"Lalasa, it's a lovely dress but it's hardly me,"
It was like saying Neal was in love with Peachblossom and loved wearing pink tunics. The dress was perfect and it suited Kel more then any dress before. The dress was a dark emerald green with a built in corset. The seams were threaded in gold and the front part of the dress was in an older style, but it was that style that suited her best. The under-dress was white silk with gold lace threaded through it. The front left a large part of the dress open in a triangle showing the under-dress but because the under-dress was so fine it looked beautiful. The dress had three quarter length sleeves as Lalasa knew how Kel hated her arms. At the end of the sleeves was gold lace trimmed around it making the sleeves that little bit longer. The top of the dress dipped but if was circular and didn't dhow that much of her cleavage like other dresses of the Court Ladies wore. Her hair had grown to her shoulders though most days it was pulled back. Tonight that top was pulled of her face leaving the rest curled underneath. Light green jewellery hung from her neck with matching earrings.
"My Lady Kel, you are wearing it. It suits you more then you think. Just think how Sergeant Domitan will act when he sees you,"
Dom had told Lalasa to call him Dom instead of Sergeant Domitan just like Neal had told her to call him Neal instead of Sir Nealan but nether worked. Lalasa had applied a small amount of makeup bringing out her natural beauty and was now watching her closely to make sure she didn't wipe it off.
"Kel? Are you ready? Dom asked through the door, knocking softly.
"Come in Dom,"
Kel was placing on her shoes and was unaware that when she leant over too far you could see down her dress; so as Dom walked in he got a beautiful view of her breasts. Kel fixed her shoes up and stood up. Dom's eyes went wide, not from the first view, but from seeing her completely beautiful. To him, Kel was more beautiful then any Court Lady.
"Oh cousin of mine, are you coming?" Neal called sticking his head in, "Gosh Kel. You sure do scrub up nice,"
Kel never looked this good even though she did wear dresses often. Maybe it was because she was glowing under Dom's star.
"Come on lovebirds. Don't want to miss the party,"
Dom growled at Neal as Yuki walked in. She squealed and hugged her husband and new cousin out of the way.
"Yuki, she might need to breath," Dom told her dryly.
Yuki released her for a second before started speaking to Kel in fast Yamani. Neal and Dom had both started to learn Yamani from Yuki couldn't understand a word.
"You're wearing a dress! I can't believe it! What did Dom say! Oh Kel! You look beautiful! Why didn't you tell me you were going to wear a dress?! You must really like Dom to get dressed up like this!"
"Yuki, calm down," Kel told her. "He hasn't said anything. In all honesty your husband said more, even if it was only you scrub up nice," Kel murmured in Yamani.
"Neal!" Yuki shouted in Common and Neal shook his head.
"I didn't do anything!" he exclaimed.
"Shut it Meathead," Dom said smacking him up the side of his head.
Yuki walked over to Dom and smacked him with her fan and muttered something to him that neither Kel or Neal heard.
"My Lady?" Dom asked, stretching out his arm.
He offered it to Kel. Kel looked to Yuki who nodded as Neal offered his arm to Yuki. Kel watched Yuki and imitated her. Dom pretended not to notice as she hesitated and almost stumbled as her fingers gently found the correct place on his arm. Yuki and Neal smiled at them and led the way. Dom and Kel followed out and Lalasa shut the door behind them. Neal and Yuki talked between themselves while Kel tried to get rid of her blush and Dom smiled.
"Why didn't you tell me the gathering was tonight?"
"Because I didn't want you to run away,"
"I would never run, at least, not from you,"
He grinned and asked, "Why did you say yes?"
"Because I was bored and I thought this might be fun,"
There was something about the way she said it that made him believe that there was something she was hiding from him but he didn't press any further. She would place her mask on and wouldn't speak to him for the rest of the night.
"Are you two coming or not?!" Neal exclaimed. "Or would you like some time alone?"
"We're coming," Dom answered, ignoring the second part.
Neal helped Yuki up into his family's coach and once her was in, Dom did the same with Kel. Getting to the gathering took twenty minutes as Dom's family townhouse wasn't in town.
"Amazing," Kel murmured as they approached the house.
As it was near Midwinter, it got darker quicker and as such all around the house was lit up. It looked beautiful and Kel couldn't help but wonder how they got a pole to burn without burning the pole down.
"Mages like Numair set it up as an experiment. It worked do my parents invested in some. My mother and Meathead's mother are very much the tread setters. They love everything new,"
"Then you are very rich?" Kel asked, turning back to Dom.
"You could say that."
The coach pulled up in front of the house and a footman opened the door.
"I don't think I can do this," Kel whispered in Yamani, not wanting Dom to understand.
"Just breathe," Yuki advised, stepping out after Neal.
Dom stepped out and offered Kel his hand. Kel took a deep breath and looked out the window.
"Kel? Are you coming?"
She nodded placing her hand gently in his and stepping out. Looking around, she saw a lot more people then she imagined would be there. Only then did she realise what the Book of Silver really meant. Everywhere were people with the same eyes or traits of the same faces and all dressed exquisite. She placed her hand back on his arm and he gave her a comforting smile.
"Don't worry," he whispered in her ear, "They'll love you,"
Dom lead her up the stairs to the doorway and Kel gulped but kept walking.
"Sergeant Domitan of Masbolle and Lady Knight Keladry of Mindelan," Dom said to the Chamberlain.
The Chamberlain nodded and they moved to the top of the stairs. Dom could feel Kel's hand shaking a little as she looked down at everyone. Yuki and Neal were already walking down, being greeted by family members. It was almost like being announced at Court.
"Announcing Domitan of Masbolle, Sergeant of the Third Company in the King's Own and Keladry of Mindelan, Lady Knight,"
Kel gulped but started walking down. Dom's family was a large family on both sides. Any woman who married into this family would he to produce a lot of children. It was an unsaid rule, a duty thing.
"Domitan, my son! After months away, you have returned!" a large, well fashioned woman came over to them.
Dom paused as this woman embraced him, not even blinking an eyelid at her. She was a rounded woman, dressed in the latest style of dress. The dress was a rust red with flasks of silver through it. Her hair was curled tightly with silver through it like her dress. Her jewellery looked like it cost more then the whole house. Kel's jewellery had cost her a couple of coins from the markets. This Lady looked like she had never even seen the markets. Kel noticed that Dom's eyes were the same colour.
"Ma, I still have all body parts," he assured her as she scanned his body, inch by inch.
"Are you sure?"
It was a question every mother asked and Kel could see that under all the fancy clothing, she was a worried mother.
"I'm more then sure. Ma, allow me to introduce Lady Knight Keladry,"
Kel curtsied as she was in a dress. Dom's mother turned her head to Kel as if she had only just noticed her.
"Kel, this is my mother Amberley,"
"Nice to meet you Keladry," Amberley said with an eyebrow raised.
"And you my Lady Amberley,"
"How long have you two…" she paused rethinking her question. "Are you two going together?"
"Courting? Going out? In love?"
Kel gulped painfully and replied softly, "No, we're just friends,"
Amberley seemed content with this answer.
"Make sure you see your father Som. He wishes to speak with you,"
Dom nodded and led Kel away. Dom walked her to the corner, near the drinks, so they could talk privately.
"She's not usually that formal," Dom assured her. "It's this party. It's taken its toll on her,"
Neal, Yuki and two older boys walked over to them. Immediately Kel felt out of place. She was only there because Dom didn't want to have matchmaking mothers on his back but how was Kel meant to enjoy herself if she felt so alone? This was Dom's family and so far she had been looked down upon. Now with his brothers he was ignoring her.
"And you must be the lovely Lady Knight, Lady Keladry. Dom has told us all about you. I am Damien, Lady Knight," one of the boys said five minutes later.
"A pleasure to meet you good Sir. I hope Dom has told you only good things about me,"
"Of course he has. I'm sure there is nothing bad to say about you anyway,"
"You flatter me Sir,"
"May I have this dance Lady Knight?" Damien asked as the music started up.
"Damien! I have someone who would like to meet you!" Amberley called out.
"Excuse me, it seems my mother has other plans for me," Damien said with a bow and walked over to his mother.
"Can I have this dance?" Dom asked quietly as the rest of the group began to talk within themselves.
"I don't dance Dom," she whispered to him. "You know that,"
Dom simply smile and took her hand in his. He spun her out as the tempo sped up.
"Dom, I don't know how to dance!" she hissed.
"Just relax and let me lead you, it's easy."
Kel couldn't relax. How could she when he was touching her so innocently? His hand on the lower part of her back made her tingle and she couldn't believe she was touching him. She looked at him and he was grinning at her. She looked down at her feet and watched them to make sure not to tread on his feet.
"Kel, look at me,"
She shook her head, blushing.
"If you're worried that I'll tread on your feet–"
"Not you! Me treading on your feet," she hissed.
"Just let me guide you. I won't let anything happen to you, trust me."
She nodded and looked up at him. She slowly relaxed as he twirled her. He couldn't help but laugh as she smiled and giggled.
"You are a tramp!"
Everyone stopped and Kel froze. She had been dreading something like this would happen all night.
"Did you hear me tramp?! You only got your shield by sleeping with the Lords like Raoul and Wyldon! They should never let a call girl like you become a knight!"
"Call Girl! That's all Lady Knights are anyway! Hussy! Trollop! Prostitute! Streetwalker! Wench! Hooker! Tramp! Hustler! All the same!" a very drunken man exclaimed.
Everyone was frozen, the music had stopped and Kel's heart began to race. Sure she had heard those words or words like them before but never in front of Dom. Dom had never been near her when the words had been said. It wouldn't normally matter, she would ignore him and walk away but she wanted to make a good impression on Dom's family.
"Sir, you are mistaken–"
"Mistaken? I'm stating truth! Everyone knows! Look around, who is going against what I'm saying? Even your dancing partner believes it! I'm just stating it!"
He stumbled and fell. The men nearest to him helped him up but Kel wasn't paying attention, she was looking at Dom.
"Is that what you think Dom? That I'm some Call Girl?" Kel whispered, barely coming out.
Dom looked away and didn't answered. Kel dropped his hands and stepped back.
"You do believe it,"
She pushed her way out, forcing herself not to cry.
"Run! Run little girl! Run like the tramp you are!" the drunken man called out before falling over unconscious.
She ignored Dom calling out to her. Kel raced up the stairs and ran out the doors. Yuki watched in sheer horror as Dom stood there frozen as Kel disappeared from sight. Neal walked over to Yuki and she grabbed his hand.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid,"
Kel rubbed her eyes annoyed that she had only got outside before the tears started running down her face. Naturally Kel ran into the closest building. This happened to be the stables. Kel was sitting in a stall, in the corner, sniffing.
"How could I be so stupid?" she asked herself.
"Because you love him," Amberley stated.
Kel looked up not bothering to fix herself up. There was no chance Amberley was going to accept her now. Not even Dom really accepted her.
"How did you know?" she asked, as she had only just worked it out for herself.
"A mother always knows. Here, clear yourself up."
Amberley handed her a hanky-chief and Kel wiped her cheeks, removing the stain marks. She had removed her makeup before.
"Isn't this the part where you tell me to stay away from your son? That I should never see him again?" Kel asked standing up.
"Why would I say that? He loves you and if he's happy then I'm happy,"
Kel frowned and lent on the stall door.
"You are mistaken. You saw him in there. He doesn't love me, no one could ever love a cow like me," she shook her head slowly. "No matter how much I love him, Dom will never love me."
"True love is like ghosts. Everyone talks about but few have ever seen. Don't give up on it if it is meant to be,"
Amberley walked away and Kel felt like shouting at her. Dom didn't love her or otherwise he would be with her. He would have stood up for her and he would be comforting her now.
"I hate him," she whispered.
Speak of the devil and he will appear…
"Dom? What are you doing down here? You have a party to attend," she said wiping away any traces of tears and placing her mask on.
"Who do you hate?"
"You," she whispered as he got closer.
She back up in the corner as he opened the stall door and walked up to her, not saying a word. Kel gulped as she looked up at him and their eyes met. The nest things she knew, he'd leant in and kissed her passionately on the lips. Everything flew from her mind as she felt his warm, soft lips move against hers and she tasted his sweet tongue. Her arms went to his shoulders and his hands went to her hips, pulling her closer into him. Her heart pounded in a jagged, disjointed rhythm as he pulled away.
"I don't, never have and never will, believe what he said," he told her breathless, pulling away sightly so she was standing alone.
"I said nothing because I was thinking f ways to kill him. I'm so sorry,"
She didn't get to say another word as he pressed his lips back to hers and Kel didn't care because she was now kissing the man she loved. Before she knew what she was doing, her arms wrapped around Dom's waist and she drew him even closer to her, so his body was crushing hers against the stall wall. And though she was sore, she didn't care as their kiss deepened. Kel felt Dom's lips slide down her neck and his hands grip her hips.
There's no going back, one part of her mind echoed.
But I don't want to go back, the other part told the first.
Her skin flushed hot, so hot she thought that they would catch on fire. Dom pulled back to look at her, catching his breath. His beautiful eyes were bright and hopeful and she hoped hers betrayed the same feelings – all the feelings she was feeling. By a way of answering his unspoken question, Kel reached over, took his head in her hands, and kissed him again, relishing the feel of his curls beneath her fingers, his stubble scratching her chin and trusting in him with her whole heart…