"Ah, dud gold," Mavis sighed in disappointment, although let herself smile despite the pit of sadness in her chest. "Still gold though." At that, the smiled brighter, as cheers from the band who got gold - real gold - swept around her and blanketed her ears in their shouts of joy.
Glancing away from the bright lights on stage, Mavis saw Zera, her long-time friend, cheering with another of her friends. She hadn't expected them to get to Nationals. No one had.
Mavis pondered over the idea of talking to Zera, although decided against it after hearing a sniff from her left. She turned that way, brushing her thick, blonde locks from her face. Beside her, she could only make out the sight of a frail figure curled up, although the uniform, from what the dark allowed Mavis to see, told her that it was a boy. "Um, are you okay?" Mavis reached out, placing a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder, attempting to comfort him after coming to the realisation that he was likely crying. The boy's head lifted, and his face was revealed.
With his face catching glimpses of the stage's light, tear streaks shone on the boy's cheeks. The duck-like flick at the back of his hair rang a bell in Mavis' mind, then his unusual onyx irises decided his identity. It was Zeref Dragneel, a talented trumpet player in her band, and he looked as though he didn't know whether to yell at Mavis or revert to his floods of tears.
"What's wrong?" Mavis asked, taking her hand from Zeref's shoulder, but preparing herself to hug him - just in case. That made up Zeref's mind, and his teeth gritted, eyes still welling with tears.
"What's wrong?" He repeated her, and Mavis' eyes widened, completely taken aback from the total twist in Zeref's usually polite demeanour. "What's wrong?" Zeref's breathing was unsteady. Why, though? Mavis couldn't think what could be causing his peculiar actions for the life of her; their result had been mildly dissatisfying, yes, but they hadn't been hoping for anything better. Perhaps he was upset that his family weren't there? That could be the case, but families didn't usually attend the band's events. So what could it be?
"Yes, I..." Mavis trailed off, unable to think of a word to say. "I want to know." She immediately reprimanded herself for saying something so tactless; her wobbly tone of voice was anything but comforting, for starters, but what was worse was the immediate reaction of lividity, plastered across Zeref's face like nothing Mavis had ever seen before.
"How could you be satisfied with this?" Zeref cried, and Mavis was surprised that nobody around them was taking notice of the situation. "This is dud gold - do you know what that even means?!" Mavis nodded slightly, then decided to shake her head instead. Different words meant different things to different people; she knew that. Maybe dud gold meant something different to Zeref than it did to the rest of them. He had always seemed like a contemplative type. "A dud is a failure! A great, big lousy failure! It doesn't matter if you tag a 'gold' on the end of it or not - a dud gold is just a washout version of gold; of what could've been ours if we'd just tried!"
That was when a thought occurred to her.
"So of course it's all wrong, and of course I'm upset-"
Could it be that...
"I'm totally upset!"
... Zeref actually wanted to go to Nationals?