Header art credit to auroskhai – Thanks for being amazing girl!

Summary: Princess Lucy was given the chance by her father to find a suitor in the kingdom. She crosses paths with a certain salmon haired boy and sets her sights on him. Will he show up at the ball and make her dreams come true, or will he decide that the princess just isn’t for him?

NaLu
Rating – T for sensitive themes and topics as well as implications
Genre – Romance & Angst
Word Count – 7,917 Words


The blonde was sitting in the window, in her reading nook as the girl liked to call it. Her brown eyes were fixed on the tree she and her mother had planted all those years ago. A tear slipped down her cheeks as she was called.

“Lucy, my dear, come here.” She wiped the tear from her face and slipped out of the nook. She smoothed her dress out and raised her head.

“Yes, papa.”

She looked at her father with a smile; bright, but fake. “You are to have a ball, and I wish for you to find a suitable marriage partner there.” She nodded, her eyes fluttering to the ground, eyelashes brushing against her cheek.

“How are the suitors to be chosen?”

“We shall send out invites to the entire kingdom. Three days time, my dear; you have a fitting in an hour.” Lucy sighed, casting a wistful glance over to her little nook.

“Natsu!” Said young man shot up in bed, hitting his head on the bunk above him.

“What was that for, you pyromaniac?” The man on the bunk above his growled out. Natsu just groaned, rolling his eyes.

“Natsu Dragneel! Get your lazy ass down here.”

“Why can’t your father wake you up like this Gajeel?” The man above him just chuckled.

“Cuz my old man has more of a respect for sleep.” Natsu wanted to growl at his cousin, but then there was a pounding on the door.

“I’m coming, I’m coming. Don’t get your panties in a twist, old man.” Natsu slid out of bed, throwing a shirt on before going to the door.

“I heard that!” He opened it to a taller, red haired man. “Natsu, you must go out into town, get your cousins up too!”

“Which ones?” Natsu and his family lived in a mansion on the outskirts of town. Having only two female elders was difficult, but there was only one female younger. Everyone else was male, a recipe for disaster if his adoptive mother was to be believed.

They may all have been cousins, but none of them were blood related to each other or their parents. “Gajeel. Then get your sister up, too.”

“That’s one cousin da, you said cousins.”

“Then get ‘em all up, why don’t you?” Natsu’s grin spread across his face and his father looked at him warily.

“So they all gotta come out to town with me, eh?”

“Yup.” Natsu’s grin widened, and he turned around.

“Hey lug-nut! Get up, we’re going into town!” He ran across the hall to wake up the ‘twins’. They weren’t actual twins, but were the same age with the same birthday, and both were adopted on the same day. They were practically glued to each other’s hip. “Yo, shadow man, light eater, let’s go!”

“What’d you call me?” They both yelled back. Natsu chuckled, having way too much fun waking up his cousins, deciding he’d save his sister for last. He walked to his sister’s room, lightly knocking on the door. She groaned lightly and he opened the door.

“Hey, Wen, you gotta get up. We’re going into town today. You wanna come, don’t ya?” He walked over to her bed, ready to tickle her if she denied him. Her face was peeking out of the covers and she had a wicked grin on her face. Before Natsu could tell what was happening, his world was turned over and Wendy was on top of him.

“Rawr! I gotcha this time, didn’t I Natsu?” He smiled at his sister as she pretended to be menacing. As if she could get even close, she was just too adorable.

“Of course you did Wen, now get up, get dressed, let’s go!”

The odd looking group of teens walked into the town. Anyone looking at them, not knowing them, would be concerned they were there to burn the village down. Although, one of the five would probably do that by accident. His pink hair was wild as usual, in fact, the only one who’s hair looked like it had styling was the young girl’s. Her blue hair in pigtails, that her brother continued to yank on relentlessly, making her glare at him a few times.

The two with black hair had it long, and one had white streaks. The last had corn yellow hair, nearly the color of butter, but not the golden of the kingdom’s princess. Not that anyone knew what the princess looked like. “Natsu, stop it!” Wendy grabbed his hand, holding it in her own and refusing to let go.

“Yeah, yeah, so why’d your pops send us out here?” Gajeel asked, putting a hand on the girl’s head. He would never admit it, but he saw her as a younger sister as well. All of them did, except perhaps Rogue, the other black haired male.

“Said something about getting a letter in the mail. ‘All eligible suitors to come to the palace in three days with their…’ blah blah blah. A ball I’d assume, but all of us are going!”

“But Wendy isn’t a suitor.” Rogue pointed out.

“Wendy, is my adorable little sister and she is coming whether they like it or not.” Natsu pulled Wendy into his side as they walked to the tailor.

“Hello!” Lucy called out, ducking down to look at the beautiful jewelry on display, odd thing for a tailor to have.

A scarlet haired girl showed up in front of her. “Can I help you?”

“Ah,” Lucy stood up, “yes, I’m here for my second fitting?” She had ditched the guards, not wanting to deal with the blubbering that normally happened around her.

“Name?” A group came in behind her as she answered.

“Heartfilia.” The girl’s eyes widened. “But please, do not treat me any different. Call me Lucy.”

“Of course, I will be but a moment, Lucy.” Lucy grinned.

“But she’s a girl!”

“I don’t care, if the princess does not care for dear little Wendy, then there is something wrong with her.” Lucy turned at the sound of the voice, to see a rag tag group of five.

“But there are rules. I doubt that Wendy will even be able to enter bec—”

“Actually,” Lucy interrupted. “The invite says that all eligible suitors are to come to the palace with their families. That would include any female party. Sister, I assume?” She looked at the pink haired male who had said the young girl’s name. Then at the girl when he nodded. She bent down. “Besides, you are adorable, I’m certain the princess will love to see you.”

“Is that what you’re doing here, trying to get a dress for the ball because your family member is to be presented to the princess?” The one who had said that Wendy may not be able to enter, asked.

Lucy giggled, shaking her head. “Oh, no! I am an only child, however, I am here to pick up my dress for the ball. Besides, the males will not be presented, more of a simple introduction of their name and hers, and then if they wish to speak with her further, they may. It is not required, as the suitors, though they are called that, may already have a lady friend they are attempting to court, or one they have their eyes on.”

“Miss Lucy, right this way.”

“Oh, if you’ll excuse me.” She did a curtsy out of habit, turning as her face went bright red from the response. She followed the scarlet haired lady who gave Lucy the dress and went back out to help the other customers.

“That girl was really nice!” Natsu looked down at Wendy.

“Yeah. She was.” His smile was softer than before. “I’d like to get to know her more.”

“Maybe you can! She said she would be at the ball right? Her dress was a nice shade of pink, perhaps we will see her there. I shall keep a look out, captain Natsu!” Wendy and Natsu did that a lot, playing games to pretend their life was more exciting than it was.

“Aye, aye, first mate Wendy!” He paused, grinning widely before catching the door they had been entering through. “Do you think Gray is going?”

“Well, if he is, Juvia is as well, and if Juvia is, then he is. Ask Gajeel, he’d know.”

“I’d know what, squirt?”

“If Juvia is going.”

“Oh, yeah, her and Fullbuster are gonna be there.” Natsu frowned, but Wendy grabbed his elbow, pulling him in.

“Mother! We’re home!” Grandeeney came out of the kitchen, flour on her shirt showing that she was working on dinner. Her white hair was pulled back in a bun to keep it out of her face.

“Did you all get fitted?”

“Yes, and we met this really nice girl named Lucy!” Wendy went over to her mother, jumping up and down.

“She told Rogue off for telling Wendy she probably couldn’t go. It was really funny. Then she had to go, and she curtsied! It was real weird. Got anything good for dinner ma?” Natsu walked over, giving Grandeeney a hug and trying to peek past her into the kitchen, but she just brushed him off.

“Tomorrow is the day of the ball, and we need to work on all of your manners, you brutes.”

“Oi! Who you calling a brute, woman?” Natsu turned to see Igneel walking out of the kitchen, a piece of bacon in his mouth.

“Hey! Igneel, you ass, get back here with that bacon!” Grandeeney raised an eyebrow at her husband, turning to look at the pink haired woman who was coming out of the kitchen. Porlyusica was the other female in the house, and all three in one room was trouble. Immediately, the males — except Igneel — began to back away.

“Would you kids come and set the table?” Grandeeney asked, grabbing Natsu and pushing him and Wendy into the kitchen. Natsu groaned, wishing he had turned and run.

Lucy stood in front of the mirror, tilting her head from side to side as Virgo tightened the corset laces. The color reminded Lucy of the boy from yesterday, and she wondered if he would truly show. Normally, Lucy would notice the eyes first, and she didn’t for him. She wondered what color his eyes were.

“Is everything all right princess?”

“Yes, Virgo, just thinking.” Virgo nodded, stepping away as Cancer stepped in, doing her hair in a half up, half down do. She smiled at them both when he was done, going to the window, her smile softening.

“Lucy, dear!” She looked at the clock on her wall, taking a deep breath before stepping into the hallway.

“Coming, papa.” Her voice was strong, and she was — if a little nervous — excited for what was to come.

“Guest are arriving darling, we are letting them in soon. Let us get you to your place.” She nodded, allowing her father to escort her to the bottom of the throne. Shortly after, she was introduced to each male individually and she nearly felt like a prize to be won.

“This is Gray Fullbuster.” Lucy smiled at the man, someone she thought she could get along with if she tried hard enough.

“Hello sir Fullbuster, I’m Lucy.”

“Please, just call me Gray, princess.”

“Then you must call me Lucy.”

“Lucy.” He agreed, smiling as they clasped hands. “I do hope you do not take offense to this, but my heart already belongs to another, so I am just here for formalities.”

“Of course.” She smiled kindly, looking over to her right, seeing a blue haired girl zoning in on their still clasped hands. She jerked her head towards her, making the black haired man in front of her look over, the smile falling. “May I be introduced?”

He smiled, letting go of her hand and leading her over to the blue haired woman. “Juvia, this is Lucy. Lucy, this is Juvia.”

Lucy pulled the other girl into a hug, just as her mother would have done. “It is so lovely to meet you Juvia. I hope we can be friends.” In truth, that was why she had made her father allow everyone in the kingdom to come — because she wished for friends.

“But I am not a princess.”

“That does not matter.” Lucy was tugged away from the pair by one of her guards: Loke.

“Goodness Loke, what was that for?”

“You mustn’t socialize yet, princess. You still have men to meet.” She scowled at the orange haired male, wishing he would have let her talk to the girl longer. Lucy seemed to have a knack for knowing which males were in a relationship and whom it was with if they were in the vicinity of her vision. The time went on, and the pink haired male had still not shown up. As the hour grew later, Lucy watched the doors with an intensity even her father noticed.

“Lucy, dear, you keep looking at the door? Is there a specific man you are waiting for?”

“No father, I am just watching to see who comes in next.”

He hummed. “Okay, let me know if you find the boy from the tailor’s shop.”

“I will— Wait, what? How did you know about that?” Lucy spun around and saw the grin on her father’s face.

“You didn’t think you lost us, did you miss Lucy?” Lucy looked over to see Capricorn with a small smile on his face, along with Loke, smiling at her.

“I saw that look on your face when you were looking at him, even if it was for a brief moment, before you bent down to talk to his younger sister. Wendy, right?” Loke was calm as he told her he had seen her checking out some boy. “The pink haired one, no?”

Said pink haired boy was currently fighting with his cousins, and his sister. “But we are late!”

“Who cares? I don’t want to go anyway, not if Gray is gonna be there.”

“But Natsu, that girl is going to be there!” He perked up at that, and his black haired cousins frowned, just as they were getting him onto their side, Wendy had to go and get him hyped over some girl.

“No! We are not going!” Rogue shouted at the young girl.

“You don’t have to, but I am going.” With that, the young girl left, walking by herself, to the edge of the palace walkway. It seemed only Sting followed her.

“What? That girl was hot, I wanna see her again.” Wendy rolled her eyes at the male who was opposite of his ‘twin’. “The other’s are going back, but don’t you worry little miss, I’ve got you covered!” He winked at her and she smiled. He was certainly going to make sure she was okay, he always did.

“Yeah!” Together they walked up to the doors, pausing as they were opened for them.

“Right this way please.” A man said as they entered, gesturing for them to follow him. They did, heading down a ramp, where Lucy was actually sitting at the end, talking to the one person who Natsu had not wanted to see. She turned at their steps and stood up, running over to Wendy.

“Oh, Wendy!” She paused a moment, smiling before dragging the blue haired girl in for a hug. “You look absolutely stunning, beautiful, gorgeous. I am so glad you could make it!”

“Miss Lucy, this is Sting Eucliffe.” She let Wendy go and took a step back, grinning widely. Only for the grin to fall. Her face pulled into a frown, lips turned down, eyes wide and filled with confusion and something else, which if Wendy knew any better, would have said disappointment. But it was a quick flutter of the emotion before a sudden guarded expression was up, and a fake smile spread over her face.

“You’re the princess!” Wendy exclaimed, and Lucy turned that fake smile on her for a second. It was in that second, which Wendy decided she did not like that smile.

“I’m Lucy, it is lovely to meet you sir Eucliffe.”

“Sting, please. May I call you Lucy, princess?”

“Of course,” and with that, she turned away from Wendy, her expression unknown to all except the orange haired male she went to talk to before disappearing. Wendy watched after her, waiting a moment before turning to see Sting talking to one of his friends from town. Yukino, if she remembered correctly. Wendy went over to Gray, smiling as she sat there in front of him, Juvia coming over and giving her a hug.

Lucy stepped back onto the floor to see Wendy talking to Gray. She smiled and took another step, bumping into a smaller girl. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I should have been watching where I was going.”

The smaller girl looked up and smiled. “I’m Levy, nice to meet you princess.”

“Please, call me Lucy. It is lovely to meet you as well Levy. Say,” Lucy put a hand to her chin, smiling kindly. “You own the bookstore in town, do you not?”

“I do.” Lucy’s eyes brightened.

“Please, follow me.” She dragged the girl over to where Wendy, Gray, Juvia, and also Erza, were sitting. “Hello everyone.”

“Oh, Levy!” Everyone was already acquainted with each other, and they stayed talking late into the night. Nearly everyone had left, and Sting walked over to where they were seated.

“Wendy, it’s time to head out. I’m walking Yukino home as well.”

Lucy looked up, a smile on her face. “Don’t worry about her! I’ll keep her for the night!” Wendy smiled, holding her cat on her lap. Yes, her cat had followed her all the way from home. “She’ll be safe here.” Lucy continued when she saw the look of worry on Sting’s face. “I will bring her home tomorrow afternoon.”

“Of course, Lucy.” Sting turned, going to Yukino and taking her hand.

“You didn’t have to do that Lucy. I could have walked home with them.”

Lucy smiled, taking the little girl’s hand. “Ah, you could have, true. However, that would be akin to third-wheeling, and I like to think I saved you from that.”

Gray pushed his chair out. “Well, we must be going Lucy. Will we see you tomorrow?”

She smiled, standing up and taking Wendy’s hand. “Of course, I will see each of you at your establishments, except Erza. I shall see you at the bakery.”

When they had all walked out the doors, Lucy walked with Wendy, hand in hand, up to her room. “Now, let me see if I have something for you to wear.” Just as she went to open her drawer, the door was opened.

“Princess, I brought a nightgown for the young mistress.” Lucy smiled, taking the clothing from Virgo before saying goodnight and having Wendy change in the bathroom while she changed in the bedroom. The young girl came out of the bathroom, taking her hair down as she went.

“Do you happen to have a hair brush?” Lucy smiled, patting the bed in front of her as she finished tying her own hair into a braid.

“May I brush it for you?”

“Please!” Wendy said, and Lucy giggled.

“So Wendy, tell me about yourself.”

“What do you mean the princess invited her over for a sleepover!”

Sting just made a face. “I mean what I said. If you lot had been there, you could have stopped it, but she made reasonable arguments, and that was that.” A knock sounded on the door, and Gajeel went to open it.

“Oi, look who joined the party.”

There were two people that walked in. “We came to back up Sting’s story.” The red head said. “Because knowing you lot, you wouldn’t believe him.”

“Lucy did, in fact, invite Wendy for a sleepover.”

“Wait, Lucy?” Natsu asked, and Rogue cut in.

“Wasn’t that the name of that girl in your shop, Erza?”

“Yes. In fact, she was.”

Natsu’s eyes widened. “You knew! You knew who she was and didn’t tell us!”

“Well, of course not you dolt!” Erza smacked the pinkette upside the head, and Natsu stepped away. “She asked me not to, so I didn’t.”

“It’s too bad you didn’t go, Natsu. Word is, she was looking for one of the boy’s she met at Erza’s shop, but she wouldn’t tell us which one. We only know it wasn’t Sting, since the look on her face was pure disappointment.”

“Hey! I’m not that bad.” Sting said.

Gray was smirking and Natsu was immediately on him, trying to beat him to the ground. “How would you know that?”

“Because, she told her father that.”

“But you didn’t show, you know what that means?”

“What?”

It was Erza who answered. “Well, unless she sees whichever one of you she wanted to ask tomorrow, she will be arranged into a marriage with a partner whom she will not meet until the wedding. That was the original plan, but since Lucy was so distressed, her father did this kindness for her. Although, it was all for naught if her luck is just as it was tonight.”

It was obvious the two knew more about this than they were letting on. “What do you mean?”

“Meet me at the bakery tomorrow. Nine in the morning, sharp, got it Natsu?” He nodded, and the two left, leaving Natsu with more questions than answers.

He rounded on Rogue. “This is your fault!”

“How is it my fault?”

You told me that she probably wouldn’t even be there since she was an only child with no male to show up with!”

Sting cut in. “But so is Cana, and Levy. They were both there. Erza too, and Juvia. You were wrong bro.”

It was then that stomping on the stairs was heard. “What is all this ruckus!” Igneel shouted.

“And where is Wendy?” Grandeeney asked.

“She gets a sleepover with the princess, and we get to deal with your dumbass parents salamander.” Gajeel complained.

“Hey, it’s not my fault. You were in on it too!”

“What do you mean, sleepover with the princess?”

Sting looked up at the woman. “Wendy was asked by the princess to stay the night with her since it was so late. Said she didn’t want the girl to fall asleep walking home with just me by her side.”

Igneel narrowed in on the boys. “But you all were there, weren’t you?”

“Why would they be dead?” Lucy asked the blue haired girl in alarm.

“Well, they were supposed to accompany me to the ball, but they didn’t. So, Sting is probably fine, he’s just stupid enough to let it slip, so he would be killed by the other guys, not my parents.” Her cat, Carla, as Lucy had learned, meowed indignantly at being jostled around so much.

“Oh.” The girls were walking the horses around on the trail, and the smaller horse, which Wendy rode, was glad, as he rarely ever got ridden anymore. Most of the guards and Lucy herself even, were too big for Plue. “It is probably time for us to head out, would you like to come ride Plue again soon?”

“Yes!”

“Good! Anytime you wish to come ride Plue, just tell the guards you are small but sturdy. It’s the code, okay?”

“Small but sturdy, got it.” The two smiled at each other, and Lucy helped Wendy off the horse as they gave them to the stable hands.

“Normally, I would stay and help out,” she said, waving to Taurus and Sagittarius, “but today, we’ve got errands to run in town.” The two giggled, running inside to change. Virgo had supplied Wendy with many of Lucy’s older clothes that she had not gone through. “You can come, anytime you wish Wendy.”

“Thank you, Lucy.”

“Now let’s get to that bakery!”

Natsu had been sitting with Erza for two hours, knowing it was torture, but also knowing she was getting him closer to Lucy.

“Sorry we’re late Erza! I wasn’t expecting to have so many choice’s at the creamery. Then the bookstore, don’t even get me started.” She rushed over to the table Erza sat at, Wendy giggling behind her.

“It was the bookstore that took the longest. It didn’t help that Lucy was talking with Levy for nearly thirty minutes over a book they had read.”

“Hey, it was like ten minutes.”

“Twenty.”

“Fifteen.”

“Yes.” Lucy sat down breathless, not having noticed Natsu yet. Her hair was in a braid, and Wendy’s was as well. “It was fun though. She let me ride her horse this morning, we took them up and down the path a few times and she said I could come back any time.”

“That’s great, Wen.” Natsu joined in.

Wendy turned to him, surprised. She hadn’t noticed him either. “Oh, Natsu! When did you get here?”

“Nine in the morning.”

Wendy gave out a single, short laugh. “Yeah, right.”

“It’s true.”

“Well, it was more like a quarter till.” Erza said.

Lucy, through all of that, had just been staring at Natsu. It was a little unnerving, and he was really confused when she spoke. “They’re green.”

Lucy gasped and covered her mouth when Natsu’s eyes widened. “I am so sorry.” She breathed. “It just slipped out and—”

“Hello, and welcome to Mira’s. What can I get for you today?” Mira was looking at her notepad, a look of determination on her face, before she looked up. Lucy smiled. “Oh, Lucy! I heard you had a ball last night! How was it?”

Lucy stood up, giving Mira a hug and Lisanna, the woman’s younger sister one as well when she walked over. “It was good. The one guest I was hoping to show up didn’t though. It was a little disconcerting to say the least. Not everyday a royal gets rejected by a commoner when he has no other girl he’s interested in.” She winked at Natsu, who gaped.

“How would you know that?”

“Your sister.”

Mira giggled, “I assume you all want your normals? Doubled as usual Natsu?”

“Tripled, didn’t get dinner last night.” She giggled again and Lisanna followed her to the back.

Wendy laughed as well, her voice breathy when she spoke to her brother. “Well, if you would have come to the ball, the dinner was lovely. So was the breakfast, and brunch.” She turned to Lucy. “Can I just come live with you?”

“If your brother says yes to being my fiancé then yes, you can.”

“Oi, that’s too much pressure!”

“It’s fine Natsu. I was joking.”

“Aww, you mean even if he says yes I can’t?” Lucy laughed, her smile fading a little.

“That’s not what I meant Wendy. Besides, my father made it a strict rule that the guy had to ask me before midnight yesterday. So it doesn’t matter anyway.” At this point her smile was gone. “To be honest, I was hoping to use you as bait. It didn’t work.”

“Hey, I’m not bait for my brother.”

“Obviously.”

“Although, if I had brought his cat, then he would have come.”

“Oh, the blue one right?” Lucy clapped her hands together excitedly and Natsu watched her in concern. He didn’t see Wendy nod, or Mira come back with the food, he didn’t even touch it, and Mira boxed it up for him. It was a light touch on his shoulder that pulled him out of his reverie. “Are you okay Natsu?”

“I should be asking you that.”

“Oh, don’t worry about me. The guy my father chose is bound to be advantageous. I had resigned myself to it years ago. It doesn’t matter now. But still, I hope we can be friends.”

“Yeah. Best friends.”

Except, it was what he thought would be the last he saw of Lucy Heartfilia.

He was proved wrong, time and time again, and he was right before. He truly did like getting to know her. He liked listening to her tell his sister stories she made up. Liked going on horseback rides with her, even if her husband went with them. Which was rare, as he was gone to his own kingdom most of the time. Jellal Fernandez, was very nice. A little awkward at times, but he didn’t hate Natsu for being friends with his wife, and it made it hard for Natsu to dislike him for stealing Lucy away from him.

Lucy seemed relatively happy, from what Natsu saw. He liked seeing her happy and angry. He liked seeing her annoyed and excited. But he really just liked seeing her.

And true to his devastating words, they had become best friends. So he was surprised when early one morning, she showed up at his house, in tears. Jellal was gone, left earlier that evening, otherwise Natsu would have already been at the castle.

She was dirty, her horse tied up, hair in a twisted knot on her head, and a brown riding cloak slung over her shoulders. “Lucy?”

“I— Natsu, I don’t know what to do.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m supposed to bear an heir for this kingdom, but I can’t!”

“What do you mean you can’t?”

Lucy’s lips began to tremble and Natsu pulled her into his arms, the door closing behind him, leaving them exposed on the front porch. He leaned back against the door, her body shivering in his arms, and he wondered aimlessly if she was eating more. “Jellal and I were talking, and I told him what my father told me, that he wished for grandchildren.” Natsu’s arms tightened around her and she sobbed harder. “He told me, that he couldn’t, not with me.”

“Not with you?”

“Well, his kingdom, you know how they do their arranged marriages. You are arranged from birth, then if a better one comes along, you marry them. Some stupid rule. Where does it leave me? With nothing.” She pounded on his chest for a moment, and Natsu grunted, more from shock than force. “He said, since we didn’t get married in his kingdom, that our marriage was annulled after a certain amount of time because of some stupid custom in his stupid kingdom.” She hit him again, and Natsu tightened his grip again, her body going limp in his arms. “I thought he was joking for a moment. His humor is weird, you know. But then he says he has a fiancée. When I asked, he told me. So I asked her, and I can’t be mad. Not with them. And gosh, I want to, but I can’t, because it means I’m free again.”

Natsu was soothing her hair. It had been years since she had first married Jellal, seven to be exact. “What do you mean, free?”

“My dad said I have a week this time. A week to find someone to go to him, and ask for my hand. He’s going to send the letters out today.” She looked up, her hands fisting in his shirt. “Please Natsu. I can’t go through with another marriage with someone I don’t love.”

Natsu looked at her. “What are you saying, Luce?” She looked him in the eyes, her brown one’s determined and wide.

“I want you to ask. Come back with me. Please. Come and ask for my hand.”

“Now?”

“Yes.”

“Lucy, I— I don’t know about this. Maybe we should think about this. You’re heartbroken and not thinking clearly. I don’t think it would be right for me to ask.” Lucy took a step back, looking like a frightened animal, her hands releasing Natsu’s shirt and dropping to her sides, Natsu’s dropping to his own.

Before he knew what happened, she was kissing him. Natsu couldn’t help but kiss back, his hands settling on her waist and his lips moving against hers. His hands tightened when she opened her mouth, her tongue prodding for his to do the same. He did, and when she came up for air he bit her bottom lip, sliding his teeth along it and licking it soothingly. He turned them around so that her back was against his house, sliding one knee in between her legs, spreading them and resting his knee against the heat he felt.

She whimpered, but her eyes were still closed. Natsu leaned to the right, leaving open mouth kisses along her jaw, following it up to her earlobe, lightly tugging on it. She whimpered again, and Natsu’s tongue flicked out, lining her ear before he went back down, following instead to the slope of her neck. He lightly nipped at the dip where her neck and shoulder met, earning another whimper from Lucy. He was about to lean down to suck on the spot when her eyes widened and she pushed him away.

“I’m sorry.” She said, tears back in her eyes. “I just wanted to kiss you once. I’m so sorry.” She sidestepped him, going back to her horse, untying her. Lyra, as Natsu had long since learned her name was, whinnied at her master’s shaking hands. “Goodbye Natsu.” She called before standing up in the stirrup.

“Luce, why does that sound final?” Lucy didn’t answer Natsu’s question. He watched as she sat down in the saddle, leaning forward and speaking to the horse. “Luce?” But she was gone, and all Natsu could do was watch. He hit his hand on the side of the house, banging it multiple times.

Gajeel stepped out. “What the fuck man? I’m tryna slee— Oh shit, who fucked you over?” His eyes widened at seeing Natsu, the man fuming.

“I did. Fuck! I just let her go. Again. Fuck!” He went to bang the house again when an arm stopped him.

“Come on man, let’s take this to the back.” Natsu nodded, allowing himself to be dragged out of the front yard and around to the back, following Gajeel as they walked into the shallow woods behind their house. “So what exactly happened?”

“She was right there. Dammit!” He punched out, Gajeel blocking the move, throwing one back, which Natsu took, straight to the chest. He would end up taking most of the hits Gajeel threw, as he spoke about the events.

“I assume you’re talking about Lucy.”

“Yes.”

“Levy told me that she practically knew from the beginning, but wasn’t worried, because she thought she could fall in love with him, and then they would marry in his kingdom.”

“She knew?” Natsu took a punch to the gut, a lot like the metaphorical feeling he was getting.

“Yep. Never worked. She always had her eye on someone else.”

“Fuck!” Natsu kicked his leg out, tripping his cousin when he tried to help him up. He was too angry to see it as help and not an attack. “She knew the fucker was gonna leave her, but she did nothing about it?”

“Yes. Aren’t you listening?” Gajeel dodged a punch from Natsu, stopping the other with his hand, twisting him to his side before standing up. “But it was technically her fault, it was the deal they made. If she hadn’t fallen in love with him by the time the seven years came up, he would go back to Erza.”

“Erza?”

“Fuck man, did you even let her explain?”

“Well, kinda?” Natsu wasn’t even certain at the moment what she had and hadn’t told him. “She told me he left because he didn’t want to do children with her and her father wanted an heir to the throne, and that his kingdom annulled their marriage.”

“Well, that’s all true, but there is so much missing.” Natsu took a punch to the jaw and shook his head.

“But I had her.”

“And?”

“And I let her go.”

“Did you really let her go?”

Natsu kicked out, ending up falling from the momentum, Gajeel not being in the spot he had been. “What the fuck is that supposed to mean, lug-nut?”

“I mean, did you let her go, or did you force her to? What happened?”

“She— She asked me to go to her father and ask for her hand in marriage. I told her that she wasn’t thinking right, that I couldn’t, and I can’t. She deserves so much better than me.”

“Shouldn’t she get to decide that?”

“Shut the fuck up! You don’t know her!” Natsu yelled, punching out, and Gajeel just grinned.

“No, I don’t. But shrimp is her best friend. Besides you of course, and they talk about something you don’t talk with her about.” Natsu looked at him with a questioning look. “Boys. Shrimp tells me all about what her fantasies are, and in just a single night, you ruined all of them. Well, mostly all of them, if the swollen lips when I came out were anything to go by.”

“You— you pervert!”

“You definitely been hanging around bunny girl too often.” Gajeel decided to speak more of what Levy had told him, knowing what buttons to press. “Did you know she had gotten pregnant?”

“What! She said that Jellal and her never—”

“Oh, they didn’t. One of her ‘guards’ — well, he was posing as a guard — raped her. It was during the month she was gone, remember?”

“She would have told me.”

“That Jackal raped her? I don’t think so. Would you tell her if you were raped?”

“Well no, but—” Gajeel laughed.

“Don’t expect her to then. She would have told you. Eventually, most likely. Maybe.” He was going from a certainty to a possibility and Natsu didn’t like it. He was staring ahead of him.

“No. She would have told me. She can’t be—”

Natsu stopped, hearing a loud scream. Gajeel and Natsu both took off towards the sound, the added noise of a horse neighing spurring them on. When they got to the scene, the least they felt was shocked.

Gajeel walked over to the petite blue haired girl, who was leaning over a blonde. Natsu, on the other hand, fell to his knees next to the blonde. “No, no this can’t be happening.” She was still in her cloak, and it felt like mere seconds had past since Natsu had seen her.

Gajeel spoke to Levy. “What happened?”

Levy looked at him, tears in her eyes. “I don’t know. I mean it seemed like something spooked Lyra, she bucked and Lucy was trying to get control of her, but there was a kid. She jumped off to get the kid out of the way and was… Lyra came down from her stance and stepped on her. She’s gonna be okay right? Gajeel?” Gajeel frowned, looking up at his cousin, then at the blonde. She was barely breathing, but when she caught Gajeel’s stare, she gave a weak smile before shaking her head no.

“I’m sorry.” Levy began to wail, and Natsu crawled closer to Lucy.

“No, you’ve gotta live, Luce. Please.” Her weak smile was still on her face, even as she coughed up blood.

“Natsu.” Her voice was weak and he immediately drew her into his lap, her back against his chest and head against his shoulder. She coughed a bit, as he moved her, but there wasn’t much she could do. “I’m so sorry.” Her sentences were fading. “Make sure…” her eyes trailed to the side, and Natsu followed, seeing the kid. Lucy’s breathing became more defined, “he’s oka…y.”

Natsu nodded leaning his head on hers. “Of course. I will, please Luce.”

“There’s no getting out of this one Natsu.” Her every breath was wheezed, and the words along with them. “Natsu, I love you.” Her eyes were becoming unfocused.

“I love you too. Dammit Lucy, you can’t die on me.”

Her hand came up, grasping at strands of his rosy colored hair. “Your eyes, make me feel like I’m looking at the stars. It’s beautiful, and now, I ask one last thing of you, my dragon.”

“Yes?”

“Stargaze with me. One final time.” Her hand slid down, resting in his lap, as her breathing began to slow.

“I will.” And he did, watching the sky above as she smiled at him, not knowing, she just didn’t want him to watch the life drain out of her eyes like she had with her mother. So, when Natsu looked back down at the limp girl in his arms, her life was gone, and he cried out.

Five years later, and Wendy was marrying the kid Lucy had saved. Natsu was the best man, as he had become something like an older brother to Romeo. The two decided to get married at night, under the starry sky and in the castle’s garden on Lucy’s birthday, which were Wendy and Lucy’s favorite place to travel.

When the wedding was done and over with, Natsu and his family went over to visit Lucy’s grave. Natsu sat in front of it, with Wendy and Levy kneeling on either side of him.

Levy was holding her newborn in her arms, and Gajeel stood behind her, one hand on her shoulder. Romeo stood behind Wendy, a single hand on her shoulder as well. Erza nor Gray nor Juvia or their child knelt, but Jellal did. Natsu heard Rogue, Sting, and Porlyusica all whisper a quiet ‘happy birthday’ before turning and leaving. Igneel and Grandeeney held onto each other as they said their piece.

“Lucy, dear, it was lovely to be able to meet you and have you in our lives.” His father began.

“You were already like a daughter to me when you began to love Wendy as your own little sister.” His mother was tearing up; it was heard in her voice. “And when you saved that boy, none knew he would become the groom of that little sister, but it seems that you were too kind hearted to let any child get hurt. We love you darling, and happy birthday.”

Natsu only watched the unmoving stone, listening to what everyone had to say. Jellal was the next to speak. “I may not have fallen in love with you as Natsu did, or as you did with Natsu, but each moment I spent with you was treasured. The single time you came to my kingdom, you were so kind, and gave each and every person who talked to you attention. Even now, they talk of you, and I’m sure, just as I do, they wish you a happy birthday.”

“Lucy, you saved me from Lyra that day, who has since grown to like me. Wendy, Natsu, and I come to ride your horses often, and make sure they are being treated kindly. You seem to touch everyone’s hearts that you pass, even now. I can’t thank you enough for what you did. But I hope, Wendy and I’s birthday present to you was good.” Natsu smiled at that, wondering how she would have smiled and begun crying. He guessed it wasn’t wondering if he knew what a mess she would become.

“It has been nearly five years since your death Lucy, and every day I am in deep regret that I was not in town to save you. However, Jellal has told me, time and time again, that I must get over this regret because there is nothing I could do. So, I have been trying, but I really do miss you, and I will eat enough strawberry cake for you so you may have a happy birthday.” No one dared chuckle at Erza, not even when Jellal stood up and the two left, knowing she was serious.

“Lucy, I wish you a delightful birthday, and for you, I know that we must be happy.” Juvia had been trying hard to stay strong, but she immediately began crying, falling into Gray’s arms. Their child, Storm, stepped forward.

“Aunt Lucy, I have only ever met you once, and I was barely old enough to talk, but I know you were a wonderful person, and I wish I could have been held in your arms more.” Juvia sobbed harder, pulling her six year old son into her arms.

“Bunny girl, your death was sudden, and broke the hearts of many around us, and I only knew of things through shrimp here.” He paused, squeezing his wife’s shoulder. “But I know you went through some really tough shit and you dealt with it better than any of us would have. Our little girl’s middle name is yours, Levy thought it was only appropriate. So happy birthday.”

Gajeel stopped, and Gray began. “Lucy, it has been difficult without you around, and your smiling face always comes to mind when we need it. Mostly because Natsu tells us to ‘shut the fuck up and think about Luce,’ but it works. So thank you, and happy birthday.” The family walked off, Gray giving Natsu a light pat on the back before completely disappearing.

“Lucy,” Levy began, tears already forming in her eyes. “I brought little Emma Lucy Redfox to see you. It was thanks to you Gajeel and I met, and also thanks to you he took the next step with me. I hate to think about the day you left, but I know…” her voice trailed off and she sobbed for a second, “that you would tell me to read a book and pick myself up. Lu, you meant so much to me, and I miss you so much, so I guess, I just wanted to tell you that, and wish you a happy birthday.”

Levy stood up, and Gajeel took Emma from her, wrapping an arm around Levy’s shoulder before walking away, just a grunt of acknowledgement for Natsu. Then Wendy spoke, and she leaned her head on Natsu’s shoulder. “Lucy, you were like a big sister to me, and it was heartbreaking to find out you were gone. I want to thank you for saving Romeo, and becoming so close to me. It means a lot that you did those things for me, and I know Natsu is grateful as well. Happy birthday, Lucy.” And then, it was just Natsu.

He laid on his back, looking up at the stars before speaking. “Hey Luce.” He tried to smile, but couldn’t force it. “I know I talk to you every day, but…” He didn’t know what to say, and he softened his voice. “I miss you. I miss your smile, your hair, your eyes. I miss your warmth too. I know you said it was always me warming you up, but I just feel cold now. Without you here, it is difficult, but I know you want me to continue on, and I know, that every time I look at the stars, you are watching, and it gives me hope.

“I wish I would have done things differently back then. Actually gone to the ball for one; I would have got down on my knees and begged you to spend the rest of your life with me. To allow me to do the same with you. I would have done so many things, but I didn’t. Yes, I regret it, but I don’t regret spending time with you, or falling in love with you. I only regret not listening to people when they kept telling me that it would be better to love and lose that love, than to not love at all. Because it hurts so much to know I had you right there, but I didn’t do enough. I’m so sorry Lucy. I miss you. I love you. Oh, and happy birthday Luce.”


Hey lovelies!

To be honest I love reading angst, but whenever I go to write it, it just isn’t angst… I remember sitting down and getting the inspiration for this, and it went through at least 4 drafts before I decided on this storyline for this version of my Cinderella AU. As it would get closer to the ending I would completely cop out of having the angst, instead making it a happy ending, but I knew that wasn’t what I was going for. Other endings would be more gruesome or a bit out of my comfort zone or range of understanding. So I chose something I was familiar with and rolled with it. I’ve since tried writing angst and it’s still not turning out so well, but I’m working on it! Thank you for reading this, I hope it was up to your standards, and if you have any questions or comments please feel free to let me know! I really do love hearing from you guys!

~Rayhne

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