some people seem to fade away but then when they are truly gone it's like they didn't fade away at all

[Goodbye]

Series: Fairy Tail.
Pairing: NaLu.
POV: Natsu.
Spoilers: Chapter 465.
TW: death, blood.
Summary: With Zeref’s defeat telling of his own demise, all that’s left for Natsu to do is say goodbye.

A/N: since Mashima will probably find a way to keep Natsu alive in the end *cough*onemagic*cough* I wanted to write an alternate version where Natsu takes out Zeref once and for all… ps: vague endings ftw.

You got what you wanted, didn’t you? Don’t know where your heart is but mine’s bruised. You knew when you started that I’d lose. The blood on the carpet is not you. I try to wash the scars and marks from under my skin. But you’re etched in me like stone.

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The screams of his comrades were deafening. Pain rippled through his muscles, tearing through his bones, leaving a shattering echo of pain in his heart. Their voices drifted along the scorching gale of smoke and ash and rubble. They were too late. They’d never reach him in time, just as he’d intended. The sound of his heartbeat quickened then slowed, delivering a sharp and painful truth. He was dying. He ached to feel regret for his actions, ached for the remorse to crush him.

It didn’t.

If it meant keeping them safe, Natsu was more than willing to pay the price. His whole life had been a lie. In the end, Natsu was simply carrying out his fate. His purpose. Thousands of lives were worth the sacrifice of one. He’d take the pain and use it to drive away the shadows. He would become their light.

All at once the energy seemed to leave his body. Flames licked up Natsu’s legs as he tumbled towards the ground, his body convulsing with the weight of a battle won. Zeref, too, crumbled to the ground beside him. In the distance, Natsu could see the twitching remains of his right arm cast aside in the rubble. The arm baring his guild mark. His thoughts flickered back to Lucy – to the Lucy who’d travelled through the Eclipse Gate to warn them, to protect them. How ironic, he thought, that he, too, would share in her fate.

Beside him, Zeref stared into the overcast sky, tears trickling down his cheeks where rain had yet to do so. Natsu sucked in small breaths, testing the boundaries of his broken bones and torn muscle. It was difficult to breathe. Being human had never seemed so tiring.

‘Thank you,’ Zeref croaked, 'Natsu.’

Natsu growled through his teeth. 'I didn't…’

He didn’t do it for Zeref. He didn’t do it for himself, either. He did it for her. For them. For the people he loved. His ears were ringing, ringing with the sound of Erza’s voice: live for your friends. Live. You must live.

'Sorry,’ he mumbled. 'I’m sorry.’

A smile tugged at his lips. What a hypocrite he was, going off on Gray when he tried to use Iced Shell, all the while planning to end his own life. He’d gone and done the very thing he loathed so much. His friends would never make it in time to save him. He’d taken the battle as far into the distance as he could. By the time they reached him, Natsu’s whole world would be over. He was grateful, in the end, that he’d finished the battle in the form he knew best.

Natsu Dragneel: son of Igneel.

Blood spluttered from the corners of his mouth as he gripped a fist over his chest. His entire body burned. He never thought he’d succumb to such a sensation again. Fire.

Had it always been so hot?

Natsu!

It was her. He’d know that voice anywhere; know the distinctive melody as it swept its way into his heart. He had so many things he wanted to tell her, but those things were better left unsaid. He didn’t want to cause her unnecessary heartache. The truth was meaningless now, just empty words that would die along with him.

To his left, Zeref was smiling an empty smile. His eyes, devoid of light, seemed suddenly far away. He lay deathly still.

It was time.

Natsu closed his eyes and sucked in his last breath. He reveled in the taste of blood and the snap of bone. It was a reminder that he’d lived. That he’d succeeded.

That his friends could live on.

It was his greatest desire to see them all smiling one last time. He knew that he never would again, knew that his memories would be all he had, but the thought alone was comforting.

And Lucy… He couldn’t imagine never being able to touch her again. To never again hear the sound of her voice. To never be a part of her life again. All those things, all those memories, she would make them without him.

If only he’d taken the time to truly cherish her.

I love you, Natsu.

He wondered, for a moment, if those words were a hallucination. They seemed to undulate through his mind, carrying with them the sting of his broken heart. He could feel his life slipping away. Even her face seemed to blur in the darkness. The memory of her laughter echoed all around him. He loved that sound.

Don’t go.

Plunging deep into the darkness, Natsu found himself beginning to panic. His strength was dwindling. Her face, too, was beginning to fade away.

No. No, he didn’t want to die. Not like this.

He wanted to be with her.

Gasping for breath, breath that wouldn’t come, Natsu writhed in the shadows. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want any of this. He’d told himself it would be okay. He’d told himself that her smile was enough. That it was worth everything.

He lied.

Maybe it was selfish to want to live. He had steeled himself to the task, after all. Told himself it would be okay.

No. He wasn’t ready.

He wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

When the last glimmer of light had faded, Natsu thought of her one last time. He pictured cupping her face in his hands. He pictured kissing her. If only he’d kissed her goodbye. No. No, he didn’t want to say goodbye. He wanted to kiss her good morning. He wanted to taste her cooking and tell her how great it was. He wanted to stay beside her. To stay beside…

What was her name again?

All at once his body seemed to float away into the void of darkness. He could feel himself slipping away, feel the fire in his belly extinguish. He hoped he could see Igneel again. Hoped to be reunited with the parents he couldn’t remember. But, still, his heart was tied to them. To the people who’d loved him in life. To the people who’d miss him when he disappeared.

Was this his punishment for existing? For cheating death?

Not just her – all of them. Each face faded into the blackness.

Their guild. What was it called again? Natsu couldn’t remember.

This place was so cold. He made an instinctive grab for his neck, for the scarf that wasn’t there. No, that belonged to the other Natsu. To the Natsu who’d lived. It wasn’t here. He’d never see that scarf again. He’d never see anything he knew again. He was losing his connection to reality. To life. All at once, everything seemed so suddenly bleak. Empty.

If only he could remember her name. What was it?

Luigi.

Don’t die!

No. Luigi wasn’t right.

Get up, Flamebrain!

The echo of their voices made him shiver.

Oi! Salamander!

He just needed a moment to think.

Please.

Light.

Yes. That was it. He remembered! He remembered the light in her eyes. The way her smile illuminated a room. The way her heart glowed with so much love, so much joy, it shone like a jewel laid out in the sun. She was light. Her name was light.

'Lucy.’

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Revised 27th March 2017 | Now available on fanfiction.net