A long story rather than a single part for a change. Set before the game starts, when Colette, Lloyd and Genis are at school.

No spoilers. Hopefully cuteness, but no spoilers :)

Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Symphonia. I love it, but I don't own it. Namco do.

Lloyd wasn't entirely sure about this school business. His dad had told him that it was important and that he'd learn stuff that would help him later on in life. He couldn't, however, see how playing with crayons and writing his name out a bunch of times, which was all he'd seemed to do for the first weeks of school, was going to help him. By the time they moved onto other stuff he was in the frame of mind that the rest of it was probably going to be useless as well.

It wasn't all bad he supposed. Outside lessons where he got to run around were good, and he'd always liked lunch.

As he'd not made any particular friends he sat on a table on his own at lunchtime. He wasn't alone for long though. He groaned as a gaggle of girls who apparently found him 'cute' sat down at his table. He didn't much like them, they seemed superficial and, he'd seen the other day when they'd picked on a small blonde girl who was in his class, capable of being very cruel.

"Hi Lloydey" they giggled as they settled themselves and unpacked lunch bags. The one sitting nearest him sort of curled round him in a gesture he didn't like. The way she had her hand around his arm reminded him of the cat he'd had to set Noishe on after it'd become too vicious towards the wildlife in his and Dirk's garden.

He shrugged out of the girl's grip and tried to concentrate on his lunch.

They were so loud and gesturing so obviously he couldn't help but notice they were gossiping about the small blonde girl. She'd come into the lunch room and was, as far as Lloyd could see, trying to hide from all the other students. She looked scared.

"Who is she?" he asked the girl sitting next to him.

"Who? Her?" the girl pointed so violently and spoke so loudly that the blonde visibly flinched in fear and tried even harder to make herself more hidden in the corner than she already was.

Lloyd felt sorry for her. She looked terrified and as far as he knew she'd done nothing wrong. Maybe the cat-like girl knew a reason why she was to being treated the way she was.

"She's Colette, the chosen one," the girl said in an 'airs and graces' tone.

"She's USELESS at sports" another girl said. "Did you see her yesterday? Kept falling over her own feet!"

"And just look at her! I mean there's no school uniform here, she can wear whatever she likes, but she chooses to wear that dowdy outfit!" another scoffed.

Lloyd thought the outfit looked rather nice, it suited her and was much nicer than the flashy, horrid clothes the girls at his table were wearing. He was getting more and more annoyed at the girls. Apparently there was no good reason for them to act that way towards Colette, and they'd clearly terrified the girl.

He got up as they were still talking about completely stupid reasons to put the girl down.

"Where are you going?" one of them asked when she noticed Lloyd was gathering up his stuff.

"I'm going to go and sit with Colette if she'll let me," he said.

"You're WHAT?!" they shrieked. Lloyd just rolled his eyes and walked over to the table in the corner of the room.

"Excuse me," he smiled when he got there. Colette jumped like she'd been stung by a wasp and whimpered quietly, obviously assuming she was in for more torture.

"S'alright, I don't mean you any harm. Mind if I come and sit here?" he gestured to an empty seat at her table. Colette nodded slowly, still looking a bit weary.

Lloyd plonked himself down in the chair and resumed eating his lunch. He noticed Colette had been doodling pictures of dogs on a scrap of paper next to her lunch.

"You like dogs?" he asked.

Colette nodded nervously.

"You should meet my dog, Noishi. He's huuuuuuuuuuge" Lloyd gestured, stretching his arms out wide. He leaned closer. "He's so big I can climb onto his back and ride across the fields out the back of my house!" he whispered like he was sharing a big secret.

Colette's eyes widened and she whispered back "really?" in a quiet and shy but excited tone.

"Yeap!" Lloyd nodded. "I'm Lloyd, Lloyd Irving, by the way."

"Colette Brunel" she said quietly.

"Nice to meet you!" he beamed at her. She nodded, seeming a little less shy.

"Ugh, I hate these," he held up some small pieces of fruit and stuck his tongue out. "You like?" he asked. Colette nodded.

"Help yourself," he smiled, pushing the container they were in to her side of the table. Then he attacked a sandwhich.

He looked up as he noticed movement out of the corner of his eye. Colette was pushing some chocolate from her lunch towards him.

"Please, help yourself, I'm not that hungry" she said so quietly he could barely hear her.

"Awwww, thanks!" he grinned, taking a piece. "I love chocolate!"

Colette smiled, clearly delighted, and took a piece of fruit.

The rest of lunch passed quietly, they didn't have much time to eat today.

When the bell rang to signify the end of lunch Colette leapt up and dashed away to the classroom. Lloyd guessed she was scared of running into the mean girls. He frowned, it wasn't fair.

He headed to class and half fell asleep as the teacher droned on about something that didn't hold his interest.

He was jolted out of a daydream when a piece of paper landed on his desk. He looked up saw Colette quickly turning back to face the front. She'd been the one who passed him the note then.

"Sorry" was scribbled on it in neat handwriting. He tore a sheet of paper from his notebook and quickly wrote "what for?" on it before folding up the note and leaning forward to drop it on her desk when the teacher turned around to write something on the chalkboard.

It was a while before the teacher turned around again after that, but when she did a piece of paper flew onto Lloyd's desk. He unfolded it.

"Those girls are probably mad and won't talk to you again after you sat next to me at lunch," it said.

Lloyd wrote a reply and, the next time the teacher turned around he not only put the note on Colette's desk but, impulsively, also jumped forward to sit on the bench next to Colette. He plopped his stuff on the desk as quietly as possible and pulled his bag from under the bench behind him to the new one by catching the handle with his foot and dragging it.

When the teacher turned to face the class again she noticed something was different, but when Lloyd flashed his best 'Who? Me?' grin she just rolled her eyes, sighed in the way that only old people can when they're exasperated about young people, and returned to teaching the lesson.

Colette passed his note back to him. Under his scribble saying "I don't care, I don't like them. They're horrid!" she'd drawn a cute smiley face and a little doggy. Lloyd smiled at her, and then tried his best to pay attention to the lesson. If his dad said it was important he guessed it must be, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out why knowing little rhymes about which harvests had been in which year would ever come in useful.