Sunlight poured in through the open window like rainfall, catching every inch of the room a little at a time in a brilliant golden glow. The blanket of light eventually flowed over the bed, catching the dragon slayer's sleeping face. He flinched at the sudden warmth, having gotten used to the cold of the room during the night, and muttered a bit irritably to himself something along the lines of stupid ice bastards who had never heard of curtains before, and rolled over into the shady part of the bed.
Still half-asleep, the fire mage instinctively nestled closer to the other side of the bed, expecting the feel of cool skin against his own and arms wrapping around a well-built frame with a kiss good morning and—
…But only empty sheets awaited him. Gray wasn't there.
Suddenly very awake, Natsu sat up in bed and quickly scanned the room for any signs of the ice wizard. There were none. He couldn't smell breakfast either, that being one of the only reasons Gray would ever get up and not bother to wake Natsu as well. And that was a rare occurrence anyway, considering what a crappy cook he was. Not that Natsu was any better.
"…Jerk," the dragon slayer glared daggers at the door, "Leaving without waking me up."
Natsu yawned once, and reluctantly crawled out of bed. He still felt tired, but, with Gray gone the bed felt empty and he didn't feel like going back to sleep. He stretched a little, yawned again, and began to get dressed.
It was while tying his scarf around his neck that Natsu noticed the note on the bed.
He wondered if that had been there just a few minutes before. Although, noticing the wrinkled pattern on the clean white paper, Natsu figured he had rolled over it sometime during the early morning, only spotting it till he had gotten out of bed.
With a confused yet curious stare, the fire mage went over and plucked the note off the sheets, and began to read the ink-ridden chicken scratch:
Sorry. Have some business to take care of today. Head to the guild without me and tell Erza and the rest I won't be there. I'll be back by tonight.
Natsu blinked once, "Something to do today…?" But confusion quickly gave way to anger as he crumpled up the paper in his fist and set it ablaze, "And who does he think I am, his carrier pigeon?" he growled.
Tossing the burned scraps in the trash, Natsu stomped out of the apartment, not bothering to lock the door behind him—though taking care to slam it shut—and headed towards the guild, already furious enough to throw a table against the wall, and it wasn't even past nine.
"Ah, sorry…I'm not much for flowers, so…what would you recommend?"
The owner of the small flower shop downtown was a pleasant old man, in his late fifties, and had run the stall for some time now in Magnolia, so much so that even most of the wizards back at Fairy Tail knew him by name, and said his shop was the only place to go to for any floral needs. The owner had light tan skin, hair going gray and bald, though still looking strong and energetic, even in a bright green apron, and he wore the most genial of smiles.
The florist chuckled kindly, "Haha, that's alright lad. It's what I'm here for. Might I ask what the occasion is?"
There was a bit of a pause at the unexpected question, "…Well, uh…something…for a grave…" was the awkward reply.
The florist's hazel eyes softened, while the smile still remained, but it was one of understanding and comfort, and it somehow lessened the other's anxiety.
"Wait right there a moment, I have just the thing."
With a swift turn the florist disappeared into the small, but cozy flower stand, and was nearly indistinguishable amongst the forest of blooming bouquets and blossoms of more colors and shades than one could count. But almost as soon as he left the man reappeared, and with a bulky bouquet of flowers of several different kinds all wrapped together in an elegant scarlet paper tied with a golden string. It was almost like magic the way he had gathered everything up so fast.
As the florist handed the flowers over with a cheerful smile, he motioned to each blossom delicately as he spoke again.
"I thought chrysanthemums would be best to have most of," he began with a pleasant nod of his head, "Red ones signify love. So do the camellia there. And I thought plenty of Forget-Me-Nots would be a nice touch. A few Calla Lilies there. Poppies here. Some Tea Rose there. Oh, and this is the last of the Zinnia, so you take good care of those. Some Garlic on the side, and pink Carnations bring it all together. Does this look alright, sir?"
"I-it looks great, but, there's no way I can afford all of—"
"Nonsense, lad," the man interrupted with a laugh, "You'll pay for the chrysanthemums and that's what you get. But as the owner I'm afraid I must insist on the rest, on the house, for the sake of such a beautiful looking bouquet."
There was another pause, "Well…in that case…thank you very much." An uncertain smile.
He paid the florist kindly and slung the large mass of flowers over his shoulder before he began walking down the crowded street. And for a moment he inwardly sighed with relief, believing himself to be in the clear before—
The ice mage jerked to a stop. There was no mistaking that voice.
"He's probably mad about the note…" Gray thought faintly as he watched with dread as Natsu stomped over to him, a livid expression on his face. He thought about running, but the dragon slayer would no doubt catch up to him in no time, especially if he was angry enough.
"What the hell was with this morning?" Natsu yelled once the two were face-to-face, "You leave with a note saying you're out busy doing something today and here I find you pickin' flowers and running off somewhere!"
Avoiding the stares various bystanders were giving the two, Gray rubbed the back of his head and looked away, an expression halfway between annoyance and genuine guilt, "Look, I'm sorry about that. It just wasn't—" he abruptly stopped, as if he had begun saying something he shouldn't have, looking uncomfortable again, and he wasn't sure whether to finish or simply change the subject, "…it just…" but after a glance at the bouquet in his hands, he chose the former, "…wasn't something I...wanted to tell you…" he finished with a light sigh of defeat, never once looking Natsu in the eye.
At the generally pained expression on the other's face, Natsu's anger dulled, replaced with the previous puzzlement and curiosity from before, "…What do you mean?"
Opting to stare down at the flowers in his arms rather than look at the fire mage, Gray smiled lightly, though it held no cheer, and confessed, "I thought I'd…go visit my hometown for a while."
All of a sudden Natsu found his throat to be incredibly dry, leaving him unable to respond with anything, though he couldn't help the look of surprise on his features.
Sensing the other's discomfort, the ice mage suddenly became more relaxed, and the smile was a touch more genuine as he abruptly asked,
"…Want to join me?"