Hello! I'm on of those people I swore I'd never be-late with an update. But on the upside (or downside, I suppose) this is the final chapter! I've kept you from it long enough, so check out my post at the bottom for an update about possible future works!

She floated in darkness. It wrapped around her like an old friend, surrounding her in warmth. She felt safe, like she had when her mother was still alive. Lucy snuggled deeper into the heat of the blackness and let out a contented sigh. She could have sworn the darkness snuggled her back. She heard a whisper, seemingly from all around her. She giggled. The whisper came again, but it was a little louder, a little more urgent. "Luce…" The heat went from comforting to sweltering, and the shadows tightened their hold on her a bit, shaking her lightly. "Luce! Lucy...wake up!"

Her eyes snapped open. She flinched away from the sudden light, so intrusive after the relaxed peace of her twilight world, now revealed to be the place in between sleep and waking. The heat and pressure remained, though, and as she blinked and looked around she realized that she was being held to Natsu's chest with the blankets pulled up to both of their chins. Looking up at him, she found his gorgeous green eyes fixed over her head and a tense expression on his face. He glanced down and let out a breath when he saw she was awake. "Luce! Um, hi, good morning, don't drop the blankets." he hissed. Shifting herself around to face the room, Lucy felt her face heat up as she was confronted with a roomful of scandalized maids, ranging in age from a woman in her late 60's who appeared more amused than anything to a couple of girls her age who looked far too interested in Natsu for comfort. The intervening women just looked horrified. They were probably here to make her presentable for her interview with her father.


Lucy stuck one hand out of the blankets and waved, attempting to look as regal as possible. "Ummm….good morning everyone. If you could please give me a quarter of an hour that would be lovely. And if someone could please bring Natsu some clothes," she had spotted one maid picking up his bloodied ones from last night with the tips of her fingertips, "that would also be highly appreciated." She watched them scuttle out the door at her words. The elder lady was the last to go, and gave her a wink as she closed the door behind her. Lucy groaned, dropping her face into her hands. How could she have forgotten palace routines so easily? She'd always been awoken by at least four maids while she lived here, six or seven if it was an occasion. No wonder Natsu had been panicked! While he was normally so self assured, no man wanted to be woken up by half a dozen women under the employ of his lover's father. And certainly not while they were naked in bed together after taking her virginity.

She scrambled out of bed and threw on underwear and a nightgown. She sent an apologetic smile Natsu's way as she entered her closet to see if she had anything large enough for him to put on before the maids got back. It was hard not to get distracted by the image of him sitting up in bed, sheets pooling around his hips, but she managed.

Unfortunately, everything she had was either way too small or very, very lacey. She was digging through her nightclothes when she heard a rip. Sticking her head out of the closet, she was treated to the sight of Natsu wrapping a torn off portion of her sheet around his hips.

"Natsu! That is hand-dyed silk!"

He shrugged. "It's still hand-dyed silk, Luce. Obviously. And I can hear those women coming back."

Sure enough, a moment later a knock sounded at the door and it opened, revealing her helpers for the day. Lucy noted that it wasn't just the younger women giving Natsu appreciative once-overs this time and gritted her teeth. She refused to make a more of a scene than she already had by scolding some servants. And she had to admit that she really couldn't blame them when he was standing around like some Grecian god in a toga. A hand-dyed silk toga that matched his hair.

The eldest maid stepped forward carrying a pile of clothes. "Sir, we've prepared a room for you across the hall. Your manservants are drawing you a bath, if you will allow me to lead you there." It seemed a request, but her tone brooked no argument. Amusement or not, it was time for propriety and tradition to infringe on the day.

Natsu opened his mouth, but the combined steely looks from both the head maid and Lucy caused him to close his jaw with a snap. He knew this morning couldn't go well for Lucy; he didn't want to make it worse. If it were up to him they'd order some room service, tell everyone to fuck off, and then head back home in a few hours. But doing things the 'right way' mattered to Lucy so he supposed he'd put up with it. Besides, he was willing to bet that the 'manservant' would be able to order said room service and have to let him eat it in the bath. He could definitely deal with that.

So he trailed the maid out of the room, blissfully unaware of seven sets of eyes following his sculpted ass, barely covered in the thin silk. As the door closed behind him, everyone let out a light sigh before snapping into action.

Lucy was scrubbed, polished, and made up to within an inch of her life. She managed to get in a few bites of fruit and half an egg during the process, but by the time she was deemed ready to meet with her father she was starving and irritated. After a taste of freedom, the morning routine dragged.

Her hair was pulled up, a few strands left to curl around her face. Her makeup was fresh and natural, and she had been laced into a pink gown with puffed sleeves and a long A-line skirt. The color matched Natsu's hair, she realized absently. Hopefully he had pants on this time and didn't rip her skirt, too...

As she was marched into the hallway, Natsu appeared in the doorway opposite of her, thankfully dressed. Clearly he'd refused the higher fashion court clothes she knew they would have tried to stuff him into. Instead he wore a loose black peasant style shirt, half tucked into a pair of reddish-brown breeches. He wore his customary sandals and his scarf hung loosely around his neck. He sauntered up to her, hands in pockets, looking her up and down.

"Damn, Luce, it's like when I first met you. You look good, but not really Lucy, you know?" he appraised. She swatted at him and they followed a footman down the hall toward the study. Heaven forbid she be unescorted in the palace regardless of knowing the way. Another pang for her new life in Fiore pulled at her.

Natsu was talking again. "So Erza came by while I was waiting for you to be ready. I guess your dad's been up and stuff for awhile. He called Prince Loser's country and they're sending men to take him back. She said something about signing a treaty, too? I don't remember, but she'll tell you I'm sure. I guess she and Levy met with him and we're all getting honored with a feast tonight!" He drooled a little.

He chattered away and Lucy smiled, happy that her father had taken steps to honor her friends and deport Tristan. It gave her hope that he would be open to her abdication as well.

They turned down the corridor housing the study and Lucy turned to Natsu outside the large oaken doors.

"Natsu, I need to have this conversation alone, alright? If you want, the footman can show you to the dining area or training grounds…" he stopped her with a light touch to her cheek.

"This is gonna be tough for you. I'll be out here." He leaned against the wall and produced an apple from a pocket, clearly ready to wait for her. Lucy shook her head at his stubbornness before taking a deep breath, facing the study. She nodded to the guards stationed outside and they opened the doors.

The study had been repaired from the battle the night before. The papers had been tidied and everything was as she remembered it. Including her father, situated behind his desk with a pen in hand.

Usually when she'd come for these meetings, he'd continue to work for awhile before acknowledging her, his advisor Namvere sending a kind smile her way from where he labored beside his king. But now, there was no Namvere, and she grieved for him. Her father did not make her wait for once. His eyes snapped up to her and he stood, staring for a moment. She thought she saw some emotion in his eyes before he pulled his kingly persona over himself and spoke.


She curtsied lightly, acknowledging his monarchy. "Your Majesty. Father."

Another moment of awkward silence and then he cleared his throat and said the last thing she'd expected. "I believe I owe you an apology."

She blinked. "What?"

"Given the events of last night, it is clear that Tristan is a traitor and a marriage compact with Zanada was a mistake. I," he appeared to be sucking a lemon, "should have taken your concerns into account when you raised them. Perhaps had I done so, none of this would have happened and we would not be standing here now."

Hope flared to life in Lucy's chest. This was incredible! Her father had never taken her feelings into account, nor listened to concerns she had. Looking back she had to admit she couldn't regret running away; she was so much happier outside the palace. Perhaps, with his new outlook, her father would understand? Her abdication would be alright?

His next words dashed what optimism she'd built.

"You shall be allowed input on the choice of your husband this time. I have instructed the secretaries to compile a list of potential candidates and in a few months we shall hold a ball so you can meet them and then you and I will review together-"


"-I'm confident we can choose someone agreeable to you who will also lead this country with integrity-"


"-and strength. Tristan will be taken away in several days when the delegation gets here, the king was very complicit with our terms once we provided proof of his crimes, so that leaves you free to marry-"


He stopped. "It is impolite to interrupt, Lucy."

"Father, I'm sorry, but I won't be marrying anyone. I know you got my letter. I am no longer Princess of Argyle."

Jude's face darkened. "That was a stunt designed to keep Tristan off your trail. Clever, I admit. But now that the danger is over you will return to your rightful place."

"No, I won't." She stood firm. "Yes, I left because I refused to be shackled to that disgusting excuse for a human. But it was a long time coming! I have never been happy in this gilded cage, never been anything more than a well educated pawn designed to assist a man and bear his children! I was free out there!"

"Free to spread your legs like a common whore!"

She gasped, hand flying to her mouth.

"I heard about this morning. You're lucky your maids are handpicked for their secrecy and loyalty, and that bigger things have taken the country's attention. We'll have to cover this up and squash any rumors-"

"Squash all the rumors you wish, but do it without me! I'll not be here!"

"Do not push me; I have been more than generous in the light of your-"

"Generous! You want to put me back in a cage! My feelings don't matter!"

"Feelings have no place in duty!"

"I am not your pawn!"

"You are a subject of my crown and you will DO AS I COMMAND!"



Both of them whirled around to see Natsu, hands in his pockets. Jude stepped back from where he and Lucy had come nearly chest to chest, red faced and yelling, to turn on Natsu.

"You! How dare you show your face after what you've done! I should have you thrown in the dungeons with Tristan's men!"

Natsu kept his smile, but it was flinty and hard. "You could try."

The king's face bypassed red and went to purple. "You smirk at me after turning my daughter into a plebian slut like you?"

Natsu's grin vanished faster than a fish put down in front of Happy. "Lucy," he growled, "is no slut. She's free to make her own choices and be her own person."

His eyes seemed to glow and Lucy could see the very beginning of flames flickering at his fingertips.

"So far as I can tell, she's not one of your subjects anymore and doesn't have to do jack for you. And as for what I've done, I swooped in and saved your hide and country exactly as I'm contracted to do. And in the middle of the bloody night!"

Jude looked about ready to have an aneurysm but something of what the young wizard said nagged at him and gave him pause.

"Contracted? I sure as hell don't remember contracting to you!"

Natsu shifted into his half form without a word. Tails, claws, wings, and scales burst into being. He raised his hands and between them his fire formed into an odd series of symbols. He sent the fire flying into the wall where the letters singed deep into the wood without setting the place on fire.

"That's my name in the draconic language. You'll find it at the bottom of that fancy plaque you keep in your courtyard where I pick up my treasure every year. You haven't seen me in this form, but the general look should be familiar."

Jude stared, gobsmacked. It was true, he'd never seen the younger dragon's human form. He'd arrived one year with the elder and the handoff had been made, the dragon burning his name into stone. This, then, was the biggest military deterrent to attack by other countries in Jude's arsenal. Who had just saved his country, his life, and his daughter. In retrospect, Lucy could have made a worse choice. Not that he was happy about it. Regardless, he could not keep Lucy here physically. Brute force would not impress this man; not when he could level the castle if he wished. He turned back to his daughter.

"Think of your people, Lucy. What will it mean for them if you leave?"

To his surprise, she smiled slightly, although it was clear the idea pained her. "I wouldn't leave them to the wolves, Father. The next in line is Uncle Arch, and he governs the southern province incredibly well. He's not interested in kingship, but next is his daughter Frasia. When we visited a year ago, he had her in charge of the treasury and she sat on his council. She was able to choose her husband, and he oversees quite a few ongoing projects and also sits on the council. Bring them here, train them, and they will make an able ruling pair one day."

Jude had to admit she was right. He felt a tug as she described her cousin's upbringing: he'd always thought his brother was too lenient with the girl but she'd turned into a marvelous administrator with a passion for the people shared by her husband.

But he wanted his daughter on the throne! The Hearfilia line had ruled for generations and it stung that Lucy would end it. Not only that, her abdication would reveal a weakness to other countries and cause some destabilization. Her marriage would not benefit the land…

Namvere's final words floated across his mind, to look at the trees within the forest. Argyle would suffer for Lucy's loss, but it would survive. But Lucy...she would suffer to remain. And in a rare flash of empathetic insight, he wasn't entirely sure that she would survive it.

Lucy saw some of the indecision in his eyes and she pressed her case. "Allow me to abdicate without issue, Father. I will appear before the people and put my entire support behind Frasia. I will also join to Natsu's contract as an unwavering ally of Argyle. No treasure needed." She threw a small wink Natsu's way. His lips quirked, but his eyes remained on Jude.

"But tomorrow after the ball, I will be leaving. With or without your support."

The king turned to stare out the window, watched by the princess and the dragon. He must be exhausted, because part of him wanted to just let her go. She'd presented the issue so neatly, tied up all the loose ends so well. He felt an odd emotion and after a second identified it as pride mixed with anger. The anger he was familiar with. Pride not so much. And that made him rather sad. He'd like to be proud more often. It was…nice. Rather fuzzy.

Aside from all the unkingly emotional crap, he was aware that Natsu would smash his castle to bits and end his contract without a moment's hesitation if he said no. And that would not be good for Argyle. He turned back to the couple.

"Very well."

Lucy shrieked, twirling dizzily for a moment. Two months ago, she'd never imagined she could ever be free! It was exhilarating! She tuned back in to her father speaking.

"...we shall give the announcement tonight at the ball in order to give Arch and Frasia time to arrive. And you," he pinned Natsu with a glare fiery enough to match the dragon's own, "will stay in your own room tonight. This is still my house!"

Natsu gave a cheeky salute. "I'll do whatever is necessary to protect your kingdom and treasure, sir."

Jude narrowed his eyes at him for a moment. Natsu didn't budge. "Very well. You are both dismissed. I will see you at the ball tonight."

Lucy dropped a deep curtsy and held it for a moment. "Thank you, Father." she whispered, before taking Natsu's hand and pulling him out the room and down the hall.

Jude was left in his study, alone, surrounded by mountains of paperwork necessary to running his kingdom. He slowly sat back down, gazing out the window toward the sea, and reflected that despite giving up her heritage and kingdom and riches, Lucy might just be the lucky one. Then he shook his head, dispelling the thought, and reached for his communication lacrima to call his brother.

Natsu and Lucy spent the rest of the day together running around the palace. They'd gone to visit the rest of Fairy Tail to deliver the news and Lucy tearfully thanked everyone for coming to her rescue. She'd opened her vast closet to the girls and made plans to come get ready for the ball with them before taking Natsu's hand and slipping out to the gardens. There they'd wandered through the flowers and getting lost in the hedge maze. Well, Natsu's nose would have allowed him to find his way out in a matter of minutes, but he was enjoying indulging in the kind of activities Jude had threatened him over this morning. So he'd deliberately continued to guide them in the wrong direction until his growling stomach forced him to lead them out.

She left him in a private dining room with the other Fairy Tail men and was immediately whisked away to her own dinner and prep for the ball with the women. He missed her as soon as she walked away, but seeing the mountain of food prepared for them and getting in a fight with Gray over the seventh to last chicken wing made him feel a helluva lot better.

Now, as dusk set over the city, the palace lights came on. Carriages pulled up the drive and disgorged citizens dressed to the nines. The ballroom floor had been polished to gleaming and in the corner the band warmed up their instruments.

On one side of the ballroom was a grand staircase where guests were announced. Once the room was filled to bursting, the herald trumpeted and silence fell.

"His Majesty, King Jude!" Polite applause rose from the floor below as Jude stepped to the top of the stairs. He surveyed his guests and looked to the floating lacrima cameras broadcasting his message to the rest of his country. He'd asked reporters to come for the start of the night to announce the reason for the celebration.

"People of Argyle!" he called out, making a grand sweeping gesture of his arms. "Tonight we have reason to grieve and reason to celebrate in equal measures. Last night, Prince Tristan of Zanada, without his country's knowledge or approval, attempted a coup. He attempted to force my daughter into marriage and sent assassins through these very halls, where several men were killed, including Advisor Namvere." Murmurs of shock swept the room and he raised his voice slightly.

"But! He did not succeed in overtaking us. Our guard fought valiantly and the King of Zanada will be removing the traitor in chains tomorrow."

The crowd cheered and this time Jude waited for it to settle before continuing.

"Despite Argyle's bravery, I would not be here to celebrate this with you today without the warning and help of a group that is here today to be honored. They learned of Tristan's plan, came to Argyle, and fought with us to subdue the invaders. I present to you Fairy Tail of Fiore!"

Everyone stepped out of the wings and carefully trooped down the stairs. Lucy wanted to walk with them as a member of her guild, but held back. Her part came next. As she watched them wave as Jude introduced them individually and their magic, relief hit her in a wave. She was tired of the carefully choreographed life of royalty. Stuffed into a corseted dress, waiting in the wings with a maid fussing with her hem and another smoothing her hair, all so she could wave at a camera for a few moments.

Perhaps if she'd had any real responsibilities, it wouldn't be so bad, but she'd only ever been a pawn. Even now, after removing herself from her role, she was still required to play the part for one more night.

She looked down at her father. While this entire debacle had seemingly opened his eyes somewhat and mellowed him enough to let her go, she knew they would never be close. She sincerely doubted she would see him again more than a few rare instances after this unless wartime called her new contract into play. Kings were too busy to visit their daughters and even if she were here she doubted they would do more than have lunch. Maybe. While he did paperwork. She wouldn't be here, though. Not for a long time. If she made a habit of coming back, he would make a habit of scripting her into his plans, however well intentioned they might be. She was hoping to exchange holiday cards, however.

Then suddenly the trumpet sounded again and the maids stepped back and Lucy realized that this was her cue. She lifted her chin and stepped forward into the light for what she sincerely hoped was the last time.

Plastering a princess smile on her face she lifted her hand a sent a genteel wave to the crowds and the cameras. Gliding down the stairs next to her father, she halted and allowed herself to find Fairy Tail in the crowd at the bottom of the stairs. They were all smiling and cheering and it made her smile feel a little more natural and gave her the strength to launch into her speech.

"People of Argyle. What my father said is true. We have cause to grieve for the harm Tristan has caused-but also reason to celebrate new beginnings. The treaty signed this morning between Zanada and Argyle. The start of a friendship with the most powerful guild in Fiore. And...a new heir to the throne."

She could feel the shock roll through the crowd. As the whispers started, but before the noise could rise up and overcome her, she spoke again.

"After a long time considering and the events of these past weeks, I have decided to rescind my rights to the throne in favor of my cousin, Frasia Duchesca. She is an able administrator and I have seen her passion for this country and it's people. I feel strongly that she will serve you better than I ever could and it allows me to step aside with nothing but joy in my heart. I will be joining Fairy Tail and strengthening Argyle's relations with Fiore. So please...help me welcome Princess Frasia and her husband, Prince Thomas!"

She turned quickly to the top of the stairs where her cousins stepped forward, waving to their new subjects. Frasia was a tall woman with dark brown curls flowing down her back and milky white skin. Her features were almost delicate, but the firm set to her jaw and spark in her eyes reminded Lucy eerily of Erza. Even without knowing her accomplishments, it was clear she was competent and intelligent. Her husband Thomas was a half head taller than her. He had dark eyes and a cocoa complexion. His cheekbones were sharp and he'd shaved his head but allowed a neatly shaped beard to grow. His height and strong features would allow him to be intimidating if need be-he was probably a killer negotiator-but his grin was blindingly brilliant and invited anyone and everyone to be his friend. Together they were a striking couple, and thinking back to their substantial talents and achievements, Lucy knew that she was leaving her country in better hands than her own.

As the crowd let loose with the loudest cheer yet, Lucy realized that she'd completely missed Frasia's speech. By the upturned tilt to her mouth, Frasia knew it. She came over and engulfed Lucy in a hug. Lucy squeezed her back while stammering out an awkward apology.

"It's alright!" the new princess laughed. "It's a big moment for you. You deserve to get lost in your head a little bit. I wanted to come thank you before the party gets going and I have to butter up absolutely everyone in the room. I know this was hard for you. If you ever need anything please don't hesitate to come to us."

Lucy smiled at her rather tearfully. "Thank you," she murmured, "but I'll be leaving for Fiore tomorrow. Whenever I'm near, though, I'll make sure to call on you if you aren't too busy."

Frasia laughed. "We could never be too busy for you, Lucy! But if you'll excuse me, I see Thomas is already being swamped by politicians. I should go help!" She flitted off to her husband, whose eyes lit up as she joined him. Lucy watched them mingle until a warm hand wrapped itself around her arm and she was yanked down the stairs.

"C'mon, Luce! I saw a buffet table over there!" Natsu pulled her through the room toward the display of food, but Lucy tugged back halfway there. He looked over his shoulder.

"What's up?"

Lucy glanced around. Everyone was focused on Jude and his new heir. It was the first time she'd ever been in this room with no one looking at her. She held her hand out to Natsu.

"Would you dance with me?"

She'd always had to dance with people she barely knew. Had to keep the polite smile on her face while she was either bored to tears or while her partner got a little too friendly. She loved to dance, but had hated the necessities of her position. Now was her chance to enjoy herself.

Natsu reached out and touched her fingers, his other hand falling to her waist and drawing her to him. He could see how much she wanted this.

"Yeah, Luce. We can dance all night if you want. At some point I'm gonna have to waltz us by that buffet, though."

She laughed as he steered them around the room awkwardly, trying not to step on her feet. Natsu was a quick learner and after so long fighting, dancing was easy to pick up. Twenty minutes later they were twirling around the room like pros. Natsu grinned down at his Lucy. Now seemed like a good time to ask something he'd been thinking about for the past few days. He cleared his throat awkwardly and she looked up.

"So, ehm, I was thinking," he hedged, all of sudden doubts hitting him like Gray with a surprise ice attack, "maybeyou'dwanttogooutsometime?"

She squinted. "Sorry Natsu, what?"

"I said, would you maybe want to go out sometime? Like, a date? With me?"

Lucy stared. Had the man who'd kidnapped her a month ago, taken an arrow from her spirit, flown to another country to rescue her from a forced marriage, and taken her virginity just asked her to go out? Like, for coffee and a show? She realized that she should probably give some response as his face slowly turned the color of an overly ripe tomato.

"Well…sure! But why now? Seems a little, ah, backwards."

He spun her deftly around another couple. "I know. It's goofy. But I was thinking, I kinda forced into this-not the last few weeks, I know!" he hastily added as she opened her mouth to reassure him, "But I did in the beginning. And since I knew you were into it I never really gave you a choice. But being here's kinda driven it home that that's been your whole life. Seeming like you have a lot but never getting to choose any of it. So I…wanted to ask."

Lucy couldn't help it, she started to cry. Goddamn, she had to stop crying all the time. This week was just endless waterworks. She grinned at him.

"Yes, Natsu. I'd love to go on a date with you. Maybe you can take me out for lunch when we get home."

He laughed and dipped her down for a kiss. Straightening back up, he noticed Jude glaring daggers at him across the room and twirled Lucy under one arm to throw a salute his way.


Makarov's voice boomed in her ears as he elongated his arms to crush everyone into a group hug. Crushed between Natsu and Erza, Lucy struggled to breath. Although she managed a squeak when Natsu's hand worked its way between them to grab her ass.

When Makarov let them all down she collapsed, massaging her ribs. But only for a moment, because that was when the crowd of members who'd stayed home came rushing in. She was surrounded by well wishers telling her how happy she was here with them, how excited they were that she was home. It was making her tear up again. "Dammit, stoppit Lucy!" she demanded of herself.

She dashed the tears away and let her smile take over. She'd been right to leave Argyle behind. Even after only a month, this was a better home than she'd ever dreamed she could have. Her smile only grew when Cana jumped onto the bar hoisting a barrel over her head.

"Alright Fairy Tail! Time to fuckin' party!"

Everyone cheered as someone turned up the music, and the guild got down to the business of throwing one of the rowdiest bashes they could muster.

Despite having woken up early with Gajeel to fly them all home, Natsu was in the middle of the boisterous crowd all night long. He started six brawls, ate a disgusting amount of food followed by the huge bonfire someone had started in the back (he relit it with his magic, but that didn't stop the beginning of brawl number seven), and put on a fire show for Asuka. But as the clock ticked toward midnight, he appeared next to Lucy where she lounged at a table with Levy.

"What do you think about going home, huh?" he murmured in her ear, sending goosebumps up her arms. She turned and nodded, saying her goodbyes to Levy as they headed toward the doors.

"Hey buddy, we're heading back! You want to come or stay here with Charle a while?" Natsu called over to Happy. The blue cat barely spared a glance from where he was ogling Charle with one eye and a salmon filet with the other.

"I'll be back later, Natsu! Maybe tomorrow….we'll see how many fish Mira has.." he trailed off, drooling. It didn't seem to endear him to Charle at all.

Chuckling, they walked out the door and Natsu scooped her up into his arms as he unfurled his wings. Lucy snuggled in as he launched them into the air. She hadn't really had the chance to be close to him for almost 24 hours...she'd insisted he sleep in his own room the night before, citing improved relations with her father, and then she'd spent most of the day in Laki's travelling dragon box before they'd been thrown back into the arms of their happy family. Being held close as they soared through the air was wonderful and his heat kept her warm despite the cool night air rushing past.

In short order they touched down in front of the cave entrance and Natsu's magic made the door appear. He didn't put her down, keeping her pulled to his chest bridal style as he carried her down the hall, torches lighting their way.

Weaving his way through the treasure piles, he brought them to the back portion of the cavern. Stepping into the cozy studio gave Lucy a wonderfully content feeling, like she'd come home. But really, she'd felt that way since Natsu had broken down the door at her 'wedding' and met her gaze with his own. He felt like home.

He set her gently down on the bed, sinking down next to her and half on top of her, and she realized why he'd wanted to leave early. Good; she'd been hungering after him all night.

She lifted up to meet his lips as he leaned down to her. The kiss was sweet, loving, but quickly a spark of fire grew and it turned heated. His tongue slipped out and swiped at the seam of her mouth and she opened, bringing her tongue to dance with his. He groaned into her and she swallowed the sound up, running her hands in his hair and tugging.

He responded by rolling onto her more fully, one knee separating her legs, a hand bracing himself on the bed and the other cupping the back of her head, holding her to him. Lucy's hands found their way to his hem and pulled his shirt over his head, barely breaking off the kiss to do so. Once she'd thrown it to the other side of the room she raked her nails down his back.

Natsu arched up, growling, before literally tearing her dress off her body. She gasped and part of her wanted to remonstrate, but it was drowned in desire by the naked need she saw in his eyes before his mouth was on her neck, scorching its way down to her shoulder. She had enough presence of mind to reach back and snap her bra off before he could tear that, too, and then his mouth and hands were on her breasts and her fingers went right back into his hair as she moaned.

He sucked hard on one nipple before letting go with a pop, and rose up slightly to get at her underwear. Struck by inspiration and desire, Lucy pushed at his chest and rolled him over before quickly pulling his pants down his legs. She wanted to explore him a bit, but she could sense a hunger in him-and her-that meant a slow lovemaking would have to wait.

Throwing his pants in the opposite direction of his shirt, she lowered herself to eye level with his cock. It was straining upright, nearly purple in his desperation. A bead of precum adorned the tip.

Lucy wrapped her hand around the base and licked the pearl on his tip. Natsu's reaction was immediate. He nearly bucked off the bed, grabbing at the sheets and groaning.


He propped himself onto his elbows only to fall back down as she wrapped her lips around him and gave an experimental bob. She did it again, this time swirling her tongue around as she did so, and suddenly she was on bottom and he was tearing at her panties. He'd moved so fast she was disoriented for a second, looking around rather wildly.

"Did you not like it?" she gasped out as her panties went the way of his shirt.

"Gods Lucy, I loved it."

He surged back up her body and caught her in a heated kiss, one hand finding its way to her sex and rolling her clit in between his index and thumb. Lucy was so turned on she nearly exploded then and there, and she had a flash of insight as to why he'd thrown her off.

Natsu lined himself up at her entrance and slid into her carefully despite his wild energy. She appreciated the gentle gesture, but she was more than warmed up and ready for him. She wrapped her legs around his waist and hissed into his ear. "Don't hold back. I want you to fuck me, Natsu!"

His hips snapped into hers at a frantic pace at that, and in a moment they were both gasping. Lucy threw her head back, feeling herself get closer and closer to the edge with each pounding. Natsu reached back at grabbed one of her legs, throwing it over his shoulder. His next thrust went deeper than he'd gone before and Lucy screamed as he hit a spot inside that had her seeing stars. Three thrusts later, Natsu roared as he reached his climax as well and Lucy felt his wonderfully hot seed coat her insides, soothing some of the light post coital ache she already knew would become a regular feeling after the kind of intense sex they'd had tonight. She was completely ok with that.

Natsu collapsed face first next to her, turning his head after a second to shoot her a grin. It softened to a smile and he reached out to draw a lingering finger down her jaw. She caught his hand and held it, smiling back. After a moment he reached out and pulled her into his chest.

"I'm so happy you're home, Luce. Maybe we could go on that date tomorrow, yeah?"

She snuggled into his pecs. "I'd love that. And Natsu?"

"Yeah, Luce?"

"I'm glad I'm home, too."

The end!

Hope everyone enjoyed reading this as much as I liked writing it! I have a couple ideas for multichapters and I'm planning on finishing up Incubus' Bite, but you may not see me for awhile. I try to write at least half or two thirds of a story before I start posting so I can keep up with the weekly updates.

On another mildly related note, I like to edit more than I like to write. If anyone is looking for a beta, I'd be interested in looking over your drafts and seeing if we'd be a good fit to work together!

Goodbye for now, everyone! Thanks for coming on this journey with me!