A/N: TA-DA! THE INTERLUDE { it's neither Lucy's nor Natsu's perspective - it's Lisanna's }. PLEASE DON'T HATE ME FOR THIS. I know not a lot of you expected this, and will probably be REALLY mad at me for this, but THIS WAS NECESSARY. I hope you understand why after you're done reading. As compensation, I'll have the next chapter out AS SOON AS I AM PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF PUTTING IT UP.

I put the review responses before the chapter this time! Feel free to skip straight to the chapter! ;) [ AND DON'T HATE ME PLS ]

Also some things you ALL should know, just so you're prepared:

1. I like making both my characters squirm before getting where we all want them to be.
2. I hate the trope of dropping everything because someone you loved said something/reciprocates your feelings.


RESPONSES TO REVIEWS:

Before we get into this, just wanted to share a fun incident: User DoomMarine sent me a hateful PM because he was mad that everyone was ganging up on Natsu (are we even reading the same story) and um... because apparently I had Lisanna... beat up, Natsu? On god, I've never been so confused in my life, and I had a good laugh. Honestly the way some reviewers feel so entitled to be rude is starting to amuse me now.

Oh and one note for everyone, since a reviewer said something and I felt the need to clarify, because I'm really sorry if it came off that way :( - Lucy being an overthinker has nothing to do with her being a woman, and everything to do with ME being an overthinker. I repeat: Lucy is not an overthinker because she's a woman.

Layla Heart: Sorry that this is frustrating you and you're not enjoying this... :/ And um, of course it's going somewhere? I believe in build-up so that the character's decisions and actions are well explained, and their intentions understood. And I like keeping things real as far as emotional reactions are concerned. Besides, I have always maintained in my A/N that this going to be a slow burn (I fixed it anyway in the summary!). There's still a long way to go, and if you don't like slowburn, I understand. And also, Lucy overthinking has nothing to do with her being a woman? I'm exactly like that. In some ways, I'm projecting the way I think onto her character as I write. And well, frankly as for Natsu being OOC, that's a given. It's practically impossible to write differently toned fanfiction if he wasn't OOC; in fact, it's OOC that he's with Lisanna in the first place, I think. As far as his reactions are concerned, I don't think that's OOC at all because as I've established before he doesn't like change (that's in fact canon) and he doesn't know how to react to some situations. He's taking his time. Also, I've been saying for a while that Natsu's POV won't come till Ch12/13. I had a plan for this fic and I'm afraid I'll be sticking to it for the large part, so I would understand if you don't wanna read it anymore.

Michiamotippete: Aw SOON, I PROMISE. And as per usual, you were right on one account, hehe. Not an unpleasant argument though ;) I hope this one's okay omgggg

NerdmomDM: I actually did consider what you said, but I felt like her being comfortable enough to tell Hibiki would mean she's completely over Natsu, so that might not have worked in the long run, ya know?

suzaanoelofse01: ALMOST THERE. I'm sorry for this chapter, ahhhhhh probably not what you expected, but it still will probably answer some of your questions.

FoodforTHOT: You're literally the best, I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate you, your encouragement and you love ahh omg. And ahhh 'cosmic-sama' I kinda like that, hehe. Yeah, Natsu is a frustrated lil bean right now. And by the way... *evil grin* the "precipice" of something hasn't come yet. There's still time. I like making both my characters squirm, lel. And yes, since you mentioned Lisanna, I'm hoping you like this chapter; I have a feeling most won't, lol. AND THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN XOXO

ipromiseimnotatotaldweeb: YOU GOT IT, almost, haha. And thank you, I am glad we're on the same page about this. I feel like people being in relationships while being in love with someone else is a delicate thing and needs to be approached as such; I personally don't like hurting one character, even if they're side-characters, in favour of another, so I prefer having everyone fleshed out well enough.

savwafair: OMG YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE THAT GOT IT COMPLETELY SPOT ON! Therefore, my DMs are open if you wanna drop a trope/prompt/idea for a story [ I can do a max 3 chapter one! ], or just even leave one in your review! AND THANK YOU I wish had a reply section but I actually like replying to you guys so much! And I'm trying to paint Hibiki as a very laid-back guy... And since I won't be going into detail about the mission itself, to answer your question, he didn't ask any questions and it wasn't awkward! Went pretty well, I'd say! And yes, I will be going back a bit far on Natsu's POV, at least via flashbacks to see things from his POV! And as I said, you were spot on! Lisanna and Natsu's conversation isn't very detailed here. I thought I'd do it in Natsu's chapter instead of on here!

Wonderwomanbatmanfan: Yeah, you're right! Natsu is close to resolving things though, kind of! And yep, definitely, Lisanna is a smart cookie in this one ;) I hope you like this chapter!

Ember Reverie: I know, I'm sorry :( It'll get better (ish) soon, though, I promise! And yeah, I kind of wanted to draw contrast between how she handled her overthinking in the beginning of the fic to now, which is why I had her try to talk to him! Oh, and definitely, other guild members will be in soon, especially in Natsu's POV, for reasons I don't wanna spoil yet, hehe - Happy, Gray and Erza, especially, considering he's close with them. And your interpretation of Lisanna... Oops, I went in the opposite direction, so I hope you don't hate it, ahhh.

EVERYONE ELSE WHO HAS LEFT REVIEWS - Anjay, Uchida Akira, khffbleach9, bluegamergirl11, MollyyyAnne666, IndigoArcher89, the-ruby-rabbit and all the guests (SHOW ME YOUR NAMES SO I CAN TALK TO YOU SJKDJDLSFKJSLD) - THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR REVIEWS, AND WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT AND SUPPORT, I LOVE YOU GUYS SO MUCH, AND AS I SAID BEFORE, IT'S WHAT KEEPS ME GOING XOXO


So... HERE GOES NOTHING... TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK, AND ALL YOUR GUESSES... And also, PLS DONT HATE ME.


Interlude


Lisanna Strauss considered herself a very simple minded person. Perceptive and, despite her quiet demeanour, honest. And resilient. She liked to think that she took what life threw at her in her stride; she tried to make the best of any situation. And that was what she had done when she had found herself in a strange new world almost three years ago.

She had felt that something was different when she'd woken up to a pair of suspicious brown eyes staring at her with, well, suspicion.

"You're awake."

And then, she heard an almost familiar squeal before feeling a familiar pair of arms wrapped around her. Mira. Standing behind her, was Elfman, who wouldn't look her in the eye. As Mira finally let go, Lisanna's gaze roamed around the room carefully drinking in the familar emblem that adorned the walls of the rooom before realizing she was in an infirmary. She knew what Fairy Tail's infirmary looked like, and this wasn't it. And yet, the emblem was right there.

Her gaze finally rested on Mira, her blue eyes shining with tears as she looked at Lisanna anxiously. Mira looked different; dressed different. Lisanna swallowed thickly.

"Mira?"

Her words were raspy and her sister burst into tears again. The sight felt strange; she wasn't used to seeing Mira cry. Before long, Elfman began bumbling out apologies about how he should have listened and powered down the lacrima when he could have, before it went out of control.

Lacrima?

It didn't take long to figure out after that. It was a different world; a mirror image to the one she lived in, called Edolas. She didn't know about the why's and how's, but it was what it was. So she made her peace with it, quietly doing what she could to blend into it. It was okay for the most part but she missed home sometimes; mirror image or not, the smaller things stuck out like a sore thumb to her about how this wasn't the same.

Gray was… different. Bisca and Alzack were shockingly bold. And Cana… Well, she supposed Cana of Edolas gave her the most whiplash.

She'd been excited to see Natsu at first. But he was so different; much like everyone else, so she wasn't that surprised. Then there was Lucy Ashley, the girl that had been peering down at her with suspicion when she'd first woken up. She had no idea who that was in her own world, but here, she was Natsu's partner in more ways than one; they thought it was secret, but she could see it, and it was clear as day in the way she blushed while scolding him, or the way his hands held hers when they thought no one was looking. He was demure, she was loud. He was gentle-mannered, she was brash. But they worked well, and she could see that.

And so she clung to the only thing that held some semblance of familiarity to her - her family.

In this world, Mira was engaged to Laxus (which amused Lisanna beyond anything when she'd first heard), so she spent most of her time with the Thunder Legion. She was surprised to find friendship with them, especially Bixlow, with whom she had a field day teasing Evergreen about Elfman, and when they both felt exceptionally brave, Laxus and Mira. She'd found her place in the mirror world, and it wasn't such a bad place to be.

Two years went by and she felt at ease except for the ocasional waves of homesickness. She didn't even miss being able to use her takeover magic anymore. Her heart didn't feel as heavy, and somehow, she was content. A longing lingered in the back of her mind, for her own home and people, but she was content in her own (not exactly) world.

Besides, living on the run, being at war… It changes you, and the things you want and expect from life. Lisanna was no exception.

She liked to think that she'd grown beyond the small whims she had as a kid. Love and marriage, something she used to daydream so much about, felt mundane to her. There were bigger things to worry about. There was more to life than that.

And one day, he showed up. Once again, her life turned upside down. To this day, her heart ached when she thought about Mira and Elfman from Edolas, knowing they had been separated from her twice. It wasn't… her, but all the same.


When she'd first seen Lucy Heartfilia on Earthland, she was a little startled, but grew to like the girl as a friend. She reminded her somewhat, of Lucy Ashley. She had noted the protective way Natsu hovered over her, and she felt rueful amusement because of course. Truth be told, she was okay with that. She'd been okay with the idea the minute she'd seen Lucy after she'd arrived.

Which was why she was taken by complete and utter surprise when the morning after her arrival, Natsu had asked her out. He seemed strangely nonchalant about the whole thing. She'd looked at him with disbelief.

"Really?" she'd asked, her eyes flickering over his shoulder to the blonde girl who was scribbling furiously into her notebook

Natsu cocked his head at her, a small frown on his face. "Well, of course. Isn't it what you wanted?"

Lisanna blinked at him, surprised that he even remembered their conversations from childhood. She would be lying if that wasn't what she'd been daydreaming about back then.

"But Natsu that was so long ago… Are you sure-"

"I mean, I woulda done this if you hadn't you know… disappeared, I suppose," he said shrugging. "Now that you're back… Why does anything have to change? It's what we were supposed to do, right?"

She supposed that maybe he was right.


It was odd after the first week, she thought. Maybe it was just a matter of getting to know each other again. It was even awkward a couple of times, especially when Natsu point-blank asked, "So, what are boyfriend and girlfriend supposed to do?"

She'd stuttered. "K-Kiss, I guess?"

And so he did.

When she'd first spoken to Mira about it, Mira had laughed, saying that Natsu was new at this and that maybe he just needed some more time.


And then one day, Mira looked at her with concern as they watched Natsu take off in the evening to pay Lucy a visit.

"What?"

Mira hesitated. "It… doesn't bother you?" she asked, nodding her head in the direction the trio had left in. "That… he stays over and…?"

Lisanna's brows furrowed. "Not really."

Should it?


One evening, just after he'd returned from a job, found Natsu at her apartment. The two were sitting at the table for dinner, catching each other up on how their day went. When they fell silent, she could see Natsu was a little distracted, and watched curiously as he bit his lower lip before looking at her.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Luce said something strange today…" he started, and when she waited for him to go on, continued. "She said something about… butterflies and skin being on fire."

"What?" Lisanna was thoroughly confused. "What're you talking about?"

He looked a little irritated with himself. "She said that about being in relationships. About… feeling butterflies in the stomach when you're around each other and about feeling like skin is on fire when… ugh…" he huffed, and paused before continuing curiously. "Do you?"

"That's... poetic," said Lisanna, blinking at him, having absolutely no idea what he was talking about. It sounded like something out of a book. Of course, she thought with amusement. So she laughed lightly at him, continuing fondly. "That's just Lucy being Lucy, Natsu. You know how much she loves to read romance."

He chuckled a bit that, nervousness dissipating. "Yeah, I suppose you're right. Silly, Luce."

But to answer Natsu's question, no. She did not really feel any butterflies, she thought absent-mindedly in her head.


"It's funny seeing you two together," laughed Bixlow one afternoon, as he leaned against the bar counter lazily. Surprisingly enough, they'd become good friends since she'd returned from Edolas, if only because she usually had the evening shift at the bar and he was one of the last to leave the guild. Not to mention, when she'd confessed to him about Mira and Laxus being engaged on Edolas, the two of them had a jolly good time attempting to fluster Mira, which was shockingly difficult, and Laxus, which was shockingly easy.

Lisanna quirked a brow questioningly as she handed him his drink, noting with amusement that the Bixlow at Edolas liked the same thing.

Bixlow shrugged. "Before you came around, everyone thought that Salamander and Blondie would get it on."

This was news to her, and noting her silence and the small frown on her face, Bixlow hurriedly added, "I mean, clearly we were all wrong, seeing as he… you know…" and without finishing the sentence, he took a hasty sip of his drink.

Lisanna mulled over this information, and found herself becoming a curious observant.


A few weeks later, when she'd gone to Natsu's place he was sulking a lot more than usual. After a lot of prying, he'd reluctantly told her that he'd found Hibiki and Lucy on her couch in the midst of a heavy makeout session. She'd listened wide-eyed as he told her how he'd gotten angry and how Lucy deserved better. There was something else, she knew, she just knew, but he didn't say.

He'd just stopped midsentence with an exasperated sigh and Lisanna could've sworn that he was about to cry. But he turned away and lay in her lap, eyes closed, brows knitted in a frown.

Over the next few days, she'd noticed that Natsu and Lucy weren't talking. She had expected Lucy to be angry at Natsu, of course she'd be given what Natsu had told her, which was why she was surprised to see that Lucy was the one casting furtive glances at him.

She tried asking him, but he was surprisingly tight-lipped at first, and then he was dismissive, claiming it was nothing.

She didn't believe him.


She could feel the heat radiating off of him as he seethed, stiff as he watched Hibiki and Lucy talking. He started stomping towards them, when Lisanna grabbed him by the back of his collar, pulling him to a stop.

"What're you doing!" she hissed.

"She's going on a mission with him," spat Natsu. "She's my partner. We're a team."

Lisanna pursed her lips. "Aren't you two fighting, do you really want to make things worse?"

His eyes widened with surprise as he turned around to face her. "How did you-"

She only rolled her eyes in response, ignoring his question. The guy really thought the rest of the world was as oblivious as him. "You haven't been on a job for two weeks, Natsu. She probably needs the rent money."

"True. She did say that," he relented before looking at her indignantly. "So why doesn't she just-"

"-Ask you?" finished Lisanna. "Well, why didn't you go ask her?"

"Well, because I…" he paused, and scowled, before looking away from her. "Why him?"

"He's her boyfriend, Natsu," said Lisanna with a sigh. "He's all the way over at Blue Pegasus. They probably just want some alone time for-"

"Alone time!?" he growled. "For what? I don't see what the big deal is and-"

She rubbed her temples with mild annoyance now. This was really too much. It was almost starting to grate on her nerves, and she was actually a very patient woman. She cut him off as she grabbed his hand and started to tug. He stood up, looking at her in confusion as she half dragged him out of the guild hall.

"We need to talk," she muttered.

When she broke up with him, he was angry at first. Then confused when she mentioned butterflies. Then defeated as he looked a little lost. He listened to what she said very carefully, despite all the interruptions and counter-arguments, and she watched as realization crossed his eyes.

"No," he said, shaking his head, looking stricken. "No way, that's absurd. We're best friends! She's my best friend."

She didn't say anything, merely watching as he paced, mumbling in denial. But she knew he knew, that he'd understood so she waited quietly. She couldn't help the small smile that her lips lifted into, a little sad, yes, but she felt like a knot that she didn't even know had existed had come undone in her chest.

"I'm sorry, Lis," he said suddenly looking at her with doleful eyes, before enveloping her into a hug.

She chuckled softly as she drew back. "It's okay, Natsu. Really. I just… I guess things do change after all, huh?"

"I don't have to like it," he huffed in frustration, glaring at the floor for a couple of seconds.

"I... need to clear my head," he said, at last, looking at her. "I'll take a solo mission. Can you take care of Happy?"

"Of course," she nodded, and with another apology, a goodbye and a kiss on the cheek, she watched him go back into the guild.

He didn't come in for the rest of the day and she was glad. She'd had just one good cry in the pantry that afternoon. She was hurt, but… not heartbroken. And now she was really tired. This kind of stuff was exhausting. Mira was already gone and she was still not sure if she should tell anyone just yet, especially without Natsu around. Sighing, she rubbed the back of her neck, and started to lock up for the night.

She heard someone groan and looked in the direction of the sound to see Bixlow rising from the floor. He caught her eye and grinned sheepishly. "Guess I had too much to drink."

"You sure did, Bix," she chuckled, stepping out from behind the bar, and heading towards the door of the guild. "You came to just in time. I was just locking up."

Laughing, Bixlow hurried to catch up with her, standing by as she bolted the guild doors shut and pocketed the keys. It had gotten really late today and her gaze flickered apprehensively over the empty streets. They stood in silence for a couple of moments before Bixlow asked, "You okay, Lis? You look..."

"...Just tired," she murmurs with a sigh.

A couple more seconds of silence.

"Come on, I'll walk you home," said Bixlow quietly at last, looping an arm through hers and tugging her into the night, in the direction of her house.


A/N: SO?! UM. ARE Y'ALL MAD?! WAS THIS OKAY? DO YOU SEE WHY I HAD TO!?

Next chapter is almost done, and FINALLY we'll have Natsu's POV! This, as I said before, was important so that there would be a less jarring transition AND also to explain Lisanna's POV and how things go with her, and to understand the way she herself saw things. I don't like painting her as oblivious.

As for Lisanna's characterization... I personally don't like the trope of her being blindsided, since as I said before, I don't like hurting side characters too much just to push my ship, so I tried to portray her as sweet, but observant, if that makes sense. Also, I know the Lisanna-Natsu conversation isn't very detailed in this one, but I'm saving the details for when we go into Natsu's POV!

Also, my fics are so intense... Mayhaps I should start something more lighthearted(ish), hm?