Chapter 3 - Heavy Sleeper
Natsu was laying in his bed half-asleep. He couldn't understand why , but for some reason he just couldn't get any proper sleep. The Mage Knight would wake up several times , keep flipping in bed and occasionally get up to stretch his muscles. It didn't make any sense. He never had any trouble sleeping and the bed here was much more comfortable and larger then his old one in the order house. But maybe the sudden switch was the reason for this , although he didn't have such problems while occasionally traveling outside the capital. At some point he had thrown his tunic on the ground thinking that it was keeping him awake. He hated that thing , as he felt it was choking him at times , but Erza had insisted on him being as formal as possible. Deep down Natsu knew why he wasn't getting any proper sleep. It was the fact that he really was not going to be able to visit the order house as often as he wanted. This assignment was going to take out more time then the Mage Knight originally thought. Luckily he managed to hear that this was temporary and later he would return to his true home. After a while he managed to fall back into a light slumber.
At some point Natsu heard that someone was walking around in the room. He brushed it off thinking it was Gray trying to pull a prank on him. The pinkhaired knight was feeling too tired at the moment to deal with him. He was just going to kick his but later like usual. Then Natsu remembered he wasn't at the order house any longer and that was not Gray's smell. It was that strange maid who gave him the schedule..Virgo or something like that. She was probably doing some work and he decided to let her do it in peace while trying to get back to sleeping. If it continued like this for long the Mage Knight was probably going to burn down to bed just to get an excuse to at least get his old one here.
-Natsu-san wake up. - He just grunted and turned to his side , but Virgo was persistent.
-Natsu-san wake up!
-What time is it?-he asked while turning towards her still half asleep.
-Too soon. -Natsu again turned to his side
The way he was acting reminded Virgo of the princess in her childhood. Every single morning she went through a similar routine. And occasionally she would still do that when she overworked herself. And dealing with this for so long gave her ample experience how to wake someone like that. Quick and rough. Being the princess she could never be too rough with Lucy , but her bodyguard was a different story. She had come with a bucket filled with water to clean the windows of the knight's room which he hadn't had time to do so yesterday , but that could wait. The maid picked up the bucket and quickly emptied it contents over Natsu's head. Coughing he rolled out of the bed.
-Are you trying to drown me!?
It almost looked like he had fire spitting out of his mouth. But what surprised her more was how quickly he got full of energy like he wasn't half asleep a second ago.
-Just waking you so that you begin your duties.-she said not revealing even for a second that she was surprised.
-What duties? I just have to follow her around right?
-That is just part of it. It is your responsibility to ensure she wakes up on time and performs her obligations.
-Isn't that your job?
-I have been doing it until now yes. But now the honor is yours.-Natsu seemed like he was going to protest about this not being an honor
-You must understand. A personal bodyguard is a royalties closest aide. The only one whom can be trusted with the deepest secrets and desires.
-You make it sound like I am supposed to be something like her best friend.
-That is a rather simple , but accurate way of saying it. And in some ways you will be even more then a best friend to her.
It is also something the princess must realise herself. Natsu stretched his muscles. What was the point of this speech anyway? This was only temporary after all. As soon the threat to the princess was gone he was going to go back to the Fairy Order and they would probably never meet again. And what was that about being her best friend? Well he didn't mind being her friend. She was weird , bossy and at times annoying but still fun to have around as long as she didn't try to educate him with all those useless things like she did yesterday. It was pointless to remember which spoon or fork was for which dish , and in what order to eat. With horror he realised he really did remember everything about that. And Natsu was probably never going to be able to forget no matter how hard he tried.
-Well , since it's my job and all.
He headed for the secret door leading into the princess's room.
-Where are you going?
-To wake her up like you told me.
Natsu didn't even try to hide his annoyance. That is what she told him to do after all. Virgo continued looking at him without revealing any emotion. He had to admit. She was good at it.
At that moment his mind became a complete blank. First telling him what to do and the next second saying he can't do it. Was anything normal in this castle? Seeing that he was confused Virgo spoke.
-It is too early for her to wake.
-Then why...-she interrupted him
-I woke you earlier because you need to prepare yourself first.-without giving him a chance to speak she continued.-First. You need to decide on a new set of clothes for today. If a servant of royalty , and especially the child of the king , appears in the same outfit for two days it speaks poorly for said person. It is a matter of wealth. This was growing more annoying by the minute for Natsu. Sure he took notice of his appearance , but changing clothes every single day seemed like too much of a bother.
-Second. You need to take a shower. You smell.
He was going to take offence at that comment , but after hearing it it stroke him. She was right.
-And lastly. You need to check what her tasks are for the day.-she pointed at the schedule book.
-Only one. Where do I take a shower?
For a minute Virgo froze. At first the question sounded stupid , but when she tried to answer it hit her. This room was hastily build when the queen passed away and an indoor bathroom was never made. Nor was there a possibility of doing it anymore. And besides the one in the princess's room there wasn't another one on this floor. That was a miscalculation on her part. Natsu was looking at the maid still confused. Did he say something wrong for her to freeze like that? Before being able to say anything Virgo spoke. It was almost like she secretly enjoyed cutting him off like that.
-I suppose it is a bit unusual but you will have to use the princess's bathroom.
-Hers? Won't she get really angry if I do that?
-The princess is a hard sleeper and wont notice it at the moment. It is doubtful she will wake up on her own any time soon. I will explain things to her before you have to use it again.
"We just can't have her personal bodyguard going to another floor just to take a shower. Still it might be..." -her thoughts were interrupted.
-Well if you say so. Then I'll go ahead and be done with it quickly.
-Of course.-she lightly bowed and turned to leave his room.
When Natsu passed through the secret door he looked towards the princess's bed. He felt really envious at how calmly she was sleeping , while he barely slept at all. Seeing her sleeping face the Mage Knight suddenly felt sleepy again and the though of lying down next to her in that giant comfy looking bed came to mind. He immediately dismissed it. Natsu had no desire to lose his head for doing something so foolish. Hopefully the shower was going to wake him up. He had expected what would be inside her bathroom , but it still shocked him. Being a princess and all there were definitely going to be royal decorations and judging from what he saw from her personality he expected it would most likely be covered in pink. And Natsu was right for the most part. But it was more then he thought.
He expected it would be bigger then it really was. It was just one shower , a sink with a cabinet underneath and a tub. Guess the stories he heard of bathrooms the size of the order house were just that stories. It was not the size that surprised him. It was how it looked. Instead of the bathroom of a grown up princess it looked like that of a little girl. Even the tub , although large enough for a grown up , looking at it for a while resembled some sort of animal. He guessed she cherished her childhood memories too much to let these things go. It wasn't something he could make fun of , considering his own position.
Natsu finished with the shower faster then usual. He never took a long time doing it , but this time he did it as fast as the Mage Knight could. That maid should have explained it now. If by some chance she woke up and saw him there the princess probably wouldn't care about his explanation. And Natsu had to use her soap as he didn't bring one with him. The Mage Knight left the bathroom wearing one of her towels. The lack of sleep was affecting him if he forgot to take these simple things.
When Natsu returned to his room he quickly got dressed and sat on his bed after taking the schedule. It seems there were only two things the princess had to do today. First , to his great annoyance was math. If things went as he thought they would this would be the time the Mage Knight could catch up on his sleep. After that lunch which would probably become a test for him. But the princess wouldn't receive the pleasure of having to torment him like yesterday. Even if it was a bother , eating like she wanted him to was preferable. And after that over five hours of dancing classes? It was going to be a boring day , but hopefully she would allow him to visit the Fairy Order after that dance class. It was just the second day but the urge to hit something was growing fast. Before leaving the schedule he took a second look at where her classes would be held. It was a bit surprising but he had no trouble in remembering where both of them are located. Even if she did it in an annoying way the princess was actually a very good teacher.
When he passed through the hidden door the first thing Natsu did was return the now dried towel back in place. Then the Mage Knight walked towards the bed and looked at the sleeping princess. She seemed so calm while sleeping that he was tempted not to wake her up at all. The calm expression she had at the moment was wasted on her character in his opinion. Still he had a job to do.
-Hey princess. Waky waky.
Somehow Natsu expected that that emotionless voice wouldn't work. He gently pushed her shoulder while still telling her to wake up. As it didn't have any effect he began to shake her with increased force and raised his voice a little. But for all his effort her only reaction was to turn to her side and mutter out something he couldn't understand. But it sounded like something a five year old would say. She was definitely different while sleeping. The temptation to let her stay that way grew even more. Natsu cleared his throat. There was also the temptation to wake her up just like Virgo woke him up. Shame he couldn't do that to a princess. But the maid was right. Princess Lucy was a really heavy sleeper that may be able to rival him. Erza technique would work here. He kneeled down and with the entire strength of his voice yelled.
-Lucy Wake Up!
It was impossible to match Erza's angry voice for when he overslept for an important event , but it was sufficient. Just like he did so many times the princess fell out of her bed shocked from the sudden scream. These weren't his fondest memories , but he couldn't help but giggle. For once Grey was right. It was funny to watch. But soon worry came to him. It wasn't only because he was suddenly worried about her retaliation. She wasn't getting up. Natsu lay on the bed and looked over the edge. She was laying on the ground wide wide eyes. He guessed it was too much of a sudden shock to her and was still having trouble figuring out what was happening. Suddenly his worry about retaliation vanished. Just a few second laying on that bed and he felt sleepy. Finally Lucy's mind managed to wake up. Somebody woke her up with a yell! She looked up and saw her bodyguard looking at her. Lucy quickly covered whatever skin was revealed when she fell. So it was him. And he called her by her name of all things.
She pointed at him but suddenly she forgot what she was planning to say. He actually had fallen asleep on HER bed. Was the poseshe was in that boring...She shaked her head violently. Virgo's words from yesterday apparently still affected her to some degree. That idiot of a bodyguard was going to suffer. She got up and smacked him on the head.
-Wake up you idiot!
But there was no reaction. Lucy stood there frozen in place. It wasn't like her punch was weak. Was he simply too dense to feel anything on his head? She tried pushing him several times but it still didn't have any effect.
-Was this what Virgo meant when she said I am a pain to wake up...
And after waking her up in such an annoying matter he just had to fall asleep the next moment! Angered she pulled the covers along with her bodyguard on them and he fell on the ground. This woke him up and he looked around confused. When Natsu saw her he remembered what happened. Her bed was a lot more comfortable then the one in his new room and he just couldn't resist falling asleep. The Mage Knight gave her a nervous grin. After she saw it all the things she was going to yell to him about waking her up in such a manner slipped her mind. She turned around fearing that a blush may appear on her face. Damn Virgo.
-So why did you wake me up anyway?
-Ou yeah.- Natsu sat on the ground - You need to prepare. You have math class in he looked out the window - In about a hour.
-I see. So you are in charge of...Math?
The Mage Knight got surprised by the sudden change in her voice. She almost seemed scared. He only watched as she ran into her bathroom with a speed he felt at the moment could rival Jet's. Did she hate math or something?
Inside the bathroom the princess was running about trying to remember why she entered. Lucy finally remembered. To take a shower. That math teacher was a monster. The princess could still remember the last time she was late for his class. That lecture about responsibility was one of her worst memories. And his angered look. She had nightmares about it for a month. Why did his class had to be the first one in the morning. She had to work hard just to keep herself from yawning. Looking around she noticed there was no soap anywhere and her favorite towel was a bit crumpled. It was odd. Virgo was not the type of person to leave things like that. Well it didn't matter really. She took out a new soap and quickly finished her shower. Upon exiting covered in her bathrobe and drying her hair with a towel she noticed her bodyguard was still in the room sitting on her bed. She blushed heavily and screamed.
-What are you still doing here!?
-Waiting. What does it look like?
He really knew how to leave her speechless. It took her mind some time to come up with a reply.
-I am going to get dressed you idiot! Go back to your room and wait there!
She went to him and started pushing him towards the hidden door.
-Just what is the problem?
He didn't receive an answer as Lucy shut the door. Leaning against it she took a deep breath. What kind of guy stays there while a girl is going to get changed!? She managed to keep away from her mind Virgo's question from yesterday. It was hard enough that this morning was proving the maid's suspicion. And just why did she care what some lowly idiotic mage knight was thinking in the first place? Unfortunately this slowed her while dressing herself. It was true that she didn't like being helped with it , but she didn't have much time at the moment. She settled for a simpler dress and just placed her hair in a ponytail on the side. Even though she liked how it looked as a princess it was a demand to usually have a sophisticated hairstyle. When she finished she opened the hidden door. It was still beyond her how she couldn't notice it before. It really was hidden well on her side , but now that she knew about it the doorknob was too easy to spot.
-I am ready...Why are you sitting on the ground like a little kid?
Her bodyguard was sitting on the ground with his leg crossed. No matter how she looked at it he reminded her of a little kid like that. Natsu slowly turned his head towards her.
-You are one to talk.
She raised an eyebrow but there was no time to try and understand what he meant by that. It was probably something stupid anyway. They quickly made their way to the room where her class was going to be held. The princess couldn't help but feel proud that he remembered the location. The effort from yesterday was not in vain as she feared it was. When they entered the room she froze in place. The thin middle aged teacher was right in front of her and he had a disapproving look on his face. She feared they might have been late after all.
-Your hair. Too simple. But I will let it slide this time.-the princess let out a relieved sigh-BUT DO NOT LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN!
He suddenly pointed at her with a stick.
Natsu observed her scared face with amusement. So this is why she acted like that when he mentioned math. That teacher seemed like some sort of monster for sure. He held back his chuckle as he didn't want to accidentally incur that beasts rage on himself. Erza would probably like him. And wait. Did she actually say it like...no. It must have just been his he thought it would happen shortly after the lesson started his eyelids fell closed. Falling asleep might be a huge mistake after what he saw earlier , but he just didn't have the willpower to resist sleeping.
The princess was silently taking notes while her teacher was explaining the current task. It wasn't her favorite subject but if you ignore his sudden outbursts he was pretty good at teaching. Although his sadistic side was too much for her to handle at times. There were many sleepless nights in order to complete the needlessly large homework assignments he would make her do if she did something he disapproved of. But this time there was a weird noise that was distracting her. At first she tried to ignore it , but it didn't stop for a while. Annoyed she took a quick peek to see what was making it. There was no surprise. Her bodyguard had fallen asleep and was snoring. The way he had sat made his snore sound weird and she couldn't recognize it. If this continued any longer the teacher might get angry and there was no way she would allow him to force a punishment on her. They had to share a desk for this class he was close enough for her to push his elbow. He was surprisingly tough to move while sleeping as he didn't budge at all. She tried several times but when she noticed the teacher was turning towards her immediately went back to taking notes. Lucy hoped he didn't see her not paying attention. At least the snoring stopped and the princess continued taking notes. It was strange that the teacher didn't mind her bodyguard was asleep. Not that it mattered much. It was him that was going to get in trouble anyway. She didn't understand why she bothered to stop his snoring in the first place. The next second reminded her why when he began again. The noise was simply just too annoying. She hit him harder and although again it didn't have any effect on him the teacher suddenly turned around his face red with anger.
The next second he slammed his fists on her desk scaring Lucy. Even Natsu woke up from the force of the hit. It was a miracle the desk itself was intact.
She pointed to her bodyguard who now got scared as well.
-Is it the lord knight's responsibility to learn this!? Or yours!?
-EXACTLY! A royalty must learn to ignore such petty distraction. You are already of age and should be able to understand this.
The teacher continued lecturing her on how she should have handled this situation. From the beginning Natsu felt sorry for the princess. This guy was an extreme version of Erza when it concerned these things. And nobody deserved this. He managed to see the princess giving him death glares from time to time. As he thought she was blaming him for this. And the princess would probably get back at him for it. When the teacher ended his lecture it was time to leave.
-Because of your actions we just wasted the entire class...-his fists were trembling with anger-As punishment you will revise by yourself everything and solve all these equations by the next lesson!
He leaned towards her and handed her a one hundred page book. After that he hissed.
-And they better be perfect.
Not being able to say anything she just nodded. Unlike the history teacher , this one left first. When Natsu looked again towards the princess he saw her giving him a death glare that definitely beat even Erza's. He quickly jumped of his chair and headed for the door.
-Let's get lunch. It will calm you.
He spoke nervously and added to himself "I hope..." . They walked silently towards the dining hall. Lucy was hugging the book the teacher gave it to her chest. From Natsu's point of view , judging from her look towards him , it was like the princess was imagining the book was him and she was strangling him. He had to find a way to apologise or it just might become a reality. But these thoughts vanished when he saw who was walking towards them. He suddenly jumped forward and yelled.
-Laxus! Fight me!
While walking she was trying to figure out the perfect punishment for her bodyguard. All the ideas that vanished when she saw that surprising grin of his were returning now. He was going to suffer for what happened then and now. Ever since she met him there was only trouble. But for the second time all these thoughts disappeared when he jumped in front of her father's bodyguard. Who challenges a person to a fight in the middle of a corridor like that!? And wasn't Laxus part of his order as well?
-Hm?-Laxus stopped and looked at Natsu and then at the princess-Thought I heard someone from gramps bunch was her bodyguard. Didn't think it was you though.-he pushed him out of his way with a finger-You aren't worth my time.
Natsu didn't react when Laxus pushed him away like he was some stray dog. Not worth his time? Weren't they on the same level as the kings bodyguard thought it? The Mage Knight couldn't understand just what had happened to him.
Lucy frowned at Laxus. Even if her bodyguard really acted childishly here , his reaction was too arrogant. This was actually the first time she heard him speak. And his voice was full of arrogance. Even when he looked at them it was like he didn't acknowledge either one. He was definitely an annoying guy. But why did that pinkhaired idiot want to fight with him anyway? At that moment a thought passed through her head. She was using the word idiot to describe him way too often.
The lunch passed by uneventfully. Natsu ate with an annoyed expression , but Lucy was pleased that he was eating like she showed him yesterday. There just might be hope for him yet. And that thought vanished when he slammed the table with his fist. It was probably anger about how Laxus had acted earlier so she let it be this time.
He seemed more like himself when they stopped in front of the room where her dance class would be. Lucy wasn't really sure why they she had it since the ball was postponed for a long time.
-Listen.-she turned to him- Lady Beatrice has a strong character. Try not to do something embarrassing or stupid here please.
Natsu didn't plan on doing anything like that , but he gave her a silent nod. But he didn't understand what she meant by a strong character. This was answered soon. As soon as they entered the old lady almost completely ignored Lucy and swarmed Natsu with various , often improper questions. It was almost like she was hitting on him. Something that bothered him a lot. It seemed the princess was not amused either. After a while Beatrice remembered she had a job to do but didn't go to the princess before giving the Mage Knight a seductive wink. Only Bob , the master of the order Blue Pegasus , made him feel more uncomfortable.
Quietly Natsu walked over to a bunch of mannequins and leaned lightly on one of them. It was hard for him to not laugh when Lucy clumsily started to do some strange dance with one of them. Soon after that came a harsh yell from Beatrice asking her why she was acting like this even though she had done it many times. After a while it seemed that the princess got her rhythm. Most of the time she had her back turned towards him. After the old lady was satisfied she turned on some device. He had seen a similar one in the order house and asked Mirajane once what was it. She said it was a music device that magically stores different music and plays it. He did find it strange the princess was dancing in silence. He remembered the music that was playing. It was used in oldstyle balls. A quiet slow song that he never really liked. After a while of watching her dance he again felt sleepy. Just for a second he let himself lean more on the mannequin , but it couldn't support him and he fell down bringing all of the dummies with him. The princess immediately stopped and giggled. She had a sinister smile on her face. He could tell what she was thinking. That old lady was going to punish him.
-How can such a ha...strong Mage Knight do such a thing!? - she stood over him with an angered look that soon switched to a puzzled one - Well...I suppose it is a bit boring to just watch a dance. I will be your partner!
Her wicked smile send shivers down his spine while the princess could barely hold back her laughter. Suddenly Beatrice looked like she had an idea.
-You may have to do it anyway. I decided! You are going to dance with the princess!
Lucy froze in place trying to figure out how this became her punishment.
-There is a chance you have to dance with the princess during the ball. You might as well get used to it.
She grabbed his hand and brought him back to his feet. He had to note she was strong to do that so easily. What was up with the people in this castle? Beatrice then pushed him towards the princess and placed him in the position the mannequin was in.
-Do you even know this dance?-she asked him not even trying to hide her annoyance
-Even better! To know the dance you must be able to teach it. The tradition is for the male to lead , but until you learn it , please follow her example.
There was a fire in the old lady's eyes. She enjoyed her idea too much for her to give up on it and they silently did as she said. Lucy was surprised. The Mage Knight was actually not that bad. But what annoyed her was the fact that he looked bored. Didn't he realise what an honor it was to dance with a princess? Annoyed she speeded up and he seemed to have more trouble following her. Beatrice tried to tell them to slow down , but she was ignored. Natsu treated this as a challenge and worked hard to match her speed. After a while their feet tripped and they fell and to their shock they fell out the large open window they were next to. Instinctively in the air Natsu held the princess above him so that he would take most of the hit when they land. But to his surprise the landing was softer then he thought it would be. The next thing the Mage Knight noticed was the smell from beneath him. He looked around and noticed they had fallen in the stables. Did they fall into a pile of straw? No it was warm...in disgust he understood in what they were lying. Natsu looked at the princess who was clenching onto him. It seemed like she didn't yet realise they had already landed. Slowly she looked to the side and then at him. And saw what had cushioned their fall. It was horse poop. A servant was standing next to the large pile in which they had landed. She immediately jumped away and fell to the ground. Natsu got off it as well and handed her a hand to help her get up. She simply pushed it away and got up on her own.
-You nearly killed us!
-No excuses! Suddenly Lady Beatrice entered the stable and went to the princess hugging her. Neither of them could tell how she got there so fast at her age.
-Thank goodness you are alright.
-Calm down Lady Beatrice. And you-she turned her gaze to the Mage Knight-As punishment for this...you will clean this stable yourself and you will not stop until it is clean enough for you to be able to eat from the floor. And you'd better succeed or your next meal really will be eaten from the ground! You!-she pointed to a servant inside-You will keep quiet about this and make sure he does the job properly!
-Yes My Lady!-the scared servant answered quickly.
Along with Beatrice Lucy left the stables.
-Tough luck pal.
The servant patted Natsu's shoulder and handed him a pitchfork.
It was evening by the time he finished with his punishment. It would have taken much longer , but thanks to his magic he managed to finish , as the servant said in amazement , in record time. Still his hope to go to the order house were gone. At this allowed him to relieve some stress. He slowly entered the princess's room and looked at her. She was wearing a bathrobe and he could smell she took a bath soon. Guess even she had trouble getting rid of the smell. Virgo was behind her combing Lucy's hair. She probably took several. And now he desperately needed one himself. The maid had plenty of time to tell her he was going to use her bath so he entered without hesitation. -Ten baths and I can still smell it...that idiots punishment was too light!
-And yet you made sure nobody would understand. Why?
-Honestly I don't know. I'll go take another shower Virgo.
-As you wish princess.
When Lucy got inside the bathroom she started to take off her robe , but stopped when she noticed Natsu was already inside halfnaked. Blushing madly she immediately jumped outside yelling.
-What are you doing inside!?
-Taking a shower...Why didn't you knock first?
She had trouble understanding what he was saying. It was her bathroom after all...
-Ou yes princess. I forgot to mention. Sir Natsu will be using your bathroom.
-Huh?-her maid's words confused her even more
"She actually forgot to say it... "
-There is no bathroom in his room and yours is the only one on this floor. I am sure you understand.
-Is there any other important information you FORGOT to mention?
She was going to speak more on the matter of him using HER bathroom as his own , but she would do it tomorrow. He really did smell terrible and needed one badly. Virgo thought a little.
-Yes.-she casually said
"There actually was something" -both of them thought
-The maiden voyage will be held tomorrow.
-What!?-Lucy asked clearly shocked.
-What is that?-Natsu asked while scratching the back of his head.