Title: Gracious Queen of Deception

Theme: 8. Wear a Crown of Snapdragons (from Ichiruki community)

Characters/Pairing: Ichigo/Rukia

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Notes: All flowers have a special meaning, sometimes, several meanings. For example, marigold can mean grief and despair. A dark crimson rose means mourning. And snapdragons? They stand for "gracious lady" and deception.

Also, this takes place just after Rukia is brought back to Soul Society, and before Ichigo arrives.

When she was younger, she used to weave herself a crown of flowers on the day she had chosen for her birthday. Every year, she would chose a different flower and weave the stems together to create her crown, which she would then place upon her head. Usually, it was winter at that time, and the pickings were slim, but she made do with what she could find or steal. Renji and the others would all laugh at her, but she refused to let their taunts bother her on her special day and would walk off to find a tree to climb. She would climb as high as she possibly could and with her flower crown on her head, be Queen of a world where nothing could touch her.

And then, death came to her world.

After her third brother had died (the district was no place for children, after all), she made three small flower wreaths, which she placed on each grave, and told Renji she wanted to become a Soul Reaper.

She could admit to herself now that she had been trying to escape the jaws of death. She really should have known better. Death is all-powerful and can never be stopped.

Life at the academy was hard. Harder than she expected, but that was because she found, that upon coming to the academy she had lost Renji. Renji had no time for her anymore; he was too busy running ahead, driven by ambition. Rukia wasn't driven by ambition; she just wanted to escape death. And so she watched as he ran ahead and forgot about the girl who was his family. She made a crown of marigold for all those years she was at the academy.

And then she was adopted into the Kuchiki family. And she stopped making flower crowns altogether. Her birthday was now a cold formal affair, of which it felt like she wasn't even a part. She placed a dark crimson rose (which she stole from the garden) in the vase beside her bed, and watched as it slowly withered in its elegant vase, and understood exactly how it felt.

Even Lieutenant Kaien's wonderful friendship could not help her to escape that feeling, although she could not ask for a better friend. He once promised to remain her friend even after his death, and starting her next birthday, she began preserving her stolen withered roses.

But then she killed him. And something died within her.

Her Captain and squad watched her with tight lips and worried eyes as she went about life with little to no interest. Her Captain had the most trouble talking to her; he knew that it was his fault that the girl's eyes were dead. Her brother never said anything whenever he came upon her training with her Zanpakuto in the garden, but she never said anything to him either. On her birthday that year, she awoke to find the vase full of fresh roses, the same kind she had been stealing for years. She burned them all, never once questioning how they had ended up in her room, and wondered why she hadn't died that day too.

There were no more flowers for many years.

And then, he came crashing into her world. And she remembered how to live once more. She wasn't quite sure how it happened, but soon he became the centre of her broken world, and she became his (not that either would have admitted it). If she had put any thought into it, she would have called him her best friend, and he would most likely have done the same. And for the first time in a very long while, Rukia Kuchiki was very happy.

But if there is anything that she has learned in all of her years: happiness is very short lived.

When he defeated the Menos Grande, Rukia knew that the time had come to say goodbye. But she would not go without leaving him a gift . . . Ichigo had been born to be a Soul Reaper, unlike herself, and he still had so much to live to see – vengeance for his mother, for one . . . and so, she decided that she would allow him to keep her power. She decided to leave without saying goodbye; it was too hard to form the words, and she would rather remember only the good times.

She really should have known better.

Her brother and Renji came, and the boy – Ichigo died thinking that she hated him. Her last memory of him was not one that she wished to remember, but one that she held onto as tightly as she could: that of the look of betrayal on his face as she bit out harsh, hurtful words and left him to die, spared from the edge of her brother's sword.

Now, as she sat in the middle of the holding cell, ignoring the hunger pangs of her stomach, she remembered the boy she had left behind. And although she didn't have any flowers (they were considered a thing of pleasure, and were therefore forbidden to the criminal), her hands still made the motions, and in her mind she made a crown of snapdragons in memory of the boy – no, man, who had come to be her most important person in such a short while.

She would not fight the coming of death and she would welcome it into her arms for her crime of deception. She wondered if it would have Ichigo's face.

Author's Note:

I would like to start this author's note by first off apologizing to anyone who has suffered because of this. This was not my intention and I did wish to deal with this problem on a private level so that both my and my fellow writer, Silence's individual concerns with regards to this situation could be addressed and dealt with in a way that would have been beneficial to us both. Unfortunately, this was not possible and so I have been forced to try to communicate with Silence in the public's eyes, and so I apologize for that, as I did not mean to bring anyone else into this situation.

As some of you know and some of you don't know, I have recently come into conflict with a fellow writer and a fan of my work - Silence. The reason for this conflict was the fact that Silence was using several ideas from my work in her own fiction, without asking me first if she could do so. Now, normally I would not have a problem with this, as I can understand the fact that we are all influenced, by what we read, and that sometimes we end up incorporating that idea into our stories without realizing it, which is what happened in this case. I admit that I was very flattered that a couple of my stories were able to inspire someone to write several insightful stories of their own. It is a very beautiful feeling, and I especially loved Silence's own view of the zanpaktou's connection to their master's soul.

However, my opinion changed when Silence again updated her story "Denial" and this time took the final scene from my story "To Make Her Smile" and rewrote it into her own work. This time, I felt that I had the right to be concerned simply because the details in both scenes were the same right down to point of view being used to describe this scene. I apologize again if I did overstep my place here, it is just that Silence is a very talented author who has some fantastic ideas, and I felt that she did not have to reuse my scene in order to make her brilliant story work. I also admit that because of this one instance, I no longer viewed the previous instances in the same light that I had before, and that is why I initially asked for Silence to remove those references to my ideas as well.

Unfortunately, I was not clear enough in my initial letter about what exactly my problem was, for which I have been hitting myself over the head several times. Silence explained to me that that scene had been unintentionally placed into her story and I was immediately sorry that I had acted so rashly. Sadly, I was not able to contact Silence either privately or fast enough to explain my reasons to her before she decided to swear off writing fanfiction forever. I've told Silence that I am willing and able to ignore the early instances as I had before, but I asked her to please re-write the latest chapter of her story "Denial" and to take out my scene. I think that this is a reasonable request because Silence has many wonderful ideas and I would love to see her own thoughts about this arc of the manga.

I have asked Silence to contact me because I would really like to talk to her and create a solution to this conflict that is beneficial to the both of us. Sadly, I have not heard from her yet, but I remain hopeful, as thankfully she has decided not to give up writing, and I am eternally grateful to her friend Angel for convincing her to continue writing as she shows a great deal of talent and I would love the chance to see that talent grow. However, I understand that it is difficult at the moment for her to email me, so I just hope that she will get in contact with me at some point in time and that way we can work out this problem together.

I apologize again for making this all public and for bothering the readers who come here to read fiction, not two authors in the middle of a conflict. And I hope that this issue can be solved as peacefully as possible.

Thank you for your time,

Green Amber