By Rose MorningMist
Guest POV’s by Raven Mistycloud
I reach to the very back of the shelf, knocking over five pairs of shoes in the process.
“What about these?” I ask, turning back to Crystal Cutetwinkle and holding up a pair of deep blue high heels. Crystal frowns.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen heels so high,” She says. I sigh.
“Yes, but there aren’t many pairs without them,” I say. “Heels must be in this season.”
Crystal nods. “Hazel mentioned something about that to me the other day.”
I sigh. This is the fifth shop I’ve been to today, and I still haven’t found a gift for Rose. Her birthday is only a day away now, and I’d feel terrible if I didn’t give her anything. It’s not like I left it till the last minute either – there’s just nothing around that I think she’d like. Literally. It’s all heels and frilly dresses, fancy cakes and crazy colours. That and I’m flat broke – Rose may be a member, but I’m certainly not – you can tell by simply looking at my crazy mismatched outfits – and I can’t exactly borrow her badge without her asking questions, and she’s an expert when it comes to detecting lies. Especially mine.
Someone behind us clears their throat loudly. Crystal and I whirl around. The shopkeeper, Diva Wings, is standing behind us, hand on hips.
“I don’t suppose you’re going to fix that – that -” She shudders and points to the shoes I knocked over. “- thing?”
“Oh, the mess?” I say. Diva flinches. “Yeah, don’t you have maintenance for that?”
Crystal jabs me in the elbow. “Ruby!” She hisses.
“What? I’m just curious,” I say.
Diva looks livid. “I think maybe you should leave,” She says quietly.
I don’t remember ever having so much paperwork.
The pile teeters dangerously as I flop down into the chair, bumping the table with my knee.
Paperwork has to be my least favourite part of my job. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything more boring.
I sigh, and pick up my pen. It’s only going to grow if I keep avoiding it.
I try to get through it as quick as possible – it’s tedious work and seems to go on and on…
There’s a sudden knock on the door. I look up, slightly relieved to have an excuse to have a pause from writing.
“Come in,” I say.
The door opens, and Raven Mistycloud and Hazel Oakswirls tumble in.
“Hey,” says Raven, peering at me between stacks of paper. “Is this all paperwork? What in Neverland did you do this time – wake the Neverbeast or something?”
I sigh. “Nope, just been putting it off,” I say. “Thought I better get it done before tomorrow.”
Hazel grins. “Yeah, Ruby mentioned it was your birthday this weekend,” She says. “I can’t believe you’re turning four!”
I nod. “I know – I feel so old!”
Raven laughs. “Well, you can stop aging for a while, and come shopping with your two favourite pixie pals,” She says. “Diva Wings just released a new monarch line and I want to check it out.”
I groan. Clothes shopping is another of my least favourite things – all that standing around and trying on things for hours on end, not to mention all the new lines of clothing have been dresses lately. I’d much rather my purple top and leaf pants, thanks.
“I’ll buy you a smoothie afterwards if you come with us!” Raven bribes.
“Only if it’s chocolate,” I reply, grabbing my pouch.
Crystal and I sit on a branch in Acorn Summit, trying to brainstorm ideas of where to go next.
“We could try the shops in Treetop Bend,” Says Crystal.
“Yeah, maybe we could…” I break off in mid-sentence as I receive a message through the Whisper System. It’s sort of a telepathic thing pixies can do to send quick messages over long distances.
Dearest darlingest Ruby…
Hurry up and get out of there! We’re taking Rose to Summit Style NOW!
I wince at the volume of the message. It’s rather loud. Then again, Raven is quite a loud fairy. Well, at least, from what I’ve experienced. I turn to Crystal.
“Message from Raven,” I say. “She and Hazel have got Rose. They’ll be here any minute!”
Crystal jumps up. “We better get out of here,” She says. “Into the Winter Woods, quickly!”
As fast as we can, we make our way to the border.
Raven and I flash our Membership cards as we go in. Diva frowns at Hazel, waiting for her to show one too.
“She’s with us,” I say quickly. She shrugs and goes back to rearranging a shelf of shoes which have been pushed over.
The shop is quiet today, with only a few pixies milling around, looking at clothes and trying things on. Raven instantly makes a beeline for the ‘new releases’ section.
“Well, come on!” Says Raven impatiently. “Stop dawdling and help me find a new dress!”
I pull a dress off the rack, and hold it up to my chest.
Turning towards Rose and Hazel, I spin around, swishing the yellow and red fabric around.
“What d’you think? My colour?” I ask, hoping they say yes.
“It’s very… bright,” Says Rose.
“Well? Is that good or bad?” I ask impatiently.
“Maybe you should try it on, see what you look like in it,” suggests Hazel.
“I think I will, if you guys won’t tell me!” I say, huffing and turning towards the dressing room.
I slip on the dress, look at myself in the mirror, and emerge from the dressing room 30 seconds later. I’m very proficient at this sort of thing now.
“It suits you,” Says Rose, grinning mischievously. “Brings out the colour of you hair.”
“Har-har-har. Very funny.” I say, flipping my ponytail in Rose’s direction.
Rose laughs and ducks behind a rack of new stock.
Sticking my tongue out, I pick up a new dress. Rose will have to survive Summit Style on her own while I try on another outfit.
I shiver and wrap my arms tighter around myself. The Winter Woods are cold, colder than the ocean on the mainland at the end of autumn. Thankfully, there was a Frost talent posted at the autumn border. My wings are covered in a layer of sparkly ice crystals.
“What are we going to do now?” Asks Crystal. I try not to envy the thick cotton jacket she changed into moments ago. I regret getting Izzy to modify my skirt now – once the silvermist blue material was long and reached my ankles, but now it’s short, and barely covers my knees.
“I’m not sure,” I say. “There’s a few shops around here. Do you think we should try them?”
“It’s worth a shot,” Says Crystal, shrugging. “Let’s start with Gale’s Outfitters. It’s closest. We can buy something a bit warmer for you whilst we’re there as well, if you want.”
I smile, gratitude building up inside me. “Thanks. I’ll pay, you buy them using your Membership?”
Crystal grins. “Sounds like a plan,” She says. “Come on.”
I walk through aisles of clothing, occasionally catching a glimpse of Raven or Hazel, commenting on their findings and shaking my head when they ask if I’ve found anything yet.
I’ve never been one for clothes shopping. I used to love it when I was younger, before I started the PEF. My wardrobe is filled with rows and rows of old fashions, which I’ll occasionally mix and match, but I usually stick to my purple top and pants. They’re comfortable and easy to move around in.
I sigh, hoping Raven will finish up soon. I really want that smoothie.
Gale didn’t seem to mind one bit that she was really selling an outfit to me. I guess she doesn’t really get that many visitors at this time of year. Pixies are busy prepping for spring and autumn; there’s no need to fly through the Winter Woods.
I change into my new outfit instantly – it’s a replica of Silvermist’s famous winter outfit – and instantly feel a hundred times warmer than seconds before. We search the shop for a little longer, hoping to find something to give to Rose, but no such luck. We leave the store empty handed (well, technically – I don’t count my new outfit, as it isn’t in my hands).
Ember’s Essentials doesn’t hold anything either, but I do manage to succeed in annoying the pixie dust out of Ember by knocking a snow globe off a shelf. I leave the shop ten ivy leaves poorer.
Five minutes later, I sit down on a snow capped branch above the enormous waterfall that gives the meadow Chilly Falls its name. I sigh. This is hopeless.
“Alright,” I say, putting my head in my hands, “I give up. I can’t feel my face, I managed to get onto two shopkeeper’s bad lists and I am officially the worst sister ever.”
Crystal frowns. “We haven’t tried the Spring Meadows yet,” she says. “The spring border isn’t that far from here; we could try something like Treetop Housewares or Harmony’s Sweet Sho-”
I jump up, slapping myself for my own stupidity. “Ow!” I shake my head. “That’s it! By the Second Star, Crystal, you’re a genius! Why didn’t I think of this before?!”
“What? Wait – Ruby, where are you going?”
I’ve already made it halfway across the meadow when I turn and grin at her.
“Why, to Aunty Bella’s, of course.”
I enter Bella’s Baubles with Crystal trailing not far behind me. It’s been ages since I’ve seen Bella, but I knew her when I was younger. I used to visit her shop with Rose when I was little. Bella Rose knew our mother, and used to look after Rose and my brother, Dustin, on days she had to work shifts at the same time as our dad. Somewhere along the line we started calling her Aunty Bella, and it stuck.
Bella looks up from her desk as I enter, and a smile spreads across her face.
“Ruby! So good to see you!”
“Hey Aunty Bella,” I say, giving her a hug.
“And who’s your friend?” Asks Bella, indicating to Crystal, who’s leaning against a wall, panting slightly.
“Aunty Bella, this is Crystal,” I say. “Crystal, this is my Aunty Bella.”
Crystal gives me a questioning look. “I’ll explain later,” I tell her. Explaining anything to do with my childhood is exhausting. I usually let Rose take care of that sort of thing.
“So what can I help you with today, dear?” Asks Bella.
“I need a gift for Rose,” I explain. “It’s her birthday tomorrow, and I haven’t been able to find anything for her!”
Bella chuckles. “Yes, I’m aware it’s her birthday tomorrow. She came in just yesterday. Didn’t breathe a word to me about it, but I remembered.”
I laugh. That sounded like Rose – never make a big deal out of anything.
“Why was she here?” I ask.
Bella beams. “She wanted to get her ears pierced.”
I stare at her. “Rose… Wanted her ears pierced?”
Bella nods. “She said something about losing a bet with a friend. I did it for free, of course. My birthday treat to her.”
I make a mental note to ask Raven bet she made with Rose later. Then an idea flies into my head.
“Aunt Bella… I don’t suppose you have any earrings for sale right now, do you?”
Bella nods. “Of course! They’re just over here.”
Crystal and I follow her over to a shelf filled with an assortment of earrings.
“What about these?” Asks Crystal, pointing to a pair decorated with diamonds.
“Can you see Rose flying around doing missions with those on?” I giggle.
Crystal grins. “Perhaps not.”
I pick up a pair of studs, decorated with a pearl on either earring.
“These are the ones.” I say, holding them up for Crystal to see.
“They’re perfect!” She exclaims.
“Those are never pearls,” Says Aunt Bella. “Very rare and extremely fragile. That pair you’ve got there are the only ones I have.”
“I’ll take them,” I tell her.
Bella smiles. “She’ll love them, dear. Here, let me go get a bag for them.”
I tap my foot impatiently, waiting for Rose to hurry up and show me what she looks like in the bottoms she picked out.
“Rose,” I threaten. “If you don’t come out of their before I count to five, I will make you try on the frilliest, sparkliest, and pinkest dress I can find, understand?
“Hey, I’m sorry that I can’t throw a pinch of dust and magically change into it like I do everything else. It doesn’t work on stuff I don’t own.”
I roll my eyes at the annoyance in Rose’s voice.
“If you don’t put it on and show me already, I’ll pay for it at the counter and make you take it home, even if you look terrible in it.”
I hear Rose sigh loudly. “Fine.”
Rose pulls back the plum purple curtain and steps out, looking uncomfortable being on the spot.
“What?!” She demands, spotting Hazel and I staring.
I move around Rose in circles, seeing how they fit her. I reach out and tug at the skirt.
“Well?” Says Rose, looking annoyed. “Do I pass the Raven inspection?”
I squint at the skirt again.
“Yeah, it’s good.” I say, leaning back casually. Then I heft the small pile of tops I found into Rose’s arms. “Try these on and see which one matches best.”
Rose raises an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
“I’ll buy you an extra-large chocolate smoothie…” I coax.
She sighs again and stomps back into the dressing room. “There’d better be extra ice cream,” She mutters.
I’ve actually found something that’s worse than shopping – shopping with Raven.
I try on the tops one by one, exiting the change rooms so that Raven can give her opinion. Hazel sits on a nearby chair, unsuccessfully attempting to hide her laughing.
Finally, after what seems like hours, Raven exclaims, “That’s the one!” And drags me over to the mirror.
I’m surprised to see she’s actually got a point. The top is a pretty good fit, its shoulderless sleeves don’t hang off my hands and the straps aren’t too long. Its red, which clashes with the pink skirt, but a quick dye job will fix that.
By the Second Star, I’m starting to sound like Raven.
“So – what d’you think?” Demands Raven.
I turn around, smiling. “I love it,” I exclaim. Raven does a somersault in mid-air and high-fives Hazel.
“Mission accomplished.” She says.
As Crystal and I make our way through Neverberry Thicket, I pull out the earrings so I can have a closer look at them.
“Are you sure it’s a good idea to have those out whilst we’re flying?” Says Crystal tentatively.
“It’ll be fine,” I assure her. “Trust me, I’m a brilliant multitask-“
“Ruby, look out!”
I look up in time to see the branches I’m about to run into, but not enough to dodge it. I crash head first into them, tearing my jacket and dropping an earring…
Note: I am still working on the rest of this story and hope to publish it soon.