24. Priceless

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( Zayn's POV )

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( Zayn's POV )

For a moment, I saw her... like, really saw her.

The bright smile on her face was one that I knew was special because I hadn't seen one quite like it before. She saw herself the way she wanted to be. The bride, but without all this other crap. The woman who looks into the mirror and sees her younger self smiling sweetly back at her, proud to be standing in that dress. She's happy because she can tell herself that she did it the way she wanted to do it.

But I know, the second that dress is worn a little too long, or put back on that rack, she's going to realize she's back here with me. She isn't doing this because she's found the person she wants to spend the rest of her life with but instead she's doing this to run from something she can't run from. She's hiding from it and waiting to feel better — to feel full again. But she won't, not by waiting, not by running.

"I really like this one!" She beams, swaying from side to side in the puffy dress that looks like its straight out of a fairytale. "What do you guys think?" She turns to face us.

Once again, it's that smile that sells every last bit of it. A shine like that is priceless.

"It's lovely, Dear." My mother replies softly as she looks at her in awe.

"You look beautiful." I say, speaking my mind.

My mother peers over to me with a slightly surprised look. I know it's an odd comment for me to make, especially after everything that happened only a few weeks ago, but it's true, she does look beautiful. Honestly, she just looks beautiful when she's happy. I'm so used to seeing her nervous or scared that I forgot that this was an emotion she could express and it's wonderful to see.

After my comment, she smiles even wider and seems to like it. Then, she turns back to the mirror and swishes the dress around a bit more. She's now tried on thirteen dresses and none of which have made her look this happy.

I can tell this is the one, I could tell the second she put it on and saw herself, the question is, does she know that yet?

Just as I had predicted, the smile slowly fades from her face after a few moments longer. Her fingers grab each other and she begins fidgeting again. Suddenly, I begin to feel it too — the anxiousness. I just want that smile to stay a little longer, as long as it can anyway. But, I knew this would happen. No dress, no vale, no ring is going to make her happy, not for as long as I'd like her to be.

"I-um... actually... I think I'm going to try again another day..." she says, looking down at her fidgeting hands.

"But Love, you look beautiful! I thought you liked this one..." my mother interjects.

"It's nice... really nice but I just... I think I need to do this another day..." she admits, stepping away from the mirrors and walking back to the change rooms.

My mother looks to me with a look of disappointment. She knows as well as I do what's happening I'm sure. She probably knew the entire story way before I did, even then, you don't need to know the story to tell how truly sad and scared she is.

Moments later, Isabelle returns in her normal clothes ready to head home. She looks awfully guilty when she comes closer to us.

"I'm sorry, I wasted your time... I didn't mean to... it's just—"

"Oh, don't worry about it! I didn't find the right dress on the first day either!" My mother hugs her, rubbing her upper arms to comfort her.

They head for the door, but I need to speak with that lady who helped dress Isa.

"I'll be right out." I tell them.

My mother looks back confused.

"I have to deal with something." I say quietly, so only she can hear since Isa is up front.

She nods and follows her out.

I go into the back to find the lady hanging up the dress Isa loved so much.

"Oh, hello, she just left—"

"Actually, I'm here to buy the dress." I cut right to the chase.

"Oh, but I thought you were leaving it for another day."

I shake my head. "No, I'd like to buy it now."

"A change of heart," she smiles. "She does look very lovely in this." She says, grabbing the dress.

"Yes... she does."

We walk up to the cash and I pay for the dress. Since this is a small family run shop, the dresses here may not last long on the shelves. I don't want her to miss out on this dress just because she's nervous or upset, it's the one she talked about always wanting — I could tell when she put it on.

It wasn't cheap but it is a wedding after all, nothing is very cheap about a wedding. After paying for it, the lady congratulates us on getting engaged and to that I respond with a very quiet thank you and take the dress outside.

While walking to the car with the dress, I realize that we aren't really engaged. We never exchanged a ring because neither of us proposed... not properly anyway. Maybe that's why she's so nervous and feels so strange about all of this — none of it is being done the way it should be. Sure, things can always be changed up but she said she liked traditional weddings — she likes the way it's always been done. Perhaps actually being proposed to could make her a bit happier.

I very carefully put the dress in the back, hoping it doesn't get destroyed back there. My mother has taken Isa somewhere else apparently since they aren't in the car. I guess she had a hunch about what I was planning to do and didn't want her seeing — thank you, Mum.

So, I get into the back seat, waiting for them to return. It doesn't take long for them to get back and when they do I see that they both have ice cream. I smile, seeing Isa's bright face as she holds two cones in her hands. One seems to be strawberry and the other one vanilla — my favourite.

My Mum gets into the driver's seat and turns around to see me with her own ice cream cone in her hand.

"Hope you don't mind but we were both craving some ice cream so we went to get some. I made sure we brought you back a vanilla cone, your favourite."

Surprisingly, Isa gets into the back with me and hands me my slightly melted cone.

"Thank you." I smile softly.

"No problem! Thank you both for coming with me... I know this was kind of a waste of time but I appreciate it."

"Every dress you try on is one closer to the one you'll choose!" My mother smiles to her but then peers back at me with a warmer smile as if telling me I did the right thing.

Seeing how little effort it takes to make Isa smile, makes me wonder... maybe this could be a special day after all...

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