Naminé had taken to the library a lot recently. She had found so many books of all sorts of subjects that she would love to read. She'd particularly found herself enjoying a fantasy series written by an author called Ursula K. Le Guin. Having just finished A Wizard of Earthsea, the young Nobody was returning to the library to search for the next book in the series.
Turning the corner, Naminé bumped into someone who'd been coming down the corridor. Immediately, she apologized before looking up to see a familiar face. "Marluxia!" she exclaimed, both surprised and a little frightened to have run into the former Lord of Castle Oblivion. She took a step backwards, almost afraid of what Marluxia would say or do. Yes, he had said that he'd leave her alone for the most part, but she didn't exactly trust him.
He'd had a hunch about the library, and was rather pleased when it was proved correct - though he was startled when she bumped into him, blinking and reaching a hand to steady her gently automatically. He paused a moment, then relaxed and smiled at her faintly, releasing her shoulder as he let his hands fall to his sides. "Ah, Namine. I was looking for you..."
Naminé gathered her courage to face Marluxia; even now she still had a hard time talking to him. "And why would you be looking for me?" she asked, the worry that Marluxia might be up to his old plans again coming to her and just barely noticeable in her voice.
He paused, then gave her a wry smile. "Not for any reason you're thinking of, I'm sure. I merely wished to show you something..." A small pause. "Ah, also - do you have your art supplies with you...?"
Naminé gave a worried little pout. She couldn't be quite sure of that. "Alright," she said after a moment. "My art supplies are in my room, if you don't mind making a detour." She turned to head back down the hall.
"That's fine; I'd like you to bring them." He followed easily, arms folding over his chest as he watched her, speaking quietly after a moment. "How do you like it here, so far?"
Naminé had to be curious about what Marluxia was up to. The last time he'd had her bring her art supplies with her when he wanted to talk to her was at Castle Oblivion. Suspicions were rising within her mind. She continued down the hallway without saying anything about what she was thinking. "It's a wonderful world," she said. "So many people are here and there's so many things to do here. It's..." she hesitated. "It's a nice change to what I've known."
Marluxia's response was a faint smile as he glanced at her. "I'm glad to hear that... it is rather pleasant here, isn't it? Plenty of fascinating people... and plenty of room for my garden."
Naminé gave a light nod, surprised that Marluxia wasn't upset or offended by her subtle remark on Castle Oblivion. Sure, she hadn't outright said that this place was better than the castle, but really, what else had she known? "I've seen the gardens recently," she said. "They're looking lovely."
Just because she was a bit frightened of Marluxia still didn't mean that she couldn't compliment him. She did like him, despite everything that had gone on.
Considering Marluxia's current change of heart - pun unintended - he bore the slight to Castle Oblivion far better than he would have at the beggining of his stay here. Regaining his heart, for as brief a period of time as it had been, had given him much to think about... and regret.
He was pleased by the compliment, though, and didn't hesitate to show it, smiling a tad smugly. "Thank you. I'm pleased with how they're coming along; plus there's ample oppertunity to experiment..."
As they talked, Naminé remembered how the two of them had been before everything had gone down. She had missed just being able to talk and be friends with Marluxia and talking to him now reminded her of those days. It made her relax a bit, really.
Upon reaching her room, Naminé opened the door and stepped in. "I'll be back out in a moment," she said. She turned and went deeper into the room. After a moment, true to her word, she came back out, her sketchbook and pencils in her arms.
He nodded as she entered the room, giving her a brief smile. "No rush." It wasn't as if it was going anywhere, after all - if there was any reason to hurry it was only because Marluxia was anxious to have Namine's reaction.
He smiled at her again, fleeting, when she reappeared, uncrossing his arms and pushing off from the wall. "Shall we go, then?"
"Just lead the way," Naminé said. She'd follow Marluxia, if only out of curiosity to see what it was that he was so intent on showing her and out of respect for someone she still cared about.
He gave her a half smile, moving to do so. "I'm sure you're curious as to what this is about... bear with me for a little longer. It would ruin it if I told you about it before hand."
Naminé nodded. "Alright. I'll wait, then." She closed the door to her room and began to follow Marluxia as he moved.
It wasn't far to the gardens themselves, and Marluxia led her to the very edge before stopping, smiling faintly again. "Now... do you trust me enough to close your eyes for a moment, Namine?" If not, he'd simply take her there, but he rather thought the effect would be better this way.
She hesitated, then. Not quite sure of how much she trusted Marluxia, Naminé kept her eyes open. She wanted to trust him again, she really did. Thus, a first step towards regaining that trust needed to be made. After a moment, she nodded her head and let her eyes fall shut.
He watched her, quiet and not pushing for a decision - this was up to her, not him. He wanted to make amends, yes, but he wasn't going to ask more of Naimne than she was willing to give; he owed her that much, at the least. A faint smile appearing again as she complied, he reached down and gently took her hand in a loose grip, leading her forward into the garden. He was silent a moment as they walked, before halting and speaking quietly after a moment. "Now... open your eyes."
He'd spent quite a bit of time on this area, and was rather proud of it. Most of the flowers were his own hybrid creations, and the one most prominantly featured was a delicate white blossom, almost star-shaped - when the light hit the petals, they almost seemed to shine, bathing the small clearing in an almost golden glow. He was particularly proud of that particular flower... there were others there, as well, splashes of color blending together in a soft, quiet sort of way. He watched her with a faint smile, waiting for her reaction.
When Marluxia told her to open her eyes, she did so, slowly. She knew she was in the garden, her nose catching the floral scents all around her. Her eyes widened as she took in the sights of the garden. She couldn't hold back an awed gasp as she looked around.
"Oh, my," Naminé breathed. She stepped further into the gardens, the glow from the flowers reflecting off the white dress she wore. "This...is amazing." She approached a bunch of flowers and let her fingers wander cautiously over the petals.
Pleased with the reaction, Marluxia was content to watch her for a moment, tone pleased and faintly amused when he spoke. "I haven't named them yet. Would you like to...?"
Naminé looked up at Marluxia, surprised. "I...I couldn't," she said. "They're your creations..." Admittedly, she'd like to name them, she just had no clue what to name a flower. That was Marluxia's area of expertise, not hers. She just liked to draw them and admire them.
He gave a soft laugh. "Yes, but I made them for you; it'd be perfectly appropriate for you to name them." He pointed out, still faintly amused and rather pleased with himself.
Naminé blushed. "Y-you really didn't need to do this," she stammered. It was strange and a little flattering that Marluxia had, though. "I..." She quieted, looking back at the flowers and letting her fingers run delicately over them again. "This one..." she said, softly. "This one seems like starfire."
"I want to." Was the quiet response to that, smiling at her faintly. "I know it's not nearly enough to amend for what I've done, but... it's a start." He watched her, smile turning pleased again. "Yes... that's what I had in mind."
Naminé was genuinely touched that Marluxia wanted to make amends. Despite not having her own heart, having been born of a heart so pure, she could easily pass as human with her so seemingly-real emotions. She quieted down again, head bowed towards the flowers. With the overwhelming sense of emotion going through her small body, she had to work to keep from crying. After a long, silent moment, she took a soft breath. "Thank you, Marluxia..."
He hesitated a moment, watching her and feeling the first real pang of uncertainty. He hadn't upset her, had he...? He rather hoped not, as that had been the last thing he'd wanted; he wasn't used to being thoughtful, or anything of the like, after all... he normally didn't care how badly he offended people.
He relaxed at her words, though, smiling at her gently. "You're welcome. I'm glad you like them..."
Naminé stepped back from the flowers she had named the starfire and went around the small clearing to admire the rest of Marluxia's handiwork. She took in each color, shape, and texture, amazed at some of the results that the former Lord of Castle Oblivion had gotten.
"May I...take a few for my room?" she asked softly.
"Of course." Came the pleased response, watching her as she moved among the various flowers with the same pleased smile. "Take as many as you like. They should last fairly well..."
With an artist's eye, Naminé was able to make a selection of flowers that would look best in her room, which has been painted a light dusty lavender color. She carefully picked these, gathering a good sized bouquet.
"Thank you, Marluxia," she said, giving the older Nobody a soft smile. "Thank you so much."
He smiled back at her, faintly, eying her collection with approval. "You're welcome. You're free to take as many as you like, as well as to come here any time - I've marked the path safely."
As glad as she was that Marluxia was beginning to act like the person she had once known and trusted, Naminé couldn't help but wonder if it was all just so that Marluxia could use her again. The old phrase "once bitten, twice shy" could very easily be applied to her at the moment. She hesitated again, her mind thinking back to Castle Oblivion. For her, it hadn't been that long since the events took place and everything was fresh in her memory. Even with her power over memory, she couldn't forget what happened, though she wanted to.
"Thank you, Marluxia," she said, voice soft and distracted. She held the bouquet she'd selected with loose fingers as she looked at the ground. Again she was holding back tears. She was happy to see a glimpse of the old Marluxia, but at the same time, she was frightened by what this change could mean.