This is set in the timeline prior to when Lucy joined the guild.

Swaying her hips, a smile on her lips and her head held high, Lucy was very happy today. She was proud that her weeks of hard work had finally paid off.

Lucy wiped the sweat off her forehead. She had just finished the job of washing a dog. While searching for jobs, she had tried explaining that she was a mage, but people had just smiled and offered her a job of cleaning the chimney. Now, she wouldn't hesitate on proving herself as a mage and summoning a spirit or two, but she decided against it as it would tax her a lot magically.

Walking the ferocious dog, mowing the lawn, cleaning the chimney and SE plug wagon, looking after bratty children and yes, washing the dog, was a part of the many jobs Lucy did as a mage. The plus point was, she didn't exhaust herself 'magically' but physically. She could still feel the sore pain in her back which began when she was mowing the lawn of Mrs. Sanders. After doing all these jobs, one could say she had learnt a hard lesson on hard work and perseverance. She also thought that before joining a full - fledged guild, she should get some experience on the jobs mages usually did. She also thought that perhaps it wasn't exactly what mages did.

But Lucy didn't mind. They all paid Lucy well, as per the decided amount, and she couldn't be more happy. Now, Lucy wasn't the type who was greedy for money, but living a life as a runaway, with nothing but keys and toffees in your pocket, life was hard. But Lucy had already contemplated it. She was ready to embrace the challenges. She was ready to starve (though her sweet neighbor was always having something for Lucy) or get kicked out of the apartment (the land lord was too kind for that).

But there was that dress…

A week ago, as she whisked through the shopping zone, her eyes fell on the most wonderful piece of dress. She wasn't all for dresses, but that specific one was gorgeous. With the flowing silk fabric, she imagined herself stride proudly in it with her boyfriend, which she didn't have, perhaps in that special guild she wished to join.

Well, a girl needs to satisfy her needs right?

Clutching the envelope tightly in her hands, she walked quickly to the store where she had seen the dress. She wished that the dress was still there. Lucy wanted to buy it badly, as it was also on discount. If she couldn't have it, she was sure she would regret it, after all she had worked so hard on collecting enough money for it.

As she entered the shopping district, she was welcomed by the hustle and bustle of the lively townsfolk. Before her were a group of children playing even in the crowd, which made Lucy's heart bounce with joy and inwardly prayed for their safety and happiness. She watched women gossip and men talk blatantly. Some spoke in hushed tones, while some nearly shouted.

The vendors yelled out their prices and attracted customers with offers. The air was fresh with the smell of baked potatoes and other delicacies, the thought of which made Lucy's mouth water. She then realized, that she was starving. The last thing she ate was bread and jam early in the morning, and right now the sun was almost setting in the sky. She watched the baker bake delicious potatoes with seasonings, making it crispy and spicy. She decided to buy some of it before heading home with her new dress.

Lucy smiled as she finally passed through the crowd and reached the shop. She was elated on seeing that the gown was yet standing there on the windowsill, shining gallantly as an armour, but a skillfully and gracefully stitched fabric turned into a gown of glamour. She was about to push the door open, but before hearing the tingling of the bell, her ears filled with the cries of a child.

She stopped midway and turned back. Her heart clenched with pain when her eyes took in the scene. An old lady was sitting on the floor with a basket of oranges before her. Beside her was a child, a baby, stretching out its arms towards the lady and crying.

"Hush, little baby, I shall buy some milk for you once I manage to sell some oranges, so do be patient." The lady whispered gently and helplessly.

Lucy didn't know how long she stood there. Nobody looked at the insignificant lady, the baby or the oranges. When the street light flicked on, the old lady packed the basket of oranges and hauled up the baby. She couldn't sell a single orange. Lucy felt her heart drop when she saw the look of sheer sadness and disappointment on the lady's face. She looked at the envelope and then the dress on the window. She made up her mind and she didn't even think twice.

She ran up to the old lady and pressed the envelope into her frail hands.

Lucy had thought to simply give the money to the lady and the child, but the lady had insisted. In the end she didn't get the dress, but she didn't regret it at all.

She walked home with a warm feeling of happiness in her chest and two bags of oranges.

-X