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The Crossroads

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It was all over... the war with Tartaros was over and Fairy Tail had come out victorious, albeit barely. They had stopped the activation of Face and the revival of END, well at least for now.

Makarov scanned over the remains and debris of their guild which and sighed. 'It's nothing but rubble now. What are you planning at… Zeref?'

He had heard from Gray that Zeref had come after the defeat of the Underworld King, Mard Geer and took the book END with him and disappeared. He could never figure out that man.

But now, his thoughts drifted away from Zeref and END and he feared for the worst that was to come. With the Magic Council being blown to smithereens courtesy of Jackal, and the destruction of Etherion and Face… there was nothing stopping the Alvarez Empire from invading Ishgar, more specifically Fiore. Last time they tried to invade Ishgar, they only stopped because of the Council's Etherion Cannon and Face but now with those two things out of the way.

'Once Alvarez catches wind of this, that is, if they haven't already, they will no doubt put a plan into action and try and take Fairy Heart.'

Great, now he had to think of some way to avoid a war. A war in which they would no doubt, be obliterated. Now Makarov knew how strong his children were and was in no way dismissing their abilities but, he knew. He knew about the Spriggan Twelve and how they were said that each one of them was as strong, if not stronger than one of the Four Kings of Ishgar.

Many ideas came to his mind like disbanding the guild, and hopefully get his children as far away from the guild and Fairy Heart as possible, while he could go to Alvarez to try and negotiate and hopefully avoid war but nothing guaranteed success and that would leave Fairy Heart unprotected and ripe for the taken. Not only that but where would his children go? He knew disbanding the guild wasn't right and he would be taking away their home and breaking their heart. He couldn't do that. Finally, he decided on what to do.

"Makarov, it's done. I've erased the memories from all the guild members about Lumen Histoire." Mest called out from behind the small man.

Makarov stayed silent.

"But I will not erase my own memories. I don't want to mess with my own memories." Mest declared as he crossed his arms.

Makarov turned to look at Mest. "Actually that won't be necessary Mest. You're a good man, so I trust you with this information, and besides... I need you to do something for me."

Mest raised an eyebrow while giving Makarov a quizzical look, but seeing how serious the small man was, he nodded. "Yeah, what do you need me to do."


 

1 WEEK LATER

Today since sunrise the guild had begun to slowly show up to finish rebuilding their guildhall for the umpteenth time. Almost everyone had shown up. Elfman was seen carrying large furniture yelling about how rebuilding the guild 'IS A MAN!'. Lisanna was going up and down the building, using her Animal Soul Take Over Magic to go faster and passing things to various members as they needed and Mirajane was sweeping the floor and bringing food and beverages to the guild members. Lucy was struggling to carry a large box full of glassware while sweating profusely. Cana helped to bring over beer barrels, taking a drink every now and then. Wendy was hanging pictures and other decorations all over the guild walls and ceiling with her Sky Dragon Slayer Magic. Pretty much everyone in the guild was helping out in some way or form.

"Shrimp, I need more nails." Gajeel said through a mouthful of nails.

"Well maybe if you'd stop eating them you wouldn't be asking me every three seconds! AND DON'T CALL ME SHRIMP! STUPID GAJEEL!" Levy Screamed at Gajeel while pouting cutely, then using her Solid Script Magicshe summoned nails and handed them to Gajeel.

Gajeel snorted, taking the nails from Levy and turning his head away from her while muttering something under his breath. Grabbing the nails, he turned his arm into a hammer thanks to his Iron Dragon Slayer Magic and began hammering them onto the Fairy Tail sign that sat on top of the entrance gates with a pensive look on his face.

"Hey Gajeel, are you alright? I've been meaning to ask; you've been really quiet these past few days." Levy took Gajeel out of his thoughts.

"Yeah, I'm fine Levy. I've just been thinking." Gajeel told Levy while continuing to hammer away.

Levy was caught off guard, rarely did Gajeel ever call her Levy, unless whatever he was going to tell her was really important. "Yeah? About what?"

"Salamander. Something doesn't feel right."

"Huh? What are you talking about Gajeel? Last time I saw Natsu he looked fine." Levy stated

"Yeah, and when was the last time you saw him Levy?"

Levy stayed silent for a while as to remember."Last time I saw him was a few days ago, almost a week. Actually, now that you mention it, he hasn't even shown up to help rebuild the guild. Last time he was practically jumping up and down to rebuild the guild. That's odd, it's not like Natsu to distance himself like this."

Gajeel nodded. "But that's not the main reason I'm worried." he said, earning him a questioning look from levy and proceed to say "Natsu's scent, it's getting weaker and weaker every day."

"What are you trying to say? Natsu left Magnolia?" Levy questioned, confused by his implications.

"Yeah, that's what I'm trying to say." Gajeel was still amazed at how smart Levy was. To be able to deduce that on her own, but he chose to not say anything.

"But why would Natsu do that and not tell anyone? Are you even sure Gajeel?"

Gajeel grunted. "No, of course I'm not sure. But everything points to that. I mean how else could his scent be so faint? I'm guessing the little scent I'm picking up is from his home. Look Levy, I'm a Dragon Slayer and I can pick up a scent from miles away."

"But you said his scent is getting weaker right? So that means you can still smell him, no?" Levy pointed out.

"What I meant is that scent goes away with enough time, and if he left, his scent would've slowly been getting weaker until the only thing I could be able to smell would be his house since he's around that place a lot and it would linger a lot longer. I can still smell him, but I know for a fact if he were to still be in Magnolia his scent would definitely be stronger. Not much, but definitely stronger." Gajeel informed Levy.

"Why haven't you mentioned this before Gajeel!" Levy yelled, angry that he was mentioning this just now.

"I didn't mention this because I wasn't sure and I thought that I was just imagining things, you know overthinking things." Gajeel paused "Now I know for sure that I'm not imagining things." Gajeel said and stopped hammering

Levy began to think. "Wait why don't you just ask Happy? He lives with Natsu after all."

"Don't you remember that Happy, Charle, and Panther Lily all went to visit the other exceeds?

"Oh, that's right! How could I forget?! So, what are you going to do Gajeel? Are you going to go and look for him?" Levy asked him.

Gajeel snorted again. "HA, AS IF! HAHAHAHAHA." Gajeel laughed but a 'look' from Levy was all it took to get him to stop. "Besides, Salamander has a nose equally powerful if not stronger than mine. If he doesn't want to be found, then he won't be."

Levy stayed silent wondering whether to tell the guild or not until she interrupted by Gajeel who somehow knew exactly what she was thinking "I don't think it's a good idea to go around telling the guild."

"But Gaj-" Levy was once again interrupted. "We'll tell them once we go and investigate Natsu's house. We'll go today and if we do find that he's missing, then we'll tell them. But for now, don't tell the guild. We don't need to needlessly wo-" Now it was Gajeel's turn to be interrupted.

"You won't tell us what exactly Gajeel?" Gajeel's eyes widened and he spun around to see Gray staring at him with his eyes narrowed at Gajeel.

'What the hell! How the fuck did this ice bastard sneak up on me without me noticing!? I couldn't even smell him! Wait, did he cool down his scent? No way! He smells different... colder.' Gajeel began to sweat as Gray kept staring at him waiting for an answer.

"Hi Juvia! How was your trip with Gray?" Levy called out to the Water Mage who was behind gray to hopefully stray away from the current topic.

It worked as the Water Mage remembered their 'moment' at the graves of Gray's parents and she began to blush and call out to her 'Gray-sama' over and over again while jumping on him to try and hug him Gray looked like he was getting annoyed and began to push on her to try and get away from her.

As it had turned out, Gray and Juvia had just come back from their trip to Gray's parent's graves and Gray had overheard when Gajeel told Levy about not telling the guild something. He was going to make Gajeel tell him what he was hiding but then he thought that he was just overthinking thing and it was probably nothing big and decided to drop it.

'They were probably talking about telling the guild about them being a couple or something. Heh.' Gray thought amusingly before silently chuckling to himself.

"Juvia why don't you go over there and help out Lucy?" Gray pointed over to where Lucy was struggling to carry a large log. She had shaky arms and legs, and was covered in sweat.

"Anything for you, Gray-sama!" Juvia told Gary before running over to help Lucy.

Gray released a sigh of relief when he saw that she left. "Hey Gray, how's it going with Juvia? Better be treating her right."

Gray turned around to see a fully recovered Laxus standing there with a smirk on his face "Oh, so you finally decided to get your lazy ass off the bed, Laxus?" Gray ignored the questioned with a smirk of his own.

"Tell me that when you've ingested enough magic barrier particles to kill a whole group of people." Laxus retorted, slightly irritated.

"Anyways" Gray smiled. "It's good to have you back, Laxus. When'd you wake up?"

"Woke up yesterday actually. I just got here, along with those guys." Laxus gestured towards the Thunder Legion who were also beginning to help the other members.

"GRAY! LAXUS! Perfect timing, we need all the muscle we can get!" Titania yelled at the two mages, wearing a white safety helmet and holding a clipboard as she approached them.

She turned to Laxus. "Good to see you back to good health."

"Yeah, I feel a lot better." Laxus said as he grabbed his shoulder with one and began to stretch it out in a circular motion.

She then turned to Gray "How did your trip go, Gray?"

Gray smiled softly "Good, it felt nice to finally go back and pay my parents a visit. Also, I wanted to make certain of something." Determination was evident in his eyes.

Erza caught the look in Gray's eyes 'It probably has something to do with Tartaros... and his father, Silver and with that, she decided not to pry.

Laxus stayed quiet after hearing Gray, but eyed him suspiciously.

Meanwhile, Erza had a small smile come to her lips as she saw the whole guild helping rebuild the guild but that was quickly replaced with a frown when she realized that there was one person missing.

"Has either one of you seen Natsu today?" Erza asked both mages.

"Huh? Flame brain? Can't say I have. I mean I just got back here not too long ago." Gray said while scratching his head.

She looked at Laxus and he shook his head "Yeah me neither. I just woke up yesterday and I just got here too."

He looked at the redhead and could tell that she was really worried. "Knowing him, he probably overslept or something." he began to laugh then put a hand on her shoulder "If I were you, I wouldn't worry too much about it." He told her before walking away towards the Thunder Legion.

"Yeah Erza, I wouldn't worry about him. He's probably still sulking about his dad, you know. He'll come around. He always does." Gray tried to reassure her.

Erza smiled 'Even though those two always argue and fight, they care for each other like brothers, although they would never admit it' Erza thought "Yeah, your right Gray. Well, let us get back to work."


 

A FEW HOURS LATER

The Guildhall was finally finished, and now many members began to sit around drinking beer and having a good time when suddenly Makarov appeared on top of the second railing.

Makarov coughed. "ALRIGHT LISTEN UP BRATS! I HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO TELL YOU!" He yelled.

Getting the attention of the whole guild he began to speak one again "After thinking about this for a long time, I've decided. I'M STEPPING DOWN AS MASTER OF FAIRY TAIL!"

Silence…

"WHAAAAAA~!" Shock erupted from the guild.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN OLD MAN!?" Laxus yelled.

"WOAH! ARE YOU SERIOUS!?" Gray screamed.

The guild exploded in shock and many questions were being thrown about like 'Is he for real?', and 'Who's going to be the next master?'

Erza was slightly surprised that Makarov announced he was stepping down but she knew that Makarov already planned to step down as a guild master for a while now.

"QUIET! LET OUR MASTER FINISH SPEAKING!" Erza yelled while glaring heavily at the guild effectively shutting them up.

Makarov sweatdropped while looking at Erza. "Thank you Erza." He looked at the rest of the guild "Before I announce the 7th guild Master, I have something I must tell you. I'm going to go and travel somewhere important and might not be back for a long time."

"What? You're leaving Gramps?" Asked Gray as well as many other guild members including Lucy, Wendy, Juvia, Cana, Mirajane, Lisanna, Elfman, the Thunder Legion, and Levy while Laxus and Gajeel stayed quiet.

Questions like "Why are you leaving?", "How long will you be gone?", "Where are going to go?", "Is it far away?", "Will you be going alone?", and "Will you be alright?"

"I cannot say where or why I'll be going but this is something that I need to do." Makarov spoke in a serious but mysterious voice. "But before I leave, I PRESENT THE 7TH GUILD MASTER, LAXUS DREYER!" Makarov smiled, pointing at Laxus.

"Hey wasn't he the guy that caused the fighting in the Fantasia Parade!?" A random member asked.

"Yeah, I'd rather have Erza as guild Master! And that's saying something!" Another fodder member spoke up from the crowd.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Erza asked appearing behind said member.

"No-nothing! I-I meant is that y-you would be a-a great Master." The member spoke in fear.

Erza sighed and smiled "Good." She said causing people to sweatdrop.

"Look I know Laxus has made a few mistakes in the past but I think he's learned from his mistakes and is mature enough to take responsibility as Master." Makarov looked at Laxus.

"Old man." Laxus said teary-eyed but managed to hold back any tears that were threatening to come out "I promise to protect Fairy Tail with my life." he declared as he placed a fist over his heart.

"I know you will my boy. I entrust the legacy of our first Master onto you Laxus." Makarov began to walk away and stopped at the guild doors and lifted his right hand into the air while twisting it making it into an 'L' sign while the entire guild shouted Fairy Tale.

"Even if I can't see you... no matter how far away you may be... I will always be watching you." Makarov told the whole guild before walking out the door to begin his journey and many members began to cry.

Silence once again…

"Well you know since Laxus is our new guild Master *hic*, you know what that calls for?" Cana yelled with red checks and a drunken smile plastered on her face.

"A PARTY! ~" The entire guild shouted, no longer crying and then Mirajane began to serve and pass people drinks, mainly beer and other alcoholic beverages to the mages of the guild as many of them congratulated Laxus on becoming Master.

"Congratulations on becoming Master, Laxus." Erza walked up Laxus.

"Yeah, thanks." Laxus grabbed two shots from the bar and handed one to Erza. "Cheers! TO FAIRY TAIL. LETS PARTY~! " Laxus yelled and the guild erupted in cheers.

Fairy Tail partied for many hours and the noise of the party could be heard in all of Magnolia but now the sun was setting and the party was coming to a stop when they felt an intense sudden drop in temperature making them all shudder and grabbing everyone's attention

All eyes then fell on Gray. "Glad I got your attention because I also have something I need to tell all of you."

"If you're going to try and do something cool, you might want to actually be wearing clothes." Laxus told Gray with a smirk 'You've gotten stronger, Gray'

"WHA~? WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN!?" Gray glanced down to discover him only wearing a pair of boxers and his necklace and began to frantically search for his clothes.

"Here are your clothes, Gray-sama. Juvia picked them up for you while you were stripping." Juvia handed Gray his clothes with a blush on her face.

Gray took his clothes and began to put them back on. "Thanks, Juvia. Wait! WHY ARE YOU JUST TELLING ME THIS NOW!?"

"Anyways, I'm going to go and train so I can learn how to use and control my Demon Slaying Magic. Juvia is also going to come with me." Gray informed the guild.

"Well, there is no reason for me to stop you." Laxus took a sip of beer and eyed Gray.

Gray and Juvia went up to Erza and Lucy and they began to say their goodbyes.

"So are you leaving today?" Lucy asked him, slightly dejected to see one of her closest friends leave the guild, even if it wasn't permanent.

"Yeah, me and Juvia already packed up and the train leaves in about an hour." He told them with a hint of remorse "Don't worry I'll be back before you know it!"

"Yeah! Don't worry Lucy-san, Juvia will make sure that Gray-sama stays safe." Juvia said with conviction and Lucy smiled and nodded.

Erza went up to Gray "How long will you be gone on this trip of yours?"

"I'm not really sure. Probably a year at most."

Erza suddenly pulled Gray into a bone-crushing hug causing him to yelp "I'll miss you, Gray." She spoke with sincerity catching Gray off guard.

"Y-Yeah, I-I'll mi-miss you too." Gray’s pained filled voice was muffled against Erza.

"See you, Lucy. See you, Erza. Oh, and tell flame for brains that when I get back I'm definitely going to kick his ass!" Gray stated proudly as he moved to hug Lucy and Juvia waved goodbye to Fairy Tail. Many of them began to tear up again as they did the same hand sign that Makarov had done earlier.

Lucy watched as Gray and Juvia left as sadness welled up inside of her. She turned her attention towards the redhead, and she saw an even deeper sadness than her own when she came in contact with her eyes as well as another emotion mixed in. Was it worry? She wasn't sure but she noticed Erza lately had been looking downcast, she would smile less often and would space out for long periods of time as if in deep thought.

"Erza, are you alright?" Lucy asked the with concern.

Erza caught Lucy's concern and forced a smile at her "Yeah, just a little bummed that Gray's leaving for a while."

"Oh." Lucy said doubtfully.


 

"So first Natsu seems to have left, then Master leaves, and now Gray and Juvia too?" Levy muttered softly mostly talking to herself.

"Yeah but Salamander just disappeared. At least they told us."

"What if someone kidnapped him!" Levy said in horror.

"Na, I doubt it. If someone wanted to kidnap Salamander, we'd know. Knowing him he'd at least would’ve started a fucking forest fire. That or the person had to be extremely powerful, stronger than Laxus to take him down without causing a scene."

Gajeel began to sniff around and went deeper into a forest until he found an old dirt trail that went up into the mountains and began to follow it with Levy a few steps behind.

"You sure it's this way Gajeel?" Levy asked nervously. The night was approaching, and she heard many sounds and rustling in bushes.

"Yeah, I'm positive. My nose never lies."

"Hey Gajeel, if you say you could smell that Natsu's scent wasn't strong enough for him to be in Magnolia, then does that mean that Wendy and Laxus also know since they both are Dragon Slayers?" Levy asked.

"Well, Laxus just woke up yesterday so I doubt that he's noticed and I mean Laxus isn’t relly a legit Dragon Slayer. As for Wendy, she's fairly young and her Dragon senses are still developing. She shouldn't be able to tell the small change in the strength of a scent yet."

"Now hurry up Shrimp, if ya fall behind too much I won't be able to see ya, and you'll get lost." Gajeel teased.

Levy turned red and began to hit Gajeel while screaming 'STUPID GAJEEL' although Gajeel seemed unaffected by the punches, he lifted her up by the back of her shirt to bring her face to face with him with only a few centimeters of distance between their faces making Levy's face get even redder like a tomato and made her go silent.

"You know Shrimp, if ya yell that loud, we're gonna get caught. Understand?" With that Levy only nodded, her face still red with embarrassment.

"Alright then, stay quiet. Look there it is." Gajeel pointed towards a rundown house made of wood and stone with many tree branches protruding from the walls of the house and a sign outside the read 'Natsu & Happy'.

"So this is Natsu's crib huh? It's actually in better shape than I thought." Gajeel said as they walked up to the front door and Gajeel began to sniff again.

"Good news Shrimp."

Levy was slightly irritated that he called Shrimp but decided to just drop it "What is it?"

"Well, it looks like Salamander probably only left three or four days ago." He sniffed again. "And it looks like I'm only picking up two other scents apart from Happy. One of them is Lucy's although faint, probably hasn't come by for a few weeks and the other is Erza's."

"Erza!?" Levy asked surprised at that revelation.

"Yeah, and it's strong. She was here not too long ago, a day or so." He added.

"What was Erza doing around here? I knew she was a bit worried. Do you think she was here to check up on Natsu?"

"Yeah most likely. She's worried about him, they're really close so it shouldn't come as a surprise." Gajeel knocked on the door. "HEY SALAMANDER, YOU THERE!?"

"No response." Levy said after a while of them waiting.

Gajeel then tried to open the door to only find it locked. He then checked the back door and the windows, they were all locked too and saw that the blinds were closed on all the windows.

"Now what are we going to do? We can't even see through the windows."

"Well we're gonna break-in, that's what." Gajeel began to walk towards the door.

"How!? You better not be thinking about breaking down his door!" Levy yelled at Gajeel already imagining him breaking into Natsu's house and making a mess of it.

Gajeel's only response was him pressing one finger against the keyhole. Levy watched in amazement as his finger turned into iron and began to seep inside the keyhole and Gajeel turned his finger *click*. Gajeel turned the knob on the door and swung it wide open with a smirk on his face.

"GIHI." Gajeel laughed. "I don't just go about breaking things to solve any problem ya know."

"I know, that's not what I meant" Levy muttered. "WAIT! HOW'D YOU EVEN KNOW HOW TO DO THAT!?" Levy screamed accusingly at Gajeel

Gajeel grew a tick mark on his forehead "KEEP IT DOWN WILL YA!?"

Levy quickly covered her mouth with her hands and mumbled a soft 'sorry' but then steeled herself and asked him again, although softer this time "Answer me Gajeel." Levy glared at him not wavering while keeping her eyes locked with his.

Gajeel *tched* at this 'Man when she can be really scary when she wants to be' he thought "When I was younger, I had to whatever I could to survive." he answered bluntly.

"Oh. Gajeel… I'm sorry… I didn't know." Levy said with guilt evident in her voice 'First I tell him about the door and then, I basically began accusing him without knowing the whole story. He's probably angry at me now' Levy thought sadly.

"Don't worry about it. You didn't know." Gajeel said as he patted her on the head making her checks slowly turn red "Come on, let's see if we can find anything about where Natsu could be."

"Yeah. Let's go." Levy said with her cheeks still slightly red. She began to go over papers and the various books scattered around while Gajeel began to sniff around the house. She looked about the house and was surprised to see it fairly clean but then saw at the large stack of papers sitting on the coffee table in the living room and sighed 'This might take a while' she thought while picking up a stack of papers and began to go through them.


 

Erza was laying down on her bed, tightly hugging a white scaly patterned scarf close to her face and her chest. She didn't know what to do. Makarov's and Gray's departure had been hard on her. Her father figure left for who knows where, but Gray, one of her best friends along with Juvia had both left to go train, for possibly a whole year. Not only that, Natsu once again didn't show up to the guild which caused her extreme worry and disheartened her greatly. She was feeling more desolate than ever before and she hated it.

"Natsu, what's going on with you… " Erza muttered softly to herself as she buried her face even more into his scarf.

It had been days since she had last seen him, and uneasiness started to slowly creep up on her. Usually after a fight with an enemy that he would declare that Fairy Tale is the strongest and would go back to starting fights with Gray and the guild, challenging her and other S-Class mages to duels, and go on missions with her and the rest of Team Natsu as if nothing happened. She laid there drowning in her own thoughts.

She always loved that about him, his seemingly endless strength that she wished she had. She loved how he was the first to fight for his friends. She loved how he would always stand back up, and never give up, no matter how impossible the task seemed, even when she already had given up. She loved how he would always find a way and come off on top, even when she had already lost. She loved his courage and his willingness to challenge any opponent no matter how strong. She loved how he was the first to make her feel better when she was feeling down. She loved how his smile could always brighten her day. She loved how his voice could soothe her worries, even in the most desperate situations. She loved everything about him.

She loved… him.

She didn't know exactly when she came to this realization but the events that happened in The Tower of Heaven only seemed to confirm it for her. Seeing him go up against Jellal, watching him eat that Etherion Crystal and going into Dragon Force all just to protect her. She was astonished, she could do nothing but stare in awe at the reptilian scales adorning his face surrounding his beautiful golden-green slitted eyes.

She could do nothing but cry. She helplessly cried when she saw the man she used to love, and Natsu, the man she currently loved practically fight to the death. Even then, she didn't hesitate to try and sacrifice her life to try and save her friends. She remembered being pulled out from the Tower and being carried out in his arms. Once again, he had saved her life. He had saved her life and she would never forget it. She would never be able to repay him for what he had done for her…. It was too much.

Honestly, she had lost track of how many times he had saved her and the guild. He had not backed down against Acnologia, even if everyone knew it was futile. He had not backed down against Zero, Grimoire Heart, Sabretooth, Future Rouge, and against the Dragons.

But this time it was different. She could tell when they meet eye to eye… his eyes were different… he was… different.

FLASHBACK

Erza was limping through the debris with a sword in one hand that she used as a support cane. She didn't know how long she had been walking. She was heavily injured after her fight with Kyouka and pain shot through her body with every step that she took.

She kept going, pushing past the searing pain and her body's pleas until she came to a clearing and saw a massive crater. Her eyes widened when she saw a man with pink hair standing in the middle of said crater. Seeing him she started limping a little faster until she was standing a few meters behind him.

"Natsu… Good, I've finally found you." Erza said panting before she collapsed on the ground taking deep breaths

"… " Natsu stayed silent as if he never heard her. He just kept staring down at the crater and as she got a few feet behind him she felt a dark energy coming off of him but as quick as it came, it left.

'What was that just now?' She stopped in a cold sweat "Natsu?" She called out, worried.

He stayed silent and made no movements. She looked at his shoulders and noticed that he was very stiff. She looked at his hands and noticed his fists were clenched, drawing blood. The blood ran along his knuckles, dripping on the ground.

Suddenly he turned around to look on her. His clothes were tattered and he was covered in cuts, bruises, dirt, and blood. Lots of blood. Then she saw anger she had never seen once on his face. It was there for only a second before disappearing completely. He ran up to her and picked her up bridal style and looked down at her battered body.

"I'm glad you're alright, Erza." Natsu whispered softly but she still managed to hear him.

Being held tightly against his chest she couldn't help but blush, although she didn't say anything in fear she might begin to stutter out words. So she did the next best thing and nodded. He locked his eyes with hers and she noticed how red they were.

'Natsu… were you crying?' She had never seen him cry even when he thought that Lisanna had died. 'What happened?' She thought

"Are you… alright?" She asked him. "Please... tell me what happened… Natsu." She pleaded with him, never breaking eye contact and gripping his vest softly.

Natsu hesitated before answering. "I… I'm alright… I'm alright Erza." he began to walk away from the crater "My dad… he-he's gone." his voiced cracked "A-And this time… f-for go-good." A lone tear slipped from his left eye and then another from his right one.

He shut his eyes in an attempt to try and stop the tears but failing as they began cascading down his face with no sign of stopping. He stopped and collapsed on his knees with Erza being placed on the ground as his head loomed over her body.

Erza felt something warm and wet hit her face as her heart clenched and tears began to well in her eyes. She watched the man she loved having an emotional breakdown. She brought her hand up to his face and shakily began to wipe his tears while profusely apologizing over and over again.

"N-Natsu… I-I'm… sorry… I'm… s-so s-sorry." Erza stuttered out her wavering voice as she kept on wiping his tears away.

"Why… w-why do-does everyone… l-leave… me? M-My par-parents and-and n-now… Igneel… " Natsu said in between sobs.

Now it was Erza's turn to begin to cry. "I-I'll n-never le-leave y-you… ever… Natsu… "

Hearing her words, Natsu's eyes widened. "Erza… " he stared deeply into her eyes and began to move his head closer to hers.

Erza stared into his eyes as well and began to blush intensely. "Natsu… " Erza whispered and began to move her head closer to his until their lips met in a heated kiss. She wrapped her arms around his head while he placed one hand on her back, and another on her waist.

It was her first kiss and she would never forget it. She didn't know how long they kissed but she loved every second of it. Erza's entire face was red, her body was hot, she couldn't think straight, and her eyes were clouded with lust. Finally, they pulled apart, leaving a string of saliva connected between their lips and that's when her eye's met golden green slitted eyes.

"Natsu… Natsu… I… I lo-… I… " Feeling a sudden wave of exhaustion, Erza fell asleep in his arms.


 

'Where am I? What's going on?' Erza thought as she was being pulled into consciousness.

Her eyes slowly fluttered open as she was met with a blinding light. She blinked several times to try to adjust to light as she slowly began to take in her surroundings. She was lying down on a bed wearing a white gown, with an orange blanket while she was covered in bandages. Looking over the room she noticed that the walls seemed to made out of a tree, many plants decorated the walls, and many books and potions were sitting on shelves.

'I must be in Porlyusica's home. Haven't been here since she gave me my new eye'

"Glad you're finally awake. You had me worried for a second." Erza turned her head to the side to see none other than Porlyusica. She was turned around and by the looks of it, she was mixing some sort of potion in a round glass bottle.

"How long was I out for?" Erza asked while holding her head as she propped herself up on her elbows.

"Three days." Porlyusica answered as she added a strange black liquid from a glass vile to the potion. "Wendy and I healed your wounds, so you should be fine… but Erza… I wanted to talk to you about… about Natsu."

"Natsu… " Erza muttered as she began remembering what had happened before she had lost consciousness and began to turn a dark shade of red. She silently thanked that Porlyusica had her back turned so she couldn't see her.

Porlyusica kept adding different liquids to the potion "I think that something may be wrong with him."

"Wrong? What do you mean?" Erza asked worriedly.

"Yes… he's fine… but… " Porlyusica trailed, sprinkling ingredients into the bottle.

"But? What's wrong? Tell me." Erza demanded and Porlyusica knew that she wasn't going to let up.

Porlyusica sighed "Alright, I noticed something off with Natsu… when he came to ask me to heal you."

'So Natsu was the one that brought me to Porlyusica.'

"When he came I immediately sensed an impurity around him… something dark, something… not human." She admitted. "Did you notice anything like that with him?"

Erza's eyes widened in fear "Actually… when I found him… after we had defeated Tartaros" she paused "I felt… something coming off of him. I don't know what it was but… it was only for a second." She argued.

"Well, it may have only been some demonic energy. He was exposed to curses after all." She said, spinning the potion in her hand before placing a cork on it. She turned around with the potion in her hand, walking towards Erza. She stopped in front of her with her hand outstretched handing her the strange bottle.

"What is this?" Erza asked taking the black bottle in her hand, getting off the bed and requiped into a tight, white tank top that hugged her body in all the right places, a black miniskirt with a large black belt, and lace up, knee length black boots.

"It's a potion that should get rid of demonic residue. Give it to Natsu, it should get rid of it before it starts to cause any damage."

'Natsu… I hope you're okay.' She thought.

"Oh, and make sure that idiot drinks all of it." The healer instructed Erza.

"I will. Thank you Porlyusica. I'll be on my way now."

"Good riddance! I hate humans! GET OUT! NOW!" Porlyusica chased Erza out of her house with a broom and Erza left in search for Natsu.


 

"Natsu open up. It's me Erza, we need to talk." Erza said firmly as she knocked on Natsu's front door. She took a look at the sky and noticed how late it was. The sun had already set and she could see many stars littering the sky 'It's pretty late, he should be home by now.'

She knocked again. "Natsu, open the door this instant." She called in a commanding tone. 'He has to be here, I checked everywhere; the river where he fishes, and both of Lisanna's graves, where the guild used to be, and even… Lucy's house.' She thought with a hint of jealousy at the mention of Lucy's house.

'Why does he always go over to Lucy's? Could it be that… no-no. I-I mean me and Natsu… k-kissed so what does that make us? Could this be why he's not answering? Does he… regret it? What do I do? What do I say?' All these questions popped up inside Erza's head.

Erza was then taken out of her thoughts by a voice and a hand resting on her shoulder. "Hey Erza, you alright? I called your name like five times."

Erza recognized that voice anywhere and froze. "Hey, Erza!" then before she knew it she was spun around to come face to face with Natsu.

"N-Na-Natsu I-I… um I… " Erza stuttered out losing all traces of her calm and usually self "I c-came to give y-you this!" She held out the potion in her hands.

Natsu looked a little confused. "What is this? Alcohol?" He took the cork off and smelled it. He narrowed his eyes. "Who gave this to you?"

"Porlyusica gave it me today when I woke up. She told me to give this to you and make sure that you drink it. She believes that you were exposed to demonic residue and this should cleanse you before they start to cause harm." Erza informed him. "And… thank you, Natsu… for taking me to Porlyusica."

"Oh… is that so?" He then began to drink the potion until the bottle was empty and then a few seconds later he began hacking and coughing uncontrollably. "*ACK, HACK, COUGH, COUGH, HACK*" Natsu fell to his knees as he hacked and coughed until a black and red liquid dripped from his mouth.

"NATSU! NATSU! WHAT'S WRONG!?" Erza began to panic when she saw him start to cough up the strange liquid and what looked to be blood. She rushed to his side and put her hands on his shoulders. "NATSU!" She kept calling over and over.

'What's going on!? Wasn't that supposed to help him!?'

After a few minutes of Natsu hacking out the mysterious liquid, he was on his knees panting. His arms were on the ground for support and a puddle of black and red liquid was on the ground between his hands.

Natsu spat on the ground. "Hah… hah… I'm… okay… hah." He said in between breaths as he stood up "What the… hah… fuck was that? You trying to kill me… hah… Erza?"

"N-Natsu I'm so so-sorry! Thank god you're okay!" Erza pulled Natsu into a hug causing him to yell out a yelp as his face was smothered into her breasts. They stayed that way for quite a while until she looked down and realized just where she was crushing Natsu with her face turned a deep shade of red.

She quickly pushed Natsu off of her. "I-I… Natsu you… pervert." She softly muttered that last part as she turned her head away from him.

'How am I the pervert?' Natsu sighed. "Anyways, Thanks for bringing me that potion." He gestured at the strange liquid. "I'm guessing that must have been the demonic residue."

"I'm just glad that it managed to get that accursed residue out of your system. Those dammed demons and Zeref have ruined enough lives already." Erza spoke with malice. "I want nothing to do with Zeref or any of his filthy demons."

Natsu turned his back towards Erza as his hair shadowed his eyes. "Hey Erza, do you think that all demons are evil?" He asked in a monotone voice causing Erza to lift an eyebrow.

"Natsu, all demons are evil and vile. They're atrocious abominations that were created out of darkness. They’ve killed thousands of innocent lives including Gray's parents. They caused havoc over four hundred years ago, and now they're back. They are something that should have never existed. It wasn’t intended in nature. They’re simply a creation of man that should’ve never been allowed." She paused for a moment as she saw that Natsu had not moved.

Suddenly Natsu spoke up, and in the same emotionless. "What about END? What do you think about him?" He starred at the sky.

Erza was growing confused with his unusual behavior but answered his question anyway. "Atlas flame said it was Zeref's vilest demon, and according to Levy, it was his strongest. Apparently, E.N.D’s strength far surpassed Deliora’s and Lullaby’s. E.N.D., the creator and guild master of Tartaros, the most horrendous dark guild to ever exist. A demon so evil that the Dragons came out of hiding just to stop his resurrection." She spoke as she kept looking at Natsu's back "I think END is an evil… an evil that should be rid of from this world."

Natsu stayed silent.

"Why do you ask… Natsu?" Erza apprehensively began to walk towards his side.

He turned his head towards her and smiled. "No reason, just curious is all."

She looked up at the starry night. "Oh…I see. Well... it's getting pretty late. I'll be on my way. Bye Natsu." Just as Erza was about to leave she felt something grab her arm, pulling her in as she felt something hot press against her forehead. Erza blushed furiously when she realized that Natsu had kissed her on her forehead.

"N-Na-Natsu… I-I-I… w-w-what… I-I…" Erza stammered out, unable to form a proper sentence.

Natsu saw this and placed a finger on her lips which only caused her to blush even harder. "Shhhh." He said moving his head closer to hers. Erza noticed what he was doing and leaned into the kiss, placing her hands on his chest as her blush turned a deep shade of crimson, rivaling that of her hair.

'Natsu… ' She thought as they shared a chaste kiss, it was short and sweet but it conveyed the love they had for each other.

Suddenly Natsu's eyes turned golden green with his pupil becoming a black slit and a small scale like pattern spread across his face, surrounding his eyes. He then opened his mouth, exposing his larger than usual canines, sinking them deep into the left crook of her neck, drawing blood causing it to spill out the sides of his mouth and drip down onto her chest. Surprised and totally caught off guard.

Erza yelped in pain. "OW~! Natsu~." She moaned feeling something warm flood her, numbing her entire body in pleasure. Natsu began sucking on the spot he bit down before lapping up the remaining blood and kissing it while Erza moaned out his name.

"W-What? N-Natsu w-what… a-are… you d-do-doing?" Moaned out, the still blushing redhead.

"I marked you Erza. You're mine now." Natsu whispered into her ear causing her to shiver in response.

"M-Marked?" Erza squeaked, bringing her hand up to touch crook of her neck where Natsu marked her. It was hot to the rouch and stung.

"Yeah, It's Dragon tradition. You're my mate now." Natsu gripped her waist possessively.

Erza's head began to be filled with dirty thoughts. "M-M-Mate!? D-Does that m-mean… w-we… we're g-going t-to do… p-per-perverted… th-things?" Erza whispered, pushing her index fingers together, staring at the ground.

When she looked up she saw Natsu's Dragon features starting to vanish. His eyes returned to their normal onyx, his fangs shrank down back to their normal size, and the scales surrounding his eyes slowly disappeared.

Natsu ignoring her previous question began to unravel his scarf from around his neck, and wrapping it around Erza's, making sure to cover his love bite.

“Here, take it.”

Erza began to protest "Natsu… your scarf… I can't… "

"It's getting dark and cold. The road ahead of you is only going to get colder from here on out… Erza. You're gonna need it more than me."

Erza gazed at Natsu lovingly as he let go of her and secured his scarf around her neck, allowing his scent to waft towards her nose. 'Firewood' She thought as she took in his scent, filling her with a warmth she couldn't describe.

"W-We still need to talk about… u-us… N-Natsu… but it's getting late so… we-we'll t-talk about it l-later." Erza stuttered out to which she mentally cursed herself. 'Dammit get a grip, Erza! It's your fault that I act this way around you... Natsu.'

"Good Night, Natsu." Erza managed to sound composed.

"Goodbye… Erza." Natsu spoke ominously.

Erza took one last glace at Natsu before she started to walk back to her apartment in Fairy Hills. As she was walking to her apartment that night, Erza felt a sickening knot in her stomach, as if something terrible was about to take place.

FLASHBACK END

That was the last time she had talked to Natsu. That was the last time she had seen… Natsu. She brought her hand up to touch her neck, revealing a tattoo of two 'S' shaped, red and black dragons that crossed over each other and a shining steel sword in between them.

'Natsu… what's going on with you?' And with that one final thought, Erza fell asleep, still hugging his scarf close to her chest.