“Where are we going?” She asked the young man who was walking alongside her. She’d been with him a week before he’d come up with a crazy plan and dragged her into the city. He didn’t answer only turning to smile reassuringly at her. They’d left the little girl behind because she was both unable to understand how important a secret their wings were and had insisted that the trip sounded boring. The young man had nodded indulgently as she presented her case before he agreed whole heartedly with her. It was only just before they left that he look at her and told her that as she was staying behind she could go foraging for food.
“Here we are,” he said stopping outside a shopping centre. She paused beside him and looked up at the huge building before her. Even before she’d been cast onto the streets she’d never been anywhere like this, having been raised in the remote countryside. She sent him a questioning look, which he met levelly not at all intimidated. “If you’re going to blend in we have to do something about your clothes,” he told her. Then his smile grew and he added, “might keep you warm as well.”
She growled low in her throat at that. She hadn’t realised he’d noticed her shivering through the night even though she had a warm body pressed to her back. To her annoyance he didn’t back down but rather laughed and took hold of her arm. “If your very good I might even buy you a blanket,” he told her. This time she smiled as she slapped his hands away, her own eyes reflecting her amusement. He smiled indulgently and offered her his hand and, once she’d taken it, he led her into the complex.
She gazed around in wonder as they walked. Staring in amazement at the colourful shop fronts that held beautiful displays. He walked slow enough for her to see but not so slow she could study them. Then something caught her eye and she tugged him closer for a look. He chuckled softly but let her drag him across his eyes landing on the fancy dress shop they were heading for. In the window stood a mannequin with a pair of snow-white wings strapped to its back. It was this that had caught her attention and when she came to a stop she was staring at them. “The feathers lie wrong,” she said after she had spent a good five minutes just studying them.
The man, who had been standing beside her in silence the whole time, sighed. “Of course they don’t. It’s a costume, it’s made to look good not real.” He was struggling not to tug her away under the curious looks people were giving them. A couple sitting on a bench not too far away were staring at him with disapproval that his skin was beginning to itch.
She turned to look at him a frown marring her features. “But the real think looks so much more beautiful.”
He smiled sadly at her, “I know. Sadly that is not for the rest of the world to know.” He pulled her close laying an arm around her shoulders, “come, let us get you some clothes.” She resisted slightly before she let him steer her away a slight frown still on her face. She couldn’t understand why it looked supposedly better when it was wrong, it just didn’t make sense.”
Finally he led her into a shop and the scene around her pulled her from her thoughts. She rushed forward to look at one of the clothing rails, ignoring her companion as he laughed at her enthusiasm before following. The fake wings were now long gone from her mind in favour of the hundreds of different clothes around her and she was going to be able to have some of them.
He let her just look for a while before he placed a hand on her shoulder to still her as she went to look at something else. “If you see something you like pick it out. You can try them on in a bit.” She looked at him and beamed before carrying on only now she was picking up her favourites. He stopped her as she reached for a formal looking dress, “it has to be practical, remember?” She frowned and then nodded hurrying off to look at something else.
When they arrived at the dressing rooms the sales assistant directed her in before he shot her companion a sympathetic look. “Stuck on shopping duty?” He asked with a grin.
The man returned it easily, “she’s run out of things that aren’t nearly destroyed. I get the joy of bankrolling her as she goes on a shopping spree.” That earned him another sympathetic look before he shop assistant was gone. With a smile he lent against a wall, content to wait for her to finish.
Somehow he managed to get her out of the shopping centre with only four bulging bags and a blanket slung over one shoulder. Admittedly one bag held the replacement for her battered shoes and another was topped up with a coat for the girl they’d left behind. Still, she had a damn sight more clothes than she had before and he wondered how easy it would be to fly to their next stop with all this stuff. He sighed, they might as well stay here for the winter anyway and the girls would benefit from some continuity in their lives.