Season 9 of the Fairy Tail series came out last year 2018, and with it a lot of new feelings. For those fans that have not read the manga I will say that this article may contain some spoilers for you. If you are both a manga and anime fan, keep reading.
One of the most disappointing ships in Fairy Tail has been the 'Nalu' couple. In the manga, both Natsu and Lucy end up very single and continue to have a normal friendship. After all the hints and flirtatious moments both of these characters have, there continues to be no romance development between the two. Why? Well for starters the author, Hiro Mashima, has no intention of making them an official couple. When the manga ended he intentionally did not play the matchmaker game with the 'Nalu' ship because he felt his fans would be disappointed with Natsu being in a relationship with Lucy or with Lisanna. Mashima-sensei felt the necessity to keep Natsu single would be a safe play, since he did not want to anger with Nalu and Nali shippers.
Yikes! Apparently the 'shipping' wars has gone a little too far and causes Mashima-sensei to hesitate in bringing Lucy and Natsu (or Lisanna) together. Afterall, many fans were in an uproar since all the pairs (with the exception of Levy and Gajeel or Evergreen and Elfman) have not been officially confirmed. Fan satisfaction is not the only reason why the Nalu ship won't sail its sail, but rather out of convenience. Once a favored anime couple has established their relationship, it is soon expected that they will settle down and have children. Right? That's what we fangirls want after all! Darn it, I want to see some Nalu babies before I die! However, Mashima-sensei can't continue the story of Natsu and his friends generation because it is expected for the next generation of Fairy Tail members to continue the story. A good example is the Naruto franchise, Hinata and Naruto established their relationship and what do we get next? Boruto! The story must go on with the adventures of Naruto and Hinata's children and let's not forget Sasuke and Sakura's daughter Sarada. Therefore, it is expected that the offsprings of the Fairy Tail member's will continue the legacy.
I do not think the author is ready to let go of the Fairy Tail members and move on to the next generations. Also, Fairy Tail 100 Year Quest manga was released not too long ago and it continues to be inadequate time for the Nalu couple to get together. I am sure the spin-off will continue to thrive for a couple of years and that may put the idea of them together on hold for a really long time. The new release of Eden's Zero may also impact the bi-weekly spin-off since, Mashima-sensei is working on both the new manga and overlooking the spin-off. Some fans may not bat an eye but it takes a lot of work and effort to publish one manga chapter, and I am sure the author does not want to to take the time to make the 'perfect romantic confession' between Lucy and Natsu (at least not yet, right?).
Aside from Mashima's reason to avoid the Nalu ship, there is also character development. Natsu is a heroic member of the Fairy Tail guild but he lacks the maturity to comprehend a relationship. Relationships are built upon trust, love, and responsibility even though he has a strong bond with Lucy, he lacks the understanding of how their relationship could turn to a possible romantic one. As a character, he shows very childish behavior and often misinterprets flirtatious signals. He may act perverted on some occasions towards Lucy but he has not shown to be the romantic type of guy to swoop Lucy off her feet (with the exclusion of the time he sailed a Magnolia tree down the waterway for Lucy when she was sick, but I doubt it was meant to be romantic). Inexperience may be a major contributor as to why he does not take a step forward to the next base and hit off. Afterall, he was raised by a dragon and focused most of his energy on quests as well as searching for his foster father. Perhaps the lack of understanding of romance and relationships is what Natsu lacks, but it raises the question as to when we will see him have a change of character development.
In the new spin-off series, we do encounter a possible love rival for Lucy, the white mage Touka. She is infatuated with Natsu and claims to be love at first sight. That may be the case, but I doubt Natsu will return her feelings in a heart beat as well as to question his relationship with Natsu. More likely she will be the factor that enhances the love confession between Lucy and Natsu or be the power wheel to realize their relationship is more than platonic. Either way I hope to see more development between these two characters as well as a reaction from the Touka, Natsu, Lucy love triangle.