I hope you guys like it! Sorry it's so long! Also to anyone reading this that also reads my story The Raven, it will not be updated for the next week or so because I haven't had anytime to work on it. Sorry about that!

Granted

The first time I met him I knew he was trouble.

I had just started my night shift as a waitress at the bar "Fairy Tail". Yeah, strange name, don't let it deceive you though. It was not the type of place where all of your dreams came true.

It wasn't an awful place, the people were nice and it paid well.

It just… perverts.

They were everywhere. I mean, what better place was there to pick up girls and have a great time than some sleazy bar in the middle of town?

Okay, that was an exaggeration. Fairy Tail wasn't your average bar nor was it sleazy.

To me it was almost a second home; depending on if you could call the place I actually lived home.

So, maybe Fairy Tail was my home, but I won't call it home because I met him at Fairy Tail and I can't exactly go around and say I met him at home.

That would just be weird.

Anyway I was just starting my shift and a couple of already drunk men from out of town came in looking for more alcohol. They had probably been thrown out of whatever bar it was that they had just come from.

Everything just sort of went down hill from there.

"Hey! Blondie!" I twisted to the right, the direction the voice had come from, and ran directly into my equally blond coworker.

After a moment of struggling I finally managed to free myself from the horrid thing Laxus liked to call a coat. The thing made me shiver inside. It was flashy and covered in; hopefully, fake fur and it made him look like a mob boss. The scar running down the right side of his face did not help in the slightest.

I pushed away from my male friend and met his eyes, "Is there something you need or are you just here to bother me and then kill me with your… coat?"

That pulled a laugh out of the normally stoic male. "No, I have… an appointment tonight."

"You mean a date?"

"No!" he shouted, turning slightly red in the face. "It's not a date!"

There was a long awkward pause. "I have to be leaving soon." Yeah he was definitely lying about the date part. "I was hoping that was okay with you. I mean you would be alone at the bar for the rest of the night."

I rolled my eyes at the taller male, "I'll be fine. Plus Gajeel and Jellal are working the bar tonight. If anything happens they'll help me out." I tossed a look over my right shoulder at the two boys, one with dark hair pushed back using a headband, and the other with blue hair that fell down over his eyes, "Right guys?"

Gajeel merely grunted and shrugged in response, but I knew that for him that was like screaming "yes" at the top of his lungs and running around the building twice while naked.

Jellal actually gave me a spoken response, "You know it, Lucy!" He smiled at me brightly, the crimson tattoo covering the majority of the right side of his face crinkling around his eye.

Did everyone I know have something on the right side of their face? It wasn't a bad thing per say, Jellal's tattoo and Laxus's scar gave them both character, but it was weird. Why only the right side? Was the universe against things being on the left side of the face?

Laxus cast a look at my other two friends, who were dating my best friends Levy and Erza respectively, the look itself was practically oozing love and affection. Just kidding! Laxus looked skeptical, like he didn't believe them. "If you two don't watch out for her I swear I'll-."

"Laxus!" I tried to cut in.

"Don't think you're the only one here who cares about Bunny Girl." Gajeel was the one talking now and he sounded almost angry. "Nothing bad will happen to her while Sieg and I are here."

Sieg or Siegrain was a nickname for Jellal. In our freshman year we, Gajeel, Erza, and I, had gotten over half of the school system to believe that Jellal had a psychotic twin brother named Siegrain. Some still believed it.

At first Laxus looked skeptical, but that was nothing new, and then, "Okay." Laxus sighed, "Just watch her."

I narrowed my eyes, "You make me sound like a problem child."

I heard a snigger come from behind me.

Gajeel.

"Isn't that what you are?"

Without blinking I reached forward and grabbed one of the glass mugs off of the counter in front of me and whirled around, throwing the object at the dark haired, pierced faced man.

The glass never shattered or slammed into Gajeel's face like I had been hoping it would. No. He caught it. He fucking caught it! How the hell does he always manage to do that?

"You shut your mouth, Gajeel." A smirk crawled across my face. "Or would you rather I tell Levy who it was that destroyed her book last month."

The bigger man froze, "You wouldn't." He narrowed his eyes at me. "Besides, it was Pantherlily who did it. Not me." Mmhmm, blame the cat.

"You really think she would believe that?"

Gajeel didn't reply, only turned around and started to wash out the glass I had thrown at him while grumbling something to himself.

Poor baby.

Laxus shot a glance at the clock on the wall, "Well I should be going."

Jellal and I both sent him a wave goodbye, Gajeel was still sulking in the corner, and I shouted after him, "Have fun on your date with Mira!"

He shot me the finger in reply.

Jellal laughed for a minute before turning to me, "You sure you're going to be okay tonight? I mean, you're going to be the only waitress with Erza and Juvia sick." Ahh, right. Conveniently the other waitresses, two of my closest friends, had both caught the flu earlier that week.

I nodded at the blue haired man, "Yeah I'm good." I smiled up at him, "Besides if anything goes wrong you or Gajeel will kick the guy's ass, right?"

Jellal nodded while laughing and Gajeel spat out a "damn right" as I walked away, heading for my first table of the night.

And, wouldn't you know it; the table was the same one that the drunken guys off of their axis had sat down at.

Now, I could have ignored them and gone to a different table, but it was probably better to just get them a round of drinks and send them on their way. That way I could actually enjoy the rest of my night.

I stepped up to the table and slipped a fake smile onto my face, "Hello, my name is Lucy and I'll be your waitress tonight. What can I get you guys?"

Standing this close to them I was a little nervous. There were six of them and they all probably out weighed me by a good fifty pounds of more, plus they were all shit faced drunk of their asses. That was not a good combination, but I was hardly in any danger. If they tried anything I could probably deal with them by myself and if I couldn't I knew that Gajeel could be over the bar and half way across the room in less than eight seconds. I knew that because I had counted how long it took him to get to me the last time one of the drunks got a little too feely with me.

Two of the guys broke off into loud, obnoxious laughs while a third shot me a look so vulgar that I felt like throwing up right then and there.

I hated drunks so much. They reminded me of my father.

The other three didn't spare me a glance and that was fine by me.

The one looking at me lewdly was the one to answer for the group. "How about you?" His tongue flashed out over his lips, "You look like a great fuck."

I rolled my eyes at the crude language, but by now I was use to it, "How about you either buy a drink or leave and go home to your wife?" I hissed.

That pissed him off. In the next moment had lashed out and wrapped his long fingers around my wrist in a grip so tight I had no doubt that there would be a bruise there the next morning.

The man started to speak, but I didn't bother listening to him, instead I turned my gaze back to the bar hoping to catch the eyes of Jellal or Gajeel catching a few more "fucks" and a "whore" from the man trying to break my arm. It looked like luck was not on my side. Both Gajeel and Jellal were swamped with people at the moment, I could only just see Jellal and that was because of his aqua blue hair.

Now, I could have shouted out for one of them, but I didn't want to bring more attention to the situation than I needed to.

The man didn't seem to like me ignoring him, because the next thing I knew he had jerked me forward, slamming my stomach into the table. I let out a slight hiss of pain before he whipped his hand across the side of my face.

I must have cried out, because suddenly Gajeel was there, a murderous look spread across his face, and the man who had slapped me was on the ground, a hand pressing against his nose, which was currently pouring out blood onto the floor.

"Hey, Elfman, get over here!" Elfman was only one of the bouncers on duty that night, but he was the only one needed at the moment. Beast Arm Elfman was a muscular man that could probably knock out several elephants before he needed a break. Six drunken men were practically nothing.

The big, white haired man pushed his way through the crowd of people in the bar and, as soon as he saw my bruising face, glared at the drunken men. "Hitting girls is not manly!" Yeah… Elfman was a bit… different.

The man grabbed two of the men and tossed them on the floor before dragging them out of the bar, the whole time screaming something about being manly, and the other four men followed after him when Gajeel shot them a nasty look.

"You okay, Lucy?" Gajeel only ever used my name when he wanted something from me or he was genuinely concerned for my well being.

Currently it was the latter.

I shot a small smile at the dark haired man, wincing slightly as the action pulled on my lip that must have split open when the drunk smacked me. "I'm fine, Gajeel."

He looked at me skeptically and gestured to my face, "You call that fine?"

I sighed and looked away from him, I was not in the mood to have this talk with Gajeel right now, and "It's just a little bruise. I'll be fine."

He snorted, "At least put some ice on it."

Let's see here, do I put some ice on my face and wrist, possibly stopping it from getting worse by tomorrow so maybe no one would notice, or do I not put ice on it and try and maintain my pride for the rest of the night?

Tough choice, "I think I'll take my chances." I patted Gajeel on the shoulder as I moved around him, already moving to my next table. "Oh, and, Gajeel?" He turned to look at me. "Thanks." I wrapped my arms around him in a brief hug, not wanting to startle the bartender. He gave me a, rather awkward, pat on the back and told me to be more careful before he made his way back to the bar.

I stepped up to the next table, "Hello, my name is Lucy and I'll be your waitress tonight. What can I get you guys?"

And those seventeen words made up my entire life for the three hours.

Meaning it was currently midnight, I had a headache, and I had had to deal with several more perverts than I had wanted too. Luckily Gajeel hadn't had to save me a second time that night.

I walked up to what would, hopefully, be my last table of the night. Two boys were sitting there. Let me rephrase that. Two underage, attractive boys were sitting there. And when I say attractive I mean really attractive.

One had spiky black hair and deep blue eyes; he was wearing a long-sleeved blue button up shirt that matched his eyes to a 'T' and black slacks. The other had equally spiky, well, pink hair and onyx eyes that seemed endlessly deep, he was also wearing dark pants and a button up shirt, only his was rolled up to the elbows and the top two buttons on his shirt were undone.

I instantly found myself unable to tear my eyes off of the rose haired boy.

It was the hair; it had to be the hair.

I shook my head. No matter how attractive they may be they were probably perverts who wouldn't hesitate to make a crack about getting in my pants.

That thought soured my mood considerably and I didn't even bother to make my fake smile look convincing, "Hello, I'm Lucy; I'll be your waitress tonight. What can I get you two?"

The pink haired man sent me a large grin, "Hey there, gorgeous."

I pressed my lips into a hard line. "If all you're going to do is sit here and flirt with me than just get the fuck out, now." I pointed to the door.

I didn't care that I was being harsh to a guy I didn't even know. I didn't care that I was being rude to a customer. I was up to my eyes in drunken assholes that night, my wrist and face were killing me, and I was tired of guys thinking I would fall into bed with them if they sent me cheep lines and smiled a little.

The guy's dark eyes sprang open, "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to-!"

I cut him off ruthlessly, "Save it. I don't care."

And then I left.

And I never saw the rose haired man again.

Yeah, as if life was that easy.

~Granted~

The second time I met him I realized the trouble was all in my head.

I had woken up extra early the next morning.

Or, rather, I was supposed to.

Of course the one day I actually try to wake up early to cover the bruising on my face (it had gotten bad, a dark purple and black mark covered the entire right side of my face and my lip still bled at random intervals, I really should have put ice on it the night before), but no. I woke up nearly an hour later than I wanted to and arrived at school late.

Now there was no way I would be able to cover the mark and I would have to answer the questions or Erza, Juvia, Levy, and Laxus. Not to mention Jellal would want to know what happened as well, because god knows Gajeel didn't tell him.

I just barely made it to my first hour class before the bell rang, receiving a mock angry look from my History teacher, his name was Gildarts Clive and he just so happened to be a regular at Fairy Tail. He lightly tapped his cheek in a silent question, but I only shook my head. It didn't really matter; there was nothing anyone could do about it now.

I sat at my desk in the back of the room. Well it was more of a table for two people to sit at, but I didn't have a partner. Well, neither did Loke, but I really did not want to sit next to the playboy.

So there I was sitting in the seat not next to the window, because I hurt all over and the sun was only going to blind me. You know it's going to be a miserable day when you don't even want to sit in the window seat.

I turned to my left and caught Erza's eye, both she and Levy were staring at me, actually they were staring at the bruise on my face. But that's beside the point.

The red haired girl lightly tapped her cheek, much like Gildarts had done not two minutes earlier. I could only shake my head and mouth to her that I would "explain later".

I could feel the eyes of almost everyone in the room on me, and, honestly, it was making me feel a little uncomfortable. Actually it was making me feel really uncomfortable.

So I ignored it. I ignored everything. I ignored Loke trying to ask me out on a date from the other side of the room; he knew I would say no anyway so it didn't really matter. I ignored the looks Jellal and Gajeel were shooting my way and I realized that Gajeel did tell Jellal what happened just by noticing the hardening look in the blue haired man's eyes. And I ignore the scarred, blond man sitting across the room, just staring at the side of my face and there were sparks shooting off of him.

Not literally of course.

And then the universe decided it hated me more than it did on a normal day, because he walked in.

And he noticed me almost immediately.

And all I wanted to do was slam my head against the table- desk- whatever it was- and cry, because damn everything this was the guy I had been a complete bitch too just because I had been having a bad day.

But, how the hell was I supposed to know that he would start going to the same school as me the day after I had rudely yelled at him for no reason.

And then I noticed his friend was also in the class.

And there were only two open seats.

I prayed that the dark haired boy would be the one to sit next to me. I don't know what I would do if I had to spend the rest of the school year sitting next to him.

I must have completely zoned out, because in the next moment someone was pulling back the seat next to me so they could sit down.

I turned slowly, hoping to prolong the inevitable life or death situation that was soon to follow.

And then I caught a look of the person sitting next to me.

God fucking dammit!

Before I could completely freak out and start crying or banging my head on the table he stuck out his hand.

I stared at it dumbly for several moments.

The boy only smiled and oh god what was my stomach doing?! It was twisting into knots, but in a good way, and I couldn't help but smile back.

I took his hand.

His smile only seemed to widen, "I'm Natsu." That was a rather attractive name for an attractive man. Touché universe.

"Lucy."

"I know." I almost dropped his hand at that before I remembered that I had told him and his friend my name the night before.

My smile must have dropped, because he was suddenly looking at me with worry etched all over his face. He looked like he was about to speak so I cut him off in a rush, "I'm sorry!"

He blinked. Once. Twice. A third time. "What?"

I retracted my hand from his as quickly as possible. "I'm sorry about last night. At the bar… Fairy Tail?" This was getting awkward really fast.

He smiled again. "It's no big deal; you were just having a bad day, weren't you?"

I laughed nervously, "Yeah, but I shouldn't have taken it out on you."

"It's kind of my fault too. I noticed you were feeling down and I thought calling you pretty would help. I didn't think I would make things worse." He blushed. He actually blushed at that.

"It still didn't give me the right to yell at you." I whispered. Him being so… relaxed about the situation only seemed to make me feel worse.

"So… what happened to your face?" I couldn't stop myself from smiling at the question even though the action caused a jolt of pain to shoot through my face.

"Have you ever been slapped by a piss ass drunk?" I asked him.

He reached towards me and wiped a spot of blood off of my lower lip, the grin never leaving his face, "No. I haven't."

I burst into laughter, "I wouldn't recommend it!" He laughed with me.

"If you two are about done now, would you mind actually paying attention?"

We didn't stop laughing.

~Granted~

"Hey, Lucy?"

I tilted my head to the left so I could gaze at the shirtless man that had, somehow, become my best friend in the six months that I had known him. "Yeah, Natsu?" I was tired and it was late and all I wanted to do was sleep, something that wasn't possible whenever the energetic rose haired boy was around me. The best thing I could do was humor him until he fell asleep.

Because, currently, we were both sprawled across my bed like we were almost every other night, and nothing was going to change that fact.

At this point I was use to Natsu's impromptu sleepovers. Well, they were hardly impromptu anymore. Natsu slept over at my house more than he did his own and, if I was honest with myself, I liked it.

I had always been lonely living in my one bedroom apartment alone for the past two years.

"Why don't you live with your parents?" The question was so sudden and brought up so many painful memories that I didn't say a word for nearly twenty minutes.

I knew that the long wait was probably killing Natsu on the inside. Not only was he an extremely impatient person, but he never liked silence. He liked to tell me that silence was the scariest thing of all. It showed that you were utterly alone

"My mother died when I was eight." I whispered. I had gone back to staring at the ceiling after Natsu asked me his question and I wasn't going to look at him now. If I did that I might just burst into tears.

I felt, rather than heard, him shuffle around next to me, moving onto his side so he could face me. "Lucy, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-."

"It's okay." I wasn't sure why I was laughing; all I knew was that I didn't want him sad because of me. "It happened a long time ago." I looked over at him only to find out that he was closer to me than I had thought he was.

If I were to angle my head just right I could have kissed him right then and there.

Only, I didn't, because this is Natsu and I won't do anything to ruin the bond between us.

Yeah, we'll see how long that lasts.

"And… your dad?" This question came out more timid than his last; I had always been touchy when people would mention my sorry excuse for a parent.

Natsu knew that fact very well. There had been one occasion that he had jokingly stated that my father should hangout with his. I had snapped at him then and left the small café we bad been in. He had never brought the situation or my father up again until now.

This time I was going to tell him though.

He had the right to know.

"My father," I started slowly, never breaking eye contact with my incredibly attractive best friend, "Threw my out of the house after he found out I was working as a prostitute and sleeping with his coworkers."

Natsu let out an exasperated cry and then proceeded to, in all his shirtless glory, pin me to the bed using my wrists.

I was a little nervous having him hover over me like that while I couldn't use my arms to defend myself, but this was Natsu. He wasn't going to hurt me and if I told him to get off of me right now he would.

So here I was. Sharing my life's secrets with my friend and all of a sudden he turns into a wild animal and pins me to the bed that, yes Erza, we had just been lying on together.

Yeah, great story, let's see how it pans out in court.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand.

My best friend, who I was extremely attracted to, had me pressed up against my bed while I was on my back. Did I mention the fact that he was shirtless? Said best friend was leaning over me with his hands pressed to the bed on either side of my face. I couldn't see his legs from my position, but I could feel a knee knock against the outside of my left thigh, see in books they always say that the guy straddles your hips, but this doesn't always happen, because, you know what? Guys are fucking tall!

So here I was lying practically helpless underneath a man that could very well crush me if he wanted to. Not that he would… I hope.

Now Natsu wasn't overweight by any means, he was just covered in muscle.

Have you ever had the pleasure of having your entire body be pressed up against a strong, solid wall of muscle?

It's a fantastic feeling and it was one I experienced on a daily basis. Natsu had a habit of running up to me and grabbing me in a hug when I least expect him to. It normally ends with me dangling several inches above the ground and him refusing to put me back down, not that I'm complaining, and I should probably stop my train of thought now.

"Okay," He whispered sternly, "Now I know you're just fucking with my head." To emphasize his point he leaned down and pressed his forehead against mine. Dear God, was he trying to kill me?

I ignored my raging hormones at the moment, because this was Natsu and I was not going to send him running for the hills by doing something stupid like kissing him. "Maybe a little," I smiled up at him and, wouldn't you know it, he smiled back. "But, no. My father really did kick me out."

This caused his smile to drop, "Why would he do that?"

My smile fell to that of a sad ghost of itself. "I look just like my mother did," I sighed, "And he said he couldn't deal with that anymore."

His eyes softened, but he didn't say anything. That was okay though. I didn't need words; I just needed someone to be there.

And then he leaned down and kissed me. Unfortunately his kiss didn't make contact with my lips like I was hoping, but instead my temple. Then he pulled away.

I wasn't sure if I should feel relieved that he didn't actually kiss me or if I should feel disappointed.

…Probably the first option.

Then again, kissing him did sound like fun.

My train of thought was cut off by a heavy arm falling over my stomach. When he had gone back to lying on his side I had no idea, but this… this was nice too.

After a moment of shifting around we finally found a comfortable position. I was still lying on my back and he was still on his side. His left arm was still thrown over my stomach, but somehow his right arm magically appeared under my head and he had his face buried in my hair.

I heard him murmur a "good night" before he pulled me closer to him and fell asleep moments later.

I'm not quite sure if it's actually acceptable for two people that were strictly friends to lie like this.

Then again, what do I know?

I'm just a naive teenager that doesn't know how the world works.

~Granted~

"So… Natsu slept over again last night." The question came from Mira, the white haired she-devil that was Elfman's sister and Laxus's girlfriend. She was smirking at me and I could tell that the other four girls in my room were sharing the same look.

"Yeah." I said the word slowly, "What does it matter?"

This time Levy spoke up, "Well you see-."

"-We girls-." Lisanna, Mira's sister, continued for her.

"-Juvia thinks that-." I think it's obvious who said that…

"- You like him." Erza's words left no room for argument.

I turned to color of Erza's hair. "I don't like him!" Okay that was a lie, but they didn't need to know that.

"Come on, Lucy!" Lisanna practically whined, "You let him share a bed with you! What else could that mean?!"

"So?" I had to think up a quick answer, "I would share a bed with Levy! Does that mean I want to date her? Fuck no!"

Mira sighed, "Dating Levy and dating Natsu are two very different things!"

"What do you have against same sex couples?" I questioned her.

How did I end up here? It was supposed to be a normal Saturday. I was going to hang out with Natsu and hide from the prying girls that were obsessed with my non existent love life, but no, I just had to give Erza a spare key which she used to break into my house. I was still asleep, because who the hell wakes up before seven on a Saturday?

The five girls had walked in to find Natsu and me in a rather… compromising position. So what if Natsu and I were facing each other? So what if I had both of my arms curved around his neck and he had his face pressed into my throat? So what if he had both of his arms wrapped around me? It didn't mean anything!

The girls didn't seem to think so though. In the next minute they had kicked a shirtless Natsu out of my apartment and were telling me that we were going to be hanging out for the rest of the day.

"Nothing!"

"Lucy," Levy cut in, "You two were about as tangled up as a pretzel and you're trying to tell us nothing happened?" She looked confused and slightly worried.

I dropped my gaze down to my lap; I felt like crying, "Nothing happened," I swallowed, "And that's the problem."

"Lucy?" Lisanna reached out and placed a hand on my shoulder, concern plastered across her face.

I ducked my head, "I'm fine, Lis." I paused a minute before continuing, "We spend nearly every night together. Dammit! We sleep in the same bed and nothing ever happens." A sardonic laugh bubbled out of my throat. "You saw us this morning, did that look like something friends do?"

I wasn't sure why I had suddenly changed my story. I was basically telling them that I did like him. Not that it matters, he would never find out anyway.

Erza pulled me into a hug, "You really like him, don't you?"

I nodded against her shoulder, "Yeah, I've known it for awhile too."

Juvia moved closer to me, "Why didn't you tell us?"

I shook my head, dammit I was crying, "I didn't think it mattered. Nothing's going to happen between us anyway, he's oblivious to every advance I make. I'm ready to give up on him."

"Are you sure about that?" Lisanna asked me.

"If you know something I don't then please share." I pulled away from Erza and flopped over unto my back, crossing my arms over my eyes.

"Well," Lisanna started a large smirk on her face. I'm so happy my pain amuses you Lisanna. "He's really… touchy with you, Lucy."

I scoffed, "He's affectionate with everyone." I thought about what I had said, "Well, not Gray."

"Yeah!" Mira agreed, well not with me with Lisanna, "You're the only person he runs up to and hugs in the morning. He never does that to Erza." Ooh, wow, shocker.

"Erza is dating Jellal and she would kill him." Erza nodded in conformity.

All of us were quiet for several minutes until Juvia spoke up, "How often does Natsu spend the night here?"

"Honestly?" I blew out a long jet of air, "Nearly every night, every other night at the least." Yeah… definitely not something friends did. "I was actually talking with him about that the other day at Fairy Tail." I laughed a little, "Laxus over heard and tried to beat the shit out of him for 'sleeping with me'."

Levy's eyes shot open, "And what did Natsu do?"

I smiled at the girls, "He ran like a little girl."

The rest of the girls shared a laugh with me at that.

"Lucy," I turned to Erza, "Are you really going to give up on him?" It was an honest question and I was actually glad she asked me that.

"Nah, I mean," I smirked, "The challenge is half the fun." They all burst into laughter right after I said that and I took a moment to glance at the clock.

It was almost midnight, how the hell had time passed by that quickly.

There was a knock on the door. "Hey, can I come back inside now?" My blood ran cold. How long had Natsu been outside that door? How much had he heard? "I swear, I just got here, I didn't hear any of your girly crap."

Lisanna and Juvia giggled at that as I stood up and made my way to the door, unlocking it so my sort of roommate could come inside.

As soon as I opened the door Natsu grabbed me around the waist and threw me over his shoulder, holding me there as he made his way to the living room where the girls and I had been sitting on the floor. He flopped over onto the couch and I almost took a nose dive off of the piece of furniture. Natsu caught me before I could fall though and I ended up sitting on his stomach.

Yup… not dating.

"Well," Lisanna was smirking at me, this was bad, "We should probably get going, and it's late."

"Good riddance!"

"Natsu!" I smacked the side of his head, gaining a muffled "ouch" in response. "I'll get the door for you guys." I smiled at them as I slid off of Natsu.

The girls left the apartment quickly, Erza, Levy, Juvia, and Lisanna teasing me in hushed voices all the while.

Mira stayed back for a moment.

The white haired girl stood from the floor and walked over to Natsu. She reached out and patted him on the cheek lightly, "Be good!" He shot her a puzzled look in response and then she was walking over to me. "Don't make babies!" She whispered against my ear.

"Mira!"

She cackled as she left.

~Granted~

Our entire relationship was centered around the bar I worked at.

"Hey, jerks! What do you guys want?"

"Lucy," Jellal shouted in exasperation, "That's not how you great customers!"

I rolled my eyes at the blue haired teen. This was ridiculous. Why the hell were these four here?

"Why is it that, on your only day off of work all week, you two," I waved a finger between Gajeel and Jellal, "Come here anyway?"

Jellal smirked, "We just came here to visit our favorite girl, right guys?" Gray, the guy Natsu had been with the first time I had met him, Gajeel, and Natsu all laughed.

"Really, Jellal?" He nodded in a teasing way. "I'll be sure to tell Erza that."

He blanched, "Please don't."

I laughed and then Natsu spoke up, "Well, I don't know about you three, but I actually am here to see my favorite girl." I must not blush at that. I must resist.

I placed a hand over my heart, "Well I'm happy my four favorite boys decided to come visit me on my late night shift." I smirked, "Thanks for giving me more work to do guys."

Gajeel was about to retaliate when another male voice cut in.

"I thought I was your favorite guy."

I turned around while shaking my head, "No, you're number six." At Laxus's fake dejected look I continued, "You beat out Loke and Bixlow though!"

"They're both creeps." An offended "hey" sounded from the bar, probably from Bixlow.

"Wait?" Gray was speaking now, "Who is number five?"

A smirk crawled over my face as I looked a Jellal, "Siegrain."

Jellal groaned and slammed his head into his palms.

"Umm," Natsu looked confused, "Who's Siegrain?"

Gajeel and I shared a look and then he spoke, "He's Jellal's twin brother. They look the same."

Gray's eyes widened in shook, "Jellal has a brother?!"

"No!" Jellal wailed, his head shooting up from his hands.

I laughed as I walked away from the four boys currently arguing. Jellal was trying to explain that Sieg didn't actually exist and Gajeel was firmly denying everything he said. Natsu and Gray looked like they didn't know who to believe.

I decided I had better get back to work before Makarov, my boss, fired me.

Actually I doubt he would fire me. I could probably disappear and not show up for work for a month and he would still welcome me back with a hug.

And so I walked to the first table I saw, not realizing who was sitting there.

Well fuck me twice.

That was not to be taken in a literal sense in any way whatsoever.

I plastered a phony smile across my face, "Well if it isn't Pinky and the Brain." I glared at the two boys sitting at the table. Actually I only glared at one of the boys. The other was fine in my book.

The blond flashed me a grin, "Hey, Sweetheart! Which one am I?"

I crossed my arms over my chest, giving the boy a bored look, "Definitely not the Brain."

He placed a hand over his heart, acting wounded, "Ouch that hurts, Babe!"

I pressed two fingers to my temple; I was not in the mood to deal with this today. "Don't call me that, Sting." I turned to the dark haired boy next to the idiot. "Why do you hang out with him, Rogue?"

Rogue shrugged, "His stupidity amuses me." I nodded in agreement. I had no problem with Rogue; he was a nice enough person. Quiet, intelligent, and he seemed to be the only one that could get Sting to leave me alone, besides Natsu that is.

I didn't really have an issue with Sting either. He was a generally nice and funny guy. He just decided to make it his life's goal to go out with me.

And that was never going to happen.

I turned back to the blond pest, "Are you ever going to leave me alone?"

He countered, "Are you ever going to go out with me?"

I scoffed, "No."

"Well then it seems were at an impasse," He smirked. "I'll leave you alone if you go out with me."

"I have a boyfriend." I don't know why I decided to spit that out. He would find out I was lying to him and then I would have no solid reason not to date him, because apparently not wanting to date him wasn't something he could comprehend.

"Oh, really?" He did not sound convinced, "And who would that be?"

Someone else replied before I could, "Me."

I whipped around only to come face to face with a solid block of sexy.

Just kidding, it was only Natsu.

He smiled at me softly, completely ignoring Sting's angry expression, "Isn't that right, Lucy?"

I smiled back at him, "That's right." Oh God, when Mira and the other girls hear about this I was never going to hear the end of it.

"Prove it."

Well fuck you, Sting.

I shared a look with Natsu, there was only one thing I could thing of to "prove it" and that was something I was not going to do. I was not going to ruin out friendship because Sting was being an ass.

Natsu blinked, "Okay." Wait what?

The next thing I knew Natsu was leaning down and crashing his lips onto mine.

It was not an unpleasant feeling, but there were people watching, we were in a bar, and I still had work to do.

I pulled away from him to the sound of Bixlow catcalling.

I stared up at Natsu, bewildered at what he had just done. He just smiled at me and gave me another, brief, kiss.

"Well darn." Sting snapped his fingers in mock disappointment before smiling at Natsu and me, "Congrats you two. I always knew you guys would start dating."

I finished my shift with a blush coating my face.

I pushed open the doors to the bar, happy to have finished my shift and to be going home. I stopped when I noticed a man walking towards me.

A man with pink hair.

Natsu stopped walking when he was directly in front of me. I wasn't sure what to say to him, but he was, "So about what happened in there," He gestured to Fairy Tail with his head. "That was not how I wanted to go about asking you out."

"You were going to ask me out?" I whispered.

"Well, yeah," He shuffled awkwardly, "I've liked you for awhile, well it's more like love, but that might be taking things too far, but that's beside the point! Umm, if you don't want to go out with me that's fine, because above everything else you're my best friend and-."

I kissed him.

That shut him up rather quickly.

Without realizing it I had wrapped my arms around his neck, dragging him closer to me. I felt him smile against my mouth and then I was being lifted off of the ground and into his arms without warning.

~Granted~

I don't think this is how a first date is supposed to end.

It was only one week after Natsu and I had started dating. We had gone on a double date with Levy and Gajeel and it had been wonderful.

And now I was pinned against the wall of my apartment. My legs around Natsu's hips and my arms curled around his neck and tangled with his hair. His hand was under my shirt and there was no space between us.

He ran a hand up my thigh, playing with the end on my shorts, the other was skimming over the skin underneath my right breast, and I brought one hand to his back, running it over the dragon tattoo that stood out against his skin.

His mouth left mine for a brief moment so that he could tug his shirt off before slamming back down, probably bruising my lips as well as his. I trailed my hand down his neck and chest until I got to his abdomen, once there I started to lightly trace the muscles of his stomach with fingers that just barely ghosted over the flesh, causing them to constrict under my touch.

I felt his grip on my leg tighten and then he was pressing even tighter against me, trapping me between his chest and the wall, his tongue sliding across my lower lip and then into my own mouth, searching for something that I didn't know.

Our tongues danced for several minutes before the need for air became too great and he pulled away from my mouth with a low groan, a fine string of saliva keeping us linked together.

He started to trail hot, open mouthed kisses across my jaw line and I gasped loudly, a sound that had him smirking against my skin.

His hand found the clasp to my bra.

I finally managed to find my voice, "We-." He cut me off with a sharp bite to the neck that caused me to cry out in surprise. He ran his tongue over the same spot soothingly in a type of silent apology. I swallowed, "We shouldn't be doing this."

He continued to bite and suck at my neck for several long moments, probably leaving a trail of red bruises and a bite marks in his wake, and I was beginning to think he didn't hear me.

Then he stopped.

He stood there for a minute, maybe more, with his face still hidden in the curve of my throat, but not touching it anymore. I wasn't sure what he was thinking at that moment, if he was disappointed or angry. He surprised me by bringing his head up to my own, his forehead pressing against mine gently, the opposite of what he had been doing just minutes earlier.

He leaned forward slightly and kissed me in a lazy sort of way, shocking me. "If you want me to stop, say so, and I will." Then he was kissing me again, slowly this time, letting me think about my two options.

I tilted my head and pressed my lips against his with more drive that I had earlier, bringing myself as close to him as I possibly could.

I never told him to stop.

~Granted~

"You're serious about this." I whispered. It wasn't a question though. I only said it so that he would repeat what he had said not two minutes earlier. I needed to hear him say it again so that I knew I wasn't going crazy.

"Yeah," I heard him swallow thickly, but I refused to look at him. I couldn't look at him. Maybe if I kept my eyes off of him he would tell me this was all one big joke. Maybe he would tell me that Gray had put him up to this and then I could go and beat the shit out of Gray and everything would be back to normal. "Yeah, I am serious about this."

I squeezed my eyes shut, feeling the tears threatening to spill over. This was not happening. This could not be happening.

He was joining the military.

Well that wasn't really accurate, he had joined the military the day he turned eighteen. He had finished all of his training rather quickly and now that that was done he was actually going to fight.

I must have unknowingly released a sob, because in the next two seconds he was wrapping his arms around me and pulling me up against his chest. I slipped my arms around his torso and held on for dear life, afraid that if I let go he would disappear right before my eyes.

I could feel his hand pressing against the center of my back, the warm appendage keeping me grounded. He was drawing soothing circles along my spine and that calmed me down rather quickly.

He had always done that whenever I let my emotions get the best of me. It worked every single time and he knew that.

"You need to calm down, Lucy." He whispered the words into my hair before he pulled away slightly and pressed his lips against my temple. "Nothing bad is going to happen to me." He kept his mouth pressed against my skin as he spoke.

I sighed, burying my face against his chest. "How can say that?" I tightened my grip on him even more, fisting my hands in the back of his shirt. "This isn't some joke, Natsu!" I sounded almost hysterical. "You could die…" My voice fell back to nothing but a murmur. "You could die."

"I won't." He promised, his lips trailing kisses down to my neck. "This is something I have to do, Lucy, but I will come back to you."

I snorted in contempt, "Yeah, maybe in a casket." I squeezed my eyes shut tightly, not liking the image that came to mind.

I couldn't lose him.

He was brave and stupid and loyal to a fault, but he was my idiot.

He smiled against my throat, placing a light kiss against my racing pulse, "Since when have you been this negative?" That got me to smile.

The feeling of his lips brushing against my, rather sensitive, neck made me giggle. A noise I had never been proud of. It was so girly and weird and I'm getting off topic.

"I've always been this negative." I removed my arms from around his chest and instead coiled them around his neck. "You just never noticed." He laughed and used my hips to pull me flush up against him, an act that would have had me blushing like a fool had we not been dating for the past two years. I buried my face against his chest. "You're actually going to do this…" He said nothing in response, only nodded slightly and kissed the side of my neck. "Be careful."

He raised his head from my neck slowly and smirked at me brightly, "Aren't I always?"

My lips twitched up into a smile, "Hardly. I think you're bad for my health."

That simple comment had him laughing. It was a sound that I loved more than anything else.

His laughter… it was infectious and warm and it made me smile, because he was happy.

And that was all I needed to be happy myself.

I didn't need romance or overly forced affection.

I just needed him to be happy.

I mean, God forbid he stop smiling! That would practically signify the end of the world as we all know it.

I didn't know what I would do if I never saw him smile again.

The thought of him dying dampened my mood rather quickly and I practically crushed myself against him, my face in the curve of his neck. "You better come back to me, you hear? You're too young to die," I whispered to my nineteen year old boyfriend.

He hugged me back just as tightly, "I hear you," He whispered into my hair. "I will always come back to you, Lucy. Always."

We were quiet for awhile, just enjoying the fact that the other was there.

I broke that silence, "When are you leaving?"

He sighed into my hair and tightened his hold on me ever so slightly, "End of the month."

I winced, less then three weeks. "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

He shook his head, "I got a call about it last night, and you were already asleep."

I nodded against him.

"You're not going to cheat on me, are you?" he teased.

I let out a cross between a sob and a laugh as I smacked his shoulder lightly. "Never."

He smiled into my hair.

I took a deep breath and said what I needed to say at that moment. I said the one thing that I had been too afraid to say before. Maybe I shouldn't have said it right then, but it needed to be said and if I didn't say it now I might never have the chance to again.

"I love you."

He stiffened for a moment. Other than his eccentric confession to me nearly two years ago neither of us had brought up the concept of love. It was implied that I loved him and I inferred that he loved me, but we had never said it out loud.

His body relaxed against mine just as fast as it had tensed and he let out a small sound of amusement, "I love you too."

~Granted~

I held the letter in my hands, a small smile spread across my face at the cryptic message Natsu had written at the bottom of the envelope.

Don't open until I call you.

I wasn't sure what he had up his sleeves, but I would find out.

It had been six months since Natsu had left and I had been getting letters and phone calls on a regular basis. I preferred the phone calls though. It was nice to hear his voice.

I don't know what scared me more. The fact that he could die, or the fact that he could die and the last thing I would have to remember him by was a bunch of letters, because, really, anyone could write a letter and say it was someone else. If it was a phone call I would at least know he was still breathing at that exact moment.

As if on queue the phone started to ring and I reached out for it with a blind hand, not bothering to see who it was, most likely Erza or Levy, because we had made plans for later that day. My guess would be Erza.

"Hey, Erza, are we still getting together tonight?" I asked automatically.

Everything was quiet for a moment and then, "I knew you were a cheater," a familiar voice teased from the other end.

A smile slipped over my face, "Shh, don't tell my boyfriend," I bit back a laugh so that I could hear his.

He sobered up after a few seconds, "Hey, Lucy."

My smile grew, but a tear managed to slip past my defenses. "Hey, Natsu."

He didn't wait a heartbeat, "Did you get my letter?"

"Yeah, but I think someone doesn't want me to open it."

He laughed again and then, "God, I love you so much."

"I know," another tear slipped past, "I love you too."

"Then you'll understand why I have to do this." My blood ran cold. What did he mean by that? I could think of one reason why he would say that and the very thought made my heart break a little.

I stayed silent.

"Lucy, I want you to listen to me carefully, okay?" I nodded before realizing he couldn't see me.

"Okay."

"Good," There was a moment of shuffling and the sound of another voice.

"Did you tell her yet?" Laxus? My blond friend had joined the service the day after he had graduated high school, about a month after Natsu and I had started dating.

"No, now go away." A short laugh bubbled out of my mouth. At least both of them were safe. "Lucy," My name brought my attention back to him, "I want you to open the letter. Just open it. Don't look at what's inside."

I did as he instructed, breaking the seal on the envelope, but not actually peering at what was inside. "Now what?"

He took a deep breath. "Now… Now I just want you to listen." There was a pause. "From the day I met you I knew you weren't going to take any bullshit from me. That was a given in the way that you reacted to the first thing I said to you," I cut in with a short laugh and he joined me after a moment. "And I meant what I said that day. I don't say it a lot, maybe I don't say it enough, but you're beautiful. You're beautiful and funny and kind and you put up with me. You put up with me and that means the world to me." He swallowed thickly. "I don't know what I would do with myself if I lost you somehow and that's why I have to do this."

I took a deep breath, "What are you trying to say, Natsu?" I whispered the words, but I could tell that he heard me.

I wasn't sure if he ignored my question or if he was giving me an answer, "I love you," He took a sharp intake of air, "And I don't ever want to lose you." Another breath, "That's why I have to ask…" He trailed off. "Take out what's in the envelope."

Now I was even more confused than I had been moments ago, but I still reached into the envelope. I froze when my fingers made contact with what was inside it.

Was this a joke?

I pulled the object out of its white wrapping, letting the envelope fall to the floor.

Was he going to...?

"Lucy, will you marry me?"

I dropped the phone.

Lying in the palm of my left hand was a small gold ring with a single diamond attached with two fuchsia rose crystals the color of Natsu's hair on either side.

It was simple and screamed out "Natsu" and that's why I loved it.

I could hear Natsu shouting something over the phone, asking me if I was okay.

I crouched down and brought the phone back up to my ear, Natsu's voice flooding through my ears. "Lucy? Lucy did something happen?"

"Yes," I breathed out.

"What?" He sounded on edge. "What happened? Is there someone in the apartment?"

A smile broke through and spread across my face. This time I didn't bother trying to stop my tears, "No. Natsu," I said his name slowly, tasting it on my tongue. "Yes." I laughed, thrilled at what was happening, "Yes, I will marry you."

"You will?" he asked, sounding like he didn't believe me.

I laughed again, "Did you honestly think I would say 'no'?"

Hs laughter joined with mine that time.

"Well," He paused for a heartbeat, thinking of what to say, "It looks like we're getting married." I could practically hear the smile spreading across his face.

The smile didn't leave my face. "So it does." I whispered the words, not wanting to say too much.

"Wait for me." He whispered back to me. I wasn't sure if it was a question or not, but I decided to answer anyway.

"Always."

~Granted~

I showed up late for my meeting with the girls at Fairy Tail, a huge smile spread across my face and not a hint of remorse to be seen.

"Lucy!" Erza stood up as soon as she saw me and started to march over to me. "You're late!"

I smiled wider, my face coloring, "I'm sorry Erza, something… came up." I explained vaguely.

Erza nodded once before dragging me over to the other four girls.

Juvia, Lisanna, and Levy all greeted me normally, whereas Mira's gaze zoomed onto my ring finger almost immediately.

Her eyes darted to mine, to the ring, and then back to my face. She cocked her head to the right in a silent question and I nodded. The snow haired girl's eyes popped open comically and she looked like she was going to scream, but I shook my head and raised a finger to my lips in a silent gesture for her to stay silent about the situation.

I wanted to see how long it would take the other girls to figure it out.

I sat down at the table the other girls were at, placing myself in between Lisanna and Levy with Juvia, Mira, and Erza sitting across from us.

The girls didn't bother to wait before interrogating me.

"So, Lucy," Lisanna turned to me, smiling like the devil.

Oh, wait. Her sister is the devil.

"Have you heard from Natsu lately?" she finish, devil smile still in place.

I nodded, blushing, "He called me this morning." A smile crossed my face. "That's why I was late." I explained.

The girls nodded in understanding and Mira's eyes lit up.

Lisanna sighed; she had always been extremely supportive of my relationship with Natsu. "It's good that you two speak as much as you do." She placed her head on top of her hand. "I don't know what I would do if my boyfriend joined the army."

Juvia snickered, "What boyfriend would that be, Lisanna?" she teased.

Lisanna turned red.

"I heard she was dating Bixlow," I offered the group. She turned to me in horror.

"Bixlow?" Levy questioned. "Why on earth would you want to date Bixlow?"

"What's wrong with Bixlow?" I asked, defending my coworker and friend. I didn't think there was anything wrong with the male. Sure he was weird and teased me all the time, but he was a great person.

"What?" Mira teased me, "Do you like him?"

I rolled my eyes, "Hardly. I've got my own man. I don't need Lisanna's too." Said girl blushed harder. "Seriously guys, what's wrong with Bixlow?"

Erza scrunched up her nose, "He's a pervert."

Levy nodded, "And that thing he does with his tongue is weird."

"I think he's pretty good with his tongue," Lisanna grumbled softly from my other side, blushing harder, but I think I was the only one who heard her.

I wish I hadn't

I rolled my eyes, "Let Lisanna date who she wants. She's a big girl; she can take care of herself."

Lisanna smiled brightly at me, "Thank you, Lucy!"

"No problem," I laughed.

Suddenly Erza seemed to take notice of the ring I wore, "Lucy, you really shouldn't wear your mother's wedding ring on that hand. It will give people the wrong idea."

I bit my lip to keep from smiling. From the corner of my eye I saw Mira dance in her chair.

"It's not my mother's, Erza."

She blinked at me stupidly for a minute and the other girls, besides Mira, were equally as dumbstruck. "What?"

I laughed, "This isn't my mother's ring. It's mine."

Juvia snapped out of her trance, "You mean, Natsu-?"

"-Proposed?!" Levy shouted.

I nodded.

"When?!" Lisanna all but screamed at me, grabbing me by the shoulders and giving me a shake.

I laughed louder, "This morning. Why do you think I was late?"

All of a sudden the girls were all talking at once.

"Umm," A voice sounded from my right, "Am I interrupting something?" Gajeel asked, sounding almost nervous.

It was two in the afternoon and since the bar didn't open until nine Gajeel and Jellal were both working as waiters for the time being. It was my day off and Gajeel and Jellal both had the afternoon shift.

"Gajeel," I smiled up at the tall, dark haired boy with a multitude of facial piercings. I flashed the ring towards him, "I'm getting married."

His eyes popped open, "To who?!" he screamed, drawing the attention of several customers. "Okay, dumb question," He corrected himself, "When did this happen?" He had lowered his advice to an acceptable volume.

I smiled at him, "This morning."

Just than Jellal walked by, "What's going on?" he asked us, a large smile on his face.

I decided to fuck with him.

"I'm pregnant with Gajeel's child and Loke asked me to marry him." I showed him the ring. "I said yes." I wasn't sure how I managed to keep a straight face, but I did.

Jellal's mouth fell open in shock, "Wh- what?" He shot a look at the dark haired man who nodded solemnly in response, playing along. "You- you've, but Natsu? What?"

I burst into laughter, the girls following soon after, "I'm just kidding, Jell."

"So you aren't sleeping with Gajeel?" He asked.

I smiled, "Nope."

"And you aren't marrying Loke?"

I shook my head.

His head tilted in confusion, "Then who…?" A smile spread across his face. "Oh."

~Granted~

I stared at the letter in my hands.

That's all I could do. Stare and stare and stare and stare.

It was a letter from the military.

I prayed it was a letter from Natsu.

I hadn't heard from my boyfriend, now fiancé, since he proposed to me nearly four months ago. It terrified me; thinking that something awful could have happened to him. As far as I knew he could have been shot or missing or worse.

The writing on the front of the envelope was far too neat. It wasn't Natsu's usual sloppy scrawl. Although if he was hurt, I winced at the thought, someone else may have written the letter.

The envelope was too faultless looking. It wasn't bent and torn at the edges from being shoved inside of Natsu's pocket for several days at a time. It was too pristine, too perfect.

This was not a letter from Natsu.

I bit my lip and glanced at the small cat perched on the table next to me.

I smiled slightly. When I had first befriended Natsu I never would have pegged him as a cat person. He was too wild and energetic, more of a dog person in my eyes, but he did have a small, once white, cat that was named Happy.

Happy was now a blue cat courtesy of Jellal.

Natsu and I had, on our last anniversary, decided to go on a weekend vacation of sorts and Natsu left Jellal in charge of the poor cat.

Jellal, being told that Happy liked baths, which he does, decided to give him one.

Only he mixed up his blue hair dye and shampoo.

Thus Happy was now blue.

I reached out and stroked the tiny cat behind his ears, receiving a loud purr in response. "What do you think, Happy? Should I open it?"

The little cat meowed before moving closer to me and rubbing his face against mine. I scratched under his chin for a moment, "I'll take that as a 'yes'."

I slowly broke the seal on the envelope, opening it.

Reaching inside I pulled out a single sheet of paper covered in typing.

My heart clenched.

Natsu only ever hand wrote letters.

I don't even thing he had access to a computer to type with.

I glanced at the first sentence.

Dear Ms. Heartfilia,

We regret to inform you that-.

I stopped reading the letter and never picked it up again.

~Granted~

It had been two months since I had gotten the letter.

I had spent two days with Natsu's father Igneel afterwards, where I learned that he wasn't dead, only missing.

That fact gave me some hope, but not much.

Igneel learned that Natsu had asked me to marry him. I felt awful, knowing that I hadn't told him about that small fact earlier, preferably right after Natsu had asked me, but I had stupidly assumed that Natsu would have told his own father that he was going to propose to his girlfriend.

Lisanna, who had started dating Bixlow the day after Natsu proposed to me, had taken to staying with me. Her reasoning was that she didn't want me to think I was alone and I was grateful for that.

I didn't want to be alone.

Natsu was gone and I had the sinking feeling that I would never see him again. Never hear his voice again.

That killed me inside.

What was going to happen is he never came home? How was I just supposed to move on if he was dead?

What if he was dead?

I told myself that he wasn't dead, because this was Natsu. He wasn't going to die on me like that. He promised me that he would come back to me.

Always

And I promised I would wait for him.

Always

I haven't received any more letters from the army.

I haven't heard any news about where Natsu is.

I doubted that I would hear anything anytime soon.

I managed to shake the morbid thoughts from my head as I started my shift at Fairy Tail for the night.

Just as I was about to walk out of the kitchen in the back into the actual bar area a hand grasped my elbow and held me back.

I turned around and came face to face with Makarov Dreyar, my boss and Laxus's grandfather.

"Be strong child," Was all he said to me before he turned and left.

He didn't tell me to leave, because he knew I wouldn't.

He didn't tell me to take sometime off; because he knew I would refuse.

If I had to spend anymore time in that apartment than I already was I would go insane. I couldn't deal with being there alone without him.

Sure Lisanna was there, but it wasn't the same.

I plastered a smile on my face and walked into the bar.

The first table I went up to was occupied by Sting and Rogue.

They both shot me small, sad smiles. For once Sting didn't try to flirt with me.

Before I could ask what they wanted Sting stopped me.

"We heard about the letter." His eyes were clouded over with grief, because, although Sting and Natsu weren't close, Natsu made a lasting impression on everyone he met and you couldn't help but like him. "I'm so sorry, Lucy."

I gave them a watered down smile of my own and stared at the ring on my finger, "It's okay. He'll be coming home, right? There isn't anything to worry about." I wasn't sure if I was trying to convince them or myself.

Rogue, ever the perceptive one, caught where my gaze was directed. "He asked you to marry him." It wasn't a question, I could tell that much.

Sting's eyes widened a fraction at the news and his gaze darted to my hand. Once they settled on the ring his eyes hardened and I prayed to whatever god was up there that he didn't make a fuss out of things and claim he was in love with me.

"That bastard better come home to you."

I couldn't help but silently agree.

~Granted~

Two more months went by and I was losing hope.

After my talk with Sting and Rogue I had sent Lisanna home. She had protested profusely about leaving me, but I had told her it was alright and that I had things I needed to come to terms with.

She had gathered her things and left, albeit rather reluctantly, moving back in with Bixlow who had been feeling a bit neglected recently.

Even though I was losing hope I was not giving up.

I would not give up on him until I had proof that he was dead on gone.

I was not going to give up on him until they showed me a body and I was forced to let him go.

I checked the date on the calendar behind the bar and almost dropped the tray of drinks I was carrying.

It had been over a year since I had last seen Natsu and I hadn't heard his voice for nearly half as long.

I choked back a sob and made my way to the table the drinks were due at. It would be no good to get worked up about the date now.

I could do that later, when I was alone.

By midnight Makarov had forced everyone who didn't work there out of the bar. Meaning only Gajeel, Jellal, Elfman, Erza, Juvia, and I were still there. How six people could keep a bar under control I would never know.

The six of us, Makarov was content to sit and watch, decided to kill time by playing cards and washing out beer mugs and after an hour I was starting to feel like myself again. I didn't even freeze up when Gajeel asked me about Natsu.

"So you haven't heard anything yet?" Gajeel asked me gently.

I sighed and shuffled the cards. "Not a word." I could have sworn I saw Makarov smile when I said that, but it must have been my imagination. "I doubt I'm going to hear anything anytime soon."

"He better come home soon otherwise Sieg and I might have to go find him." Jellal shot Gajeel a look at the mention of "Sieg", but nodded none the less.

I smiled at the two boys. "Thanks guys." I played with the ring on my finger for a moment, the smile still playing across my lips.

Who was I kidding?

He wasn't coming home.

I swallowed and looked up at the boys. The two must have sensed my thoughts because they immediately shared a look and Jellal opened his mouth to speak.

The door to the bar opened with a bang.

Gajeel glared at the person that walked in, "Hey asshole, we're-!" The mug he had been cleaning slipped from his hands and shattered as it made contact with the floor.

"Gajeel!"

A voice spoke up from behind me, whoever it was that walking in was talking.

"Sorry about that Metal Head," My heart skipped a beat, "I just thought I would stop by and see my fiancée."

I whipped around in my seat and caught sight of the one person I had wanted to see for almost fourteen months.

"Natsu."

His name slipped past my lips before I could catch the word.

The man in question smiled at me. "Hey, Lucy."

I wanted nothing more than to run into his arms and never let go, but something held me back.

Was I dreaming? Was any of this actually real?

Natsu took a step forward, "Permission to hug the love of my life?" He opened his arms and waited for me to either embrace him or say something.

After several minutes of me being silent and not moving at all, he dropped his arms back down to his sides.

"Lucy," He breathed out my name and took a single step closer to me, reaching out with one hand. "I can understand if you don't want to speak to me. I've been gone for a long time." He swallowed. "You haven't heard from me in a long time." He took a deep breath, "And I'm sorry for that. I'm so god damn sorry. I never meant to leave you like that and-."

I launched myself into his arms.

I had my arms thrown around his neck and tangled in his hair, holding on for dear life. My legs had wrapped themselves around his waist and I didn't care that everyone else was watching.

All that mattered was that he was here and he was alive. He was alive and he was holding me just as tightly as I was holding him.

Then I was kissing him so hard that I could feel my lips bruising at the contact, but I didn't care.

I pulled back after several long moments of kissing because I could hear Makarov catcalling. I pressed my forehead against his and brought one hand down to cup his cheek. His arms were around my back, holding me securely against him.

"Permission granted."