Nezumi scurried across the field. The rain pelted his poor coat and made his whiskers heavy, but he didn't let that bother him.
Shion always seemed so far away on the other side of the meadow. The grass grew tall and green in the space that divided them now. From where Nezumi stood, Shion looked the part of a wilting wallflower and was little more than a spot of mauve hidden away in the wet leaves of the forest they called home.
Nightfall was just around the corner, and it was a suboptimal time for a mouse to be outside his nest. If he wasn't home before the shower ended, he didn't know whose dinner he might end up as. Maybe being eaten by an owl would be the most painless death a predator could offer; from observation and some experience, Nezumi had noticed that they were quicker eaters than cats.
...No. With a quick shake of his head, Nezumi squirreled those thoughts away. Really, he had no time to spare in thinking about such things if he wanted to survive out here, right now. And Nezumi wanted to survive more than anything; he wouldn't want Shion to be lonely.
Nezumi had assured his flower that he would stay with him through the summer, sing for him through autumn, and sleep with him through the winter. He would survive and he would not be eaten, because the same time next year, there in the heart of spring, Nezumi could have Shion's scrumptious nectar for breakfast every day again, and protect him a second time from greedy bees who might hurt him and greedier humans who would dare to pluck him from his roots.
Yes, Nezumi had sworn on Shion's petals before he kissed them. He had promised that each and every time he left Shion in the morning, he would return to their nest under the oak in the evening without fail for the rest of Nezumi's little life. And whether it was through sun, moon, stars or rain, Nezumi had, so far, no plans to break that oath.
The burrow partially supported by Shion's roots was comfortable and homely. Nezumi had spent an entire half day digging and beautifying their den, and the best part of that was how Nezumi got to wake up every morning next to Shion and lick some of the delicious dew off his petals and leaves.
"Welcome home," Shion chirped when Nezumi came back and shook off the rain on his pelt. Shion's droopiness perked away as soon as Nezumi's tail traced past him.
Nezumi squeaked in reply, shivering as he hid into his hole. Because of the rain, the bread he planned on bringing back had to be consumed before it was soaked through with water. So Nezumi had nibbled away on the spot, and felt tired after running on a heavy stomach.
With a small chitter, Nezumi nudged Shion's roots goodnight before he wrapped his tail around himself and slipped into sleep.
When Nezumi awoke, the rain stopped pattering outside as soon as he crawled up the slope of his den to sit by Shion. Flanked by millions of stars, the moon was high in the sky, higher than canopy of trees above the field mouse and the aster flower.
Nezumi ran his paws over his face and looked up at Shion's great yellow centre. The moonshine shining bright behind him made his petals take on a bluer hue than usual. Nezumi stood on his hind legs to drink in all that milky light.
"Nezumi?" Shion blew gently in the incoming breeze. "You're up already."
Nezumi yawned and said sleepily, "You're a spitting image of a star, Shion." That is, a pretty, bright, delicate thing who couldn't fend for himself even if his life depended on it.
"Really?" Shion's petals shyly closed up a little. Nezumi suspected that Shion was either embarrassed, or breathtaken by Nezumi's charm and secretly hoped it was a generous blend of both. "I—um... W-well, you kind of remind me of a star, too."
Now, it was Nezumi's turn to feel abashed (stupid, stupid innocent asters and their inexplicable ability to melt mice hearts). He twisted his tail in his paws. "You don't know what you're talking about."
"But I do, Nezumi!" Shion swayed so that he was more at level with Nezumi. "It's your eyes."
"My eyes?" Nezumi covered the eyes in question with his paws. He couldn't quite hold in the squeak that followed.
"W-well, they're kind of like stars too."
Nezumi wasn't sure if he could live with this for another whole year. He tried to think about Shion's nectar, but he knew that wasn't the only reason he'd stayed with Shion for so long already. "Maybe you had too much water to dri—"
"Your eyes shine like the stars," Shion said hurriedly, leaf swaying in the direction of a puddle of water, "They're in your eyes, see? You're the wandering star, and I'm the fixed one."
Nezumi laughed, and it came out as a high-pitched scream. But Shion understood Nezumi well enough to know that this was Nezumi's own way of expressing mirth. Shion always made Nezumi laugh with all the naive, foolish things he said. One of these days he would to kill him by making him care, if the cats and owls and foxes didn't get to him first.
"You're a lost cause," Nezumi chuckled. He rested his downy side against Shion's stem, whiskers over leaves and petals above ears. Shion's colours seemed to light up as Nezumi huddled against him.
And together, they watched the rainclouds chase the moon with the promise of the seasons to come.