Author's note: Here's the story for Day Two! The prompt I picked was "Hydrangea", focusing on the actual flower rather than the meanings attributed to it. This is also the first time I'm writing a DGM story set in canon, so I'm nervous that the characters won't fit canon (you know, aside from the fact that Allen is a girl in this story).

Warnings: PokerPair; Fem!Allen; Canon setting (after Destruction of the Black Order arc and before Disappearance of Cross Marian arc); Some angst (I think?); Possible spoilers for people who only watch the anime (Destruction of the Black Order arc is manga-only); Borrowing from actual history; Some hurt/comfort; A twenty-six year old secretly courting a sixteen year old (who is capable of giving consent in my home state… still, no sex here); Probable OOC-ness

Disclaimer: D. Gray – Man belongs to Katsura Hoshino alone.


Beat Of My Heart

- xXx -

"The light delicate blush of the petals reminds me of a beating heart, while the size could only match the heart of the sender!"

- Tan Jun Yong, florist

- x -

Ellen was never very good with plants.

Well, ornamental plants to be specific.

Over the course of her travels with her father and then Master Cross, both men who were bad with money for very different reasons, the young exorcist had built up a vast amount of practical knowledge regarding wild plant life. She knew which ones could help ease a sore throat or staunch a wound. She knew which ones could be added to soup to enhance its flavor or used for smoke bombs deployed to lose debt collectors. And she knew which ones could help you maintain some level of cleanliness in the great outdoors or cut your life short with barely a touch.

But plants that people grew solely for their appearance, regardless of whether or not they could potentially kill you? She could barely tell any of them apart without asking someone else, let alone decipher any hidden meaning they held.

Which was a shame, considering Ellen was now being inundated with them.

The young exorcist blankly stared down at the large flowers in her arms. Every day for several days now, she had been waking up to find a bouquet resting on her windowsill. Today's bouquet was the seventh one. And just like all the others, there was no card or any other way to identify the sender.

Link had been just as baffled as the young exorcist when they starting appearing and tried to investigate the matter, but so far found nothing suspicious. Timcanpy had tried many times to wait outside her window to try and catch the person in the act, but always failed. And Ellen herself had asked everyone at the Black Order if they knew anything, but ultimately came back empty handed.

The other members did freely share their opinions about the matter, though. Some, like Jerry, speculated that Ellen now had a secret and romantic admirer. Others, like Komui and the remnants of the Science Division, wondered how the flowers arrived at her windowsill in the first place and frequently checked to see if their soon-to-be former headquarters had any additional security weaknesses – they did not want a repeat of the Lulu Bell incident. And the rest, like Kanda, simply did not give a damn one way or the other.

The young lady softly brushed a gloved finger against one of the flowers. She could at least tell that this bouquet was different from the others she had received. Unlike the others which were single blooms with their own individual stalks branching from the main stem, this one comprised of several smaller pink tipped with white flowers that clustered together to create a larger conical whole.

"Well, Timcanpy," she turned to the golem fluttering by her head, "any idea what we have here?"

Timcanpy shook his body side to side, indicating that he had no clue.

"That's what I thought," Ellen sighed as she looked back at her flowers. "Come on, let's try to find the others so that they can tell us."

The young exorcist had just opened the door when she and her golem saw Link standing in front of them, hand raised in preparation to knock.

The investigator caught sight of the bouquet and sighed. "Again, Ms. Walker?" he asked as if he thought she had any control over this strange situation.

"I'm afraid so. Would you like to follow me to the infirmary? Lavi should be visiting Krory around this time," she responded, inviting the man as if he wasn't tasked with shadowing her every movement (sans washing up, of course) by Lvellie.

Still, the German man nodded his acceptance and they all left for the infirmary. The small group managed to make it without further incident and entered the room.

Krory, still being monitored by the nurses to make sure there were no lingering side effects from the 'zombie virus', looked up from his book to see who was coming in.

"Oh hello, Ellen! Mr. Link," the older man greeted them as he placed his book on a bedside table.

"Hello, Mr. Krory," Link politely responded.

"Hello, Krory. How are feeling today?" Ellen asked as she took a seat at her friend's bedside. Link stood beside her writing in his observation journal, and Timcanpy took a rest on her head.

"I'm well, thank you for asking," he replied. "The Mother Matron told me that they just need to run one test before I can be released."

"That's good to hear!" Ellen smiled before looking around the infirmary. "Is Lavi here? I wanted to ask him something…"

Krory shook his head. "You just missed him. We were having a discussion about a new author he came across when Mr. Bookman came and took him away." Then the pale Romanian man noticed the flowers resting in her lap. "Oh, is that one of the bouquets he mentioned you've been recently getting?"

Ellen sheepishly looked down. "Ah… yes it is. So far I have daffodils, delphiniums, dahlias, tiger lilies, sticky catchflys and variegated tulips in vases all around my room. To be honest, I'm at a bit of a loss at what to do with them once they start to die. Not to mention the move to the new headquarters."

Krory was quite surprised by the lists of flowers Ellen had just recited. Then he looked askance in thought. "You could dry them," he suggested.

"No, that won't work," the young lady shook her head, forcing Tim to switch his perch to her shoulder instead. "We only have a few days left until we move for good, and I don't have enough storage space for them all."

"Have you thought about pressing them, then?"

"Pressing them? You mean like between two pieces of wood?" Ellen questioned.

"Or between the pages of a notebook," Krory elaborated. "It will take a few weeks for them to fully dry like that, but you would have a more manageable way to store them. And you can then easily frame the pressed flowers, which can last for several years, and hang them up."

"Hmmm…" Ellen tapped her chin in thought. "That could work. But just where would I get an unused notebook no-"

She abruptly cut off that last sentence and turned her head to look at Link. The German man paused in his recording to look back at her, wondering why she just stopped talking. Then he saw the question in her eyes.

"No, Ms. Walker, you cannot have one of my spare notebooks," he answered as he closed his own journal shut and tucked it under his arm. "I only have one left unpacked, and that is because the current one I'm using is nearly full."

"But Link, I really do need it," she stated, turning her body to face him. "No one else would have extras laying about. And I could give you money for a new one."

"Or you could purchase a notebook at a stationary store," he patiently reasoned.

"Would you really let me leave the Black Order right now to buy one? Before we move?"

Link pressed his lips together at her clearly rhetorical questions. "You could ask your friends to help store your extra flowers now and wait until the move to purchase your own."

"But everyone else has nearly finished with packing," Ellen frowned. "I can't make them undo their hard work just because I have too many flowers."

Link sighed and closed his eyes. While her consideration for her friends was admirable, it wasn't exactly helping him right now. But just as he was about to suggest another way for the young exorcist to press her blooms without using his property, he made the mistake of opening his eyes and looking straight at her.

The inspector couldn't help but flinch at the picture in front of him. There was Ellen, hands clasped in front of her heart, and large silver-gray eyes giving him one of the saddest stares he had ever seen. The closest analogy he had for the gaze was that of a melancholic puppy silently asking why you had kicked them. The only item needed to give this scene a fully sentimental mood was a somber violinist slowly drawing a tune out from his instrument.

Howard Link was by no means a pushover. But he was still human, which meant he had limits.

The German man barely stopped himself from groaning in defeat. "Fine, you can have my spare notebook. However," he added, not wanting to appear as if he was completely caving in, "in exchange I require enough money to purchase a new one for myself. And just the one. If you can't fit all the flowers into it, you will have to find another way to deal with the rest."

Ellen beamed up at him. "Of course. Thank you so much, Link!"

Slightly flustered by the bright smile directed at him, the inspector coughed and opened his journal in an attempt to distract himself.

The young lady turned back to face Krory, happy in the knowledge that now she had a method to deal with her newfound indoor garden. "Now," she said as she picked up her bouquet and held it closer to her face, "I just need to find out what kind of flowers these are."

Krory, who up to now had chuckled as he watched Ellen successfully coax a notebook from Link, took the opportunity to look closer at the flowers. After examining the blooms for a few moments, his eyes widened with surprise. "I think I recognize them, Ellen."

Ellen and Link now looked at the other exorcist. "You do?" the youngest one asked.

"Yes," Krory nodded. "Hydrangeas. When I was very young, I helped my grandfather plant a few of them in the garden. The ones we had were blue rather than pink, and the flowerheads formed a globe rather than a cone, but they have enough features in common that I'm willing to say you have a different species of hydrangeas."

The younger exorcist let out a soft breath after hearing Krory's explanation. She then looked back at her bouquet. 'So you're called hydrangeas,' she thought as she touched one of the now-identified flowers with her index finger.

Link started writing again in his journal before saying, "That leaves two further questions: who is sending Ms. Walker bouquets, and what is their ultimate motive?"

Ellen rested the bouquet in her lap once more. "Krory, would you have any guesses on why?" she asked her friend.

The Romanian man stared at his lap as he thought about it. "Hmm… perhaps it's connected to the language of flowers?"

"What is that?"

"It's a way of secretly expressing your feelings for someone else by sending them flowers. But I never learned it. The only reason I know of it is someone I… cared about mentioned it to me."

Ellen felt her heart dropped as she realized that Krory was alluding to Eliade, the Akuma he had fallen in love with – and was later forced to destroy. She wanted to ask if he was still mourning Eliade's death, but stopped when she remembered that Link was with them in the infirmary and could piece together enough vague allusions if they weren't careful.

So the young lady reached out and clasped Krory's right shoulder. When he removed his gaze from his lap and looked at her in confusion, she tried to convey what she wanted to say at that very moment through her eyes alone.

And the Romanian man received her message, for he gave her a small reassuring smile and pat on her head.

Ellen smiled in return, glad the other was okay despite still mourning his lover. She leaned back in her seat and asked, "Is there anything else you know about hydrangeas, Krory?"

"Well they quickly wilt once cut, so you should put them in water as fast as possible," he informed her.

As she nodded in response, Link looked away from his journal and addressed her. "It seems that you'll need to talk to Bookman Jr if you want to know anything more about your hydrangeas, Ms. Walker. And there's a chance he knows something about the language of flowers as well, due to his travels."

"Right," Ellen said as she noticed a nurse approaching them, then started to get up from her chair. "Krory, did either Lavi or Bookman say exactly where they were going?"

"To the library in order to double-check the book indexes, I think."

"Thank you, Krory. See you later," the young exorcist waved to her friend as she, Timcanpy and Link leave the infirmary and got a wave in return.

As they walked in the direction of the library, Ellen noticed Lenalee moving down the hallway. "Good morning, Lenalee," she called out to the other. Timcanpy waved a wing in greeting as well.

"Good morning, Ellen!" the Chinese girl smiled at her friend, giggled at Timcanpy's actions, then turned to the inspector and exchange polite greetings with the older man. Her gaze was then captured by the flowers in Ellen's arms. "Oh, you have another bouquet? And they're Xiùqiú huā?"

"Yes," Ellen confirmed the first question, before frowning in confusion at the second. "What did you call them?"

"Ah, sorry about that," Lenalee sheepishly apologized and scratched her right cheek. "I accidentally switched to Chinese just now. 'Xiùqiú huā' means 'Hydrangea' in English."

The British exorcist perked up at her friend's explanation. "So you've seen them before, Lenalee?"

"Well, not this exact type," the Chinese exorcist clarified as she took a good look at Ellen's bouquet. "But I do remember a neighbor who grew another variety back in my old village, long before I joined the Black Order. They were so beautiful and well-known that artists would frequently show up to paint them. Komui actually managed to buy one of the paintings for my birthday; I haven't packed it yet, so you can come by my room later if you want to see."

The younger girl smiled and said, "Thank you for the offer, Lenalee. Oh, have Komui and the others figured out how the bouquets keep showing up on my windowsill?"

Lenalee shook her head as she apologized, "It's still a mystery, I'm afraid. The fact that the move is now days away hasn't helped either."

Ellen sighed as she looked back down at the hydrangeas. 'Oh, well. At least I have a way to find out more about you,' she thought before returning her gaze to Lenalee.

"We're going to the library to talk with Lavi about it. If you don't have anything to do, would you like to join us?" she asked her.

"Sure!" the other accepted. As the now larger group went on their way, she added, "I think Jerry might be right about the secret admirer idea, Ellen. Why else would they give you flowers for seven days in a row?"

The younger exorcist blushed in response and murmured, "They didn't need to leave them on my windowsill, though. I mean, what's wrong with leaving them at my door? Or just giving them to me in person?"

Lenalee thoughtfully responded, "It's possible that they're very shy."

Ellen skeptically looked at her older friend. "They're brave enough to go outside and climb the tower to leave me flowers, but are too shy to personally hand them over?"

"Well, maybe they're afraid of rejection. It's never pleasant to confess to someone and have them turn you down. So instead they send flowers until they have enough courage to tell you how they feel." The Chinese exorcist then reached out to stop Ellen from walking any further. "If you do meet whoever is sending these flowers, what would you do?"

Slightly surprised by the question, Ellen bit her lip as she thought about it. "I guess… the first thing I would do is ask them why they're sending me so many."

"And if they say that it's because they like you?"

Now she nearly buried her face among the hydrangeas, to the silent amusement of the others. "Well… I… that is…" The young lady then took a deep breath and emerged from the pink blooms, a sad smile on her face. "I doubt anything can come from it, Lenalee. Everyone's too busy fighting the Millennium Earl and the Akumas. Now is not the time for romance."

Lenalee's gaze softened and she comfortingly squeezed her friend's arm. "It won't go on forever, Ellen. After we win this war, you'll be free to accept their feelings. If you want to, that is."

Ellen sighed, but the smile on her face became lighter. "Thank you, Lenalee. But let's leave that topic alone for now. If only so Komui doesn't realize you're interested in romance and ends up experiencing a heart attack."

"He can't be in denial of my growing up forever," the Chinese exorcist huffed out, earning some giggles from Ellen which she swiftly joined in.

With everyone in a good mood – Timcanpy was glad that Ellen was happy again, while Link was inwardly thankful that he didn't have to awkwardly listen to love-related topics anymore – they quickly arrived at the library and found Lavi and Bookman surrounded by full yet unsealed boxes of books.

"Hm?" Lavi looked up from the list in his hands and brightened up once he saw who was entering the room. "Hey, Ellen, Lenalee, Two-Dots! Nice to see you," he greeted as he rushed over to the newcomers, thus earning a shake of the head from Bookman who then went back to his own work.

The girls responded with greetings of their own, while Link gritted his teeth at the nickname Lavi saddled him with. "Bookman Jr, how many times have I told you not to call me that?"

"About seventy-six times. Seventy-seven, if I count just now," Lavi easily replied.

"Doesn't that number then indicate that I would rather not have you use it?"

"Aw, but I give everyone nicknames, Two-Dots!" Lavi cheerfully countered, ignoring the slight twitch of Link's left eye. "I call Kanda 'Yu-chan', Lenalee's is 'Lena-lady', and Ellen is of course 'Bean-'"

Lavi's sentence was abruptly cut off as he let out a grunt of pain and crumpled to the ground, holding his left side.

Lenalee turned to the culprit. "Ellen…" she said with a scolding tone, hands sitting squarely on her hips.

Ellen lowered the elbow she used to jab Lavi and looked down, not wanting to directly meet Lenalee's eyes. "It's a force of habit," she sheepishly justified.

Lenalee sighed and helped Lavi stand up. "Then break it, Ellen. I know you don't like that nickname, but you can't just go hitting people to make them stop using it. Do you understand?"

Ellen meekly nodded in agreement. The older girl was not only adept at disciplining errant Black Order members with her kicks; disappointed words were also handy weapons for milder situations.

"And you, Lavi," she now said to the younger Bookman after he was stable on his feet, "should at least cut down on using those nicknames for Ellen and Link. For your own well-being, if nothing else."

"Urgh, I'll keep it in mind," Lavi groaned as he rubbed his side. But his mind was soon taken off of the pain once he noticed Ellen's bouquet. "Why, are those for me?" he mock gasped. "Oh Ellen, you shouldn't have!"

Ellen rolled her eyes but was still amused by how quickly the redhead bounced back. "Cut it out, Lavi. You fully know where I got them from," she said while Lenalee quietly giggled and Link just sighed.

"Eh, had to clear the air somehow," he shrugged before returning his analytical eyes to the pink blooms. "So this is Bouquet #7, huh? Well, identification's easy enough; they're-"

"Hydrangeas. Yes, we know," Link cut in.

"Wait, you do?" a confused Lavi asked as he looked between Ellen and Link.

"Earlier today, Ms. Walker and I visited the infirmary to find you," the inspector started to explain. "We weren't successful, obviously, but Mr. Krory managed to help us identify the flowers based on his prior experiences with another member of its family."

"Ah, that's right. He did have a garden…" Lavi said to himself before returning his gaze to Ellen. "But if you already know, then why try to find me?"

"Because Krory could only tell us that they were a type of hydrangea, not which one they were," she replied. "Plus, he mentioned something about the language of flowers. Have you ever heard of it?"

Lavi closed his visible eye and crossed his arms. "Hmm, it sounds vaguely familiar…" Then his eye snapped open and he started running towards one of the boxes.

The group of three followed after the redhead and bemusedly watched him quickly but carefully remove books from one corner.

"It was around here… Ah, there it is!"

The younger Bookman pulled out a thick volume about twice the size of Ellen's palm with an air of triumph. He then handed the book to the British exorcist, who accepted it once she shifted her bouquet to the crook of her other arm.

Ellen's eyes widened once she saw the title: A Complete Guide to the Language of Flowers. She was happy that now she had something that could help her figure out why someone was sending her flowers. But…

"Thank you, Lavi," she told her friend as she looked over at him. "But why does the Black Order have a book like this in the first place?"

"That's what I thought when I came across it," he shrugged as he put the other books back. "My best guess is that the book was donated by a civilian who assumed we would read it for leisure."

"Well, regardless of how the book got here," Lenalee reasoned as she and Link walked over to look at it's green cover and gold lettering, "what's important is that we can now use it. Would you like me to help you look through it, Ellen?"

"Ah, yes that would be great. Thank you," the younger girl agreed as she handed the book over.

Lenalee opened the volume and started flipping through the pages. "Do you want to start with the flowers you've previously received or the hydrangeas first?"

"The hydrangeas, please," Ellen replied as she, Timcanpy and Lavi congregated around the Chinese exorcist. Link, meanwhile, stood farther back and started writing in his journal once more.

"Let's see… Hollyhock, honeysuckle, houseleek, hyacinth- Oh, here it is!"

She pointed at the top right corner of the right page, specifically tapping a beautiful watercolor illustration of a blue, globe-shaped hydrangea. Two and a half – well, three and a half, if you factored in Link surreptitiously glancing – sets of eyes immediately traveled to the line of text under the heading 'Hydrangea', trying to see what the author had listed.

Then they felt their stomachs drop as they actually read the entry.

"Hydrangea – Heartlessness, frigidity, boastfulness,vanity."

Lenalee and Lavi slowly turned their heads in Ellen's direction to gauge her reaction.

The British exorcist appeared calm at first glance, but they noticed how her hands were tightly clutching at the bouquet in her arms. Her silver eyes also had a maelstrom of emotions gathering within – the most prominent being hurt.

Lenalee slammed the book shut. "Well, that's really just the author's opinion on hydrangeas. I don't think whoever sent them felt the same way," she soothingly said and placed a comforting hand on her younger friend's shoulder, thus gaining the other's attention.

"Yeah!" Lavi nodded along. "I know that if I sent a girl I liked flowers, it would be based on their appearance and her tastes. Not a book's unfounded claims."

"The information is ultimately circumstantial. We can't know their true intentions without further investigation," Link provided, also concerned about Ellen's state.

Timcanpy soothingly growled as he rubbed against his partner's cheek.

The youngest exorcist blinked, then smiled at all of them with reassurance. "Thank you, everyone. But please, calm down. So hydrangeas have that kind of meaning. It doesn't really manner in the end…"

But while Ellen verbally dismissed the book's judgment, a small voice at the back of her head, born from her earlier years of self-doubt and isolation – couldn't help but whisper out-

'Heartless? Vain? Frigid? Is that really how they see me?'

'Did they grow frustrated that I didn't figure out who they are already?'

'Or,' and here her heart really sank, 'have they always disliked me, and the flowers are merely just a cruel prank?'

But then a sudden clearing of the throat caught everyone's attention. They turned towards the direction the sound came from and saw Bookman standing in front of them.

"Excuse me, Ms. Lee. May I see that book?" the elderly man asked.

"Huh? Oh, of course," the slightly confused green-haired young lady complied and timely handed the volume to him.

Bookman opened the book to the title page and carefully analyzed it along with the introduction and the back pages. Once he was finished, he nodded to himself and said, "I see…"

Lavi, who had moved over to read over Bookman's shoulder, seemed to reach the same conclusion. "Well, that certainly explains the bias…"

The others looked at the Bookmen with confusion. "Bias?" Ellen asked.

"This book claims to be a complete guide on the symbolism of flowers, yes?"

Ellen, Lenalee, Timcanpy and even Link nodded at Bookman's question.

"And yet," he continued, looking back down at the book in his hands, "the author, a woman from England, utterly fails to utilize non-Western sources regarding its topic. As such, the only accurate perspective she portrays is the Western one."

"Is that what you meant by bias, Lavi?" Ellen asked her redheaded friend.

"Yeah," he confirmed. "I thought it was weird that there were so many negative meanings attributed to hydrangeas, since I remember that they're highly prized in Asian countries. But the book's harsh judgment of them starts to make sense when you factor in the plants' biology and current Western values."

Lenalee frowned and questioned, "How do biology and values fit together in this situation?"

"Despite their multiple blossoms, hydrangeas don't produce as much seeds as other flowers. Western society, on the other hand, extols hard-work and modesty to an absurdly great degree. Thus, when people holding such rigid standards are faced with a mostly foreign flower that has ostentatious blooms but low fertility, they disdain it and ascribe terrible meanings to it."

Ellen whispered with an affronted tone, "What?" Her earlier feelings of hurt and sadness were washed away by a sense of indignation for the hydrangeas. Why should people label them as boastful, just because they had more blossoms than most? Why label them as vain, just because they didn't produce as many seeds? She knew that people could be caught up in rather silly actions, but to so thoroughly mock a flower was needlessly cruel and idiotic.

And her female friend very much agreed with her.

"That's just ridiculous!" Lenalee angrily shouted, hands now clenched into fists. "The hydrangeas can't help their looks or seed count."

"Hey, calm down, Lenalee," a now nervous Lavi placated her. "No one here is saying those are good assumptions to make, right guys?" He looked at Ellen, as Link and Bookman were more silent observers and Timcanpy straight up nonverbal, silently begging for back up so that Lenalee wouldn't be left to work out her newfound anger during the afternoon's sparring session.

"Lavi's right," the British exorcist concurred as she placed a hand on her furious friend's shoulder. "It's like you said before; what's written in the book is the author's own opinion. There is no need for anyone to ruin their mood over it."

Lenalee crossed her arms and sighed. "I know," she admitted, her anger descending into mere annoyance. "Still, I couldn't help but get mad because the author didn't even try to say even one nice word about them. And what if the sender simply sends the hydrangeas because they think the flowers are beautiful, but the receiver thinks otherwise due to that book? Maybe I'm making mountains out of mole hills here, but I feel her words could create drama where it shouldn't be."

"A relationship torn apart by words of an inane book," Link pointed out as he wrote in his journal, "was never the strongest to begin with."

"Well, I stand by what I said," Lenalee huffed, though without any real heat.

Ellen and Lavi sighed with relief, glad that their green-haired friend was no longer mad. Then they, along with Lenalee and Link, looked at Bookman once he started to address Ellen.

"The ultimate lesson here, Ms. Walker, is that a person shouldn't learn about a topic using just one perspective. More often than not, it takes observation from multiple angles for you to see the whole picture. Do you understand?"

Sightly confused, she did nod and responded with, "Ah, yes. Although I'm not sure how I'll be about to do that right now. I mean, I doubt that the Black Order has any other books on the language of flowers."

"Well…" Lavi spoke out while going over to another box, "I wouldn't be too quick to say that…" The redhead then swiftly pulled out several volumes and displayed them. "Ta-da!"

Ellen and Lenalee blankly looked at the volumes before their eyes simultaneously widened in shock.

"Wait, are they also about the language of flowers?" the younger girl asked.

"Some of them are," he conceded as he walked back with the books and put them down on the closest available box. "But the rest are more like memoirs that detail some information about plant symbolism. Still, their authors aren't just from western countries; thereby their viewpoints add up to a more global perspective. Great, huh?"

The girls' reaction to this sudden reveal and Lavi's wide grin was delayed.

But brutal.

"Ow! What-?!"

"Why didn't you bring them out at the start!?"

"You could've saved us a lot of trouble, you know!"

"W-wait a minute, just calm- urk!"

"Aren't you going to rescue your apprentice, Bookman?" Link asked, holding the hydrangeas Ellen had deposited along with her golem before punching Lavi in the face.

"He needs to learn to thoroughly think about his actions before committing them," Bookman calmly replied. "And what about you, Inspector? I imagine that Central would rather not have Ms. Walker involved in physical altercations unrelated to the war effort."

Link couldn't help but grimace as he watched the younger Bookman running as fast as he could, all the while miraculously avoiding the vast amount of boxes in the library. "While that is true, my orders do not extend to interrupting her from… expressing herself when not on missions or completing necessary forms."

"I see…" Bookman mused, not at all fooled that that was the German man's only reason for staying out of it.

"LAVI!" the girls screamed out as one.

"Hey, can I get a little help here!?"

- x -

Later in her room that night, Ellen firmly closed the notebook she had gotten from Link and turned to Timcanpy resting on her shoulder.

"Okay, Tim; you know what to do."

The golden golem nodded and flew over to the desk as Ellen stepped back. After hovering in the air for a few moments, he rapidly increased in size and landed on top of the notebook.

"It's too bad that the Science Division already packed up the C-clamps," Ellen sighed as she pat his head while looking over at the half-filled box next to him. "Not to mention that I don't have enough items to help press down the flowers. Are you sure that you'll be able to hold this for the rest of the night?"

She smiled at his answering growl of assurance. "Thank you, Tim. I'll make sure that Jerry gives you extra treats tomorrow, okay?"

Timcanpy perked up and happily licked Ellen's hand, sending her into a giggle fit. She gave her golem one last pat before turning around to grab her white night shirt laid out upon her bed.

Once the young lady finished changing, she glanced over to the flowers in the vase on top of her bedside table. Like Link had mentioned, she hadn't been able to put every single flower she had between the pages of her notebook. So the unused blooms were then gathered into one large bouquet and placed in water until she could properly dry it after the move.

She walked over to the vase and gently caressed white and yellow petals of a daffodil with one hand and curled back, black-speckled orange petals of a tiger lily. With both hands thus occupied, her sliver-gray eyes were left to roam over the rest: blue-purple delphiniums, purple tipped with white dahlias, pink sticky catchflys, yellow-streaked red tulips…

When her eyes felt upon the hydrangeas, she felt her heart skip a beat.

After Ellen and Lenalee finally stopped chasing Lavi around, they spent the rest of their available time looking through the extra volumes he found. The information they uncovered was, thankfully, much more palatable compared to what the first book had recorded. To them, hydrangeas stood for pride or heartfelt gratitude for being understood.

And then there was one book which had something quite interesting to say about pink hydrangeas. Ellen had blushed a bright red, to Lenalee and Lavi's amusement, when she read that the blooms meant 'the beat of my heart'. Once she managed to recover from her embarrassment, the British exorcist decided to comb through all the books – including the first one – to see what messages were attached to the other flowers she had received.

Ellen removed one of her hands from the multicolored bouquet to pick up a list that had been placed right beside the vase. Written on a slip of paper provided by Lavi, it contained all the meanings for every flower she had received; both good and bad.

Daffodil – Respect; regard; unrequited love; chivalry

Dahlia – Good taste; dignity; grace; instability

Tiger Lily – Wealth; confidence; pride; compassion

Sticky Catchfly – Invitation to dance; snare; youthful love

Delphinium – Big-hearted; fun; ardent attachment

Tulip, variegated – Perfect lover; fame; paradise

Hydrangea – Pride; heartlessness; frigidity; heartfelt gratitude for being understood; boastfulness; vanity; beat of my heart

The British exorcist was happy that she now had this list. It made it possible to speculate how the mysterious sender felt and/or viewed her, provided that he was going by the language of flowers.

But there was still one more concern she had.

'If only I knew who's sending them…' she thought to herself and sighed. However, she knew she didn't have any current way to figure out the conundrum at this time at night. Thus she placed the list back down and got into bed while wishing Timcanpy a good night.

As Ellen tried to fall asleep, she mentally reviewed the contents of the list. And among all the meanings she and her friends had learned that day, two of them stood out the most.

'Beat of my heart,' as tied to her pink hydrangeas, and 'invitation to dance,' connected to the sticky catchflys.

More specifically, the words 'heart' and 'dance'.

There was just something about that combination of words that held her attention and fueled her imagination. That led her to drowsily think of the one man she associated with those words. Which would certainly explain how the bouquets got there in the first place…

Though that didn't mean he was the one sending her flowers! Why would he, given what happened the last time they met? If she had been in his shoes, fond emotions would be the last things she'd feel for him.

And even if he somehow was the mysterious sender, then she had no choice but to straight out reject him. He was the enemy, for God's sake! Just because she found him objectively attractive and felt slightly breathless when he stood next to her on the Ark, didn't mean she had to forget all the terrible crimes he had committed!

But despite all the calm logic and reasoning trying to shut down her fanciful musing, Ellen felt her heart skip a beat and her lips form a smile from the last image conjured by her mind before sleep finally claimed her.

Tyki Mikk, a Noah, presenting the hydrangeas to her with his flashing golden eyes and customary amused smirk.

- x -

Even later, sequestered in a guest room of the Kamelot estate, Tyki watched some interesting secret footage a Teez had captured of his favorite exorcist.

The footage first showed Ellen carefully cutting several flowers selected from each bouquet he managed to leave at the Black Order with Road's help. Next she cleaned up her desk, gathered the snipped blooms and arranged them between the pages of a black notebook before having her golem – which surprisingly could change sizes – sit down on said book. Then she changed, admired the rest of the blooms with an adorable blush on her face, and finally went to sleep with a smile on her face.

Tyki smirked with satisfaction. "Well, it looks like everything is going on quite nicely," he chuckled to himself before getting up from his chair and walking to a large glass window to look at the night sky. It had been a bit of a pain hiding all those bouquets from the other Noah (except Road, of course). He especially didn't want Sheril to know, as there was no doubt in his mind that his perverted older brother would pester and whine until he got the truth.

But it was worth it, to see his little exorcist's cute reactions to his gifts.

'It's too bad I have to stick to flowers,' he idly sighed while bathed in moonlight. 'The amount of stuff she had in her room, beside my bouquets, was absolutely pitiful. Maybe a new outfit…?'

But while a large part of him just itched to spoil her (and wasn't that a sharp contrast to his other romantic pursuits?), the other part pointed out that Lulu Bell's attempt to steal back the Akuma Egg was forcing the Black Order to quickly set up shop somewhere else. Therefore, any larger or more expensive gifts would be impractical; not to mention liable to be viewed with suspicion.

'Ah, well. No sense in worrying about things like that. What's important is that Shoujo's enjoying the bouquets. And…'

Tyki's golden eyes observed the full disk hanging above; how it looked completely white at a distance, but was actually speckled with various shades of gray. Then his lips stretched into a sly grin as he remembered what the Millennium Earl revealed to Sheril, Road and himself earlier that week.

'There will be plenty of time to pamper her as she deserves, once the Earl's plans come to fruition.'

- xXx -


Cultural Notes:

Which species of flowers I used – Narcissus tazetta (bunch-flowered daffodil); Dahlia pinnata (garden dahlia); Hydrangea paniculata (panicled hydrangea); Lilium henryi (Tiger Lily or Húběi bǎihé); Silene viscaria (Lynchis viscaria, sticky catchfly or clammy campion); Delphinium hesperium (foothill larkspur); Tulipa gesneriana (Didier's tulip or garden tulip).

Variegated tulip – A tulip whose primary color is broken by streaks of another. There are two ways to get a variegated tulip. The first is to have it catch the tulip breaking virus which unfortunately also weakens the bulbs. Today, though, the virus is mostly gone.By the way, variegated tulips of this type actually caused Tulip Mania, a period of time where tulips were sold for increasingly ridiculous prices in the Dutch Republic until the bubble burst in 1637. The second, and now more common way, is through breeding.

Pressing flowers – Yes, you can press flowers with wood or a notebook. You can even use an iron or a microwave to do the trick!

Language of flowers – Also known as floriography. People have been ascribing meanings to plants for millennia, across cultures and all around the world. Examples included Ophelia using flowers to express her true impressions of other characters in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh),and the Ottoman Sultanate's fondness for tulips (who was also the one to introduce the Dutch Republic to the plant). But floriography became extremely popular during the 19th century due to the fact it gave a way for people to secretly communicate feelings Victorian society discouraged showing in public. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of the British ambassador to the Ottomans (~1716-1718), and Aubrey de la Motraye, a French traveler who stayed at the Swedish court in the early 18th century, also sparked the Victorian craze.

Hydrangeas in art – They certainly show up a lot in Chinese and Japanese ink paintings.

The first language of flowers' book – I based it on whatever I found on the Internet. Sources include Wikipedia, FTD. com, flowermeaning. com, teleflora and photos of The Language Of Flowers by Margaret Pickston.

"current Western values" – i.e. Victorian values, since I doubt British people living back in the mid-to-late 1800s would have labeled their own era after Queen Victoria, let alone the rest of the world's population doing so. But yes, the Victorians really did ascribe most of the negative meanings to hydrangeas because of the skewed ratio of flowers to seeds.

- x -

Wow, that was a new experience for me! Sorry that I kept Tyki out of it until at the very end. I just felt it would suit the story better if I separated him from the craziness going on at the Black Order. Which might make this story more Pre-PokerPair than PokerPair at first glance because they don't interact, but let me reassure you that Ellen does have a bit of a crush on Tyki; she just won't admit it out loud.

Road's the one who introduced Tyki to the language of flowers. She gets a crack out of teasing him about his flower choices, which he allows because she hasn't mentioned anything about what he's doing to the others.

I feel that Tyki would choose flowers with ambiguous meanings because of his fondness for duality. Plus, his sadistic side finds the thought of Ellen fretting about what he's trying to communicate too good to pass up (bad Tyki!). I do hope he came across as both very fond and deviously teasing of her.

Fun fact: I was originally going to put in an omake about Cross finding about Ellen's flowers and staging a stakeout to "talk" with the person responsible, but I scrapped it in the end. Still, it would be funny to write Overprotective!Cross one day…

Well, that was Day Two's story! Tell me what you thought about it via a PM or review, please! Constructive criticism is more than welcome!