After a successful 11-year run, including a popular anime adaptation, Hiro Mashima's Fairy Tail manga ended in 2017. The popular shonen manga/anime enchanted fans with its rich, magical world and proved it was able to keep up with other hard-hitting shonen titles such as Naruto, Bleach and One Piece.
Part of the series' charm was the large roster of vivid characters, and how distinct each wizard was. Fairy Tail, which primarily followed the lives of Lucy, Natsu, Erza and Gray (with Wendy and Gajeel added later), was great at organically developing their relationships. Unlike Naruto (with the exception of Shikamaru and Temari), the romantic relationships, in particular, felt real and earned. Lucy and Natsu, the two main protagonists, are Fairy Tail's main ship (known to fans as "NaLu"), but Mashima has always kept the jury out on their true relationship.
Although the original manga and anime series have ended, fans are still hoping for a NaLu confirmation in future Fairy Tail projects. For now, here's a breakdown of NaLu's history, and where the two end up by the story's conclusion.
Proof in Fairy Tail That Natsu & Lucy Care for Each Other
Lucy and Natsu share many charged moments, providing plenty of evidence that the two care for each other romantically. Natsu was the one who invited Lucy to join the Fairy Tail Guild, and from that scene forward, they had an immediate connection. You could honestly write an entire book about all of these instances of romantic tension, but we'll stick to some of the more significant ones.
In the Phantom Lord arc, Lucy called out for Natsu when she was falling from the Phantom Tower, knowing, somehow, that Natsu would save her. That points to a special, almost telepathic, bond between the duo. In a filler episode, Natsu and Lucy went to each other's house to wait for the other and, despite being surrounded by friends they could hang out with, felt a pang of loneliness without the other there. And during the Eclipse arc, the anime's 15th Opening showed a notable NaLu moment in which Natsu went berserk after Future Lucy was killed, specifically promising to protect Lucy's future, not all of Fairy Tail's.
There are also the more general, recurring hints, beginning with the most obvious: Natsu has seen Lucy naked several times and hasn't exactly shied away. Scenes in which Natsu and Lucy save each other often end with them hugging in ways that the camera romantically frames, while filler episodes increase the flirty moments between the two, usually focusing on the two almost kissing or Lucy blushing at Natsu's antics.
Don't Forget Natsu's First Love, Lisanna
At the end of the day, Natsu and Lucy are a good pair because of their long history and compatible personalities. So, why didn't they declare their feelings to one another? And where did the (possible) lovebirds end up?
Before we answer, we first have to address the (elephant) wizard in the room: Lisanna Strauss. There's a large group of "NaLi" shippers, and if we look back at the first few episodes, we can't exactly blame them. Natsu and Lisanna go way back as childhood friends, and the innocence in their burgeoning relationship was adorable -- Lisanna even outright proposed to Natsu.
However, their time together was tragically cut short with Lisanna's "death"; although she was eventually brought back to start a possible love triangle, things just weren't the same. Lisanna was largely ignored by Mashima, and her scenes mostly revolved around fighting in animal lingerie rather than moments with Natsu. Mashima's comments at an anime convention in France in 2019 can be seen as the final hole to sink the ship: He admitted that, "personally, [he] [thinks] Lisanna is a nice girl, and it would be a shame to see her with a guy like Natsu. [He] [feels] that the Natsu and Lucy ship is more suitable."
Mashima added, "At that time, what fans thought about romantic relationships became very important. I thought, whatever I do, they are going to hit me. Because of this, I thought to myself that the simplest thing would be for Natsu to remain as is so that nothing concrete happens."
Where Fairy Tail's Ending Left Natsu and Lucy
Judging by how fiercely fan wars can rage, we can't blame Mashima for leaving things open. But he did also say he liked NaLu better, so he may be telling readers that's his version of what's canon.
At the end of the anime, Lucy confesses how much Natsu and Fairy Tail have influenced her, and lobbed the ball up for Natsu to confess his love... which he drops. But the two nevertheless band together for the 100 Years Quest spinoff, which has released nine volumes so far (with an anime adaptation announced), so Lucy and Natsu still have the opportunity to revisit their relationship status.
Fans might be upset with "Trollshima" for not confirming one of the series' most popular ships, but the creator has given us plenty of romantic subtext to work with. He's even gone on record admitting he likes NaLu, so we can presume the two have romantic feelings for each other -- neven if there's no canon confession. And for disappointed NaLi shippers, Lisanna can still be considered to be Natsu's first love, while the open ending regarding his current romantic life leaves room for any shipper's fantasies.