It has been August Dragneel's experience, both through his own travels and watching the interaction of others, that he had learned to think of families as a sort of compass meant to guide one along the way down the path of life. In doing so, one would be inspired to reach for greater heights whether it be the simple yearning to pass one's parents or simply to prove one's pwn self-worth, and then in the times when they would fall it was family who was meant to pick them back up.
What then, was it that August was reaching for? Where would his 'compass' point him? A great many years after being brought to what is now the mighty empire known as Alvarez, August would ponder over such thoughts.
He was called wise beyond his years and vastly powerful with the citizens coining the term 'King of All Magic'- an auspicious title to say the least – despite not actually knowing every kind of magic that existed throughout the world. Really he attributed his impressive ability and studious habits to a pool of well-balanced genetics and his own desire to survive; having grown up on the streets of Ishgar-Fiore rather, he mentally corrected himself-everyday held it's fair share of struggles.
It was in that mess of hardship however where he glimpsed an unlikely hope, his own father being the one to ultimately rescue him when he got caught one day fearful he would spend the rest of his life behind bars…
"You remind me of someone I once knew, I cared for her very deeply you see."
At the time his younger self was too awestruck to say anything. His heart swelled with all the repressed emotions he'd been keeping pushed down deep just in case he was never found. After all, Zeref the legendary black wizard was hardly someone held in such high regard, but at the time August didn't care much.
His father came for him! So he must hold some level of love for him then, right?
Only August was shocked to find he was not alone, being the son of Zeref and Mavis Vermilion that is.
It wasn't until a few years after arriving August was introduced to a boy named Larcade; same pale blonde -albeit his being more spiky than Augusts- hair, it was his eyes that made August hesitant around him at first. The other boy's eyes were similar to their father's, only on a few occasions August would have sworn that they shifted to a strangely orange color. He also learned that Larcade was a whole lot more shy than he was at first, rarely ever leaving his room the first few months.
August didn't mind too much at first though, heck he didn't even really care that everyone seemed aware of Larcades relationship with Zeref but not his; He had a baby brother! August went from having nothing to having almost everything in just a few short years.
And it was precisely for these two precious people in his life, and perhaps a few more selfish ones that have brought him trekking through a dense forest near the border of the land of Fiore. He was looking for someone. And he wished to find her as soon as possible, so he could arrive back in Alvarez without the others suspecting anything.
"Here." He said aloud, coming to a halt just near the edge of a clearing and looking ahead in the direction where he felt the familiar pulsation of magic in the air, it was similar to that of Irene's, A fellow member of the group known as the Spriggin Twelve as well as a dragon slayer; it made things easier for him in terms of picking up the trail.
"Alright, this time for sure!" A determined high-pitched voice yelled out loud standing dead center in the middle of the clearing, directly in front of a large boulder. The owner of the voice being a small little girl with wild pink carnation locks and a sun-kissed tanned complexion. "Fire Dragon's-" she reared back one of her little fist which was immediately engulfed in a bundle of flames before driving it forward straight into the boulder, "Fist!"
The resulting crack made even August flinch just a bit, not so much because of the force behind the blow but rather the poor girls flames went out just before she made contact. So really she just hit a rock super hard with her bare hand….
"OWW!"She yelped starting to hop around while holding what he was very certain to be a broken hand.
August watched her dance around a bit longer, throwing threats at the unresponsive rock and promising vengeance. August found it strangely amusing if he were being honest, recalling a similar experience when he first started teaching Larcade or even young Brandish.
A few hours later and the young girl fell over, exhausted and bruised from her various attempts to break apart the large rock. It was dented in some places, cracked in a few others and heavily burned around some of the edges; all things considered, progress was being made. Still given the size of her body August was certain her magic container was well beyond the point of spent give or take an hour ago.
Was it simply through sheer force of will that she kept going for so long?
"Huff, huff!...D-damn...i-it still...isn't good enough..." The girl gasped looking up from where she was still sprawled out onto the thin sheet of grass. A layer of sweat was visible on her brow, and her vision was just starting to swirl when something unfamiliar stepped in her line of sight. She blinked seeing a tall, fair-skinned guy with shoulder length wavy hair and a beard standing over her, an impressive frown marring his somewhat wrinkled face.
"You," he began not bothering to introduce himself just yet, "are an impressively stubborn child."
She blinked a few more times more rapidly, then in the next second she was backpedaling and being sure to put distance between her and this stranger. "W-who the heck are you? You...looking for a fight!" She held her little fists at the ready trying to ignite them but only just barely managing a small flicker of sorts frowning all the while.
A beat of silence passed between them in which both parties stayed looking at the pinkette's bruised but otherwise completely normal hands.
"Well, I am waiting." August spoke, calmly tilting his head when she tried again. He could sense the smallest margin of magical energy build up within her only to fizzle out less than a second later. She was far too exhausted.
"I...can't….do it…."She finally admitted glumly and with great reluctance.
"Considering how long you were beating on that rock, I'm surprised you can stand." August affirmed. The girl's face dropped a little further only to pull back into a petulant pout, huffing and stomping her foot for good measure throwing out a verbal rebuttal,"yeah well! Just wait until my dad comes, he'll send you flying!"
August smirked a little at the fire in her eyes."Well, if the dragon who taught you that magic shares in your stubbornness then I daresay it would certainly make for a promising spar, "he watched her eyes widen dramatically appearing taken aback by his small bit of insight.
"You-...h-how did you know about Igneel?" She leaned forward forgetting her desire to try and pummel him in favor of getting answers,"when is he coming back? Do you know?"
August regarded the girl with a soft look of sympathy now, since Irene herself had stated Acnologia made sure to kill any remaining dragons and that was well over one hundred years ago before he was even born. Though it did beget the question then of how this girl came into contact with one?
"He is coming back, isn't he?" Her voice pulled him from his train of thought, making him fix his steady gaze on her. "He has to, I-I need him to!"
Another beat of silence, this time accompanied by the soft whistle of the wind blowing against them.
"Your name is Natsumi, correct? Natsumi Dragneel?"
"Huh? Yeah, that's right." The girl now correctly identified as Natsumi, nodded. "But...who are you?"
August's face gave way to a small smile of relief at having finally found the one he was searching for. He took a moment, carefully kneeling so he could be more eye level with the small girl, speaking in a calm yet firm tone of voice. "My name is August, and I am from somewhere very far away Natsumi."
He was still admittedly uncertain as to what information should be revealed. This plan could be described as somewhat foolhardy after all.
"I was wondering if you'd perhaps be interested in a little bit of a bargain?" He said carefully, a calculating glint shone in his eyes while looking at her.
As expected she tilted her head in a show of confusion folding her arms a moment later, "A bargain? What d'you mean?"
"It's actually quite simple really, I am offering to train you while your...father...is away." The word felt a tad strange leaving his lips, he'd never addressed Zeref as such, so to think of his aunts dad as a dragon of all things felt odd. "This would prove greatly beneficial to you in your search for Igneel," he added when she still looked uncertain.
"Well, what's in it for you then?" She asked a moment later, sounding more curious than anything.
August pondered this for a moment. Was this truly the right course of action? He wasn't entirely sure, and it could have disastrous consequences for both of them at some point later down the line...even so, he…
"I'm like you I suppose, I want my family back." There was an unusual amount of sincerity in his words now he rarely ever used, if at all. "And as the saying goes, two heads are better than one no? I could use a strong dragon slayer such as yourself."
A toothy grin broke out across little Natsumi's face at the older mage's words, puffing out her small chest proudly. "Deal!" August slowly rose back to his full height, pausing about halfway when Natsumi heaved a wad of spit into the same hand she offered August for a shake.
He stared at her. Then the hand. Then back at the girl, much like when she was trying to ignite her fist to fight him.
"What? What's wrong?" She asked, confusion showing on her face again.
"Do you always do that when shaking someone's hand?" He inquired carefully, seeing her nod happily.
"Igneel says it's like a special magic spell so that whatever promise is made can't be broken!" She said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world and then proceeded to ask, "why? Do you do yours differently or something?"
A small sigh escaped the older mage's lips suddenly rubbing a hand against his temple feeling what he was certain were the beginning signs of a migraine.
This was going to be quite the ordeal.