Edit: Big freakin' author's note at the end. Rewritten and revamped. Canon up until Acnologia's defeat, but Natsu is still a demon.

Chapter 1

Lucy watched as her fellow guild mates drank and partied throughout the guild hall. Fairy Tail was extra lively that evening celebrating their recent victory against the Alvarez Empire and the dark wizard Zeref. It had been a horribly difficult and drawn out battle, especially after the discovery that Natsu was E.N.D and Zeref was his brother, but they had pulled through in the end. Then they had that horrible battle with Acnologia and barely made it through. At least Fairy Tail wasn't in trouble for the property damages that time.

Lucy had been there when the demon part of Natsu had been awakened, and even served as the catalyst for the transformation, and when Zeref was finally laid to rest. She was even responsible for rewriting the Book of E.N.D. enough to sever the bond that kept Natsu bound to Zeref's life. Natsu had struggled for a while with his new demon abilities, and Lucy was ever so thankful that the demon in him was not a separate entity but another facet of his power. She had worried about him being taken over and possessed by the dreaded demon ever since she had first learned of the possibility when learning of Natsu's true origins.

The blond mage sat by herself at the bar, watching with solemn eyes as Natsu showed off his new demon fire. Some of the guild had taken to calling him the Demon Dragon, a title that frankly had always suited him considering his destructive and sometimes evil personality. She could remember that time during their Nirvana adventure when she and Happy had tried to imagine what Natsu would be like if the device had turned him evil, and neither could see how he would be any different. Most had accepted the fact that Natsu was a demon rather well, except for Master Makarov. The poor old man had burst into tears wailing about property damage and apology letters. Lucy could not blame him for the tears. She could already see her own rent money flying away into nothingness.

But that was the least of her worries at the moment. As she sat there observing, the constant feeling of loneliness that had been present ever since she had first found Natsu's good bye letter welled up once again. Even after being by Natsu's side during the battle with Alvarez and Zeref, even after Fairy Tail's restoration, she still could not shake the feeling. Everyone else had had someone during her time separated from them. Even Natsu had Happy. No one spared her a second thought. Everyone else seemed like they had been happy during that year, and that the guild getting back together was a wonderful bonus to that happiness. No one could possibly relate to Lucy's feelings of abandonment and loss except for maybe Juvia, who had been alone for half of that year without even a note.

Lucy had also not let anyone know about the fate of Aquarius.

She had had a few opportunities to tell them, especially Natsu and Levy, but she had held herself back. When everyone she loved had left her behind without a second thought, her trust in them had left as well. She no longer had such faith in them. Her heart was wounded far too deeply. She also felt like Aquarius's loss would make them pity her and see her as being just as weak and worthless as she often saw herself. That event was her greatest and darkest shame.

At times Natsu would look at her with such a solemn expression that she wondered if he knew how much she was now holding back from him and the rest of the guild. Then he would go back to being his normal, goofy self and try to tickle her or crack jokes, and she would second guess that she had seen such a look at all. In fact, most of the time Natsu behaved so normally that she wondered if any of the previous year had affected him at all. He acted like nothing had ever happened.

She wouldn't lie. It hurt that the year apart didn't bother him like it did her. It made it feel like he didn't miss her like she did him. It also shamed her to admit that it bred so much resentment within her heart towards him. He had had Happy with him the entire time, so he hadn't been alone in his grief like she had been.

Lucy sighed. At the moment, she felt completely disconnected from the rest of the guild. Their high spirits did not have any effect on her mood. She felt a great sense of not belonging, of not fitting in anymore with people who had once felt like close family. It did not help matters any that it seemed like everyone was perfectly content to party without her. No one had come over to talk to her or see why she was off to herself. But to be fair, she wasn't exactly trying from her end, either. The sense of feeling like something 'other' was too strong.

If she didn't belong with Fairy Tail, then where did she belong? If she couldn't trust them, who could she trust?

The answer seemed simple. She belonged no where, and she could trust no one. To trust meant to hurt, and she had hurt enough in her lifetime.

She got up from the bar and made her way through the doors. Plans began forming in her mind.

Natsu happily rough housed with Gray and Gajeel as the rest of the guild celebrated. Everyone had a right to be happy and cut loose after the huge victory they had just won. He could not have been happier at that moment that he was part of such an awesome guild.

The others around him fed off of the radiantly positive energy practically beaming from every pore of his body as everyone ate, drank, and made merry to their hearts content.

Natsu felt like everything was finally coming together now that his family was whole once again and everyone was safe. Nothing had felt right ever since a lonely Lucy had greeted him in Crocus and informed him of the guild's disbanding.

He had known that being left behind had hurt her much more than she was willing to admit, but she could not hide behind her fake smiles around him. He could see the shadows in her eyes, but it had not fully hit home until he had seen her wall. So much work and love had obviously gone into tracking each former guild member's whereabouts that he couldn't help but feel a little of her pain.

That was when he had resolved to put the guild back together. He wanted to make things up to Lucy for leaving her all alone, something he knew that she hated more than anything. After all, wasn't loneliness one of the main reasons why she had run away from home in the first place? He wanted to bring back her real, happy smile again. He was willing to do anything to achieve it.

It hadn't gone as well as he had hoped. Every time he felt like he was making progress to crack the new wall Lucy had built to guard her heart, something would happen to remind both him and her that things were not the way they once were. When they had found Juvia is when he realized just how deep her distrust of him had become, and him acting like a hypocrite over Gray disappearing probably didn't help matters.

It hurt when he saw the wariness in her eyes. The two of them had always had a bond of absolute trust. So much so that she had at one time been willing to jump from a tower because she had so much faith that he would be there to catch her. The pink haired slayer did not think that she would do such a thing with the current situation.

They had not had any time to talk things out, not with searching for the guild and then the war with his brother, but with all the things that had happened to restore the guild, their family, he believed that surely Lucy would be happy again. He hadn't had much of a chance to hang with her since their victory, but he knew that someone would be with her right now. They had all missed her during the year apart, too. Probably she and Levy were gushing over some book or something at one of the far tables well out of the way of the fighting.

At least that's what he thought. He glanced around the guild hall while there was a lull in the brawl he was currently involved in, only to see Levy talking with Cana at a table near the bar. Mirajane was working alongside Lisanna and Kinana to keep up with the slightly greater than usual demand for booze. Erza was speaking with Jellal and the entirety of Crime Sorciere. In fact, Natsu could spot everyone in his beloved guild family except his blond haired partner.

Delivering gut punches to his opponents to knock them out, he ran over to the bar to ask Mira if she had seen Lucy.

"Lucy? Actually, I don't think I have talked to her even once the whole night."

Then he went to Levy and Cana.

"I'm sorry. I haven't talked to Lu tonight. I've been talking to some of the other members to see what they were doing during the year apart, and I figured she would want time with you and the rest of your team."

He kept checking, but quickly realized that while he had been having the time of his life, Lucy had been completely alone. No one had thought to make any effort to include the now solemn Celestial Mage. It dully reminded Natsu of the fact that when the guild disbanded, no one had bothered to take Lucy with them.

Natsu raced from the guild and down the familiar path all the way to Lucy's apartment. He did his usual short climb up to her window and let himself in. He was surprised to find that the room was completely dark, not that it would be a problem for his enhanced eyes.

The demon looked at the bed to find that Lucy was already sound asleep. She had to have been very tired to have gone to bed so much earlier than usual.

This made Natsu relax from the tension that had built up ever since he discovered Lucy missing from the guild. She was fine and safe, and she had apparently just left early because she was tired from all of the previous events. It made him smile knowing that she wasn't still sad after all and that he really had fixed everything for her. He had been worrying over nothing.

Natsu quietly and carefully slipped into the bed with her. He went to sleep quickly with the feeling that all was finally right with his world.

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Okay. First off, I would like to thank the many friends I have on this site. Their incredible support and encouragement over the past month is the only reason I'm making my stories publicly available again. ShanaHollows, quite-a-riot, Grizzly98, Morriganfae, HoneyWriter78, FlameDragonHime, and honestly far too many others to list. Some of which I still haven't had a chance to reply much to due to the shear volume of messages/review messages I've received and the limited amount of time I've had to go through them. My job currently has me working up to 16 hours per day, 7 days per week, outdoors in all weather, but that is the nature of my line of work. Sometimes I only have to work a few hours a couple of days per week. I'm currently cleaning up from major flooding. My house and family are fine, we are up on a hill, but other things like fencing and debris are a mess. I'm also situated upstream and didn't suffer like many people downstream, and none of my animals were harmed. It's honestly pretty amazing how fortunate we've been to sustain almost no damage in the worst flood in this area in fifty years, and I'm talking about an area that gets flooding nearly every spring, so calling it a major flood is a big deal.

On to the less happy part of this note. I have Asperger's and very high social anxiety. The flood of horrendous messages got to the point that I had more than one anxiety episode at just the sight of a new notification in my email of a new message from this site. It felt like playing Russian Roulette to open them. The common thread among most of the hate filled messages was that they took my dislike of things they like as a personal insult. That is beyond ridiculous. My husband loves motorcycles and I hate them. Oh, no! I must hate my husband. Smh. That's how logical that is. I've stated before that the ONLY reason I come to this fandom is for the nalu pairing, and that's it. I'm ambiguous about literally every other ship as long as nalu is together. I don't care if Laxas is paired with a donkey or Cana is paired with a beer keg and a squirrel. As long as nalu is together, I don't care what ships are present. I've also been accused of being anti-diversity because I don't like threesomes with Natsu and Lucy. Because I have a strong preference for a specific ship, that makes me anti-diversity? By that logic, everyone who likes straight pairings is homophobic or if someone likes a pairing where the couple are both the same race then they are racist. It's ridiculous. Especially with the way my family is. I'm mixed race, my father and step-mother were in an open marriage (which is a huge factor for why I have an aversion to threesomes), there is pretty much every religion and political leaning in us. My dad was a progressive atheist, one of my cousins is Wiccan, my step-mother is Catholic, and I could go on. I literally live diversity.

The very worst was the verbal abuse I received from a writer on here that I had deeply respected and admired. The things she said to me were reprehensible, and I honestly considered outing her on what she said. She blocked me on here, but I still have the emails that ff sends you for alerts, and they have the messages. I showed the messages to a few of my friends, and they were horrified that someone with such a clean and kind public image could say such things, especially when she purports to be anti-bullying and claims to never hate on people for different opinions. But I don't have it in me to out her. I'm not mean enough to destroy someone's image, and hurt them like that out of revenge.

Anyway, I'm reposting for my friends. If you like, then YAY! That makes me so happy! If you don't, kiss my butt.