The sky is blue, the birds are singing, and she made the heavy doors swing open with the slightest touch.
Old Sir and Lady Michaels watched the processions proudly atop cushioned seats of honour, holding hands affectionately. Their ballroom is furnished by the finest designers, the musicians played songs from first-rate composers. The guests danced, laughed, and ate from tables and tables of flavourful handmade treats.
On the table beside Sir Michaels are half a dozen glasses, one standing out by being unfinished. It is half-filled with strong-smelling wine, dark red like the flushed tone of his face. Despite this, he is conversing fluently, if only a bit exaggerated in movement.
“Today is a day of celebration!” he declared with vigour. “A toast, my friends, a toast to the new couple, to health and happiness!”
As the musicians hit a climax, they cheered. The whole room smelled of perfume and roses.
She walked with an elegance rarely seen, with a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. Past these elderly surrounded by boisterous lords and gossiping ladies, all dressed up like a flock of exotic birds.
“Congratulations!” the guests chirped. “Congratulations to your son, and what a lovely thing the bride is!”
Lady Michaels gripped her husband’s hand tightly, but her fake nails dug into his skin a little too hard to pass it off as love. She smiled wide and fanned herself with a fancy, feathered thing she claimed to be made from the best “fan-weavers” from Mongolia.
“You are too kind,” Lady Michaels would reply, “My boy is so lucky to have such a beautiful girl. Oh, if I was still young!”
Suddenly, the lady sat up, so eager she almost dragged her husband off his chair. “By the way, did you hear? Mr Helbourne had not one, but two affairs!”
Amidst gasps and enthusiastic fanning, no one noticed the three red drops spilled on Sir Michaels’ fancy white suit. No one noticed either, how she moved like smoke, disappearing when no one is looking.
A wedding is an extravagant affair, especially the wedding of their son. Ludwick Michaels irately plucked the petals from various bouquets lying about and made it clear to servants and guests alike that talking to him would be a bad idea.
She wasn’t looking for the groom.
“I bet she just married for the money.” Someone whispered. “With looks like that and no family background, it’s a given.”
“Ludwick is so disagreeable,” another piqued. “I give this whole farce two years, max.”
“Beautiful for sure, but you can never trust women with that kind of eyes.”
“The old couples are senile, wonder we could make our move…”
“… yes, the child support they’ll pay if she ditches him…”
“… and a child of a commoner to boot, shame.”
“If they go into debt, our family could…”
“I don’t believe they’ll ever be – “
There she is, in the back, in that beautiful white dress. A true swan amongst this horde of loud, painted fakes.
She approached, in a long black coat, silver hair falling around eyes not quite human.
“A word, Lady Evans, if you may.”