A/N: (J) Hey everyone, this is collaboration fanfic between Alice and me. This is actually a story Alice and I improved on ever since her "Murasaki Gitsune" doujinshi. It's practically the same story, but I'd say it's better and has more plot. Anyways, please enjoy the first chapter.

(A) Also! Because of my obsession with flowers, there will be at least one flower symbolism in each chapter! Haaaaaahahaaaa… I promise you it's not as confusing, I swear. The flower that has the most important role in each chapter will have their meaning written at the end of the chapter! Everything will make sense in the end, I promise. Maybe!

The Secrets of Lavender
CH 1: A Friendship Blooms

"Eeeeeek!" A high-pitched cry from the middle of a forest echoed throughout the area, alerting whatever creature roamed nearby of the sound. They fled from the vicinity, leaving the source of the cry alone.

A little girl of dark blue hair was leaning against a tree with her knees pressed to her chest. A messenger bag was lying on the ground Her attire consisted of a simple light blue dress with a design of little daisies flying up the skirt in a delicate line, white ankle socks and black shoes, and a small bracelet of diamonds. Alas, the beauty of her clothing was ruined by the dirt and dust that covered it.

Not to mention, she was lost.

The little girl was picking flowers and herbs from the nearby field. But she was so engrossed in picking out the prettiest flowers that she didn't realize that she was walking further and further into a forest. By noon, she became lost. Of course, she hoped to find her way back by going back the way she came from. But she ended up getting lost again. At that point, she was close to a breakdown. She's been walking for what felt like an hour, and it seemed like there was no end to the forest. The girl was exhausted physically and emotionally.

"H-how am I gonna go back home…?" She sniffled, her tears dangerously close to flowing down her cheeks. "Mama…!"

"Ugh, shut up." An irritated voice came from above the girl. She looked up and froze. It was a boy with lavender hair wearing somewhat tattered clothing, a dark green messenger bag, and… a fox mask. The mask was white with some red designs, and it covered his face from forehead to nose. She couldn't see his face at all. The boy was sitting on top of a tree branch of the tree the girl was leaning against. "How pathetic," he whispered under his breath. The boy let out a sigh and was about to return to where he came from.

"W-wait, p-please…"

The boy stopped and looked down at the girl. He didn't say anything but waited.

"I'm, I'm lost… Can you p-please help me find my way back…?" The girl looked up at the boy in desperate hope. "I wanna go back home!" She clutched her flowers to her chest. "Please!"

"… Hn." He hopped down from the branch. He stood in front of her for a minute, observing her.

"W-what…?"

With a sigh, he motioned her to follow him as he started on his way. The girl followed suit. Five minutes already passed, but the silence between was so unbearable for the girl. She thought she should try to introduce herself first to tear down the dense atmosphere between them.

"Um, I'm Aikawa Hikari. What's your name?"

The boy didn't reply. He kept his silence, discouraging her from trying to speak any more. But that didn't stop her.

"I'm eight years old, how about you?"

"10."

Hikari's eyes shone brightly from his reply. This gave her more encouragement to try to keep talking to him. After all, it seemed like it was going to be a long walk. "H-hey, so do you like flowers?"

"Yeah."

Despite the boy's one-worded answers, Hikari seemed to be determined to get him to talk.

"What kind of flowers do you like? Mine are daisies!" Hikari held a daisy from the bouquet of different flowers she had picked earlier from the field. "They mean stuff like innocence, purity, and loyal love. I like their meaning for loyal love though. I think it suits the flower." She looked up at the boy, hoping for a response. He was quiet once more. She pouted and kept walking behind him. She started playing with the flowers she had gathered, weaving them together. But doing so made her smile and giggle a little.

The boy peeked behind him, wondering what she was giggling at. Seeing what she was making, he couldn't help but smile a little. Just a bit.

"Lavender."

"Huh?"

"I like lavender."

"Lavender… I don't think it's easy to get those around here… I don't think I've actually seen one either," Hikari murmured. "How come your favorite is the lavender?"

"It just is." The boy reached into his bag and started rummaging through it. "Hm." Hikari tilted her head in curiosity, approaching him closer. "Found it." He took out a few stalks of lavender and showed it to her. "These are lavender." He slightly bent down to her level and lowered his hand to give her the stalks.

Hikari was surprised. "Lavender! Wow!" She reached over but before she grabbed them, she slightly hesitated and looked up at the boy. "Can I really have them?"

The boy nodded. "Mm."

With a huge smile, Hikari plucked them off of the boy's palm and examined them. "Wow, they're so pretty! Such tiny little flowers altogether too!" She looked at the boy in excitement. "Where did you find them? Are you a traveler?" She was almost jumping with joy. "Never in my entire life have I come across a lavender here!"

"…" He didn't feel like he needed to reply. Hikari was so excited to see a lavender for the first time that it didn't seem like she'd listen to his explanation anyways. He just grunted and continued to walk on with Hikari following once more. But this time, she was right beside her. He occasionally looked through his mask to see what Hikari was doing. She was still weaving the flowers she had gathered. There were only half left from what she had before. He decided not to question it.

What he didn't notice was that Hikari was taking occasional glances at him as she was weaving. She held up the lavender stalks he gave her and smiled at them.

Hmmm… Mama won't mind. I went off on my own anyways, she thought. The flowers she had picked were originally for her mother, who ran the most famous flower shop and café in town.

Her mother was a kind and gentle woman. She was known for her vast knowledge of flowers and herbs, including the meaning of them. It wouldn't seem like such a great job if you had asked others.

But that's not everything. The difference was that their town was the only area that grew so many species of plants. Other towns and cities had mostly the common types of flowers with a little more rare ones here and there. The café that her mother also ran was famous for its food and desserts made of the flowers and herbs she collects. Many people around the region came to their small town to visit her café and buy some flowers. There are occasional foreigners from different regions that have visited before, and it's gotten good feedback.

Hikari had a habit of going to the field and the forest to gather her own flowers and herbs just for fun. Even after school would she go there immediately. One would think she would be isolated and have none or few friends, but she got along very well with other classmates. In fact, she even went with her friends to the fields and play around while collecting flowers. They seemed to enjoy it anyways.

"It's done!" Hikari exclaimed. She skipped in front of the boy to stop him. "Hey, hey, can you close your eyes for a bit?"

"Why?" His voice sounded annoyed.

"Oh c'mon, please? I have something to give you!" Hikari stared at him with huge pleading eyes.

The boy remained silent for a few seconds before giving in. He groaned irritably before putting his hand out. "Make it quick. My eyes are closed."

Hikari grinned. "It's not really something I can place on your hand. It's something I gotta place on your head!" She approached the boy, but she realized that he was a head taller than her. This wasn't going to be easy. She stood on her tip-toes and placed her work on the boy's head. "There we go! Now you're a prince!"

"… A… flower crown…" the boy muttered.

"Do you like it? I even wove in some of the lavender you gave me! You look just like a prince from fairytales!"

"Are you kidding me?" The boy heaved a huge sigh before shaking his head. "We've wasted enough time. We're close to your town." He walked past Hikari, but he didn't take off the flower crown. Hikari was slightly discouraged from his words, but she was happy he didn't throw it onto the ground. He liked flowers too after all.

Soon, they arrived to the same field Hikari was in before she entered the forest.

"Ah, I'm back!" Hikari ran out from the shade of the trees to the cool breeze and warm sunlight. She dived into the soft field of grass and flowers, before poking her head out of them. The boy was still there. "Um… T-thank you for guiding me back home! I owe you a huge favor!" She gently placed the flowers she had picked into her messenger bag. "If you ever need anything, please feel free to come down to the Platina Café! We have both a flower shop and café there!"

"Hn." The boy turned around to return to the forest before Hikari called out to him.

"By the way, I was wondering… um…" She sheepishly looked away, scratching the back of her head. "D-do you want to… maybe… play with me and pick some flowers…?" She remembered how he had treated her the very first time. It didn't seem like he wanted anything to do with her. "I-I mean, if you want to."

"You're so troublesome…" The boy groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. "You really don't know the situation you're dealing with, do you?"

"W-well, geez, I'm sorry. You could've just said no…" Hikari replied bitterly. "Then I apologize for wasting your time." She trudged away with an inaudible "bye".

A defeated sigh was heard. "You do realize that I'm a stranger, right? Didn't your parents teach you not to approach them because they could be dangerous?"

Hikari turned around, clutching her bag to her abdomen. "But you're not. You helped me, didn't you?" She pointed to the flower crown on his head. "And… you didn't even throw away the flower crown I gave you. You're a nice person, I know it." She gave him a smile. "Besides..." She shot a chrysanthemum at his forehead. "I'm not pathetic as you thought I was. I'm pretty intelligent."

A smirk adorned the boy's face. "Tch, says the girl who was lost and crying for her mother." He caught the flower and observed it. He then exhaled softly. "Murasaki. You can call me Murasaki."

"Murasaki, huh? That's a nice name!" Hikari crouched down into a patch of flowers and started looking for the beautiful ones. "I'm glad you finally decided to tell me your name."

"Hn," he grunted. He approached a nearby flower patch and started rummaging through them. "Oh, why did you shriek earlier in the forest?"

"Huh? Oh… That…" Hikari turned red in embarrassment. "I just got scared because a bunch of crows flew towards me. But I guess it's because they got scared as much as I did."

Murasaki only gave a snort as a response.

"You don't talk much, do you?" Hikari asked. "Most of your replies to me were either sounds, actions, or one-worded answers."

Murasaki glanced at Hikari and shrugged, "I dunno, you tell me."

Hikari pouted. "You're mean."

"Good to know." Murasaki suddenly stopped from what he was doing and turned around. "By the way, you're probably really tired and hungry. Shouldn't you go back home and rest?" As if on cue, a grumble sounded from the girl. "… Wow." Seeing her red ears, he knew she was embarrassed. "Now that is something I'm impressed with," he sarcastically remarked. Hikari looked at him like she was going to cry. "Calm down. I got something for you." He reached into his bag and pulled out half a loaf of bread and a juice box. Murasaki walked over to Hikari and sat down in front of her. "Mm." He held them out to her to take it.

"What about you? Won't you get hungry?" She hesitantly took them from his hands.

"I live nearby here, crybaby. Why else do you think I was in the forest?" He flicked her forehead as she took a bite of the bread. "I got plenty of food there."

"I'm not!" she retaliated. After eating the food she was given, she was now sipping the juice box. "Oh yeah, did you know that my house is actually really close to here? I just need to go down this field, and my house is like right there! What about you, where do you live?"

Murasaki didn't reply.

"Can't tell me?" she asked. She saw his lips purse in a manner that she couldn't comprehend. "Then, I won't ask! You don't have to tell me!" Murasaki looked up at her like she just lifted a heavy burden. "Hey, can I call you something other than Murasaki?"

Cocking a brow, he stared at her through his fox mask. "Like?"

"Mura-chan!"

"Absolutely not."

x.o.x.o.x

It was almost sunset, and it was time for Hikari to leave. The two had been picking different flowers and herbs the whole day, stopping to talk to each other occasionally. It was true that Murasaki had nothing much to say through words, but when he did, it usually had him calling Hikari a troublesome brat. Even though she retaliated, she felt like it was out of goodwill or some sort of affection.

"Can we play again tomorrow?"

"…" Murasaki lowered his head as if contemplating something. "I can't play with you everyday."

Hikari smiled a little sadly. "Oh yeah, you don't really live in town…"

"I can let you know when I can."

"How?"

Murasaki crossed his arms. "Hm, how about I leave a lavender stalk on a windowsill?"

"Yeah, that'd be great! There's actually a windowsill to the left of the café door. It's hard to miss!" Hikari was so overjoyed. She not only made a new friend, but they'll be able to meet more often. "Can we meet here, same time?" A nod was all it took for Hikari grin wider. "Great! I can let you meet my best friends! They're really good people!" She was about to greet him good-bye but her wrist was suddenly grabbed by Murasaki. "Eh, what's wrong?"

"Wait, Hikari. You can't ever tell anyone about who I am. Not even your closest friends. Not even your mother. You have to keep this a secret." She couldn't read his face because of his fox mask, but the way he was pursing his lips like before gave her a hint. "Okay?"

Hikari stared at the slits of his mask, wondering if she was able to make eye contact with him. She gave him a sincere look and nodded. "Alright. I won't tell anyone. I won't ask why either. This is our little secret!" She put her index finger to her lips and smiled.

"Go home."

"Bye!"

With that, the two parted ways. Hikari ran down the field to go back home with Murasaki watching over her to make sure she made it home safe. Once he was sure she was safe, he turned and headed in the opposite direction. He walked past the fields towards the horizon. He kept walking along the edge of the forest until he reached his house. There, he saw a large oak tree with a small cottage behind it. Alongside this was a lake. Murasaki walked towards the tree and placed his hand on it. He looked up at it, sighing heavily.

He entered through the sliding door and took his shoes off. His house was rather humble with only a living room and a bedroom. His kitchen was placed in the living room. There was a stove, a sink, a refrigerator, some cabinets, and a small round table. Murasaki stepped inside his bedroom, his head lowered. He took off his mask and set it down on the floor. Without a word, he changed into his pajamas and crawled into his futon*. He shut off the oil lamp next to his and pull the covers over his face.

"I'm home."

But no one else was.

~.~.~

"You seem very happy today, dear." A woman with the same color hair as Hikari sat down with her, handing her a plate of pudding. It was her mother, who had some dessert made for her daughter as a break from her homework. "I made it out of the lavender stalks you found today." She placed a spoon on the plate for Hikari to eat whenever she'd like. "Just where did you find them? I didn't know they even grew in the fields up there."

Hikari smiled as she took a bite of the pudding. It was so creamy and sweet, and she was able to smell the aroma of the lavender as she chewed the blossoms. She giggled. "It's a secret, mama! If you'd like more, I'll try to bring as much as I can. It won't be easy though."

Her mother chuckled. "That's okay, dear. You don't have to go through all the trouble." She tousled her daughter's soft, dark blue hair and smiled. "So did you play with your friends today?"

"No, they were too busy so they couldn't come. But I did make a new friend!"

"A new friend? Who are they?"

Hikari thought for a moment. How could she tell her mother about her new friend when she promised not to tell her about him? She puffed her cheeks. "Can't tell! It's a secret!"

"You made a secret friend, I see? Will I ever get to meet them?"

"Probably! Some day! I want to make sure he's ready!"

"Oh my, and he's a boy? Now that's sweet!" her mother cooed. "I'm glad you made a new friend, Hikari. Feel free to invite him over whenever he likes. Will you be playing with him tomorrow too?"

Hikari shook her head. "No, he said that he's a little busy. But he said that he'll let me know when he can!" She hoped that just this much was okay to tell her mother. After all, these details were rather ambiguous and general. It could've been anyone. It's not like she gave away his identity.

After she was finished with her homework, she ate the rest of her dessert. "Did you have a recipe to make this, mama?"

Her mother smiled. "Yes, I did. Your papa used to love lavenders. He's made me this lavender pudding recipe as a gift. I suppose you can say it's a memento of him." She noticed that Hikari had slightly lowered her spoon at the mention of her father. "Your papa was a good man, Hikari. He did it to protect us." She gently pulled Hikari into a comforting hug. "Remember that he'll always stay with us, no matter what."

"Yeah. I know he's watching over us from heaven." Hikari put the plate down. "Thanks for the pudding, mama. I think I'll go to sleep."

"Alright, sweet dreams, dear."

"Good night, mama!" After washing up, Hikari entered her bedroom and closed the door behind her. She flopped onto her bed and wrapped the blankets around herself. She thought of her encounter with Murasaki that day, and she couldn't help but smile. "I hope we can meet again soon, Mura-chan!" Murasaki's words, "Absolutely not" suddenly played in her head, causing her to giggle into her pillow. He was a little mean but she thought he somehow warmed up to her. She couldn't wait for their next meeting.

~.~.~

A chrysanthemum means "you're a wonderful friend" or "cheerfulness and rest"

~.~.~

*futon – a futon is a traditional Japanese bed that only has a mattress and quilts/blankets

A/N: (A) This isn't going to be as long as Mystique or Tobari Shinobi, since this story is actually meant to be used as a sort of guideline for my Ikari doujinshi. I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned it, but I had made a Ikari doujinshi called "Murasaki Gitsune", but I thought the story (and the art) was horrible. So James decided to help me out with it, and this collaboration was our result! I was actually excited to write this one together with him! I can't wait to write more!

(J) The chapters will go on as both Hikari and Shinji grow up. Once they're at the appropriate age that Alice and I've chosen, we'll continue with the main plot. Until then, you can read this for all the fluff and friendships that will go on between the two will experience. Also, each chapter won't be as long as our other fanfics. They will probably be about 1,000 words to 3,000 words at most. I hope you guys don't mind, because Alice will be drawing these by the chapter. I hope you can also read her doujinshi when it's out!

(A) And with that, we'll be going! I'll see you next time with another chapter of Mystique! Bye!