Author: Witch Fu
Willow's ceremonial wear was exquisitely made; tailored to a faultlessness only the wealthiest could know. Her tunic, a smart shade of emerald, fit snuggly onto her cut figure. There was no need for embellishment on the part of her proportions. Her shoulders, while well-muscled, were the ideal in decency; chest and abdomen stiff and full; all tapering to a becoming waist. Femininity came to its fruition at this juncture. She could be strong-handed, and yet not risk improper over-size in vulgar muscle mass. The deep resonance of the green tunic and hose were off-set with ribbed golden piping. Both played dazzlingly against her flashing red hair and dancing eyes.
Though they danced little in the presence of others. Most assuredly not at this time of gowning. To Willow, this was undoubtedly the most loathed stage in her preparations for the day. She could do nothing but stand patiently, silently, still as the servants sewed the hose taught. It was uncomfortable, to say the very least, to have your manservant stay the ties of your netherstocks and trunk hose; one that she had learned to tolerate as all else. Of course, any part of her anatomy that proclaimed gender was carefully suited before the arrival of service.
This included the binding of her chest. This ensured only the snug binding was seen by the eyes of the servers. It was rumored that the prince had a scar that he remained frightfully embarrassed by, and would let no one look upon it. The binding was of softer linen, though the pressure asserted told at times. This left her thankful for the modest cleavage that she had been given. Her braies were the most important tool to her rouse. The imperative article covered the lower regions of her femininity quite well, with a specially added "package" for the lining on the inside-front to fool even the tailor. A well-made camisia was worn over these, and thus was the state that Willow always appeared to her dressing troupe.
Tonight’s decorations of the young prince were exceedingly more elaborate than was the normal. Each garment was fixed to its place, studied, removed for any adjustments, and applied once more. This process took as long as the perfection and patience of her dressers lasted.
First her hose, and trunk hose; netherstocks and slippers; layers, yards, miles of ruffles attached to her various joints and abutments; her neck gussets, doublet, breeches, waistcoat, and hair tie. Her paste jewelry came next, only the finest would supply. Slippers, sash, bodkin, powder-box (though she did not partake), gloves and chain were all treated with the same unwavering devotion to perfection.
Her hands felt as though they had been quartered and drawn from the frenzied scrubbing they had received hours before. Similarly, her body thrummed from the washing treatment she had thought to perform earlier. At first, she was met with only the most stubborn refusal for a washing of that kind, but she had insisted, using references of Laws of Gallantry and charts to show the benefits. No one would hear of a past-time such as that being preformed so often when Louis XIV thought it necessary only to bathe annually. Willow knew better out of common sense and wondered how many other people would go on reeking of herbal powders to mask uncleanliness. Pomanders were frequented in use more than even wigs in a society where cleanliness was next to unheard of.
It was not the stimulating conversation that caused the Prince's hands to quiver in anticipation. That would be impossible to find in such company. In fact, she knew not why she anticipated so. Her performance was guaranteed the utmost in precision. She had been trained rigorously, by well-understanding men of high training themselves. She had never failed to act properly in her requirements to her charade. Why, then, did she fret?
Naturally, every fear that could enter her mind, plausible or otherwise, was doing so. Was she prepared sufficiently? Was she graceful enough? Properly smug?
Moments before her mind had finished preparing itself for a mild panic, she was quietly, and unobtrusively notified of her costumes completion.
As a medium-sized mirror was placed before her vision, she saw herself as a mysterious and well-assured man of power. It was strange really, to see one's self look so regal, and yet internally feel so small. It would certainly assist her through this night's trials.
Her hair, having been well-washed in boiled soapwort, bore the sheen of combed-dry attention. It floated royally above her shoulders, awaiting the tie, equal in grandeur surely to any piece of her costume. She had never taken to wearing it in ringlets or plaits, her sirmaids deeming it more brazen for her unveiling to go without. The simple arrangement would take back many, she would certainly hear more than a few hisses of quickly drawn breath. She was, after all, the outcast, the brigand, until deemed worthy. While Willow may not have been the top in knowledge on fashion, she saw the truth in their schemes, and was more than a little excited about that fact.
The reactions placed on the first night of dining were nothing more than satisfactory, as she knew not how she felt. Of course, Willow had never seen social gatherings before that first dinner, but she knew enough to be certain that they were pleased at what they saw. She did not know if that pleased her. Her position meant power, nothing more. If she resembled a frog, they would think nothing less of her. The evenings thereafter had been difficult. She dealt with it as she could, making light conversation with whomever she was placed next to. One bored of topics such as the latest wig fashions, or the new scents in pomanders.
This night would be no different, she told herself. No different, and no more difficult. Though, whether she believed that or not, she remained uncertain.
As of yet, her stomach had not commenced its expected frenzy. She wondered at the loss of something so expected, as she clutched the front of her bodice. She had thought, as was the case on previous nights of occasion, that her nerves would be on their ends at this point. Nothing was stirring, however, even in the most usually disconcerted of places. Could it be that she was becoming accustomed to the trying state of anxiety?
Tara sighed as she gently sat at the edge of her grand divan. She realized that she was sighing far more often than was usual. Her thoughts were, at constant, poignant and wandering to places that she had not traversed previous to. She felt the need in her as palpable as thirst. She needed something, though she couldn't place what. Of course she couldn't. How could she identify something that she had never known? It was verily important; strikingly familiar, and yet so vague. It was a purpose that much she knew, but beyond that broad conception her query remained mysterious.
This final, and imperative, night was the most significant. And yet brought her the least apprehension. Indeed, she felt as though she were gowning for nothing more than an evening of painting.
This night would prove answers. She felt it within, and although she could not understand how it would manifest itself, she knew it would be aloof bearing her thoughts to a clearer, more present awareness.
Tara's mistress would be in shortly to summon her to the event. Even this could not stir a feeling of unsteadiness. She would have to attend on her thoughts. Being patient was something that had never troubled her before, though she knew this instance would tell otherwise.
Tonight, the bride of the prince would be proclaimed from every rooftop, from the balisters, from every mouth. That name would be hers, there was no question of that. Looking down, she saw, plainly, that her kirtle had become matted between her unsettled fingers.
"Ah, the first sign of unravel. Events may start to make some semblance yet."