Disclaimer - Most unfortunately, Tales of Symphonia does not belong to me. Let it be known that if it did, Colloyd would have happened (would have happened clearly, I should say) and Sheena would have maintained a somewhat-too-obvious appreciation for handsome, redheaded, hero-worshipped playboys. Or at least one in particular.

Author - Chibi

Notes - Oh, I should start off by saying that this fic isn't really AU, but it does take place years before the gameplay starts (in which I've heard Lloyd is seventeen, Colette is sixteen, and Genis is twelve years old). I'm trying to mold this into a prelude to a certain side-quest of the game, and if you can figure out what that side-quest is, you get a really big cookie in the flavor of your choice! Lol.

Please read and review honestly, but not too harshly.

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Characters // Ages

Lloyd // 13

Colette // 12

Genis // 8

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Title - "Just Imagine"

Summary - Lloyd had never imagined a time when he wouldn't be able to protect Colette. Colette had never imagined a time when she and Genis would be kissing. Colloyd. Ish.

Dedication - Heh; to Silvie-chan! Because I brainwashed you into buying ToS and supporting Colloyd, too (though it wasn't that hard). And it's all worth it to have someone to talk to about it. Lol.

OoO

Lloyd had always been Colette's fierce protector. It was just how it was. Ever since they'd become friends oh-so many years ago, and ever since Colette had tried to be courageous enough to journey out of the village and visit Lloyd at his home with Dirk, he had been there to pull out his little wooden swords (hand-crafted, of course, and maintained by his father) and fight back any beasts who tried to harm her.

After all, Colette was special, for some reason he didn't completely understand, but that was how the mayor and Professor Raine kept explaining it to him, and so his blonde friend had never been able to escape the chains binding her to Iselia until then. It was after weeks upon weeks of pleading and begging and whining as young children did that everyone - Phaidra the most - agreed it wouldn't hurt to let Colette venture off to Dirk's, as long as someone was able to chaperone her.

And so Dirk told Lloyd to chop down a few branches from the backyard that could be molded and he taught his son how to make weapons, and how to fight to a degree.

All to protect Colette.

The mayor had never been more shocked than the first time he saw a ten year old Lloyd walking into town with his arms outstretched holding those two wooden blades. Professor Raine's only comment was to wonder why Lloyd never tried so hard to succeed in any of her lessons.

Colette's response? A very wide smile in thanks and a hug that threw her best friend to the ground. Finally she could maintain a little freedom; at least, to the degree that she wasn't constantly looked after - to the degree that she could spend some time with her friends without warily watching every step she took for the sake of those who watched her every step for her.

Genis was pretty impressed, too; as impressed as a five year old genius can be, anyway.

. . . But that was three years ago. Three years of successfully protecting Colette from anything that came their way; three years of stumbling and catching and training and enjoying life as much as possible despite all that.

Lloyd had never been able to imagine a time when he wouldn't be able to protect Colette. It just never seemed possible that that kind of thing could happen. Maybe he was just too proud of himself to think about it, or maybe nothing of the sort had ever really crossed his mind - (after all, it wasn't like the Professor was going to come out and say, quite clearly, that there would definitely be a time when he wouldn't be able to be Colette's hero) - but it was mostly beside the point, because it had finally happened.

Oh, he had his blades with him; to seem as responsible as possible, he never left them home. But that wasn't the problem now.

The problem was, Colette wasn't breathing.

Swords could do nothing to help that. And so Lloyd was trapped feeling as useless as he had been during that time years ago when he and Colette had begged for weeks and weeks to let her join him outside of the village. It was so horrible feeling the way he did now that it was pretty damned hard for him to breathe, too.

You see, the day started out normal enough for summertime. The skies were clear and blue, the clouds were powdery and thin, and the sun glaring down made the heat almost unbearable. So the three children - Lloyd, Colette, and Genis - as best friends often liked to do, asked if they could go out together; and they asked to visit the watering hole just outside of the village (about one-fourth mile away).

No one was sure, at first, how to tell them that they just couldn't allow Colette to spend the day where no one besides a thirteen year old boy and an eight year old elf just aging into his magic would be there to protect her. They were sure that Genis would understand, because he was Genis and understanding complex things was what he did. He wouldn't be happy about it at all, but they were sure he could manage. Lloyd, on the other hand. . .

. . . They weren't sure they could keep him from running off with Colette just to prove them wrong. Not that the two children would get far with guards stationed at every entrance to the village, but the point was, it was unlikely Lloyd would take it and decipher it the way his youngest friend would.

And, true to theory, when Professor Raine sat down with the three in their sweltering hot classroom (everyone had been dismissed early because it was just too hot to concentrate) and put the adults' thoughts into words, Lloyd jumped into the air.

"I don't get it; why can't we go? Colette will be okay, I'll be there to keep her safe!" He shouted angrily, misunderstanding everyone's overprotectiveness for his friend as a means to say he wasn't good enough to protect her. "I've been doing it right for years now, so you can't say I've got nothing to back me up!"

"Lloyd," the Professor sighed. Why Phaidra had thought such disappointing news would be best coming from her, she would never know, "We've said it before; there's something about Colette that we have to ensure and as strong as you are, there's nothing definitive here that states nothing will happen to her while you all are away from Iselia, away from your house, and right outside of the newly accommodated Desian territory."

"But, Professor. . . !" Lloyd tried again, but was interrupted.

"Professor Raine, if adult supervision is the problem, then why don't you come with us? You're smart and strong, and a healer, so if something does happen, we can always depend on you." Colette tried to reason.

"Well, you see, I'd love to, but. . ." The Professor started, physically edging away from them all at the thought of going near any source of water, ". . . unfortunately, I have papers to grade, and that's going to take up the rest of the afternoon. So, see, I'm unavailable."

"Well, how about Phaidra?" Genis asked.

"Meeting at the Church of Martel to discuss. . . er, something. . . with the priests."

"The mayor?" Lloyd bargained.

"Are you kidding? He's way too busy for something like this." Genis replied exasperatedly, "But. . . what about your dad?"

"He mentioned to me that he had a job lined up for someone out of town, so he's gonna be busy until late tonight. . ." Lloyd said, his voice dropping disappointedly towards the end.

Colette, noticing this, couldn't help her response.

"I'm sorry, guys. I know I'm causing you all trouble. If you still want to go, I can just wait here until you get back. Then maybe we can do something at. . . my house? Or Genis'." She smiled at them as if saying it was perfectly okay, but Lloyd wasn't having it.

"You're such a dork when you apologize!" He grinned back. "You're no trouble, definitely not to me! You're my best friend, right?" He turned back to the Professor and stared as solidly into her eyes as was possible. "Look, I know that this is maybe a lost battle, and that you guys are always worried over Colette, but. . . I give you my word that I will keep her safe."

Looking back at him, Raine realized this wasn't coming from the slightly obnoxious and otherwise lazy streak that Lloyd had begun to carry with him over the years of being the main person Colette depended on. This came from a place deeper than that, one where he recognized the need and hope to keep the girl always safe.

As she thought about this more and more, Raine found herself giving in.

". . . Fine."

There was a simultaneous, "whoop," from the three sitting in front of her, and she couldn't help wondering what the consequences were going to be for her allowing this, despite what she'd been told to do and say in regards.

"But I'm putting her in your hands, you two!" She reprimanded, halting the cheering all at once, "You know what Colette means to this village now, and the world, so if something happens, it's on you!"

"Don't worry, Professor; you know you can count on me!" Lloyd stated, jabbing a thumb at his own chest and winking arrogantly.

"So that means, Genis, that you're in charge - the leader - here," their teacher said, ignoring the double-blade wielder.

". . . Hey!" Lloyd shouted, watching as his elven friend nodded to his sister and listened to the rules she laid out for them all, ". . . Oh, well."

"Hey, Lloyd, let's go get ready!" Colette said excitedly, jumping from her seat and grabbing his hand, pulling him out the door into the hall.

"Lloyd doesn't take anything seriously. . ." Genis stated skeptically, watching them go before turning back to face his older sibling.

". . . But it might not be such a bad thing; for right now, at least."

The three children ran home and pulled on their bathing suits before heading out of the village with Raine leading them to the gate. She smiled at the guard stationed there as if to ask him to keep it a secret that Colette was running off with two boys, and he sighed, but nodded.

"You just have to promise to stay safe, and don't do anything you might regret later!" He shouted after them as they took off.

Lloyd, Colette, and Genis rampaged through the pathways where overgrown mosses and branches hung. Acting the gentleman and as a means to keep his best friend under his watchful eye, Lloyd held back the brambles that would otherwise catch her on her bare shoulder.

"Thanks, Lloyd!" She grinned at him as she ran through. Feeling very bubbly inside at the sight of his best friend so happy, Lloyd forgot to hold the branch for Genis, too, and it swung at him, almost striking him in the head.

Luckily, Genis was pretty short, so he was able to avoid it fairly easy. However, it didn't stop him from taking the incident offensively.

Staying on the path and moving quickly and silently prevented the three children from being attacked by random beasts, so they made it to the pool of water without much of a hitch.

Lloyd dropped his pants to reveal boxers (listen to the fangirls scream!), and Genis stared at him.

"Why didn't you just go home and find your swimming trunks?"

"Eh, it would have taken too long. It took us awhile to convince the Professor to let us come here, and just as long to actually make it through Iselia forest, so. . ." He nodded pointedly at Colette, who'd run straight at the water and stopped at the edge to stare excitedly into it.

And you know how much she's looking forward to this. He thought to his youngest friend, who seemed to hear him and silently agreed.

". . . Oh, you know what, guys?" Colette turned to stare at them with a hand embarrassedly placed behind her head, "I forgot to say. . . I don't know how to swim!"

On some level, the two boys were exasperated. It was just like their blonde friend to forget something like that up until the moment it really mattered. However, it was probably a wonderful thing that she hadn't blurted it out right in front of Professor Raine because, otherwise, they might not have made it. Though, it did make sense. Other than the trips to Lloyd's house, Colette had never even stepped outside of her home village, so where would she have learned how to float or mull water? In her bathtub?

"Well, then we'll just have to teach you." Genis said, running forward and jumping cannonball-style into the water.

Colette watched, fascinated, as he breached the surface and just floated there, taking notice of the way he moved his arms.

"And my feet, too. You use your feet to propel you forward, or up, in this case." He said, noting how she paid attention.

"So. . . you can just float? Just like that?" She asked, pointing at him.

"Yep; oh, but it'll be even easier for you! Girls have a different body type than guys, so floating comes more naturally to them."

"Really? That's good, because it looks sort of hard for you to stay up the way you're doing it. . ." She said, kneeling down and sitting in front of him and edging one of her ankles under the surface.

"Hah! You haven't seen anything yet, Colette!" Lloyd shouted from behind, running at his topmost speed and jumping like a rabbit, higher than what Genis had been able to manage. The splash he made was spread so wide that it even reached Colette outside of the water, over seven meters away.

"Wow, it's cold!" She said, giggling and putting her arms up in front of her head to keep her braided hair dry.

"Awe, what's the point of that? Once you get in here, your hair's going to be soaked anyway!" Lloyd laughed in response, "C'mon, it feels really good!" And he started sloshing more water around invitingly with his arms.

"Okay, okay; I get it." Colette reached her feet again, her arms stiffly at her side, took a deep breath so that her cheeks bulged, and leapt.

It was cold, just as it had been before when she'd first felt it, but it was still relieving to be away from the sun that was burning her before. Realizing that she was sort of just wavering there underwater, she started flapping her arms in what seemed to be slow motion from the weight of the water, until she was able to join Lloyd and Genis above her.

"See? S'not that hard!" The burgundy-haired boy said as clearly as possible, swimming at her from his slight distance. Colette could only marvel at his skills as she tried as hard as she could simply to stay afloat.

"I. . . I want to know how to do that! Can you teach me, Lloyd?" She asked innocently, holding her arms out to her sides and swirling them almost helplessly underwater every couple seconds when she felt the water cover her nose. Luckily, the lake floor was just short of her height, so she was able to bounce every once and awhile on the balls of her feet.

"Sure, but it could take you some time to get as skilled at it as I am!" He replied confidently.

"Oh, don't lie, Lloyd. . ." Genis scoffed, flipping over to them, "You know you just learned about a year or so ago, and only because I was there to teach you."

". . . F - feh! Right; like I wouldn't have gotten it on my own, eventually." A pinkish tint grew on the oldes boys cheeks.

It was like that for the rest of the afternoon. The three chlidren whiled away the hours laughing and teaching Colette how to float and move swiftly even though the water slowed it down somewhat, and at last, they were able to play games, too. Things like, "Mithos, Goddess," water tag; they performed a few tricks and raced from shoreline to shoreline until, finally, Genis acknowledged both how tired he was, and the time.

"We should go soon. It's risky to stay here too much longer with Colette, and we're going to be too tired and hungry to fight soon if we run into anything on our way back," he noted, grabbing onto the landfall closest to where they'd left their clothes and hopping out.

"Yeah, I guess you're right. . . Colette?" Lloyd turned and glanced at Colette who was paddling like an animal with her brow furrowed in concentration. "Uhm, yeah, we need to leave soon, okay?"

She stopped for a moment, about eleven meters from the two and waved at them to let them know she'd heard.

"I just want to practice a little while longer! Just one more circling around!" She said, waiting for their consent before continuing on her way.

Lloyd decided that he'd stay in, too, just to watch out for her, and therefore, slowly started following the length of the pool she'd trekked so far.

"I - I think I'm getting the hang of it--!" Colette stated all of a sudden. . . and then she vanished.

Lloyd hoped to Martel that it had been a trick of the lack of light, since it was getting darker and it was always easy to miss something, or be off about it.

"Colette. . . ?" He called out uncertainly, but there was no reply.

And then, just as suddenly as she'd vanished, the top of her head bobbed up to the surface and she gasped a few times, splashing around before disappearing again.

It took Lloyd an extra second to realize that something was obviously wrong, and he sailed after the spot he'd seen her last. Unfortunately, that one minuscule extra second was all it took for Colette to sink far past the lake floor that they'd been residing in, because she hadn't noticed the immediate drop and had not been skilled enough yet to prevent herself from falling.

"C - Colette!" He shouted, diving down, down, deep and blinking his eyes open to catch sight of her as her eyes closed and her fighting ceased. She hadn't been able to take enough air in to keep herself conscious before she'd lost out again, and Lloyd, realizing this, tried to move even faster than he was, though it wasn't really possible.

The only reason he'd really started catching up to her was because her falling had slowed down. . . and she'd begun to rise back up; that could mean nothing good.

He grabbed her by the hand and pulled, yanking her over his shoulder. The exertion of that move was enough for him to lose a bit of the oxygen he'd dared to hold in upon trying to rescue her. And now he had to succeed in the what-seemed-to-be impossible feat of carrying them both to the surface without his arms to help support their weight.

He looked over at her and grew frightened at the ghostly pale look of her skin against the colour of the water. Hopefully that was only due to the comparison of the fading light of the sun flickering off of her face.

. . . But flickering light, no matter how dim, meant only one thing. He was close. His legs were starting to feel stretched to their limits, but he kept pushing and, just before he breached the surface and shouldered Colette to get her as far out of the water as possible, he heard Genis shouting his name.

". . . Lloyd, what's going on? What happened?" He exclaimed, his kendama out and a small Fireball shadowing above it to give off some extra light.

"G - Genis," the brown-haired boy gasped repeatedly, holding Colette's face close to his own and inspecting her to see if she was okay. . . but she remained unmoving. "C'mere; something's wrong!"

Without a second thought, Genis threw his kendama to the forest floor, the fire going out before even touching the grass, and he jumped back into the watering hole, kicking as fast as he could to get to his friends.

"We have to get her to the surface. . . ! I don't know what it is, but she isn't waking up!" Lloyd breathed even harder as Genis shouldered Colette's right side and the two boys worked together to propel them to land.

It was another few minutes before they got there, and throughout that span of time they shook Colette by the arms they were holding and called out to her, but there was no response.

Genis hopped out again first because it was faster and easier for Lloyd to push his best friend up into the air and for the elf to start to pull. The blonde-haired girl toppled onto the grass and rolled over, but she still didn't move. As Lloyd hurriedly leapt out of the water as well, Genis took notice of her slumped back, which would normally be moving softly - up and down - with her intake of air.

". . . Lloyd. . ." Genis sounded scared, and Lloyd hoped beyond anything that it had nothing to do with Colette. Unfortunately, his hopes were in vain. ". . . I d - don't think that. . . she's breathing."

And that was where they were currently. Time stood still in that moment with Genis trying to read as much into the situation as possible and Lloyd standing there feeling stupid and hopeless and unable to do anything.

. . . And Colette laying there limply.

OoO

Notes - Oh, no; I'm very sure that there's some unscientific something going on there, but I don't want to dwell on it. I'm too proud; I'm finally finished the first chapter of my first ToS and Colloyd fic! Yes! I'm hoping that statements weren't too repetitive grammar-wise. I was kind of. . . out of it during the two days I spent typing this up. . .

And, so no one asks about it; the game I made out of the blue entitled, "Mithos, Goddess," is. . . let's say. . . Sylvarant's variation of, "Marco Polo." Lol.

Forgive me and review - as stated above - honestly.