Emi had been standing for over an hour, and it didn’t seem like she was going to stop anytime soon, but at least she was getting some reading in.
Her current book was an epic poem written early in Elince’s history called The Inundation. Being as it was, it was extremely dry and loquaciously written, even if it was supposed to be a tale of war and romance among the three municipalities that eventually merged as one after the Treaty of Balarand.
The current section was about a captive princess being rescued by a knight in shining armor, but unlike the typical fairy tales, it was a ruse by the princess, who collaborated with her captors in order to defeat her own kingdom’s champion.
It had yet to become interesting, but she was unable to put the book down and get another, so she stuck with what she had.
One day, I’m going to make you read The Inundation, too. What, you think you’ll be able to decide on your own what you’ll read? Not when you fail out of school because you’re off building gear rockets in the backyard. I swear, sometimes... You have a lot in common with this Emi girl. So you’d better pay attention.
“No, no, stop moving around,” scolded Javert, the tailor who was taking a third round of measurements because apparently the first two times weren’t accurate enough, or something. Either her admittedly-above-average sizes were fluctuating wildly every moment, or else this tailor was just a dumb jerk.
Doing a dress fitting for a single outfit for a single party was unnervingly annoying by itself. Having to re-do it completely halfway through because Ms. Khami soured on the low-cut neckline on the one she had originally picked out had sent Emi completely over the edge.
She simply didn’t care anymore.
The last party Emi went to over at Tia Knoll’s mansion was fine enough without having to strangle herself in a corset and act like some modest princess-in-wait. This new winter party wasn’t for a good month or two and she was already having to suit up just because the Dannark Empress-Consort was going to show up for a couple hours. Oh, how the conquered live to appease their oppressors.
Why her parents wanted to treat her like a delicate prize to be won when she was already engaged to some noblewoman off in Zahn was beyond her. If a Dannark Prince took a liking to her, were they suddenly going to break the wedding off with her current fiancee and trade her up? Did it work like that in the realm of mid-level diplomacy?
The idea of being married, being forced to give up everything in her life to serve the whims of her family with no regard to her own feelings... It strangled her more than any dress ever could. It made her want to be strangled.
At least she could read whatever books she wanted, she guessed.
She felt a sharp pain at her scalp and yelped. The tailor had yanked her hair for a moment, but now he was the one grumbling. “You ought to get a haircut,” he said. “Hair’s getting far too long.” Did he pull on her hair by accident? Or did he really just... Oh, whatever.
Emi took a look in the mirror, looked at herself wearing this currently still-oversized dress, the same dress she would likely be wearing to the winter party in the near future. It suited her, she would admit. Her parents were paying very good money to ensure that it suited her, though, so this was to be expected. And even though it suited her, it was too bright, too flashy for her tastes.
Maybe it was just her. She had been groomed to be as beautiful as she could be, the spitting image of her parents and all the wealth they had given her, but maybe it was just overkill. Her princessly demure image was offset just a tad by her curves, just a tad by her knife-sharp nose, just a tad by her height. None of that she could control, but it was like she was being fit into a box that she wasn’t the right size for, being groomed for a role that didn’t work for her.
One day she’d fix all of that. She swore to the Gods, whichever ones were listening, that she’d fix all that.
Emi had finally reached the point in this epic poem where the captive princess was prepared to pull her ruse on the champion and capture them. However, the champion knight had just been revealed to be none other than the princess’s younger sister.
This was fairly compelling. Something about this poetry was starting to get to her. That or the standing for hours was making her light-headed. Was this really a true story, or loosely based on one? You could never tell with these epic poems. She wanted it to be real, because she wanted to be a part of this kind of story. Whether it was the captive princess or the champion sister, she didn’t care.
Speaking of reading... What was she going to do when she went to the library tomorrow?
That Beatrice girl hadn’t been there the last few times she visited, but she also had been going in the mornings lately so she could sneak back in time for lunch.
Tomorrow she was going to time it just right. She was going to time it right and end this stupid fantasy of hers forever.
Why was she obsessing over a girl she’d met only once, twice if you really stretched it? Probably because there was nothing better to do this time of year other than complain about the weather getting too cold and remark with sadness about the slow but inevitable passage of time. This was obviously just some sort of schoolgirl crush and she needed to get over it quickly. Beatrice was a very serious person and heavily concentrated in her studies, whatever they may have been. Emi was just some spoiled rich girl complaining because her very expensive dress didn’t suit her as well as a different very expensive dress.
Not to mention the being-engaged-to-a-noblewoman thing. She didn’t even want to consider the possibility of these two events intersecting. It would remind her far too much that her fate was sealed.
She decided she was going to go to the library, pretend Beatrice didn’t exist, and let this whole thing dissolve from there once the girl expressed her mutual disinterest in Emi. It would be the perfect practice for her arranged marriage-- getting over a girl she liked by convincing herself that it wasn’t real. (In reality, such a practice would be very harmful, and I recommend you never do it, but Emi was not always the most clear-headed of thinkers. I will admit she was hardly ever a clear-headed thinker.)
After that, though, Emi could forget about that curly-haired beautiful jerk, about that stupid handshake, about that really embarrassing thing she did with saying her name over and over again... all of it.
“Ouch!” The tailor had pricked her with a pin.
“That is what you get for moving about,” he shouted.
Why couldn’t she just be over with him, too?