okumen: Cinderella | Dictatorial Grimoire (5)
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Akagami no Shirayukihime
Zen pays Shirayuki a quick visit, as she works in one of the greenhouses.
Happy Valenties day, Sam!

“I like her; I could watch her the rest of my life.“
— Philip K. Dick

When he entered the greenhouse, at first he couldn’t see her.

“Zen!” He heard her clear voice call across the greenhouse, and he could finally locate her. Zen made his way along the path running between the many flower beds, past the colorful clusters blooming in the wet earth.

“Zen, did you need something?” Shirayuki asked, and he chuckled. It was always right to business with her while she was working. But he liked that about her. “I wanted to see you while I have a break,” he said, taking in her whole appearance. “Garrack told me where to find you.”

Her eyes were sparkling with energy as she looked up at Zen. Her gloves were stained with green from the flowers she worked with, and her hair was dishevelled, while her cheeks were a rosy hue of pink, from the excitement she felt as she worked.

“Where’s Obi?” he asked. he couldn’t see him anywhere, and surely he would have made himself known already, had he had been there. “He’s helping Ryuu, they’ll be back in a bit,” she assured him. Zen nodded at that, and sat down against the edge of a flower bed, careful not to disturb any of the flowers in it.

She was cutting off vibrant roses from their bushes, removing the thorns with the shears in her hand.

“Are you using them for medicine?” Zen asked, a few minutes into watching her. It was soothing, watching her work. He enjoyed it, and she always seemed to enjoy the company, even when they were not speaking.

Shirayuki nodded, her gaze never leaving her work. “Yes,” she said. “We’re going to dry them, and then they can be used to create medicines to cure things like headaches, aid digestion, and it can also be used in anti-inflammatory remedies as well as help with stress and depression, among other things.” Shirayuki deftly cut off the thorns from the stems, a practiced ease in the motion, before she put them in the big wooden bucket among the others she had already cut. She repeated the procedure with each rose she cut away from the bushes. As she continued to work, she proceeded to explain the way the roses helped with various ailments, and how the medicines were prepared, how long they were stored, how they were taken. Although Zen didn’t fully understand it all, he listened intently, memorizing what he could.

When she spoke about the medicines that she had learned how to make since she came to Clarines she glowed, sparkling like the sun, and her eyes glowed a warm emerald green, more beautiful than any precious gem. But more than anything her smile was the most beautiful, taking his breath away each time the corners of her lips tilted upwards, each time small dimples showed, each time her laughter passed her lips. He couldn’t tear his eyes from her, as she spoke with such bright energy and academic clarity.

He found himself asking questions, although things did not always get clearer in his mind. She was such a hard worker and so dedicated, he was impressed and encouraged by her all over again.

As she worked, she moved along the rows of bushes, and he helped her move the buckets she were filling with roses of such a variety of colors, although it was clear that she didn’t actually need his help.

“You’re only taking some?” Zen asked, after the third time she had moved while leaving behind clusters of roses still blooming. She shook her head, causing her apple-red hair to brush against her neck. He wanted to reach out, to kiss that spot, but he held himself back. She was working, he couldn’t very well interrupt her more than he already had.

“You’re really amazing, Shirayuki,” he said suddenly. A gentle smile was upon his face, and Shirayuki looked at him with startled eyes wide at the suddenness of the statement.

Then Shirayuki’s face turned a tint of red, different from the pink already dusting them, and she looked away, down at the ground.

At least that was what he thought, but then he noticed how a focused gleam appeared in her eyes, as they scanned something she was looking at.

She tucked some of her hair behind an ear, a subconscious movement that left a pale streak of green against her cheek. Zen followed her gaze, down to where it rested upon the roses in the bucket. He was still watching it when she shifted, and he heard the shears cut smoothly through another stem, across it under the thorns, and he looked up when he saw her move closer and lean forward. He first saw her lips, slightly parted with the tip of her tongue between her teeth in concentration, and he wanted to kiss her.

Her hands were in his hair then, he realized, and she sat back against her heels and met his gaze. Her cheeks were still a little red, but she didn’t look the least embarrassed as she smoothed out her uniform and apron. “You need to go back now, don’t you?”

Zen blinked in surprise, hand halfway raised to touch what he felt tangled in his hair, behind his ear. “Eh?” Shirayuki motioned towards the greenhouse door which he had entered through, and when he looked over, he saw Kiki stand there waiting for him. Shirayuki waved at her, and Kiki returned it calmly with a smile, then she turned back to Zen, waving a hand in dismissal with a laugh in her voice. “Shoo now, Zen, you have work to do as well, don’t you?”

A laugh slipped out of Zen, and he sighed, a smile on his lips. “I suppose that I do,” he agreed. He leaned forward, kneeling on one knee, and brushed a palm against her cheek, his thumb touching the green stain on it. “Shirayuki, I’ll see you tonight.” She nodded and he blushed when she leaned in to press her lips against his cheek. “Yes,” she said.

Then she pulled away, showing that she was going to continue harvesting roses a while longer. He watched her a few more moments, then headed for the door to meet Kiki.

“It’s a rose, isn’t it?” he asked her, knowing that he didn't actually have to ask what it was that Shirayuki had placed in his hair. Kiki nodded in affirmation.

“It’s a very beautiful red,” she pointed out. “The same as Shirayuki’s hair.”

Zen smiled gently, brushing his fingertips gently against the soft petals, cool against his skin. The same color as her hair.

Red is the color of fate.

It’s also the color, in a rose, that says ‘I love you.’


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