Deryn stole another glance at herself in the mirror. It had been three years since she'd seen herself in a dress, and that time was mostly just for laughs. And to see Alek's reaction, of course. Now here she was again, but this time it wasn't a joke. This time it was also her choice. Deryn reckoned if there was any occasion to put on a frock, it may as well be for her wedding day. Not only would it make her Ma happy, but it would delight her fiancé, and she couldn't wait to see the look on his face when he saw her. She could handle wearing a gown for Alek for a few hours on her wedding day.

At least, this is what Deryn reminded herself as she appraised her reflection in the mirror, trying to push away her doubts. She just wasn't sure she recognized herself. Granted, the dress was a simple affair, with no extra frills or layers if they could be helped. The fashions in England had largely simplified in the last few years, and it was easy for Deryn to find a dress that hung nicely over her thin frame without getting lost in layers of silk and bustles. However, her silken slippers pinched her feet and her hair looked too . . . nice. She frowned at her reflection and ran a hand through her chin-length hair, lightly at first, then giving it a nice hard tousle before smoothing it back down.

That's better, she thought. Not quite so uptight.

Still, something wasn't quite right yet. Deryn scanned the room until her eyes landed on what they sought. She hurriedly kicked off her soft slippers and marched over to a pair of muddy boots that were tucked underneath a chair. She had had to give up her rubber-soled boots when she turned in her middie's uniform when leaving the Air Service, but Dr. Barlow had kindly outfitted her with a similar pair for her work with the Zoological Society. Deryn pulled on what she referred to as her "clart-kicking boots" and checked her reflection one last time.

This time she gave a satisfied sigh. She felt like herself again, albeit in a silly white dress. The boots were barely visible beneath the long dress, and with the combination of her ruffled hair and the long white dress she felt almost jaunty.

Pretty, even.

Deryn flashed herself a smile before heading out the dressing room door to meet her waiting fiancé.