Besides that, please enjoy :3 I took a while on this and it was surprisingly easy lol I wrote a total 13 pages on the first day on Microsoft Word.

Please review :3


Lucy Heartfilia used to be a normal girl. She had a loving family, a nice home, and anything she wanted. But then it all changed when her parents died in a car accident, leaving her alone with an inheritance of several thousand from her parents' will, no family, no home, nothing she owned except for a suitcase of clothes and books, and nowhere to go.

She was alone. Her friends helped, inviting her to live with them until she found a cheap studio apartment that she moved into a week later. Her best friends Levy, Erza, Mira, Lisanna, Cana, and Juvia pitched in, transforming the place into a cozy living space. A month later, she enrolled in Fairy Tail Academy with the rest of her friends.

Thus started her new life.

"Lu-chan!" Levy McGarden skipped over to her best friend and smiled broadly. "Guess what?"

Lucy Heartfilia looked up from the little notebook she was writing in. "What?"

Levy grinned. "You know Jellal Fernandes, the senior? Well, he just asked Erza out."

Lucy's mouth dropped open. "You're not serious?" she squeaked.

"I am so serious right now. Come on! Let's go ask what happened!"

The two girls giggled and dashed out of the room. Lucy, forgetting her notebook completely, left it open on the desk, her pink pen lying on the blue lines and black scrawls of her words.

Bora, a well known delinquent of Fairy Tail Academy, was passing by Lucy's desk when he happened to look down and saw her notebook. Picking it up, he started to flip through it until he stopped on a particular page, his eyes widening. Snickering, he elbowed one of his friends and showed the page to him. Within minutes, his entire group of friends was roaring with laughter over it. Bora ripped it out and stuck it in his pocket before tossing the notebook back on Lucy's desk. Still laughing, he and his friends left the classroom, roughhousing each other on the way out.

In the corner of the classroom, another well known delinquent looked up from the game he was playing on his phone and watched Bora leave with shaded eyes, his feet propped up on his desk and his pink hair glinting in the sunlight.

It was late sunset when Lucy was walking down Strawberry Street to her apartment. She and the rest of her friends had been interrogating a deeply embarrassed Erza about Jellal over coffee and cakes at Blue Pegasus Coffee Shop and it was really late when she left.

"Oh crap, 9:37 already," Lucy muttered, checking her phone. "I need to hurry…"

She had just turned the corner when Bora stepped in front of her, smirking. "Hey, Lucy-chan~" he purred.

She drew back, hand reaching to her satchel, ready to be used as a weapon in a second's notice. "What do you want, Bora?"

"Nothing. I just happened to notice an interesting piece of paper, that's all." He pulled out the crumpled paper from Lucy's notebook and waved it in front of her face. "Recognize this?"

Lucy gasped, her cheeks reddening as she saw that he had taken one of the letters she'd written to her dead mother. "Give that back!"

Bora held it up high, causing her to jump up and down, trying to get the paper back. "Ooh, nice," he said, eyeing her bouncing breasts. "You've got a real sweet rack. Say, how about you strip for me and I'll give you back your precious paper?"

Her mouth dropped open. "You little—"

Before she could finish, a fist came out of nowhere and crashed into Bora's face, making the boy fly back and crash painfully into a brick wall. He groaned and slumped to the ground, unconscious.

"How about I punch you in the face, huh Bora?" a voice snarled and Lucy found herself staring at the infamous Natsu "Salamander" Dragneel, yet another delinquent of Fairy Tail Academy.

"What is with all you delinquents bothering me today?" Lucy half-screamed into the air.

Natsu jerked away, surprised. "What the hell, woman! I just saved your sorry ass and all you do is scream in my ear?" he yelled back at her, anger etched in the lines of his face. "Did you want to strip in front of him?"

"No!" Lucy shouted back, aghast that he would even think that she would want to do something like that.

"Then what the fuck was that for?" A tic mark appeared on Natsu's forehead and a deadly aura oozed from him.

"I'm sorry," Lucy muttered. "Thank you for saving me from Bora."

Natsu sniffed. "That's right. Now come on." He took one arm and hauled her away from Bora, heading down the street.

"Hey! Where are we going?!" She struggled, but his grip was firm.

"My place," Natsu grunted. "Bora's buddies'll be out for blood after they see this and he's more connected than you'd think. It's either you sleep over at my place tonight, or would you rather handle them on your own, Princess?"

"I…" She hesitated. Neither option was appealing to her, so she said, "I'll sleep over at Erza's house."

"Nope, I decided for you. You're staying with me." He stopped in front of her apartment and pushed her towards the door. Lucy stared at him. How did he know where she lived? He caught her staring and barked, "What, is there something on my face?"


"You've got three minutes to get whatever you want. I'm going back for a bit. Don't open the door until you hear me call for you." Natsu didn't wait for her to reply, merely leaving as soon as he finished talking.

"Whatever." Lucy opened the door with her key and slammed it after her, leaving her alone in total darkness. She flipped open the switch, bathing her apartment in a warm glow and tossed her satchel on her couch. "To hell with going to his apartment," she muttered, going to her kitchenette and taking out a packet of cookies. "He can go rot for all I care."

As soon as she said it, the doorbell rang ten times in rapid succession. "I'm coming! Jeez," she grumbled and opened the door.

Natsu was standing outside, breathing heavily. His uniform was damp with sweat and there was a shallow cut on his forehead. "Didn't I tell you to get ready?" he snapped.

"What happened to you?" Lucy asked, concerned despite herself.

"Never mind me," he said, exasperated. "Pack up or I'll do it for you."

Lucy shot him a dirty look and took out a red duffel bag from beneath her bed. She packed in spare clothes, a jacket, flip flops, a pair of sneakers, books, toiletries, a spare uniform, her savings, phone charger, pajamas, and her pillow. She zipped it up and Natsu slung it over his shoulder. "Really, a pillow?" he snorted and she stuck her tongue out at him, tucking the pillow under her arm. She exited the apartment, locked it, and followed Natsu into the night.

Natsu dumped Lucy's things on his couch as soon as he locked the door behind her. "You can sleep in my room. I'll crash on the couch."

Lucy looked around. It was a one bedroom apartment with a kitchenette, nice sized bathroom, and slightly cramped living room. It was untidy, but not unclean, much to her surprise. A cat tree stood in the corner of the living room by the two windows and next to that is a 40 inch flat screen TV mounted on the wall with a bunch of gaming systems connected to it with a couch across from it against the far wall and a small table next to it right underneath the window that held a glowing laptop. A table stood across from the kitchenette with three folding chairs stacked next to it. A little ways down the hallway is a shoe rack that appeared to have never been used and a closet stuffed with everything from supplies to an old cardboard box of movies and games.

Natsu's bedroom was a mess. Clothes were everywhere and the sheets on his bed were rumpled and wrinkled. His desk was heaped with everything from old test papers to pizza boxes and hanging from the lamp was a pair of swimming briefs.

Lucy stared at his room with disgust and Natsu, seeming to notice how much of a dump his room is, closed the door and said, "You'll sleep on the couch for tonight."

"Will you tell me why the hell I'm staying with you?" Lucy demanded.

"I told you already. Bora isn't what he seems. His dad was apparently this hotshot in a criminal organization and Bora is just continuing on the work after his old man died, making him one of the leaders. Don't underestimate him. Last time I heard, he was involved in a slave ring, but that was a year ago." Natsu pulled out a spare blanket from his closet as he spoke and tossed it on the couch. "Since we both made it worse, and he didn't get what he wanted, he'll be after you for a while so it's better to stay with me until he cools down."

Lucy was speechless. "If he really did all these things, why is he still in Fairy Tail Academy?" she demanded. "And how do you know all this?"

Natsu shrugged. "I dunno. My guess is that he's still continuing the slave thing. And I know because I know some people on the… other side of the law as well. Keep this quiet alright?"

"How do I know you're not going to do anything to me?" she asked suspiciously.

He stared at her before bursting into peals of laughter. "I don't have to explain anything to you," he said, poking her in the forehead with his forefinger. "I got my own reasons. Now do you wanna shower first or should I?"

When she didn't reply, he shrugged. "Suit yourself." He went into his bedroom again and got out a shirt and cotton shorts. "If you see something blue moving around, don't get scared. It's just my cat, Happy." With those parting words, he went to the bathroom and shut the door with a snap.

Still shocked, Lucy sank onto the couch and whipped out her phone, dialing Levy's number in a matter of seconds. Her friend picked up immediately.

"What's up, Lu-chan?"

Without pause, Lucy immediately explained everything that had happened and what Natsu told her, excluding the fact that he has several contacts in the criminal underworld and including everything that he told her about Bora.

There was a pause. "Oh. My. God," Levy finally said.

"I know right."

"So basically a powerful criminal is after you, the infamous Salamander saves you, then lets you bunk with him for a while? That is seriously hard to believe."

"It's true, Levy-chan. You know I won't lie about something like this."

"I need to tell Erza and the girls about this. And the cops! Heck, why didn't you call the cops already?"

"If she calls the cops, she's going to be in even deeper shit," Natsu said, appearing out of nowhere.

Lucy shrieked. "Natsu! Don't do that!"

But he ignored her, snatching the phone out of her hand and placing it to his ear. "Okay, listen. Don't tell the cops until I say so. It's going to get real out of hand if you do and right now, the safest she'll ever be is if she stays with me." There was the sound of Levy shouting something and Natsu's face tightened. "Don't underestimate them!" he snapped. "They can do worse things to her than you or I can imagine if they catch her and I'm not fucking letting them do that! Bora's pretty powerful and then there're also the higher ups who actually will give a shit if Bora goes to them. I can protect her better than you think." More shouting. "I have connections just like Bora." A pause, then Natsu held out the phone, which Lucy gingerly took.

"Hello?" she asked breathlessly.

"Just be safe, Lu-chan," Levy said, oddly subdued. "Lay low and trust Natsu, alright? We'll all be praying for your safety."

"Thank you, Levy-chan," Lucy whispered.

"I need to update Erza and the others. I'll talk to you tomorrow, Lu-chan. Please be safe."

"I will." Lucy smiled a little. "I have Natsu. I don't trust him, but I think he can protect me."

"He better," Levy growled. "Love you, Lu-chan!"

"Love you too," Lucy breathed into the phone. She snapped it shut and instantly, the full brunt of the situation hit her and slumped back into the couch. If this really was as serious as Natsu said it was… "I could die," she mumbled. Tears welled in her eyes.

"Yeah, sorry to break it to you that way," Natsu mumbled.

"Oh God," Lucy sobbed, burying her face in her hands. Natsu awkwardly hovered over her, not knowing what to do. He offered her a tissue, but she didn't look up. Instead, she began to wail.

Natsu sat down and pulled her to him, letting her cry against his chest, soaking his shirt with tears and snot as she cried through the night.

Lucy's face felt hot and sticky when she woke up, the sunlight beaming into her eyes and making her wince. She gingerly sat up, then found out she couldn't. Something was preventing her from sitting up and that something was a pair of arms. She looked down.

Natsu Dragneel was sleeping right next to her on the couch, his arms around her and his face buried into the crook of her neck.

She screamed and his eyes flew open as he bolted upright. "Lucy! What hap—"

"DON'T SLEEP NEXT TO ME LIKE THAT, IDIOT!" she shrieked and he recoiled, clamping his hands over his ears.

"OWWWWW!" he bellowed back at her. "DON'T SCREAM IN MY EAR LIKE THAT."

They glared at each other until Lucy sighed. "Whatever." Unexpectedly, she blushed. "Thanks… for holding me as I cried."

Natsu turned away. "Tch. Don't thank me for something like that, stupid." He stood and strolled to the bathroom. "You might wanna change to something comfortable. We'll be staying inside all day."

"What will we be doing?" she called after him.

He grinned at her, the first time she'd ever seen him smile, and replied, "You'll be cleaning. I'll be playing video games all day." He whooped and disappeared into the bathroom before she could find anything to throw at him.

Lucy ground her teeth, fuming for a few seconds, before changing into a loose shirt and short pajama shorts. Going over to the kitchen, she rifled through the refrigerator, but found nothing but an expired carton of eggs, boxes of old takeout, a six pack of soda, and a moldy thing that looked suspiciously like fish. Gagging at the sight, she shut the door and leaned against the kitchen counter, trying to catch her breath.

"Lucy! Are you ok?" Natsu bolted to her side, feeling her forehead with his palm. "What's wrong?"

"Your fridge. Freaking nasty," Lucy gasped.

"Oh." Natsu drew back and looked down as something brushed against his legs. "Hey, Haps." He picked up the oddly blue cat and presented him to Lucy. "This is Happy. Happy, say hi to Lucy." The cat meowed.

"He's so cute," Lucy said, smiling. "Can I hold him?"

"As him yourself." Natsu shrugged. "He's a pretty smart cat."

"Can I hold you, Happy?" Lucy asked, smiling.

Happy purred and Lucy took him from Natsu, cradling the cat in her arms and scratching him under his chin. "Why is he blue?"

"He was like that when I found him," was Natsu's only reply as he flopped own on the couch and turned on the TV. The news came up, but he instantly changed to another channel, flipping through the channels for something to watch and finally stopping on FX for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Lucy put Happy down, then pawed through her duffel bag until she found her toothbrush and toothpaste and going to the bathroom to brush her teeth. When she came out, Natsu was still watching Transformers. He turned to her as she approached.

"Since you're going to be staying here, you're going to be doing the chores around here." He grinned sadistically. "So today, you'll clean my room, wash the floors, clean out the fridge, clean the bathroom, and try to give Happy a bath, okay?"

Lucy stared at him, a tic mark forming on her forehead. "DO THESE THINGS YOURSELF!"

But Natsu wagged a finger at her. "Ah, ah, ah. You're a freeloader here so you gotta carry your weight. Now shoo." He made a shooing motion with his hand and turned back to the television. "And while you're at it, make me breakfast too. And you gotta call me 'Master' as long as you stay here."

Lucy was about to protest when Natsu threw in the final word, "And don't forget, you've got nowhere else to go."

Now angry beyond comparison, Lucy ground out a, "Fine, Master." And stormed away, muttering angrily to herself as she retrieved several garbage bags and stomped into his bedroom.

Once she was out of sight, Natsu pulled out his phone and quickly typed out a message, shooting backward glances over his shoulder to make sure Lucy didn't sneak up on him.

It was lunch when Lucy emerged from his bedroom to find him sleeping on his couch, phone in hand. Still angry at him, she smirked devilishly as she retrieved a bowl, filled it with warm water, and placed it next to his hand. She was just going to lift his hand and put it in the bowl when she looked up and into his face.

Her heart stuttered. He really was handsome, with large angular eyes and pointed chin, messy spiky pink hair, and beautifully cut face. Without thinking, she reached up to touch his cheek.

His eyes flew open. "What are you doing?"

"Ah, er, nothing," she stammered.

He looked down and his eyes narrowed. "You were going to make me piss in my sleep, weren't you."


"Liar." He smirked. "You really are stupid."

Lucy gaped at him, outraged. "That's it. I'm leaving."

She stood, but before she could move, Natsu had grabbed her arm and pulled her down so that she was lying on top of him. "HEY!" she shouted as he rolled to the side. "Let me go you pervert!"

"Stop yelling," he murmured and she stopped. His voice had never sounded like this before: all husky and low and soft. "I haven't finished my nap yet. Stay here, will ya?"

She quieted down, her heart pounding as he closed his eyes and nuzzled into her hair, pulling her close to him. "You're soft, Luce," he whispered sleepily. Presently, he fell asleep.

Lucy didn't move. She didn't know what to do in a situation like this, but seeing as he wasn't going to let her go anytime soon, she decided she might as well relax.

As she stared into his face, she felt her heart melt and her arm cautiously snaked around his waist to wrap around him, holding him close. As her eyes closed, she wondered:

You are one of the rudest people I've ever met and yet one of the kindest. It's only been one day but… is it possible that I'm already falling for you?

Natsu woke to the early sunset and a face full of golden blond hair. With a jolt, he realized that he had woken up to Lucy once again in his arms, this time sleeping peacefully and with her own arm wrapped around his waist. His eyes softened and he gently held her closer.

It's been two years since I've watched you, but we talked to each other for the first time only yesterday. Is it possible… that I've fallen even more in love with you in just one day?

"We need food," Lucy stated flatly a few days later.

"We have food," Natsu said, eyes glued to the television screen.

"Ramen noodles and chips aren't food, Natsu," she said. "Haven't you ever tried home-made cooking?"

"Don't think so," he replied. "Why? You gonna make me something?"

"Sure. I may not look like it, but I'm pretty good at cooking," Lucy said confidently.

"Hmph. Just don't kill me." He stood up with a groan. "Alright. I'm coming with you."

"You don't have to," she protested weakly, but cowered when Natsu glared at her. "O-Ok. You can come."

"Here." Without warning, Natsu placed a baseball cap over her head and said, "Tie your hair up or something. I'll get my money."

Smiling, Lucy did as she was told and threw a light jacket over the shirt she was wearing before sliding her feet into her flip flops. "Natsu! Come on!" she called.

"Ok, woman," he grumbled. "I'm here."

"Why can't you say my name properly?" she demanded as he was locking the door. "I'm Lucy, not 'woman'."

"I'll call you whatever I want. By the way, aren't you forgetting something?"


Natsu turned around and poked her forehead with his finger. "I'm your Master remember? Be sure to remember to call me that in the future."

Lucy's face turned red with rage. "Stupid idiot!" she snapped, stomping ahead. "Go burn in hell." She huffed and turned away, not noticing that Natsu's face fell into a brooding look as his hand slipped into his pocket, fingering his phone as he kept walking.

It was at 2 in the morning when Natsu woke. His phone chimed a second later and he flipped it open, reading the message. Sighing, he flipped the phone closed again and looked out the window. It was a bright full moon and from where he was sitting on the couch, the moonlight beamed onto his face, making him scrunch up his eyes a bit to protect them from the glare.

With another sigh, he lied back down, trying to sleep, but after that message he read, there was uneasiness in his heart and he sat back up, muttering a curse.

Things were getting more out of hand and he couldn't do anything. But… at least he could be close to her.

Natsu smiled softly as he thought of Lucy. Suddenly wondering how she was doing, he stood and walked into his bedroom, pushing open the door with a gentle hand so that the hinges wouldn't creak.

Lucy was lying on her side, breathing deeply and evenly as she slept. Natsu found himself relaxing the more he stood watching her and walked closer, sitting on the bed and reaching down to softly stroke her hair, brushing his fingers through the silky locks. Her mouth was slightly open and they looked so deliciously plump that he felt his heart beating out a frenzied rhythm once again, as it always did whenever he looked at her.

How did he, Natsu "Salamander" Dragneel, son of Igneel, fall so hard for a girl like her?

His lips twitched in an odd smile and he carefully slid into the space on the bed beside her, facing her as she slept. As he put his arms around her, for a moment, he could forget all those troubling messages he was receiving, the mental strain and angst he felt whenever he thought of the future, and the constant reminders to himself that he could not let himself cave in to his feelings.

But it was moments like these when he couldn't help himself and gently, he brushed his lips over the smooth porcelain of her cheek.

"I love you, Lucy Heartfilia," he breathed, relieved that he could finally say it, even if she couldn't hear him. He smiled, holding her closer, and closed his eyes, falling asleep once again.

"Here," Natsu said gruffly, placing a small wrapped box in front of her.

"What is it?" Lucy asked, looking up from the book she was reading.

"It's your birthday right?" He gestured to the box. "I got you something."

She smiled and eagerly snatched up the box, tearing off the paper and opening it to reveal a tiny golden rose charm strung on a black cord. "A rose?"

He shrugged. "Girls like flowers, don't they?"

Lucy grinned and turned around. "Help me put it on, will you?"

"Tch." After he did she fingered it lovingly. "It's beautiful Natsu. Thank you."

"Oi, you forgot to call me Master again. And stop doing that, you look stupid, stupid."

"Oh is that the best comeback you can think of? Pretty lame, Natsu."

"It's Master Natsu to you."

"Oh shut up.

"What did you say?"

"I mean, shut up, Master Natsu."



"Now what punishment should I give you?"

"You can't do that!"

"I'm your Master, you're my servant. I can do what I want."

Lucy growled and jutted out her chin. "Fine. What do you want?"

Natsu stared into her face for a long time, a strange look on his face that she'd never seen there before. Her heart thumped. He smiled, but it wasn't a vindictive smile. It was gentle and a little wistful. He leaned down bracing himself with one arm on the armrest of the sofa while the other tilted her head up by the chin. "How about… you give me a kiss?"

Instantly, Lucy's face flamed up. "A k-k-kiss?"

"Why not?" He was still leaning over her, smiling down with that gentle smile of his.

"B-B-Because…" Her voice faded away as she stared into his eyes. Unconsciously, she leaned closer…

And the moment was ruined as Natsu suddenly poked her in the forehead once again. "Stupid, who'd want to kiss you?" He got up and disappeared into his bedroom as, outside, Lucy's face fell, her heart sinking. Little did she know that just inside his bedroom, Natsu was going through even more mental anguish than she was at the moment.

The phone chimed and Natsu picked it up, reading the final message. He frowned. It was time, but he didn't want to say it. He didn't want to break the peace between them, although it was a little frosty ever since he said, "Stupid, who'd want to kiss you?" Even though he said that, his heart still beat faster whenever he thought of the kiss they almost shared.

And now…Glancing once again at the message, he sighed. It was time.

Time to let her go.

Dinner that night was silent, each brooding on their own thoughts. Happy sat between them, purring with contentment.

Finally, Natsu cleared his throat. "Lucy…"

"What is it, Natsu?" she asked, a little stiffly.

A sigh. When he didn't say anymore, she peeked up to find him looking… depressed?

"What's wrong?" she asked softly.

"Nothing. Let's just finish eating first," he said hurriedly, slurping down the noodles Lucy made.

She stared at him for a few seconds, then resumed eating, feeling that something big will happen tonight.

"I've got good news," Natsu said after they finished washing the dishes.


He smiled, a genuine one. "You can go home now. Tonight, if you want."

"Really?" Lucy jumped up, an excited look on her face. "This is all over? I can go home?"

What she didn't notice was that Natsu's smile began to fade, little by little until it seemed he was forcing himself to be glad. "Yeah. Pack your things. I'll take you there."

She dashed into his bedroom and eagerly began folding her clothes. As she was hunting around for her missing hairbrush, she suddenly realized that she wouldn't be spending a lot of time with Natsu anymore.

No more waking up and finding him sleeping with me in the bed, no more friendly arguments, no more spending time together… Is that what I really want?

Lucy sighed and sat down on his bed. "I'll miss him…," she whispered. Then she smiled. I can still visit him. And we can see each other at school. Yeah, this can work out.

Much happier now, she proceeded to continue looking for her hairbrush.

The sky still held traces of orange and mauve when Lucy arrived at her apartment. Natsu was once again carrying her duffel bag and her pillow and rather grumpily too.

"Ahh~ Home sweet home," Lucy sighed, throwing open the door. She flicked on the lights, revealing her comfy studio. Natsu stood outside, staring as he smiled slightly, watching Lucy dance about her home. After a while, he called, "Oi, aren't you going to invite me in, stupid?"

He enjoyed her childish pout as she went back to the door. "Come in, Master."

Natsu grinned devilishly as he strolled in. "That's more like it." He set the duffel bag on the floor and tossed the pillow onto the bed by the window. "Nice place."

"Thanks," she said, suddenly shy. Remembering her manners, she asked, "Would you like anything to drink?"

"Nah. I need to go back soon."

"Already?" She couldn't hide the disappointment in her voice.

Softening, Natsu looked at her slightly depressed face and said, "Yeah. There's something I need to take care of."

"Oh… alright."

"Don't worry," he said, grinning. "By the way, I have something for you." He pulled out something from within his pocket and handed it to her. Lucy unfolded it to reveal a white scarf patterned with black lines. "Umm…thanks?"

Natsu scowled at her. "That scarf's really important. My old man gave it to me."

She was shocked. "Then why are you giving it to me?"

An odd look crossed his face before he whispered, "So you can take care of it for me."

Lucy cocked her head to the side, confused. "Natsu? What do you mean?"

"Nothing, stupid." He turned to the door. "I gotta go."

She went to his side. "Be careful, alright?"

He laughed. "As if anything could hurt me." He sobered and his hand reached up to touch her face. Lucy caught her breath. "Do me a favor and stay out of trouble, ok?"

She mutely nodded and he grinned before he leaned in, capturing her lips in a sweet kiss. After a few seconds, he pulled away, blushing as well. "And don't miss me," he breathed in a voice so low she could barely hear it.

And with a gust of wind, he opened the door and disappeared into the night.

When Natsu got back to his apartment, the place was completely empty. Not even Happy was there.

"You've kept me waiting for a while," a voice said. A man stepped out from a corner. He was dressed in an impeccable Armani suit and his startlingly red hair was also spiky like Natsu's, but a little shorter.

Natsu snorted, shoving his hands into his pockets. "This had better be worth it, old man. I wouldn't leave her just for anything."

"We made a deal," Igneel Dragneel said, a tad coldly. "You said you would return to the Family if I made sure Bora doesn't touch her again and I've kept my promise. I had Gajeel and Laxus and the Raijinshuu watching over her in shifts. I even had to call on favors from Hades so that I can hire Ultear and Meredy. You've made me cut real big deals, son, and I'm still not sure of the consequences."

"I don't care what you have to do. Call on Zero for all I care. Just keep her safe," Natsu snarled. "Now are we going or not?"

"Not until you explain to me why you're going into all these lengths just to protect one girl. You left the crime world three years ago after your mother died, but for what reason?"

"Love. Mom wanted me to look for love, like she loved you," his son spat. "And now that I've found her, you're taking me away. But I don't care, if it means that she'll be safe." He turned away with an angry huff. "I even gave her the scarf you gave me."

Igneel was silent until he exhaled heavily. "Damn, you're serious."

"You told me yourself that Dragneel men love only once and never let go of that love even when they die. I'm making it true."

"You're still going to have to come back to the Family. And because our headquarters are moving, you can't see her anymore. Either way you don't have a choice."

"I know that already, old man. Shit, why are you making this harder for me?"

"Because you're a Dragneel and the next Head of the Family. Now come on, my jet's waiting for us. Your cat is waiting for you there."

"No. Give Happy to Lucy. She'll be happier."

Igneel gave him a long, searching look before whipping out his phone and dialing a number. "Cobra? Yeah, take that cat to the address I'm gonna message you. Drop him off and come back. Gildarts will be driving me to the hangar. I'll see you in twenty." He snapped the phone shut and beckoned. "Come on. Time to go."

Without saying anything, Natsu turned and followed his father out the door.

The next day at school, Lucy was bombarded with questions about where she had been, what had happened, and why didn't she go to school. She manage to evade these questions with a story about a distant aunt needing her help and she had to go overseas for a while, but she told the truth to her closest friends only after the questions had stopped.

"I still don't know what he means by saying I shouldn't miss him," Lucy said. "And I didn't see him at school today."

Erza ate her cake as she ruminated over the problem. Levy and the others sat deep in thought. "Honestly, I'm not sure," Lisanna said. "But then again, Natsu Dragneel always was an enigma. He came to school out of nowhere three years ago and never made friends, never talked to anyone, never bothered anyone, never did anything, although I did see him with a mysterious black haired boy with a lot of piercings several times."

"I tried to talk to him once, but he ignored me," Cana said, snorting. "Rude little bastard."

"Juvia thinks he has good intentions towards Lucy," Juvia said out of nowhere. "And that Natsu is in love with Lucy."

Mira squealed. "This is just like those stories when the bad boy falls in love with the good girl."

"This isn't a romance novel, Mira-nee," Lisanna said. She turned to Lucy. "So… do you love him?"

They crowded around her. Lucy blushed, her tongue suddenly tied. "Well?" Mira demanded.

Beet red, she looked down and whispered, "Yes. But I don't know if he feels the same way."

"If he kissed you first, he obviously likes you," Erza stated.

"But if he likes me, why isn't he here today? Why did he tell me not to miss him?" Lucy sighed and leaned back onto the lush grass she was sitting on. "Where is he right now? Does he miss me as much as I miss him?"

Natsu stared down at the cowering man before him.

"P-Please," the man sniveled. "I have a wife, and children. Please let me go back to them." He bowed low, his forehead hitting the ground with a crack. "Please… let me go back to my family."


Behind him, Igneel watched. "What's wrong, Natsu? He failed his mission. It's your duty to exterminate him. What's stopping you?"


The man sobbed, tears and snot running down his face.

Lucy… I…

He mechanically raised the gun and clicked the bullet into place.


He squeezed the trigger.


The man's shuddering gasps filled the empty space. Right next to him, a blackened spot on the ground was smoking. The gun in Natsu's hand was trembling slightly. Behind the boy, Igneel was silent.

"Go," Natsu said, his voice echoing in the room. "And don't ever come back."

Without being needed to be told twice, the man fled.

"You've gotten soft, son," Igneel rumbled. "That girl was a bad influence on you."

"I won't kill anymore," Natsu replied flatly. "Not without reason. So what if that man failed to successfully pass on those drugs and return with the money? He had a family who was starving and waited for him to come back. I won't kill someone who has people waiting for him."

Igneel stood. "You really have gotten soft." Suddenly, he punched Natsu across the face, sending him sprawling. "Don't let the others know of this weakness. If they do, they will kill you and your little girlfriend in a heartbeat. Remember that." So saying, he turned and left the room, leaving Natsu to stare up at the ceiling.

Lucy… I miss you...

Natsu wasn't at school for the rest of the week.

Lucy stared at his usual seat, not listening at all to Freed-sensei as he taught Runes and scrawled the different shapes on the board. Nobody else seemed to notice and had ignored his disappearance. Not even the teachers paid attention.

"Miss Heartfilia, if you would like to pay attention, it would greatly benefit you for the exam on Thursday," Freed-sensei said.

"I'm very sorry, Freed-sensei," Lucy said, whipping around.

He nodded at her and resumed teaching. Lucy was one of his best students and he rarely had to reprimand her for anything. For her to slack off, there must be something on her mind, but he chose to ignore it for now.

Erza looked over at her. Being Class President, she ought to reprimand Lucy for not paying attention, but as she saw her friend's confused and saddened expression, she decided to leave it and resume her lessons.

Lucy once again stared off into space as Freed-sensei's voice faded into the background.

Natsu, where are you?

The woman strutted in front of him in a skintight dress that showed off her assets. Her long blond hair hung to her waist and her green eyes glowed mischievously. "Natsu-kun," she purred. "Let's have fun tonight."

"Yes," the redhead on his left chimed in. "We can make you forget that girl you left back there."

"You won't regret us," the exotic-looking brunette on his left added.

All three women were extraordinarily beautiful, with large chests and slim waists enhanced by the tiny dresses they wore. They had been hired by Igneel to make Natsu forget about Lucy and to remind him of one of the advantages of being in the Family, where all the expensive liquor and beautiful women were yours.

But still Natsu wanted Lucy.

"Sorry, ladies, but I'm afraid I'm not interested," Natsu said, standing up from the white futuristic couch he sat on and setting down the glass of whiskey he held on the table.

The redhead pulled him down again, whining, "Nooo… stay." She pouted cutely and batted her eyelashes.

The brunette ran her hands over his chest. "Don't leave without having some fun with us."

Exasperated, Natsu brushed her off. "I need to go. Tell my father to pay you extra to take the sting off things."

The blonde stepped in front of him, then. "I'm a blond, just like that girl you left behind, right? Why don't you leave her and go for me? I'm sure I'm prettier than her."

His temper flared and he shoved her away. "Lucy is a thousand times more beautiful than the three of you! Don't you dare compare yourselves to her!" Growling under his breath, he ripped open the door of the lounge and emerged in a lavish hallway lined with white doors with numbers in shiny brass nailed onto them.

Striding down the hallway and past the muffled sounds of moans and cries of ecstasy, Natsu sped down the hallway and out to the lobby of the brothel, tearing off his tie in the process.

"Master Dragneel!" a woman in a long red dress called out to him. "Is everything alright? Are the girls not satisfactory?"

He shook his head. "No. Send the bill to my father and charge extra. They may have been more than disappointed tonight."

Leaving the woman gaping after him, he strode out of the brothel and into the night.

Lucy was lying on her bed and stroking Happy. She'd found him a week ago in a pet carrier in front of her apartment, a box of pet toys, food, bowls, cleaned litter box, and grooming supplies next to it. There was no note from Natsu, but Lucy took him in anyway and Happy had already made himself at home.

Natsu's scarf was by her pillow, folded neatly. She touched it as Happy purred with contentment. The scarf still smelled like him, a musky and sweet smell that softened her heart and yet also brought tears to her eyes.

"I miss you so much, Natsu," she sobbed quietly, burying her face in her pillow. "Where are you? Why did you tell me not to miss you?"

Why did you leave me behind?

Happy mewed and nuzzled Lucy as she gasped and shook. He reached out and began pawing at her, keeping his claws sheathed. When that didn't work, he resorted to curling up on her mattress and watching over her until she succumbed to exhaustion after all her tears dried up.

"I'm going back," Natsu announced.

Igneel looked up from his laptop. "Why? After all I've done for you—"

"All you've done is made things worse for me. Ever since Mom died, we haven't been together, truly together, like father and son. And now I've found someone, you want to push us apart. Why?"

It was a while before Igneel replied. "I guess… I don't want the same thing that happened to me to happen to you. To lose someone you care about… is like part of you died. When I heard that you found someone like I found your mother, I didn't want you to go through that pain again. So I thought it would be better if I separated the two of your from the beginning, to spare you the pain." A corner of his mouth twitched up. "It didn't work." He sighed. "Somehow, some part of me told me to let you leave this once and for all and to go back to her… Right now, that might be the wisest choice."

Natsu stared at his father, speechless.

"I'll ready my private jet. All you need to do is to make sure you get there safely and as fast as you can." Igneel smiled. "She's waiting for you."

His son grinned and turned and ran out the door.

Igneel watched him go, leaning back in his chair. "I hope I can meet her one day, Natsu. I would've liked to see what kind of girl she is to change you this much."

An insistent knocking sound woke Lucy the next day. Her face felt hot and sticky as she lifted it off the pillow and into hot bright sunlight streaming onto her bed. She winced and groaned as she heaved her sore and heavy body off the bed and onto the floor.

The knocking turned to pounding and Lucy dragged herself to the door, calling, "Coming!"

She blearily unlocked the door and revealed Natsu Dragneel standing in front of her.

They froze, she taking in his slightly tousled appearance, him looking over her haggard and exhausted frame before he finally said:

"Woman, what the fuck have you been doing to yourself?"

Lucy burst into tears once again and threw her arms around him, making him stagger back a bit at the force of her hug. "You idiot!" she wailed. "Where have you been?!"

She felt him chuckle and she bit her lip and smacked him. "It's not funny. I was worried sick."

"I know." He sighed. "So can I go in?"

"Yeah." She untangled herself from him and stepped back so he could step inside and she closed the door. Happy came purring from where he sat on her bed and Natsu crouched down to give the cat a scratch. "Hey, Haps," he said. "I'll buy some fresh tuna for you later, alright?"

The cat meowed and he stood back up. Lucy scrutinized him. Natsu didn't seem any different than from a week ago, except for his hair and clothes. His hair was even more tousled than ever and he wore black jeans with a crimson shirt with a complicated mess of designs on it in white, black, and gray. His shoes were black and white high-tops and he carried a black duffel bag.

"Like what you see?" Natsu asked and Lucy jumped.

"Sorry," she mumbled, blushing. He laughed and set his bag down, kicking his shoes off. "Got any food?"

"Yeah." She went to her kitchenette and made breakfast for two of them, mixing pancake batter and pouring dollops of it into her pan. Natsu watched as she worked, sitting down at her table and stroking Happy, who sat purring on the table. It wasn't long until the food was done and she ladled the pancakes onto the plates and sprinkled them with syrup and blueberries and put a plate in front of Natsu, who quickly ate as she nibbled on hers.

"What's wrong?" he asked, after seeing that she still hasn't finished even half of one pancake.

"Nothing. It's just… Why did you leave me behind?" she asked quietly.

Natsu froze, laden fork halfway to his mouth before he slowly resumed eating. "I'll tell you… after breakfast."

Lucy frowned, but obliged, finishing her pancakes and putting her dish in the sink before going to the bathroom to brush her teeth and shower. She emerged in a white tank top and short pajama shorts with her hair wrapped in a towel.

Natsu was lounging on her bed, staring out the window. He'd changed to comfortable shorts and taken off his socks.


"Yeah?" He looked at her.

"You're not leaving me again, right?" Her bottom lip trembled.

He stood and enfolded her in his arms. "No way, stupid. I'm not gonna leave."

"But why did you go in the first place?" She started to cry again. "You were gone for a week and what was that kiss and why did you tell me not to miss you?!"

Natsu groaned. "How the hell am I supposed to answer while you're just blubbering away?" He pulled her towards the bed and pushed her down, sitting next to her. "I said I was going to explain things, didn't I?"

She nodded mutely, her tears drying up. "But… what was that kiss all about?"

He gave her a slightly exasperated look and leaned forward and kissed her again, lips molding over hers as his tongue pushed into her mouth, tasting hers. She froze and he pulled away, smirking. "I've wanted to do that so many times over the years."

"Years?" The word came out as a whisper.

"Of course. I wouldn't have taken you in just for nothing, y'know." He sighed and leaned back. "Two years ago I came to school and saw you. Then I liked you. Then you got in trouble so I decided to help you. The end."

"That doesn't explain anything," Lucy grumbled.

Natsu groaned, a slight blush on his cheeks. "Fine… I'll tell you everything." So he began, telling her of the criminal empire he was involved in, the death of his mother and her dying wish, how he came to Magnolia where his mother was born to try his hand at a normal life, how he saw Lucy for the first time and instantly fell in love with her, how he didn't know how to approach her then saw his chance when Bora harassed her, not knowing how to treat her, but gradually getting used to it during the weeks they were together, then how he cut a deal with his father to return to the crime world in exchange for her safety and how the plan failed, then finishing with his decision to return to her side.

"So there," Natsu said, finished. Happy had wandered over to his lap by now and had fallen asleep, snoring softly.

Lucy stared at him with shock for a long time. "No… fucking… way…"

Now Natsu stared at her with shock. "Whoa! I didn't know you could curse!"

"But-That-What-How-Why-Huh?" she stammered.

Natsu burst out laughing. "Jeez, Luce. How hard is it to get?"

"It's pretty hard to believe, you know. Like all that about you being involved in crime and stuff." Her eyes were still wide,

"I'm even known as a delinquent at school. How is it hard to believe?"

"What about all that about you…loving me?" She blushed a deep crimson and shyly ducked her head.

Natsu smiled gently and tilted her head up to plant a soft kiss on her lips. "You saved me from that other life. You made me see what else the world has to offer. You made me love." He held her close. "You made me a better person."

"You already were," Lucy said loyally even as her heart leapt as his words.

He chuckled. "I love you," he said softly. "I'll love you forever." He leaned down to kiss her but she pulled away.

"But what if your dad decides to come after you?" Lucy asks anxiously.

"Nah. I know my old man. He won't do shit."

She laughed and he kissed her again even as her mouth was stretched open in a wide grin. She melted into the kiss and he held her before pushing her down onto the bed.

They lay together in the bed, just talking about everything and nothing as the sun began to dip below the horizon. Their clothes were rumpled beyond repair, but they were content in each other's arms, watching each other in the light.

Right now it was silent. Lucy had closed her eyes in a light nap and Natsu was stroking her golden hair, marveling at the color and texture.

A fast upbeat song suddenly played and Natsu rolled out of bed to dig through his jeans as Lucy sat up, a little groggily. "What's up?"she murmured.

"Phone," was his reply as he found the small black thing and held it to his ear. "Wassup?" A pause. "Yeah." Then another. "No way in Hell, old man. Now go away. I'll call you later." He pressed something on the screen and tossed it back onto his pants. "Sorry about that."

"What was it?" she asked as he got into bed and pulled her to him once again.

"Igneel," Natsu snorted. "Being his usual stupid self."

"That's not very nice," Lucy chided.

Natsu kissed her and all her objections melted away. "Yeah, but it was a stupid idea." His stomach rumbled. "Can we eat?"

"I can make spaghetti with Italian sausages," Lucy offered.

"Yes! I love sausage!"

Lucy hopped out of bed, Natsu following close behind, and dug out a pack of spaghetti from a cupboard and Italian sausages from the fridge. Just as she was salting the water, the door burst open, revealing Erza, Juvia, Levy, Cana, Mira, and Lisanna. Lucy froze with shock and Natsu, emerging from the bathroom dressed in nothing but a shirt and boxers, dropped the shorts he was holding.

"What is this?" Erza asked slowly, menacingly.

"You're Natsu Dragneel. Why are you here?" Levy demanded. Her eyes widened as she realized that Natsu was in his boxers and a rumpled shirt and Lucy was in a tank top and short shorts.

Mira started to squeal.

It took a while to explain everything to them. By the time they were finished, Natsu had taken Lucy into his arms and she reclined on his lap, her head by his neck. The girls had listened with rapt attention, their cups of juice forgotten on the table.

"That was so…," Levy began.

"Cute!" Mira squealed.

"Awesome!" Cana said.

"Juvia thinks it was romantic," Juvia said, smiling. "It is good to see that you aren't after Gray-sama."

"I never was," Lucy said, sweatdropping.

"You mean Stripper?" Natsu snorted. "The only reason he's here is because I dragged him with me when I left. Gajeel too."

"So they used to be criminals?" Erza asked, frowning.

"Yeah." Natsu scratched his chin. "Now that I think of it… Jellal used to be a part of the Family too. One of the smaller groups that answer to us. I've only seen him once or twice, so I didn't recognize him in school, but at least he's okay."

"Jellal too?!" Lucy gasped. The rest of them were stunned, Erza especially.

"Yeah," Natsu said. "The Paradise group were taken out by the Fiore army, but of course the Paradise group would save him. He's basically their Boss, now that the old one went to Oración Seis. Her name was Ultear. Man, she was a crazy bitch."

"She wasn't too bad," Jellal said, popping out of nowhere. Gajeel was holding the door to Lucy's apartment open and Gray was coming in with a pack of Coke and several bags of junk food.

Mira and the girls shrieked with surprise, save for Erza, who glowered. Natsu grinned. "Hey, guys. Took you forever to get here."

"Don't forget Ultear's my sister, you fucktard," Gray said, punching Natsu across the face. "Hey, Juvia."

"Gray-sama!" Juvia replied with hearts in her eyes.

Gray grinned at her before turning to the rest of the group. "You probably didn't know, but Juvia was also a part of the Family."

Everyone but Natsu's, Gray's, Jellal's, Gajeel's, and Juvia's mouths dropped open in disbelief. "How many criminals do we know?!" Lisanna exclaimed.

Gajeel continued, plopping down next to Levy and ignoring Lisanna, "Juvia came with me from the former Phantom Lord branch when Salamander here came to Magnolia."

"Juvia and I knew each other from when we were in the Family, so we started dating," Gray said, popping a can of soda. "We're all pretty much interconnected."

"That just leaves me the next Head of the Dragneel Family." Natsu grinned proudly, holding Lucy closer.

Erza glared at Jellal, who flinched back. "Why didn't you tell me?" she snarled.

Jellal cast a pleading look at the others, but they all shook their heads at them. He sighed in defeat. "Erza, let's go take a walk. I'll tell you outside." They left as Gray went to sit next to Juvia, who swooned.

"Remember to keep this all hush-hush," Natsu said. "We're all actually pretty high on the Most Wanted list."

Lucy turned to Natsu. "We're all pretty surprised by all this, so you can't ask us to keep quiet so soon. Give us a while." She looked at Cana, Mira, Lisanna, and Levy and they nodded in assent.

"Say… your brother Elfman… He's dating that chick, Evergreen, right?" Gray said slowly to Mira and Lisanna.

They nodded. "Yeah, but she comes and goes randomly. Elf-nii is still crazy about her though," Lisanna said.

Natsu, Gajeel, and Gray burst into peals of laughter. "Evergreen's in the Raijinshuu, an elite group under Laxus Dreyar. They're also a part of the Family," Natsu said, wiping tears from his eyes.

"And coincidentally, Laxus is also Magnolia High's Headmaster's grandson," Gray snickered. "Plus, Freed-sensei at school is also a member of the Raijinshuu."

"This is like some kind of fucking soap opera or something," Gajeel howled, looking at Mira's and Lisanna's stunned faces.

Levy frowned. "Don't tease," she scolded at him.

"So? What're you gonna do about it, Shrimp?" he shot back.

"You two know each other?" Lucy asked with surprise, looking at her best friend.

Levy colored a deep crimson just as Jellal and Erza came back, both looking happier as they held hands. "Y-Yeah… Gajeel and I have been dating for a month, now," she whispered.

Once again, mouths dropped in the room. "What is this place, a fucking confessional?" Gajeel demanded.

Lucy and Levy glared at him and he wisely decided to shut up.

"So how was it?" Natsu asked to Jellal. The other man gave him a thumbs up and they bumped fists.

The rest of the night was spent talking and consuming bags of chips, cups of ramen, and cans of soda. Eventually, they all fell asleep, not caring where they sat or lied down. Cana even rolled halfway under the table and started snoring as soon as her head hit the ground. When morning came, everyone save Natsu and Lucy left, promising to see them in school.

Natsu yawned, stretching. "So what do you want to do today?" he asked Lucy, who was cleaning up the apartment.

She smiled and gestured to him. He came over and she kissed him softly on the lips. "How about we stay in today?" she asked mischievously.

He caught on immediately and gave her a feral smirk. She leapt into his arms and they didn't leave the house until tomorrow.

"Lucy! I don't wanna go to school!" Natsu moaned from where he was curled up on her bed.

Lucy sighed as she make French toast. "You know you have to. We have that test, remember?"

"I don't wanna!" Natsu pouted childishly.

"If you don't get up, I won't make chicken curry tonight," Lucy threatened, but it was to no avail. Natsu didn't even twitch.

Frowning, Lucy dumped the French toast onto a plate and went to pull Natsu out of the bed. He grabbed her around the waist and pulled her down with him so that she was lying next to him as her feet dangled off the sides. Natsu's eyes were glimmering with laughter as Lucy yelled and beat him off. "Ok, ok. I'm out."

He rolled out of bed and strolled into the bathroom wearing nothing but a pair of boxers and a minute later, Lucy could hear him brushing his teeth.

She sighed and started on her breakfast as Natsu came up behind her and wound his arms around her waist, pressing his face to her hair and breathing in. "You smell nice, Luce."

Lucy blushed and he withdrew, tossing on his shirt and pants and fiddling with his tie until Lucy got up to help him. He sat and tossed back his toast and orange juice before bounding up and grabbing their backpacks. Lucy followed and put the plates in the sink, and left, locking the door carefully behind her.

They strolled the six or seven blocks to school and arrived before the main gate. Natsu took Lucy's hand in his and they ignored the surprised and shocked stares from their classmates.

"We're really making a scene," Lucy muttered, flushing.

"Nah. Not yet we haven't." Then Natsu leaned down and kissed her on the lips. "Now we did," he said, smirking.

Lucy laughed and let him tow her into the building, smiling joyfully.