~Ten years after Lottie and Adrian's first meeting~
It was the middle of winter, and the dreaded cold had fallen like a suffocating blanket over the city. The snow turned the ground into a blank white page, just waiting to be colored. Street lamps looked like orbs of fire in the darkness of the night. The streets were abandoned, all but a lone figure who painted the canvas in red and black.
Lottie sat on a wooden bench, her posture straight, and her eyes staring forward into her own thoughts. Her crimson hair fell to the small of her back, and her inky black outfit was speckled in white snow flakes. With her completely still appearance, the only sign of life from her was the steady puffs of her breath in the frosty air.
She clutched onto the bag that lay in her lap. It was a bag from one of the shops nearby, which contained a special item for a person she held dear. Just a small present really, which she was anticipating to give as a Christmas present.
Some ways down the street, was another blotch of paint that colored the same canvas.
Adrian took long strides through the expanse of white, twirling a grey shopping bag of his own in his hand. His charcoal black coat and scarf kept him fairly warm in the cold and he held a slight smile on his face.
As he neared the still figure on the bench, he slowed down a bit. He worried whether the girl was alright, as nobody should be sitting out in weather like this so carelessly. After a few seconds of contemplating, he decided to ask her.
After a quick glance for traffic, he crossed the street, and made his way to the red headed girl.
"Excuse me, miss, are you alright?"
It took Lottie a second to realize she was being spoken to, but when she did, she quickly turned her head toward the stranger and gave a small nod.
Adrian stood there for a moment, not convinced at all by her answer. No body just sat around out in the freezing cold. That was a one way ticket to getting sick.
That's when he noticed some other strange features about the girl. Her coat and clothes were a bit worn, and her lips were slightly blue. The most troubling thing was the faint signs of a bruise on her neck and cheek.
With a little sigh and a kind smile, he sat himself on the other side of the bench, placing his bag beside him. Then he unwrapped the scarf around his neck, and wrapped it around Lottie's, covering up to her nose.
"Hey," she exclaimed in surprise, pulling the scarf down so it was just below her chin.
"You seem pretty cold, so I can't have such a pretty girl as yourself getting sick," He said coolly, sitting back on the bench.
She pouted a small bit, but then got over it, continuing her distant stare forward. It was quiet for a few moments, but Adrian soon got bored.
"Well, since you do have my scarf, can I know your name?"
She turned towards him, than thought for a moment, before answering.
"Well, I guess you may. You can call me Elizabeth," she said, lying through her teeth. Although he seemed like a nice guy, she didn't go around telling strangers her name.
"Well, Elizabeth, it's not nice to lie," He said with a smirk, chuckling at her shocked expression.
"Sorry, Lottie, but you don't just forget red hair like yours," he said, taking a strand of her scarlet hair and showing it to her, as if she had forgotten it. "So do you remember me," he added.
Lottie thought for a moment, and studied the face that seemed to be new to her, and finally realized when she saw the grin that had made its way onto his face.
"You're the boy who was at the shops," she questioned, not sure enough to state it.
He gave a quick nod, his smile getting brighter, if it even could. She nodded to herself, taking in the information, then looking down at her lap, deep in thought.
"Well, since you don't seem to be doing much right now, may I ask you to walk with me," he said, standing up now and holding his hand out to her.
"Where," she asked, her eyebrow furrowed slightly in curiosity.
He shrugged his shoulders and said with a grin, "nowhere in particular."
Taking his hand, she stood up and stretched. It was only then that she realized just how long she had probably been sitting there for. Her muscles ached a little, and she felt just how cold her skin was. With a small shiver, she tried snuggling into her coat some more and adjusting the scarf better.
"Off we go," Adrian said childishly, the two walking side by side into the busier part of the city.
They had only been walking for about ten minutes when they reached all the shops that were open, taking in the few customers they could get that were just trying to get away from the cold.
The streets were brighter here, the lamps lighting up the side walks seeming friendlier then the ones they were by just earlier. The warm glow of light from the shops were welcoming, and Lottie couldn't help but smile.
As they were walking, Adrian stopped all of a sudden, grabbing and pulling Lottie to a stop along with him. In front of him was a shop Lottie was quite familiar with. In the window it had many dresses, all of different style and color. She liked visiting this shop, but due to her situation, she could never buy anything.
"If I remember correctly, I made you a promise, didn't I," he said, then added, "How about we go in?"
He ushered Lottie into the shop, the door bell jingling as they entered. There was an old man at the counter, his hair white as the snow outside, and his smile almost as bright as Adrian's.
"Good evening," Adrian greeted the man, quickly making his way up to the counter. "I know this is going to sound like a weird question, but you see, some years back, I promised to get this young lady a dress that was on display. I was wondering if you might still have it so I can buy it from you this evening."
The man asked for the details of the dress, and amazingly Adrian got most of the description correct. While the two went in the back of the shop, looking for a dress Lottie thought was very well already gone, she stood at a clothes rack, flipping through each dress.
"This is the one I believe," Adrian said joyfully, coming out of the back with the long black dress in his hands.
Lottie's face was contorted into one of surprise, but then switched to suspicion. She took the dress from Adrian, and studied it closely. Adrian quirked his eyebrows, not quite sure what exactly it was she was doing.
"This is the same one that was on display," Lottie finally said to the shop owner.
The man smiled, the wrinkles under his eyes scrunching up, and replied, " Yes, it is, but how do you know?"
Lottie made her way to the owner, then pointed out a stitching on the front of the dress.
"You made a small mistake on that stitch right there."
"What," the man exclaimed, squinting to see it better, then said, " huh, it seems I did. I could go and fix it for you if you'd like."
Lottie shook her head, bringing the dress closer to herself now.
"No thank you. I'd like this dress just the way it is."
"How about you go try it on then," Adrian chimed in.
The shop owner showed her the way to the dressing room, giving her the privacy to change.
After a few minutes, the door to the dressing room creaked open. Lottie walked out, the dress bottom just below her ankles.
The owner smiled, complimenting her on how she looked with the dress, and Adrian just stared for a moment.
"Well, what do you think of the dress, Adrian," Lottie asked him finally, a bit irritated at the silence coming from him.
"It looks like it was meant for you," he said finally, his smile brightening as Lottie smiled.
After changing back into her regular clothes, they all walked out of the back and Adrian bought the dress. Now they walked out of the shop, Lottie holding the bag in front of her along with the one she had originally. The sky was even darker now, the stars shining brightly over the two.
"So where do you live, miss Lottie," Adrian asked, his hazel gaze lowering to the shorter person beside him.
"Oh, it's just up ahead. Do you plan on walking me there, Mr. Adrian," she teased him.
"Well, as a matter of fact, I do."
They both laughed and carried on down the road, till they made it to the orphanage. Lottie stopped in front of the gate, and Adrian did the same, looking at the old building.
"So you live here," he stated, rather than asked, and Lottie gave a small nod.
"Yes, but just two more years and I'll be able to move out and live on my own."
"That's nice," Adrian said with a smile, then added, "but can I ask you a question."
Lottie's eyebrows furrowed, but she nodded.
Adrian raised his hand near her cheek, and brushed the bruise that was fading away.
"Did they do that to you?"
Lottie was surprised, although she knew she shouldn't have been. It was a rather obvious mark. She only looked down at the ground, not giving a response. Adrian knew that he was right.
He raised her chin, so she was facing him, and softly kissed the bruise on her cheek. It was a quick peck, but Lottie's face started to turn a light pink.
"Well, I've had fun, but it's getting late, so till next time, Lottie," He said, then turned around and gave a small wave goodbye.
"Wait! What about you scarf?"
"You can keep it. Don't want a such a pretty girl like yourself getting sick," he chuckled, then disappeared around the corner of the street.
Lottie just stood there for a moment, but then came to her senses. It was terribly cold, and she started to notice finally. With one last glance where Adrian left, she opened up the annoying creaky gate and stepped inside.
Now the canvas was blank once again, the white taking over the beauty of the city.