And so it begins...
Lucy was sitting on her bed, bored out of her mind. She wanted to do something but her body wouldn't cooperate with her. She kept staring at the ceiling of her apartment, glancing every so often from the window, on her right, back to her partner that was knocked out on her couch, on her left.
A few days ago, she had caught a cold and was forced by Natsu to stay home and rest. It had been three days now and she honestly felt relatively good. She hated to admit it but it was because of Natsu that she was feeling better right now. Of course she would never tell him that. No need to boost his ego even more. Natsu had stayed with her, forcing her to stay inside and rest. He had even knocked her out once, to keep her from leaving.
But she had enough of this. She was sick of always having to look at the four walls of her apartment. She had to admit though, it wasn't all bad being locked up here. Once in a while she could hear Natsu knock something over, followed with a curse and the words "Nothing happened!". But nonetheless she wanted to get out of there, she wanted some fresh air. She wanted to feel the sun on her skin and feel the wind softly blowing through her hair.
But she knew that Natsu wouldn't let her go outside because he didn't want her to get even sicker. She thought it was strange that he was so concerned about her health and it made her heart flutter when she thought he may be worried about her. But she soon realized how stupid that was. He had said that it would only trouble him if they went on a mission like this, because he had to look after her. That statement had made a painful, stabbing jolt of pain creep inside her heart and the thought of being a bother to him made her cheerfulness drop drastically.
She shifted under the covers, swinging her feet over the edge of her bed. She looked over at the couch on which Natsu had been sleeping for the past couple of days. Well, you couldn't really call it a couch; it was more like an armchair which Natsu used like a couch. She kinda felt bad that he slept there, she knew 'the couch' wasn't too comfortable. But when she asked him to share the bed, which was a onetime offer only, he refused. He said he'd only keep her up. Now that she thought about it; at that moment she hadn't paid much attention to his choice of words but now.. Her cheeks flared as she thought about the implications.
She shook her head. 'Baka Lucy! He's too innocent to have meant it like that! I bet he doesn't even know what it means to share a bed with a girl, even though he always ends up in mine! In his mind, we're just friends, nothing more, nothing less.. well maybe being classified as Nakama is an even higher rank than a lover in his mind..' She looked back toward the source of the light snores that filled her oh so quiet room. She didn't want to wake him, because he wouldn't even let her go outside. 'Let's go for a clean escape this time. Last time I made the mistake to tell him I was leaving, resulting in him knocking me out.. I can still feel the bump on my head.. But not this time!' Lucy grinned confidently before taking a deep breath to calm her excitement.
She couldn't see him since he had curled himself up into a little ball on her armchair, but she knew he was definitely there. She listened to his breathing and when she was certain that the Dragon Slayer was still sleeping, she placed her feet on the ground. When her bare feet touched the cold floor she felt a chill running up her spine.
"Where are you going, Luce?" She froze. 'No way! He was sleeping just seconds ago! Did I wake him up?' His voice could be heard just seconds after she had touched the ground. By now, she should've been used to his voice but somehow she couldn't help but notice that Natsu's voice was slightly deeper than normal.
She remained as silent as she could, hoping he would think he imagined it all. He hadn't actually seen her since he was still laying down, so she still had a chance. Her mind was getting into overdrive; planning an escape for every possible situation she might get herself in if she'd get caught. 'If I'm quick enough I can jump out the window behind me.. Natsu does it all the time, even when Happy's not around.. No, I could seriously hurt myself. Besides it's too high, even if I get to the window fast enough; I think I would chicken out if I looked down. Think Lucy! What else?! I could jump him and knock him unconscious before he gets the chance to take me out.. But that would probably lead to a fight and he'd probably go overboard; incinerating my apartment in the process… Was that it? C'mon brain! Work!' Lucy shook her head once again, giving her a minor headache from all the shaking. 'Why's Natsu even here? It can't be that he's that worried?'
The reason Natsu had suddenly become so concerned about her was because he felt guilty for making her sick in the first place. While on their last mission, he had accidently destroyed the bridge on which they had been standing. They both fell down into the river, resulting in Lucy getting a cold. Of course Natsu was fine with his inhumanly hot body and Lucy almost cursed at that if she wasn't slightly attracted to his well-toned body. For the rest, the mission went flawless. The old lady who had given the order for the mission had even said they could stay the night at her mansion when she saw the two mages on her doorstep, both soaked to the bone. Well, Lucy was, since Natsu had easily dried his clothes with his magic.
"Lucy?" His voice broke through her thoughts once again. She could hear him shift on 'the couch'. And when his eyes finally met with hers, she lost the ability to form words in her mouth. For the first time since she's known Natsu, she noticed how extremely black his eyes were. 'His eyes look so tired.. Did he even sleep these past few days?'
"You're busted." He said, giving her a toothy grin. She just stared at him as he smiled that goofy smile of his. She had to admit that that smile could make her weak in her knees and she was happy that she was not standing on her feet at the moment.
"Did you really think I wouldn't notice if you were going to sneak out?" He walked towards her, where she was still sitting on the edge of her bed, frozen. He stared back at her as she inspected his face. His hair was a mess but she kinda liked it that way. She saw the muscles of his jaw contract beneath his skin as he swallowed when she kept on staring him down. It wasn't until he was standing in front of her that she actually looked at him.
"I feel fine, s-so I thought… may-maybe we could.. go.." Her voice died in her throat and she wanted to slap herself for stuttering like that. She didn't know why her body reacted to him like this but it confused her to the point where she shook her head, again, trying to figure it all out.
She watched him as he moved and she felt her cheeks heat up when she saw his half naked body because he had taken off his vest. She didn't blame him, it really was incredibly hot in here.
"Your face is all red, Luce. You still feeling sick?" He sat next to her. Her eyes widened when she looked straight into his again, seeing something that wasn't supposed to be there. 'Why does he look so concerned? That's not like him at all. Natsu's never worried or concerned about anything so why begin now?' Lucy didn't understand. Lately, Natsu had been acting differently around her but when she talked about it with Levy and Mira, they both said she was imagining things. Her thoughts were once again interrupted when Natsu placed his hand on her wrist. He was so close that she forgot how to breathe.
'What the hell are you doing Luce! Don't act all confused and flustered around him! This is Natsu!'
It was obvious she liked him. But she herself wasn't ready to acknowledge that yet. Partly because she knew Natsu could never share her feelings. The dense Dragon Slayer next to her had never heard of the word 'love' and the only vocabulary he possessed when it came to relationships where those of nakama and family.
"Hmm?" Natsu placed his hand over her forehead. "You're burning up. Are you really ok?" She couldn't help but close her eyes as she enjoyed the warmth his hand was giving off. Suddenly she wasn't so sure any more about her previous thoughts. Maybe the one that was acting differently was her?
She finally got the message her brain was yelling at her. She pulled her head away from his touch and looked in another direction, just so she didn't have to look in his eyes anymore. Somehow she couldn't control herself whenever he just as looked at her. Her body reacted on its own and to be honest; it was scaring the hell out of her.
He was surprised at her reaction and a sudden sadness fell over him. It was known to everybody that Natsu and Lucy had a close relationship and they all knew they were both extremely unaware of their feelings; well Natsu was. Lucy was another story. Mira had said it from the start; 'You two are made for each other! And you will be together! I just know it!' Lucy had found her body to react more to Natsu's actions than before but she couldn't quite explain it. Right now, Lucy would blame it on the cold she was trying to shake off.
"W-why wouldn't I be hot? It's like a freakin' sauna in here! A-and you sitting so close to me, isn't helping much either!" When Lucy realized what she had just said she squeezed her eyes shut, hoping he hadn't heard or he hadn't noticed.
There was a silence and Lucy glanced at him for a moment and was surprised to see him smile at her.
"So, you're saying I'm hot?" He smirked.
"N-No! Don't be so full of yourself!" She smiled back, still aware of the faint blush that was covering her cheeks.
"You're so weird. Of course I'm hot! I'm a dragon after all." He laughed.
She giggled at his words. She had missed this; these moments where they were just friends, nothing complicated like love distracting her. In those few moments, she felt like she could go back to what used to be. But as soon as his hand touched hers, this thought disappeared again.
He suddenly pulled her up with him and he pushed her into the bathroom and threw the door shut after her. She had to steady herself on the white porcelain sink because she hadn't been on her feet for a couple of days. She turned her head, wanting to ask what suddenly got into him but she was met with a white door. She was so glad that Erza had forced her to buy actual doors for her kitchen and especially her bathroom. When she first bought her apartment, there were only turquoise curtains sheltering her from the prying eyes of intruders. 'You should buy doors Lucy! Since Mira gave Natsu a copy of your apartment key, he can enter whenever he wants. You don't want him to see you when you're bathing right?' Those words had been engraved in her memory since Erza had never been so scary when the redhead had pushed Lucy inside a store. Lucy didn't even have the courage to tell Erza that Natsu always barged in through the window.
"Get dressed, you're feeling better right? So let's get out of this boring place." He yelled through the door.
Lucy smiled to herself. 'He really understands me. But what else could I expect from my partner.' Natsu was bored out of his mind too, and it made Lucy happy that he'd chosen her over the guild. He could've gone to Fairy Tail instead of sitting here with her, but he hadn't and Lucy liked that about him. He'd always choose the person that needed him the most. He'd always place other's wellbeing over his own. That was one of the traits that Lucy liked about Natsu; his selflessness when it comes to his friends.
He was just putting on his vest when he saw her. When she got out of the bathroom, Natsu stared at her. She was wearing a white halter-top, which was held up around her neck with two black ribbons. She had a black miniskirt and white knee-high socks to match. Her hair in her signature style, held together by a black ribbon.
"What?" Lucy asked as she caught him staring, tilting her head slightly.
"N-nothing.." For a moment she thought that she had seen a blush on his face but discarded the thought. 'Natsu's not capable of blushing, just keep your head cool. Well.. he can blush.. but that's only when he gets excited..' Lucy sighed at this. Her partner really was weird. And yet, Natsu was still convinced she was the weird one.
"So, where're we going?" She finally asked, snapping him out of his thoughts when she noticed how his mind had also been occupied with something.
"To the guild of course! Let's go on a mission!" He smiled as he headed for the door, opening it for her. She must say that she was quite surprised when he acted like a gentlemen. She had to stifle a giggle as to not let him notice how amusing she thought this was. It just didn't fit his character.
However, when she tried to pass him, he slammed his hand in front of her against the other side of the doorpost, blocking her way. She looked up at his face, confusion written all over it. The quick action had startled the Stellar Mage to the point where she couldn't muster up the words to form a sentence to even respond.
He leaned in very slowly and touched his forehead against hers when she looked in his eyes. Tingles were spreading in her body from that contact point and she had difficulty registering what he was saying. "Listen carefully, ok. When I find out your cold is getting worse, you're going straight back to bed. Got that?" He looked back into her honey eyes and she nodded slightly as her heart started hammering in her chest.
"Good." He smiled and backed away, walking ahead of her like nothing had happened.
She however had to steady herself against the doorpost, to not fall to the ground.
"So, she's finally back." A hooded figure said as he watched his two comrades walk in.
"Yes. After seven years, the princess has finally returned." Another hooded figure said as he kneeled before the first.
"Not a princess, a queen." The third said, after closing the door behind them.
"You must be happy that your fiancé is among the living again. And if it weren't for The Vermillion, she would've been of age right now and we could've made our move sooner. But I guess we can't be angry. After all, The Vermillion did save her from him." The hooded figure appeared to be a young man as he revealed his face and rose from his throne.
"You were lucky that their Master saved them, we all were, but what if she hadn't?"
"If I can remember anything about The Vermillion, it is that she doesn't like innocent blood to be spilled. Especially not if it's her own fault. You see, The Vermillion was and still is very much aware of that girl's identity and she will do anything in her power to save her from the horrible fate that awaits her." The young man said as he looked up and met the eyes of his two comrades, who were kneeling before him.
"Prince, may I ask how you even knew that she was the one?"
"Let's just say that a little Bird told me to stay away from her. She said that we weren't supposed to interfere. How ironic it is, because our dear Lucy has joined her guild."