"Invitations? Really? Why even ask? Invite the whole kingdom! Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses from afar!"
Liam was going from station to station through the banquet hall, checking invitations, taste testing, selecting fabrics, and everything else. And everywhere he went, Cinder followed. He remained a silent and steady presence at the Prince's side through every station. When the Prince wanted the boy's opinion, he would start with "Cinder, love," and then present him with a food to taste or a color to judge, once even a flower arrangement placement. The boy always gave his honest assessment with a shake yes or no of his head. He kept quiet if he could help it in front of all the people bustling about.
He learned a great deal from being beside his Prince during this time, like his favorite color was red, he wanted white horses to draw a white carriage away, and they had to be Percherons, those were his favorite horse. Cinder also learned the Prince liked veal with white cheese and mushroom sauce, a dish the boy himself had never heard of. He also learned that the Royal Florist's name was Finnian.
Among all the confused voices, Cinder heard one suddenly very close.
"Your Highness," it said, out of the boy's view, "Any time your bride is ready, we will need to take her to the sewing room to take her measurements."
To Cinder it sounded like an old man's voice. What was an old man doing sewing? The boy poked his head around his Prince's chest and saw a very short, very round woman. She was about as tall as he was, with frizzy red hair down to her shoulders, and wearing a purple dress that fit quite loosely over her rotund figure.
"Oh. is this your bride," the woman asked with a heavy accent that Cinder could not place. He stepped out hesitantly from behind Liam. The woman had a round, friendly looking face, although her accent was a bit harsh sounding.
"Cinder, this is our Royal Seamstress, Olga," Liam introduced the woman, "We've got to go with her to get your dre- err, to get your wedding clothes fitted."
"Not 'we'," the seamstress suddenly snapped, "I am sorry, Your Highness, but I will not allow you to see the bride in all her glory until she is walking to you down the aisle!"
Liam raised an eyebrow at the woman. She inclined her head slightly to show her respect and yet, her definite stand on the matter. The man smiled and let out a little sigh. Cinder watched all this with silent fascination.
"Love," Liam turned to Cinder, "Will you be alright going to get your measurements with Seamstress Olga? By yourself? Without me?"
Cinder offered a slight smile to the woman, who returned it with a seemingly forced, friendly smile. The boy looked at his Prince and said simply, "Yes, I think so."
"We'll be off then!" Olga bowed respectively, and turned on her heels, her shoes clicking on the polished marble floor.
Cinder looked back at Liam. He reached down and cupped the boy's chin in his fingers. When Cinder looked down and away, nervous, he let go and kissed the boy on the forehead. "Have fun," the Prince offered. Cinder nodded and smiled honestly, then followed Olga out the large Banquet Hall doors to the sewing room, which was a little ways away from the main entrance stairs. The sewing room was a guilty pleasure of the Queen's before she had died. She made it a small room, for herself mostly, and yet it was quite comfortable. It had been known throughout the kingdom that the Queen loved sewing, be it dresses or shirts, and she never wore the same gown twice because of this.
"Now," Olga said when they had entered the room, "I'll need you to stand on that stool, there, if you would please, dear."
Cinder followed her manicured pointing finger to a small stool in the center of the room. The boy wandered to it and stood comfortably on its rather modest surface. He looked around the room, noticing the fabrics sticking out of drawers and hanging in open wardrobes, half finished gowns and bonnets.
"I wonder if the Queen's old wedding gown would fit you," Olga murmured to herself, wandering to a back room connected to the sewing room interior, "Seems it would be too big. She was so small but you're such a dainty thing…"
Cinder peeked after the Seamstress and craned his neck, still unable to see anything past the doorway. "Dress, ma'am," he asked hesitantly, barely loud enough to hear, "Should I really...?"
"Of course," Olga replied as she came out of the back room, carrying a white silk dress. "Here," she handed the hangar to Cinder, "Try that on. Even if it doesn't fit, we'll be able to get a feel for your size, at least." She glanced back at him, a motherly smile on her wrinkled face, "I can tell you don't like dresses, dear. But this is your wedding!" When Cinder glumly took the Queen's dress off it's hook, she turned away to busy herself in the various drawers covering the pale rose walls.
The boy stepped off the stool and quickly stripped away to his under-pants, figuring even an undershirt wouldn't look quite right under a gown like this. He stepped onto the stool again and slipped the dress over his head. The silk fell around him smoothly and fell down a few inches past his ankles. The top of the dress hung loosely from one shoulder. Cinder could tell it was a dress that required the presence of breasts, and would sag against his bare chest. He stared down at himself, feeling a bit silly. The dress was made purely of silk, gathered at his left hip and cascading down in ripples and pools from there. It was simple, and yet elegant, as the Queen had been.
Olga heard the dress' rustling stop, and she turned around with an expectant smile, which drooped slightly when she saw that she couldn't re-use the Queen's dress, as it drooped off Cinder's frame. "Oh my," she sighed distractedly, "It's much too big. And I thought the Queen had been so tiny, God rest her soul. Oh, but your bust is so small!" Olga approached Cinder and looked down the front of the dress, puzzled. Then she gasped, "You aren't so young, are you?"
"I'm seventeen," Cinder looked at her, confused.
The Royal Seamstress returned the confused expression. Her eyes squinted and then grew wide as she hypothesis grew in her mind. Very suddenly, she pulled up the front of the dress around Cinder's body, and her suspicion was proven true by what she saw of his lower half. "Seamstress," he cried, pushing the dress back down, his face red. He turned away from her, thoroughly embarrassed. He noticed her eyes, brown and shining with mischief.
She had a wicked smile on her face. "So," she mused, "You're a young boy, not even a girl." She suddenly started laughing, "Well, you'll have to have a new wardrobe entirely! This is so exciting; I've never sewn for such a beautiful young prince! Ha!"
Cinder smiled at her, sharing in her overwhelming excitement. Olga snatched a measuring tape from one of the drawers close at hand, measuring the boy with rapid precision and marking it all down. "Oh, so small," she would mutter when measuring his shoulders and his waist, and then giggle to herself. When she was done, Cinder slipped off the dress and hung it back on its hanger. Olga was sketching on the pad she had written all Cinder's measurements on.
"Are you still going to have me wear a dress," he had to ask as he slipped his shorts back on, then his shirt and socks.
"Oh no, no," Olga looked hurt, "I would never impair your dignity by making you do that. I wouldn't have even put the Queen's dress on you if I had realized you were a boy. I'm so sorry! How does it feel being so feminine? Heh heh. You don't have to answer that, dear. Look here, I have an idea."
Cinder wandered to the woman's sketch pad. On it, she had drawn a brutally detailed sketch. A coat with long coattails, slightly curled, labeled 'white', with a pocket and a handkerchief in it labeled 'pale blue'. Under the coat was a vest, also labeled 'pale blue'. The buttons on each were labeled 'gold'. The pants were short, and Cinder wondered if it was okay to wear shorts at a wedding. But the back of the shorts had a long train attached, with three layers labeled 'white, blue, white'. Pale blue gloves were included, as well as pale blue thigh high socks, matched with knee length 'white' labeled boots. Cinder noticed frills on the edge of the vest and the bottoms of the shorts. He smiled, deeply thankful, "This looks wonderful!"
"Then I'll start right on it," Olga beamed, "You should head back to the banquet hall, I'm sure your prince is waiting."
Cinder allowed himself to be led to the door. He was blushing already, and Olga thought he was definitely going to be the most gorgeous definition of a 'blushing bride' in history.
"Oh," Cinder said, as if remembering something. He was halfway out the door. Seamstress Olga looked at him expectantly.
"If you need any help," the boy said, "Just call my Fairy Godmother. I'm sure she'll do all she can."
And a burst of magic entered the window as the boy shut the door and made his way to the banquet hall.