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I found it incredibly easy to talk to this girl, despite our differences, and I soon stopped comparing each reaction and comment she made with Celeste, and started focusing completely on her. She was engaging, with a sense of humour and an open look on the world which made me seriously doubt whether she truly hated the upper classes. She only disagreed with the barriers between them, and the treatment of those who were lower, which was completely understandable. If she was telling me how the rest of the resistance felt, I suddenly began to feel that they might have a new member, in myself.

"Are you alright?" She asked, and I realised I'd been staring out of the window, deep in thought.

"Sorry. I was just thinking about my brother." I covered.

"What about him?"

"What you said earlier, about him marrying your sister. I just wondered if he knows what he's getting himself in to."

"I'm sure he does. I've seen them together, in my shop. Although now I think about it, he was polite to me then... you may be right about him."

I chuckled softly.

"Thank you. I'm glad I may be right about my own brother."

She rolled her  eyes and sipped her drink again. I had found the food and drink to be delightful here, although highly different from what I was used to. There was more flavour, and everything was a different colour or different shape.

"So what do you do?" She asked.

"Do? Ah you mean my work." I thought quickly and decided that working in the halls would make me useful to the resistance, should she let them know about me. "I work in the Selvite halls. My brother got me the job, so he can make sure I am looked after. My sister works there too."

"That seems kind."

"It was. And what do you sell in your shop?"

"Ingredients for spells. It's one of the most popular trades, so we have to keep the prices low, and that sucks." She shrugged, her hands wrapped around the cup she drank from.

"I'm sure it does." I grinned. "And what do you like to do in your abundant spare time?" I asked with a hint of sarcasm.

"Oh you know, so much free time... I like to read."

"Read? Read what?" I asked, interested.

"Anything I can get my hands on. Books aren't that available to us, as you know, and so anything that comes my way I snatch up immediately. I even..." She leaned closer and beckoned for me to do the same. Close up I was struck by the beauty that she held; not the obvious beauty of her sister but a much more understated, soft and kind beauty. "... This one time a spell book came in to the shop. A selvite had ordered it along with some ingredients, and it took me so much effort to get it in I figured, what's the harm in looking? So I read a bit."

"Did you understand it?" I asked, curious. Durmans were not supposed to read spell books that exceeded their ability. It was illegal and if I was in my usual capacity I would be expected to hand her over for punishment. Thank goodness I wasn't.

"Some parts, yes. There are some of the methods that I can't understand because apparently they have to be taught, but I know the ins and outs."

"Have you ever tried doing one of them?"

"Of course not!" She exclaimed. "Someone would find me within seconds. Especially if it went wrong."

"Of course." It was then I think that she realised we were still almost nose to nose, leaning over the table. I couldn't  help but smile at her; she had an adorable nose and I found myself wanting to... wait, stop.

What on earth?

Safiya pulled back, embarrassed and took a sip of her drink without looking at me, which gave me time to collect myself. What on earth was that? I had let myself get too involved in this act and now I was beginning to think of her... like that. I had never had those thoughts... well, not since the adolescent insanity that every young boy goes through.

"You think a lot." She observed, pulling me once more from my reverie.

"Some would say that was a good thing." I replied, smiling at her.

"Are you finished?" She asked, putting down her empty cup.

"Yes. I shall pay."

"No, you can't!" She replied.

"I get paid more, working for my brother. Allow me." I covered, realising that it probably wasn't normal behaviour to offer to pay if you had just met someone. Lack of money made sure of that.

"Well... thank you." She smiled. I paid and then followed her out of the café. "I'd better get back to work now." She sighed, looking across the street at the shop.

"I would be very interested to see where you work. I was sent to pick up supplies by my brother anyway; I see no reason why I cannot get them from your shop." I was anxious to spend more time with her, although I convinced myself it was because I needed to know about the resistance. I could not yet bring it up, and estimated that it would be a good number of weeks before I could without suspicion. Unless of course, she brought it up first.

 

The End

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