Songs from the Sea

A/N: Hello everyone and welcome to another foray into the Fairy Tail universe. For those of you who are familiar with my stories, I welcome you back. For those of you who are not familiar with me, I welcome you and hope you enjoy the first of many chapters to come.

This time, I will be writing a Fantasy/Mermaid AU. I have read a few Fairy Tail mermaid AU's and figured I'd try my hand at writing one myself after toying around with the idea; it never hurt to try right? Plus, stories likes this-stories about the sea-whether they be about mermaids, odyssey's, pirate adventures, and ghost ships have always fascinated me. So what better way to capitalize on that interest than write about it!?

So, before any of you ask: yes, this story will be centered on Natsu and Lucy. However, they will not always be the main focus of this story as I will be focusing on other characters as well. Mix things up a little.

Note, the rating for this story is "T" for now but it may change depending on where I go with this plot and subject matter wise.

As always, I hope you will give your honest opinion with your review and if you have any questions regarding this story feel free to ask it in your review which I will either reply to in the next chapter or respond to ASAP, or you can PM me; whatever works for you! Just please don't be too harsh with your criticisms…there's only so much a guy can take.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Fairy Tail; Hiro Mashima and Kodansha Comics USA own it. If I did own Fairy Tail…well let's just say some things would be different.

So without further ado *cracks neck and knuckles*, let's begin!

XXXX

DESCRIPTION: He had always thought the dreams were just dreams; that the stories his father told him were just stories; and that the songs he heard drift in on the wind were just his imagination. He never imagined them to be true…or, rather, that he had forgotten the truth.

XXXX

CHAPTER 1: A place called Home

XXXX

"And what's that one?" The boy had asked, pointing to the stars above. As far as he could see, the stars lit the nighttime sky with a subdued glow that illuminated all around it.

He had no doubt that no matter how hard he tried, he'd never be able to count them all. They were simply too vast, too infinite to measure.

The girl next to him giggled and took his hand, helping him trace a series of particularly bright stars in the sky. This one was another of the many constellations that lit the night. His father had given a rather confusing explanation as to what the constellations were so he never truly understood the concept…at least, not until he had met his friend.

Not until she had put things into a simpler light.

They lay on the sand together, the surf gently licking at their feet, and the cool breeze from ocean gently ruffled their hair.

"That's Draco, 'The Dragon.' Mama said he was a super, super cool sky dragon but he died to save his friends; the other stars."

"Whoa." The boy whispered, his mind thinking back to the adventure stories his father loved to tell him.

"And that one?" The boy asked moving his hand and his friend helped him trace the constellation.

"That's Aquarius, 'The Water Bearer'," the girl smiled, "she's really pretty and my mama is really good friends with her."

"Your mom is friends with the stars?" He asked, brow furrowing in confusion, "How can she get all the way up there?"

The girl giggled, a wonderful sound that the boy thought similar to bells chiming, "No silly, my mama's friends were named after those stars. They have super special powers and your people named them in honor of the stars."

"Really? I didn't know that." The boy said before frowning slightly, "I don't know a lot of stuff."

"It's alright, I don't know a lot of stuff either. That's why mama and papa are always teaching me new things. They say when I grow up, I'll be very special and have important things to do."

"Sounds like fun." The boy smiled back.

"Not really," the girl frowned slightly, "there's a lot of things I have to remember and it gets boring after a while."

"Well…at least we can still play together. Maybe next time you can bring your big sister and your friends and we can all play together like last time!"

"Really?" The girl asked, eyes and smile wide.

"Yeah, really!" The boy grinned back.

"Oh that'll be so wonderful!" The girl squealed in delight, pulling him into a tight hug.

"You're the bestest-best friend ever!"

"You know it." He grinned, returning the hug.

After a moment, the girl pulled back and dug into the small pouch at her hip, retrieving an item from within. She then held her palms out and open for him to see what it was. It was necklace, he realized after a minute, made from a thick dark chord and adorned with sea shells and pieces of green and blue crystal.

"This if for you," The girl smiled, quickly tying it around the boy's neck, "I made it myself."

"Really? Thanks!" Natsu smiled, inspecting the necklace, "What is it?"

"It's a promise necklace." The girl explained, "Where I'm from, girls make these for boys we want to make a life promise with."

"A life promise?" He asked, cocking his head slightly.

"Mhmm," the girl nodded, "my mama gave one to my papa, Aries gave one to Loke, Aquarius gave one to Scorpio, and now I'm giving one to you. Mama told me these necklaces mean a boy and girl can be best friends forever and ever."

"Cool," the boy beamed, "I wish I could give you something like this. I want to be your best friend forever too."

The girl giggled in delight while the boy pursed his lips in thought before snapping his fingers.

"I know!" The boy said, wrapping his pinkie finger around the girls.

"I pinkie promise that you and me will always be best friends, no matter what." The boy gave a firm shake to emphasize the conviction of his promise.

His father had taught him to never go back on his word when he made a promise. A promise was forever and to break one was one of the worst things a person could ever do.

"Promise?" The boy asked.

The girl smiled sweetly with a giggle.

"I promise."

And then he woke up, courtesy of a wave crashing against the hull of the ship.

"...That dream again?" He muttered, pinching his brow, "Third time this month."

Awake, he stared up at the planks and boards that held the upper deck of the ship together. The flame of the lantern flickered in time with the gentle rocking of the ship as it sailed through the relatively calm waters of the open ocean. He hoped the flickering flame and steady motions of the ship would rock him back to sleep but tonight, the usually calming movements seemed to lack the usual effect over him.

So with a groan, Natsu Dragneel stood up from his cot and cracked his neck and back. The hold of the ship itself was packed with cargo and a few other passengers who were back on their way to the islands. They slept on their own haphazardly placed cots amongst the crates but did not seem the least bothered by the rocking of the ship. But, then again, he supposed anyone from the islands was used to the calm ebb and flow the waves brought.

At twenty one years old, he was tall, lean, and muscular with sun kissed skin and short, salmon pink hair. His dark green eyes glinted in the lantern glow as he let them adjust to the low light. Scars and tattoo's covered his body, making them the most prominent features aside from his hair.

His scars consisted of a ragged scar on his right cheek and neck while an "X" shaped scar had healed over on the lower left half of his abdomen. His tattoos were a mix between a black dragon tattoo on his right forearm and tribal tattoos on his shoulders that merged on his back to form another dragon while the lower half of the dragon turned into an inverted orca; the coloring of the tattoos changing from black and red to black and blue.

His stature, combined with his scars and ink, made him the quintessential south islander.

His choice of clothing consisted of a sleeveless waist coat-set atop his rucksack-along with a pair of white trousers and leather belt. Tied around his head and neck was a bandana and his father's scarf, black bands on his wrists, and pair of lace less leather boots.

Sighing, Natsu put on his waist coat and made his way to the top deck. The wind brought the smell of the sea and the taste of salt on his lips. It had been years since he had last experienced these tastes and scents and it made him all the more eager to return back to the island he called home.

He waved to the helmsman who stood at the wheel of the ship before walking over to the railing, bracing his arms against it.

He had been fifteen when he and his father-Igneel-had been called from the island to the mainland. War had come to the kingdom of Ishgar and the people of the islands, who had a long standing tradition of maintaining world renowned warriors, had been called to defend the kingdom.

It would be six years before Ishgar emerged victorious.

Six long years that had seen him both gain and lose friends, kill to save those friends, and had taken his father's life. Natsu had returned to the island, albeit briefly, to lay Igneel to rest on the island. It had been two years before the war came to a close and Natsu resented the fact that Igneel never got to see victory.

Now he was coming back to the island, war weary but victorious. Back to the quiet comforts of the small, sea faring towns and its people. Back to the house by the sea he and Igneel called home. Back to the overlook where Igneel could watch the sun rise and set against the horizon in peace.

Natsu sighed and glanced down at the water before blinking in surprise as a humpback whale and her calf surfaced near the side of the ship. In the dim light, he could see their eyes briefly peer back at him before they disappeared back beneath the waves. They were mostly curious about the ship and had decided to inspect it before going about their early morning search for breakfast. They drifted a few yards from ship before breaching in a magnificent arch and crashing down beneath the waves.

But then, he saw something rather peculiar. It was either a trick of the low light or his sleep addled mind, but Natsu swore he saw something else leap out of the water with the whales. He saw two of them, both with long tails and streamlined bodies; their movement swift and graceful. Natsu double blinked in an attempt to refocus but by then they too had disappeared with the whales.

Natsu sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose. They were either porpoises or dolphins. The sea mammals loved to follow and play with around the whales so it wouldn't surprise him if they had decided to follow the mama and her calf.

But either way, his journey to the top deck had served its purpose of returning his fatigue and Natsu could feel his eyes getting heavy once more.

The sky was turning indigo at the horizon which meant the sun would be rising soon. It wouldn't be long before they reached the island and docked at the port. Natsu decided to head back down to his cot and get what little sleep he could.

He had a rather busy day ahead of him after all.

XXXX

Later that morning…

"Natsu? Natsu is that you!?"

"It's Natsu! I'd recognize that hair color anywhere!"

"Oi Natsu, welcome home!"

"Welcome home kiddo!"

"Hey guys, look! Salamander's back!"

Natsu waved to the boatmen on the nearby dock as he disembarked the cargo ramp, adjusting his rucksack as he did so. It was here that the scents of the sea and towns mixed in the air and although many would find such a mixture foul, to Natsu, it only served to ground the fact that he was finally home.

That he was finally back on Tenrou Island, home to the twin towns of Hargeon and Magnolia.

The two towns were set apart by the Tenrou River which ran directly from the Great Tenrou Tree which overshadowed the whole island, making the island visible for miles all around. The towns themselves consisted of narrow, cobblestone streets, white sandstone buildings, a large stone bridge that spanned the river, and a pleasant atmosphere that seemingly hung over all the island.

Natsu smiled broadly and waved to the townsfolk who called out to him, making his way from the docks and into Magnolia.

"The Hero of Tenrou", "Dragon Slayer," and, "Warrior" were all cheered and called out to him as he passed on by.

Being one of the islands warriors made him a bit of a celebrity but it was a fact that weighed heavily on his heart. Out of the few hundred men and women who had been called to help defend Ishgar, he and his father included…only he remained.

The rest had died in battle…same as Igneel had.

They had all been brought back to the island and had received a hero's welcome, even in death. But although Natsu himself had been labeled a hero, he didn't feel like one. Not when his comrades were laying in the islands cemetery, six feet under in pine wood coffins.

He was simply a warrior, helping defend those in need. He didn't need to be called a hero for doing what was right.

"My, my," A voice spoke up, snapping Natsu out of his stupor, "the hero of Tenrou returns. The fame isn't getting to your head now is it?"

Leaning into the shade of a nearby wall was an old man. He was short, almost comically so, with a balding head, thick mustache, and wore a wide brim straw hat, a blue Aloha shirt with khaki shorts and sandals. A smoking pipe was clutched in his hand and the man took a quick puff before blowing a smoke ring into the air.

The two men smiled at one another as Natsu bent down and extended his hand, the two men clasping forearms in a traditional island greeting.

"Old man Makarov," Natsu grinned, "it's nice to see that you haven't shrunk down into a fairy yet."

"Watch it boy, I may be old but don't think I can't kick your ass." Makarov Dreyar grinned back, giving Natsu's arm a firm shake.

Makarov was one of the oldest serving members of the islands council and had earned the respect of everyone on the island. He was held in such high regard that many of the children who grew up on the island, Natsu included, thought of him as a quasi-grandfather figure. "Old man Makarov" or "Gramps" were two of the more common nicknames given to the aging councilman.

"It's damn good to see you Natsu. Welcome home."

"It's good to be home." Natsu replied.

"Come, let's head over to the bar and get you some grub; my treat." Makarov motioned for Natsu to follow.

"You don't have to, I have enough money to buy lunch." Natsu waved his hand dismissively. Given the substantial compensation he had received from the Ishgar government for his service, Natsu was certain he could pay for lunch, dinner, and then some.

"Nope, you gave too damn much for that reward they gave you. Humor me and let an old man treat one of my crazy kids to something nice."

Natsu sighed but smiled as Makarov gave him a slap on the back. Makarov was a stubborn old man and it was pointless to argue with him. Besides…who was he to turn down a free meal.

The two men walked along the town's main canal at a leisurely pace, catching each other up on their daily lives and what had happened on the island and abroad while Natsu had been on the mainland.

"Life has gone on, same as it has this year and the year before that." Makarov said, taking another puff from his pipe.

"However, we recently received word that a few trade ships from Enca went missing."

"Enca?" Natsu asked, "What happened? Did they get caught in a storm or something like that?"

"No idea." Makarov said, "The Weather News said the skies were clear they day the ships went out."

Natsu arched his brow, "Weather News?"

"Ah yes," Makarov nodded with a smile, "the communication lacrima given to us by the kingdom. It has allowed us to stay more up to date on the news; keeps us in touch with the outside world."

"Would you believe me if I told you they had invented that for the military?" Natsu asked with a grin, hands laced behind his head.

"After three years of testing, they finally got the damn crystals to work. It helped us stay one step ahead of the enemy. By the time those Alvarez creeps figured out what we were up to, it was too late."

"Ah yes; word of their crushing defeat has spread far and wide all over the world. We also heard that you spearheaded the final battle." Makarov gave a knowing smile.

Natsu shrugged simply, "All I did was lead the charge and help breach the defenses. Nothing special."

"You helped end a six year war Natsu, I think that counts as special." Makarov quipped.

"I don't feel special…" Natsu frowned, looking to sky, "out of everyone from the island who fought in the war, I'm the only one left. Not even my dad made it through."

"Our people have a proud legacy of mighty warriors. You were trained from a young age to carry on that legacy; you were taught the risks and responsibilities of being a warrior. Your father and comrades died with honor…and we in turn honored them for their sacrifice."

"Still doesn't make it any easier." Natsu sighed.

"No one said it would be. It's up to you to decide whether you'll wallow in grief or carry on with your life. In the end…that's all you can do."

Makarov frowned deeply as a disheartened look formed in his eyes. He took a series of long puffs from his pipe before shaking his head. Natsu had a very good understanding as to what, or rather, who Makarov was thinking about.

"Dad and I heard about Laxus…I'm so sorry Makarov." Natsu said.

"I know, I got your letters." Makarov gave Natsu a sad smile, "The Sea claimed him just as it claimed his mother. Thank you, by the way; for the letters I mean. I meant to thank you at Igneel's funeral but decided not to. It didn't seem appropriate at the time."

The two men spoke of Makarov's grandson, Laxus Dreyar. Laxus had been three years older than Natsu and many of the other children his age looked up to Laxus like an older brother. He and Laxus had shared a close friendship and the older boy had taken it upon himself to look after Natsu when Igneel couldn't.

However, Laxus had lived a hard life early on. His father, Ivan Dreyar, was the captain of a trade ship with his mother being his first mate. During a freak storm, Laxus had lost his mother when she had been knocked overboard…and was never seen from again. Ivan-to put it bluntly-lost his mind at the death of his wife and had descended into a downward spiral he never recovered from.

Eventually Ivan's madness and anger drove him to a life of crime, culminating in him being banished from Tenrou island and becoming an infamous pirate. And while Ivan caused havoc on the high seas, Makarov took Laxus into his care. And for a time, things seemed to be looking up for the young Dreyar. However, the long enjoyed peace he had was shattered when a year before Natsu and Igneel had been called upon to fight for Ishgar, Ivan and his pirate fleet had returned to Tenrou in an attempt to take over the island.

But the islanders fought back. They fought back harder than Ivan had anticipated and made him bleed for his arrogance.

Ivan and his pirates had failed to take Tenrou…but in the chaos, Ivan had kidnapped Laxus.

Makarov was heartbroken at the loss of his grandson and it would be two years before his fate was learned.

In the mist of the fighting on Ishgar, Igneel had learned from an Ishgar naval officer that Ivan's fleet had been on the run after Tenrou and had tried to bring his crimes to the waters around Caelum. In a coordinated ambush, the navies of Caelum and a small Ishgar taskforce had intercepted Ivan and the remainder of his fleet. Ivan and the rest of the pirates were subsequently wiped out, and in the process, Laxus had inadvertently been sent to a watery grave.

The news was a blow to the islanders both at home and abroad. Even with it being seven years since Laxus's death, Natsu was sure Makarov was still grieving for him. Hell, he still had yet to move on from Igneel's death.

"These things take time lad," Makarov said, "we all heal in our own ways. So long as we cherish the memories we have, the fallen will never truly be gone."

"Amen to that." Natsu said, casting a two fingered salute out to the sea.

"Come, we're almost at the tavern. Less focus on the doom and gloom and more about the here and now; tell me all about your adventures over a few rounds of ale."

Natsu smirked and shook his head in mock resignation, "If I must."

"Attaboy!" Makarov beamed, giving Natsu a hefty slap on the back…and promptly made Natsu trip over his own feet and fall into the canal.

"Whoops." Makarov sweat dropped as Natsu splashed and sputtered in the water.

XXXX

Luckily for Natsu it was a balmy, hot day and he was dry shortly after being pulled out of the water.

Amidst some muffled curses and grumbling from Natsu, he and Makarov made their way to Magnolia's iconic "Typhoon Tavern" where Natsu received another bout of cheers and welcomes from the staff and patrons.

He was uncomfortable from the praise at first but after two ales and getting some food in his stomach, Natsu found himself at ease. And so he regaled Makarov and the patrons with tales of the many battles and travels he had been involved in over the last six years.

"You actually killed a dragon? Like for real? You better not be pulling my leg." One of the bar patrons asked Natsu.

The warrior took a hefty drink of his ale, "Yep. Killed it; killed it dead."

"I thought dragons couldn't be killed," someone added, "that they were immortal."

"Nah, that's just a bunch of mystical bull. The things bleed same as the rest of us…but they are powerful. Damn thing wiped out half of the regiment before I was able to pierce its hide."

"Surprised you made it out in one piece." Makarov said.

"I wouldn't say that," Natsu patted the scar on his abdomen, "thing did take a good swipe at me."

"Well, at least you still have all of your fingers and toes." Makarov added, making both him and Natsu chuckle.

"What's this!?" A voice said above the laughter of the patrons from the main door, "Someone's having a party and didn't invite us!?"

"Oh no." Makarov groaned and palmed his face.

"Who are those three?" Natsu muttered as he watched three crudely dressed men enter the tavern.

They were rough and a bit unkempt looking and wore dark clothing while shouldering large weapons. And to Natsu, he knew trouble when he saw it…and that these three newcomers may have been overcompensating for something given the size of their weapons. But that was up for debate of course.

"Sylph Labrynth Treasure Hunters." Makarov whispered as the three men strutted into the tavern as if they owned it.

"Sylph Labrynth? Aren't they the guys your old man used to run with before he went on the straight and narrow?" Natsu asked, receiving a nod from Makarov.

"At least when my father worked for them, they had some concept of honor and rules. Now they're just a bunch of thugs who'll do anything to make a quick buck. These three have been coming into town as of late talking about all sorts of nonsense."

"What kind of nonsense?" Natsu asked as the three treasure hunters waltzed up to the bar.

"Hiroshi, Drake, Lala; what the hell do you three want?" The bartender grunted in disdain.

"Easy pops, we're just stopping in for a drink while our ship gets loaded up. Working the sea all day does wet ones palate and all that. So what do you say, want to fix us up with some drinks?" Hiroshi said, making it apparent he was the leader of the trio.

"After what you three did last time? Forget it." The bartender said flatly.

"Take your business elsewhere because I don't want it."

Hiroshi grinned wickedly and looked to his compatriots, "You here that fella's? This guy doesn't want our money all because we broke a few tables last time."

Hiroshi then drew the large sword he had slung over his back and promptly brought it down on a nearby table, startling the tavern crowd.

"Oh for the love of…" Natsu scoffed as he bent down to his rucksack, retrieving one of his weapons.

"Then I guess you won't mind if we break a few more!" Hiroshi cackled as promptly sliced a table in two while people were still sitting at it.

Lala had unslung his massive, palm shaped hammer and promptly used it to smash the countertop of the bar.

"Are you three crazy!? You're going to bring the whole place down!" The bartender cried out in alarm.

"Oh, what's a little damage?" Drake cackled as he fired his rifle into the ceiling, making the patrons duck for cover.

"You obviously can pay for it since you don't want our money!"

The rifleman was suddenly and promptly spun around and received a solid right hook that knocked him into the nearby support beam with a pained, "OOF!"

Hiroshi and Lala turned around to see Natsu standing in Drake's place, a wakizashi short sword in hand; the black steel glinting in the dim tavern light.

"Who the hell are you?" Hiroshi snarled, leveling his sword at Natsu, "Huh!? Who the hell do you think you are to mess with the likes of us?"

"The name is Natsu Dragneel." Natsu bit back, "And as a resident of this island, I don't much appreciate it when people start wrecking one of my favorite hangouts."

"Natsu Dragneel?" Hiroshi scoffed, "The war hero? Get real kid. Natsu Dragneel is some badass from Ishgar, not some hotshot islander."

"Care to back up those words?" Natsu said, spinning his sword into a reverse grip.

"Don't have to." Hiroshi sneered, "Lala, show this punk what happens when he messes with treasure hunters."

Lala simply grunted and charged Natsu, hammer raised to strike. Natsu briefly rolled his eyes, waited for Lala to get close, and ducked past the man when he brought his hammer down. The floor splintered but Natsu paid it no mind as he connected his elbow with the back of Lala's head; knocking him senseless.

"Why you little…!" Hiroshi snarled as he charged Natsu, sword raised.

The swordsman swung and slashed at Natsu but each time, Natsu merely sidestepped and evaded Hiroshi's attacks with a bored expression on his face. Natsu ducked under a particularly sloppy strike, pivoted behind Hiroshi and promptly sent him out the door with a forceful kick to the rear. Hiroshi tumbled end over end into the street before coming to a stop flat on his face.

"Ouch." Was Hiroshi's muffled response to his literal ass-kicking.

His head was sharply pulled back by his hair and before he could cry out, he felt cold steel pressed to his neck. There were the brief sounds of a scuffle from inside the tavern and soon enough, Hiroshi was joined by Drake and Lala as the bar patrons hauled them out of the tavern.

"Listen and listen good, because I'm only going to tell you this once." Natsu said through clenched teeth.

"If I catch you back in my town I'm going to kick your ass seven ways to Sunday, all the way to Caelum. I just got back from a six year war and I do not need you nor your pals screwing up what little peace I have left. Beat it and don't come back."

Natsu roughly hauled Hiroshi to his feet, same as his companions, before shoving him off.

The three men glared at Natsu before he pointed his blade at them with a fierce growl, forcing them to break out into a run.

"You'll regret this, you hear!?" Hiroshi called back as he ran down the street, "Once we find Fiore and unlock it's treasure and power, you're going to wish you never messed with Sylph Labrynth!"

"Beat it ya hooligans!" Makarov barked back.

Natsu sighed heavily and sheathed his sword before giving Makarov an incredulous look.

"Fiore? Seriously?" Natsu said with the universal, 'you've got to be kidding me,' smirk.

"They are treasure hunters as much as I am loathe to admit it." Makarov said, drawing his pipe and lighting a new pinch of tobacco. The scent of burning oak filled the air from the pipe.

"No, they're a bunch of dumbasses who are chasing a myth. Honestly, my dad never shut up about that place. You'd think it was real from the way he'd carry on about it."

"The lost kingdom that used to rule Tenrou Island and the surrounding islands before the gods sank it beneath the waves." Makarov said sagely.

"Where an undersea kingdom controls the depths of the sea and fair maidens glide through the water as mermaids; protectors of a great treasure and wielders of an even greater magic."

"You actually buy into that old spook story?" Natsu arched a brow.

"No, not really, but it's one that I do enjoy. I wouldn't worry about those morons; I think you got your point across."

"Better have, otherwise I think the practice of human sacrifice is going to have to be brought back." Natsu smiled wryly.

"Bah, you know we only save that sort of thing for the solstices, equinoxes, and New Year's celebrations." Makarov quipped before he and Natsu let out a series of hearty laughs.

"C'mon, the sun is starting to set. Let's get you back home and settled in before the sun goes down completely."

"Thanks." Natsu said as they ventured back into the tavern. He quickly dug into his rucksack and retrieved a bound stack of 100 Jewel notes, setting it on what was left of the bar top for the bartender.

"For the mess." He smirked as the man balked at the wad of money and Natsu.

"Some of your compensation I presume?" Makarov asked as he gestured for two of the patrons to follow along. They didn't have to be told that Natsu would need help getting things settled back at his house.

"Yep." Natsu said with a pop of his lips.

"Tell me, is the house still in one piece?"

Makarov dug into his pocket and produced an iron key, "Same as you left it. Storm shutters are still down and we'll have to tinker with the plumbing but other than that, I've stopped by once a month along with a helper or two and we've kept the house dust free, spider free, and in tip top shape as per your father's request. You're in luck by the way, we just cleaned up a few days ago so everything should be fine for you."

"Thanks Gramps," Natsu smiled, "this means a lot. I'm sure Igneel would've appreciated you doing all of this for us."

"Think nothing of it. Your father and I go way back so who was I to turn down a request for help from him. Besides, looking after your house gave me something to do. It does get a tad monotonous around here."

"Wouldn't have it any other way." Natsu smiled softly as he and his small group made their way through the rest of Magnolia.

"Speaking of your father, I also tended to his grave in your absence. The cliff hasn't fallen away, as I don't expect it to anytime soon, so he's still there if you wish to visit him."

"The man would haunt me if I didn't." Natsu chuckled.

XXXX

Natsu's home was set about a mile and half outside of Magnolia. Here, the cityscape gave way the natural beauty of Tenrou Island. Rocky outcroppings, forests both thick and thin, tall grass, rocky shoreline, and pristine white sand beaches.

A natural path led from the main road that led further inland and trailed down to the edge of a quiet, secluded beach. The tall grass swayed as the men meandered down to the beach, followed along the surf, and found the house waiting for them. It was a single story building made of sturdy hard wood and had stone roof shingles. Tall pane windows faced the sea but were covered by heavy storm shutters.

A small shed sat out in the back and a simple fence outlined the property.

Natsu smiled, remembering the warmth and comfort he had always felt when he entered the home. How he would lay by the fireplace and listen to Igneel read him stories and tell him of his many adventures both on and off the island.

"Well, home sweet home." Makarov said as he handed Natsu the key Igneel had left him.

"Why don't you duck inside while we take care of the storm shutters. After that, we'll check the water and you'll be good to go. Do you need to get anything to eat from town?"

"Nah," Natsu shook his head, "I got some spare rations in my pack I can eat. I'll go shopping and fishing tomorrow. Right now I just want to settle down for the night."

"Well, if you need anything you know where to find us" Makarov said as Natsu unlocked the door and stepped foot inside.

His boots echoed off the floor as he immediately stepped into the living room. Outside, the shutters were propped one at a time allowing light to fill the room. The fire place sat empty, the lanterns and candles still hung from the walls, and the pictures of him and Igneel smiled back at him. Natsu set his rucksack down near Igneel's rocking chair and slowly took his time inspecting the house. He made his way to the kitchen, the bath and washroom, Igneel's work room-his bench still cluttered with tools-and finally the back rooms where Igneel and Natsu slept.

Natsu smiled softly as he leaned against the door frame to his old room; the handmade quilt Igneel had made still draped over his bed. He then looked over his shoulder where Igneel's empty bed stared back at him. On may a stormy night when he had been little, he had crawled into that same bed and huddled next to Igneel; knowing his father would protect him from the storms outside.

Natsu sighed wistfully and shook his head.

It was going to take some getting used to living in this empty house now.

"Natsu," Makarov called back from the front, "we got the shutters up, windows are open, and the water is back on. You're all set."

"Thanks." Natsu said, walking back to the front, "I'll take it from here. You guy's going to be able to find your way back okay?"

"There's still enough light left so I think we'll manage. Besides, it's kind of hard to miss the town." One of the men replied.

"We'll be alright." Makarov nodded, "Go pay your father a visit. I'm sure he's missed you."

"Read my mind." Natsu smirked, shaking the elderly man's hand before bidding him and the others farewell.

After the men had left and as the fading light was beginning to turn crimson on the horizon, Natsu ducked back inside, dug around his pack before finding what he was looking for. Pocketing the item, Natsu set off at a brisk pace up the shore before taking another natural path that led through a brief patch of woods. Soon enough, Natsu was walking up to the edge of the island; a cliff that overlooked a secluded, small cove.

A memory of laying on the sand of the cove and tracing the stars touched his mind but Natsu cast it away just as quickly as it appeared.

With a heavy sigh, Natsu stopped a dozen feet from the edge of the cliff and stood before a single, solitary tombstone.

The etching on the stone read:

Igneel Dragneel
Beloved friend and loving father
A warrior of Tenrou
"May we meet by the sea and enjoy everlasting peace under the stars."

Natsu kneeled down before the grave and withdrew the item he had retrieved from his pack. It had been a birthday gift from Igneel when he had turned thirteen and it had helped bring him comfort throughout the war.

It was a red, black, and blue clay triple chamber Ocarina. Smoothed to the point that it sported a polished gloss, the flute had always managed to calm Natsu and put him at ease whenever he played it. It had taken many lessons from Igneel along with a fair amount of cursing from both father and son but Natsu was confident he could play a few simple tunes.

Most of the time however he simply played the notes randomly, like the way one lazily strums a guitar.

And that is what Natsu did as he sat down before Igneel's grave. He brought the ocarina to his lips and began to play the notes at random, the music smoothly leaving the flute and echoing out into the wind. The whole time, Natsu never said a word. He used the music to talk to Igneel; to tell of his adventures and how he helped bring the war to an end.

He felt at peace, being back on the island with his father. Even though he was gone, Natsu could feel Igneel watching over him. Something he hadn't felt all those miles away from home, entrenched on the battlefield. He wasn't necessarily a spiritual man by any means but he could feel certain things in the ebb and flow of the world around him. Whether it be in the wind, on land, or at sea, Natsu had felt a connection to everything around him for as long as he could remember.

Igneel had always told him that connection was a gift. That it was something that set him apart from everyone else.

Igneel, Natsu mused with a slight smile, had always been weird like that. He always made things sound like there was more to the world than their lives on the island and the outside world. That there was always something out there waiting to be discovered.

But without Igneel around now, Natsu knew he was slowly beginning to lose that sentiment. His father had meant the world to him and without him…he felt that a piece of him had died with Igneel as well.

Eventually, Natsu stopped playing his music and sat before the grave in silence. It wasn't until the stars lit the sky did Natsu stand and bid Igneel farewell, promising to return to visit soon. Looking to the sky, Natsu absentmindedly began to trace the constellations with his eyes before raising his hand and tracing the stars that formed Draco.

"I pinkie promise that you and me will always be best friends, no matter what."

Natsu paused and then slowly lowered his hand, frowning. That dream was now beginning to haunt him and it was starting to move towards agitating.

Sighing once more, Natsu shoved his hands into his pockets and used the starlight to find his way back home.

XXXX

Midnight…

The fire embers filled the living room with a soft glow, much like the lanterns had back on the ship.

Natsu lay at the center of room atop a pile of blankets and pillows, fast asleep. He hadn't bothered to make his bed or unpack most of his rucksack. It had been a long day and after scarfing down the rations that he had, Natsu's fatigue had finally caught up with him. The moment he hand finished making his impromptu bed, Natsu flopped down onto the pillows and blankets, pulled one over his head, and was asleep in a heartbeat.

The windows remained open, however, allowing fresh air and a cool breeze to circulate through the house.

But with the breeze, it also carried something else.

To the normal person, they'd be hard pressed to hear it. But for Natsu…the sound tickled at his ears. It found its way into his unconscious mind and slowly coaxed him back to the waking world. Confused, he sat up bleary eyed and blinked slowly, his ears adjusting to the breeze and the sounds it carried.

Singing, he realized after a minute and perking back to life.

Someone's melodic singing was drifting in with the wind.

Perplexed and wondering who in the hell would be out this far in the dead of night, Natsu stretched his back and arms with an audible crack before throwing on his pants. He made his way outside, attuning his hearing to the song.

And after a minute of standing completely still, Natsu realized the singing was drifting down from the cliff.

Was someone visiting Igneel's grave? If that was true, then who?

Setting out into a light jog, Natsu followed the singing back to the cliff. Although there was no moon, the light of the stars once again guided him and when he finally came back to Igneel's grave, he found that no one was there; much to his surprise.

And to add to it, the singing had stopped.

"The hell?" Natsu asked, scratching the back of his head.

"It sounded like it came from here…was I imagining things?"

Natsu frowned and walked back to Igneel's grave. The grass was still slightly matted from where he had sat earlier but there didn't appear to be any other signs of life. Just the wind and the gentle crashing of the waves below. Natsu scratched the back of his head again.

"I know I heard something…it got clearer and clearer the closer I got to this place." Natsu frowned, crossing his arms with a frustrated huff.

"Damnit, am I starting to lose my mind…or have I already lost it?"

Throwing his hands up, Natsu made to turn on his heel…but froze the minute the singing began once more and reached. It sounded closer, much closer than it had been before, as the wind carried it with better clarity.

But most of all, he recognized the tune that was being sung.

It was the exact same randomized music he had played at Igneel's grave.

Following the singing, Natsu realized it was coming down from the cove. Walking up to the edge of the cliff, Natsu peered down to the beach below. And there, in the starlight, Natsu could see someone laying on their back as the surf gently rolled over their legs.

He couldn't see much detail but given the singing, Natsu could tell it was a woman who lay on the sand.

"Hey!" Natsu cupped his hands to his mouth, "Hey! You down there!"

The singing stopped as the woman paused, pushed herself up on her arms, and looked up to where Natsu was calling from. Seeing as how he had her attention, Natsu backtracked and wound his way down the hill at the side of the cliff; nearly tripping over his own feet in his haste.

"Sorry if I startled you!" Natsu called out once more as he finally reached the sand and slid to a stop.

"I heard you singing and was wondering what you were…doing…out…here?" Natsu said. He had run over to where he had seen the woman…but she was gone.

"The hell?" Natsu asked aloud, "She was just here!?"

In the starlight, Natsu could see where the woman had been laying; her body having left a soft depression in the sand. Before he could properly observe it, the surf rolled up and washed it away.

Natsu let out a frustrated huff and rose once more, looking this way and that up and down the cove in search of the woman.

"Hello!?" He called out, "Hello!? I'm sorry if I scarred you, I didn't mean to!"

But his only response was the whispering of the wind and the gentle crashing of the waves.

"Where the hell did she go?" Natsu whispered, running his hand through his hair in frustration. He had booked it pretty good from the Igneel's grave and down the hillside. It couldn't have taken him more than a minute or two to make the trip. The woman shouldn't have been able to scurry off in that amount of time.

And yet she had vanished. Like a ghost of all things!

Either she had dove into the water-which he hoped she hadn't-or she had managed to dart off like a fairy on a sugar rush.

Or there was the possibility that he had imagined the whole damn thing and he was losing his mind. Given all that he had endured and seen in the last six years, Natsu didn't put it past himself to have some form of shellshock.

He spent a good amount of time searching the cove, going from end to end and even taking the risk of venturing out onto the rocky points of the cove. But in the end, he came up empty. There was simply no sign of the woman.

Sighing in both defeat and exhaustion, Natsu turned back to the hill and made his way back home. It would be a night of restless sleep for the young warrior.

…But unbeknownst to Natsu, he indeed had not been alone on that beach.

For the woman he had spotted had fled into the water and had floated just beneath the surface, her keen eyes piercing through both water to watch the human as he searched for her. The darkness both hid her and prevented her from getting a better look at the human male. She could see that he was tall but the night, even with the starlight, obscured his features.

There was something about him though that seemed…familiar, however. Perhaps it was in the way he moved or the way his voice carried out over the water. She couldn't be sure for certain though and she didn't want to press her luck.

Humans didn't have the best of reputations when it came to her people.

So she remained hidden beneath the surface, watching and following the man up and down the cove until he at last gave up in his search and turned back the way he'd came. With the man gone, she too decided to take her leave and return back to the depths of the sea lest she worry the others with her prolonged absence.

And so with a powerful kick of her tail and pull of her arms, the woman darted back off into the depths of the sea.

XXXX

"Promise?" The boy asked.

The girl smiled sweetly with a giggle.

"I promise."

She pulled the boy into a hug once more and smiled when the boy returned the embrace.

"You really are my best friend Natsu." The girl, Lucy, smiled as she placed a soft kiss on his forehead.

Natsu blushed but didn't shy away from Lucy. He simply scratched his cheek with a dopey grin.

"Same to you Lucy."

XXXX

A/N: So, what do ya'll think? Am I off to a good start?

As I said, I had the idea for this story on my mind for a while now and having finally written it out, it may seem a little rough around the edges. But, the more I write for this, the more concise I will become with the style for this story.

For an opening chapter, there was a lot to both take in and alluded to. Things will be explained as they progress. But for the time being, we have the hero of our story, a mystery, and a mysterious woman…whom I'm sure you already know who it is. Next chapter we'll be taking a look underwater to see what exactly is hiding down there and then we'll switch back to Natsu's POV.

Now, in regards to updating this story, there will be not set pattern for it. I usually mix up how I update my stories so it's not really set in stone how I'll carry this out.

Still, I hoped you enjoyed the first chapter as there are more to come.

Next time CHAPTER 2: Beneath the Waves

As per usual, if you guys have any comments or questions, please put it in your review and I'll make sure to respond to you in the next chapter. If you have anything else that you wish to ask me or clarify, you can PM me and I'll do my best to respond ASAP.

Until next time; read, review and most importantly of all, HAPPY READING!