To Dance, to Dream, to Ill-fitting Dresses
It took all of Tarani's willpower not to fidget with impatience as she
sat still before the mirror in her shared room, watching her reflection
in the glass as her maid carefully teased a few curls loose from her
elaborate hairstyle. Tonight was the Turn's End Ball, and the first
she'd be attending as a real lady. She'd get to feast and dance and
listen to Harper ballads and stay up until the early hours, and not be
packed off to bed with the children. And there'd be young men wanting to
partner her...she hoped, with a flutter of nerves. Maybe even the Lord
In her excitement she even forgot her grudge against Noriya, and as soon
as her hair was finally ready she jumped up, enjoying the feeling of the
skirts of her ballgown swirling around her as she moved. "Are you ready?
It must be almost time to go down!"
Noriya smiled into her own mirror and Tarani's reflection. "Almost
ready," she said and accepted her small strand of pearls with it's
interspersed garnets and matching earbobs. Then she stood to face the
other young woman. She knew better than to ask what she thought and
invite a cutting remark. The rich garnet of her gown and its panels
of elaborate embroidery complemented her coloring. "Ready," she said.
"Shall we go down?"
There was a light knock on the door and Asaile poked her head in. "Are
you both ready? Oh, you both look so lovely! " She came in quickly,
clad in her Hold colors of deep
crimson and silver that set off her dark hair and pale skin. Her mass
of curls was wrapped in matching ribbons and coiled elaborately up on
her head, but allowed some to grace her nape and temples. "You have to
help me. Oufelle is wearing a gown that shows half of her bosom and
her corset is laced so tightly that it looks like she's going to
explode out of her bodice. I told her that it wasn't appropriate, but
she's not listening."
Tarani stifled a giggle. She knew it was mean, but it was a funny
thought and she wasn't entirely free from envy of the way some men eyed
Lady Oufelle's ample figure. "Can we say that the gown doesn't suit her?
Tell her it makes her bottom look big, or something like that."
Asaile looked over her shoulder past the door, then grimaced. "Oh
no...she's already went down. Brina isn't going to like this at all."
She sighed and then stroked her hands down her own gown. "Do I look
alright? Do you think Lord Bryvin will think I'm pretty?"
"Of course he will. You look beautiful," Tarani reassured her warmly,
her words for once entirely sincere. She did like Asaile, although she
couldn't understand why she and the other girls swooned over Lord
Bryvin. Well, she could - he was Lord Holder, the reason why they were
all here, and he was charming and good-looking...for a man who was
nearly her father's age, which seemed ancient to her fifteen Turns. Her
own daydreams currently focused on a young man who was sometimes on
guard outside the Hold when they went out for afternoon walks. She
wondered if he would be attending the ball. Would he be on duty? Would
he even be allowed to ask her to dance? Or perhaps - horrible thought -
he would be there with another girl...
She shook her head and laughed, oblivious to her maid's wince as a few
curls freed themselves from their hairpins. "We _all_ look beautiful!
Let's go down. I want to see Oufelle for myself before Brina sends her
back to change."
"You look lovely," Noriya echoed to Asaile. Then she grinned at
Tarani. "So do you Tarani. She headed down the stairs and picked up
her dance card from the table opening it up. "Oh look, they already
put Lord Bryvin into our dance cards. I've got the fourth dance."
Asaile picked up her own card and her breath caught. In a very small
voice, she stared at the card. "I've got the second." She glanced at
the other girls, her face bright pink and she began fanning herself
with the card. "Everyone will be watching us. Oh my goodness. The
second dance. I thought maybe mine would be later in the evening to
give me a little time to prepare."
"You'll do wonderfully," Tarani encouraged her. "Maybe he asked for you
in particular!" Her dance wasn't until later on in the evening, and she
couldn't help feeling a tiny bit jealous, although she was relieved that
there wouldn't be so many people watching by then. "Who do you suppose
is first? Lady Brina?"
"Yes, I'd imagine so," she smiled. "It _is_ standard protocol for the
senior male member of the blood to dance first with the senior female
member or another ranking female if a visitor is attending. So, Lady
Brina would be the logical choice." She peered at her card for a
moment. She'd seen lots of them but in this case she didn't know
either Lady Brina or the headwoman's hand writing. "So who do you
think wrote these out?"
"Oh, I hope so..." Asaile breathed out softly at Taranni's suggestion,
then looked again at her card. "I don't know. Either one of them
maybe. Since Lady Brina's technically in charge, perhaps she did?" She
looked up as more people began to enter the dining hall, then cleared
her throat to catch their attention. "Both of you are being looked
at." She giggled slightly. "You won't have any problem getting dances,
"I hope not. I want to dance all night!" Tarani risked a glance at a
group of young men who looked as though they were from the steward's
staff. As she watched, two of the boys broke away from their companions
and started towards them. Hastily, she turned back to the others. "Oh!
Don't look. They're coming our way!"
Moments later, a tall, gawky young man wearing the knots of a nearby
minor hold arrived at their side. Blushing almost the colour of his
scarlet tunic, he cleared his throat and, after a nudge from his friend,
bowed. "Uh...Ladies? I was - I mean, my friends and I were wondering if
you - if you have any space on your dance cards..."
Noriya silently handed him her card with a soft smile. Tall gawky
young men had a habit of turning into well put together young men with
a little encouragement. Or at least that was what her mother had told
her. So she would be kind this evening no matter where her interests
Asaile looked at her own card. The only dance that was currently
spoken for was Lord Bryvin's. Her own family affairs hadn't been half
as large as this and most of the young men she'd ever danced with were
cousins or friends of her parents. Mimicking Tarani and Noriya, she
handed her card over and blushed as both young men filled out spaces
on her card.
"Thank you..." Tarani took back her card from the second young man with
a demure look through her lashes and glanced down at the names on it.
"Holder Tyflin, Holder Jerondel. I am so looking forward to our dances."
The tall boy looked as though he might be about to faint in relief,
while his friend grinned as he carefully wrote his name on Asaile's
card. Emboldened by their success, he spoke again. "Uhm, perhaps we
could fetch you some drinks? They're serving wine or fruit punch...or
juice, if you'd rather..."
Noriya smiled and said "I believe they're about to serve dinner, so
we'd better go in." she nodded toward where people were filtering
toward the tables arranged about the room in rows. Some of them would
be cleared away for dancing later. "So I think we're good for now, but
Last updated on the February 1st 2020