Cover Art by Semi-o

Beta'd by MorriganFae

Characters Kidnapped from Hiro Mashima


"Rage, rage against the dying of the light." – Dylan Thomas, 1951


2nd July, X494

Sitting there under the canopy, it was easy to imagine she was far away from the castle's defenses. Sounds of revelry drifted up from the hall and permeated the quiet of the courtyard. If she closed her eyes, she could hear the faint whispers of music entwined with sounds of crickets chirping in the high grass surrounding the base of the old sakura.

A late summer breeze whistled through the night air, but she wasn't ready to go back inside.

Not yet.

Instead, she turned away from the lanterns gleaming from the windows and looked above at the stars. So entranced was she by her own thoughts, that she didn't notice the figure approach until it was too late to hide.

"Lucy?"

His voice was low – hesitant, but it still startled her upright. She whipped her head around, blonde locks slipping from the ties at the base of her neck. Her breath caught as she stared at the man in front of her. About five and twenty years, his face was angular – thrown into sharp relief by the shadows cast by the lights behind them. She could just make out the spark of his jade eyes, his jagged hair made messier by his fingers.

"What are you doing here? This is the maiden's garden, if you get caught—"

He cut her off, holding up his hands peacefully as if she was a skittish doe. He was clean shaven today, free of the light scruff that often graced his cheeks. His clothing was dark, gray linen coupled with the leather jerkin of a soldier. The silver fastenings however, declared him a ranking officer.

"I convinced Virgo to let me in." He grinned, his canines poking through his lips as he gestured to their surroundings. "I looked for you, but ya bolted after dinner before I got the chance to talk to you. What're you doing out here?"

She worried the inside of her cheek, caramel eyes flickering across the area.

She scanned the perimeter before reaching out with a small white hand, curling her fingers around his forearm and tugging him quickly under the shade – releasing him instantly after. She didn't want to risk being discovered, even if this part of the castle would be widely deserted while the festivities continued downstairs. He stumbled a little at her abrupt contact, raising a slender brow. It was a shade darker than his hair, more dusky than blush.

She averted her gaze as she reclaimed her seat on the stone bench. Smoothing her pale green skirts, she arranged them neatly so they covered her feet. She'd long since abandoned her slippers to feel the cool grass between her toes.

A beat passed in silence.

He waited impatiently, drumming his fingers against his thighs until she finally spoke.

"I couldn't stand it anymore. Everyone's pretending there is nothing wrong, they're too busy drinking and dancing like idiots." She muttered bitterly, wrinkling her nose.

Staring at her lap, she pictured his expression. He would be frowning, his arms crossed over his chest. Through the edge of her vision she saw his boots moving as he sat beside her, his hands braced against his knees – fingertips brushing across the spun cotton.

"Can you blame them? It's one last chance to have some fun before the fighting starts again. Most of them won't be coming back." His voice was even. She could smell hay on him, mixing with the scent of smoke and sweet mead. It clouded her judgment, nostalgia ringing through her marrow.

She shook her head once in annoyance.

"Then they shouldn't leave in the first place. It's a suicide mission Natsu, you know it as well as I do!" She glared at him. Her throat stung, her palms shook ever so slightly.

It was a mistake to look at him, she already wanted to crumple in on herself.

His dark eyes glittered in the low light, his pupils blown wide until the ring of jade was just a sliver at the border. There was a seriousness there she was unaccustomed to, a tightness to his jaw as the muscle there clenched – even as he tried to hide it.

The young man held her gaze and grasped her soft hands in his calloused ones.

"We don't have a choice. The king said—" He began, only for her to interrupt.

"The king is wrong! You sit in on all of those strategic meetings, I know you do. My grandfather will listen to you, just suck up the courage to tell him." She pleaded, her tendons stark against her knuckles as she tried to pull away from his hold.

He didn't let her.

"Lucy, Makarov ain't wrong. Do you really expect him to do nothing? To stand on the sidelines and let those filthy bastards raze our villages? What sort of man would that make him? What kind of ruler, and what kind of man would I be to tell him no?" When she tried to move away again, he held fast – pulling her closer towards him.

"If you won't change your mind, then what are you even doing here? Go!" Her voice was unsteady as she fought to blink back hot tears. "I can't stop you."

She hated feeling weak.

She hated him for making her like this, but when his arms encircled her, she allowed the embrace.

He tucked her face beneath his chin, stroking gently up and down her back in long smooth movements. With her ear pressed to his sternum, she could hear the beat of his heart – thumping away like the drums of war.

He pressed his mouth to the top of her hair. Almost all of it had escaped its coil so he freed it, combing the strands to undo the golden tangles. Without meaning to, she began to relax, tired of being upset. All she wanted was to be with him like this – safe beside her and far from the front-lines.

"I love you." He whispered, his breath ghosting against the shell of her ear. "You know that. I don't want to spend the rest of the night fighting. Please." He kissed her temple, and the corner of her eye.

When she pulled back, he pecked her cheek and planted a faint kiss just below her earlobe.

"I just don't want you to go. Last time you came home it was with a giant gash across your side. If Gajeel hadn't reach you..." She didn't finish the thought, pushing her forehead against his, tracing a line over his tunic where she knew the scar would be. He stilled her hand, lacing their fingers together and brought them to his fevered lips.

"But he did. It's something that metalhead won't let me forget." He chuckled, and the vibration sent tingles down her spine. "Luce, think of it this way. This time the battalion will be under my command. I'll be spending more time with maps than anything else. And... if all goes well... I'll finally be in your father's good graces. If he trusts me then I stand a chance in becoming a general in full..."

Natsu tilted her head upwards so their eyes locked, two fingers gently grasping her pointed chin – his thumb drawing small circles against the high arch of her cheekbone.

His eyes were bright, trying to convey his desperation – his need for her to understand.

"I don't care if you're not a general, I care about if you're safe." She urged, brushing her fingers across his jaw. He turned slightly to kiss them.

"But I do. I'm sick and tired of sneaking around and pretending I don't care about you. Whenever I hear a new rumour about some suitor, I go fucking crazy with the idea of him near you, touching you. I hate standing there while you dance with that stupid prince or some flashy duke. I wanna bash in their smirking faces." He swallowed tightly. "Don't you get it? If this goes well, I can come home and court you in my own right."

For a moment, it was silent – the only sound coming from the crinkling leaves swaying in the breeze.

"Are you saying..." She couldn't finish. She scanned his face, trying to decipher whether he was serious or not.

She'd loved him for years and known him twice as long. She couldn't imagine life without him, but they both understood the consequences if anyone realized the king's granddaughter was consorting with a lowly knight. Once a member of the castle guard, Natsu had made a name for himself after the war began.

"When I get back, I wanna make you mine. Really mine, so no one will ever try to take you away from me." He leaned forward and rested his hand at the nape of her neck.

She closed her eyes tight as he pressed his lips against her own. He started off slowly, softly – as if he were afraid she might suddenly disappear. Lucy felt heat pool in her abdomen as she snaked her arms around him, closing the space between them. His lips became more insistent as she raked her nails against his scalp. He tightened his grip with a growl.

When he tilted his head to deepen the kiss, she broke away instead – albeit reluctantly.

"I'm already yours. I'll always be yours." She whispered breathlessly as she peppered his neck with caresses. "Leaving tomorrow only takes you further away."

He closed his eyes and shook his head, trying to concentrate even with her mouth against his flushed skin. "I'll be back, I promise."

She sighed, moving back as she adjusted her skirts again – fiddling with the silken fabric. "Nothing I can say will change your mind, will it?"

For a moment, he didn't answer.

He leaned towards her until he was sure she was looking right at him – the deep sage arresting as they locked eyes. "I will come back. And when I do, I'll make you my bride... if you'll have me."

Her cheeks reddened as her heart thrashed in an attempt to claw its way out of her chest.

It was so easy, sitting there with him, to forget all about the people around them. To forget about the party, and her father's men crawling through the halls.

Looking at his face, she made a quick decision.

Standing, she reached out and tugged him up behind her. His stormy eyes widened but didn't argue as she lifted one slender finger to her lips. When she was sure no one was watching, she beckoned him forward and dragged him to the only entrance to the courtyard. The stone archway crested as it extended into to a corridor – lined with chambers along one side. To the left was a large window overlooking the ramparts, and to the right was the staircase that led out of the women's quarters.

Lucy led him to the double doors closest to the window, slipping in quietly. Inside the suite was a bedroom with light birch furniture and an abundance of white lace. A changing screen sat in one corner and an ornate rug lay on the wooden floor, the fibers plush. Fat wax candles were lit to illuminate the papered walls, no doubt the work of her handmaids.

The room was predictably empty.

Normally Aries would attend to her in the evening. However, if the heated looks Loke had been sending her friend all night were anything to go by, the young woman would most likely be absent. Lucy didn't mind, she was happy that they had found each other and would gladly cover for the other woman.

There was no point in her getting in trouble, not when Lucy was grateful for the privacy.

As the pair entered, the door swung closed behind them and Lucy moved to latch the lock. She then released his hand and went to her window, quickly drawing the curtains closed. For his part, Natsu eyed the space warily, trying to come up with an excuse for being there in case someone passed by.

Entering the courtyard was strictly off-limits but entering the princess' bedroom was nothing short of treason. He hadn't been here in years, not since before his promotion through the ranks and his first deployment. Even then, he'd stood as sentinel outside her door – keeping a watchful eye for potential trouble.

Trouble like him.

He grimaced.

He was brought out of his thoughts when Lucy finally spun around, floating towards him with her hands outstretched. He squeezed them tight as he traced the planes of her face, noting the tinge of red dusting her nose.

"I want you to stay with me."

He took a deep, steadying breath. "I know, but we just talked about this – that's not an option."

She shook her head as she took small steps backwards away from the door, bringing him along with her. "No Natsu, I mean tonight. If I have to say goodbye, then give me this."

It took him a moment to realize she had positioned them so they stood next to her bed.

He watched her expression carefully, his eyes darting across her visage. "There'll be hell to pay if they find me here."

The corners of her lips quirked up, "Since when have you been afraid of the consequences?"

That made him laugh.

The husky tenor rolled through her, the deep timbre curling her toes. He grinned, showing off a set of straight white teeth – his canines sharp. He tried to be silent as he fought for control over his breathing. He took her face into his hands, nearly purring when she nuzzled into his touch – her soft skin lighting a fire in his veins.

Away from prying eyes, she let him deepen the kiss at last – opening her mouth to let him in.

She bent backward so she fell onto the mattress, toppling him down beside her so that they were both sitting on the edge of the bedspread. She fumbled with the clasps of his jacket, pushing it aside so that it fell to a heap on the ground.

Steadying herself, she broke contact so she could shuffle further into the center of the bed. He kicked off his boots and followed her lead – rumpling the sheets as he settled beside her. His hands traced the curves of her waist and neck. Her tongue swept the roof of his mouth, making him groan. Her fingers found their way under his tunic, tracing the muscles of his stomach as they clenched beneath her touch. When she went to discard it, he helped her by hauling the dark fabric over his head.

With one arm she pushed him down so that he was lying on his back. Long and lean, he sprawled over the covers – sending a shiver crawling down her spine as she took in the dips and ridges of his abdomen. She sat beside him, smoothing his hair away from his dark eyes.

Her other hand traced the faded wound on his abdomen, her fingers shaking against the raised flesh of the scar. He captured it, raising it to his lips – his thumb brushing over her knuckles.

"Hey, it's alright. We're not going to worry about any of that tonight." He coaxed, using his index to bring her face back to his so she was no longer looking at the old injury, returning her to him – to this moment.

A curtain of corn silk painted his vision as he felt her smiling against his lips.

Nestled into his side, she slowly pulled at the laces that held her bodice closed. As the strings loosened, the dress began to sag – sliding off her shoulders. The bones of the corset slipped from her ribcage, dropping uselessly to her waist.

With his eyes shut, Natsu didn't notice until his palm glided over the bare skin of her clavicle. Wrinkling his nose, he opened his eyes, only for them to widen. He pushed up onto his elbows, watching as the piece fell back entirely and revealed her white chemise below.

"Lucy..." He began, trying to clear his throat – heat boiling inside him as his eyes flickered over her. She bit her bottom lip and push the dress completely off her hips – shimmying it down her legs and onto the floor alongside his abandoned shirt.

"I've wanted this for longer than I care to admit, and… I – I think you have, too. I'm not waiting for you to come back to me. Wife or no, I'm yours." With that she kissed him hard, running her tongue against his lips – her resolve eddying away the remnants of her nerves.

Surrounded by her jasmine scent, her taste – he could think of no reason to argue.

She wavered slightly above him as one of his arms came around to the dimples at the small of her back, pulling her closer until their chests touched. She moved her mouth to the crook of his neck, leaving light nips. His hands went from her spine to the sides of her legs, tracing the stockinged expanse of her calves as they were slowly exposed.

Though her face flushed, Lucy didn't move away. Instead, she swung one leg over him with a bravery she didn't know she had. She sat low on his stomach, the tips of her hair tickling his skin from where she hovered above him. Her chemise climbed higher and higher up her thighs as his large hands continued to explore, bunching at her waist. Hesitantly, with his help, she yanked the thin material over her head and onto the carpet.

Instantly, she lost her courage under the smoldering look Natsu was giving her from beneath his lashes. She bowed her head so some of her curls would hide her torso, crossing her arms over her bare chest.

Gently, he twisted so that she was now on her back and he was looming over her. He was careful to make sure he was looking at her eyes, pools of amber cast low. He smiled and kissed her nose, moving on to her eyelids – her jaw and neck. Her breathing came in ragged as her arms uncrossed and went to tangle themselves in his hair as he went lower to her clavicle – to the dip at her hollow of her throat.

His fingers paused, resting just above her hip.

When he was sure she was relaxed, he rose slightly so he could look down at her, stretched below him in the ivory sheets. He grinned at the blooms of red coating her face and lower as the flush crawled down to her peaked breasts. His voice came out in a hoarse whisper, caressing her skin.

"You're absolutely beautiful."

Shuddering, she could feel his sincerity down to her toes.

She surged upwards to capture his mouth with hers, bringing him down with her to the mattress. She arched her back, eliminating any space that kept them apart – skin against skin. Their tongues fought against each other, each struggling for dominance. When she tugged his lower lip between her teeth, he snarled – the sound reverberating through her with a tremble. One hand fisted in her hair, the other locked her leg around his waist.

It went on like this as she lost her stockings and bloomers, and he his breeches, until all she could feel was his naked skin moving against hers.

His touch was gentle as he palmed the heavy globes of her breasts and the full flesh of her inner thighs – though she could sense the barely leashed hunger in his movements. The small part of her that worried over her inexperience, that remembered she wasn't the first woman to be wrapped in his arms, gave way at the praise that fell freely from his lips.

She cried out when she felt his touch at her center, heat curling in her stomach as she tried to jerk her hips away from him – her breath ripped from her lungs as she heaved. He didn't falter, lapping at the pulse point at her neck as his fingers maintained their pressure at her core – his free hand holding her hip steady as his thumb drew quick circles against the top of her slit. She keened, squeezing her eyes shut and forcing her head back into the pillow – clutching at her own tangled locks as he flicked the sweet spot nestled between her soft curls.

She hummed, letting the tension coil in her – clenching around nothing as he coaxed her higher in pleasure.

The other girls she knew never spoke of this.

They only talked of the duty wives had to their husbands.

She didn't know it could feel this way, that he could do this to her and bring her so close to the edge of sanity, so near that she knew the fall would be effortless.

She had almost gotten used to the sensation when the man above her flexed his wrist – twisting so the heel of his palm grazed over her while his fingers snaked lower – sinking into her. She mewed, thrashing slightly as he dragged them against her inner walls, causing her to whimper.

"That's it, love." He purred, nuzzling her ear – his words vibrating through her.

She sobbed, her teeth latching onto her lower lip as her nails raked over his shoulder blades. He groaned, reveling in the lines she clawed onto him, his entire being focused on her low mewls – his gut clenching as he drank in her sounds.

The glossy candles melted away as the room was filled by sighs and gasps. Finally, he withdrew his hand before settling between her legs – hard against her abdomen as he bucked into her, slipping between her wet folds. She squeezed her eyes closed, tears beading her lashes as he pushed into her – less from pain and more from the anxiety pulsing through her.

Her breathing hitched at the feeling of fullness that engrossed her, hot and thick inside her. Natsu paused as he noticed the salty moisture gathered on her cheeks, wiping it away with his lips. His muscles tensed, not wanting to hurt her, but when he started to pull away – she panicked, her legs wrapping around his waist, denying him.

He relaxed at her eagerness, bending to kiss her deeply, his tongue melding against hers until she melted against him – his fingers gentle and tender as he rubbed her sides from collar to navel.

"My Lucy," He crooned, pulling her lower lip between his teeth – struggling to remain still while surrounded by her heat. "You are everything."

He continued whispering promises and admirations in her ear until he felt her fear dissolve, wanting her to feel nothing but pleasure. He worshipped her body, rasping her name like a prayer.

Then slowly, very slowly, he picked up a rhythm.

He rocked inside her as she tightened around him – long measured strokes growing shallow as he brushed against the back of her womb, jolting her. Her hands danced down his spine, clutched at his shoulders or fisted the sheets by her head. In turn, he kept her distracted, moving as only one experienced could, working until her muscles strained and her pulse beat erratically.

She chanted his name every time he ground into her, her brow furrowing as she moved to match his thrusts.

"I love you so much." She gasped, heels digging into the sheets, her heart bursting with affection even as electricity ran molten through her blood. He groaned at that before speeding up, his tempo punishing as he buried himself to the hilt – his lips pressed against the extended column of her throat.

It was too much. The feel of his teeth scraping against her veins as he rocked into her, angling against the sweet spot within her – flung her over the brink. Her breath caught, stuttering to a halt as she tumbled over the edge – helpless as the tang of her release flooding her senses until she could almost taste it.

He didn't last much longer, following her into ecstasy as his pace grew erratic – her thighs cradling him as she carded her fingers through his matted locks, her toes curling as his release washed through her. They were both breathing heavily as his weight dropped onto her. She welcomed it, needing to feel him against her – his arms clasped tight around her as their hearts beat in tandem.

They lay there in bed, wound around each other in a tangle of limbs as Natsu finally moved, reversing their positions. Their skin shone in a sheen of sweat as she rested upon his arm, her head nestled atop his chest as he sketched patterns on her back. Weariness settled in their bones until they wavered on the verge of sleep – losing themselves to unconsciousness with the ghost of endearments still lingering on their lips.

/-/-/-/-/-/

Early the next morning, as the world still slumbered and the sun had not yet risen, Natsu opened his eyes. A warm body was snuggled beside him, his arm thrown about the curve of her waist. He took advantage of the pre-dawn quiet, revealing in her nearness. His chest burned at the sight of her before him, spools of gold spilling like dawn across the pillow. Her torso was drowning in the cream sheets while her shoulders peeked out from under the covers. Moonlight carved shadows along her figure and he could just make out the constellation of freckles dotting her upper spine.

He traced his fingers down her face, knuckles brushing against the line of her jaw. Carefully, he slipped away from her embrace and out from under the blankets. Quickly – quietly, he pulled on his clothes and laced up his boots. He paused, eyes crinkling at the corners as he drank in her form.

Before he left, he bent and pressed a final kiss on her lovely brow – this girl who had so easily captured his heart.

"Dream of me, love. I'll be back with you soon." He whispered, even as her eyes remained shut. Then, before anyone could discover him, he exited the room – sneaking back towards the main encampment.

Little did he know that she had been awake all along – that she had heard his last hushed promise. She hadn't opened her eyes because, if she had, it would be like waking from a dream before she was ready.

Because the truth was, she had always dreamed about him.

She had done so since she was fifteen years old. Visions of them together, arguing or talking or laughing. Glorious fantasies, each distinct from the last – except the endings. Without fail, his face would appear for a final time. He would leave her, or she would leave him.

That morning, as he kissed her brow, she kept her eyes closed because she wasn't ready to give up on the reverie. She knew that when she did, she would be alone in her bed and he would be off with his troops.

And somehow, this time, she knew that she was never going to see him again.

She knew he'd never make it home.

Because that was how it always ended.

So she closed her eyes tight against the filtering light and clung to the feel of his lips on her skin – tears streaming steadily through her lashes.


"For the second week of Christmas my true love gave to me..."

Hey all,

Oh gosh, I know that end was heavy but this story is near and dear to my heart and it was an honor to share it with you. I'd had this idea for a while, and as much as I want to extend this further - this was the natural end of this story. Some of you might remember this used to be part of a longer story, but due to time constraints my plans changed. Regardless, I hope you liked it as much as I did.

I would also like to take a moment to thank my extraordinary beta MorriganFae for all her help, it's so wonderful being able to work with her. I'd also like to thank semi-o from Tumblr, who was kind enough to let me use her art for the cover. They are both wonderful so please go check them out!

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Satyrykal


PS: Find me on Tumblr or Twitter for the latest on my stories and spamming reblogs of Fairy Tail content. Same username ^.^