Let me know if you want to read on - I might post more chapters later! (It's quite long, sorry)
Here we go!!:
‘Really? Was that honestly your best attempt?’ He looked up. A girl stood over him; she looked at least five years younger than him, if not more.
‘Attempt at what?’
‘Stealing, of course. You really thought you could just wander in there and take an apple right in front of his nose? You didn’t even run away!’ She took in his ragged, dusty attire and the purple bruise on his cheek. The side of her mouth tugged into a smirk, to his embarrassment.
He wiped his face, praying the girl hadn’t seen the tear tracks on his face - he could keep what little pride he had left. But who was this girl - and what did she want?
Narrowing his eyes, he hauled himself up from the side of the street. Even though he towered over the girl, he still felt threatened by her. ‘If you’re looking for gold, I haven’t got any.’ The girl laughed, not particularly mockingly, but all the same, he felt his blood boil.
‘I felt you needed a little guidance, maybe. Unless, of course, you’d rather sit here and starve.’ She scanned him, assessing, smirking at his silent red face and his clenched fists. ‘Thought so.’
‘I’m fine on my own, thanks.’ he snapped. She ignored him, spinning to face the other way and walking off, heading for the apple store. Oh no. She was going to try to do as he did - she would get practically annihilated. The man had hurt him badly, and he was twice the girl's size. He prayed she would walk away. He didn't even need the apple that much anyway. Yet she continued to walk.
He took in a short breath, his eyes widening as she stretched out a hand and grabbed an apple.
Shouts and uproar came from the stall. Immediately, the girl started dodging and weaving,
surprisingly fast on her feet. A stone whizzed past her and she ducked, the man calling her a name so rude he blocked his ears.
Swiftly, she turned, a smirk on her lips, and picked up a stone, hurling it into another stall. He could only watch, only stare as the streets filled with dark red liquid, the scent of grapes filling the air as two of the men stopped, seeming to recognise that the pursuit was over. Yet the third, the one who had hit him, was still chasing her as they both vanished behind a corner.
He didn’t care anyway, he told himself. Reluctantly, he turned around, refusing to listen to the screams that surely must be happening that very second. It wasn’t like it was his fault anyway, it was the girl’s own choice to go about stealing things. He forced himself to put one foot in front of the other, forced himself to walk away-
Right into the girl.
His eyes grew wide as she pressed the apple into his hand, both the girl and the fruit unscratched. How - how had she done that? It gleamed enticingly, and he forgot his manners entirely as he shoved it into his mouth. 'Thanks.' he blurted out, food still in his mouth. The girl chuckled. It was impossible - for a girl that small to outrun three grown men and to escape.
He swallowed at last. 'I'm Arlo.' He didn't think it wise to announce his heritage along with his name, and so left it as that, although he picked up on the girl’s suspicious looks at his tone. ‘You?’ he said, diverging her attention.
The girl paused for a second, chewing her lip.'I'm… Malissa.' she said at last. He wasn't quite sure if he believed her, but he went with it anyway - after all, he wasn't quite telling her everything about himself either.
‘Do you do that often?’ he asked. Surely she had to, otherwise, how could she be this nimble, this agile.
‘I don’t usually need to, but it is fun. My mother usually gives me food. It’s the only reason I don’t hate her, to be honest. She’s practically evil!’
'At least you have one.' He averted his eyes, embarrassed by her pity. 'I never knew who mine was.'
'Oh.' was all Malissa managed to get down, before she looked away. It was true, he knew the brown-haired woman couldn't have been his mother, his hair was blue, and hers was, well, brown. He doubted he even was his father's child; his father had red hair. While he wasn't ready to label himself an orphan yet, he accepted that he didn't have any parents, or any good ones, at least.
'It's okay, really. I mean, who needs parents?' He laughed hollowly, and they could both tell that he was faking it. They stood in awkward silence for a moment.
‘I don’t think the streets of Baltia are the safest place for you to be right now. If you like, and if you can stay here until night time, I’ll show you a place. It’s my special spot - the place I go where Diane - my mother - is being… Nevermind.’ she trailed off, before resuming. ‘No one goes there, except me of course, mainly because no one is allowed. But I don’t care.’ she shrugged.
Why - why was this girl - Malissa - being so… warm-hearted? 'Thanks again, for the apple.' she smirked at him, amused at something he didn’t know what.
‘Just so you know, next time try to wait until the guy isn’t looking before you steal something.’ She said before sauntering off.
Just as he was about to settle down to sleep, he noticed Malissa had left her cloak lying on the ground. Looking around furtively, he picked it up, before sleepily wrapping it around him, a shred of warmth in this cold new place, as fatigue consumed his weary body and he went to sleep.