A/N: As with everything about this fic, I'm unsure about this chapter. It's not what I had planned at the very beginning, so I'm sure you guys will feel a huge tonal change as you read this chapter.
This fic was supposed to end with Natsu and Lucy realizing the other's feelings, but not really talking about it given the tumultuous way things went, still afraid and insecure (that would've been more realistic I think). It was basically going to be semi-canon compliant. This would've been followed by Avatar Arc, after getting Gray + some angst when she almost dies. They decide to talk about it later when the war was over, and then it'd slip into the canon stuff with them getting news about Makarov and MAYBE a 4-part sequel for alvarez + post alvarez, behind-the-scenes of canon, with unresolved feelings kind of vibe.
But idk this fic sort of spun out of control and I felt like I wouldn't be able to do it justice anymore… Besides, pretty sure y'all would've come for my neck if this fic ended with them not talking about their feelings lmaoooo. Imagine if I never got around to writing the sequel phew
Would anyone be interested in a brief(ish) one shot of how I'd originally planned to end this fic?
Either ways, I hope you like how this fic ended.
Responses to some reviews:
NerdMomDM: Hey! Thank you pointing that out. Ugh I couldn't fix it cuz I deleted my old files. xoxo It was supposed to read:
".. I get it, but I just needed you to know. I don't even know when it happened, but I know I've loved you for a while, but I've really only known for a few months..."
Michiamotippete: Omg not at all, that wasn't pushy, don't worry! It really was the direction I was planning to take at first. And I love LOVE writing about how people feel things knowing they shouldn't be feeling them. Idk I just enjoy it... Ahhhh, I'm glad you like this fic that much! Nonetheless, I hope I see you on my other fics, because I really love the way you review my work! xoxo
Perfect Memories: Ahhhh you caught onto the more subtler stuff! ;_; Yeah, I didn't want their confessions to be rushed; Like I wanted to make that a thing by itself instead of an angry/jealous reaction. I mean I do love those, but didn't seem to fit the bill in this fic. ANd thank you for your support, really means a lot to me! xoxo
And Ushindeshi, .X ScarletMidnight19, and BlakeReese, shelbylynn093, CodeBlue19, Geekyjuvia25, ipromiseimnotatotaldweeb, and FireShifter! I really appreciate you guys and your reviews so much! xoxo.
CHAPTER 8 - MAGNOLIA
Natsu sighs when she steps away. "I'm sorry, I understand if this changes things between us but… I wish they wouldn't. I just needed you to know that I couldn't possibly leave again because I…. love you too much and…" A floodgate of sorts opens, half because he wants to let it out and half because her lack of a response is making him nervous. "...It's honestly okay if you don't feel the same way. I get it, but I just needed you to know. I don't even know when it happened, but I know I've loved you for a while, but I've known onYou'll always be my best friend, Lucy. That won't ever change, not unless you want it to. And-"
"You idiot." She hugs him tight, crying softly, burying her face in his chest. "I'd never change that."
Natsu has never felt this confused. He'd had a very either/or situation in his head; she'd either get mad, or she'd be completely okay with it. The only thing that was remotely close to how he'd imagined it to play out was her calling him an idiot.
"I'd never change that." What did that mean?
He feels her tears against his chest as they seep through his vest. He doesn't know what to say as he just holds her and tries his best to keep his impatience in check. He hears her take a shuddering deep breath before she draws back, sniffling.
"You mean that?" she asks, eyes puffy.
"'Course, I do!" he says indignantly, did she think he'd bluff about something like this.
"Then why did you wait till now!" she exclaims, face puckering as she crosses her arms against her chest, a somewhat pained expression on her face.
"I... Didn't… I didn't even realize it until…." he trails off, ending his sentence with a sigh. "Last year."
"Oh," she says softly, still somewhat wonderstruck.
"Ya know," says Natsu, rubbing the back of his head still feeling a little confused. "I don't know what to make of your reaction. I thought you'd be mad or-"
"Mad? Why would I be mad," asks Lucy. "I have never been more relieved. I feel like a knot in my chest has come undone."
"Really?" he asks in disbelief. "Why?"
" Why ?" she repeats incredulously, before saying in most obvious tone. "Because... I love you too." Pause. Chuckle. "You really are dense. How had you not figured it out alrea-"
He cuts her off mid-sentence with a kiss. It's chaste, almost a silent acknowledgement and a declaration. He draws back and grins at her unsurely when he sees her eyes are wide, her cheeks tinted a soft pink.
Natsu's brows scrunch up in concern. "Should… I not have done that? I'm sorry, I should've asked first, I'm such an idiot and-"
"What, no! You're not an idiot." Pause. "Sometimes," she adds with a playful smile as he looks at her indignantly. "And don't be sorry." Another pause before she looks up at him again, cheeks red now. "Do it again."
Lucy watches the changing landscape quietly; her heart wasn't in this journey, but Natsu was determined.
When she'd asked him, "What now?", he hadn't answered right away, but had admitted that he had no idea. She'd suggested that he join Sabretooth and on seeing his indignant face, quickly went on to say that she'd only said so because there had to be some source of income or it would be difficult; they hadn't really discussed if Natsu would live with Lucy, but she supposed it was a given. Natsu had paced frustratedly for a while before finally telling her that he wanted to go to Magnolia… See Fairy Tail.
"I just want to see it once, Luce. I can't decide right now, it doesn't feel right. I promise I'll think about it after."
And that's how she found herself on a train to Magnolia, absent-mindedly threading her fingers through Natsu's hair as he lay passed out on her lap. Her eyes flicker to his face and she feels lighter than she's had in months. If she'd been told last week that she would be here right now, she would have laughed mockingly. Even on the day that Natsu had returned, she didn't think that this was where she would be. But she was glad she was.
Her best friend loved her and the thought still leaves a warm, bubbly feeling in her stomach.
Of course everything isn't magically okay now. Wounds take time to heal, but they'd do it together. He'd promised her help in looking for the Aquarius's key, but she somehow doubted that they would have time for that anytime soon. There's still so much to be done. Her eyes flicker to his bandaged arm. Igneel's flames , he'd said, but she still has no clue as to what he could possibly have meant.
She finds her mind wandering as she worries about the impending battle with Zeref and Acnologia; Natsu, she was sure, would want to leave her out of it, but no way was she sitting out, not after everything that had happened. Idly, she wonders if maybe they could get all the legal guilds to form an alliance. She knows Crime Sorciere would participate willingly. Even Sabretooth. Mass mobilisation might be the only-
Her thoughts are broken by the sound of the train whistling, announcing it's arrival at the Magnolia Station. She feels her heart get just a tad heavy as she touches Natsu's forehead, gently pressing it to wake him up, before rubbing Happy's ears to awaken him. They wake up stifling a yawn, Natsu a bit pale, and follow a quiet Lucy out of the train.
She shivers a little as she drinks in the surroundings, and despite herself, memories of the times they'd started their journey for a mission in the station fill her mind. She sighs to herself softly, and prepares herself for what she was sure would be a mentally exhausting trip down memory lane.
She feels Natsu slips his hand into hers quietly, warm and calloused, and she tightens her fingers around his. Not much is said between them as they walk down the cobblestone road, both of them automatically making note of the changes in the streets and categorising them according to whether or not they were a fan of the change that had inevitably come after the destruction caused during the battle with Tartaros.
Erza's favourite bakery had undergone a renovation. 8-Island had shifted to a quieter street. The Dolphin Fountain on the Petunia Crosswalk was no longer there. There was new bridge built over the canal near the diner the team frequented.
Both of them came to a stop at the road that led up to Fairy Tail. Down this road was where once the guild stood, but now, wooden beams were erected in the front to ward off strangers apparently, which Lucy finds quite peculiar because what would the beams would even be protecting.
"What the hell?" she hears Natsu mutter and turns to look at him to see his nose scrunched as he sniffs the air with bafflement and concentration.
"Natsu?" asks Happy as Lucy watches him with concern.
Both their confusion deepen when they see his frown smoothen and he starts to grin. Gripping her hand tighter, he cackles in excitement, breaking into a run as he drags Lucy behind him.
"Natsu, what is going on?" she asks, struggling to keep up with the dragon slayer as he runs down the road towards where Fairy Tail once stood.
"You're going to love this Luce!" he says, and she can hear his smile and Happy has already zoomed over towards their destination, curious.
They come to a halt in front of the wooden beams, and while Lucy tries to catch her breath, Natsu looks around only briefly to look for a way behind the beams before lighting his fist on fire and punching through it. It leaves a gaping hole in the beams, smoke starting to rise up as the wood starts to crack to make a bigger opening.
Lucy's words of reprimand die in her throat when she looks through hole to see many familiar, but startled faces. There's a second of silence and Natsu merely greets them casually as he pulls Lucy after him as they step in through the whole. And then, there's chaos.
"Juvia is glad Natsu-san and Love Rival are okay."
"You two really are idiots. Do you know how worried we were?"
"You can't just leave a gigantic message at the palace of all places and not show up here!"
"Leave it to Flame Brain damage an already damaged property."
"This is the third time I've had to rebuild that fence since we started!"
"Where the hell have you two been!"
Ten minutes of chaotic reunion later, everyone's exchanging their stories.
"I oughta arrest your ass, Salamander," scowls Gajeel. "The Domus Flau and the palace… Do you know how much property you damaged? The Magic Council is outraged…"
"Since when do you care about that shit?" asks Natsu indignantly.
"Since I started working for them," he says, keeping the scowl on his face before smirking. "But you did scare them good though. You should've seen the old man's face when news reached the council."
And it went on.
"I'm sorry, I never responded to your messages, Lucy," sighs Erza at some point. "We were in the middle of infiltrating a dark guild and I didn't want to put you at risk."
"Yeah," agrees Gray. "We thought you'd left with Pyro here so we didn't really…" he trails away with a grunt, rubbing the back of his head.
Lucy feels Natsu's hands tense in her grip, and she squeezes reassuringly before leaning over and planting a gentle kiss on his cheek. A corner of his lips raises in a smile, and he is about to lean to kiss her lips, oblivious to the sudden quiet at the makeshift table they were sitting on.
"I see Natsu finally stopped being an idiot," giggles Mira, breaking the silence.
" Hey !" retorts Natsu before conceding. "True, but it's not like she did something about it."
"Hm, I suppose you're right," says Erza with a smile.
"Both of you grew brain cells, huh? Who would've thought," says Gajeel, faux annoyance write on his face.
"Shut up, Metal Head."
Naturally, he's awarded with a punch to the face and the two of them start a brawl, that many guild members partake in pretty soon. The familiarity of it all feels so warm that even Erza watches in amusement.
Even when conversation breaks out again, Lucy doesn't say much, just revelling in where she was. She just watches her friends talk (and fight) and feels like she can finally breathe. Deep, full breaths. Her gaze sweeps the area, now a construction site as the guild works towards rebuilding their guild hall. There's much work to be done, and they had to find Master Makarov first and foremost. A long journey to an entirely different continent lay ahead. Change was in the air, more of it. She knows there a war's coming.
Her gaze flickers over to Natsu, who senses her watching him and he looks up to shoot her a smile. She smiles back, giving him a small wave, and oddly out of character, he abandons the brawls he'd started, to join Lucy at the table. The girls look up, surprised but also lightly amused. His hand snakes around her waist as he pulls her further into his side as he engages Erza in a debate over the rennovations of that bakery she loved so much.
She is home, and she knew she would be able to take whatever came her way.
A/N: And with that, I finish this fic! What a wild ride!
I want to thank all my reviewers who have enjoyed this story, as well as people who have favourited/followed this story. I love you guys, especially for being so supportive through all the hate this fic (for some strange reason, actually) garnered. I appreciate you all SO SO Much. Support means everything in this small world of fanfiction and I think all fanfic writers would agree with me that reviews/kudos/follows are currency in fanfiction world.
I hope you liked the final chapter and think it a fitting end.
BTW I'm going to be publishing a new BFFs with Benefits kind of a fic REAL soon (2-3 days?) I hope I see you all there!