Setting note: Jane’s thought “no ap to the end of his name” means that Andrew does not have a name following royal naming conventions, despite the royal-red hair.
Content warning: this story includes mentions of slavery and nudity.
Jane liked going to the mall, hanging out with her friends there, like most of the people she knew did; like, she was pretty sure, teenagers everywhere did.
So when family moved from a small, middle-class neighborhood in the burbs to an upscale one with her mother’s second promotion in a year, she prevailed on a new friend in her new school, a shy boy named Andrew with a shock of red hair but no ap to the end of his name (immediately giving him and Jane something in common), to show her the mall.
“It’s not going to be the kind of thing you’re used to,” he warned.
Jane scoffed. “I can handle a mall, Andy. It’s not like I grew up in the ghetto or something.” Even though, to the super-rich and royals they went to school with, she might as well have.
“All right. If you flip out…”
“I know. Do so quietly. Geez, Andy. I’m not an American or something.”
He’d only smiled weakly, and agreed to show her around, because, really, what else was he going to do?
Freak out quietly. She wasn’t going to freak out. She wasn’t a country bumpkin. She really wasn’t. But this mall… if mall you could call it…
“Andy, tell me I don’t look like a country bumpkin.”
“You really don’t,” he assured her. “Do you want to put me on a leash? You’d fit in better.”
She eyed him thoughtfully. He looked serious. He sounded serious. And there certainly were any number of people wandering around with collared slaves, some on leashes, some not. She smiled, a slow thing that seemed to start at her toes. The stores were fancier. The floors were fancier. There were naked slaves in a store window right there, practically in front of her nose. Naked! Her family was well-off, but Jane had only ever seen two or three slaves up close, and never quite this close.
She wrapped her arm around Andy’s waist, getting a small smile from him. “I think we’ll do just fine,” she said, feeling it becoming true as she said it. “Let’s just window shop.” The blonde in the window was pretty cute, after all.
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