Chapter 2. Ball Gowns and Stolen Glances
A\N:Hmmm… Interesting title. Yep It’s gonna be an interesting chapter! I think these will turn out to be mini chapters.. My first one was quite small but I find its easier if I write with small chapters. Some may end up longer than others. Idk XD I’m just making this up as I go!! Heehee
A\N:Anywho.. Last chapter set the basic setting and showed us where things left off in the last book in the series. John also sent a mysterious missive to Daine and Numair requesting their presence in his court the following morning. Hmm.. What could he want? All will be explained!XD
Someone shook her shoulder lightly.
The same someone shook her a little rougher this time.
“Daine, its time to get up dearest. We have to go to the castle this morning. Remember John’s missive?”
Daine sat up quickly, causing a startled laugh from Numair. “Good morning sleepy,” he chuckled. “Dreams too good to wake up from this morning?”
“No not really. I actually don’t remember this dream.” --She very much did remember her most recent dream. He had starred in it but she preferred to keep that to herself for now. A little scarlet in the cheeks, she kissed him on the lips. She sat back and stretched. Steeling herself against the cold of the floors Daine stepped down lightly out of bed while Numair watched on drinking a cup of tea.
“I’ve been trying to guess at what he may be wanting to talk to us about all morning long and I just can’t imagine what it could possibly be about,” Numair remarked while he watched her wash her face in her water basin and then dry it with the towel hanging beside it.
“It can’t be that he wants us to fight something. There isn’t anything left to fight!” Daine disappeared into her wardrobe and reappeared clutching a pair of breeches and a light blue long-sleeved tunic.
“Could you ummm.. Could you give me a moment?” she said shyly.
“Of course. I’ll just go down and ready the horses. Come meet me in the stable when you are done, alright?” He kissed her on the forehead and was gone.
She closed the door after him and began to change, all the while so many different thoughts crowding her head. Now really Daine she chided herself. This is ridiculous. You can’t honestly say you weren’t ripping at each other’s clothing under that tree or even half-naked in front of him in that cave. Its not like he won’t see all of you one day. Maybe..
It was still awkward to think that the man who had until quite recently been her teacher , was now the man that she thought of every waking hour. How powerful his hands were; how wonderfully he kissed; how beautiful his raven black hair was, shining in the sunlight.
Its ok to love him she scolded herself.
After finishing her morning routine, Daine walked down the stairs and grabbed an apple from the bowl on the old oak dining table on her way by. Crossing the room to the door she went out and behind the small dwelling where the barn and some of her closest friends lay.
As she entered the small stable, the musky wonderful smell of horses greeted her nose. An aroma she was very familiar with, it meant only one thing to her.
Cloud waited by her stall tied up so that Numair could brush her coat in preparation for her saddle. But also so that she couldn’t land a well-aimed nip here and there to his forearms if he brushed a little too hard.
And why, may I ask is it the man who brushes me this morning instead of you? You know he hasn’t the slightest idea how to properly brush me down.
“And good morning to you too,” Daine remarked to the little grey pony. “I brought this for you but maybe I’ll just have it for my own breakfast instead.”
Daine had a special bond with animals. It was called Wild Magic and was something that allowed her to speak with them and also allowed her to take various animal forms as well as she so chose. It was because of this magical gift that she now spoke to her furry grey friend and thanks to her father that she had such an ability. Daine was a demi-god as her father was the god of the forest; a god named Weiryn who she had only recently become acquainted with and her mother who was a human before she became the Green Lady, a goddess of childbirth in a small northern region.
The pony’s ears perked instantly when she saw the apple. She happily ate it from Daine’s palm and munched quietly for the remainder of the preparations.
“I’ll finish brushing her if you want to go and saddle Spot.”
Numair handed Daine the dandy brush and went to get his own mount, a happy-go-lucky sometimes a little skittish piebald gelding known as spot. “Kitten didn’t follow you down?” Numair asked as he began to brush Spot’s coat.
“Are you kidding? I think you really drained her yesterday with that working. What exactly are you doing up in your workshop anyways?” she asked.
“Its just something for the king that’s all, nothing for you to be concerned with magelet.”
“She will be upset when she realizes we have left her behind,” Daine remarked.
“The Darkings can keep her company. They’ve been pretty tired out too since the war.”
Darkings were small entities which resembled ever-changing inkblots; created during the war to be spies for the enemy. The Darkings turned for good after meeting Daine and Numair and discovering that their lives didn’t have to be full of pain from an abusive creator. If not for them, Daine and Numair may have still been at war or even worse; dead.
“Do you think John just wants to thank us again for the war? It could be something simple couldn’t it?”
Numair replied “It could be. We can only hope so.”
As they rode towards the castle in silence, Daine and Numair each pondered their own thoughts.
Daine thought about the ever nearing meeting with the king, Numair, her friends in Corus who didn’t yet know of the feelings between herself and Numair, Numair again.. He was always on her mind these days.
Numair mostly thought of his recent working and the meeting with the king. But occasionally he stole a glance over to Daine and wished that she would look over to him and smile. He loved her smile. Oop! She saw him looking.
Quickly he turned forward in his saddle again as she shook her head and laughed. He laughed along with her and just like that the silence was over. They chatted about what they each thought John could have called them to the castle for, going between serious and sometimes not so serious reasons for his summons. Some made Daine snort with laughter but as they grew closer to the castle, they grew silent again.
When they reached the stables they handed the stable boys the reins to their horses and walked up the steps and into the grand hall.
A serving man greeted them and bid them follow him to the mess hall where the king was breaking fast.
“Daine! Numair! Welcome my friends.”
King Johnathan of Corus greeted them both with a genuine smile of welcome. He flashed his pearly white teeth which stood out stark against his black beard and tan weathered skin. He wore a simple yet fashionably well-made tunic of perfect sky blue to match his eyes. He rose from his seat and ushered them over to his table where he offered them something to eat.
“I guess in all the excitement we forgot to eat something before leaving this morning,” Numair said. “Tell us John, why did you call us here this morning.”
As he opened his mouth to answer Numair’s question a call of “John!” came across the mess hall and a raven-haired beauty crossed the room towards where they were seated. Her nose too elegantly arched for traditional beauty, queen Thayet was said to be the most beautiful woman in the world for her ivory skin and hazel eyes.
“Good morning Daine, Numair,” she hugged each one respectively before kissing her husband and taking a seat at his left. “Its good to see you. I was out with the Queen’s Riders this morning. We are still cleaning up the damage from that infernal war. I just thank the gods it’s over now. We are still finding bodies.”
“John was just about to tell us why he called us here this morning. John, you were saying?” Numair asked.
“What? Oh yes. I was just about to tell you that we have decided to hold a ball to celebrate the end of the war and solidify the peace between the nations since the end. Prince Kaddar will be joining us as will several other dignitaries from the various lands. It is not required but suggested that the two of you be present.”
“We have it planned for a week from today,” Thayet added. “Formal attire, of course, and it is requested that you bring along Skysong. After all, she had a huge part in all of this as well.”
Numair and Daine exchanged glances that meant more than either the king or queen suspected. Neither wanted to go, but they both were aware that it was their duty to report to the king and queen and do their bidding.
“We will of course be there; as will Kit. Though, she may take more convincing than we did,” Daine said as she smiled.
“Oh good! Alanna is being forced to come as well and I believe she is dragging George along with her. Onua will be as well and so will..”
Thayet faded out to Numair and Daine as they looked at each other and smiled. The night was undoubtedly going to be just as awful as all the other royal functions they had attended but they would be going with each other and that would make it more bearable. Numair winked and Daine blushed crimson and giggled before returning to her plate of food, every now and then stealing a glance up at her companion.
“..and of course Daine we will need to get you fitted for a new ball gown, I was thinking ice blue with pearls. I have an appointment set up for this morning with my dress maker, we’ll need to head there right after breakfast,” Thayet’s voice faded back in and startled Daine from her thoughts.
“What? Today? Oh..kay…” she started. “That sounds like a great idea Thayet.”
“Oh good! Are you finished? We really should get going. You can meet back up with Numair later after your fitting,” the queen said. “It will only take longer the longer we take to get there.”
The queen rose and Daine followed suit. “I guess I’ll see you afterwards,” she said looking at Numair.
“I guess so. Until then magelet,” Numair said using his private name for his student and smiling.
She returned his smile before following after the queen as she hurried out the door, looking back every now and then to steal last glances back at him.
“What was that all about?” John inquired.
“Need to know John. Strictly need to know basis my friend,” Numair said as he clapped his friend on the back. “Now about that working..”
As the seamstress took Daine’s measurments, Thayet rambled on about the dress she was having designed for herself for the evening. From what Daine could hear where she stood being measured, it was to be quite extravagant as were all of Thayet’s dresses.
“I’m thinking crimson with small rubies stitch in the sleeves. Not to puffy this time though please Loretta. Last time I felt a little like a sheep well overdue for a shearing,” she laughed.
“Absolutely your majesty. Whatever you would like. And what about the dress for the young lady?”
“Daine! Did you decide what color?” she called across the tiny parlor “I was thinking an ice blue gown,” she remarked to the seamstress. “To match her eyes. What do you think Daine? Will that be alright for you?”
“Sounds wonderful Thayet!” Not that it matters what I think, she thought silently. Thayet had her best intentions at heart but sometimes she felt the queen liked a little too much to dress her in these ridiculously expensive gowns.
The bell on the door to the little shop rang and small red-haired woman entered. “Thayet, sorry I’m late. Something came up last minute at home that needed taking care of. Nothing major! Just caused me to be a little later than I would have liked. How goes it?”
“Its going well so far, we were just getting Daine’s measurements now and then it will be my turn.”
“Hello Daine,” Alanna the Lioness smiled as she looked upon her slightly unhappy friend. “Having fun are we?” she asked knowing well exactly how Daine was feeling at the moment for she would soon be there herself.
“Why don’t you trade me spots and see just how much fun I am haiving?” she remarked sarcastically from where she stood.
“Now really, its not so bad is it? You’re going to look gorgeous in this gown, every boy in the kingdom will want a dance.”
Daine turned a little pink at this notion for there was only one person she wanted to dance with that night, and he certainly was no boy.
“Alright dear, I’m all finished with you. Its her majesty’s turn, if she pleases,” the seamstress said as she released Daine and beckoned the queen closer.
Daine went to stand by her violet eyed friend as the seamstress began the queen’s measurements. “I’m sure you are just as thrilled about the queen’s ball as I am, am I right?” Alanna asked as Daine came closer.
“Oh yes. I am thinking of holding balls myself year round just so that I can always be attending one.” The two women laughed together.
“Whats so funny over there?” the queen called from where she was being measured.
“Oh nothing Thayet. Nothing to worry about!” Alanna called back to her “So, how is life treating you after the war,” Alanna smiled up at the slightly taller woman.
“Not quite as peaceful as I had hoped considering it was just the other day but still better than it was during. Alanna.. I have something I want to speak with you about. Woman to woman.”
“Woman to woman? This sounds a little serious. Is everything alright? Its about a boy isn’t it. I’m really not very good with the boy stuff. Well I mean except if you want to look like one to get into the royal army. I can help you with that.” Alanna chuckled to herself as she thought about how she had become the heroine she was today.
“Actually it is about a boy. I just need to get another woman’s perspective. Can we go somewhere and talk?”
“Sure,” the Lioness replied. But we are never going to ditch Thayet, is this something she shouldn’t be privy to?”
“No no,” replied Daine. “It might actually be better to have her opinion as well.”
“Ok. We’ll go back to the castle and talk in Thayet’s chambers once we are done here.”
“What are we going to my chambers for now?” Thayet asked as she came up. “Just finished. Its your turn now Alanna.”
“Oh joy,” Alanna remarked unhappily as she went over to have her turn with the seamstress.
“I just need to talk to you an Alanna about something. Nothing too big.” Actually its really big but you’ll find that out soon enough, she thought.
“Oh. Alright well we can go back to the palace and find a private place to talk, just us girls.”
“Is this really necessary?” came a call from across the room. “I’m not even wearing a dress yet and I’m already itchy just from thinking about it.”
Daine and Thayet had a good laugh at the current predicament in which the king’s champion found herself.
“Oh Alanna, its really not that bad! You’ve fought monsters, saved kingdoms, bore children into this world and yet you still can’t stand still for five minutes while we fit you for a dress. You are quite an interesting woman,” the queen remarked.
“If its not so bad, why do I feel like I’m going to be on display for this little get together?”
“Well if you’re going to be on display, don’t you want to look fantastic doing it?” Thayet reasoned.
“Not at the cost of my sanity,” Alanna mumbled. Daine snorted and Thayet and Alanna soon joined in her laughter.
A\N:Whew! Ok so this became a LOT longer than I thought it would be, sorry if it’s a little dull towards the end but I thought there needed to be an entrance scene for Alanna. And what a better way to have her enter, then in a dress shop where she is most undelighted to be!
A\N: Introducing more characters. I couldn’t remember if the queen had a seamstress and if that seamstress had a name so I inserted one that I made up lol. It seemed like a name a seamstress would have This scene also gave Daine a chance to begin broaching the subject of her and Numair.
A\N: Leave me some comments about what you think. I’m not sure when I will have another chapter up but I did two in a relatively small amount of time so that must be a good sign!
A\N:Next chapter! How do you think Alanna and Thayet will take the news of this new relationship? Will they be thrilled? Incredulous? A little uneasy perhaps? And the ball.. I haven’t decided if I will get to that next chapter or perhaps the one after that. But we shall see. Thanks for reading!