omg Okay I know I should be working on other things but the ballgown AU has consumed me again ;A;
So here’s a short, awkward conversation.
Having already received reassurances from the Duke of Blackwell that his intentions (if not his meetings) with her little sister were entirely pure, Tutu allowed herself a tiny smile as they danced their third waltz together, here at the Royal Wedding, before every noble and well-to-do aristocrat in the kingdom.
Truthfully, she’d been worried that Ahiru would have difficulty situating herself in courtly society—Tutu certainly did, and fitting in was a constant, day-to-day struggle.
She should’ve known that Ahiru would be the one to carve out her own place here, without regard for formality or possible gossip. Midnight rendezvous, public affection (a kiss before a crowd, no less!), happy, unsubtle glances …
Who knew Fakir Blackwell capable of blushing so fiercely, just from a young lady’s smile?
… Tutu’s own smile froze, though, as the shift of wide, white skirts swished beside her, and Rue politely cleared her throat.
“Lady Tutu, good evening,” she greeted, light and pleasant.
But Tutu sensed Rue’s underlying discomfort—the guilt and worry. It sat heavy in her stomach. She shakily curtsied, putting on an acceptably genuine smile. After all, if the new queen extracted herself from the crowds just to speak with her, this conversation must’ve been quite intentional. "Congratulations, Your Grace.“ Her heart’s wounds had healed (well, scarred), but it’d been … a long while since she and Rue spoke, just the two of them. "You look lovely, and I wish you every happiness.”
It was the truth. She did wish them every happiness, even at he expense of her own. And she held herself in contempt for being so miserable during such a wonderful occasion.
“Thank you, my lady. I’m … so glad you’re here. Truly.” Rue glanced away and Tutu couldn’t help but wonder if she purposefully avoided her gaze. "It seems our siblings have been getting along quite well, wouldn’t you say? I’m so grateful to have met Lady Ahiru. Your sister is a breath of a fresh air, especially here in court.“
Tutu knew Rue was trying. She opened herself and her heart—just a little. "I was worried for her. I shouldn’t have been. Look at her. She looks happy.”
Was Mother more like me, or Ahiru I wonder? It grew harder and harder to remember.
“… And how are you, Lady Tutu?”
Tutu’s grip on her gloves tightened. "I’m quite well, Your Grace. Thank you.“
”… Good. That’s good. I’m very glad for that.“
Tutu tried not to glance toward the royal banquet table where the king was seated.
"I’ve missed your company,” Rue said in earnest.
Tutu’s eyes stung. "I’ve … I’ve missed yours.“
"Come by for brunch next week. Please?” The queen reached out and placed a hesitant hand to Tutu’s elbow.
Something in that touch left Tutu content. Resigned, but content nonetheless. Perhaps it was destiny that the two dearest people in the world to her would come to fall in love with Blackwells—but Rue’s invitation and a happy grin from Ahiru across the room quelled her heartache.
They would love the Blackwells, but Tutu was still in their hearts.
“… I’d be delighted.” This time, Tutu’s smile, however watery and quivering it might’ve been, was real.
… The moment was disrupted by the movement at the corners of their eyes. A valet approached the king, whispering fervently into his ear, and with wide eyes and a gesture in Fakir’s direction, King Siegfried and his closest friends stood from their seats or politely separated from their dance partners to stride towards the doors. Had there been some unannounced arrival?
“Pardon me,” Rue whispered in a rush, following after them in a flurry of white silk and lace. The whispers permeated through the room, and something electric was in the air.
It wouldn’t take long for the gossip to spread: that a long-lost brother and friend had returned, just in time for the king’s wedding.
Something would change tonight. Whatever it might’ve been, Tutu was yet to find out.