. Between the Lines . 203

It took Lucy a good half hour to stop crying and a little longer to reassure Natsu that she wasn’t crying because she was telling him no. He’d panicked, trying to apologize and tell her she didn’t have to move in, that he’d help her get a new place to live, but she’d promised him that she wasn’t upset over that. In fact, she was more than willing to move in.

Gray had nearly punched him when he’d burst outside, Cobra cackling over his shoulder drunkenly. Kinana had dragged him back inside, apologizing, and Lucy had quickly stopped Gray from attacking Natsu, lying to Gray and saying that everything was fine, she was just relieved.

That, however, had launched Natsu into a rant. Because Lucy wasn’t alright, she was in tears, and how could that mean she was fine and relieved? She’d glared at him, and Gray had cut in with a sharply stated demand of “What do you mean she isn’t relieved?” and the situation just got worse, resulting in more tears.

When Mirajane had come, Lucy had hastily told her she was just stressed and that both men had done nothing wrong.

Still sniffling, Lucy took a shaky breath and wiped at her eyes. She was still outside, leaning against the wall on her feet, refusing to sit down. She wasn’t sure why Natsu was sitting in front of her with his forehead resting lightly against her knees, hands draped in his lap. But she appreciated the gentle gesture.

Her keys hung from her hand, jingling with every movement. They were icy. Cold. Lacking the warmth she’d taken warmth from for the last few months. Despite the dragon slayer at her feet, she felt alone.

Because she truly loved Natsu, and she would fight to keep him with her just as fiercely as he would fight for her. But there was a connection that she had with her Spirits…a connection she couldn’t form with anyone else. They read her thoughts and feelings and knew what she needed.

“Luce?” Natsu said lowly, not looking up.

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