Mellia — In Nochet Vii
1627, Fire Season, Disorder Week
Fire Season, Disorder Week, Freezeday. The day the groom’s party arrives in House Saiciae. [[[s02:session-41|Session 41]]]
The first day of Fire Season comes, and no message… Noon… Still nothing. Then in the afternoon a runner comes to the gate of the Saiciae house, to say that a party approaches. Those final preparations for meeting are suddenly in motion. Flower garlands are lifted from the water in which they are waiting. Wine and water are chilled, the baths are checked once more… Behind the scenes the guards are warned to beware, for Orlanth may try to steal a valuable bride – for real. He set precedent, and is a barbarian.
And Kirse comes to put on her daughter’s makeup.
Mellia is a bit a-twitter. “Oh Mother, you don’t need to do this.”
“Stand. Let me.” Kirse inspects Mellia’s dress. “This is not only for the man, but for everyone else. Who chose this for you for today?” Her tone says there will be further questions about why, and probably would be no matter which dress was chosen. Kirse is in full formal clothing, showing the beauty of her body, and the subtle scars on it that say she was prepared both to bear children, and to fight for what was hers.
Mellia replies , “My maid and I settled on this one. Did we err? I am so used to wearing nothing but white.”
“Today, you are being Ernalda, and my daughter. Besides, when you press against him, you should be able to leave loose powder on his clothes. That will give him something to be eager about. You can’t do that in a dress that covers so much. But a white cloak you can take off when you see him would not be out of order, I suppose.”
Mellia starts to get one, but remembers the makeup before she moves. Mellia sends the maid to get a cloak instead.
Meanwhile, Kirse gets to work with brushes and oils and delicate shimmery powder. Gold and green with a touch of yellow. From the navel up, she makes sure that Mellia looks expensive, far more so even than Kirse herself, and Kirse’s eyes are outlined in gold as well as black. “Any ties that go under your breasts will be coloured by this, so they should be green already,” she explains. “Lips still… Parallel lines in gold here…” She does not ask a servant’s help, but does this confidently herself. “When you are seen, dozens of young men will want a Saiciae bride.”
Which means, in other speak, that dozens of aunts will consider the power of the house.
Mellia holds still. In between bits, she smiles. “Mother, I love you. Although I could wear mud and Venlar would want to carry me off.”
“I know.” Kirse pauses for a moment, unreadable. “But he will see under the gold to the skin he is dazzled by.” And on she goes, and a little later a dress is brought in as well; greens are layered on the skirts, and the top is formal, open at the breasts and covering the tops of the arms. It has gold embroidery, and suits the makeup. It is, memory says suddenly, one of Kirse’s. It has been altered to fit, but she used to wear this when she had to demonstrate her power more openly than she does now. A court dress.
“Oh Mother, you shouldn’t have! This is yours.”
“Yes, dear one. And I am your family, and I advise the House. Right now there are people casually jostling outside our house on rooftops, and most of them are fully capable of remembering a dress from generation to generation.” Kirse stands back to examine her work, and nods to the maids. “The cloak is to be pristine later,” she says. “No… better. We will send it to him afterwards. Mellia, dear, you know that you do not bring him back to your room, don’t you? From now on, until he wins you away, this is a dance of seduction of the Air.”
“Curses,” Mellia says. “Foiled again. Where can I take him?”
“Nowhere that he can be out of sight with you. It is not for long, and then you can exhaust yourselves however you like. He needs to be tamed, though.” The maids, meanwhile, have been ushered forwards to dress Mellia. The white cloak, thick and long enough to do its work, is checked over by Kirse, who nods.
Mellia grins and chuckles. “At least we can see each other. If we couldn’t, Venlar probably would carry me off.”
“Oh, very much.” Kirse waits as Mellia is helped into the dress. “Yes. Now you look like my daughter, more than fit for any Lord or Prince.”
The maid giggles, then blushes when she realizes it was out loud.
Kirse gives that woman a tiny glance, no more.
Mellia smiles and kisses her mother very carefully on one cheek. Makeup.
Outside, there are calls in the street now. The wedding party is not far away. Kirse nods. “Well, down we go.”
There are cheers from outside.
Mellia follows Kirse down to the front courtyard.
Mellia dresses to meet Venlar once more