Wow, I can't believe the reception this story got! All the same, I would like to thank everyone that followed, reviewed, and/or favorited this story. Seriously, you people rock my Fairy Tail world.
I've decided to try and update every Sunday. Barring any vacations or medical emergencies, I think I'll be able to make that happen. That should answer any questions about updating.
Shout out to Emmy(Guest) for writing the most crazy and endearing review I've ever read. It's definitely going in my favorite pile.
Now, on to the second chapter!
Natsu paced back and forth with his hands clasped behind his back. Why him? Why was it always him? Why not Gajeel or Gray, they were much more deserving! They were assholes!
Gajeel watched him from his sprawled position on the couch and sighed. "Oi, Flame-brain, calm down. Yer pacing's givin' me a headache. What's the big deal anyways?"
This was apparently the wrong thing to say. "What's the big deal?" He spun around and stalked towards Gajeel. "The big deal is that my newly-appointed fiancé is missing, that's the big deal!" Natsu waved his hands around in an attempt to get Gajeel to understand the gravity of the situation.
"You didn't want a fiancé anyway. Pitched a fit when Dad first told ya." Gajeel scratched his head. "Can't blame ya, though. Women- only good for a fuck, and even then they mess it up with their emotion shit. Cryin' and trying to love all over you. Tch. Annoying as hell."
A blank stare met his words and Gajeel snorted. "Forget it. What I'm sayin' is: Problem solved. You didn't want a fiancé, and now you don't have one."
"That's not the point!" Natsu grabbed his hair and shook his head in frustration. "Dad said we needed this, that Magnolia has always been troublesome. This marriage was supposed to make it better, 'strengthen the bonds' or whatever Dad was spouting."
It had only been a week since he'd learned of the engagement, and already he'd managed to screw up! What would Igneel think of him?
Word had reached him of his fiancé's disappearance while he and Gajeel were in one of their sitting rooms though two of the castle runners, Jet and Droy. Their faces had been nearly as pink as his hair, and they'd been gasping for breath. When asked for news, the first thing blurted out had been: "She's gone!"
It was then Natsu had known that Fate truly and thoroughly hated him.
That had been a mere thirty minutes ago, and Natsu was worried. Gajeel seemed to think that all his problems were solved by this, but Natsu knew better. He may not have been a brainiac, but he knew that much.
At first, Natsu had been of Gajeel's mindset. He hadn't wanted a wife, now he didn't have one. Problem solved, just as his brother had said. But then he'd started thinking of everything his father had told him when he was first informed of the engagement. His mind replayed everything his father said. Peace. Prosperity. Obligations. Tightening the bonds between a King and his people. That was when Natsu started getting agitated. Duty. Responsibility. Pride. Stepping up and becoming worthy of your title. That was the point at which Natsu started pacing. Trust. Negotiation. Time. Accepting your role in the world and doing your part to better it. If he didn't get some more news soon, he was going to be bald.
"Hey Flame-tard!" And there came Gray to join the party. Natsu's luck was at an all-time low today, it seemed.
"What do you want, Stripper?" Because unless it was news, Natsu wasn't interested. He crossed his arms and tapped his foot to show Gray he was waiting.
Gray rolled his eyes. "Your girl was kidnapped, it would seem." A moment of silence, and then-
"WHAT?" Both Gajeel and Natsu exclaimed.
"The hell does that-"
"What do you-"
Natsu and Gajeel advanced on Gray at once, cornering him behind the couch. Gajeel grabbed his neck in a death-grip while Natsu shook his shoulders. "Gimme information you stupid droopy-eyed idiot! Don't stop with that!"
Gray swatted at them and frowned. "Put me down, I ain't going anywhere. Word just came in from that Heart guy, her father. Seems some rebels or whatever kidnapped her at night, right after he broke the news to her." He shot a glare at Natsu, who was still clawing at his shoulders. "She probably prefers being abducted to marrying a dumbass like you."
Gajeel smacked him upside the head. "Shut yer trap, he's messed up enough as it is."
An outraged shout sounded from Gray and he twisted around to try and strangle Gajeel. This didn't work too well, as Natsu was still stuck to his shoulders. Natsu ended up sandwiched between Gajeel and Gray, who both had their hands around the other's neck. In an attempt to escape, Natsu head-butted Gray, who mistook the blow as coming from Gajeel and proceeded to bite him. Gajeel growled and slammed Natsu into Gray. Gray stumbled and yelped as he fell over the couch, bringing his two companions down with him.
All three landed in a tangled heap on the floor, still kicking and clawing. Shouts and curses sounded throughout the previously silent room, bouncing off and being amplified by the stone walls around them.
It was into this scene that the King himself, Igneel Dragneel, arrived. He shook his head and sighed. He loved his boys, really and truly, but at times like this…
Best not to continue on that train of thought. Deciding enough was enough, he crossed his arms and snapped, "Boys!"
Three heads popped up and froze. Natsu had Gray in a headlock, Gray was biting Gajeel's arm, and Gajeel appeared to be trying to claw Natsu's eyes out. Igneel shook his head again at the sorry sight they made.
"What," he ground out, "are you doing?"
A collective "Uh…" met him. He rolled his eyes and walked over to untangle them. It was a miracle they'd survived this long without killing each other. Why couldn't he have had a girl?
"This is ridiculous. You three are the Crown Princes of Fiore." He yanked Natsu's hands off from around Gray's head. "You should conduct yourselves as such. The entire Kingdom and all our provinces look up to you." Drool dripped from Gray's mouth as he removed it from Gajeel's bicep, making Igneel shudder. "I realize this is a stressful time, but that's no reason to behave like wild animals. You will behave or so help me I will bend you over my knee," he grunted as he pulled Gajeel's hands away from Natsu's face, "and spank you like you're five years old again." He pushed all three apart and they thumped onto the ground.
"Now if you're done acting like dogs scrapping over a piece of meat, I will speak to you." He glared at each boy individually, waiting until one was suitably cowed before turning to another.
He looked towards Natsu first. "I know you must be worried about your fiancé, and I have just come from a meeting with representatives from the Heartfilia family. It appears a rogue rebel group has kidnapped Lady Heartfilia, though for what purposes remains unknown. Jude Heartfilia, Lord of Magnolia, assures me that the utmost is being done to find her and that she will undoubtedly be rescued and delivered here by the date of the wedding. We will proceed as planned will the necessary preparations."
A disbelieving snort sounded from Gajeel, cutting off Igneel's speech. "Yer tellin' me that the wedding is still on, even though the bride is currently MIA? That's completely ridiculous. Call if off already, stop being so bloody stubborn." A warning growl came from Igneel and Gajeel shut up.
"That is precisely why I'm sending a group of our own soldiers to Magnolia to aid Lord Heartfilia in the search for his daughter and your future sister-in-law. As an extra show of our faith and hope in this future union between our families, Supreme Commander Jellal Fernandes of the Royal Army of Fiore will be heading this expedition."
Gajeel snorted, once again interrupting his father. "Bah, that sissy can't do anything. He doesn't even believe in torturing the prisoners!" He shook his head, a sneer of disgust twisting his features.
"Will you be QUIET?" Igneel roared. Out of his three children, Gajeel had always been the most obstinate.
Begrudging silence emanated from Gajeel, and Igneel almost gasped with relief. "First of all, we all know how you feel about the Supreme Commander, and that is why I am sending you as an escort." He ploughed onward before Gajeel could interrupt him- again. "Secondly, if you keep complaining, Natsu may not be the only one married by the end of the year."
He eyed Gajeel to ensure his son understood the full meaning of his words. By Gajeel's wide eyes and gulp, he assumed the message was clearly received. "Besides, taking a wife on might soften you up a bit and make you less reckless." He muttered under his breath, "And God knows we'd be thankful."
Assured that Gajeel wouldn't cause another outburst, he continued on and turned towards Gray. His third son was sprawled on the ground, clothed only in trousers. The speed with which he managed to disrobe still astounded Igneel.
"You will help your brother with wedding preparations, and travel to town to gather any necessary supplies that haven't been collected already. This wedding is of the utmost importance, and I expect you treat it as such, which is exactly why you will be doing this instead of a servant. I realize that you and your brother," he sent a frown towards Natsu, "are almost completely oblivious when it comes to the female sex, and so I've hired two women to help you with the preparations. They will meet you here shortly."
Igneel nodded to himself and consulted his mental checklist. Talk with Natsu- check. Talk with Gajeel- he'd probably aged ten years from that conversation, but check. Talk with Gray- check.
Almost giddy with relief that the ordeal was over, Igneel headed towards that door, pausing at the entryway. "I'll leave you three with the following advice: Natsu, try not to worry. Gajeel, go pack because you're leaving in the morning. Gray, put some clothes on. And try not to kill each other."
Gray looked down at himself and yelped, scrambling out the door in front of Igneel to find his clothes. Natsu yelled something about wedding planners and raced after him. Gajeel ran his hands over his face and signed before heaving himself to his feet. He supposed Igneel was right about packing.
'Crazy old man,' he thought as he walked towards the door. 'Trying to set me up. Like I'll ever get married. Tch.'
Natsu grumbled under his breath as he pushed the door to his rooms open.
Stupid stripper, running off to find his clothes and leaving Natsu behind (even if he was too far ahead to hear Natsu's calls). Stupid Igneel, springing this marriage thing on him (though that was a week ago). Stupid fiancé, getting kidnapped by rebels (which wasn't really her fault, he supposed). Everything was messed up! Natsu turned around and kicked his doors shut as hard as he could, not caring if it warped the wood.
An inquiring meow floated to Natsu's ears, and as he looked down a smile graced his features. Twining himself around Natsu's legs was Happy, Natsu's pet cat. He was a rare breed, an Exceed, though that had nothing to do with the vibrant blue color his coat sported.
"Hey Happy." Natsu reached down to rub his friend behind the ears. He sighed. "Today's been so frustrating. First that huge fight between Gajeel and Dad about the line of succession, then Gray with his nudity and fan girls, and now this girl- my fiancé."
Happy meowed again, as if to inquire, 'What's wrong with her?' Natsu frowned and said, "She's missing. Got taken by some bandits or whatever."
He picked Happy up in his arms and walked through the foyer towards his rooms, shooting an apologetic glance back at the splintered wood that previously served as a door. He'd have to ask the Royal Carpenter to fix that later… again…
The neutral tans and grays of his entryway foyer melted into more energetic colors the farther in he traveled. The wide hallway that opened up to his other rooms was painted a sky blue, lighter than the feline that was currently lolling in Natsu's arms.
The first archway on the right and the formal sitting room it opened in to was white with subtle earth tones. Boring, but necessary considering the people to whom the room catered to. An unremarkable door at the back of the room led to a bathroom done in the same colors.
Farther down and to the left was the next room. The doorway was decorated with hanging forks and spoons, some of which were normal and some of which were twisted into fantastical shapes. The room it preceded was, quite obviously, his dining room where he was required to take his meals when eating in private. Two of the walls were painted lime green, the other two in lemon yellow. Sloppy drawings of food were slapped haphazardly around the room in black paint. There was another bathroom at the back of this room too, for those special emergencies (like the ones caused by hot fajitas).
After that and also on the left was a noticeably larger arch. It was painted a light pink with red, orange, and yellow flames reaching towards the ceiling. It opened up into an area that was as large as the sprawling gardens just outside its walls; his private bedchambers. The walls were a multitude of colors, every color imaginable and some that surpassed even the most inspired. They were all mixed together in such a manner that the room should have had a dizzying and nauseating effect on any inhabitants, but instead appeared perfect and divinely artistic in its asymmetry.
Stepping inside the room, the first thing Natsu did was look over to the balcony doors to make sure they were shut in the precise manner he'd closed them this morning. They were, and Natsu relaxed just a bit. There hadn't been any assassination attempts lately, but one could never be too sure.
Clothes, books, papers, toys, and various cat-related things were scattered across the marble floors, and Natsu nudged them out of the way as he walked.
'Really should let a maid in here some time,' he mused as he sat Happy down on his bed. Happy seemed to read his thoughts, and huffed in agreement as he curled up on the fire-red duvet.
Natsu watched Happy until his companion fell asleep, and then stood up again. He wavered in the air, not knowing what to do with himself. After a few minutes of indecision he started pacing again, striding back and forth across his floor.
This led him to think of when he'd repeated this action before, back in the boys' private gathering room. Thinking of that inevitably brought back the reasons for his pacing- his fiancé. As he thought about his and her predicament, he steadily grew more distressed.
He chewed his lip and ran his hands through his hair, occasionally muttering to himself and shaking his head.
Finally, he threw his arms up into the air and looked towards the ceiling, crying out, "Why me? Why are you doing this to me?" He heard no immediate reply, and slowly lowered his arms back to his sides. His head fell in dejection and his shoulders sagged.
"Um… because it's my job?" A tentative voice sounded behind him and Natsu spun around, his eyes as wide as saucers.
A young woman stood hesitantly in the doorway, half in and half out. She was… gorgeous, Natsu realized. She had blonde hair pulled into two low-hanging ponytails, and was wearing a blue and white outfit instead of the castle uniform. The chest of said outfit looked rather strained, and the tops of her full breasts swelled above the neckline. His eyes roamed downwards, noting the basket hanging off her arm filled with scrolls and quills. Slim fingers grasped the handle easily, and her hands appeared well- manicured. The basket itself was nestled against a slim waist that opened into wide hips. Long, toned legs peeked out from underneath her skirt and roamed downwards before disappearing into a pair of brown boots. From the size of her boots, he could tell she had small feet.
"Well?" The question snapped Natsu back into the present, and he looked back up at her face. She was staring at him like she wasn't sure if he was mentally touched or not.
"Uh… what?" He was still a bit stunned after seeing one of God's angels appear before him.
"Because… it….is…my…job." She spoke slowly and enunciated each word, as if he were some simpleton.
"No, um, I meant- that is to say…" Natsu shook his head. He wasn't articulate at the best of times, much less in front of strange- and very pretty, a part of his mind added- women. "What's your job?"
Understanding lit her eyes and she lifted the basket up. "You're getting hitched, right? I'm supposed to help you with all the preparations!"
Natsu chuckled and half-smiled, still apprehensive in the presence of this strange person. "Hitched. I like that word. It's funny."
She smiled and tilted her head, eyebrows furrowed. "Well, I'm… glad you think so. Now…" She looked around the room, "Where exactly do you want to do this?" A questioning glance was shot at him.
"Oh! We could do it…" Natsu looked over to his desk, and was immediately disappointed. It was filled with so much clutter even he didn't think he could shove it all off. "How about…" In the places where his floor was clean resided layers of dust and food particles. "I think… uh…" Natsu looked around quickly, and his eyes landed on the balcony. What about there? A pigeon landed on the railing and seemed to dare him to try it. He scanned the room quickly again, seeing the girl glance back at the hallway out of the corner of his eye.
"The bed!" He shouted desperately. "We could do it all on the bed. Lots of room to spread the papers and sit down and do… wedding… things." He was rambling now, anything to fill the awkward space that permeated the room.
He grabbed a couple of thick books off the floor and held them up. "We could write on these." He sat them on the bed and then jumped on, disrupting Happy with a yowl.
The blonde girl was staring at him with wide eyes, clutching the basket to her chest. She looked like she was ready to bolt. "It's okay." He patted the bed sheets beside him. "They were washed, like, a week ago."
To his surprise, the young woman rolled her eyes. "That wasn't exactly what I was worried about." Nonetheless, she walked over and sat next to him, scooting around a bit to get comfortable.
"Alright, let's get started. This," She held up a paper filled with scribbles, "is a list of the generic or standard things at a wedding, but I was thinking that-"
"I'm Prince Natsu Dragneel, but you can call me just Natsu." He held out his hand.
She was staring at him again.
"Whatcha looking at?" He glanced behind him. "Ah! That's Happy." He reached behind him and dragged the blue Exceed onto his lap.
She was still staring, but now at the animal seated between his legs. "He's blue."
Natsu cocked his head at her. "What other color would he be?" This lady was turning out to be very silly.
"Oh, I don't know." She tapped her finger against her cheek. "Black? White? Brown? Normal cat colors, perhaps?" She looked at Happy again, and then at him.
"Well when he was a kitten some blue paint fell on him- which wasn't my fault, by the way- and then he sorta stayed blue. And he still is!" Natsu held Happy up for emphasis, and the cat meowed mournfully.
He figured she would have understood after that in-depth explanation, but she was still staring at him. A blush colored his cheeks and he averted his eyes. "Anyway, yeah. I'm Natsu." He rubbed the back of his neck. "And this is Happy." He added. He looked anywhere but her, and the silence stretched out between them.
"I'm Lucy." He glanced at her, surprised she had even spoken to him. She stuck out her hand and repeated, "You can call me Lucy."
He beamed at her, and he grabbed her hand and shook it vigorously. "Alright Luce, let's get to it."
She glared at him. "It's Lucy. And as I was saying, before I was interrupted," She sniffed at him, "This is a list of all the normal, expected things at a wedding. Flowers, pews, bells, chorus, music, doves, etcetera etcetera. Now all you need to do is… personalize it, in a manner of speaking, and go over everything and okay it before the staff can order and fetch it." She looked up at him and smiled expectantly.
The smile drooped a bit before disappearing entirely and she frowned. "Now what? Are there any other animals of yours that need to be introduced?" She snarked.
"What? No! I just, um… what I do?"
She sighed and repeated, "This is a list of all the normal, expected things at a wedding. Flowers, pews, bells, cho-"
"No! I got that part, I just don't get the personalize thing. It sounds like you've got it covered."
A screech burst from Lucy's lips and she leaned forward. "It is most certainly not covered! You can't just have that stuff at a wedding, it's very intricate and important you know, and it requires lots of planning and preparation and..."
"Well that's what you're for! I don't know about that stuff! It's her wedding!" Natsu huffed angrily, rolling his eyes.
"I assume you are referring to your fiancé, and it's not just her wedding, it's yours too, and it's supposed to be one of the most important days of your life, going by what other people seem to believe." Lucy crossed her arms and scowled at him.
Natsu mirrored her posture. "I don't want to get married, so it is just her wedding, and I don't pay attention to girly stuff like that."
Lucy looked him up and down disbelievingly. "And you think I do? I'm never getting married, for your information, so I don't know either."
She was never…? "But you're a girl!" He burst out, unable to keep his thoughts to himself. Girls were supposed to get married, Gray's mother had told him so!
"That doesn't mean anything. There are plenty of women out there who refuse to conform to such archaic traditions. Besides, getting married is a glorified form of selling cattle." She closed her eyes and stuck her nose in the air, turning away from him.
"I'll have you know," he growled, "that my parents were married, and so were Gajeel's and Gray's. There's nothing in common between selling cattle," he practically spat the word at her, "and getting married."
She seemed completely unaware of his darkening mood and shot back, "Oh? The woman is waved about like some kind of prized heifer, and sold to the highest bidder." She cupped her hands to her mouth, mimicking a merchant or salesman at the market. "'Come one, come all! Still young, only a few years old! A virgin, to boot! Marry her, and see how long it takes to break her in!'"
Hands shoved against Natsu's chest and he was shoved backwards. "That's exactly how it is! The woman, just like some worthless cow, is at home totally unsuspecting. And suddenly," Lucy seemed to choke on her words, but forced them out regardless. "Suddenly, the owner comes home and says, 'Guess what? You've been sold!' and both she and the cow have to go wherever, even if they don't want to! No one asks them if they're okay with it, because it doesn't matter."
She looked up at him, eyes wild and clouded, and for a second Natsu almost felt fearful of her passionate words. "And do you know why?" Natsu just stared at her. "WELL?" she screamed when he didn't answer.
"N-no!" He shook his head rapidly and tried to look submissive and unthreatening.
"Because cows don't have rights!" She rose to her knees on the bed and grasped his shoulders tightly. "They don't have any rights at all!"
Natsu's head snapped back and forth as she shook his shoulders and between his nauseating head rolls he could see tears streaking down her face.
As best he could, Natsu reached up and tried to still her. His hands slipped off a few times, but on the fourth try he grasped the fabric on her shoulders and held on frantically. "S-st-stop! I'm gonna- oh god- I'm-!" He yanked his head over the edge of the bed, pulling and twisting her body with his, and dry-heaved over the side.
Finally, after what seemed like ages, the roiling in his abdomen quieted and he laid his forehead against the side. At least there wasn't any puke this time.
Sniffles sounded near his ear, and he saw he'd brought Lucy along for the ride. She was hanging half-off the bed in an identical position to him. Instead of almost throwing-up however, she'd been crying. Still was, as a matter of fact, but the flow seemed to have lessened and she was calming down as he looked at her.
Her chest stopped heaving as much, her breathing slowed, and she hiccupped every now and again.
He pulled both of them up and they slumped together tiredly, crushing the list that had started the fight underneath them.
"I'm sorry." The words were mumbled into his chest rather than his face, and garbled together, but he understood them perfectly.
"S'okay, it was my fault, too." He couldn't actually remember if it was, but that seemed the right thing to say at the moment. "C'mon, Luce, cheer up. We've already had our first fight, which means we're gonna be awesome friends."
A watery smile graced her features and Natsu smiled back.
"Here." He heaved them into sitting positions like the ones they'd been in before, and gently pushed her at arm's length. "Let's start over. I'm Natsu." He extended his arm towards her.
She sniffed again and did the same. "I'm Lucy."
They shook hands and beamed at each other. A meow sounded from the floor and they looked down. A blue head poked out from under the bed and stared up at them accusingly. They glanced back at each other and said, "Happy!" before laughing.
Lucy looked back down at the feline and laughed some more, while Natsu chuckled and peeked down to where their hands were still intertwined. He'd meant what he'd said to her before.
They were going to be great friends. He could tell.
Yay! Our favorite couple has finally met! Not exactly how their real first meeting went, but it fits the story much better in my opinion. After all, Natsu can't exactly destroy towns when he's going to rule them one day (and it would hardly endear his subjects to him).
Review review REVIEW or I'll have a meltdown just like Lucy's. I will.
Some things for this chapter:
#1. Lucy may be OOC once again, and I realize how emotional and crazy she seemed in this chapter. This is important for later chapters. Lucy has some sore spots when it comes to marriage and female freedom, and they will be prodded in this story.
If you haven't already figured this out, the job Levy's friends secured for Lucy is wedding planner/assistant for Natsu during the wedding planning.
Remember, neither Lucy nor Natsu know exactly to whom they were engaged. Therefore, Natsu only knows that his fiancé is missing, and Lucy only know that Natsu is getting married to some woman.
#2. Yes, Natsu, Gray, and Gajeel are brothers (or half-brothers, at least) in this story. Seems weird, but bear with me.
#3. Igneel is still alive, and the King. This is important, as the relationship between him and Natsu and him and Gajeel will be important, and already is, in later chapters.
#4. From the first chapter to this chapter it has been one week. Igneel told Natsu about the arranged marriage roughly at the same time Jude told Lucy. In this chapter, Lucy and Juvia have already traveled to the capital and taken up the pre-arranged jobs.
Characters we've met so far:
Lucy Heartfilia- Daughter of Jude and Layla Heartfilia, only child. Lady of Magnolia. Engaged to Natsu Dragneel, First Crown Prince of Fiore. Assistant/ wedding planner to Natsu Dragneel, First Crown Prince of Fiore. Living.
Levy McGarden- Orphaned only child. Employed by Jude Heartfilia. Companion to Lady Lucy Heartfilia. Living.
Juvia Lockser- Orphaned only child of Jose Porla and OC. Employed by Jude Heartfilia. Companion to Lady Lucy Heartfilia. Living.
Jude Heartfilia- Husband to Layla Heartfilia, father to Lucy Heartfilia. Lord of Magnolia. Living.
Layla Heartfilia- Wife to Jude Heartfilia, mother to Lucy Heartfilia. Lady of Magnolia. Deceased.
Jose Porla- Father to Juvia Lockser. Deceased.
Erza Scarlet- First Bodyguard to Lady Lucy Heartfilia. Living.
Natsu Dragneel- Second son of Igneel Dragneel, King of Fiore, and OC. First Crown Prince of Fiore. Engaged to Lucy Heartfilia, Lady of Magnolia. Living.
Gajeel Redfox-Dragneel- First son of Igneel Dragneel, King of Fiore, and OC. Second Crown Prince of Fiore. Escort to the Royal Search Party. Living.
Gray Fullbuster-Dragneel- Third son of Igneel Dragneel, King of Fiore, and OC. Third Crown Prince of Fiore. Assistant/ wedding preparations fetcher to Natsu Dragneel, First Crown Prince of Fiore. Living.
Jellal Fernandes- Supreme Commander of the Royal Army of Fiore. Head of the Royal Search Party. Living.
Happy- Pet to Natsu Dragneel, First Crown Prince of Fiore. Breed: Exceed. Color: Blue. Living.
Jet- Castle runner/messenger. Living.
Droy- Castle runner/messenger. Living.