Nigel was in Heaven. Looking round him, at the high pink banners showing huge girls faces with flowers and beads in their hair, the streamers of sparkling taffeta and deep-draping curtains of satin in every shade of pink and purple, the laughter of over-excited girls, and down here on the floor, the crowds of lovely dresses and ribbons and purses and happy, happy faces. Yes, the Pouffe-Sweetly Lolita Pageant was exactly what Heaven must be like and his heart swelled with pleasure under the corsage of his pink silk dress.
There was only one down-side as he looked round the milling crowd of girls, and it was a big one. A crushing one. Everyone was in couples or in groups. Every other girl was here with her friends: happy friends who were laughing and chatting. Some of them were even singing, but for Nigel, he had no friends he could stand with, no-one to share his girlish feelings with: no-one to tell him how lovely he looked. When Aunt Caroline had dropped him off at the conference door where she would pick him up again at six o'clock, she had told him that he would find a nice friend to sit with and to look round all the exhibition stands with together. But Nigel hadn't found anyone, because everyone was already with their friends. He felt an unhappy lump in his throat and his eyes misted over as his gaze went from bunches of happy girls to the start of the dress stands. There was nothing back there for him, where everyone was happy: but at least he could look round all the stalls and stands, the jewellery and cosmetics, the dresses and nightdresses, the lanes and lanes of lovely Lolita frills and finery.
The first dress he came to was a beautiful burst of feminine softness. It stood on a faceless mannequin, its empty sleeves hanging on either side of a perfectly tailored bodice in shirred pink chiffon, decorated at short intervals with shiny pink hearts that drew his girl's desires towards it. The sleeves puffed high above the shoulders before tapering down to the narrow waist, where they opened into two flared cuffs for each wrist, one over the other. He looked at his own sleeves, flared the same way, only his were a bit plain compared with the lightly scalloped edges with a lacy finish that looked so delicious. And the skirt! Ohhh it was divine, spreading wide to a deep frill of white chiffon at what must have been below the knee, filled out with precious petticoats, and falling all round with long, vertical folds of pale pink organza until they gathered into lovely shell-like clusters that were spaced a few inches apart all round the skirt. He found his fingers reaching forward to touch the blossoms, melting into the delicate pink shapes of organza, feeling the -
His heart jumped. A hand rested on his sleeve, each finger lined with floral rings and mini-rosettes. Then an awesome sleeve with more layers of pretty cuffs than the dress he was admiring. He looked up into a sweet face framed in blond hair and the white lining of a satin bonnet.
"Hello," said the girl. "Where are your friends?"
Her lips were cupid-small, painted pearl pink, her nose was snubby and cute and her eyes were wide like pools of water, so lovely that Nigel simply blurted: "I haven't any friends. I came on my own."
What had been a pleasant face darkened a bit and her lips fell open. "Ohhh! Me too!" adding: "I'm looking at the dresses like you." She took her hand off Nigel's arm and held her purse in both hands down on the front of her blue silk dress. "What's your name?" she asked.
"Oh, I'm Nigel." He dropped his eyes shyly. She would think he was silly, dressed like this.
"Oh you're a sissy, like me! I'm Tom." This information made them both look up, into each other's eyes. "But I like to call myself Tara."
"And I like to call myself Ellie," said Nigel, feeling a weight of embarrassment falling from his shoulders. He hooked his purse at one elbow and laced his fingers together on the waist of his dress as he managed a smile. "I'll call you Tara," he said.
"Oh yes, please do, and I'll call you Ellie, because you look like an Ellie." Tom smiled too, a lovely smile that went through the whole of his face inside his blond hair. "Shall we look at the dresses together?"
"That would be very nice." Nigel felt more courageous. "I love your wig, just like a girl's hair, down to your waist."
"Well, almost down to my waist. Your wig is super too, your ringlets are so full and bouncy."
"Wouldn't it be heavenly to have long hair of our own!"
"Yes, we'd be in Heaven. I like to spend half an hour combing my hair - well, combing my wig - in front of my mirror."
"Oh don't start me on sitting at my mirror, Tara. I spend whole evenings applying my make-up, then cleaning it off and starting again in a new style."
"Oh me too! What do you wear while you're having a make-up evening?"
"I start with a pair of stockings, freshly bought, which I put on and attach to my suspenders. then I choose a lovely pair of panties and a bra to match. I like to fill my bra with quite pushy forms so that I look very girly. Then I put on a chemise with lace across here."
Tom's upper lip rippled a little with emotion - partly because he saw how likeable Nigel was. "I choose the girliest lingerie too. In pastel colours: I've got pink, lilac, peach and mint." He cast his eyes down the skirt of Nigel's dress. "I adore your dress, hon. I wish I had that dress, it must make you feel so like a girl."
Nigel basked with pleasure. "Thank you. Yes, it does. I bought it specially for the Pageant."
"And your beads - they're like jewels, all sparkling and rich."
Nigel laughed and lifted a handful of his necklaces in a white chiffon and lace glove.
"Oh Ellie, show me your gloves," gasped Tom, and he caught the pair of them in one of his own white silk gloves to examine and admire. "Girls love to make their hands pretty like this. I'm loving the satin bow on the back of each of your hands."
"Thank you, Tara." Nigel felt a tide of warm femininity rising through his body at Tom's compliments. "Will you show me your purse, darling? I'd love to have a heart-shaped one like yours."
Nothing could have pleased Tom more than to have Nigel examining his purse. He held it for him in two hands to show the outside, then opened it to reveal its white satin compartments filled with his most precious knick-knacks. As his friend's eyes absorbed these dainty lovelies, Tom stepped back a little and looked down. "But Ellie, you haven't shown me your shoes yet. Let me see."
The two friends stood apart a little, shoes together, and adored each other's white and pink shoes. While they stood like that a bit of a storm sprang upon them as four Lolitas came running through in their flouncy dresses, laughing and calling, hurrying past with flying hair, sizzling dresses and a cloud of perfume. The boys followed them with their eyes, then looked back at each other, with smiles on their faces. It was Nigel who said it first:
"We're just as much girls as them, aren't we?"
"Yes," said Tom, "and we are just as much friends too."
"Obviously a good fit for each other," said Nigel.
"Like a girl's hand in a silk glove," grinned Tom. And they both opened their purses and added each other's details on their phones.