She didn't love him back.
That's what he thought every day, when he started to just grab her by the arm, look into those brown eyes that melted him, and say those three little words. And then he would look at her from a distance, chicken out, and walk away.
She didn't remember him.
That's what he felt, when he recalled the first day he had encountered with Lucy Heartfilia, with her blonde hair and fair skin and eyes of the devil and angel all at the same time.
Lucy would sing in nightclubs and bars and wherever they allowed a dishevelled but always eager young girl in. The night Natsu had locked his onyx eyes on her as she sang as if no one in the world was watching her, as if this lifestyle was the best she could get, he found himself searching street to street for the place he could see her next.
Maybe she didn't care at all. Poor or not, that was what she wanted. Her guitar and her voice—they seemed to make up her life.
Five long nights Natsu had fallen in love with her voice before he wanted to go speak to that elusive girl. He had planned to start out with a casual greeting, a compliment to her singing and enthusiasm.
Instead, he had rushed across the bar to get to her before she disappeared into the night, and tripped, knocking down four cocktails on a tray.
This occurring scant centimetres away from where Lucy stood, most of the drinks spilt on to her, spoiling her cut off T shirt and her arms.
By the time Natsu had got to her, she was staring at him with distaste. He was about to apologize, when:
"You ruined my top!"
"Shit...I mean...I'm so, so sorry miss, I—"
She cocked an eyebrow at him, put her hands defiantly on her hips and glared up at him. That was the first time he noticed her chocolate brown eyes, even in the dim light. They were just plain old brown really, but for some reason Natsu became absorbed in them. They seemed to go on forever, as if they could drown something. Or someone.
"Are you listening?" She snapped her fingers in front of the boy and he snapped out of his reverie.
"I beg your pardon...you were saying...?"
She gave an exasperated sigh. "That I can't go home like this! Look at me!" she gestured to her wet T-shirt. "Or not," she mumbled uncomfortably as Natsu's gaze accidentally slid to her curvaceous, lithe body instead of her face.
A few people who had been staring at the commotion now turned away, bored. That left Natsu trying to make himself heard over the noise of the loud people and constant tinkering of glasses.
She was right. It was a chilly night. She would definitely catch a cold with four cocktail blessings soaking her shirt. And it also looked inappropriate.
"Um...I could give you a ride...?" Natsu offered hesitantly. Here he was, offering a make up ride to the girl he was planning to become friends with. He wanted to know all about this strange life she led, always disappearing in and out, playing and singing at night, carefree but alone...
She still glared up at him—she was not as tall as him, which made it amusing for Natsu to see as she glowered up at him—but then she thought it over. "Fine," she muttered. "Give me a ride..."
"Natsu," Dragneel supplied. "Natsu Dragneel. You're...?"
"In need of a ride," she snapped. "Come on now. And don't forget my guitar."
She jerked a thumb to the dark wooden instrument propped against the counter, and walked ahead towards the door. Natsu rolled his eyes and hefted the guitar up. Her dominant attitude should have annoyed him, but it amused him instead. She was interesting, in a way. Interesting enough for him to try and unravel her better.
Outside, blinking in the chilly air, she flippantly asked him, "Where's your car?"
Natsu flushed. "Uh..."
"I don't have a car..." he hurried to move on with the rest of his statement before she started to comment. "I have a bike though..."
He expected her next look of exasperation—he was the one who offered to take her home anyway—but she surprised him with an excited smile. As if the spilt alcohol on her body didn't matter anymore
Once he led her to it, she jumped on without a care. Natsu grinned inwardly, pushed her guitar into her arms. Then he grabbed his helmet and fitted it over her tangled mess of blonde hair. She flushed a deep pink as he did so.
"Where's yours?" she asked.
"Only one," Natsu said cheerfully, hopping on himself and revving loudly. "I don't drive around cocktail-dropped-on chicks around all the time, you know."
This time, her scowl went amiss by him. "And whose fault is that..." she murmured.
"Where to?" he asked lightly, ignoring her soft contradiction as he sped down the road. Her long pause before she answered confused him.
"Just—keep going till you reach Fiore," she said finally. Her voice had a lilting tone with a melody in it, like she sang whatever she said too. It enthralled him.
Natsu bit back his next question about her home's whereabouts. Her tone had made it pretty clear the subject was closed the second she answered his harmless question.
"So," he said at last, when the pause began to get too long for comfort. And, he wanted to hear her voice again. He was purposely going slow, to buy time with this blonde wrapped in an enigma. "May I know your name now?"
"Why?" she demanded. She was so on the defence, he noted. As if opening up to anything was dangerous. Yet, he almost laughed out loud at her mild irritation.
"Because," he suppressed a laugh. "When I give an unknown guitarist with amazing singing qualities a ride home, I wouldn't mind knowing her name."
She blushed scarlet again, much to her annoyance, but he couldn't see that. She leaned back precariously on the seat, her eyes on the city lights in the distance as she neatly strummed her guitar softly, trying to balance the helmet on her head. It was too big.
"I don't have amazing—whatever," she replied quietly. "And my name's Lucy," she added.
Lucy. Beautiful. Seemed to fit her perfectly. "Tch," Natsu tilted his head sideways to give her a crooked smirk. "What an unimpressive name. So common."
Lucy's brown doe eyes first widened in shock at the open ended insult, and then averted themselves. "Well…I'm not very impressive myself."
That's what she was, this night singer. With her disheveled long hair, wild eyes, rarely seen gentle smile and her cut off clothes. Looking happy with nothing but a guitar in hand on the streets, alone.
To Natsu, she wasn't. Anyone who watched her as curiously as he had would have been dying to know her more, to understand her better.
He would made a quick comeback, had she not yelped. He turned around to see her falling off the edge of the seat. "Damn girl!" he exclaimed, reaching out with one hand to pull her back. The bike slowed down, but before he could snag her around the waist, she fell off.
Guitar and all.
Actually fell off.
She fell butt first, and she sat on the street, bewildered as Natsu stopped the bike and ran over to her. The streets were deserted, just the occasional car.
"Darn, you hurt Lu—?"
He stopped as she started to giggle. Then it turned into full scale laughter, until she was laughing so loudly on the quiet road that her melodious voice and that laugh of hers was the only sound heard. She took the helmet off to get a better look at Natsu's puzzled face, and burst out in hysterics again.
That was it. A bike cast to the side of the street, a girl laughing her ass off on the ground and a boy who spilt a cocktail on her standing over her.
That was the moment that Natsu knew he wasn't going to just drop her home and go away and never get to know her again.
"Well, isn't this a bad night," she teased. Lucy's eyes sparkled with mischief. "First you spoilt my shirt, now I fall off a bike, and it's ten at night but I'm sitting on the street."
"That about sums it up," Natsu mumbled, before grinning himself at her condition. What an idiot she was.
Ten minutes later the guitar was strapped to Lucy's back, her hands around Natsu's waist, hugging the leather jacket he wore. She began to speak of how she had noticed Natsu around, that he would come to her gigs and that she had seen him four times already. That turned into talks of him instead, what he did, what he liked, why he came to watch her, only him. She refused to talk about herself until they crossed Fiore square and that was when she told him in a quiet voice to stop.
Natsu looked up to see the gigantic grey building which had once been a school but had been shut down. This was the older part of the town of Magnolia, all buildings here were shabby, run down, or shut.
"That's a school," he pointed out.
"Uh yeah. My home's right around the corner." Lucy said casually, jumping off and lifting the helmet off her helmet.
But the red head caught her slim wrist. She didn't try to pull away, just threw him a questioning look. "Yes, Natsu Dragneel?"
He cocked an eyebrow. "There are no houses people still live in, here. Around the corner is the Square, which we just came around."
Now Lucy tugged feebly at her enclosed wrist. "Let go." When Natsu didn't, she said loudly, "I said let go of me Natsu Dragneel!"
"Woah!" Natsu freed her hand immediately. "Not that there are many people here, but I'm like, sexually harassing you or something, singer. Just want to drop you off safe." He paused. "Plus, your shirt's dried."
"The drinks I spilt," He pointed to her chest and then flushed, averting his eyes. "I mean…your shirt's dried off."
"Okay. Great. See you." The blonde turned on her heel to make her way towards the school building, and this time she felt positive Natsu wouldn't question her anymore and forget all about her.
It was when she had stepped onto the white-grey steps that she turned to back to look over her shoulder and almost had a heart attack. Natsu was right there, looking solemn.
She shrieked out the F word. And a lot of other colorful profanities.
"Would you just—"
"I just want to know I dropped you off safe, singer." Natsu cut across.
"I don't have a house, okay?" Lucy said angrily, all in a rush. "I stay here," she gestured to the school behind her. "And stop calling me that."
Natsu's eyes had grown wide in shock at first, when he heard she was homeless. But, he wasn't one for depressing conversations. "Calling you what, singer?"
"That!" Lucy snapped, her brown eyes visible even in the low lights. "'Singer'."
"Alright," Natsu took both of her hands in both of his, and held them up between them. She didn't struggle this time but stared at him wide eyed. "I won't."
"Yeah," she breathed, a little late. "So, I'll just go and possibly die of embarrassment. Bye."
But neither of them dropped their hands for a long time.
At first, Lucy would turn on her heel and speed walk away the minute she caught a flash of Natsu's reddish-pink hair. It wasn't as if Natsu forgot about his life and work to run after that elusive little thing, but when he could, he was always thinking of new ways to get her to talk to him again.
It was about another week until he ambushed her near the Square again and that day she didn't run away. She sighed, looked up at him and said, "You have five minutes for whatever crap you want to say to me."
Five minutes turned into five hours. They sprawled on the ground behind the stone fountain in the Square, in the daylight, and nobody took any notice of them. And they talked until it was twilight and Lucy winked at him and disappeared to get her guitar.
They talked of her life, how she ran away from her father's house because she 'just couldn't stand the rules', how singing was everything to her, how she noticed Natsu watching her at bars, how she dreamed to be larger than life. They talked of his life, his parents, and his dreams of being a writer. Then music and people and faraway places and traitors and drunk friends. They kept that routine up, every single day.
And when he offered to let her stay at his house, she raised an eyebrow and teased bluntly, "So that you fall for my charms and make a move on me? No Natsu Dragneel, thank you."
Well, after all those months, Natsu had fallen for her. And she hadn't, and it was always going to be that way, because she didn't belong to his world. She belonged to a carless, free one. He didn't, and he wouldn't. So he couldn't fathom why he would still catch himself thinking of Lucy Heartfilia. All the freaking time.
Then one day, when she looked positively depressed by something as they walked across the Square, he asked what was wrong, and she looked up with a distraught expression. They halted in the middle of the Square. Lucy took a deep breath, and:
"My father found me."
Natsu, who hadn't heard much of her father except that he was not really what a dad was, wasn't much bothered. More confused. "And? But you don't have a phone, right?"
"No," she was getting impatient. "He was here. In Magnolia. He wants me to go back to him."
Natsu felt as if everything inside him was breaking. "And?" he repeated breathlessly.
"And," Lucy said angrily, the tears threatening to fall. "He wants me to go back. He's very rich you see…and he needs someone to take over his stupid company. He's going to make me do it, he has people who…" she broke off with a half-sob. "He says I have to be 'civilized' again. I have to leave Magnolia for good."
"You won't." He didn't know why he spoke with such determination but he did. But who was he to decide?
"You don't understand," Tears filled her eyes. It was the first time she had cried in front of him. "He's sending Loke here. I have to go."
Natsu had no clue who Loke was and didn't care. "Run away with me," he promised urgently. "We have to."
Lucy shook her head. Her cheeks were moist with the twin streams of tears falling from her eyes. "You have a life and a job, Natsu Dragneel."
"I don't care about—"
She smiled a bit and shook her head again. "I do."
She was stepping backwards, away from him. "I still have time," she called. "But I won't make this worse. Let's just say goodbye now."
All Natsu wanted to do was embrace her, to wipe away her tears, to tell her he didn't give a damn about his job anymore.
But she was gone.
"—love you," he finished softly. Then he turned away to hide his tears.
The days he didn't catch sight of her anymore even though he tried to find her for the last few days she had were in vain, and the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, until finally Natsu was sure it was almost more than half a year since he had seen her.
Somehow, he still remembered that faint vanilla fragrance that would come off her. And the voice, the eyes, the smile, those lips.
He wasn't supposed to fall in love with a girl like that. Not that flower which blossomed only in winter.
"Bro, did you get lucky or what?"
Natsu looked up from the coffee table and stared blankly at his best friend. It was December—seven months since Lucy—and it was snowing hard outside in the night.
Gray Fullbuster, his best mate and the most annoying guy on earth according to him, shrugged off his winter coat and brushing off snow from his disarrayed raven-black hair said again, "So?"
"Which chick did you charm now?" Gray smirked, his deep blue eyes boring into Natsu's onyx ones.
"None," Natsu mumbled.
"Oh for heaven's sake," Gray grumbled. "There's a sexy blonde standing out there for you, and you have no idea?"
The sound of a coffee mug smashing to a million pieces on the ground resounded and Natsu was up on his feet. "What?" Can't be her. She wasn't here anymore, in Magnolia. Can't be her.
Gray shrugged. "Yeah…think she want to talk—"
Can't be her, it can't be her. "Asshole, why didn't you call her in, whoever she is? It's freezing out there!"
"Oh," Gray looked confused. "Um yeah. I didn't exactly think about that."
But Natsu was sprinting barefoot towards the door, without a coat. He wrenched it open, and jumped onto the cold street, looking frantically for a blonde girl…
And it was because he fell in love with her voice before he did with her, that he turned around and screamed her name out loud even before he noticed her under the streetlight.
She was drowning in her gigantic coat.
Then it was a tangle of coats and shirts and hair and tears as Natsu's arms held her like he would never let go. "Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy," he repeated the name over and over in her hair.
"I still don't like you Natsu Dragneel," she mumbled against his chest. He laughed, the snow clinging to him forgotten.
When they broke apart, the first thing he asked was not how she was back, but, "How did you find my house?"
"I didn't," Lucy looked up at him. Natsu enjoyed that being tall feeling again. "I was actually lost in the snow, but then I saw you. I thought of calling out, but you went into that disgusting thing," she pointed to his house. "What is that Natsu Dragneel?" She teased.
He couldn't stop smiling as he teased back. "That? It's this little thing we call a house."
"Ew. A house? Ugh," she shuddered delicately. "So then I saw your friend walking in after you and I…asked him to call you instead."
Natsu would have gladly asked her the next million questions, but a curious Gray poked his head out of the door and hollered down the street, "Oy! You making out with her or what? Get in; you're not even wearing shoes!"
Fifteen minutes Lucy frowned disapprovingly at Natsu as he closed the door behind the hastily ushered out Gray and turned to face her with a cheeky smile. He couldn't even get it off.
"You didn't have to be so rude," Lucy muttered. "After all, he's the one who told you I was outside, right?"
"Luce, he's my best mate," Natsu rolled his eyes. "He won't mind. Plus, he's an asshole anyway," but as he said those words, his eyes still held affection for Gray.
"Please," He continued. "Tell me what happened."
"I…had a fight with him," Lucy said after a short pause. "I have talked him into giving the company over to Loke—he's like the most loyal person, to him. But he obviously thought it had to be given over to a Heartfilia, so there was a big fight. I said I didn't want to be with him anymore and…" Lucy shrugged. "I have been in Clover for four months, not at the Heartfilia mansion. I didn't…think you would want to see me…or perhaps I didn't want to see you or…whatever..." she looked away.
"Clover," Natsu repeated quietly.
"Why didn't you want to see me?" He didn't mean to sound this harsh, but his hurt was creeping up into anger through his voice. "I wanted to."
"Well then didn't you ever try to find me? If you cared that much?" Lucy asked instead. Not angry, just curious.
Natsu slumped back against the wall he was leaning against. "You were always so free and unreachable," he mumbled. "I didn't want to give up…but I couldn't run after a girl who would never stay with me."
"I love you."
His eyes flashed to hers. "You don't."
"I thought about it a bit," she teased softly, a bit of her old mischief coming back into her eyes. "Why did you think I came back to Magnolia anyway? I could've let you go on thinking I was with Father…" she looked up at him, biting her lip. "I had to see you. You're right…I'm never in one place but…it's the first time someone made me come back. Because I wanted to."
Natsu walked across the carpet and knelt down in front of the sofa as seated on. Then softly that Lucy could hardly hear him, he whispered to her, "I was already in love you, singer."
"Don't call me that," Lucy couldn't hide the joy in her eyes at the words he had spoken, but she had that same old casual, faux irritated tone in her voice.
"Okay." Natsu smiled, bending his head down, looking away from those eyes. "I won't, singer."
"You're an idiot to fall in love with."
Outside, the blizzard raged on, and the lights went out.
And then his lips were pressed against hers, his hand gently touching the small of her back as he kissed her in the dark. Lucy closed her eyes, slender fingers knotting into Natsu's hair.
4 years later
She was the elusive, carefree one.
He was her opposite.
And yet Natsu didn't know who else he could ever belong with more as he would sit next to her by the fireplace, watching her sing, looking breathtaking in the auburn glow of the fire. He didn't once regret finally saying those words to her. He didn't even know how she too loved him like he did. But then he remembered, as she smiled at him, his sapphire ring on her finger beautiful, and whispered the words to him again.
I'm back, at last! Did you guys like this? I hope you did, do review! Critiques, passing bored comments, good ones, ones that make me ecstatic and make me want to gift you a cookie factory, everything is cool XD
See you :)