Hey there guys, I'm finally back on FF! This story, Paper Hearts, is dedicated to my friend lucyglitter11.

This is probably the longest oneshot I have ever written, and I put in a lot of hard work into this, so I'd really love it if you guys would leave a review :)

It is divided into two parts, 'Natsu' and 'Lucy', to put emphasis on both their feelings and emotions individually. I really hope you all like it. :)


Paper Hearts


`Natsu`

"Be my mirror."

Natsu Dragneel glanced up at the girl in front of him, twirling on her toes to show him the dark blue dress she was wearing. Lucy had her blonde hair braided to one side, held in place by a matching ribbon.

He grinned. "You're beautiful."

"I'm serious. Does this make me look—" Lucy was interrupted by her fiancé's lips on hers, silencing her tiny worries. Her eyes fell shut as her arms came around his neck to kiss him back.

"Fat?" He finished, once he pulled away. "Tremendously."

He laughed as she punched him playfully in the arm. He'd been loving Lucy for almost seven years now and he still couldn't understand how she doubted the way she looked—

He watched her as she slipped on a jacket.

–even if she couldn't see anymore.

Natsu's grip tightened slightly on her wrist at the memory as they made their way to the front door of Lucy's tiny apartment. He would never be able to get that night out of his mind—and he figured, nor would the girl next to him. It had been yet another mission that went terribly wrong. Only this time, someone off their team suffered.

He winced as he remembered how Lucy had tried to help him and Gray fight, despite having just exhausted all her magic in a battle of her own. And how she'd been the first one to have been hit. The dark magic had not only stripped her of her magic, but had left her blinded.

Natsu and Gray had screamed themselves hoarse in fury that night. But Lucy. Lucy hadn't. She'd never given up on their team, on victory, and she'd refused to give up on herself.

"I love you," he whispered to her, as they came out into the chilly November air, his arm around her.

She raised an eyebrow at him. Natsu would still find it mildly amusing whenever Lucy tried to look skeptical, because being a head shorter than him, she didn't pull it off very impressively. She just managed to make herself look cuter next to him.

"Well, I love me too, but why the sudden expression of affection, Natsu?"

He rolled his onyx eyes, laughing. "Are you cold?"

"I am walking next to a hyperactive fire mage, so I think not."

They were supposed to turn up at a small party at the Guild, in honour of Gildarts's new win. Everyone pretended to think it unnecessary to have a celebration every time he or his daughter completed a mission without burning down a city, but Natsu knew that all the Fairy Tail mages enjoyed it. Clearly, this guild was built to party. And even the smallest of them escalated into a grand celebration which involved a lot of drinking and a lot of broken tables.

Everything about that night seemed perfect. The streets were cold but beautiful. They glittered in the lamplights, the winter snow having melted onto the pavements. He breathed in the faint smell of Lucy's perfume as she unconsciously pressed closer to him. The ring on her finger caught the light and Natsu smiled fondly at the memory of the greatest day of his life yet.

The day he'd taken her out to the large lake in the Magnolia forests last summer and went down on one knee, and then messed up what he was about to say to her before he asked her to marry him. Every detail of that beautiful afternoon was still vivid in his mind. How she'd laughed at him, not understanding what was happening until the very last word. The sunlight on her hair. That crooked branch hanging over their heads with its little cluster of flowers.

Her tears, when she said yes. His, when he stood up to kiss her.

They were to be married this winter. And Natsu couldn't wait.

Natsu had almost lost the person he loved the most, several times, in the past few years. Every mage knew that their lives were not written down in stone. That every mission could be their last.

Loving her like this scared the hell out of him. Natsu didn't know how he'd breathe if he lost her. And he knew her well enough to know that Lucy felt the exact same way about him.

Which was why nothing had prepared either of them for the way that seemingly perfect night ended.

The Guild had been particularly rowdy that night. Gildarts, for some reason, had made his place on the bar counter and was merrily emptying the barrels of wine with Lisanna. Cana and Mira had grabbed hold of Lucy and before they could get her drunk, Natsu and Elfman ended up in a senseless fight of their own.

That was until the only person missing from the fun walked in through the doors. The Guild Master, followed by a grim Laxus.

Almost everyone fell silent once they noticed the expression of worry on Makarov's wizened face.

"Natsu," he said at last, sounding tired. "Will you please come with me?"

Heart pounding away, Natsu frowned in confusion as he made his way out of the broken mess of a counter and followed Laxus to Makarov's office. On his way, he brushed his thumb over Lucy's hand reassuringly. A simple gesture, but one that spoke volumes that thundered in Lucy's ears.

Once inside, Natsu heard the party outside start back almost immediately. He smiled a bit at the ground—Fairy Tail would never change.

"Natsu," Makarov started, looking down as well. "There's a problem. In Clover."

"I swear, if those stupid thieves are back with a new con—"

"No." Makarov interrupted a bit louder than expected, because he spoke a bit more gently. Laxus was pointedly staring out of the window into the black sky outside. There were no stars to be seen. "I just came from a meeting with the Council. It's a solo mission." He took a deep, ragged breath. "The Tartarus have destroyed half of south Fiore's guilds, and they're in Clover right now."

Natsu stiffened. A muscle leapt in his jaw as he forced out his next words. "Tell me this isn't about the Dragon Lacrima."

Very slowly, and with all the sorrow a man can have, Makarov nodded. Utter silence fell inside the cramped room, and the party raged on outside. Mindless and clueless.

The Dragon Lacrima that had been in the possession of Tartarus Guild had previously been implanted as an artificial heart for their former leader. No one knew the dragon slayer who had been forced to give their blood to the hunk of rock for it to acquire the powers of a Slayer, but since then, it had been the main source of power of Tartarus.

Until Natsu Dragneel had wrenched it out of their safekeeping and brought it to his own guild, to defeat them. He had infiltrated their hideout with Erza. And not long after, Erza had been blocked on the way back and Natsu had engaged in that terrible fight that had scarred Lucy forever.

The beautiful crystalline lacrima was right there, with them, in that office. The pretty, deadly thing which should belong to its new blood—with the Slayers.

"But it's ours." Natsu could feel his good mood dissipating, his anger beginning to build and threaten to break past his thin barriers of calm. "I thought Tartarus was useless without it!"

"Don't," Laxus said, speaking for the first time as he looked up furiously as Natsu. "Speak to him that in that tone. I was with him at the meeting. Tartarus is simply useless to channel the dark forces needed to capture Fiore—but they're strong enough to destroy our guild." The blonde man sighed, closing his eyes. "They've threatened to do that. Along with wipe out our town, if you don't give them the lacrima."

Natsu could hear the blood pounding in his head. His hands curled into tight fists. Everything about this deal smelt of a trap. And Makarov's eyes told him that the guild master knew it was.

"You really think they'll keep peace with us if I walk over there and hand them that stone?" He could hear his own voice dripping with venomous sarcasm. "They've been aiming to destroy our town for years."

"Which is where I come in." Laxus opened his eyes, uncrossing his arms and shifting closer to where Natsu stood. "I'll be there, Natsu. We'll go with an army of our own—they just won't know it. You go hand them the lacrima, for the time it takes for us to burst into their headquarters."

"But the lacri—"

"Is not important, Natsu!" Makarov's words shook with exasperation. "It was leverage to us, but sadly, now it's one for them. You and I both know why Tartarus wants you to hand it back to them."

"Yes." Natsu narrowed his eyes. "To torture me. Kill me. Unless of course, you swoop in like the knight you are in time," he added sourly, sparing a fleeting look at Laxus.

"We will." Laxus ground his teeth together. "Erza will be there. So will Mira, and Lis, and Gray—"

"Not Lucy!" Natsu cut in hurriedly. It wasn't like he didn't trust her enough to handle herself, but he didn't want her a scant centimeter away from those evil bastards. And, whether he admitted it or not, he had grown doubly protective of Lucy ever since that incident.

"Of course not, Natsu." Makarov was softer now, kinder. He'd probably sensed the waves of anxiety from Natsu. "I know she's still part of a guild, but without her magic it's impossible for her to tackle a big battle like this."

There was long, stretched out pause between the three of them. Natsu rocked back and forth on his heels.

Finally, Laxus spoke up. "It's gonna be a big fight, Natsu." He stared right into the Slayer's eyes. "And we leave tomorrow. But speaking a victor of many dark battles, I know it'll be over in a day. You'll be alright."

"It's not me I'm worried about."

"Your team." Laxus rolled his eyes. "Will be fine."

Natsu nodded, biting his lower lip. "Just get the lacrima."


`Lucy`

"He's here."

The blonde turned slightly as Levy McGarden nudged her. The guild didn't turn quiet as Natsu walked out. She could still hear Cana being encouraged by admiring male onlookers as she drowned herself in another barrel alongside her father.

"Now?" Lucy smiled at Lisanna's voice, as she came to stand next to her. She sounded excited.

"Yep." Her deep brown eyes lit up. "Now."

"Go, go!" Levy urged, giving her friend a little push as Natsu came over. Lucy would generally know instantly when something was wrong the second she took his hand or heard his voice, but amidst all the din of the guild, she barely realized the fear and worry coursing through his veins as she pulled him towards the doors.

"Come on," she said. Lucy had promised to tell him the important news she'd been harping on about since last night today, and she was eager enough to spill the beans before she heard what happened with Makarov. It could've been the two drinks Lisanna and Mira had slyly slipped her despite her protests that had fuzzed Lucy up inside out.

Natsu interlocked their fingers as they came out in front of Fairy Tail, and Lucy traced her free hand over the smooth stone walls to follow to the familiar path out into the garden.

Boots crunching on the charred leaves from one of Natsu and Gray's recent fights, she turned to face Natsu. She could help but beam. Happiness was bubbling up inside her stomach as she eagerly blurted out her next words—

"Okay, I need to tell you something."

—at the same time that Natsu said, "Lucy, we need to talk."

He was about to grab her shoulders and tell her first, but he caught the excited light in her eyes and stopped. Sighing, a small smile playing on his lips at her expression, he shrugged. "You go first."

"I'm pregnant."

Natsu felt like his mind was going to explode. Shock mingled with joy washed over him first. Then grief and horror, thinking of the battle about to follow—the one he didn't he'd come back from if Laxus didn't make it through.

And then a sudden vision filled him as he imagined a young girl with blonde pigtails running around on this very garden. He imagined lifting her up, her eyes the same drowning colour of her mother. He imagined bending down to kiss her on the cheek, and training with her in the woods, the way he and Gray used to.

But there was a tiny puncture of doubt in his mind, like a spear cutting through, and the scene was wrenched away from him.

"Natsu?" Lucy could hear nothing but silence. He was frozen in front of her.

Before she could say another word, she felt his arms around her as he pulled her hard towards himself and kissed her. At first, Lucy thought he was as ecstatic as she was, but not enough to put it into words. But then his kiss became deeper and more forceful, as he crushed his body against her, like it was the last time he'd ever kiss her. She sensed his desperation through his lips, his need and her eyes were wide open in surprise as he slowly pulled away, several lifetimes later.

"What's wrong, love?"

He let out a deep, jagged breath against her. "That's amazing, Luce."

She grasped his hand. "What happened, Natsu? What did you have to tell me?"

A heartbeat's pause. "I have to leave, Lucy. Tomorrow. And if I don't, Magnolia suffers." Suddenly, Natsu didn't feel so scared anymore. He felt anger. Anger against Tartarus, for what they'd done to Lucy, and for what they wanted to do to his town. And he decided, in that second, that he'd die fighting if he had to the next day.

"And." Natsu kneeled, until his nose was pressed against Lucy's belly. "You along with it." He kissed her clothed skin, and then rested his head against her, sighing softly as Lucy's warm fingers stroked his hair. "I'll go tomorrow, but I swear Lucy, I'll come back."

"You scared me last time." Lucy's voice was small. But she never let her fear show. Especially not now.

"Lucy—"

"It's okay." She knelt down in front of him, feeling his face as she smiled sadly. "Go. And find me when you come back."

They sat there on burnt leaves and the damp grass for a long time, hearing the music but listening to each other's souls whisper.


One day. Two days. Three days. Five. Seven. Eight.

Lucy had stopped rushing to the guild every morning for news by the ninth day. She was sick of hearing the same sentence every day and the same assuring tone everyone used, knowing she was unable to see the anguish on their faces. "We'll let you know when they're back, Lu."

On the tenth day, Lucy woke up to the sound of her door crashing open. Natsu, she thought. Who else?

She scrambled out of the bed sheets, stumbling into a cupboard in her hurry. Desperately, she ran towards the door, until she collided with another body and almost fell headfirst on the floor.

"Natsu?"

"Lucy, it's me. Erza."

Cold fright gripped her as Lucy stepped back, clutching the doorframe. She was relieved to know Erza was here—that must mean the team made it out—but she was worried sick for someone else. Someone who would've come find her himself, not send the redheaded Requip mage.

"Are you all alright? Is everyone safe?"

Erza wasn't moving. That wasn't good. "We are." Then, without wasting breath the way she didn't, she told Lucy what she'd come here to say. "Lucy, Natsu's been imprisoned. He's been taken out of Fiore."

There was strange ringing sound in Lucy's ears. Erza's words didn't make sense to her. "Imprisoned? But, if you're here, isn't Tartarus—"

"They've fled from Fiore too, Luce. But Natsu wasn't captured by them—it was Minerva. She wasn't there in headquarters, but none of us realized it until the battle was over." Erza was breathing fast now. She sounded weak—she'd probably come to Lucy first. "She framed him, Luce. One of the three Council leaders died because of her and her father, but because Jiemma had been stripped of power—"

"The lacrima. That's the only way he could've gone out of battle." Lucy's tone was flat. Dead.

"Yes." Erza sounded distressed. But Lucy had no room for sympathy. "We've been at it for six days, Luce, trying to get proof, to convince the Council. But Minerva did a fine job of convincing them that Natsu had been in on it for a long time. Their people were massacred, and towns destroyed, and all of it was pinned on Natsu. And there's always been bad blood between Fairy Tail and the Council—there was nothing we could do." Erza finished bitterly. "But—Gray, he killed Minerva. Before she could flee. We left before Tartarus figured it out."

When Lucy didn't say anything, Erza reached out to touch her shoulder. Lucy jerked it off.

"Lucy?" The mage almost sounded begging—a quality never seen in Erza. "Please say something."

"How long?"

There was another deafening silence. "Twenty years."


As a kid, Lucy would write letters to her mother and keep them in a box under her bed. She would hardly speak a word to her father after Layla died, but in those letters, she'd pour out her heart and soul in her writing.

A month without Natsu had been a dark space Lucy wished upon no one. She'd been desperate to visit him, but there was no way for her to. It wasn't until Lucy was crawled up on the floor on a January afternoon, choking with silent sobs, that she realized how much she needed to communicate with him.

So she wrote a letter. And then another one. And another one.

The first one had originally been crushed into an angry ball and shoved into the trashcan. That was before Levy came to know, and offered to send them to prison for Lucy instead.

And Lucy had smoothened out the tear stained paper and handed it to her. She'd written letters to the dead, but hadn't thought she'd one day write them to prison.

When she closed her eyes, her own words burned bright in her mind.


Natsu,

I won't talk about how painful it is to be away from you, because you have no one to share the pain with. Your friends are here, and we share our grief.

Everyone misses you so much, Natsu. It shocks me how unfair things can be. Natsu, you kind, loving, beautiful person. You don't deserve this.

But there's nothing I can do about it anymore. Except to write this to you, to let you know how much my heart aches for you, how much I think of you in everything I see, how much I love you.

Do you remember the first time we met? In Hargeon? You became my best friend a couple of days later, and you're the man I love the most now. I remember the way you smiled at me, like you'd known me all your life.

I feel that way sometimes. Like you've bared every bit of your soul to me, and I to you. Like you see right into the deepest parts of me, my flaws, and you still love me.

Twenty years is a long time, Natsu, my love. But it isn't long enough to make me stop loving you.

I'm there. Right there. Let my words bleed for you.

Lucy


She broke down one day, a couple of months later, in the shower. Leaning against the cold tiles, Lucy scrunched her eyes shut and relived her last day with him. How he'd promised to come back.

Then she'd looked down at her ring. And an infinitesimal smile had lifted up the corners of her lips.

She spent that evening on her bed, ink smudging at the edges of the paper as she scribbled on it.


Natsu,

The lake's the most beautiful in March. You know which lake I'm talking about.

And not because summer's slowly creeping in. Because of how you made me yours next to it.

You remember how you struggled with your words at first? I didn't know then, but it was so funny to me later. But you know what really made me cry?

The way you said my name. 'Will you marry me, Luce?'

It was like the only word which made sense to you. I couldn't see you, and yet I know every detail of that day perfectly. A bee got into my hair that day, and it was still perfect.

Only you can manage that.

Can you see sunlight from there, Natsu? If you can, look up now. Look at it. I felt it on my face that day. Close your eyes. Can you hear the rippling water? You feel the warmth? I can still feel the flowers brushing against our skin. Shut your eyes. I know you can feel them too.

Remember me that way, Natsu. Happy.

Lucy


On July the first, Lisanna had come into Lucy's apartment to drag her out to the guild. Everyone had been down the past few months, but Gray and Erza had insisted on making Lucy's birthday special.

She'd walked in to have almost a bucket of confetti thrown on her.

"Guys!" she'd exclaimed, aware of Cana's maniacal laughter next to her.

"I'm so sorry, Lucy!" Levy had called. "A bit of a magical mistake."

It had been so long since Lucy had really laughed. The sound was off to her, but she did. Mirajane had sung for her. She'd been given a wonderful dress by Bisca, who'd made up her mind not to cry that day either.

It had only been Gray who had pulled her away for a quiet talk in a corner of the guild. He understood. He and Lucy hurt together.

"It'll be okay." He'd said, as she'd left.

And surprised at herself, Lucy had nodded in agreement.


Natsu,

I found Lisanna's music box today, the one you and Gray had broken as kids. I don't think she ever got over that, you know. I mean, it was a rather precious gift to her.

I'm sure you can recall it. You know what; I can almost see you smiling right now. Which is funny, considering I don't exactly see much now.

It's July first, today. Mira and Lis made sure I got a celebration. I had a long talk with Gray, and he shared a few childhood stories with me—is it true that you, Gray and Erza had a bath together?

No wonder she hates your guts.

I'm sorry. I'm talking about all things cheery, and I know I'm probably not fooling you anymore than when you tell me you didn't read my spare notes for my book. It's been hard without you Natsu, and it will be, but you already know that. So it's better you know the things which still make sense to us both, right?

Like, Wendy told me something today which does.

Natsu, you're going to be the father of exactly as reckless a boy as you are. Cana and I are throwing names around. I know you can't write back to me, but there's a game I used to play as a child with the other heiresses.

We used to whisper a word to the wind at twilight and hope it reached the other before the next time we met.

Of course it never did!

Say a name to the wind, Natsu. It may take twenty years for it to reach me. But winds can keep secrets that long.

Lucy


When her son was born, Lucy named him Igneel.

She had been in the middle of writing her twenty-ninth letter to Natsu when she had to be taken to the guild hospital. She had been surrounded by her friends later, but Lucy had screamed into darkness as she gave birth thinking of Natsu alone.

Everyone told her he was beautiful. That he had the prettiest onyx eyes.

There hadn't been a time when Lucy wished she could have her sight more. She had held her son close to her chest, tasting the saltiness of her tears as she smiled. "I wish I could see you, my Igneel."


Natsu,

It's Igneel's fifth birthday today.

He has dark hair, Natsu! In a way, I'm glad he didn't end up with my blonde. His eyes are beginning to make him look like you now, Natsu.

He's a Healer. He is even better than his mentor—Wendy—was at his age. He has so much of power at five. He also seems to be a lot like you in terms of interest in weaponry; quite an irony, I'd say.

But of course, he is much calmer than you ever are. You know I love you and your eternal carelessness. Still, Igneel is so peaceful. And he understands so much.

We tell him stories of his father every day. Mirajane seems to love him the most, after us. He adores her. She's his godmother now.

Igneel likes to do this thing when he's eating breakfast. He eats right through the middle of the toast and then leaves the sides to have after. He always does that.

He also has a pet now. Wendy got him a bluebird. It's magical. He likes to stroke its feathers before he goes to sleep.

When you come home, you can stroke its feathers too. It's immortal.

Natsu, don't cry. See this blotch of ink here? It's because I know you are.

Listen to me. Igneel will wait the next fifteen years for you, Natsu. He would wait a thousand lifetimes. And so would I.

Lucy


"Well, what would dad say?" Igneel asked furiously, glaring at his mother.

Lucy cocked an eyebrow at him, hands on her hips. "To focus on your Magical History and not on Ul."

"Mom!"

Igneel looked hilarious when he got mad. His ears turned pink and he became flustered. Switching off the stove, Lucy bent down and kissed his head. It felt closer than before.

"Ew, mom, don't do that!"

Lucy winked at him as she straightened up. "You've grown taller."

Immediately, Igneel looked eager. "D'you think Ul likes tall boys?"

His mother laughed.


Natsu,

Igneel's fifteen now, and he sure is a handful!

Remember how I told you Gray and Juvia had the most perfect daughter ever? I regret those words now. Ul's too perfect. Igneel seems to spend more time staring at her lovely blue hair rather than his Runes. I know this because Juvia always reminds of how pretty Ul's hair is.

He asked me what you would tell him to do.

I'm sure you would've clapped him on the back and told him to go take the deep plunge—just like you've always done for every one of Elfman's dates—but honey, he really needs to mass his S-Class Exam.

That's right. He's going to go into training.

Don't worry. Godmother Mira and Aunt Erza are ferociously protective of him.

In fact, speaking of Erza, she and Jellal seem to be stuck in quite the same situation with Zal. He has his heart set on Ul too.

Where are you when there's so much teenage love in the air, Natsu?

Lucy


Igneel was passed out on the bed when Lucy walked out of the shower, quite obviously drunk and exhausted.

She realized it when she walked to the edge of the bed and felt his foot against her body. Then she heard Ul's timid voice.

"Hey, Mrs. H! I'm sorry, but I think Neel got a bit drunk." She sounded sheepish. "It's Ul, by the way. I came here with Zal."

Lucy had grown to love Ul like her own in the last few years. She appreciated her and Zal bringing her son home, so she nodded and smiled at Igneel's friends. "It's alright, Ul. Thank you."

"Goodbye, Mrs. H. Wish Igneel for us."

"I will."

As the front door swung shut, Lucy sighed exasperatedly in her son's direction. He had attended one of Fairy Tail's dangerously mad parties—no wonder he was in such a state.

The blonde made her way softly around the bed, dimming the kitchen lights behind her. He was snoring very lightly, absolutely conked out.

Realizing his sneakers were still on, and that one leg was swinging off the bed, Lucy pulled his shoes off and tucked him under the sheets.

Then she climbed up next to him, stroking his dark locks with her fingers, smiling fondly at his sleeping face. He was everything she could've asked for. He had always understood what a great mage Natsu was, had always made himself content with pictures and stories of his father. Igneel, all his life, had also seemed to have taken more care of Lucy than she had of her own son.

There had been a time when Lucy had broken down, and Igneel had calmed her down. He had made her tea and taken her to bed. He had taken her to Clover once, and had described everything she didn't remember to her, so that she could imagine where she was. He had been her sight whenever she needed it.

In ways, they'd both survived depending on each other, always trying to make up for the holes in each other's hearts for Natsu.

The cuckoo clock struck half past twelve and she realized it was past midnight. Igneel had slept right through the beginning of his nineteenth birthday.

Lucy kissed his forehead. "Happy birthday, sweetheart."


Natsu,

Natsu, just a year. Just 366 days, Natsu. We've lived through worse.

Igneel is asleep right now. He turned nineteen today.

Do you know what he told me yesterday? That he'd spend his next twenty birthdays with you, and you alone, to make up for the twenty you lost.

Natsu, what more could we have asked for?

I sent you a copy of my book, but Levy doesn't know whether they'll let you have it. That's okay. When you come home, we'll piece these 2405 letters together in a book of our own.

Yes, I counted. And I know you did too.

There's a cup of coffee next to me, but it's cold because I'd kept it for your son, who came in drunk. Understandable of course. Notice how I said 'your son?'

Don't mind me. I remember the first time I made you coffee.

I had a sip later. It was scalding, and bitter. And yet you had it, and grinned at me, and said it was the best coffee you'd ever had. I swear I am better at it now; Lis taught me.

You beautiful liar, Natsu. Come home, love. Come to me. To us.

Lucy


She hadn't been told the date of Natsu's release.

Sometime in November. Everyone kept repeating it. Only Igneel and Gray shared Lucy's frustration.

She was counting the days of November, almost rushing out of the house every time she heard the sound of footsteps on the snowy gravel. She felt like the days she'd spent waiting for him to come back from the mission.

And this time, if Natsu didn't return, she'd lose her mind.

On a night as cold as the one they'd last been together, Lucy's heart seemed to pound erratically against the clock ringing out. She had felt it when she woke up. A sense of hope. Dangerous hope, but hope she needed.

Igneel was asleep when Lucy was still sitting at the table, hands clasped in front of her, unable to sleep, to think, to do anything but wait.

The minutes ticked by. There was a soft, padding sound as Igneel awoke as well and made his way towards the kitchen.

The only one who ever brought Lucy from the dark pit of her despair was her son. She'd grown old over these twenty years. Not being a mage had also left her not as light as before. She could feel the tiny creases next to her eyes which never left now.

But she'd grown up to be the mother of Igneel. Inside, she was the young girl who longed for Natsu Dragneel to come home.

"What's wrong?" she asked, when Igneel didn't say anything.

And then she felt a warmer, larger hand than her son's take her left hand and intertwine their fingers. Where he touched her skin, he left fire in his wake.

"Lucy," he breathed out. The one word which made sense to him.

She had never heard the door open and close behind Natsu Dragneel.

Lucy was shaking all over, crying, sobbing and laughing at the same time. She couldn't find the strength to get up, but Natsu knelt in front of her and took her in his arms, holding her as if she was his lifeline. His fingers gripped her back as he kissed her forehead, her nose, her lips, as he cried into her hair, whispered unintelligible words into her ears.

They were interlocked for half an hour, not moving, just breathing against each other.

Lucy knew, her true elation would come. He would meet his son. He would become a part of their lives. It would soon be as if he never left. The guild would welcome. Life with Natsu would be exactly the way Lucy pictured it to be.

But right then, she wanted nothing but to be in his arms. To hear him breathe. He was here. He kept his promise.

"Natsu?" Her voice was hoarse with tears. "It's been so long. Be my mirror."

As Natsu kissed away her tears, he smiled lovingly at her. "You're beautiful, Lucy Heartfilia."


And, that's a wrap! I really hope you guys liked it, and even if you didn't, please do drop in a review! It would mean a lot to me.

Also:

Happy Birthday Kris! You've become a really good friend over the last four years and I'm so glad I met you. You're wonderful, sweet, as cray-cray as me (thank God for that) and insanely talented. I hope you have a beautiful year with lots of laughs, love and success. Keep rocking the way you do. You're pretty amazing, and speaking of pretty, you're also REALLY pretty. Have a smashing birthday, read this, and think of me, coz well, you love me too. ;)