A/N: YOSH! Now it is Erza's turn! And by Erza, I mean our favorite, Earthland Erza! This one was simply too good to pass up! It's a SHAME that no one has thought of this idea yet, so my thanks in part to SpeeDemon for this challenging idea! Those of you who are fans of Fairy Tail are familiair with the Heart Kreuz armor Erza wears, no? Well, if you're not, then go look it up on Fairy Tail wikia! ALso, this one is going to be a oneshot, so the ending is up for interpretation. Anywho, just sit back, relax, and...


Guardian of the Heart

The Fiore Kingdom.

A neutral country with a population of seventeen million. It is a world of magic. Magic is bought and sold here like anything else, and is deeply engrained in people's lives. There are even some who make a living using magic. These people are referred to as wizards. These people belong to many different guilds and accept jobs brought to them. There are many guilds in this kingdom, and there's a certain wizard guild in a certain town, a guild from which countless legends were once born-nay, one that will continue to create legends well into the future.

Its name is...

...Fairy Tail.

Home to none other than "Titania" Erza.

Known as the strongest woman in all of Fairy Tail-and quite possibly the most beautiful-she was well known for her infamous requip ability-The Knight-faster than any other. Whether it be swords or armor or attire, no one could requip faster than Erza Scarlet. Save for one. She was paying a visit to that individual today, as she did almost every day whenever she wasn't on a job. It had become a bit of a bad habit for her; a habit that she refused to break. She wasn't bothering him, she told herself. On the contrary, he seemed to appreciate her company; becoming so enthused whenever she entered his place of work that he would sometimes forget everything else altogether. But today, today's visit held special merit for Erza Scarlet.

Today, she was going to see the apprentice of the greatest smith in all of Magnolia-nay, in all of Fiore. Not as just a customer, rather, but as a friend. This meeting had been a long time in coming-many months-and it was with only the slightest of shudders that she bid the Master and her guildmates farewell for the afternoon-leaving Natsu and Gray to continue their hapless bickering-and set out from the guild hall in search of him.

This, is that story.

As always, the streets of Magnolia were full to bursting. She returned the occasional nod or wave tossed her way by the occasional passerby, smiling and nodding in return. It was a facade of course; because she wasn't interested in any of them at all. Rather, she was focused on someone else. Her attention honed to a razor's edge, fixated upon him, upon the one whom she had been waiting many months to visit after being away for so long on her last job. Resolute, she strode through the streets, taking that tried and true path that would inevitably lead her to him.

At last, she arrived.


She glanced up at the sound of a voice, her attention drawn to a hunched figure near the back of the shop. He waved the tongs at her as she approached, a huge white grin streaking across his soot covered face. Save for the blackened apron and a weathered pair of trousers, he wore very little in the way of clothing, but that certainly didn't stop him from laying the tongs down on the anvil and stripping off his apron the moment he saw her.

"Long time no see, Erza-chan!"

He was a handsome youth, if intense. His blond hair was disheveled, his blue eyes intelligent, his features balanced. Whisker marks tripled each cheek cheeks that once dimpled with a constantly bright and enthused grin; no matter the situation, no matter the mission. Now, he was intense, his visage free of the baby fat that had cursed him in his younger years. Chiseled and nigh but expressionless, that face squinted against the afternoon light; peering at her through the simmering heat of his forge as she stepped across the threshold.

"Hello, Naruto."

Naruto was a smith who worked for the Heart Kreuz company.

To be precise, he worked for Erza Scarlet. Closely. Very closely. He was the one who manufactured-no, created each set of armor that she wore, from the breast plate down to the greaves; even the most minute of details of the design itself were a work of art on his part. There was not a thing on this earth that he could not create with his hands; be it steel or cloth or stone, when he set his mind and his hands to it, he could create anything. Some said he could even perform miracles.

Today, Erza Scarlet had come to retrieve such a miracle of a masterpiece.

"Is it finished?" She asked, dubiously eyeing the cast-iron anvil in the southernmost corner of the room. Steam still simmered from the empty surface of the metal, suggesting that his current pet project had only just been completed. A curtain lay over it; obscuring its finer features from view, but even shrouded as it was, it looked impressive. Who else would hide their creation away from the world when in fact it was meant for only one set of eyes-her eyes-to begin with?

"Behold." Naruto stepped back and swept the curtain aside, revealing his latest-and possibly his greatest-creation. "The Flame Empress Armor."

"It looks...impressive."

"Try it on." Naruto urged, turning away from the anvil for a moment, to admire his handiwork and throw on a shirt.

"Very well."

With that, Erza began to remove her blouse, followed shortly thereafter by her skirt. She couldn't exactly exquip something that wasn't in her inventory now, could she? Really she saw no problem in stripping down to her undergarments in front of Naruto. She'd done so countless times before in the past for him to take her measurements. She'd just slip off her clothes and put on the armor by herself. Surely it couldn't be that difficult...

"Geh!" The spluttering smith threw up his hands and shook his head rapidly the moment he saw her, just as her blouse fell to the floor. "Not like that, Erza-chan! Not like that do you hear me!" She half-expected his reaction to stem from seeing her half-naked. She couldn't have been more wrong. Instead, he stepped around and behind her, pair of strong, muscular, arms wrapping themselves around her waist, providing support and balance for which she was most grateful. Then he sighed, and the first strands of ragged blond hair tickled her nose; whilst he placed his chin upon her shoulder, her earlier discomfort and ineptitude at donning attire, fading away as he helped her into the armor.

"You have to do it like this." Warm breath flared against the nape of her neck, launching Erza's heart into frantic palpations. "You tie this strap here and cinch this clasp there." Slowly-expertly-he did the impossible; guiding her hands into the right sleeves and sockets, locking her body in a state of pristine perfection until at last, at last the last notch had been fastened and the last plate snapped into place. He pulled back from her; not noticing the subtle frown that momentarily marred her beautiful face.


Then he showed her her reflection in the mirror.

"So, what do you think?"

Dark red was its predominant colour, sporting orange and black segments, with the first shaped like flames and the second being reminiscent of the limbs of a dragon. Over all, it was basically made up of three different parts: the breastplate, the gauntlets and the greaves. The breastplate itself lacked pauldrons, revealing Erza's shoulders, and extended down to cover her groin, exposing-enhancing-her legs and being somehow reminiscent of a one piece swimming suit.

An orange section covered her breasts and another encircled her waist like a belt; bespeckled with black parts with one covering her groin. The gauntlets sported prominent orange decorations, along with small claw-like protrusions on the hands. The greaves were shaped like dragon's claws, possessing orange-colored knee guards and black greaves extending up from the knees to the upper part of her thighs. The breastplate lent a pair of dragon-like wings to its frame, leaving her hair tied back into a pair of high, long pigtails, the clips of which bore an equally strong resemblance to dragon's horns. All in all, it had a certain ferocity about it, as though her reflection might burst through the mirror and attack her at any given moment.


"Oh!" Naruto turned back toward the forge and reached toward the rack nearest him. "I nearly forgot! Here!" He returned, cradling a large bundle of cloth in his arms. With a bright smile, he launched it at her; leaving the item in question to unfurl as it twirled end over end. Erza raised a hand, then a hilt and pommel smacked into her palm with an audible popping sound.

"I call it...Entei." Naruto beamed brightly as she brandished it; a large crimson blur, a veritable bar of blazing flame. A bastard sword, nearly as long as she was tall, brimming with all the heat and intensity of a supernova. "So, what do you think, Erza-chan?" She marveled at it, this weapon in her hand, trailing fire and flame whenever it moved; no matter how small the motion.


Just like him.

Over the span of a decade, from the day that she had joined Fairy Tail-the day he requisitioned her first set of armor-to this very day; today, in which he presented her with a suit of armor that had taken the larger part of three months to make, he'd always been brilliant. Some of his works took longer than others, and although this hadn't been any exception, it had been well worth the wait. Well worth the wait, she realized, admiring herself in the mirror, yet another object that he'd fashioned for her in his spare time. It was beautiful. Powerful. Wonderful and marvelous and perfect and she was absolutely enthralled by it.

"How did you make this?" She asked softly. "I thought it was impossible to fold flames into metal without some sort of feedback." And yet her armor was warm to the touch. It felt as if she were wrapped in a blanket; a warm, solid blanket of steel. It was not an unpleasant feeling, to have this sensation envelop her entire body, modulating to even the most minute of movements, sending power thrumming through her and the armor's frame.

Naruto gave her his best foxy grin.

"A true smith never divulges the secrets of his craft Erza-chan."

Now, all that remained was to test out its true potential.

"I'd like to test this armor out firsthand, if you don't mind." Erza asked pointedly, turning the blade so that it faced him. He blanched as its tapered tip trailed across the floor of his shop, streaming flames and sparks as it went. She followed his gaze and waited as the realization dawned in his mind. She meant for him to come at her. She'd longed to spar with him as they had in their younger years and she saw this as a good excuse as any.

"Eh?" Naruto balked, whipping sweat from his brow, simultaneously edging his left foot out into the street. "Erza-chan…I really don't do that sort of thing anymore…"

Erza wasn't having any of it.

"Here I come!"

"W-Wait a second!"

Too late, he felt the hot brand of her blade grazing the edge of his cheek before he could twirl away. Such skill! Erza pounced as he stumbled backward, reeling from the first swipe as he raised an arm before his face for protection against another. Her superheated sword passed through empty air. Then she was turning-twirling-as an exasperated Naruto phased back into existence behind her. She pressed the attack, slicing circles around him with her skill and yet, despite the great gushes of flame spouting from her blade with every swing, she could not touch him with her sword.

This did not stem from any sense of attachment, mind you. Nor did it from any fear of harming him. Naruto was simply too fast. Whenever her blade neared his flesh, Naruto simply vanished. He was always one step ahead of her or in another place entirely whenever her sword came crashing down to split the street beneath them. It was almost as if she were slashing through an after-image rather than the original. And then, as abruptly as it had begun, so too did it end.

He brought an unarmed hand up for the next strike catching the blade between two fingers and arresting its momentum. He sighed as her eyes bulged. Sighed, as she struggled to retrieve her weapon, the weapon he himself had forged. Sighed, as he twisted said weapon within his grip and brought it, Scarlet and all, over his shoulder.

She slammed into the soil with a pained gasp, her back arching in agony as her entire body spasmed in pain. She groaned, made as if to rise, but before she could do so, both her hands were bound and he was upon her, straddling her for a terrifying instant. But only an instant. Abruptly, he stood, his knee driving the air from her lungs and the fight from her body, rendering her helpless for what came next.

He loomed over her for a moment, her heart sinking for a moment, before he offered her his hand.


Erza lay there, sprawled out on her back, eerily aware of just how close he was, and in what position she lay. Flushing, she accepted his hand and allowed him to pull her back to her feet. Naruto laughed, already grumbling about how she was going to have to pay for the damage she'd dealt to his shop. It was a ruse of course. She never paid him as one might have expected, save for his comission to forge her new armor on occasion.

It was always like this.

She'd always been remarkably frank and open with him. When she had first begun wearing armor, she'd wanted the greatest smith in all of Magnolia to craft them. Back then it had been Naruto's master, a wily, perverted old man who went by the name of Jiraiya. In years past, however, he'd developed a strong means for wanderlust and had left most of his business to his apprentice, leaving it to Uzumaki Naruto to take up the tongs and the anvil of his forefathers, crafting for her true works of art.

And the Flame Empress Armor had proved to be no exception.

She had to trust him, after all. He was the mastermind behind every piece of armor she wore; he'd crafted every bit of it. She had to trust him. If there was even the slightest imperfection in his work, then her life would be at stake. But this was Uzumaki Naruto. He didn't make mistakes. His armor was every bit a part of her, and she it. In a sense it was almost as if he were there, protecting her; personally deflecting every strike, jab, and occasional spurt of magic that came her way. In a sense, he was. He-his perfection-was what kept her intact during the most heated of battles. It kept her safe. She couldn't count the times that the overwhelming might of her Purgatory Armor had won the day, nor the amount of foes she had slain with the Heaven's Wheel armor.

"So you're going to that resort, huh?" Naruto remarked suddenly in that off-handed manner that so well defined him. She'd given a brief mention of it to him just yesterday. Today was to be the day they would depart, hence the reason she'd wanted to pick up the Flame Empress armor before setting out. She'd been told to wait until it was ready, but the recent influx of job requests had kept her from him. She'd been so busy that she just hadn't had the time to see him at all.

Or so she'd like him to think.

"I am."

"Well aren't we lucky." Naruto sighed, staring up at the ceiling of his shop. "I wish I could take a vacation like that." Was that a twinge of jealousy in his voice just now? Erza swallowed nervously. This was her chance. This was the true reason she had left the others to come here, to his shop. His constant presence in her life had been a boon, not just for herself, but for her own sanity. Now, for the first time from heaven itself she had an opportunity to make things right between them.

"Perhaps we could…go together next time."

"That would be nice, wouldn't it?" He was already turning back to his forge, already lost in thought to some project or another. His back was turned. In his mind, she was already gone; already put forth from his thoughts until the time of her next visit. He wasn't expecting her to do what she did; to quickly turn and reach out with her hand, grabbing his forearm. He froze. She took his hand and slowly brought it up to her face.

"I'd like that." She smiled, then leaned forward a little more to give him a gentle kiss on his whiskered cheek. Naruto looked at her in surprise and then he saw a kind of relief settle over the girl, her face easing, her shoulders losing their tightness. Seemingly satisfied, she pulled away, doing her best to ignore his spluttering surprise, and perhaps, her own cherry pink blush…

"You did what?" Naruto bellowed aloud, his eyes afresh with disbelief and despair as Erza told him what she had done. "YOU DID WHAT?" He gawped as she handed him the ruined remnants of the Flame Empress, Purgatory, and Heaven's Wheel Armor, each having been shattered beyond recognition thanks to Ikaruga's Mugetsu-Ryu. "YOU DID WHAAAAAAT?"

Even Erza flinched, such was his fury.

"S-Surely you can make them as they were…?"

"I'm not talking about the armor and you know it, Scarlet!" Naruto hollered, hurling his tongs across the room where they fell with a clattering of sparks. "You mean to tell me that Jellal was still alive? And that he kidnapped you! And that he nearly made you a human sacrifice in order to revive the most heinous mage ever to exist! And you honestly expect me to be calm about all of that? Do you?"

"…no." she admitted, sounding small and sad and weak.

She couldn't bear to meet his gaze; couldn't bear to look him in the eyes, as sapphire snapped into scarlet. How long had it been since she'd last seen him like this? Since he'd been so angry that even his eyes changed color to reflect his mood? Until a few days ago, Naruto had been the only one who'd known about Jellal and the Tower of Heaven. It was supposed to be a secret but it wasn't; because she had told him. Against her better judgement, against her fear that Jellal would somehow discover her treachery, against all odds and the weight her past had shoved upon her shoulders, she had broken down and told him. She'd trusted Naruto to keep his silence, and he had. Now, she was at fault. She had violated it, the sacred trust between them. For that, she deserved to be punished.

"Please, hit me!"

Naruto's face went slack. But only for a moment.

"Not this again!" he groaned. "Why do you want me to hit you this time, Erza-chan?" She felt a bit of relief at that; that his anger had quelled enough for him to return to the use of the affectionate suffix. Perhaps he wasn't as furious as she'd first thought. That did not make up for her deceitful actions, however. She wanted-needed-to restablish a bond of trust between them, and this was the only way that she could think of.

"I feel it is an appropriate action, given my deception, and it proves that I wish to repent for my actions." she explained tersely. "It is the only way that I can truly express my feelings in this matter. Please! Hit me in the face!"

Rubbing at his face, Naruto sighed. "Are you sure? I mean, I don't want to hurt you…

Standing firm, Erza closed her eyes and tensed in front of him. "I deserve it. I'm prepared."

"Fine then, here goes."

She heard him set the tongs down and flinched as his footsteps drew close. Closer. Closer still. She tensed, bracing herself to see stars-entire planets-as his fist careened into her face and punished her for her wrongdoing. But the pain never came. She could feel his breath, hot and warm upon her face. She was oddly, suddenly conscious of his lips, pressed against her forehead, lingering for a moment and then withdrawing.

"What?" Erza promptly opened her eyes and touched a hand to her forehead. "What was that?"

"…your punishment." His back was to her now, and he sounded strangely subdued.

"But I-"

"I already told you!" He turned on her with such vehemence that she was cowered into silence as he abruptly changed the subject. "I can't just make them again!"


"I can't just make them as they were, Erza!" Naruto snapped back, storming off toward the back off his shop, waving for her to follow as he went. "It will take months! Months I tell you!" Abruptly, he spun on one heel, forcing Scarlet her to stop short, just inches from his face. For a moment, smoldering sapphire met obtuse onyx. Then he laughed, and danced away and the moment was lost.

"Which is why you should be grateful that I made some replacements." Tugging on a nearby cord, he drew back and revealed three perfect replicas of armor; Heaven's Wheel, Purgatory, and the Flame Empress, each perfectly intact and looking as if they'd only just been forged. He'd improved upon them, too. The designs themselves were sleek as streamlined steel, polished to such a point that each set of armor shone against the dim lighting of the forge's fire.

"Better safe then sorry." Naruto beamed.

"Safe?" Now it was Erza's turn to balk. He'd made three sets of armor in the span of only a few days! How was that possible? Was there some sort of magic at work here? Or perhaps an illusion, of some sort? She doubted the latter and suspected the former. In all the years that she'd known him, she'd never once suspected that Naruto could use magic. Could it be possible? Could the one person that she trusted more than her own guildmates really be a mage?

"Yes safe!"

Unbidden, she recalled another event in which he had forged a set of armor for her days before:


"Yosh!" Naruto grinned suddenly, a light-bulb popping into existence over his head. "Don't go anywhere!" Without further explanation he darted into the backroom snatching a pair of tongs up as he went and slamming the door behind him. A dull whump resounded through the room, followed shortly therafter by the distinctive sound of metal striking metal; pursued by the screaming of steel as it was welded and soldered together, only to be forcibly cooled mere moments later. Then, with a cry of unmistakeable satisfaction he burst out of the doors and ushered her inside.

"Ta-da!" He reaped, speaking a million miles a minute as he presented her with his newest creation, "I call this one the Adamantine Armor!"

The armor itself was a whitish silver and light bluish hue, with a design that would be considered "high-tech". Rounded spikes, large spheres covering the upper parts of her hands and no sign of chainmail, the waistguard was formed by plates above and beneath it. Erza's legs were completely covered by black, tight-fitting pants. Indeed, they were impressive, but not as impressive as the enormous shields the armor bore, one for each arm. They were massive, each looking as if they might somehow fit together to form an even larger shield; which in all likelihood they did.

"With this," Naruto began, "You'll be untouchable. Nothing short of a focused blast from a Jupiter Cannon will be able to put a dent in that armor. I guarantee it!"

Erza blushed.

This armor…

he'd made it in seconds!

And as she recalled, he'd also repaired it in seconds...

"YOU BROKE IT!" Naruto cried tearfully, bawling as soon as he saw the ravaged state of the Adamantine Armor. "I told you not to break it and you broke it! You're killing me here, Erza-chan! Did you have to test it out against a Jupiter Cannon of all things?" She remembered how he'd fussed over her and the pieces that she'd given him; reduced to little more than scrap in the wake of the destruction of Fairy Tail's headquarters. She remembered how he'd set to it with a hammer and tongs, remembered as he'd ushered her out of his shop shortly thereafter.

Naruto sighed and threw up his hands in exasperation.

"Fine…Just don't do it again…"

Was he really a mage?

She would have to wonder this for a few days yet.

"BEHOLD!" These were the first words from his lips when she returned several weeks later, this time at his request. "I have a new set of armor for you, Erza-chan! Custom made!" Before she could offer any form of protest, he ushered her behind the curtain once more, stripped her down to her undergarments and helped her into it.

Featuring very few armored parts, this armor was more like a fancy attire bearing reminiscence to a cheetah. Its breastplate took the form of a very revealing, armoured cheetah-patterned top, with some bare armor protruding from the upper part of it, in correspondence to Erza's breasts and some fur lining the lower edges. There was no waistguard to be spoken of, the armor instead sporting a pair of revealing black shorts with a belt holding a cloth hanging over the left leg attached to them; the arms being covered by dark armbands reaching up just below Erza's shoulders with the left arm being protected by cheetah-patterned armor, consisting of a single pauldron and a wide arm guard.

Her legs were covered in similar stockings reaching up to her thighs, with armored, asymmetric high-heeled boots over them. Yet again the left leg was the more armored one with the boot reaching up to the knee, protected by a cheetah-patterned knee guard. The right leg, on the other hand, remained covered by a boot only reaching up to part of her calf. The outfit was completed by a large collar around the neck and by a tail hanging from the back of her shorts, both made of bushy fur, and a pair of large cheetah ears adorning both sides of Erza's head.

"This outfit is…strange." Erza admitted, flushing as she recognized the lack of clothing. "Is this what they call…cosplay, nyah?" She struck a pose then, much to the dismay of Naruto and his workers.

"It is not! And quit with the nyah!"

"I-If you say so…"

"It may not look like much, but this armor will increase your speed ten-no, a hundred fold." Naruto assured her as he admired her in the scintilating armor. "With this you'll be the fastest woman in Earthland!" Then he beckoned. "Here, just try to-urk!" The reason for his sudden exclamation was soon seen as he found himself pinned to the floor. Both his wrists were caught within Erza's hands and his legs tangled up in her own. In the span of a single heartbeat she'd outmaneuvered him and she gloried in it. But only for a moment.

Straddling him she leaned-inched-forward. Quivering from the effort it took to do so, she dared to brush her lips against his own. The kiss was shy, tentative, and brief. It conveyed all that she wanted it to convey, but it was terribly, terribly short. As much as it pained her to admit it, this was Erza Scarlet's very first kiss. She'd been waiting to do this for so long, so very very long. Because he made her feel. He made her feel so incredible, he made her feel like she mattered outside of her guild, outside of her reputation. When she was around him, she mattered. Not just as "Titania" but as Erza Scarlet. As a person.

As a woman.

Trembling, she forced herself to break away.

"I-It seems you were telling the truth." she forced a nervous laugh. "It is indeed quite fast."

Naruto blinked up at her, dumbstruck. He didn't say anything. His eyes were wide open, staring at her, and his face was the color of a tomato. Erza couldn't bear to look at him. Somehow, this was so much worse than when he was angry at her for breaking her armor. When he was angry, she knew what to expect. When he was like this, she didn't know what to expect. It frightened her.

"Naruto, I-"

He cut her off by thumbing her chin back to face him, his lips touching hers softly. She hesitated for a moment, her heart sinking for a moment, before she leaned gently into him. His right hand came to rest on her thigh, his left coming up to cup her cheek and she placed both of hers on his chest and she fell forward into him.

"This is my greatest creation yet!" Naruto announced as he presented her with the latest-and most impressive-set of armor she had ever seen. "Nothing I have made before is as magnificent as the sight you see laid before you!"

It was a set of pink-pink!-armor with a simple breastplate joined to the collar, sporting a heart between two wing-shaped decorations; the pauldrons possessed a similar structure, with two plates constituting each of hearts surmounted by small wings. The gauntlets covered her arms completely, with prominent feather-shaped decorations jutting backwards in correspondence to her wrists.

The waistguard itself was made up of plates attached to the breastplate, a belt around Erza's waist, and a short pinkish-white skirt covering her upper thighs. Her greaves reached up to the middle parts of her bare thighs, possessing feather-like armaments on the upper edges and below her knee guards; with similar motifs carved on them, and sporting a pair of small wings, one attached to the knee guard and one in correspondence to Erza's ankles. Finally the armor was completed by a large tiara adorning Scarlet's head, with feather-shaped protrusions jutting out from it, and by a large pinkish white cape over which her hair was styled in a pair of hanging braids.

"Just try and break that." Naruto challenged, grinning from ear to ear. "I've woven Etherion into the metal this time! You could destroy a small island with that suit! I'd bet my life on it! Believe it!"

"You've outdone yourself this time." Erza admitted, giving the twin blades he'd given her a test swing.

"Haven't I?" Naruto grinned. "I think this armor is perfectly suited for the Queen of the Fairies herself."

Naruto whimpered as Erza Scarlet walked into his shop exactly three days later.

He didn't bother to look as she approached. He simply held out his hand, moaning as she handed him a shattered wrist-guard, all that remained of the Armadura Fairy Armour after its first test run. He turned it over in his hand and looked as though he were about to burst into tears. He didn't care that he'd been sucked up into a world called Edolas, turned into a lacrima, and almost converted into magical energy. He didn't care that Erza and Natsu and Gray and all the others had saved Magnolia from that gruesome fate. All he cared about was the shattered-shattered!-piece of metal in his hand.

"You…You broke my baby…

"S-Sorry." Was all she could manage. What else could she say? The Armadura Fairy was his greatest masterpiece. And she'd broken it in Edolas; left it beyond recognition, left it behind in a pile of broken pieces that she could never hope to repair. And all she had to show for her efforts was a small shard of the once unrivaled armor; an armor all but shattered in the battle against her Knightwalker counterpart.

"When you say sorry you're supposed to mean it!" Naruto groaned, burying his head in his hands in comical fashion. "You're not supposed to do it over and over and over again without any regard for anyone other than yourself! And to think, I went and made that Sea Empress Armor in advance for you, too! Are you going to break that one next, huh?"

"N-No! I wouldn't do that!" Suddenly frantic, she reached for him. "I would never deliberately break your handiwork!" Instead of answering, he just shook his head. She could see it in his eyes. She'd disappointed him. She'd broken nearly all of her armor on every occasion, save for the unbreakable Robe of Yuen and even then she didn't take nearly as good care of it as she should. She felt her heart breaking into a thousand pieces as he shrugged her hand off and brushed her aside.

With that, Naruto started to silently move away. She quickly turned and reached out with her hand, grabbing his forearm. He froze. She took his hand and brought it slowly up to her face. His fingers cradled her cheek gently, fearfully, almost as if he expected she would vanish into a dream. Then he rushed forward, snatching her up in his arms and kissing Erza Scarlet with an urgency that almost overwhelmed her.

'I've been a fool.'

He was burning hot, even in the coming winter. When their lips parted, he halted once more, holding her fearfully, as if they stood on a precipice. Erza reached up and gently touched his cheek as he had, and was surprised to feel tears there. She smiled, not all harsh and edges as before, but softer, nervous. And then Naruto leaned in and kissed her again, slower this time. He dared to move his lips over hers, to feel her shudder against him, to taste her tongue over his.

His lips were soft, warm, and oh so inviting. She crumpled into him, the anger leaching from her features, leaving her strangely empty inside. But not for very long. For as she tasted his lips, she remembered everything. Those long, listless nights as she lay awake in bed, wondering what it would be like to have him beside her, to have him fufill all of her wildest dreams only to wake and find that her bed was in fact empty. Scarce had been the time that she hadn't thought of him, of the possibility that he truly was a mage and that she could somehow tempt him into leaving his work in the Heart Kreuz company to stay forever by her side. Now, suddenly, that possibility was a reality.

She shivered, a silent thrill coursing through her blood, her body, and warming her hips. She didn't care that they had an audience. Once she might have protested. Once, she would have chastised herself for such weakness; for letting her bones turn to jelly for letting herself slump against him, for relying on him to support her lest she crumple lest she falter, lest she fall into this never-ending bliss and be lost forever.

It was passion that transcended passion; because, over the years, it had evolved from a frivolous want to become a need. Once, it had been desire. Lust, pursued by passion, which in turn created attraction. But now, something was wrong. Something was different. She felt him began to pull away, to withdraw, and she couldn't help it. She whined, a planitive keening sound of such need that it escaped into the silence between their lips, as he parted to draw breath.

She loved him.

It shocked her.

Perhaps she had always loved him, and never realized it. Perhaps she'd been oblivious to it. Perhaps she'd simply been in denial. Regardless, as he drew away she knew in her heart that she simply couldn't bear to let him go again. Not this time. Because she needed him. He'd become an anchor in her life throughout the years; a pillar of strength, a constant, unchanging presence around which she'd molded her very existence.

"Don't." She gasped, pulling him back to her, fearing that he might still be angry, that he might still leave her. She was oddly conscious of her sudden lack of armor-when had she abandoned it?-as her hands splayed against his chest. She buried her face in her neck, enjoying the warmth of his skin on her cheeks and the smell of his hair in her nostrils. She felt his arms tighten around her and her breathing quickened, her breasts heaving up and down against his chest.

After almost a full minute, they pulled away from one another, his light blue eyes looking deeply into hers. He wore a subtle expression of amusement on his face as he returned her gaze, his grin turning slightly devious as he leaned in and pressed his lips to hers.

Her mind exploded into white as her arms took control, spreading themselves across his back. She was so completely taken aback by his kiss that she hardly noticed when his left hand began to cup her firm rear and his right palm took up residence on her jaw. He deepened the kiss as he pressed his body against hers, pushing her back against the nearest wall. Her hands were just as explorative, her nimble fingertips running along his chest and stomach.

"I'm sorry," She whispered, kissing him softly once more, her eyes peering longingly up into his own. "I'm so sorry."

"You have nothing to be sorry about." Naruto murmured.

He took his hand away from her face and stroked her hair, nimbly working his fingertips through the curtain of crimson as he spoke to her. Erza wanted to cry. Never. She'd never once imagined that this would happen. Never in her wildest dreams. She couldn't even begin to understand it. No, that wasn't right. She didn't want to understand. She wanted to make this moment last forever; forever and unchanging. But time, as all things, ground ever onward.

"But aren't you angry?" she found herself asking.

Naruto laughed; it was a sound of such amusement that for a terrifying instant, Erza feared that she'd done something wrong. This was all so new to her! So unlike the field of taking jobs and settling the quarrels that she was used to. After all, she'd never been in love before! Now here she was, spooned up against him, her back to the wall, and she'd never been more at ease without wearing armor in all of her life.

"I'll just have to make a stronger set of armor." Naruto said, cupping her cheek as if she were made of the finest china, and the slightest movement might accidentally shatter her forever. "One that not even you can break, Erza-chan." He gave her a rather ferocious looking grin. "No matter the opponent." At first Erza wanted to offer a retort, but she settled on a grin and shook her head instead.

"Are you certain I won't break it, Naruto? I'm going to Tenrou Island tomorrow, after all."

She let the statement hang unadorned between them. Naruto really only had a year on her in terms of age. So she knew that he knew what would be taking place on Tenrou Island on the morrow's eve. The S-Class Trial. If ever there was a test of endurance for any weapon or armor, then this was that test.

"Oh no you don't!" Naruto snapped back, rising to the challenge. "I'm coming with you! I'm going to make sure you don't break that armor!"

"You cannot." Erza answered. "Only members of Fairy Tail are permitted to set foot on our holy ground."

"Yeah, well…whatever!" The smith shot back. "I just have to join your guild then, don't I!"

Erza couldn't help but smile at that.

'I win!'

A/N: Yes, this takes place between and during just about every arc in the storyline, including the Tenrou Island Arc. NarutoxErza, ladies and gentlemen! They're just so cute together, aren't they? Let me know if I should continue this! Oh, and for any of you who are wondering, both Naruto AND Jiraiya *cough* Ero-sennin *cough* were born on Earthland. Meaning they are residents of Fiore. NOT Naruto's universe! Hope you enjoyed!