One-shot that's sort of angst, sort of fluff, set before the game when Lloyd and Colette are still at school and fairly young.

SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers about Lloyd's past. If you don't know about his past and don't want to know then please don't read this until you do.

Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Symphonia. I believe that Namco own it.

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There were, Lloyd thought, some times when you just needed to get away from the world for a bit, to just hide away for a while. Now was one of those times. The Professor had been particularly impatient with him in class and some of their classmates had been giving Colette hassle again. While it would have been nice to go outside for their lunch he didn't feel like dealing with any taunts, threats or bullying today and so he'd settled under a desk with Colette inside their classroom.

They'd made quite a comfortable den underneath the desk, having draped some pieces of fabric over it to turn it into a kind of tent. It was nice because it felt like a hidden away place where no one could find them, even though he knew that the Professor knew where they were, he'd seen her walking past the window several times to check on them, something she was able to do as the fabric didn't reach right to the floor. He got the feeling that, perhaps, if it had been anyone else inside the classroom she might have marched into the room and demanded that they went outside. He thought that it was possible that she understood that he and Colette needed some space right now though.

Sometimes it was tough being raised by a dwarf and your mother being dead. Life must be even more difficult for Colette, considering what she had to go through, he thought. Not that you'd have been able to tell that by looking at her at that moment. She was nibbling on a cookie while tapping a blank piece of paper with a pencil, thinking about what she wanted to draw. Several completed drawings surrounded her on the floor.

"That one's really nice," he said, pointing to a drawing of a squirrel.

"Thanks," Colette replied quietly, blushing. "I saw it when I looked out of the window earlier, I thought it was cute."

Lloyd nodded and shifted a little on the cushion he was sitting on. He looked around the classroom, trying to spot things to add to their den to make it even more comfortable.

"Shall I move that plant into here? It looks a bit lonely on that shelf over there," he asked the little blonde who was now working on another picture and reaching absentmindedly for another biscuit. She looked up from her drawing and turned her attention to the plant.

"Yes, I think that'd be nice," she spoke softly, nodding.

Lloyd crawled out from under the desk and walked over to the window. He paused beside it for a moment, looking out at the other children in the playground, then fetched the plant off the shelf and returned to the den. He placed the plant down on the floor in the middle of the den area, nodded, pleased with how it looked, then settled back down on his cushion.

"Mind if I?" he started to ask, nodding at a blank sheet of paper. Colette smiled and handed it to him, moving the pencil case full of drawing pencils closer to him so he could select one to draw with.

He grinned and thanked Colette as she then passed him a cookie. She shyly made an 'it's nothing' type of gesture then returned to her drawing. He ate the cookie then picked up a book to rest his paper on and began drawing himself.

They didn't say much for the rest of the lunch break, just sat together drawing and passing the box of biscuits between them. It was nice, however, Lloyd thought, to have Colette's companionship. Somehow he felt that the break wouldn't have been as nice if he'd been sat drawing on his own. He probably would have just sat at the desk, wouldn't have thought to make a little den. Colette seemed to really appreciate the little space they'd created though which pleased him although he wasn't sure why. He shrugged, guessing it was because she was such a good friend and it was nice to be able to make your friends happy.

She was so shy, she seemed so fragile, he could tell that she often felt weary and afraid, even though she tried to hide those emotions with smiles and reassurances that she was fine. Here she seemed comfortable however, as though she felt the way he did, that it was as if no one could disturb them here.

Suddenly the bell signalling the end of break time rang. It seemed particularly loud. Colette sighed sadly, knowing that the noise meant they'd have to dismantle the den and, in a few minutes, would have to return to the world of lessons Lloyd couldn't quite understand and classmates who tried to get away with making her feel uncomfortable and unhappy whenever they thought they could do so without the Professor noticing them. A world they'd left behind for the blissful past half-hour or so. Lloyd frowned, understanding the emotion in her sigh, he felt it himself.

They shuffled their drawings into a neat pile and put the pencils back in the pencil case. Lloyd moved to pick up the plant so he could return it to the shelf he'd taken it from but paused as Colette grabbed his hand in her own. She squeezed his hand very tightly for a moment. He looked up from the plant to her face and found her expression easier to read than even the most simplest books they'd been asked to read in class. The hand squeeze and the look on her face meant "thank you". He smiled, patted the hand she'd clasped around his with his free one then reluctantly she let go of his hand, picking up the cushions as he picked up the plant.

"Tomorrow?" he offered quietly, wondering if she'd want to spend their next lunch break in the same way as they'd spent that one.

"Tomorrow," she nodded, her tone firm and positive.