It was getting later quicker than Lucy thought, or was it just her starting to black out? She pulled out Horologium for a while, but his time ran out long ago, although she sent him back slightly early because she wanted to spend a bit more time walking with Natsu, but she was sort of regretting it now.

"Natsu, can we take a break for a minute? I just want some water." Lucy called.

Natsu glanced at her with a look of concern as she leaned heavily against a tree while digging through her backpack for the water she had brought.

Finding the water bottle, Lucy gave a sigh of relief. While taking in heavy gulps of refreshing water, it overflow ran down the side of her lips. After gasping for air after taking a break from the water Lucy looked at the ground. She knew she looked like a sweaty tired idiot. Her face went from pink to red. She looked at the ground longer hoping her hair was covering her face. How long had they been walking?

"You okay Luce?" Natsu suddenly chimed in.

"I'm okay, just give me a minute." Lucy said sitting next to the tree she was leaning on, hair still covering her face. Natsu walked towards her in an attempt to see Lucy's face, but she looked away. He looked at her curiously, "Are you sure?" He asked again.

"Yea, I'm sure." Lucy replied while splashing some of her water on her face, then drying it off with her sleeve. She knew that wasn't very ladylike, and frankly, she didn't care anymore. She was tired and embarrassed for being tired, and ready to get to the next town. Lucy finally looked up and noticed the sky was turning hazy shades of orange and purple. Was it that late already?

She looked over to see Natsu noticeably closer to her. "I'm fine, really." Lucy said with a smile. With that she got up and started walking a few paces. Natsu began to follow. After just a couple minutes she could see black spots in her vision. Why was she tiring so quickly? She tried to rub it out of her sight, but her pace slowed down. Was she going to reach her limit just from walking a few hours?

Lucy stumbled on her next step and began heading for the ground faster than she could catch herself. Lucy closed her eyes to brace for impact. She felt a sudden stop and looked to see that Natsu grabbed her wrist before she hit the ground.

"Thank, thank you, Natsu." Lucy stuttered, still trying to blink the blurriness out of her vision. Was she getting sick or something? She felt off.

"You're not okay." Natsu stated glancing over Lucy.

"Here" Natsu continued, getting in a position to give her a piggy-back ride.

"No, no that's alright. I'm fine now." Lucy continued.

"No you're not," Natsu persisted. "Now get on."

Lucy sighed but hopped on Natsu's back. It was so warm. As he lifted her up and started walking she could feel herself lull off into sleep.

"Hoy." Natsu whispered. "Don't fall asleep on me." He said making no obvious attempt to keep her awake. It was harder to keep her balanced though. Lucy gave into the temptation to sleep as she snuggled close to Natsu's back, so comforting. Was it weird to think that? Before she could process the thought she fell asleep. Natsu sighed, "I guess I'll take care of checking into the hotel then."

After about another hour of walking and right as nightfall was hitting, Natsu arrived at the next town. It was bright and festive. It seemed like there was a sort of festival was being held. Trying not to wake Lucy, Natsu navigated through the crowd looking for the hotel. When he finally got there it seemed a bit nicer than the hotels Lucy would normally book, but he was sure the name was right. Hani Inns, could there be another one around, or had he heard Lucy wrong when he asked before they left. There was only one way to find out.

Natsu walked in the hotel careful to balance Lucy while opening the door. She sure could sleep when she wanted to. While walking up to the front desk Natsu looked around. It was definitely nicer than the usual Inns Lucy booked for missions. A fountain was flowing at the entrance and he could see a pool out back. There was also a sign that read "Magic show in the Auditorium every night at six." He looked at the man behind the counter who was staring back at him, eyebrows slightly raised. He looked middle aged, yet sort of young at the same time. He had dark brown shaggy hair that hung slightly above his eyebrows, and he wore a nice suit that did little to hide the fact that he looked quite skinny; he had a reasonable height but sharp scanning eyes. He was probably questioning why he had a girl on his back. "Hey mister," Natsu began to ask, "Do we have a reservation? The name should be under Lucy Heartfilia." His raised eyebrows lowered and his attention turned to the girl on his back, as if thinking about something. His eyes softened and he looked back at Natsu. "Yes, I believe we do, the room is 1020, just down that hallway." He pointed down a hallway across from him. "Would you like some help? It must be tough to carry your bags while carrying Ms. Heartfilia."

"How'd you know her name?" Natsu asked. The man handed him the key while looking at him like he was an idiot. "Well I'm assuming you're not Ms. Heartfilia." He stated while grabbing Natsu's bag.

"Oh." Natsu said feeling like an idiot, following the man down the hall.

"By the way my name is Haru Satou, Mr. Dragneel." It took a few seconds to process. "Wait, how'd you know MY name?" Natsu asked.

"You are also registered under the room." Satou-san said while smiling at him. Natsu just blinked.

"Here we are." Satou-san stated while opening the door to their hotel room, and placing their bags inside. "I'll be going." With that he walked down the hall and disappeared from sight.

Still slightly flustered, Natsu turned the lights on with one arm while still juggling with Lucy in the other. The room was nice. Two white beds with mahogany backboards and matching furniture and a bathroom full of porcelain and complementary soaps. Natsu gently placed Lucy on the bed closer to the window and sat on the bed with her. He brushed some hair out of her face and stared at her for a bit. She looked so fragile there. Like a china doll that could break if you dropped her from too high. He wanted to protect her for some reason. To keep her from shattering.

"I-I" Natsu began, "I promise that I will protect you." Natsu whispered to Lucy. He didn't know why it was so hard to say it to her. He could normally blurt out whatever came to his mind. But now he almost felt sort of embarrassed. Natsu rubbed his face with one hand feeling an unfamiliar blush spread across it. Then he felt a pair of hands grip the arm he left propped up on Lucy's bed. Lucy started to murmur something and Natsu leaned closer to hear. "Then I'll protect you too." Lucy mumbled in her sleep. Had she heard him? Natsu pulled back looking kindly at Lucy.

Natsu stood up shaking off Lucy's hands. He began to walk towards the light switch, he was quite tired himself. After turning the light off Natsu plopped down on his bed and began staring at Lucy's silhouette. "Thanks." He murmured to Lucy before drifting off to sleep himself.

"You're welcome." Lucy whispered while staring at the shadow of Natsu. Knowing that the idiot would never figure out she was actually awake when he said that to her. "I'll hold you to that then…and I'll keep up my end."

Lucy's eyelids felt heavy again and she decided to drift back to sleep herself.