Chapter 1: The Storm Before The Storm
It all started on what seemed to be a normal day for Fairy Tail: normal as in chaos and calamity rampant.
“What did you say to me Flame-brain?!”
“You heard, icy pervert!!”
“You wanna fight?!”
“Bring it on!!!”
Natsu Dragneel, Fairy Tail’s fire dragon slayer and Gray Fulbuster, ice maker extraordinaire, were at it again. That is until Erza Scarlet walked into the room with the Guild’s master, Makarov Dreyar, caught site of them and bellowed, “GRAY! NATSU! We’re having guests any minute! Cease this!”
“Hai, Erza!” they both squeaked, leaping back from their confrontational position, looks of terror etched on their faces. As powerful as they were, they had learned through long experience that you didn’t mess with Erza the Titania.
“Oh yeah, who is it that’s coming?” asked Natsu.
“You weren’t listening yesterday, were you Natsu?’ replied another of Natsu’s friends, Lucy Heartfillia, who had wandered over from the bar now that there was no danger of being caught up in another of Natsu and Gray’s constant brawls.
“Some of those Blue Pegasus guys are coming to talk shop with Master,” added Gray. Abruptly, identical shivers rippled across Erza and Lucy.
“Just so long…” began Lucy, wrapping her arms around herself.
“As it’s not them,” finished Erza woodenly. Unfortunately, their fears were realized as the doors to the main hall of the guild were thrown open and a voice boomed, “MY HONEY!”
“Oh bugger,” mumbled Erza.
In the entranceway, four people were posing, three being young men in dark suits and the fourth a comically proportioned, orange-haired man in a white suit. His dark eyes locked on to Erza.
“Men,” he said, and suddenly he was across the room, kneeling at Erza’s feet, hands clasping one of hers.
“My Honey, your parfum is as beautiful as…” Erza didn’t let him finish as she clenched her teeth, reared back and kicked the little man across the hall.
His friends didn’t notice his plight as they had surrounded Lucy.
“Lucy, it’s so wonderful to see you again.”
“Let’s sit down over here and…”
“we’ll get you a drink.”
Lucy looked like she was about to pull the same thing that Erza had just done so Master Makarov hurriedly cleared his throat.
“Ichiya-san, I’m a little pressed for time today, so why don’t you and the Trimens come up to my office and we’ll get down to it?”
“Men…” groaned Ichiya in acknowledgment as he levered himself out of the pile of debris that had been a table.
“Until next time Lucy-chan,” said Hibiki, one of the Trimens, winking and flashing her a killer smile.
As soon as they were gone, Erza and Lucy snapped around to face Gray and Natsu, causing them to recoil at the intense expression on the girls’ faces.
“Please tell us we have a mission,” said Lucy.
“Something, anything, as long as we’re not here when they leave,” added Erza.
“Uh yeah, Happy found a bill for getting rid of this gang of robbers who’ve been hanging around the forest outside of town. Apparently they’re pretty hard to find,” replied Natsu.
“Good,” said Erza, “Go get Wendy, this will be a good mission for her experience.” With that, Erza peeled off for the front door, triple time, with Lucy in hot pursuit. Gray and Natsu glanced at each other, shrugged and went off to find Wendy Marvell, the youngest of Fairy Tail’s three dragon slayers. Unfortunately for them, this job wouldn’t last as long as Erza and Lucy were hoping.
Just slightly over an hour later, Team Natsu returned to the Guild. Erza and Lucy ran up to the bar counter where Mirajane and Lisanna were washing an assortment of flagons, tankards, steins, glasses and cups.
“Are they gone yet?!” they both cried.
“My my, you two seem to certainly dislike the Trimens and Ichiya-san,” Mirajane said, smiling at them.
“You don’t know what that man tried to do to me,” Erza hissed back, eyes ablaze.
“Actually Erza, I don’t think you ever told us what happened between you and Ichiya,” Lucy said as she watched Natsu and Gray getting into another fight with poor Wendy caught in the middle, with Charla and Happy watching from the sidelines.
“I don’t like to talk about it,” Erza replied, a dark cloud settling over her features.
Suddenly, Ichiya’s voice echoed across the hall.
Erza turned to see the strange little man hurtling towards her, a tray with some odd-shaped bottles with neon-colored liquids held in one hand, like a waiter at a restaurant.
“Nice parfum…” Ichiya began but was violently interrupted as Erza slammed a gauntleted fist into his large face.
“GO BACK TO YOUR OWN GUILD!” she bellowed as Ichiya flew back in the direction of the front door with a cry of “MEEEEEEENNNN!!!”
Things began to happen in rapid succession. The Trimens, who were following Master Makarov down the stairs cried, “Aniki!” and leapt after him. Lucy noticed that Ichiya was heading straight for Natsu, Gray, Happy, Wendy and Charla and screamed for them to duck. They did, just barely getting out of the way of the hurtling figure. Unfortunately for Natsu, Ichiya’s plate of bottles had taken on a trajectory of its own. Wendy saw this and cried out, “Natsu-kun, watch out!”
Since he had just barely dodged Ichiya, Natsu turned in the direction he sensed the new threat but he was too late. The plate and the bottles atop it smacked him straight in the chest, breaking on impact and covering Natsu with foul-smelling liquids.
Ichiya continued out the door with the Trimens following close behind, Erza, Lucy, Lisanna and Mirajane gasped and Gray, Happy, Charla and Wendy recoiled from the now pungent Natsu.
“Naaaaannii?! What the hell is this stuff?” bellowed Natsu as his sensitive nose began to run from the stink.
Makarov, who had watched the whole seen with jaw hanging open suddenly rounded on Erza.
“Erza! That was completely… never mind, we need to get Natsu to the infirmary, immediately!”
“Of course Master, I will accept whatever punishment you deem fit later. NATSU!” she said as she leapt towards Natsu, probably to drag the poor guy up to the infirmary by his scarf but she recoiled from the smell of the potions. Natsu, who was now coughing violently, managed to hack out, “I don’t… feel so… good.” With a deep, guttural groan, his eyes rolled up and he unceremoniously crashed to the ground, the yells of his friends accompanying him down into the darkness.
Slowly, Natsu’s eyes cracked open. The first thing he realized was that he could no longer smell that horrible stink, which was absolutely awesome as far as he was concerned.
“Master, he’s awake.” Mirajane’s gorgeous face came into focus as Natsu blinked to clear his vision. Another woman with long brown hair and wearing a nurse’s outfit appeared next to Mirajane.
“I think we’re through the worst of it. The fact that he’s awake now is a great sign,” she said.
“Here Natsu,” said Mira as she helped him into a sitting position, “Drink this,” she added as she handed him a glass of water.
“What about any long-term affects of the potions?” asked Makarov, who was standing off to the side. The nurse turned over to him and frowned.
“I’ll have to run some tests. You told me what those potions were for but I very much doubt that they were meant to be mixed like that. But Natsu doesn’t seem to be suffering from any ill effects at the present. If that changes however,” she said, turning to Natsu, “You come to me immediately.”
“Sure thing Misa-san!” he replied with a grin. Natsu hopped of the bed he’d been lying on and he and Mirajane left the infirmary. Right outside, his friends were waiting, including an overjoyed Happy, who latched on to the side of Natsu’s head in a fierce hug. The only one who wasn’t joining in the festivities as much was Erza, who stood off to the side with a serious expression on her face. But even though she didn’t seem to be as concerned as the others, her eyes never once left Natsu as they made their way back to the main hall.
A short time later, back in the main hall where Natsu and Gray were about to get into another of their fights, with Lucy, Wendy, Happy and Charla looking on in annoyance, Erza strode up to them and broke it up.
“Natsu,” she said, looking directly at him and causing him to snap into the attention posture.
“Aye, sir!” he squeaked. Erza’s mouth turned upwards into a thin grin.
“I need to speak to you… alone,” she said and then without further ceremony, grabbed hold of Natsu’s left hand and began to haul him off. Natsu glanced back at his comrades despairingly.
“Tasukete!” he moaned. Unfortunately none of them rose to his defense. After all, Never Interfere With Titania.
“What do you suppose that was all about?” asked Gray. Everybody else just shrugged but Lucy continued to stare off at the hallway that Natsu and Erza had left through, her hands slowly clenching into fists, her knuckles turning white from the pressure.
Once Erza had dragged Natsu into a courtyard of the Guildhall, she finally let him go. Rubbing his wrist he asked, “So what did you need to talk about Erza?”
She didn’t answer for several minutes, but Natsu wasn’t fool enough to just walk off.
“Natsu… do you know why I wear armor?” she finally asked.
“Um, didn’t you say it’s because you just like it?” he fumbled, somewhat put off by the question.
“No, I wear armor because I’m weak.”
“What are ya talking about Erza? You’re not weak, you’re one of the strongest mages in the guild!” retorted Natsu, angry that his friend was demeaning herself.
“No, I am weak. Even with my power, there have been times when I haven’t been able to protect those I care about. Not like you Natsu. You never seem to give up even in the face of impossible odds. Remember the Tower of Heaven? I was ready to sacrifice my life because I thought I had no other choice. But you saved me.”
Natsu carefully regarded Erza as she finally turned to face him with a gentle smile on her face. Something was slightly off about Erza here. Never let it be said that Natsu Dragneel didn’t have good instincts.
“I’ve never told anyone this, but when I thought I was dead, I saw a vision of my funeral. Everyone was there, mourning for me, but not you. You were the only one who refused to accept my death. I saw that and how much everyone was sad that I was gone and then I woke up in your arms. Do you remember what you told me?”
“Yeah, something like ‘don’t do that again’ and ‘keep living.’” Erza chuckled.
“Yes, something like that. My point is that you are… you are a source of strength to me Natsu. I see so much potential in you and I know that one day you will surpass me.”
Erza began to slowly walk towards him until they were standing just an arm’s length apart.
“But more than that, I have come to realize that I… care for you… a great deal. I want to do whatever I can to help you become the best mage in Fairy Tail. And to that end…” Erza, to Natsu’s immense shock, summoned one of her swords and actually got down on one knee before him, sword poised vertically between them, “I offer you all that I am. My sword, my skill…” at this, she rose, actually dropping the sword to the side. She closed the distance between them, clasping his shoulders with her gauntleted hands. Natsu began to feel distinctly hot under the collar. Erza had NEVER been this… personal with him.
“My body,” she murmured as she snaked her hands around him, embracing him, “and my heart.”
And then Erza Scarlet did the very last thing that Natsu would ever expect her to do to him. She kissed him.
Chapter 2: Lucy's In On It Too
Seem's Erza not the only one with designs on Natsu...
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Natsu was frozen in shock. He couldn’t believe that Erza was doing this to him! He had to admit though; he could finally see why people got so worked up about this kiss stuff. Erza finally broke off, a supremely satisfied smile on her face. She sauntered back towards the main hall, stopping in the door to look back at Natsu coquettishly.
“Come by Fairy Hills tonight. I’ll have more to show you.”
What Erza didn’t see as she sashayed back into the guild was a certain blond celestial mage watching from the shadows, her face twisted in a scowl of fury.
Natsu, for his part, stayed rooted to the spot for the next minute until he finally croaked out, “What just happened?”
“Natsu liiiiiikessss Erza, Erza liiiikkkesss Natsu!” said Happy as he pooped up from behind a bush.
“Happy! You were listening to that whole thing?!”
“Aye! You liiiiikkke her!”
“I do not! I don’t know why she did that!”
“No buts!” yelled Natsu as he began to stalk back into the guild, his mind a mess of thoughts and emotions. But just as he walked back in through the door to the courtyard, Lucy grabbed hold of him.
“Natsu! I’m so glad I found you! I need your help,” she said.
“What do you need Luce?”
“I need you to come over to my place tonight. There’s something I need your help with.”
“Tonight?” asked Natsu, nervously remembering what Erza had said. The Titania may not have phrased it like an order but Natsu knew he would be in for a world of hurt if he didn’t show up.
“I can’t. Erza wants me to meet her at Fairy Hills. If I don’t show up, I’m a dead man!”
“What do you mean?” said Lucy impatiently, “You can’t go over to Fairy Hills, boys aren’t allowed there. The other girls would flay you alive if they caught you sneaking around at night, no matter what Erza said. I’m sure whatever it is, it can wait ‘till morning. Now, I’ll see you at my place tonight, right?” she said, smiling.
All Natsu could do was mutter some reply.
“See you then!” Lucy said, cheerfully and practically skipped out the front door of the guild.
“Huh, that was weird,” remarked Natsu, confusion etched all over his face.
“So what are you going to do Natsu? Are you going to see Erza or Lucy?” asked Happy.
“What are ya talking about? Of course I’ll go see Erza! If I don’t she’ll flay me alive!”
“But you just promised Lucy! Besides, you can’t go to Fairy hills at night! It’s like Lucy said, if the girls catch you, they’ll… they’ll…”
“Well, one time Droy bet that Jet couldn’t sneak into Fairy Hills. Jet thought his speed would help but it didn’t. When they caught him… they turned him over to Laki!”
Natsu’s face paled as he considered that. He was well aware of the wood-make mage’s rather strange… hobbies. And if the girls caught him, well, Erza wouldn’t lose face in front of them and she’d have to do THAT to him…
“You’re right Happy. We’ll just have to deal with Erza later. No way am I getting killed over sneaking around the girl’s dorm. We’ll just go see Lucy. Also, how do you know what happens at Fairy Hills?”
“I’m over there all the time,” Happy said, shrugging.
“But you’re a guy!”
“No, I’m a cat,” replied Happy with the most obnoxious grin.
“You want to sneak into Fairy Hills, Natsu? Who’s the pervert now?” said Gray sarcastically, who had just wandered over to Natsu, intending on asking him about what Erza wanted.
“Don’t jump into conversations!” snarled Natsu, glaring at his rival.
“And don’t be a hypocrite; calling others perverts when you’re one yourself!”
“What’d you say, drippy icicle?!”
“You heard, Flamer!”
And the fight was on once again.
And so it was that, after the sun had gone down, Natsu found himself standing outside Lucy’s apartment. For whatever odd reason, he had some kind of aversion to using the front door, he leapt up onto the roof and deftly opened her front bedside window. Climbing in, he noticed that Lucy didn’t seem to be around, although her scent was all over the place.
“Luce? Are you here?” he called as he looked under the bed.
“Right here, Natsu,” Lucy said from behind him.
Natsu pulled his head out from under the bed to say hi to his friend but the word died in his throat as he looked up at Lucy… and what she was wearing.
“B… B… Bunny-chan,” he stuttered. Lucy, who was standing, more like posing, in the bedroom doorway was indeed wearing a bunny outfit (the one from the Memory days OVA). Natsu’s brain short-circuited at that point, trying to figure out just why Lucy was wearing what she was wearing… and he had to admit, she did look pretty hot in it, especially the way it hugged her curves…
Gah! What the hell am I thinking?! This is Lucy I’m talking about here!
“What do you think? Do you like it” asked Lucy, stepping into the room and twirling around so that Natsu could see the whole outfit.
“Um… yeah, it looks good on ya Luce. But, uh… WHY are you wearing it?”
Lucy didn’t answer right away, instead stalking towards him in what looked to Natsu like a predator stalking her prey. And the way her legs, especially her hips were swaying…
Gah! Weird thoughts again! Were is this coming from?!
“Natsu, do you remember the first day we met?” she asked as knelt in front of him so that they were looking each other in the eye.
“Uh, yeah. That Bor dude or whatever was pretending he was me and tried to kidnap you and all those other girls. And you took me and Happy out to lunch and told us all about how you wanted to be in a guild and then I kinda blew up part of Hargeon…”
Lucy laughed and, not for the first time, Natsu thought to himself that he really liked the way Lucy laughed.
“And when we were running away from the guards, you told me you’d take me to Fairy Tail. Natsu… I don’t think I’ve ever properly thanked you for that. Because I joined Fairy Tail, I’ve had so many amazing adventures, finally stood up to my father, met so many incredible people… including you.” As she said this, she began to lean forward towards Natsu so that their faces were mere inches apart.
“Luce… why are you telling me this?”
“Because, you dumb Dragon Slayer,” she said with a sparkling-eyed smile, “I’m saying that everything wonderful that’s happened to me in these last few months have all been because I met you. Because, Natsu I… I… I love…” she said breathily as her eyes closed and her face moved closer to his. Natsu was just about to go into panic mode and possibly make a fool of himself when—
“YOU!!” bellowed a powerful female voice from the direction of the open window. Natsu and Lucy both went rigid, Natsu’s eyes bulging. He knew that voice and could swear that because of it, he almost could feel the icy claws of the Grim Reaper on his shoulder. Slowly he turned to look behind him and saw Erza crouching in the window. And it just wasn’t any old Erza either, no this was Erza dressed in a wonderfully form-fitting cat costume (again, the one from the Memory Days OVA).
“Neko-hime,” Natsu squeaked, immediately regretting it as he didn’t want to draw the Wrath of Titania down on himself.
Seriously, what’s with the animal get-ups tonight?!
But it wasn’t Natsu that Neko-Erza was glaring at hatefully… it was Lucy. For her part, Lucy was now glaring back at Erza.
“Erza! What are you doing here?” she spat.
“When Natsu didn’t show up tonight, I thought something might be wrong. So I looked around and what do I find? A girl who I thought was a friend trying to seduce him,” said Erza coldly.
“Seduce him? Is that what you were trying to do? Or were you trying to get every girl in Fairy Hills to take a chunk out of him?”
“You were eavesdropping on us? Hmph, I never thought you would stoop to such lows.”
“Natsu is mine!” snarled Lucy as she grabbed hold of him, hauling him up off the floor and pressing him to her shapely figure, “We belong together! I’ll do whatever it takes to keep him out of your hands!” Natsu gaped in shock at Lucy’s words while Erza narrowed her eyes, her mouth set in a grim line.
Man, what in Igneel’s name has gotten into these girls?! Why is Lucy acting so… Not-Lucy? And Erza, what’s she planning? The last time she looked at me like that, I had accidently knocked over her strawberry cake!
“You leave me no choice,” hissed Erza as she climbed down from the window onto Lucy’s bed and ex-quipped into her Heaven’s Wheel armor, “Natsu and I have known each other far longer than you have and if you will not be dissuaded, then I will remove you… permanently.”
Summoning one of her many swords into her hands, Erza bellowed a fierce war-cry and launched herself at Lucy, the sword aimed straight at the Celestial mage’s heart.
Looks like Erza's all fired up! But why? And will she and Lucy go back to normal? Or is this just the tip of the iceberg?