Chapter 7

Natsu sat on the edge of his bed, watching the egg intently. It had been three weeks since they returned, and there had been no change yet.

"You need to be patient, Natsu," Ultear said from the other side of the room. She was sitting in the chair beside the table, shifting a small blue orb between her hands. "It will take time to hatch."

"But why does it need to take so long?" He flung his hands up into the air, falling back on his bed. Ultear simply sighed. Since she was the one who had to claim the egg, she always had to bring it to him whenever he wanted to be with it—which was all the time—but he never knew why she always chose to stick around.

"Hey Ultear," Natsu said. He propped himself up on his elbows. "Why did you decide to join the council?"

She froze, the orb falling still in one hand as she met his eyes. They stared at each other for a moment, before she turned away. The egg remained still, wrapped in a pile of Natsu's spare clothing.

"I didn't choose to join the council."

"Then why are you here?"

"I suppose that it was similar to yourself," she said. "I didn't want to join one of the guilds, and I had nowhere else to go."

Natsu nodded. "I suppose that makes sense…but why are you always grumpy then?"

Ultear frowned, before tossing the orb at him with a quick flick of her wrist. It hit him square in the head, and he fell back with a cry. It quickly reappeared in her hand.

"Oww!" Natsu exclaimed, rubbing at his sore head. "Why'd you do that?"

"I'm not always grumpy."

Ultear raised the orb again when he shot her a disbelieving look. He yelped, holding his hands up, pleading with her to not throw it again. She sighed again, lowering it with a shake of her head. Natsu had seen a change in the girl since returning from Fairy Tail. She wasn't always mean anymore, but if anything, she had simply gotten quieter. He often found himself unsure of how to act with her, rather than being terrified as he used to be.

"Have you prepared for your next mission?" Ultear asked. Her attempt to change the conversation wasn't missed by him, but he chose not to question her on it.

"Yeah, I guess so…I don't really know what's so important about it, though."

Ultear fixed him with a glare, and he immediately knew that he said something wrong.

"It's important because the council relies on having good ties with the king and princess of Fiore. If we weren't on good terms with them, then we wouldn't have as much power as we do. We rely on them, and they rely on us."

Natsu rubbed the back of his head. "I guess so. I just don't see the importance of someone that just sits in a big chair all day giving orders."

Ultear shook her head and sighed. "You know, Yajima does that too with the council."

"Yajima's different! You know that!"

She stood from her chair, her robes swishing behind her as she moved to the door. The egg remained firm in its bundle of clothing, even as she picked it up. He found his eyes following it, wishing that he could keep it with him until it hatched. If for some reason it hatched when he wasn't around, he didn't know what he'd do.

"You'll be leaving the egg here."

"C'mon!" Natsu pleading, clasping his hands together. "Please let me take the egg with us! I'll take good care of it!"

Ultear simply shook her head, continuing. "Seriously, Natsu, you must prepare yourself. I know that Councilman Yajima will give you orders himself, but do try not to embarrass yourself in front of royalty."

He shot her a smile with raising his hand in a mocking salute. Her frown deepened.

"Aye, Aye!"

The egg shook in her hands, and both occupants froze as their eyes settled on it. There was silence for a moment, before another slight crack could be heard and a thin line began to form down the side of the egg. The shaking increased, and Ultear hastily placed it back on the ground, taking a slight step back.

"It's hatching!" Natsu exclaimed, rushing to get closer. "I can't wait! I'm going to have my own baby dragon!"

There was a thin glow from within as the cracks continued to spread, moving down the side until the egg was covered from top to bottom. Natsu glanced up at Ultear, finding her standing by the door, watching the egg warily.

"Ultear, don't be scared," he said, reaching out and pulling her closer. She resisted at first, before giving in. "I'm sure it'll like you too!"

"I'm not scared, you idiot. I just—"

She was interrupted by the bursting, the eggshells flying through the air. Natsu watched with rapt attention, only to watch as a small blue creature flew up into the air, a pair of tiny white wings sprouted from his back.

"Aye!" the little creature exclaimed, smiling.

"Is that…" Ultear trailed off.

"A cat!"

Natsu rushed forward, watching with rapt eyes. The cat smiled further, before exclaiming "Aye!" again. Natsu laughed, gathering the small creature in his arms. He faced Ultear, whose shocked expression slowly faded into one of uninterest.

"Look, Ultear! It's a cat!"

"I can see that," she replied. She leaned over slightly, getting a better look at it, before sighing. "And here I was, hoping that I'd be able to fly around on a dragon."

"He's just as cool as a dragon! I mean, have you ever seen a cat that could fly before?!"

"Aye!"

"See? He agrees with me!"

"I'm not even sure that he fully understands you," Ultear said. "And why does he seem so happy?"

Natsu's eyes lit up, turning the cat around so that he could face him once again. "Happy! That's a perfect name! What do you think of that, little buddy!"

"Aye!"

Ultear ran a hand down her face, her eyes shut. "Again…that's not what I meant."

Natsu let go of Happy, and the small cat slowly fluttered up to his shoulder. "Hey, Ultear, now that he hatched, that means I can take him with me on the journey to the capital, right?!"

"I'm…not sure about that…"

"What? You can't be serious!"

Happy slowly flew off Natsu's shoulder, approaching Ultear. The girl watched him warily, before the cat raised a paw in her direction and exclaimed. "Ultear!"

Ultear pinched the bridge of her nose. "Oh, no…"

"He even knows your name! That's not fair!"

Natsu pulled the cat back, desperately trying to get him to speak his own name. The cat stuttered a few times but would simply face Ultear again before shouting her name. He gave up when he heard a knock at the door, swearing that he would get the cat to say it another time. Yajima walked in, dressed once more in his travelling close, a pack swung over one shoulder and his cane in the other.

"Natsu, are you ready—" The old man froze, staring at the scene in front of him in disbelief. "It hatched?"

"Yeah! His name is Happy!"

"Aye!"

"And it's a cat…" Yajima shared a quick glance with Ultear, who shook her head and shrugged her shoulders. "I…see."

"Can we take him with us on the trip?"

Yajima rubbed his head. "Well, I suppose that would be up to Ultear, now wouldn't it?!"

Happy and Natsu both turned back to the girl, Natsu with a pleading expression on his face while the cat attempted to copy him. "Pleeeease?!"

"Fine! Fine! Anything so that I could get a bit of peace and quiet!"

Natsu cheered, with Happy soon joining in. Yajima looked on with an amused smile, while Ultear made to move passed him. He rested a hand on her shoulder. "You know, Ultear, you can join us again if you wish."

"I…" She spared a glance back at Natsu and Happy. "I can't this time…There are things that I need to complete here."

"I understand," Yajima said. "Natsu, let's go! I want to be on the train within the hour!"

"Not the train! Please, can't we walk!"

"The capital's too far to walk, so let's pick up the pace!"

"Fine…" Natsu grumbled. He noticed Ultear stepping through the door and called out to her. "Bye, Ultear!"

"Bye, Ultear!" Happy quickly repeated.

She simply raised a hand in response, disappearing through the doorway. Her exit seemed a bit odd, but Natsu couldn't focus on it for long before Happy was flying around, exploring and grabbing a hold of all different types of objects. Yajima turned around, waiting by the door.

"Let's go, Natsu!"

"We're coming!"

LINE BREAK

When Natsu had first arrived at Era, he didn't think that any city in the world could possibly beat it in size. He was terribly wrong.

Crocus was at least three times the size of Era, with more people walking through the streets than he could count, and an endless amount of magic being used. The train pulled into the station; a thin trail of smoke being left behind as it rumbled to a stop. Natsu tumbled out of the trail, stomach aching, but for once he was able to ignore it in favor of exploring the city. He felt his stomach grumble as he took one step in the direction of a small restaurant, the smell of food overwhelming.

"Natsu," Yajima called out, waving his cane in the air. Happy flew in the air beside him, watching the city with wide eyes. "We are already running late. We don't have time to eat right now!"

Natsu grumbled quietly, but followed the old man, nonetheless. Happy took a seat on his shoulder, and he scratched the small cat's head. The station was jam-packed full of people, and from the looks of it, the streets would be the same way.

"Where do we even have to go?" Natsu said, trying to ignore the rumbling in his stomach.

Yajima raised his cane, pointing to a castle in the distance. It put the Council Headquarters to shame, easily dwarfing it in height. The walls were massive, with the large central tower standing taller than any building he thought he had ever seen before. Even from here, he could see the guards patrolling the walls, and even in the streets below, laughing or chatting with some of the citizens.

Yajima led them down the road, keeping to one side so that they weren't in the way of traffic. Natsu used the time to explain different things to Happy, such as what different types of food, or what different types of buildings could have been. He even spouted a small puff of fire, much to Happy's enjoyment, although Yajima was quick to admonish him on that, warning him not to do such a thing in a crowded space.

It didn't take long to arrive at the gate, where they were met by a platoon of guards all dressed in armor and equipped with spears. They didn't say a word as they turned and simply let Yajima and himself into the castle. There were more steps than Natsu could count, although he still thought that the Council probably had more.

The throne room was grand, with carpet lining the floors and pillars standing tall throughout the room, holding up the ceiling. There were empty benches lining the sides, all facing the throne at the end of the room. A tiny man sat atop it, dressed in a large fur coat with hair that seemed even grayer than Yajima's. There was another throne beside his, but it remained empty.

Yajima knelt in front of the king, and Natsu and Happy quickly followed.

"King Toma," Yajima said. "It's a pleasure to see you again."

"Yajima! I'm glad that you could arrive on such a short notice. We have much to discuss."

The king's gaze fell on Natsu, and he stiffened. He hadn't known what was so important about the king leading up until now, but standing in his presence, he couldn't help but feel intimidated. Or perhaps, it had to do with the countless amount of guards that lined the throne room.

"This is my student, Natsu," Yajima said. "I hope that you don't mind me bringing him along."

"Of course, not," Toma said. A smaller door opened to the side, and a girl with bright green hair stepped through. "Ah, here is my daughter. How is everything, Hisui?"

Hisui smiled at her father. She seemed to be about his age, although with the extravagant dress she wore, and the crown atop her head, she looked much older.

"I'm fine, father."

"That's good." King Toma hopped off his throne, striding over to Yajima. Hisui looked like she wanted to say something more but held herself back. "Now, while I discuss a few things with Yajima, why don't you keep Natsu company for a bit?"

Hisui met his gaze and seemed to frown for a moment before recovering and offering a small smile. Natsu had the sudden feeling that she wouldn't like him much. Happy seemed oblivious, as he slowly began to fly over to the princess, receiving a few pets in return. "Of course."


I hope you enjoyed!