So, I wasn't going to write anything outside the PAPI universe during this challenge, but a couple of ShanaHollows' stories had me longing to explore a concept in canon I've been musing over since the chapter Lucy starting re-writing Natsu's book. So, this is a little ditty written in canon. Spoiler alert, if you aren't caught up on the manga, it WILL get spoiled for you. You've been warned. Enjoy! (ALSO, go check out Shana's stuff! She's been rocking out some seriously great one-shots this week so far!)

Her arm was shaking her muscles were so exhausted. But there was no choice. She had to keep writing.

If she didn't…

No. She wasn't going to think about that. She just wouldn't stop. Simple as that.

She could do this.

This was what she had been driven to do her entire life.

For him.

Lucy had always loved books. Even before she left home, she was driven to read them and later to write; to define the world around her. But her attempt at a novel had been trite. And a little gray. It hadn't compared to the beautiful worlds that her favorite authors created. She had given it her best shot, but when all you saw were the same walls, and the same perfectly manicured lawn, there wasn't a lot to shake up your brain. They always say you're supposed to write what you know. Well, Lucy just hadn't really known a lot.

Then she met Natsu Dragneel. And suddenly, what she wrote was vivacious, and bright, and fun. Because she wrote about him. Everything she wrote about, no matter where it started ended up being about him. At some point in their friendship, she had described every aspect of him: every rumpled and weirdly coordinated outfit, every pointy-toothed grin, every sweet or bash-brained moment. She was the painter, and he was her model. He was her muse. But without the drafty Greek drapes. That was always how she had thought of their relationship. He had taken her gray world and given it color.

She needed something interesting to spark her creativity, and no one was as interesting as Natsu. So she had written him up into a nice, neat, ever-growing bundle of pages, chronicling the changes she saw in him as they happened right before her eyes.

Or maybe it was her that changed.

Maybe it was both of them.

But, no matter the cause, or the reason, she was grateful for her borderline obsession when she opened the Book of END. Because she had stared at the collection of words leaving the book in her lap and recognized them. Not because Levy had been teaching her the demonic language (she'd had a feeling that would come in handy), but because they were words she had used herself a million times. It had been impossible not to recognize the story that unfolded before her; the life of a boy who was lost in the woods, looking for his dragon father for far too long. It couldn't be more familiar to her. And she couldn't look away as an important thought occurred to her.

It had taken her longer than she cared to admit to put it all together. She always prided herself on her ability to see the big picture, but for some reason, in this one area, where she was the foremost expert, she had dropped the ball. And it was laughably simple.

END was a book of Zeref. Natsu was END. Natsu was a book.

So simple a toddler could have figured it out. And yet she still hadn't leapt the two steps from there to recognize what was clearly displayed in the corners of her own heart. What everyone but her had apparently seen, or at least figured-out intuitively, even if they hadn't known the underlying reason. Like she did now.

Because Natsu was the best book she'd ever read. And she loved books. She loved everything about them. She loved the way they smelled, the way they felt under her fingertips, and the way they kept her company in bed at night, so she never had to be alone. She loved the way they could take her anywhere, and it was always an adventure. She loved that between the pages of a book, she was free, and yet safe. She loved that no matter what horrible thing happened in a book, she could depend on a happy ending, a poetic conclusion to wrap up all the loose ends.

And, when she had started writing, she had wanted to return to literature what books had given to her. To inspire others and give them the feeling of wonder and safety that others had done for her. And she had utterly failed until she found Natsu. She still hadn't succeeded the way she wanted to. That bundle of papers grew all the time, but was never complete. Never perfect. She could never quite nail that special something that made Natsu...Natsu.

So when the beautiful, familiar words that were Natsu had floated out of that book and surrounded her in light and warmth, arranged in such an eloquent and concise manner, she had drunk them in greedily. Here was the something she was missing. Here was the secret. And that secret had brightened her world again, as though she was just meeting Natsu for the first time.

Then the beautiful words had begun to disappear. To crumble and die. And her heart stopped in her chest. If Natsu was this book, then without the words, Natsu would…

No. It was too terrible to think about.

So she had done the only thing there was to do. She had rewritten him. She knew the words to describe him. She knew his character inside and out. At this point, his actions wrote themselves in her mind. And with that one missing element, that one secret ingredient, she could just pick up her pen and let the words fly. So she did.

She wrote and she wrote, and she wrote. She wrote about the lost little boy who had lost his father, and his best friend. She wrote about the dragon, who defeated every obstacle in his path, for his pride and his loyalty to those he loved. She wrote about the stupid pranks he played on people and the sneaky perverted things he did with her underwear. She wrote about his hunger for a challenge, and his hunger in general.

She wrote about how he left her behind, and how he had broken her heart. But she also wrote about how he had come back, and how he had mended her heart, little by little. She wrote about the destruction he caused, and the buildings he'd ruined. The failures he'd suffered, and the tears he'd cried. Lucy wrote the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. She wrote the man in, where the demon Zeref had written into existence was erased by his own hand.

Her arm was shaking, her muscles were so exhausted. But there was no choice. She had to keep writing.

If she didn't…

No. She wasn't going to think about that. She just wouldn't stop. Simple as that.

She could do this.

This was what she had been driven to do her entire life.

For him.

And the magic took ahold of her. All she could see were the words in front of her, as they flowed into the book. She burned unbearably hot with Natsu's fire as she fueled him, by the words she wrote, with the magic power he needed. But she could feel the unique and glorious character she described alive and breathing again, and it strengthened her. The magic drained her energy, but his cocky grin spurred her on, as it always did, coming back twice as strong. His fire consumed her as she wrote his battle with the brother he had long forgotten.

And because she was the new author of his story, she fulfilled the promise she had made to literature and gave him a way out.

A happy ending.

Etherious Natsu Dragneel, leader of demons and book of Zeref no longer, struck his brother down, paralyzing him and defeating him. He would not be the one to kill his brother, though he had pledged himself to that task. Instead, it belonged to another. When his dark brother, the shadow to his light, lay motionless on the floor, he walked away. No longer a demon. No longer a book of Zeref, but instead, a book of Lucy, who loved him as every writer loves their life's work: with a passion that nothing else can stand equal to.

And finally, the words stopped disappearing. They flew toward the pages instead of away. She had finally found the perfect words to describe him. Because she knew the secret. The missing piece.

Suddenly the tenuous connection between them snapped, the energy sustaining her cut off abruptly, leaving her aching arm to fall useless at her side, imprinted with the darkness of the demon of Zeref she had rewritten. If that's what it took to create her masterpiece, to keep him alive, then she would gladly sacrifice herself for it.

But it turned out she didn't have to. It paid to have a demon slayer at your back.

Gray took her arm firmly in his and dispelled the darkness, taking the burden onto his soul instead. The dark marks that were his father's legacy to him spread another inch toward his heart. But Lucy's arm was completely normal again. Still tired, but no longer touched by demonic darkness. She spared him a smile and turned back to the book she had rewritten, proud of what she had done.

Only, the book was slowly dissolving.

"The book is disappearing…" she breathed in horror and confusion.

It was like a bad dream. Hadn't she completed her life's work? What she had been preparing for this whole time? Hadn't she fulfilled her promise?

Then why was it disappearing?!

"Zeref was defeated," Gray said wearily, just the hint of a smile on his face. He didn't seem to realize what that meant. Lucy turned to Happy and saw her thoughts reflected in his eyes.

By the time the book disappears...Natsu will also.

She reached out and grabbed the blue cat, hugging him for all she was worth. This couldn't be the end. It couldn't. She had done it! She had saved him!

But as the last worn leather binding crumbled away, Lucy heard the flapping sandals of a stride she knew by heart.

Hell, she had just gotten done describing it.

She spun around and broke into a smile. She had succeeded. It was the only explanation. Because the book was gone, but Natsu was still there.

And she was never letting him out of her sight again.

Of course, she lost him again almost immediately, but that's a-whole-nother story. One of adventure, and heroics, and sacrifice, and friendship. All of which Lucy would eventually write down. When she returned home and discovered a brand new, neatly bound novel, glowing from it's resting place in her sheets.

She should have known she'd find it there. He had such a weird fixation with her bed. She lifted the book and puzzled over the initials on the cover for a moment.

LND? What could that possibly stand for?

And then she figured it out and blushed, quickly hiding the book under her mattress. She wasn't sure she was ready for anyone to see Lucy's Natsu Dragneel yet. Especially…

"Hey, Luce."

She looked up from her position crouched beside her bed to see the subject of her thoughts in her window, looking down across her bed at her. They both froze for a second.

Lucy wasn't sure what he was doing there. She had just seen him in the guild, after all. She hadn't expected him to show up at her window for at least another hour. He was normally so predictable that way.

Though, maybe not so predictable. She took a moment to wonder if it was just that she literally knew him better than anyone else in existence...definitely something to ponder on a rainy day.

In the meantime…

"Hey Natsu what's up?"

She expected a grin and a crazy proposal to race off on an S-class quest or some other dangerous job, her mind already preparing a response. They'd have to unbury the request board first, for one. The partying had taken precedence over the cleaning effort early-on, so it would be days before they would be able to get to the bottom of things.

It really was a shame Ultear had gone missing. She could have been making a fortune off the citizens of Magnolia, repairing their homes and businesses. Not to mention Fairy Tail's guild hall.

But that wasn't what she got…

Natsu leapt over her bed, to land next to her, a serious set to his eyebrows.

She stared back, her smile slipping from her face in the force of his stare. God, he really did have beautiful eyes. She could write about them all day long. Or look at them. She wasn't picky.

"Lucy," he began voice just as serious as his eyes. "I promised myself I'd live so I could tell you something. Something really important. And I did, so I'm here to do it."

Lucy raised an eyebrow. What could he possibly tell her that she didn't already know?

Wait, the secret! The thing she'd discovered in his book!

He didn't know she knew…

"Lucy, I don't want you to think anything has to change. Because it doesn't. No matter how you feel about it, I'm happy with the way things are." They both stood up as he spoke, his hand going to rub the back of his neck the way he did when he was uncomfortable, or nervous, and he looked away from her, staring at the ground to her left instead. He really was adorable. But there was something wrong. He didn't just look nervous. He looked at little...sad. Why did he look sad? "But it's not fair to not tell you either. Because things could be so much more, if you wanted them to be, that is, and I...well I just promised myself I'd tell you that-" he chanced another glance at her, turned his face back down to hers and was cut off abruptly.

By a pair of warm, soft lips. Lucy stood on her toes, hand pressed to his cheek, her eyes closed, but slowly opening as he stood there unmoving and unresponsive. In shock.

Slowly, she blinked and rocked back onto her heels, their lips parting and her fingers sliding off of his cheek to land against his warm chest, helping her catch her balance as she realized the enormity of what she had done. She swallowed heavily, and quickly removed her hand from his bare chest (why the hell couldn't he manage to keep a shirt in one piece long enough to cover up his ridiculous muscles?! Didn't he realize how hard they made it to think around him?).

He just stood there, staring at her. With this shocked look in his eyes. Like it was the last thing he was expecting her to do. Or it hadn't even been on the list. She waved a hand in front of his eyes, concerned when he didn't respond. Maybe she had broken him. Maybe he hadn't been about to tell her that he loved her, and she had jumped the gun.

But she knew he felt that way! She had read it! And she had written it, in every mannerism he practiced around her, in every word he spoke to her, in every look he gave her. She had seen the love her had for her. It was there. Right there in black and white.

Under her mattress where no one would see it, but there nonetheless.

So, shouldn't he be happy right now? Wasn't that what he wanted? Didn't he want to kiss her?

"Natsu?" she ventured tentatively. "I'm sorry...I interrupted you...I, um, I'm just...well, I'm sorry. What were you going to say?"

As if he were in some sort of trance, he responded in a dull monotone, one hand coming up to touch his lips. Where hers had been moments before.

"I was just…" he trailed off as his eyes roamed over her, looking anywhere but her eyes. "I was just going to tell you that I...wait, what was I saying?" He finally looked in her eyes again, a spark of his usual fire kindling in them. And then his eyebrows snapped down and his hands gripped her arms. The change came over him so swiftly it surprised a little squeak out of Lucy, which was quickly stifled as he leaned forward, invading her personal space, stopping inches from her face. She didn't move, her only action taking in a sharp breath of air as her gaze dropped to his lips for just a moment before looking back into his eyes, inches from hers.

Natsu's eyes widened.

"You didn't back away," he muttered. "Or start blushing and sweating. You always back away." He pushed even closer, their foreheads touching.

Lucy shrugged. Well as well as she could with his shackle-like grip around her biceps. Sometimes he really didn't know his own strength. As if he heard her thoughts, his grip relaxed until she was comfortable.

"You're right. I guess I didn't."

Slower than she had ever seen him move, he slid his hands down her arms, stopping when he reached her elbows, and hesitantly placing his warm hands on her bare waist, where her midriff top left her skin on display. She still didn't move, though her eyes fluttered closed for a minute at the exhilarating feeling of him touching her bare skin. His hands, barely brushing her skin, settled into place, finding a firm grip on her waist.

She let out a soft sigh of contentment, which left her lips and brushed across his, still only inches away. And she felt his hands pull, ever so slightly on her waist. Enough that it could have been explained away by a shift in his stance, or a loss of balance. But she knew that wasn't it. So she followed the pull, moving her hips just slightly toward him. He pulled more strongly then, tugging, as she followed the motion until they were pressed up against each other. His hands slid around her back and caged her in with an iron grip.

She felt so small in his arms. So fragile. He breathed out shakily.

This was definitely not what he had been expecting. She wasn't yelling. She wasn't crying. She wasn't looking at him with pity in her eyes. She hadn't pushed him away, or kicked him, or hit him.

She had kissed him. Out of nowhere. With no prompting.

Was it possible he had been wrong? Or had something changed? Suddenly his promise to himself didn't carry the weight of finality and awkwardness. Suddenly it didn't seem like such a burden to fulfill.

He took another deep breath, releasing it to fan across her lips. Her eyes fluttered open and he looked into them again, with a fierce hope he hadn't had before.

"Luce?" he said with a rasp in his throat. He cleared it.

"Yes Natsu?"

"Why did you kiss me?" It wasn't really what he had meant to say, but it was close enough. He was still working his way up to the big question. The one that mattered.

"Because I wanted to," she responded, her eyes flicking down to his lips again. He took in a sharp breath and almost reeled back when he smelled something primal wafting from her. Was she…

His arms tightened, pressing their hips together more firmly. He tried to ignore the distractions his body was throwing at him and breathed in deeply again. There it was, the scent more prominent than before. She was aroused! Lucy was fucking turned on!

"Why did you want to?" His brow furrowed as he considered the possibility that she was just lusting after him. That it was a purely physical need she was acting on. It didn't seem likely, given her past behavior, that she would give into lust without feelings behind it, but it had been a busy day. He had already seen how it had changed people. Hell, he could feel how it had changed so much about himself already.

"Because I love you," she replied simply. Like it was the most obvious thing in the world. Like she hadn't spent years kicking him out of her bed, and her bath tub. Like she hadn't shied away from every touch except his arm slung around her shoulders. Like she hadn't blushed and yelled every time she had caught him looking at her in a compromising position. She said it like it was the only possible answer. And looking into her eyes, he saw that it was. It really was the only possible answer for her now.

So he stopped being careful, and cautious, and treating her like a scared rabbit. Because she was Lucy, and she fucking loved him! So he was finally, FINALLY, just going to fucking kiss her already!

He shifted one hand up her back and cradled her neck as he leaned swiftly forward and captured her lips, the sensation feeling just as amazing as it had the first time, a fire erupting in his belly unlike any he'd felt before.

She reacted immediately, pressing herself against him and leaning into the kiss, kissing him back with everything she had. He parted his lips, his tongue darting out to taste her only to discover that her lips had opened too, her tongue questing for his. And then they were really kissing, breathing heavily through their noses as their hands roamed and gripped everywhere they could, intense and frantic to touch more. Feel more.

His hands flew to her chest, cupping and squeezing the breasts that he had been sneaking grabs of since he met her. And instead of demanding he move his hands, or kicking him, she moaned and arched her back, pressing further into his palms. He pulled his lips from hers for a second then, overcome by the need to finish what he had started.

Before they started something else. Hopefully.

"Lucy, I love you," he gasped out, trying to be serious, but unable to stop a smile from busting out.

She grinned back and attacked his mouth again, her fingers woven into his hair.

"Yeah, I know," she murmured against his lips, sucking his bottom lip into her mouth and biting down on it gently. But he was too distracted. With his lip captured in her teeth, he replied,

"You do?!"

She giggled and let go of his lip, pulling his head closer to her by her grip in his hair and kissing him again. But he still seemed to be lost, so she leaned into the hands still on her breasts, which reflexively squeezed, and pulled her mouth reluctantly away from his again.

"Natsu, I rewrote your book. I know every secret you've ever had. How could I not know?"

"Every secret?" he responded wide eyed, his hands sliding back down to her waist, to stop her hips from rubbing up against him the way they had started to do. He didn't even think she knew she was doing it, but it was ridiculously distracting. "Like the time I slept in your bed with you, but left before you woke up?"


"And all those times I copped a feel and blamed it on whatever was happening?"


"And the fight I got into with Gray when he wanted to ask you out?"

"Yes. Natsu, seriously, I know everything. You don't have to keep listing things. I rewrote the fabric of your existence, so it would be impossible to have a secret from me. If it's about you anyway."

"Then, you love me anyway? Even knowing all the messed up stuff that I think all the time, and the nightmares that I have about you dying, and the perverted fantasies I have about fucking you on the guild bar while eating Mira's fire still love me?"

"Yeah, that's pretty much the long and short of it. I love every part of you. Good, bad, and weird." She grinned up at him, trying her best to show exactly how she felt in her eyes.

"Well, hell. Never mind then."

Natsu went back to kissing his partner and the girl he had been in love with since the Grand Magic Games, and Lucy gave herself completely over to him, almost unable to believe that she hadn't figured it all out sooner.

Natsu was everything she had ever wanted. And now, the greatest novel she would ever right.

How could she not love him?