The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way
Gray didn't really remember much about the funeral, only pieces of it. He remembered people – her friends, faces not really clear – shaking his hand and telling their condolences, someone grabbing his hand and, of course, he remembered holding the weeping child as close to him as he could.
How he arrived back to the house was a mystery as well – but when he finally came to, he was sitting at the couch, with Meredy in his arms.
As he looked down to her – his niece – he imagined what he would do with her now that Ultear was gone. Meredy was only five, Ultear had adopted the pink haired girl when she was just a baby and became a mother; and from the moment the little girl became part of their family, he only saw her and Ultear about two times a year, any other communication had been through phone and skype.
Now he wished he visited more.
Two days before, Ultear had suffered a car accident and didn't make it. Luckily Meredy wasn't harmed beside the little cut on her forehead and when she saw Gray, the girl clung herself to him as if her life depended of it – thankfully she reminded him from the skype calls made every week.
"Gray-sama…" Gray felt someone touch his shoulder and looked up, blinking a few times and he was glad that Juvia had offered to come with him even when he told her not to – it was nice to have a friend with him at that time – he could see that she had shed a few tears herself by the way her eyes were puffy and there was an older man with her – a man he never saw before – and she was quick in introducing him. "This is Kisuke Harrison, he is -was- Ultear-san's attorney. He wants to speak with you." The blunette said gently, staring pointedly at Meredy and Gray looked down to the kid, who was nestled against his chest. "Juvia can bathe and feed her while you two talk, how about it?" Gray that Juvia was right, Meredy needed to eat something and he couldn't very well just hold her hostage.
"Meredy." He said with a rough voice and the girl looked up to him with the beautiful emerald eyes and he tried his best to offer her a smile, small as it was. "Go with Juvia, she will give you something to eat."
"Don't wanna." She mumbled, hiding her face on his chest once more and Gray looked up to Juvia, who just sat by his side on the couch.
"Hey, Meredy." The blunette touched Meredy's back and the girl hid her face even more. "Do you remember me? I was at your birthday a couple of months ago." Juvia smiled when Meredy finally moved a little so she could watch her with one eye while the other half of her face was still hidden. "We had a tea party, remember?" Hesitantly, Meredy nodded, which earned a smile from Juvia. "There you go. I bet you are hungry, aren't you? It's been a long day and I know you don't want to leave your uncle alone but he will be alright. You and I can make him something to eat too and you can bring to him; maybe you can even help me by watching if he eats it all. He can be very stubborn but I think that he will eat for you." Juvia fake whispered and Gray couldn't help but to roll his eyes when Meredy giggled softly.
"Can I have ice cream?" Meredy asked.
Juvia pretended to think about it for a moment. "After you eat something; how about that?" She offered her hand to the girl.
"Okay." Meredy nodded and got away from Gray's lap and accepted Juvia's hand, following the older woman towards the kitchen and Gray passed a hand though his hair and then stared at the man standing in front of him, waving towards a chair so he could sit.
"Thank you." Mr. Harrison said and Gray took in his appearance; about fifty if he had to guess, quite fat, small dark eyes that reminded him of a pig's and a nose that was so slender that it looked like a beak, making him look quite a unique character with the combination of those features plus the small mouth and double chin. "I am sorry to come and talk to you today, but I thought that it would be best if we got some essentials straight so you can organize your stay here better." Gray sighed and nodded. "As Miss Lockser informed you, my name is Kisuke Harrison and I am Miss Milkovich's lawyer. Both of them, actually." The older man offered a hand and Gray shook it.
"Gray Fullbuster." He frowned. "What do you mean by both of them?"
"Well," Mr. Harrison grabbed his briefcase and opened as he spoke, "Miss Ultear met with me a year after she adopted Miss Meredy, so she could have her bases covered just in case something happened to her while Meredy was still too young. I set it all up as per request." The man took a folder from inside his briefcase and offered it to Gray. "A couple of weeks later, Miss Ultear returned to my office and everything was official in no time and put on her updated will." Gray grabbed the folder with curiosity and opened it. "Miss Ultear, of course, left everything she owned to her daughter: a good amount of money, shares in some companies, her car and this house; so Meredy will have a life free of worrying about her finances." Gray nodded, reading the paper Harrison gave him.
Harrison nodded. "Miss Ultear also pointed me as Meredy's attorney in some capacity, such as managing her new shares and general legal advice and well-being. My advice would be for you to sell the house and the car, Mr. Fullbuster. I understand that you have a house of your own back in Magnolia, plus a job."
"Wait, what?" Gray asked in confusion. "What do you mean?"
The lawyer frowned in confusion. "You have legal guard of Miss Meredy. You signed the forms four years ago, don' you remember?"
Gray's eyes widened as realization of the words' meaning hit him with full force. When Ultear asked him to be Meredy's legal guardian four years ago, he had been halfway through college and even with his partying-all-the-time mind, it seemed reasonable enough for her to be prepared for every eventuality, but Gray never thought that he would ever have to actually take up to his promise of raise his niece.
"I… I do." He suddenly felt his throat get dry. He thought about Meredy, but he didn't think pass the days he would spend at the town.
Harrison stared at him for a moment, measuring him up, before speaking. "Mr. Fullbuster, if you do not agree of being her guardian, you have to say so I can make other arrangements."
"What?" Gray wondered. "What do you mean other arrangements?"
"The back-up person is listed as…" Harrison searched for the name on one of the papers he had on hands "Lyon Vastia, but if he can't take care of her either, I will be forced to put her back in the system until a family is found."
Gray's whole stance hardened with the mention of 'the system'. He had been placed in many foster homes when he lost his mother and it had been Ur, Ultear's mother, who had rescued him when he started to go down a bad path when he was ten. He would not let Meredy go to the system when she could get a perfectly not-so-bad home with him in Magnolia.
"There won't be need of that." Gray informed the lawyer. "She'll come to Magnolia with me."
Once he secured the doors of the house, Gray suddenly felt deadly tired and nauseated. He had eaten the sandwich Meredy and Juvia had made for him a couple of hours before, but it didn't sit well in his stomach. Everywhere he looked, there were pictures of Meredy with Ultear and the whole place was a hurtful reminder that his sister was gone.
When Gray arrived at the Milkovich's household, he was ten and Ultear was seventeen and going through a rebellious phase, resulting on him bonding with his other foster brother, Lyon Vastia – eleven at the time – and when Ultear left home for about five years, Gray's only family had been his mother and brother. Thankfully, Ultear returned home before Ur got sick and they forgave each other and shared memories of a happy family.
For about eighteen months, there had been four of them, living as Ur always wanted and it made Gray feel better with Ur's passing away after spending some quality time with her kids.
After that, he went to college in Magnolia and even if they kept in touch and saw each other as often as they could, the glue that held them together was Ur and they went to look for their own homes.
Gray found home at a place called Fairy Tail, a guild where he started to hang out and met some friends, who turned into family not too long after. For Lyon, home was the cold of the North Pole, literally. After he finished college, Lyon started to work studying the Arctic and would spend his summers on the Pole and the rest of his year studying the results of whatever he found out and also visiting other cold places.
For Ultear, though, she only found home the moment she saw Meredy. She didn't care that she was a very well named businesswoman, or that she could get even more. No, she fell in love with that four-months-old baby and didn't rest until she could bring her home and become a mother.
Gray sighed tiredly and climbed the stairs to see if Juvia was having any trouble handling the five-year-old and he stopped in the middle of the stairs.
She had been after him for more than a year and at first, he had found her annoying and was often very rude about it, but she kept returning to him with those silly big smiles she offered and he couldn't stay mad at her for a long time. Now, though, she had seen and helped him through some shitty stuff life threw at him (like the fact that his missing father had returned from overseas after sixteen years of thinking both his son and his wife were dead, just to find that Gray worked for his company and father and son had quite a fallout) and he could even say that he had started to see her with other eyes.
Honestly, though, she had kept her cool and coordinated most of the service while Gray was in shock. He would have to give her one hell of a 'thank you' for that as soon as he could.
Finishing the steps of the stairs, he went towards Meredy's room and once he heard voices, he frowned, peeking from the halfway closed door and stopping to listen. "I like butterflies." Meredy said, shyly.
"Butterflies are very pretty, just like you." Juvia smiled and nodded while combing the girl's hair. "I like dolphins."
"I like dolphins too." The little girl gave a small smile and Gray watched through the small opening of the door while Juvia eased the girl in a way he wouldn't even know how to begin and once more he was glad she came along with him.
"Now, time for bed." Juvia told her softly; Gray saw Meredy's eyes widen, and he guessed that the blunette saw it too. "Do you want a bedtime story?"
"Please." Meredy's tiny voice almost broke his heart – she probably didn't want to stay alone just yet. Gray saw Juvia cover the girl and join her on the bed not too long after.
He decided to go to the living room and having a drink, because really, the past few days were kind of shitty and he needed some booze.
Twenty minutes later Juvia joined him. She wore a beautiful long sleeved black dress with a turtle neck while her hair in a tight bun, only her bangs free of it. The moment she sat by his side on the couch, she kicked her high heels away and loosened her hair – and Gray could barely blame her, since he had lost his dress shirt and shoes an hour before.
Once she was settled, Gray gave her his glass with whisky, which she gladly accepted. "Thank you." Juvia said and took a generous sip before giving it back to him.
They stayed in silence for a moment before he broke it. "Thank you for coming with me."
"Of course." Juvia put a hand on his thigh. "You know that our friends would've been here if you hadn't asked them to not come, right?"
"Yeah." Gray nodded. "That's exactly why I asked them not to come. Too many people trying to cheer me up." He stared at the ceiling. "I know they support me, but I just wanted a few moments of quiet to just… think." Juvia nodded and was about to get up from the couch ('Damn, she thought I meant she was bothering me and that I want to be alone now?' Gray thought), but he grabbed her by the wrist. "No, you are fine." She stared at her hesitantly before sitting back down.
"Were you able to talk to Lyon-sama?" Juvia wondered.
"I… I can't get him on the phone." Gray said, getting angry with the absence of his brother while he was the one who had to deal with all of that on his own. "The station said that there's a storm going on up there and that the radio is not working and it won't work for a while."
He was starting to get worked up. "He missed it, Juvia. He missed the funeral of his sister and he'll hate himself for it – I know that because I would too." Gray put his drink on the coffee table before getting up. "And then, I will have to tell him and I will have to go through it again. And Meredy, god, she'll have to go through it again and she doesn't deserve that."
"Gray-sama." Juvia tried, but the man ignored her completely.
"Speaking of Meredy, did you know that now I have her guardianship? Me! What do I know about children? I can barely be around Asuka for a few minutes before she starts to cry. I like to party, I like to come home stinking drunk when the day's starting and I like to ride motorcycles the fastest as they come!" Gray started to walk around the living room. "The extra bedrooms I have in my house are a hazard to a child: one is pretty much a deposit for all the shit I don't use but can't get rid of and the other is my makeshift workplace that is so messy I can't find anything there!" He passed a hand over his face. "There's a pool back in my place too. Does she know how to swim? Or to float is she falls in?"
"Gray-sama." Juvia got up and put her hands on his shoulder so he had to stop pacing around and even then he was fussing, so she had to repeat it more forceful. "Gray-sama." Surprised, he stopped and stared at her. Tenderly, she put a hand on his cheek. "It's alright, it's just you and me now. You can feel the loss."
It was as if he had been just waiting for her to say those words, because a moment later, all the feelings he had been keeping in check for the past two days were out and running. It was finally real, losing Ultear. Not even seeing her body being lowered to the grave had the effect Juvia's permission to let himself feel bad.
He wouldn't spend another Christmas with Lyon and Ultear exchanging youth stories; he wouldn't be scolded when he forgot to call for more than a week; he wouldn't arrive home with his inbox bursting with baby pictures and videos of Meredy; he wouldn't have to sit through a talk about why he should give a try and have a date with Juvia; he wouldn't have her to drop by unannounced at his place whenever she had work nearby.
He no longer had his sister.
Gray let the tears fall and soon enough – he sobbed and hid his face on the crook of her neck while Juvia held him tight, caressing his hair and whispering kind words and for the life of him, he couldn't remember them but was also unable to let go of her.
After a few minutes, Gray finally stopped with the tears even though now silent, Juvia kept running her hand over his hair in a soothing manner and he decided that he would continue with his uncharacteristic behavior and did not push her away – like he often did – preferring to enjoy the soft pressing of her body to his, her warmth and silent comfort. They had ended up back on the couch and at some point, both lied down and Gray was almost on top of her by the way his body had curled around her.
"I'm such a mess." He said, holding onto her tighter. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be." Juvia whispered. "Holding it would've been worse."
"I don't know what to do." Gray told her. "I kind of have a kid now and I have no idea of what I'll do."
"Don't worry. No one expects you to be an expert just now." She guaranteed him. "We will all help you. Juvia has some experience with children, she will help out the best she can."
"I'm supposed to do this on my own."
"No, you are not." Juvia said to him softly and Gray finally removed his head from its way on the crook of her neck to stare at her blue eyes. "You have just received news of your sister's passing and you were given a child to raise very much out of the blue. In all honesty, Juvia would've been worried if you had an idea of what to do so soon." She touched his cheek lightly, caressing it. "You'll figure it out, with a little bit of help."
"Yeah." He sighed and leaned towards her touch. Who would've thought from seeing how they met eighteen months before ("God, it had been only eighteen months?") that during one of the darkest days of his life she would be so important in keeping him together. She never hid that she had an infatuation with him and at the beginning Gray thought it was annoying, but once he got to know her, she turned out to be a sweet woman who was quite lively and passionate. She was a friend before he knew and now she something he couldn't name it – this new development he discovered very recently – and even if he did have had relationships before, Gray had a feeling that it would be different with Juvia (When his mind began to think that it was a certainty to get involved with her was a mystery to him).
Gray's eyes focused on her lips and even though he had stared at them quite a few times ever since they met, this was the most intimate they had ever been and it made him feel strange – not in a bad way – and, strangely enough, it seemed that every cell of his body was screaming for him to kiss her. If Gray was being close to himself, it was long overdue, really: she never hid the fact that she wanted him and he was quite fond of her in a very different way than his other female friends.
He didn't even realize that he was closing in until Juvia pushed him away. "Gray-sama." She whispered. "Not like this. You are mourning and in pain; you are not thinking straight."
Gray blinked, surprised; rejection was something he never thought it could happen coming from someone who had been trying to seduce him for the past eighteen months. "I-" He cleared his throat and started to get up. "Sorry. I shouldn't have."
The woman got up as well and took a step closer to him. "It's alright; Juvia understands it's a normal physical reaction." Gray frowned with her words. Did she think his desire to kiss her was result of Ultear's death somehow? He opened his mouth to tell her that he actually thought about it even before he lost his sister, when she put a finger on his lips to prevent the man of talking. "Go to bed, you haven't slept in two days. Tomorrow we will be busy."
Gray thought about explaining himself to her, but realized that Juvia went with him in the sole capacity of a friend and during the whole time they were there, she did nothing more than support him and help him out. It had been wrong of him to seek solace with her when he was still grieving. It wasn't fair to either of them. "You are right." He sighed, putting his hands over his eyes. "But I can't sleep in her room, Juvia." Gray said, finally feeling exhaustion wash over him.
Juvia had been right: two days without sleeping. Once he got the phone call giving him the awful news, Gray hadn't stop to rest. The first night he had to arrange his trip to the town, make arrangements for Meredy (Ultear's neighbor spent the night with her at the hospital, where the girl had stayed for observation) and then convinced his friends that he would like to go alone – to which their protests only ended when Juvia said that she would go, even against Gray's wishes and she would keep them informed plus take care of him. He couldn't sleep that night even if he tried. The next day, was the plane travel to the town, meeting with Meredy and taking care of the funeral details. He spent that night at Ultear's couch, wide awake, Juvia sat by his side and, aside from a quick nap between four and five a.m., she kept quiet and stared at the mute TV.
"Juvia understands." The blunette nodded. "But you have to sleep." Juvia took his hand on hers and pulled him gently towards the stairs. "You don't have to sleep in there; the guest bed is big enough for both of us." She looked over her shoulder and added, while walked up the stairs. "Juvia wouldn't feel right to stay there either. I hope you don't mind sharing." Gray shook his head, and he prayed that he didn't look too relieved about not having to sleep alone just yet. He hated to feel that dependent of her, but he knew Juvia understood him. "Go take a shower in the guest room's bathroom and Juvia will go take hers on Meredy's."
The moment he stepped out of the warm shower, Gray was ready to drop and sleep on the floor, but gathered his strength enough to put a pair of sweatpants and half dried his hair before stepping out of the bathroom.
Juvia was already under the covers, talking on her cellphone and Gray raised an eyebrow when he caught the time on the watch on the nightstand. 12:37 a.m. Juvia saw his confusion and mouthed 'Erza-san' making Gray nod and throw the covers aside to tuck himself under them with a sigh. He put his forearm over his eyes and waited for her to finish the conversation.
"…Juvia will tell him. Don't worry, Erza-san." A pause. "I don't know. Two or three more days, perhaps." Another pause. "I'll let you know, okay? Good-night." Juvia ended the call and put her phone on the nightstand by her side. "Erza-san said that you should call her tomorrow, she's worried."
"Hm." Gray groaned.
"You should call your father too." Juvia suggested and Gray moved his arm just enough to uncover one eye. "Juvia knows it's only been seven months ever since you two found each other and things are still new, but he is your father and he would've liked to know about this."
Gray was going to say 'no' by instinct, but instead, chose to change the subject. "Can we talk about this in the morning?"
Her face softened in a second, just like he knew it would. "Of course." Juvia kissed his cheek and Gray's eyes closed with the brief contact. "Good-night, Gray-sama."
"Good-night, Juvia." He whispered and the last thing he remembered before sleep took over him was how close her body was to his – they were not touching, but he could feel the warmth radiating from her body and that comfort was enough to make him fully relax and fall into a dreamless sleep.
The next couple of days were so busy that Gray would fall on the bed and pretty much pass out by Juvia's side. They took care of Meredy's papers from her current kindergarten school, some other legal details of Ultear's will, found a mover company with a generous price and pretty much packed all the essentials for Meredy to live with Gray.
Meredy spent a lot of time at the neighbor's, playing with her friends while Gray and Juvia sorted things out and when Gray found a box with pictures of him, Ultear, Lyon and Ur from when he was a kid, he couldn't help but to cry again and he was glad his niece hadn't been there to see him cry.
Juvia asked if he was okay once he joined her at the kitchen. Gray just answered: "I found a box of pictures." The blunette didn't push for any other explanation and nodded in understanding. "I finished with Ultear's room." Gray informed Juvia as he leaned on the counter, supporting his weight with his elbows. "Before we leave tomorrow, I'll donate her clothes to a charity. Her jewelry, though, I am taking with me. Meredy might want them in a few years."
"That is true." Juvia agreed while looking at a cabinet under the sink. "Have you packed her computer yet?"
"Yes." The man said. "Once things settle back home, I'll go through it. I know she kept lots of pictures and videos from Meredy and I want to keep those. Maybe I'll print a few so Meredy can have her pictures around."
"She'll like that." Juvia smiled sweetly and looked from over her shoulder before returning her attention back to the cabinet and taking a few bottles of cleaning products from inside. There were boxes everywhere in the kitchen and he could see even more boxes in the living room and Gray felt ashamed that Juvia had worked so much that day while he had been crying inside his sister's room. "She will like living with you, Gray-sama. It might take a little adjusting for both of you, but she loves you and you love her."
"I hope so." Gray sighed and kneeled by her side, helping the blunette with the other bottles. "My dad said that he always wanted grandchildren, but he thought that I would give them the usual way but, and I quote, 'whatever makes me a grandpa, kid'."
Juvia chuckled. "That sounds like Silver-sama."
"It does." Gray scowled. "He asked me to tell you that when he goes to Magnolia next, you better go see him."
"Sure." The blunette shifted her gaze from the bottles to the man next to her. "Juvia likes him."
"Of course you do." Gray rolled his eyes. "Just don't go getting all red and stutter-y when he asks you if you are my woman again." It surprised her as much as it did him that Gray was the one raising the subject. The day he met Silver after almost sixteen years of thinking each other were dead, Silver just assumed that Juvia was 'Gray's woman', in his words, and he was convinced that she was the one for his son. "Juvia, about the night of the funeral…" Gray never had the chance to finish the sentence. Meredy was back from playing and Juvia's focused changed entirely from him to the pink haired girl, urging her to go upstairs and to choose which toys she would bring to Magnolia with her and which ones would wait for the movers.
Gray sighed and closed the cabinet. Maybe it was better not to bring the subject again.
Meredy had been sad of leaving the house she grew up in and had clung to Gray from the moment they entered the cab all the way to the airport, only letting go of him when he passed her to Juvia so he could organize the suitcases (he had seen Juvia pack the little girl's luggage and she had assured him that she would need all those clothes, blankets and toys for the next few days while the rest of her things traveled across the country) and Meredy promptly hid her face in the crook of the woman's neck while Juvia caressed her hair and whispered kindly to her.
After checking-in, the trio went to eat and Meredy finally perked up when there was the option of getting a toy. While she ate her hamburger and fries, Meredy hummed some song and moved her legs happily as the grown-ups talks; Juvia explained to Gray that eating fast-food shouldn't become a routine and he agreed.
The trip to Magnolia was virtually uneventful. Meredy was excited to travel in an airplane and the adults let her sit by the window and she asked, concerned, if the angels wouldn't get hurt with the plane flying in between the clouds. Gray heard the people from the chairs in front and behind theirs chuckling and he couldn't help but to smile at her concerned words. While Juvia explained to the little girl that angels lived in higher clouds than the ones they would go through, a woman who was passing by to go to her place further behind the plane, also chuckled and commented: "Your daughter is precious."
"She's my niece, actually." Gray answered. "But thank you."
"Sorry, I just assumed." She smiled kindly and went on her way and for the first time he realized that to an outsider, he, Juvia and Meredy looked like a family, traveling in vacation, perhaps.
At that moment, he realized that everyone would think that and somewhere along the way, he wouldn't be Meredy's uncle anymore, he would be her father and it scared the crap out of him.
Juvia refused to go home first once they got in Magnolia, insisting on going to Gray's house to help settle Meredy before going to her apartment and after a few minutes of arguing, he finally gave up and told her that she could do whatever she wanted, he was going home. Juvia smiled in victory and sat by Meredy's side on the cab to his house, showing the girl some interesting places along the way while Gray sulked from his spot.
Once the cab pulled over his house and they unloaded the suitcases, Gray opened the door to let the girls in while he handled the luggage (Juvia helped after seeing that Meredy was sit on the couch, waiting for them to finish) and once he was finally luggage free, Gray sighed in relief that he was finally home. It seemed that those days back in Ultear's house were an endless nightmare. Back to his house, though, he felt much better.
Unlike the refined taste of his sister's house, Gray's was clearly a very minimalistic styled house: white walls, with just a few paintings hanging, and most of his furniture was mahogany. Not the most fun place for a five-year-old to live. At the moment, with her pink coat, purple skirt and colorful striped long socks, she was the brightest spot of the house.
"Meredy, come on. I'll show you the house." Gray called and the girl walked towards him and he noticed that she was a little shy once again. In an attempt of helping her out, Gray offered a hand and she took it eagerly. Meredy offered him a smile and he smiled back. "I never had a kid in here before, so, you are the first."
"Really?" She beamed.
"Yes." Gray nodded. "Your room is a little boring now, but we can work something out before your things arrive, alright?"
"I brought my toys and my movies. I won't be bored." Meredy said decisively.
"Alright, then." He smiled. "Come on." Before leaving the living room, Gray searched for Juvia and saw that she was staring at them with approval. She mouthed 'go ahead' and then turned her attention to one of Meredy's suitcases and Gray's focus returned to his niece and giving her a tour.
Two hours later, the three had taken most of the things Gray stored at the room that was now Meredy's. Juvia had cleaned just enough so the girl could sleep without sneezing; she also changed the sheets to one she brought from Ultear's house and when Gray asked her about it, the blunette explained to him that it might be better for the little girl if she had something familiar around during the first nights.
After that, Gray ordered pizza as dinner and, while Juvia gave Meredy a bath, he checked with his answering machine; his friends left a few messages and he wrote down the names of the ones who called to remind himself of calling them the next day (even if he was sure that Juvia had been giving them information about most of it). He called his father to tell him that he arrived well home and that Meredy seemed to be fitting in so far, but once Juvia left, he would be on his own. Silver informed him that he would try to take a few days off to go to Magnolia and Gray was glad to see his dad again.
He also tried to call Lyon just to find out that the radio was still down. Gray cursed and sighed. If he would be the one to tell his brother about Ultear, he'd rather do it sooner.
A few minutes later, he heard the doorbell ring and grabbed his wallet to pay the pizza. Once he got inside, the delicious smell made his stomach growl and he didn't even waited for the girls to get a slice. "Meredy! Juvia! Food is here!" Gray yelled and put the pizza on the counter.
Meredy was the one to appear first, wearing pink pajamas with purple stars all over and bunny shaped slippers and he was about to give her a slice when Juvia appeared in the kitchen and reprimanded him. "Gray-sama, she needs a plate or she'll need another bath after she is done." The blunette walked towards the cabinet she knew Gray kept his plates and got three, placing them on the counter. She reached for the silverware, grabbing three forks and two knives. "Come here, sweetheart." She called for the girl.
Once Meredy was seated by the kitchen table, Juvia took a slice of the pizza and started cutting while Gray watched her actions. Once the pizza had been cut in many small pieces, Juvia gave a fork to the girl and put the plate in front of her; Meredy started eating right away.
"You have to cut her food for now." The blunette explained while she got a slice of pizza of her own and put on her own table.
'Well, who knew?' Gray thought 'I would've just given her a slice and waited to see what happened.'
One more time in four days, he was glad Juvia was there to guide him through the basics just before she was about to leave, telling him how to act once he was alone with his niece. "Before she goes to sleep, remind her to go to the bathroom otherwise she might wet the bed. She will most likely want for you to tell her a story, but you can also put one of her movies and she'll fall asleep in no time; you'll have to be with her, though. She doesn't seem to like to fall asleep on her own." Since Juvia was the one who put Meredy to sleep for the past few days, he took her word for it. "Don't close her door all the way and leave the lights of the hallway on."
"Alright." Gray nodded.
"Oh, also…" Juvia blushed and he frowned.
"What is it?"
"Juvia knows that usually you sleep…" She cleared her throat. "…unclothed. Maybe you should stop it for now."
Even feeling self-conscious (everyone knew that Gray liked to stay free while sleeping, but being called on it by a pretty girl inside his house was a bit embarrassing.), Gray managed to ask: "Why?"
"Kids are known for going to their parents' bed once they are scared and this is a new house for her." Juvia explained. "Unless you want to explain to her why boys and girls are different…" She trailed off and Gray caught the drift.
"Sleeping with pants it is." Gray nodded and groaned internally, just realizing that he would probably be the one telling Meredy about the facts of life in a few years.
"I thought so." Juvia chuckled. "She knows how to bathe herself by the way; you'll only need to help her when she needs to wash her hair, any other time you just need to supervise if she's doing it right." Gray groaned in annoyance. Of course the kid still needed supervision, it was just his luck. Well, at least she was potty trained. "Also, you should go to the grocery store and pick up some healthy food. Don't feed her with pizza every day."
"I'll alternate with ice cream days, don't worry." Gray rolled his eyes; really? She thought he would give the kid pizza every day?
"Really?" Meredy said, from her spot on the couch where she was watching cartoons and her voice was hopeful.
"No." Both adults informed her and they heard her whine in complaint, making Gray and Juvia smile. Before they could say anything else, a car honked outside and Gray went to check.
"It's your cab." He informed her and Juvia nodded. While Gray grabbed her suitcase, Juvia went to kneel in front of the couch and kissed the pink haired girl and whispered something Gray couldn't hear and Meredy nodded before hugging Juvia.
Juvia stepped away from the couch and went in Gray's direction – he was waiting by the door, suitcase in hand – and when she reached for it, Gray pulled it away. "Meredy, I'm going to take Juvia to the cab, okay? I'll be back in a minute."
"Okay." He heard her say; Gray, then, opened the door for Juvia and the woman stepped outside the house – he followed close behind, leaving the door opened just in case Meredy got scared and wanted to see where he was – and gave the luggage to the waiting cab driver to put it in the trunk.
"I'd like to thank you." Gray said, awkward. He had been thanking her way more than he was used to just those five days alone. "You helped out a lot; I'd probably still be at Ultear's place packing if you weren't there."
"No need to thank Juvia." The blunette shrugged. "You would've done the same."
"Either way, thanks." He said with honesty and Juvia must've heard it, because the next thing he knew, she was tip toeing and kissing his cheek.
"Promise you'll call me if you need anything, no matter the time." Juvia said.
"Fine." Gray agreed, because he knew that it was bound to happen: he had a kid and no real experience.
"Bye, Gray-sama." Juvia stepped away from him and entered the cab. Gray walked towards the passenger window and gave the driver Juvia's address and more than enough money for the run. "Gray-sama…" Juvia was about to protest when he interrupted her by saying his own good-night and telling the cabbie to go.
Gray returned home chuckling with her outrage. He looked to his watch and decided that it was about time to put Meredy in bed, take a shower and finally sleep on his beloved bed.
Putting Meredy to sleep had been easier than he thought it could be, since she was already fast asleep when he returned inside after putting Juvia in the cab. He waited a few more minutes to make sure that she was really asleep before scooping the sleeping child to his arms and went up the stairs, laying her gently on the bed. He covered Meredy with her pink sheets and sighed. She was so little in that big bed. Meredy's belongings needed to arrive soon so he could take the double bed off of the room and put her kid bed.
The room also needed to be styled for a kid; he would talk to Meredy the next day about what color she wanted on her walls, but since almost everything she owned was pink, he had a wild guess that she was going to choose it.
Gray followed Juvia's instructions and left the door half opened and turned on the light on the hallway. Also, after his shower, he remembered to put on pants (just in case) before going to sleep.
Thank the gods for the small miracles.
Around two in the morning, Gray woke up when a sudden flash of light bothered him enough to pull him away from his pleasant dreams. Once he opened his eyes, he had to blink a few times to get used to the light, but the pink spot in front of him was not easy to mistake.
"Meredy?" His voice was hoarse from sleep. "What is it?"
"Can I sleep here?" She asked in a whisper and Gray noticed that she had turned on his bedside lamp.
"Here? Why?" Gray turned his body so he was lying on his back instead of his stomach.
"Please? Please, please, please, please, pl-"
"Yes!" Gray cut her off. "Yes, you can sleep her- oof" Gray breathed when Meredy climbed the bed and stepped on his stomach on her way of going to the other side. "Oh, god." He moaned in pain, but as soon as Meredy wiggled her way underneath the sheets and curled herself on his side, Gray just sighed and tried to go back to sleep once again; there was no reason for complaining now.
You were right. – Gray
About what? – J
She snuck in my bed last night – Gray
Pants or no pants? – J
Pants – Gray
Dodged a bullet. – J
Tell me about it. – Gray
Are you guys alright on your own? – J
Yes. We are at the supermarket – Gray
What do I get for a five-year-old? Snacks and chocolate I know, not this healthy crap. – Gray
I'll send you a list of some things you can get, okay? – J
Thanks – Gray
Twenty minutes later, Gray called Juvia in absolute distress and once she picked up, he asked without even saying 'hello': "Do you even know how many types of juices there are for kids?" Gray said, one hand on the kart and the other holding his niece's hand as he put his phone between his ear and shoulder. "I didn't even know that people drank papaya, banana and kiwi together!"
"Gray-sama?" Juvia sounded confused.
"In your text you said 'juice', but you didn't say which kind to get and there are so many options here… it's driving me crazy." Gray answered. He was in the middle of the aisle, staring at fifty different brands of juice and that was just the beginning of the list.
"Oh." The blunette said. "Are you holding Meredy's hand? Children run off."
"I know, I lost her for a minute but found her soon after. I'm going to buy her a leash."
Juvia chuckled. "Don't."
"Yeah, yeah." Gray said annoyed. "So, the juice? How do I pick?"
"Let the five-year-old guide you."
"What?" He frowned.
"Just ask her what she likes." Juvia said and Gray looked suspiciously to the kid before letting go of her hand and asking:
"Meredy, what kind of juice do you like?" The kid walked to Gray's right and grabbed a six pack of little boxes of juices and gave to him.
"These. I like the reds, blues and yellows."
Absolutely surprised, Gray took the six-pack and grabbed three more just in case before talking to the phone again. "I'll be damned, she chose it without hesitation."
"Just do it again when you get to the jam, cookies and snacks that you should be good." The woman replied.
"It's like owning a sniffer dog." Gray said in wonder while staring at the child.
"Gray-sama!" Juvia's laughter made him smile. "Is there anything else?"
"Yeah, actually." He cleared his throat. "I was thinking of doing something nice for dinner tomorrow for me and Meredy, something other than pizza and fast food, and I was wondering if you'd like to come. Like a thank you dinner for everything and a future thank you for the things you'll probably help me with."
"Yes, sure." Juvia answered after a moment. "What time?"
"Around seven?" Gray wondered.
"Sounds good." She replied and the man nodded.
"Alright. See you later at the Guild?"
After grocery shopping – Juvia's tip of asking Meredy what she liked worked out really well – Gray took the girl to meet his friends. He knew that they were concerned about him and it was a good opportunity to introduce Meredy to them, after all, the only one she knew of his friends was Juvia (Lyon had insisted to Ultear that she had to be invited to Meredy's birthday and by the end of his speech, Ultear had been very interested in meeting her).
Meredy was very shy at first, but after introductions and a very generous chocolate Sunday, the girl started to play with the youngest girl on the guild, Wendy, and Asuka, the three-year-old daughter of two other members and Gray had the time to talk to his friends and assure them that he was fine within reason.
Erza was especially concerned with his new role as Meredy's guardian, but Gray informed her that he wasn't going to let the kid go back to the system and the woman understood. She offered help, but before he could help himself, he told her that Juvia was helping out enough so far.
"I see." Erza smirked and Gray could feel his cheeks get warmer. "She's been helping, huh?"
"Shut up." He mumbled but smiled when Meredy came running towards him holding a paper.
"Gray, Gray! Look what I drew!" The pink haired girl showed him the drawing and spoke excitedly. "This is me, this is you, this is Uncle Lyon and this is Mommy in heaven, that's why she's up in the clouds." She pointed at every 'humanoid' form – if he could call them that –and Gray felt his eyes sting a bit with the mention of his sister.
"This is very nice, Meredy." Gray managed to say.
"Thank you." She beamed and then looked at the door, smiling even wider. "Juvia!"
Gray looked up to the direction the child was staring and watched as Meredy ran into Juvia's waiting arms – the blunette scooped the girl from the floor and gave her a loud smooch on the girl's cheek.
"Hi there, cherry blossom." Gray heard Juvia say.
"Hi, Juvia." Meredy answered as she hugged the woman.
"What have you been up to today?" Juvia asked kindly.
"My Gray and I went to the market, I got some real yummy food, then we had lunch, then I took a nap and then My Gray brought me here to meet everyone. I played with Wendy and Asuka and drew this!" Meredy almost didn't stop to breathe as the girl pretty much shoved the drawing to her face as she talked excitedly and Juvia chuckled with it. "This is me, this is My Gray, this is my Uncle Lyon and this is Mommy."
"This is very good, Meredy." Juvia informed the girl and walked towards where Gray and Erza were with Meredy on her hip. "I bet Gray-sama would like to put that on the fridge door, don't you, Gray-sama?"
The man raised an eyebrow in question, but nodded. "Sure."
"You should do more drawings." Juvia put the child on the floor.
"Come draw with us!" Meredy pulled Juvia's hand towards where Wendy had Asuka on her lap as the older girl colored something that made the toddler laugh. "Please?"
"Alright." The blunette nodded and threw a smile towards her friends, but before she could leave, Gray called her.
"Are we still, erm… a go for tomorrow?"
Juvia nodded again and let herself get dragged by Meredy. "Seven o'clock."
Gray watched the two walk away and once he turned around to resume his conversation with his friend, Erza was looking at him with a knowing look and a smirk on her lips. "She's helping, alright."
The next day, Gray took Meredy to the kindergarten she was going starting the next week and he had to hold her hand the entire time but by the end of the tour Meredy was excitedly pointing to the jungle gym and asking him when she was allowed to play.
He couldn't believe how adaptable kids were. Meredy was getting used to living with Gray just fine and, even though the child was a reminder of Ultear, she had something about her that could make him smile and the heartache became less apparent.
Once they returned home after eating lunch out, Gray sat Meredy down and asked what she wanted to do with her room, he had to endure her babble about the many things she would want painted on her wall and Gray could barely keep up with the flow of ideas coming from the five-year-old. After the talk, Gray put some princess movie for her to watch while he started on dinner.
A couple of hours later – with Meredy already bathed – Gray asked the girl to help set the table for the three of them, after all the girl loved to help. When it was his turn to take a bath, he put another movie for his niece and by the time he was dressed, Juvia was knocking on his front door making Meredy run to open it before Gray stopped her.
"Hey, Meredy!" He reprimanded her. "You can't go opening the door by yourself, okay? We don't know who it is, it might be a stranger."
"Oh, okay." The kid frowned and then turned to the door and yelled: "Who is it? Are you a stranger?"
"Good enough, kid." Gray messed Meredy's hair and looked through the peephole just when he heard the soft voice of his friend.
"It's Juvia, sweetheart."
Gray opened the door and took in her appearance; her hair was in a ponytail and she wore a pair of jeans shorts, brown knee-length boots and a simple dark blue top with a white sweater. "At least she won't be opening the door if someone tells her he's a stranger."
"Baby steps." Juvia smiled as she stepped inside the house while Gray closed the door behind her.
"Hi, Juvia." Meredy raised her arms and the woman scooped the child from the ground and kissed her cheek.
"I helped My Gray to fix the table." The girl said proudly.
"Very good!" Juvia beamed at her. "I bet that you did a great job."
"I did, didn't I, Gray?" Meredy looked over her shoulder to where her Uncle was.
"You did." He agreed.
"See!" The girl smiled and Juvia put her on the floor. "Wanna see a movie with me?"
"Not now, kid." Gray was the one to turn her down. "We are going to eat in a few minutes, go wash your hands." Once the girl was out of sight, the grown-ups turned to each other. "Hi."
"Hello." Juvia smiled. "Did you really cook? It smells wonderful."
"I did." He said proudly. "It's just a lasagna my mom taught me and salad."
"Juvia didn't know you could cook."
"Not like you, but I do alright." Gray shrugged. It was a known fact to everyone that Juvia was one hell of a cook. "I hope it's okay." He pointed towards the dining room and Juvia followed his lead.
"Of course." Before she could say anything else, though, there was another knock on the door and the couple looked at each other in confusion. "Is there someone else joining us?"
"No." Gray excused himself and went to open the door, and when he did, he was surprised to see his father standing there, a suitcase in hands. "Dad?"
"Hey, kid." Silver answered with a smirk and opening his arms to his son and enveloping him on a hug.
"What are you doing here?" Gray asked, hugging his father back briefly.
"I told you I would come over." Silver frowned when he took a step back from the hug.
"You never said a date." His son pointed out and his father shrugged.
"Well, I'm here now." Silver pushed his son away and entered the house. "I want to meet the kid and…" The older man stopped when he saw Juvia standing by the dining room and his smile widened even more with the sight of the blunette. "Juvia-chan."
"How are you, Silver-sama?" The girl asked with a smile of her own.
"Come here." Just like with his son, he opened his arms and she stepped into his embrace. "I've been fine, dear. How about you? Is my son giving you a hard time?"
"Not at all." Juvia chuckled and when Silver let her go, she tip toed and kissed his cheek. "I'm glad you are here."
"At least someone is." Silver pouted and stared at his son.
Gray rolled his eyes. "Don't be dramatic, dad. I was just surprised, that's all. You can take the bed in Meredy's room and she'll sleep with me. She comes to my bed every day by three a.m. anyway."
"Where's the girl? I brought her a gift!" Silver turned to Juvia with his eyes sparkling in delight. "She will be my first grandchild, you see?" Juvia nodded. "About that, when are you two getting started on those?"
Gray saw Juvia's cheek turn pink and he could feel his own and his ears start to burn as well. "Meredy, come over here. We have a visitor!" Gray, then, narrowed his eyes to his father. "Behave yourself."
Silver chuckled and shook his head lightly. "I love your reaction too much to stop, kid."
Juvia put a hand on the older man's forearm and spoke softly. "Silver-sama, Meredy is still adapting here. We shouldn't say anything to confuse her."
That seemed to make Silver ponder his behavior. "I understand, dear."
Gray groaned in annoyance. "You listen to her?"
"You don't have those pretty eyes, son." Silver shrugged; Gray was about to answer when the sound of light, fast footsteps were heard and the next moment, Meredy appeared coming from the living room. The five-year-old stopped on her tracks when she saw the stranger with the two grown-ups.
"Who are you?" Meredy asked, staring at Silver with a cute frown of her own. "You look like My Gray."
"That's because I am Gray's father." Silver said gently to the child before looking to his son and ask in a whisper. "'My Gray'?"
"She calls me that since forever, I was never Uncle Gray, just her Gray." His son shrugged and Silver accepted it for the moment, choosing to focus on the little girl in front of him.
"What is your name, sweetheart?" Even though he already knew, Silver much rather let she present herself.
"I'm Meredy and I am five." She showed him five fingers proudly.
"Really?" Silver looked impressed. "You are a big girl." He offered his hand for her to take. "I am Silver."
Meredy took his hand and said, solemnly: "Nice to meet you." The adults smiled with her politeness.
"Gray told me that his niece was here, so, I brought you something." Silver reached for his suitcase and took a medium-size package from inside, wrapped in a soft pink paper with a blue bow. "I hope you like it."
She took the gift with a 'thank you' and tore the paper down, shrieking when she saw that her gift was a very pretty doll and Silver laughed when the kid threw her arms around his shoulders. "I loved it! Thank you, Silver!"
"You're welcome." The man told her, and then, choosing his words carefully, he kept talking. "You see, Meredy… Now that you are going to live with Gray and I am his dad… Maybe you'd like to call me Grandpa."
"Grandpa?" Meredy pondered. "I had a Grandma once, but she died before I was born. My mom said that my Grandma would've loved me. I never had a grandpa before."
"I can be your Grandpa if you like." Silver offered and Gray hadn't realize that he was holding his breath until he felt Juvia put intertwine his hand with hers in a matter of support; apparently, having his father and his niece working things were a big deal to him.
Meredy took her time thinking, but nodded her approval. "Okay, you can be Grandpa."
Silver's smile could light up a whole town when he heard her answer and reached for the girl, giving her a hug. "Thank you, honey. I'll try to be a good grandpa for you, alright?"
"Okay." Meredy hugged Silver back, squashing her new doll between them. "Now I am hungry, grandpa." She said with a lack of tact that most children had.
"Let's go eat, then, sweetheart." Silver laughed. "I'm guessing that I crashed some kind of dinner date between the three of you."
"Just dinner, dad." Gray rolled his eyes and Juvia let go of his hand – he kind of misses it – and reached for the five-year-old.
"Meredy-chan, let's find Silv- I mean, let's find your Grandpa a plate, shall we?" The blunette said, sensing that the men probably wanted a few minutes on their own.
The girl nodded and, with the box with her new doll safely in her arms, Meredy grabbed Juvia's hand and both went towards the kitchen.
"She's a cute kid." Silver said, getting up from his knees and standing by his son's side.
"Yeah." Gray agreed, because really, Meredy was a very beautiful girl with her pink hair, green eyes and fair skin.
"She's gonna be trouble once she starts dating."
"Don't even start; I have enough on my plate without thinking about how much I'll have on my plate in ten years, okay?" Gray moaned in pain.
Silver chuckled and they stayed in silence for a moment. "I'm sorry for your sister, son. I'm sorry I never met her."
"Yeah." Gray sighed.
"Come here." The older man pulled his son into a tight, heartfelt hug and Gray resisted for a moment, but relaxed when he heard his father speaking. "I'm sorry you had to lose so much during your life, kid. I'm sorry I wasn't around when both of your moms passed away and you had to suffer my death as well, but I am here now, okay?" Gray put his arms around his dad and felt his eyes itch. "I am trying to give you space, Gray, but I am here and I am not leaving you for as long as you want me here." Gray, not trusting his voice, just nodded; his face hid on his father's shoulder and it felt good to be consoled a parent after years of holding his emotions.
Dinner was mostly about Meredy telling Silver about all the things she liked to watch and do and the older man was just as excited about the subject as the child and had his undivided attention on her; it relieved Gray that his dad was so happy about him taking care of his niece.
After eating, it was bedtime for the girl and she insisted her 'Grandpa' read a story to her that night and Silver seemed more than happy to indulge the girl ("It's been almost twenty years since I tucked a kid in!", he had said) while Gray and Juvia took care of the dishes (Gray protested, but she argued that he went through all the trouble of cooking, that she could at least help with the cleaning up) and they worked in silence – she washed and he dried.
Once they were done, Gray leaned on the counter and Juvia mimicked him, standing by his side. "Are you okay?" She asked and he sighed – she could read him like an open book. "You always get a little nervous when your father comes to town."
"Good enough." Gray shrugged. "I am getting used to having a dad again. He is nice and he understands that I need time to process all this."
"Yes, but you just lost your sister. You need your dad around." Juvia told him gently. "Promise you won't kick him out in two days just because you are annoyed."
Gray scoffed. "I'd like to see you have him around twenty-four/seven for more than a couple of days without killing him."
"Would you prefer to have him elsewhere? He can stay at my apartment." Juvia asked, serious and Gray gasped. "Juvia has a guest room."
"Hell no. That would be a nightmare." He informed the blunette. "Thanks, but no. But I'll try to let him stay here longer, for Meredy's sake as well as mine. He is my dad, after all."
"That's good." Juvia smiled and they were silent once more. "Silver-sama is taking his time putting Meredy-chan to sleep."
"Yesterday she took a while to sleep as well." Gray shrugged and Juvia nodded in understanding. "After I put her to sleep is worse, you know?" He said after a moment and the blunette frowned in confusion. "During these past couple of days, when I'm out and about doing whatever, I don't feel so much about Ultear's death because I am occupying my mind, but after I put Meredy to sleep and I'm alone, I miss her. I haven't even told Lyon yet because the stupid radio is not working up there in the North Pole."
It took Juvia a moment to answer him, but when she did, the blunette stepped in front of Gray to take a better look at him. "It's going to hurt a lot for a while, Gray-sama. It's been less than a week yet and even though you pretend, Juvia knows that your emotions run deeper than anyone else I know. It won't stop hurting, but with time, the pain will be damped." She stopped for a second. "What would Ultear-san like you to do now?"
Gray thought about it for a few moments before answering. "She would like me to take care of Meredy the best I can and she would like me to keep on living and smiling, finding the good moments in life."
"Honor it then." Juvia said decisively. "Take care of Meredy-chan as if she were yours ands live your life. It doesn't mean that you'll do everything right, that you'll be happy all the time, but it means that you will try and it will be enough. We are not perfect, we make mistakes and we will keep making mistakes until the day we die and what we take to the grave are memories and regrets. I bet that your sister had a lot of regrets: she wanted to see Meredy grow up, she wanted to see you and Lyon-sama more, she wanted to bungee-jump for all we know, but she also had great memories." Juvia sighed. "I bet that she had memories of growing up with Ur-san, you and Lyon-sama. I bet she had memories of meeting Meredy for the first time, her first smile, her first steps, first words… She died young, but she lived her life the best she could and you should honor her memory by doing the same. So, feel her loss, but don't let it hold you back or make you feel alone, because you are not."
He listened to the words in awe as they hit him as how true they were and he was really surprised that Juvia had such a way of helping him out when he needed her to.
With a nod, Gray let her know that he would take her advice in consideration and Juvia offered him one sharp nod as if telling him that her job there was done. "Good. Now, have you decided about what to do with her room?"
Relieved with the change of the subject, Gray started to tell the blunette that Meredy wanted it pink, but couldn't decide what else she wanted on her walls and Juvia came up with a few options that pleased Gray and made him think about something else other than his sister for a while and he was glad to change the subject once again – two emotional conversations were his quota for the day, thank you very much.
A few minutes into the conversation, Juvia started to stare at him with concentration and before he could ask her what the problem was, she stepped closer to him and put her hand on his forehead and then sunk her fingers into his hair and Gray frowned with her boldness.
"Your hair grew a lot; I know that this is the last thing on your mind right now you should trim it a little bit." She said as a matter-of-fact, but Gray gulped and was suddenly feeling self-conscious about himself and he hated feeling this way. "Juvia can take care of it if you want."
"No, thanks." He managed to keep his voice neutral. "I'll go to my barber in a couple of days."
"Don't let him cut it too much." Juvia said.
"N-not that shorter hair would look bad on you. Juvia bets you would keep being handsome either way." Gray raised an eyebrow. "I-I mean… shorter hair couldn't possibly make you ugly." Juvia's cheek was delightfully pink and Gray could feel the familiarity of Juvia being herself returning and it made him happy; she was very entertaining. "Forget Juvia said that." The feeling was gone once again: she never asked him to forget about what she had said before, usually she would just blurt out more compliments to see what would stuck Gray.
"Am I interrupting something?" Silver's voice echoed through the kitchen and Juvia almost jumped to the other side of the room, which Gray thought it was even stranger, after all, she would take any opportunity to stay closer to Gray.
"No. N-Nothing at all, Silver-sama." Juvia said, nervous. "Juvia was just saying good-bye to Gray-sama."
"Are you leaving?" The older man frowned. "It's still early."
"You two need time alone, plus, tomorrow Juvia has to go to work very early." The blunette informed Silver and approached him to give him a quick hug. "Good-bye, Silver-sama."
"Bye, Juvia-chan." Silver barely had time to reciprocate the hug before Juvia stepped away from his embrace. She turned to Gray, then and mumbled a good-bye and a 'call me if you need anything' and was out of the door before Gray could react. "What the hell was that?" Silver asked, confused, when the front door closed and when his son didn't answer right away, he turned to him. "What's wrong, kid?" Gray was deep in thought and his father raised an eyebrow. "What got your panties in a bunch?"
The younger man took a moment to answer. "I get it what is wrong now: she's treating me like a friend. I don't like it."
Silver was confused. "You lost me."
Gray sighed, but explained to his father his conclusion of Juvia's behavior. "Usually she's not like that, any other day she would be eager to stay more time here. I can see that she is really trying to help me just because she wants to help me, but it's been almost a week ever since she let slip the slightest hint of… you know, her usual self. Tonight she slipped and acted all weird about it, not like she usually does."
"And her usual self entitles hitting on you and planning your wedding?" Silver asked.
He pondered. "Pretty much, yeah. Now she's all… friendly. It's weird."
"You miss it." His dad smirked and teased him.
"I don't like being treated differently because she thinks I'm traumatized." Gray scowled.
"I can relate to that." Silver nodded. "But you have to understand that you went through a traumatic event. If you were the one chasing after her and her sister died. Would you still drop pick-up lines?"
Gray thought about it for a moment. "Oh."
"She still loves you, kid. Don't worry."
Gray scoffed. "I am not worried."
"Sure." Silver chuckled. "Juvia-chan is just giving you space, after all, your sister just passed and you have a kid to look out after now." He patted on his son's back. "Now, come on. Let's put some scotch in you so you can bitch more about your girlfriend not giving you the attention you usually get." Gray rolled his eyes and protested about Juvia not being his girlfriend, but went to find the booze anyways; he was in need of some alcohol in his system.