Disclaimers:  I do not own Gundam Wing or any of its characters.

Notes:  Lily and her family stop at a village to buy supplies and clothing.



Secrets



Part Six


Lily watched as the village came into her view.  She quickly made sure that Quatre was covered enough to hide what he was.  It
wouldn’t do to have people reporting that they’d seen Quatre, especially if those soldiers came here.

“There . . . soon, you’ll have some fresh, clean clothes.  Won’t that be nice?”

Quatre, still a little shaken from his nightmare, nodded.  “Yes, Mama.”

Duo, who had awakened from his nap only a few short minutes ago, was a bit more enthusiastic about the idea of clean
clothes.  “New clothes?  Yay!  Do I get ta pick ‘em?”

Lily laughed lovingly at Duo’s cheerful attitude.  She hoped he’d never change.  “Yes . . . you get to pick them.”

Duo smiled, then set about to cheering Quatre.  His happy demeanor eased Quatre from his fright until Quatre was laughing right
along with him.  The earlier trouble of his nightmare was apparently forgotten as Duo played with him, sitting beside Lily, and
playing peekaboo to pass the time until they reached the village.  Lily was grateful for having such a considerate son, so kind
even at his young age.

Quatre and Duo’s playing kept Lily entertained until the wagon pulled to a stop.  She looked up, biting her bottom lip nervously.  
“Are we there?”  She found herself asking, although she could plainly see that they were in the village.

Howard nodded.  “Yep.  I think we should go to the tavern first so the little ones can get something to eat.  We have been on the
road for a while without a break, and I’m sure the kids are hungry.”

Lily nodded and pulled Quatre into her arms.  “Let’s go, then.”  

She accepted Howard’s offered hand and he helped her to step down from the wagon.  Then Howard picked Duo up and set
him on his feet, helping Une and Solo down off the horse as well.  He paid a boy to take care of the wagon and animals,
following the youth as he set them up in the livery for the time being.  Lily pulled her hood up further, obscuring her features
from view as much as possible.

In her arms, Quatre did the same, only leaving enough space to peek out.  Duo held onto his mother’s skirt, apparently nervous
about being in this strange village.  Solo and Une were standing nearby as well, no doubt just as frightened as the rest of them.

“Come along, children . . . let’s go inside and wait for your uncle.”  Lily said, taking hold of Duo’s hand and heading for the
local tavern.  

It wouldn’t be all that difficult for Howard to find them in here . . . he had said they were going to get something to eat.  Solo
and Une followed behind her quickly, Une hiding herself within her own cloak.  Solo probably would have done the same, if he
hadn’t given his cloak to Quatre for him to use.

Still, Solo moved forward and opened the door for her, being as polite as he usually was.  He was a silent boy most of the time,
yet very kind.  “Thank you, Solo.”  Lily smiled, then strode into the establishment, Une and Solo following behind while Duo
stayed by her side.

Lily felt a little nervous as she looked around at the interior of the tavern.  Though there were many windows, there was only the
one door . . . leaving escape next to impossible.  She swallowed and tried to disregard her fears.  It was too soon for the soldiers
to start looking in other areas for Quatre.  They’d start with the palace’s immediate vicinity before looking in other villages.

A hand fell on Lily’s shoulder and she turned her gaze to smile at Howard.  He must have just arrived.  Right now, she was
thankful for his company.  It was reassuring to have him around, for the single fact that most thieves or other such criminals
would not attack an escorted woman.

Howard nodded to her, then gestured toward a table before taking his hand from her shoulder and walking over to it.  She
followed him and sat, keeping Quatre sitting on her lap.  She smiled as she watched Howard get the other children settled in
seats around the table.  Then she turned her attention away from them and looked around at all the other tables in the tavern.  
There were a few people eating, not many but there were a scattered number.  Thankfully, no one was looking her way.

“What can I get for all of you?  You poor dears look hungry.”

Howard held up a hand and smiled at the kind-looking barmaid.  She had brown hair and kind, warm blue eyes . . . she was
rather attractive, although it was obvious by the bags under her eyes that she had not been sleeping well lately . . . perhaps
because of the nearby attack on the royal family.

“We’re travelers Ma'am.  It’ll be a while before we stop again.  Is there anything that will keep us sustained for a while?”

“Leavin’ the kingdom, hm?  You're not the first.”  She seemed to take in their bedraggled states, although her smile never left her
face.  “A lot of people are scared nowadays, what with the attack on the royal family.  I’m fixin’ to leave myself once my little
one, Megan, is well enough to travel.”  She smiled fondly at Lily, who was still holding Quatre.  “I see you waited yourself.”

Lily looked down at Quatre, his hood having fallen open at some point.  Due to his nightmare earlier, he still looked rather pale
and tired.  He actually looked ill.

Lily smiled at the barmaid.  “Yes . . . he has been unwell.  I waited, as you are.”

The barmaid snuck a peek at Quatre and cooed at him as she stroked a finger lightly across his flushed cheek.  “He is positively
adorable.”

Lily chuckled as Quatre shyly hid his face against her.  “Thank you.”

“Actually, all your children are beautiful . . . you should be proud.”  

Lily felt herself blushing at the remark.  She knew these things, but it was good to hear such compliments of her family.  
“Thank you, Miss.”

The barmaid nodded and smiled.  “You want something that will keep for a while, but nothing too strong for the little one.  Our
stew is the best to be had.  For the little one, I would suggest some beef broth.”

“That will be fine, thank you, Miss.”  Howard said.

“No problem.  Shouldn’t be too much of a wait.”  She said, patting Quatre’s head once before turning and heading away.

Patiently, they waited for the barmaid to return with their meals.  Lily tried not to let her nervousness show, although she was
quite agitated with being in such a public place so close to Quatre’s old home.  They had traveled less than a day, it wasn’t far
enough away.  Although she knew that Quatre could not be recognized . . . no one knew what he looked like besides his family .
. . she still feared that he would be found and hurt.

A loud string of profanities caught her ear and she turned, eyes wide as she watched an angry man tip over one of the tables.  
He was most obviously drunk, his staggering stature portraying that fact rather clearly.

“Damn Feles!  I’d like to skin them all alive!”  He shouted angrily, hurling a tankard across the room.

In her arms, Quatre shivered and tried to hide himself, for he knew what he was, why that man was so angry.  That man was
yelling about Quatre’s race, the feline elf-like species known as Feles . . . and they were the ones that were on the hunt for the
poor boy for some unknown reason.  Lily had recognized the uniform of the nomadic creatures . . . although all of the soldiers
had been human.  Most Feles considered themselves above humans, and so strove to rule all that they saw.  Thankfully, Quatre
was nothing like them, except in physical appearance . . . although Lily had never actually seen a Feles besides Quatre with her
own eyes.  Why they were trying to find Quatre, was a complete mystery to her.  Perhaps it had to do with his mixed heritage,
the fact that his father had been a human . . . she just did not know.

“Brutus!  You calm yourself or I’ll have to have you thrown out!”  The familiar barmaid warned the drunken man.  “We have
children in here today and I won’t have you scaring them.”

The drunk made a sour face and hung his head.  “Sorry.”  He mumbled, righting his table and slumping down in his seat.

The barmaid smiled and patted the man on the back, then turned and walked over to the table where Lily and her family sat.  
“Sorry ‘bout him.  He usually ain’t so much trouble, but with the attacks and all . . . he’s been getting riled up lately.”

“It’s all right.  I quite understand.”  Lily said, her hand gently stroking Quatre’s back to calm him.

“I’ll just go get your food.”  The barmaid smiled, and then was gone again.

It was only a few minutes later that the barmaid returned with their meals.  Drinks and food were served to each of them.  
Howard kindly offered to take Quatre, to which Lily agreed.  She carefully handed the boy over, knowing that Quatre couldn’t
be solely dependant on her from now on.  Howard was here, he was family now.  Quatre should learn to trust the man.  Lily
wouldn’t let Quatre or any of the children grow bitter because of these bad times . . . they all deserved happiness.

The meal passed quietly.  Quatre was well-behaved in Howard’s arms, obediently eating his broth and picking at some bread.  
The children were given milk to drink with their stew, while Howard and Lily were served a cider spiced with cinnamon and
honey to sweeten it.

When they were all finished, Howard paid the bill and they departed the tavern, bidding the kind barmaid a goodbye.  Quatre
waved to the young woman from Howard’s arms.

Next, they found the one and only clothing supplier in this small village.  Lily took Quatre back from Howard as they entered the
building.

“I’ll take care of Duo and Solo, you see to Une and Quatre.”  Howard said, giving Lily a kind smile.

Lily nodded, and looked around the little shop, searching for something suitable along the shelving.  A number of garments were
on display, not much but there was some.  It wasn’t long before a woman approached and asked if she needed help.  She looked
rather like a kindly grandmother . . . and in all probability was just that.

“Yes.  My family and I are to be on the road for an unknown amount of time.  I need clothes for myself and my children,
suitable for the cooling weather that’s upon us.  I’ll need tunics and breeches for my son, and a cloak, preferably one with a
hood attached.  I don’t want him catching a cold.  And suitable clothes for my young daughter as well.”

“What darling children.”  The woman smiled, her eyes lighting up with a delighted twinkle.  “Let’s see what we have in stock . .
. I usually store up clothes in the back in varying sizes, never know when clothing will be needed.”  She stroked her hand over
Quatre’s head lightly.  “Let’s take care of the little one first, hm?  Just set him up on the counter so I can measure him and I’ll
take a look and see if I have anything to fit him.”

Lily did as instructed, standing Quatre up on a counter.  She watched the woman carefully, fearing that the woman would
discover Quatre’s tail at any moment.  Thankfully, she didn’t, and with a deep sigh of relief, Lily picked Quatre up once more.  
He clung to her out of nervousness . . . he must have been scared of getting discovered as well.

The woman returned with a number of garments for Quatre, showing Lily to an area where she could change him.  While Lily
was dressing Quatre in his new clothes, Une was measured for her new clothing.  The blue tunic looked rather nice on Quatre .
. . the breeches fitting him well enough.  These would do, Lily decided.

“Mama, itchy!”  Quatre complained, rubbing at the material covering his arms.

Lily sighed.  She had feared Quatre’s skin would be sensitive.  He was used to fine materials, not the coarser clothes that the
poorer classes wore.  Still, he would have to make due with what they could get.  “I’m sorry, Quatre . . . but this is the best we
can do.”

Quatre pouted, but nodded.  He still scratched at his arm, but he no longer objected.  Lily smiled softly at him, drawing him into
her arms.  “Come on, let’s see how your sister is doing.”

It took them a short while longer, but soon enough all of Lily’s family, including Lily herself, were dressed in new clothes.  
Quatre still didn’t like the clothing that he had been given.  The only thing he liked was his new cloak, and that was only because
it was of a finer material than his tunic and breeches.  

Une simply loved her new dress, with the ivory blouse and russet skirt.  She happily twirled in circles while she waited for her
brothers to get their own clothes.  Duo proudly showed off his red tunic and black breeches, while Solo more shyly showed his
mother the green tunic and brown breeches he had chosen.  Lily of course continued to wear the black that she had grown
accustomed to . . . she was still a widow after all.

Soon they had all gotten their clothing, including a number of changes for them to wear until they reached the next village, and
Howard got his new set of boots.  Then they left the store, bidding a kind farewell to the people who had assisted them in the
store.

Howard retrieved the wagon from the livery, while Lily bought some supplies from the local general store . . . some food, and
other such necessities.  Once ready, the small group set off once again, leaving the little village behind as they went on their way
to their new home.



To Be Continued . . .