Author's note: It's been quite some time since I've written fanfiction to be shared with a wider audience, but after rewatching Annie for the first time in quite some time, I was itching to write something. I've been pondering why Grace owns the yellow dress she wears in the garden the morning she asks Warbucks about adopting Annie, and this happened. Admittedly it went somewhere I wasn't expecting, but I'm still very rusty.
Bouton d'or or, Heralding a New Season
It was impossible to stay in bed with the morning sunlight streaming through the windows and across her face. Grace smiled and stretched her arms, relishing the comfort of her down pillows, the cool satin sheets on her skin. Much too nice a day to spend even a minute more in bed, no matter how tempting the soft cocoon proved to be.
Sitting up, she shook out the loose waves of her hair, pointing her toes as she stretched her legs. Last night had been so wonderful, she thought with a sigh. Annie had brought such a change to the household, one she never thought she would see. She certainly never expected Oliver Warbucks to be so affected by a penniless little moppet and yet…here they were. There was light and music and…love all throughout the Warbucks mansion, the kind that made even the toughest billionaires smile and laugh. Grace felt her smile grow even wider at that thought.
"Now, what to wear on such a gorgeous day…" Grace murmured to herself, padding across the room to the closet. She had an idea, a dress that she honestly wasn't quite sure why she even owned. Delicate chiffon with hand painted flowers, a soft buttercup yellow. It floated and swayed with every step she took, and made her feel more feminine than she had felt in quite some time. Most of her other clothes were tailored, structured, shades of blue. As a young woman entering the world of business, she felt both her youth and femininity would be a hindrance, and so she adopted a practical style of dress. Skirt suits, fitted and subdued, just what a hyper-competent private secretary to a billionaire ought to choose. She felt so successful about her wardrobe choices that she wasn't even sure her employer truly saw her as a woman.
Oh, but the saleslady at Madame Claudette's had been very persuasive.
"Just in from Paris, Miss Farrell," she had murmured in a voice silky enough to match the chiffon. "Perfect for summer, no? The color, just like a…" she hesitated at that "Bouton d'or."
"Oh, yes, it is a perfect match for a buttercup." Grace had to agree, running a hand lightly over the dress's skirt. "I've never worn a color like this before. Frankly I imagine it would look awful on me."
"No, no, Miss Farrell! This is perfect for summer. It…heralds a new season." Pleased with herself, the saleslady removed the dress from the rack and pressed it towards Grace. "Try it on, dear. I will bring your packages to the front so that whatever you decide, you will be all ready to check out."
Grace felt her cheeks flush at the notion of buying a dress from Madame Claudette's. She only ever bought chemises and nightgowns there, never an actual dress. She looked down at the dress in her hands before putting it back on the rack. "Oh, I have nowhere to wear this dress. It certainly is not practical enough for my work with Mr. Warbucks and I don't anticipate any social events that would require this sort of dress…"
"No, no, no. Try it on, dear. You will change your mind, I promise." She practically forced Grace back into the shop's one fitting room. "It is going to be hot soon, you know. Welcome the summer and who knows? Perhaps one day Mr. Warbucks will have a garden party."
Grace laughed, mostly to herself, as she slipped on the dress. Mr. Warbucks throwing a garden party? How absurd. In the six years she had worked for him, Mr. Warbucks had thrown exactly two parties, both black tie affairs and both before the crash. There would be no garden parties on his watch. Armed with the knowledge that she had no call for the dress, Grace gave herself a cursory glance in the mirror, ready to take the dress off, put it back on the rack, and pay for her new chemises.
"Oh my…" she whispered at her reflection. It was simply perfect. She never thought she could wear yellow and yet. It was soft and silky and so utterly summer. "Heralding a new season," she murmured, holding out the skirt, entranced by her own reflection for the first time in quite some time. She hadn't presented such an obviously feminine appearance in years and wasn't sure she would even be comfortable in such a dress outside the safety of her suite of rooms. Perhaps in the gardens by herself but…
"I told you it would be perfect, Miss Farrell." Grace couldn't believe she was actually buying the dress, and it was certainly not cheap. She felt a little guilty, using her wardrobe allowance to buy something clearly not meant for business. She didn't have to explain her purchases, of course, and treating herself to something this pretty once or twice in six years was no harm.
Yes, today was a splendid day to wear the yellow dress. She smiled at herself in the mirror, pinning her hair back loosely from her face, allowing her hair to hang in soft waves to just above her shoulders. Ensuring that the dress was tied everywhere it needed to be, that her scarf was on securely, and that the seams on her stockings were straight, Grace bustled out to the patio for an al fresco breakfast.
"Good morning, Mr. Warbucks," she said softly, not wanting to disturb his reading, as he looked rather lost in thought. He looked up at the sound of her voice, however, a smile blooming across his face.
"Good morning, Mrs. Warbucks," he teased back, setting his paper down. "Is this the first time I've risen before you this week, Grace?" He reached his arms out to her, pulling her into his lap for a sweet kiss. She giggled, turning her face away, leaving him to pepper her cheek and neck with kisses.
"I was enjoying the warmth of the sun in our bed, Oliver," she answered with a sigh, unable to stop herself from turning her face back towards his, kissing him softly. "This French Riviera sun creeps into our bedroom window here so much more than the sun back in New York does." She smiled, their mouths still touching.
"I would personally move our home if it meant more sun for you, my dear," Oliver murmured, kissing his wife's mouth again and again. "Or we could simply soak up as much sun as humanly possible while we're here." One of his hands moved from her waist to rest on her leg. "Of course, I have a few ideas for other ways of helping you…enjoy some warmth." He smiled impishly at her as he slid his hand up her thigh and under her dress.
"Oliver…" she breathed, half-heartedly trying to push his hand back down her leg.
"I've seen this dress before." It was a half question as he trailed his mouth over her throat, his hand still on her thigh. "In the gardens at home…"
"Mmmhmmm," she murmured in agreement. "It was new then."
"You were wearing this when you said you could just kiss me." His mouth paused behind her ear. "I was finally coming to my senses about how beautiful you are when you walked out in this dress and I…was bowled over by you." He chuckled softly, kissing her throat softly again. "I should have asked where you had been hiding it."
Grace couldn't help the full-throated laugh she let out at Oliver's last statement. "Oh, a very persistent saleslady at Madame Claudette's managed to convince me to buy it. I told her I had no need for the dress, nowhere to wear it." She shifted in his lap to face him again, quirking an eyebrow before continuing her story. "She said it was 'heralding a new season,' and suggested that maybe you would have a garden party."
"A garden party? Surely she would know I couldn't share you in this dress." His hand drifted along her thigh, more seeking than before. "However, I do think that is an excellent turn of phrase. 'Heralding a new season?' Helping us start a new chapter, you suppose?"
Grace nodded, her smile widening even as she felt a flush of color bloom across her cheeks. "I'm not sure that's what either she or I had in mind, but I know I certainly would not argue with that..."
So it was in the gardens that Grace got to wear her heraldic yellow dress, but it was never alone and it was with the knowledge that someone else greatly appreciated her as a woman.