He read the scroll and said "We're going to need diamond and turquoise, - ..."
"How did you know my birthstone was turquoise?" I interrupted.
"I read your mind, Tilly."
"Can we continue?"
"Oh, yeah, sure."
"2 crystal balls, 2 vials of Blissy's Sleeping Draught - can you spell that?"
"Yeah, I think so. Draught is ‘d-r-a-u-g-h-t", right?"
"Yeah, I think it's that one. So we need that, and two china models of an animal from the following: unicorn, dragon, hippogriff or stag. I choose dragon and my reason, when it comes to it, will be that when I'm impassioned, it's like there's a fire rumbling deep inside me. Now you choose one and state a reason for it."
"Um... I don't know. What's a hippogriff?"
"A cross between a horse and a griffin."
"Rom, ... I don't think any of those suit me."
"Well, you have to choose."
"Er, well, I'll choose hippogriff, because sometimes it feels like I'm a mixture of different personality traits."
Romulus nodded, smiling. "So put those creatures on the list. And finally, a blue shirt and ... hm, I don't know what my favourite colour is. I tend to like any dark shade of colour. I'm guessing that means black. Yeah, so, a blue shirt and a black shirt."
"Did you read my mind again?" I asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah. Also if I look deep enough into your eyes, I see a blue aura around your thoughts."
"Oh... That's ... odd."
"Yeah, a little."
"So have you told me everything I need to buy?"
"Yeah. Let's go shopping now."
So we got dressed and left the cave, and walked for a while across beautiful countryside until we reached a small town. We entered a shop called ‘Sellman's supplies' which had a wooden door with a bell that jingled when we opened it.
The shop seemed to be bare apart from a wooden counter and shelves made from what looked like granite behind it.
Romulus led me to the table and pressed a blue button that seemed to be part of the table's design. Nothing happened. But, almost instantaneously, a man appeared.
He had long brown hair and a tiny beard. He was wearing a loose grey T-shirt and dirty jeans. He had brilliant blue eyes, the kind that seems to see right into your soul.
"What can I do for you?" he asked in a quiet voice. Was he awed? Nervous? No, he just seemed to murmur as a natural thing.
Romulus met his gaze steadily as if this were a test and replied "My friend has a list."
The man turned to me. "May I see it?" he asked.
I pulled out the sheet of paper and handed it to him.
The man looked down at it. He looked back up at Romulus.
"I don't think I should give you these things," he said calmly, putting the paper on the table and pushing it towards us.
Romulus looked confused. "Can you make that decision?"
"If I think they're going to be used to harm someone, yes."
"But how can they be used to harm someone?"
The man sighed. "I don't know, Romulus. But you are not a good person. I don't believe you have the capacity to be nice. And so I can't let you tie your soul to this poor old girl who, frankly, doesn't know what she's getting herself into."
"Hey!" I protested. "I'm here, you know. And Romulus and I love each other."
The man looked at me sympathetically. "Romulus doesn't feel love."
"Is this about Sandra?" Romulus murmured, averting his gaze.
"Yes!" Unexpected emotion flooded the man's tone. "Maybe it is! But I have good reason to bring her up! I was in love with her. And you changed her completely. I don't recognise her anymore. How can you live with yourself after ... tainting such an innocent soul?"
"I really love Tilly," Romulus answered. Now he was the quiet one.
"My ex-girlfriend loved you. No, you're dangerous, Romulus."
"I don't know how to convince you I won't hurt Tilly," he murmured.
"You won't," the man said, his voice becoming quiet, moderated again. "Look, I was nice enough to let you in the shop. I'm not giving you what you want. Could you please leave?"
Romulus picked up the list and turned around. "Come on, Tilly."
Before I turned too, the man looked at me imploringly. "Don't trust him. Whatever he tells you, he's a monster."
I sighed. "He's not."
"Couldn't you have ... tried to convince him somehow?" I asked outside. I had been startled by Romulus's acceptance of the man's reasons.
"I saw where he was coming from," Romulus murmured, looking into my eyes. "He loved Sandra... What would I do if he changed you?"
I hugged him comfortingly. "It's okay, Romulus. You can't change your nature. Let's go and get the items from another shop."
"Okay," he said half-heartedly.
Fortunately, the next shop we went to did give us the things we needed to tie our souls. In fact, the shopkeeper, a friendly-looking woman, gave us a discount and told us how happy she was that we were going to become one.
We smiled as we accepted the bag in which everything had been placed from her and wished her a good day.
Next, Romulus took me to a hill. In the warm, magical light of the setting sun, we took off our tops and replaced them with the shirts of our favourite colours.
We sat down for a while and watched the sunset. It was ... magnificent. Splendid. So many ... beautiful colours in such a spectacular array as to take one's breath away.
"So, Tilly, you do want to do this, don't you?" Romulus asked.
"Of course I do," I replied. "I love you."
"And you know that once we've done this, you'll probably never get your old life back."
"I understand," I told him.
He nodded. "Good. Because you need to otherwise this could go horribly wrong."
I swallowed hard. "Whatever happens, I'll stand by you. I won't let myself forget what you mean to me. I don't care about your past, I don't care about the fact that you're probably too dark to me, all I care about is that we're in love."
Romulus smiled. "Then I think we're ready."