A Night at the Beach.

Erza smiled as she watched Lucy snore in the bed next to her, things had been really hectic recently and they all needed the rest, even Erza, but she…

She sat up, her smile gone. Erza couldn't sleep, whenever she slept she was back there, in the Lacrima, watching Natsu rage as everyone else cried, every time she closed her eyes and drifted away she would find herself looking over her own funeral.

Not that being awake offered much more comfort.

Whenever she was awake her mind was abuzz with thoughts… of him, and of Simon who had died to protect her. She knew that Simon wouldn't want her to dwell on his death, wouldn't want Erza to think about it every night, and suffer over it. He would want her to live on, happy and alive.

As for him… no, it was better to leave those thoughts alone.

Footsteps passed by the door of her room, stumbling as they went, Erza stood and walked to the door. She was going to get some fresh air, the person who was out there, whoever it was, had made her think that leaving this room wasn't such a bad idea 'Maybe I could go down to the beach' she thought smiling again.

But when she exited the room all such thoughts stopped.

She watched Natsu stumble into the bathroom, bile running down his chin, his entire body trembling.

'Natsu' her heart wrenched. He had done that for her, eaten Etherion to save her, and it had taken its toll, for a while he hadn't been able to move. Now he was sick, very sick, and while they all enjoyed their final few days together at the resort Natsu spent all his time either sleeping or puking, and sometimes, rather disgustingly, both.

Erza's mind flicked back to the beach, to holding his cheek, to their foreheads pressed together. She had been this close to kissing him, right then and there, and if the others hadn't been there Erza wasn't certain she wouldn't have. It was strange and confusing to the red haired girl, she had never wanted to kiss Natsu before and, for the life of her, she didn't understand why she had wanted to just then, it had just made her so happy. He had been crying yet happy and he had saved her and looking at him then made her feel so comfortable, so warm, so loved… she shook her head, shaking away those thoughts.

"Natsu" she popped her head around the door and, unfortunately, caught the finale of Natsu throwing up into the toilet. She winced but entered anyway and approached the shaking boy who clung to the toilet seat for dear life.

"E-Erza?" he said noticing her "You should be in be…" he never finished his statement as he hurled again.

Erza flinched, visibly this time, it wasn't just the content of his stomach, she had seen that a thousand times on any type of transportation, no what made Erza flinch was the blood. Blood coming out along with any food he had tried to keep down today, and a strange fizzling acidic substance that was, she guessed, the remaining magic.

She reached forwards and placed her hand on his shoulder, squeezing gently. She watched sadly as he winced, probably ashamed at looking so weak, before promptly puking a third time.

What she didn't know was that her 'gentle' squeeze was neither gentle nor could it be described as a squeeze, more like a bone crushing grip. But, as stated, Erza had no idea about any of that.

"You didn't mention blood" she stated sternly, not asking a question but demanding an answer.

"No" was all Natsu responded, his body still shaking, his face pale, he still clung to the toilet but he didn't think he was going to puke again, at least not right away again.

With that in mind he forced himself up and headed to the sink, stumbling before he got there and ended up meeting it forearm first in a rather painful crunch. But his arms managed to steady him and he didn't have to pick himself up off of the ground at least. Flicking a tap Natsu cupped water in his palms and swilled it through his mouth, before spitting out a yellowy redy purpley stained gulp of water and watching it sink away.

'He's going through this because of me' it was a strange feeling, happiness and sadness at the same time. Sad that Natsu had to go through this sort of pain and discomfort all because she wasn't strong enough. And happy, weirdly happy, that he was willing to, for her.

"Why not?" she pressed him, not content with his answer.

Natsu shrugged, not looking at her. He just didn't want to worry her. She was worried enough, she was sad enough, without having to take on his problems as well.

"Natsu" Erza demanded her voice growing stern.

He bit his lip "Because…" but he didn't have any words to say after that and instead shrugged again.

Erza sighed, then smiled when she saw the cute pout on his face "Natsu" he turned to her, his face not losing its look of childish annoyance. She flicked his forehead, hard enough to leave a small red mark "you're an idiot" she told him, no bite in her words, and if there was any her smile took the pain away.

Natsu grinned and rubbed the back of his forehead, embarrassed.

"Has it been happening long?"

And his grin disappeared "Just today, it happened before when I ate Laxus's lightning, it's just my body getting rid of the magic, drags a few other things out too, like some blood."

Erza frowned again, so it wasn't something to be worried about but she was still was "You should get back to bed…"

Natsu rolled his eyes "And sleep right, just like you're going to?"

She flinched at his jibe, normally it wouldn't affect her, but he had hit the nail right on its head. So she put a smile on again and patted his arm "Want to sit with me awhile?"

The pink haired boy stared at her owlishly as if failing to comprehend her words "Um…"

Now it was Erza's turn to roll her eyes "I was planning on going down to the sea, sit and watch it a while, maybe get my feet wet…" she giggled "and cold. Want to come?"

"Uh" Natsu blinked "Sure, just let me grab a sick bowl."

"Hurry up" she told him as he headed out of the bathroom, without flushing of course. Erza flushed for him and watched as the blood and bile disappeared with a scowl. This was her fault, the least she could do was be there for him.

The hotel was virtually deserted at this time of night, even the casino was dying down, only the hard-core gamblers remaining, so their walk down to the beach was uninterrupted and quiet. Which was strange, normally Natsu would be talking about something, anything, whining or joking or challenging her to a fight or… something.

'I guess we all have off days' she thought glancing at the quiet boy next to her. He was clutching the bowl to his chest but holding it to the ready in case he puked again.

The cool night air felt good against her skin and Natsu clearly appreciated it too and could be heard to sigh a long sigh of contentment as a stray breeze lightly blew past them.

The steady ebb of the ocean greeted them as they walked down to the beach, it looked strange in the night, empty and desolate, more fit for a horror movie than a resort hotel, but it was peaceful as well, quiet and lonely, only not lonely in a bad way, more out of the way type lonely.

Erza sat down several feet from where the waves gently crashed against the sand, Natsu plonking himself down next to her and for a time they just sat, watching the ocean, the moon reflected in its inky blackness, the lights of the hotel and the casino rippling in the water, it was so very beautiful, so very peaceful, she felt like she could just drift of here and never want to wake up.

She stood suddenly, making Natsu jump, and pulled up her pyjama trouser legs, rolling them until they were bunched tight around her mid-thigh, and then stepped tentatively into the water. Her foot flinched back less than a second after "Ahh, it's cold!" she waved her foot to get the icy water off.

"What do you expect, its night-time, even I know it gets cold at night" Natsu said quietly, thinking she wouldn't hear him.

"Oh?" she said dangerously, turning her head stiffly to the fire mage who looked like he was seriously considering making a break for it. Erza smiled "I bet you don't know why it gets cold during the night?" she teased him, dipping her foot in more carefully this time.

"Huh? Why it gets cold?" Natsu frowned and scratched his head, why does it get cold at night? He would've cursed, if Erza wasn't right over there and known to be rather violent when it came to swearing, when she had caught him and Gray doing it when they were both younger she had been so mad, and Natsu didn't even want to know what she did to Macao who had told them those words. They didn't see him again for five whole days and he came back wrapped in bandages like a mummy. Yep, they really didn't want to know. Erza was right though, he didn't know why it got cold at night, Igneel might've told him at some point, Erza herself might've explained it, hell maybe even Gildarts or Lisanna had told him, but he didn't remember.

"So, am I right?" she turned back to him, not having managed to get more than her big toe in before it got too cold.

"S-shut up!" Natsu turned away, not answering.

That only made Erza smile some more, before she turned back to her latest foe, the cold ocean. She was no stranger to awkward temperatures and could operate just as well it desert-like heat and in mountain top chills, but that was sheer force of will and sometimes, sometimes, it felt good not to force herself to do something, but challenge herself to instead.

"Hey, what about those guys, your old friends… what are they going to do now?" Natsu asked as he watched her dip in a toe then flinch it out.

Erza paused "I was thinking… of inviting them to join Fairy Tail" she wondered how Natsu would take that, they had been enemies, working with that man, but at the same time they were still her friends, and she wanted to keep her friends close, where she could protect them.

Natsu smiled "That'd be nice."

Erza looked back at him, then smiled herself "Yeah, it would be."

She turned to face the sea again and slowly dipped her toe back in, it didn't feel so cold this time, she was getting used to it at least. Very slowly and carefully she sank more of her foot in, it still wasn't so bad. When her entire foot touched the sand at the bottom she realised the water wasn't cold anymore, it was downright warm.

And she found the reason a few paces along, his own feet amidst the small waves "Natsu, should you really be using your magic at all right now, never mind for this sort of thing."

"I didn't get much chance to play in the sea" Natsu mused sadly, kicking up some water "Argh" he whined loudly "it's not fair, I love the sea, I wanna play in the sea!"

Erza giggled, sometimes he was such a child "I never realised you liked the sea."

"Of course I do" Natsu told her, kicking up water again "Water feels great, specially when it's hot, but I can just make it hot so that doesn't matter. Plus waves are awesome, and I'm a mean surfer I'll have you know."

Erza smiled at his enthusiasm, but it faded slowly and surely. She didn't know any of that, this was the first time she'd heard about it and that made her ask herself an odd question; How much did she really know about Natsu? I mean sure she was something like an older sister figure, plus he often challenged her and he only challenged people he respected like Gildarts and Laxus, but aside from telling him off for his antics her interactions with Natsu, before they had gone to fight against Eisenwald and Lullaby all that time ago, were rather limited. Brief, minimal, quick, concise whatever word you want to use, they were just… short.

She had taught him words, not soon after he joined Fairy Tail, Erza remembered fondly. He had been an unwilling pupil at first but soon gave in, once his head was bruised on forty six separate occasions for trying to escape, and when he put his mind to it he was really bright, capable of quickly understanding and remembering a subject. Plus he was a really neat writer. Whatever else Igneel could claim he had certainly made sure Natsu could write, sure he didn't know words very well, and those he did were at times rather outdated, but could write in very clear but not too large letters that could be understood by just about anyone. He even knew numbers moderately well and could do basic calculations, with a bit of effort.

She had showered together with him and Gray when they were all still kids, eaten together, laughed together, watched the rainbow Sakura during the Hanami festival together.

But Erza didn't know any of Natsu's hobbies, aside from fighting, eating and, err… just fighting and eating really, it seemed to be all Natsu ever did. She suspected that even Gray, who, despite their best efforts to delude her, she knew was in a rocky place friendship-wise with Natsu right now, but didn't know that said rocky place was a battlefield and they had been there ever since Natsu had joined, knew more about Natsu's hobbies than her.

"Hey Erza" Erza was drawn from her memories by Natsu's voice and turned to look at him "What's so interesting about Lucy's underwear?" Erza blinked "I mean you're always looking at it when we go over and I don't get it, are they interesting or something?"

Only Natsu could ask such a question in such a straightforward and unembarrassed manner, and that was probably due in part to his lack of understanding of the situation as a whole.

"Well they're kind of…" she frowned and thought of the right word, Lucy's underwear was rather fascinating, some of the things she had in there, it was enough to make Erza blush, yeah Lucy had underwear that kinky "… sexy, you know. It's just, I've never worn underwear like that before and that's what fascinates me with them" and only Erza could answer such a question in such a straightforward and unembarrassed manner.


Erza glanced at him, he had this thoughtful look on his face and was staring upwards "You're picturing me in my underwear aren't you?"

Natsu turned to her and stated "Yeah" in an unabashed tone.

'Yeah, only Natsu…' she smiled "So, what kind of underwear am I wearing in your head, Natsu?" she teased knowing he wouldn't understand in the slightest.

"Well" Natsu scratched his chin "I guess you'd just be in something plain, white or black, nothing fancy or frilly."

"Something plain huh?" yeah that sounded like her, plain simple effectual, not at all sexy or adventurous or seductive.

"Yeah, simple and ordinary" Erza felt her spirits drop, she really was that boring wasn't she "not at all like the stuff Lucy wears" the red head sighed, she was nowhere near as exciting as Lucy, especially when it came to underwear "Buts that probably a good thing" she perked up a bit "I mean Lucy's always complaining about her underwear or adjusting it and she always hits me when she thinks I'm looking, why would I watch her shift her underwear, and why is she so embarrassed about it?" his eyes widened "You don't suppose she's got something hidden down there, maybe like treasure or…"

Seeing as this would almost certainly end in Natsu trying to get inside Lucy's underwear and possibly ruin the friendship between the golden haired and pink haired mages Erza took pre-emptive measures "Natsu" she said smiling gently "don't mess with Lucy told much, okay?" she asked him kindly.

At least that's how it played out in her mind, in reality she gave him the deadliest glare known to man and Natsu paled considerably "Natsu" she spoke the word ominously, as if she could kill him just by uttering his name "don't mess with Lucy, understood?"

"A-aye sir!" Happy No. 2… I mean, Natsu said with strained cheer, his salute given with shaky hands while he sweated nervously.

Erza smiled "Good."

And while Erza saw that as a kind smile and not at all ominous Natsu saw it very differently as a dark and dangerous threat, if he disobeyed her she would murder him, no questions asked.

Natsu made a mental note in his, quite genuine, mental notebook, sure it was pretty much unused aside from the various 'I hate Gray' scribbles and had been collecting dust for at least a year but still he had one, to never, ever, EVER, under any circumstances try to take off Lucy's underwear.

But the former topic returned "So I'd be in plain underwear."

"Yeah, you're kind of a no frills girl" Natsu nodded in agreement with himself.

'No frills girl, huh?' she frowned 'I like frills just as much as the next girl, admittedly they're unnecessary and a bit of a hassle a rather pointless… but still' a look of determination set upon her face "No frills huh?"

Natsu turned and found Erza with the look of a woman ready for battle on her face and immediately considering running away "U-um, Erza?"

She turned to face him "HOWS THIS FOR NO FRILLS?" light consumed her form and Natsu had to cover his eyes from the blinding glare, worsened by the fact that his eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the night time beach.

When the glare faded Erza was wearing a red bikini with a tube top like top with a frill running along the top end and a skirt-like bikini bottom formed of numerous frills, she stared at him with an angry pout.

Natsu blinked, then grinned "Alright!" he threw off his t-shirt and tossed aside his pants, removing them at a speed that would impress even Gray, leaving him in just his flame patterned boxers "Let's play!" he shouted bending down and splashing Erza with water.

Erza blinked, in much the same way Natsu had done seconds before, that wasn't the reaction she had been hoping for, then grinned, also in the same way Natsu had, but if that's what he wanted…

Light flashed and she was wearing a green seaweed-esque armour with bluish fish like plates on her shoulders and forehead, her Sea Empress Armour, and with a swipe of her green crystal sword Natsu was swept away by a small tidal wave.

"HEY, THAT'S CHEATING!" Natsu shouted, spluttering up from the water.

Erza grinned, switching back to her bikini "Oh?" Natsu charged, his hands scooping up water as he ran and flung it all at Erza, she jumped aside at the last moment, only realising then that the water was bubbling and steaming "And how is boiling water not?" she asked testily.

Natsu didn't back down and glared at her.

But Erza eventually grinned and started laughing, and soon Natsu was with her.

A splash of water, not boiling but pleasantly warm, stopped her laughter and made her eyebrow twitch "Natsu" she said darkly, glaring at the now cowering boy. Then splashed water up at him, giving him a challenging smile, and Natsu took up the gauntlet with his own grin.

They lay on the beach, breathing heavily in the aftermath of their water fight, Natsu laughed happily a contented grin on his face "Thanks Erza, that was fun."

Erza smiled, it really had been hadn't it?

"By the way" he turned his head and gave her a bright grin "You do look really nice in that bikini, Erza" he told her.

Erza felt herself smile, it was hard to be embarrassed when she knew that Natsu meant virtually nothing sexual with it, either he just genuinely did like it or told her that to allay her fears, regardless it made her feel warm inside "Thanks Natsu."

Natsu groaned "Dammit, just when I'm having fun" he whined weakly, struggling up and locating his sick bowl.

Erza watched sadly as he coughed over the bowl, spitting out the pre-barf bile, she had to close eyes and wish she could close her ears when he did actually throw up, it was disgusting but what made it unbearable was the fact that it was her fault "I'm sorry Natsu" she whispered near silently.

But Natsu was a dragon slayer with hearing far better than humans "It's not your fault" he said smiling "Though if I'm ever in a giant crystal tower remind me not to eat it."

She watched him with a smile now.

"But… I'd do it again you know, in a heartbeat, to protect you."

Her face burned, her cheeks turning a red matching her hair those final three words echoing through her mind "…to protect you."

"Or Lucy, or Happy or Gramps or anyone in Fairy Tail" Natsu continued oblivious.

She felt a little sad at that, and rather proud as well "Natsu, you really have grown up, haven't you?"

Natsu grinned brightly "Of course I have… I even get hard in the mornings."

Erza blinked, once, then twice, then a third time, her smile twitching and fading "Um… Natsu… What the hell?! Why did you tell me that?" she screamed pulling at her hair, her face bright red "What does that have to do with anything? And you don't tell girls that sort of thing!"

"Eh, you don't, but Gildarts said that that's a sign of 'growing up'."

The red haired knight clenched her teeth 'Gildarts… I'm really going to hit you for that.'


"Yeah, you're kind of a no frills girl" Natsu nodded in agreement with himself.

"Although…" Natsu frowned and scratched his chin, while Erza looked over curiously, 'although' what? "Cana was saying something to Gray about how, what was the word, revelling, rebelling… OH revealing, that was it, some of your armours are, and she asked Gray if you were an exhi-exhi-exhibitigonismist."

Her fist clenched "An exhibitionist?"

"That was it!"

Erza twitched, oh Cana was in for it when she got back.

"And Gray said 'Don't let Erza hear you say that or she'll kill you… but…' then he started blushing and his eyes glassed over and he said 'Though thinking on it, you might be right.'"

And Gray was added to the list.

"Then Mira walked over and said that 'If someone obtains sexual gratification from being watched by other people in revealing outfits its none of our concern, and by the way Natsu, could you please not tell any of this…'" Natsu trailed off realising his mistake "'… to Erza'" he turned fearfully and his fears were rewarded with Erza, whose long red hair was flowing in a storm of magic, looking more terrifying than he had ever seen her before "Um… E-Erza."

Three people were on the list, Natsu was just an unfortunate casualty… wait correction, a stupid casualty.

You know I really do wonder why there is so little NatsuXErza on this site. I mean it's probably the third most popular pairing (not counting yaoi, I've got nothing against yaoi its just that I'm only counting hetero pairings here), after NatsuXLucy and NatsuXLisanna, but I thought there would be more than what there is, there are only like eight pages and perhaps four or five full length fics (by which I mean over 100,000 words) and while I confess full length fics are hard I was still expecting it to be a more popular paring.

I guess its probably because its an awkward thing to right, and I don't mean awkward as in embarrassing but awkward as in difficult. Natsu is a bit of a numbskull and Erza isn't the most emotionally apt, so the only way to work the pairing is with some severe occness or alternating events. Now I've got three big fics in the works for Fairy Tail (but don't expect them anytime soon) one is heavily NatsuXErza and virtually nothing else, the others are slight harems but with quite a bit of emphasis on NatsuXErza. And my reason is simple, I love Erza.

Yes, I've fallen in love with a fictional character (again) and yes its terribly pathetic and weird, but I don't care. Erza is a brilliant character, she has a traumatic past, admirable strength and strong views, plus she's on the strongest females in the Fairy Tail universe. And its not like I don't like Lucy or dislike NastuXLucy, I actually rather like it and I like NatsuXLisanna and NatsuXCana and NatsuXMira and NatsuX(Pretty much any girl). Its just that Erza is a really wonderful likeable and attractive character, and I'm not talking a purely sexual way either.

Anyway this authors note has gotten way to long so I better end it here. Toodles.