Dishonored fic: One Hundred Dresses

Reblog of this original post because I’m trash and I haven’t finished the fic I wanted to share this evening. Complete with minor artwork header update which you may or may not notice and curse me out for when you realize it, I’m sorry. This was written for an anon a while ago who wanted to know my other headcanons for Dishonored characters were, that headcanon has since changed a little bit but I’ll run with it for now :D

Callista Curnow expects nothing more than to return home with her uncle once the plague has passed. She keeps his home for him, in lieu of a wife, as the good Captain has never married—though many women have tried to catch his eye. Callista never mentions the locket she finds one day in her uncle’s study, the one that holds the face of a young blond man with pretty dark eyes, the paint somewhat worn as though from constant thumbing. She even thinks about getting it refinished for him, as no one would think twice about a young lady like her having such a miniature cameo in need of repair. But ultimately decides against it. This is her uncle’s private memento, it is not her place to intrude.

Some years later, when Empress Emily Kaldwin turns sixteen, an invitation is sent to their house, inviting both her and her uncle to the state ball, celebrating Emily’s coming of age. Callista smiles, gently running her fingers over the golden wax seal of the young girl who she once had to scold for writing down a list of swear words. Of course they are invited, she thinks, they are the last of the Curnow family, and her uncle is an important and respected man. For the occasion she orders a new black dress trimmed with silver, and pins a silver brooch to the front. It is Serkonan in design, a trinket that had belonged to her great grandmother. She wears it in defiance of the way in which Serkonos has become to be regarded by the nobles of Gristol, and also as a show of loyalty to the Lord Protector. Not that he will notice it or her, of course. She and her uncle will be nothing more than two more faces in a crowd.

On the day of the ball they enter through the grand double doors of the palace, there is much milling about and many unknown faces. Her uncle however is instantly drawn into conversation with several other military types. Not really listening to their conversation Callista scans the room and spies Piero Joplin. He is dressed in red, though his shirt is not tucked in and his glasses are askew, such is the life of the Royal Astrological Metaphysician. He is talking animatedly to a fine looking lady dressed in purple silk, she looks confused but her smile is eager, and Callista smiles to herself, wondering if she ought to find the lady again in a quiet corner and warn her. Piero for his part seems quite oblivious, however and she wonders if perhaps she ought to warn him instead.

There is a twist in the air, as though for a moment all the light in the world has gone out only to be restored in the blink of an eye. She half turns and finds her view obscured by a man dressed all in royal navy blue trimmed in gold. She looks up into the man’s face and finds her breath hitching under his black gaze. Corvo Attano smiles then, and the blackness is gone, eyes warm grey and filled with light again. Their party bristles with the arrival of such an important person, the men hastily bowing and the women bobbing curtsies scandalously low. But Corvo has eyes only for her, and Callista finds herself reaching for his arm as though they are old friends who have never parted. Vaguely she is aware of Lord Somebodyorother asking her uncle if they are acquainted with the Lord Protector, and both she and Corvo laugh as they walk away when they hear him say “Oh yes, quite intimately. I once woke up in a dumpster after a night out with Lord Attano.”

The two walk through the gathering, the sea of people parting before their path. Corvo is just as she remembered, quiet and serious, with a hint of a smile on his lips, though she notices the new scars there that betray how his life has not grown simpler under peace times. The mark is still on his hand too, and he wears it openly. For the first time Callista notices the red inflammation around it like a wound that cannot heal. She wonders if it hurts. Grey streaks the temples of his hair now too, which is cut short, though it does nothing more than make him look dignified. She doesn’t notice when they ascend the stairs, or when people move out of her way as though she is royalty herself. She does notice when Corvo reaches for the brooch on the front of her corset, his finger lightly touching the silver as though drawn to it. It feels oddly warm beneath his touch, as though the metal is heating rapidly under his contact. Abruptly he turns away and holds a hand out. Callista follows it and finds herself brought up short by the sight of a girl—no a young woman—sat upon a simple looking throne.

Her hair is raven black and ornately piled atop her head, and she is dressed in light royal blue and gold. The royal colors of House Kaldwin. For a moment it is as though the years of strife and plague never happened, and Jessamine Kaldwin sits the throne again. But where Jessamine Kaldwin had been a tall raven haired beauty with porcelain skin, Emily Kaldwin— first of her name— is shorter, more curvaceous with an almost swarthy tint to her skin, as though she has spent too much time in the sun. Or perhaps it is foreign blood that gives her the healthy glow and full mouth which turns from a pretty pout into an ecstatic grin as to the horror of those in assembly, and to Callista herself, the young Empress rises from her throne in a flurry of silks and launches herself at the other woman in an undignified hug.

“Callista!” she laughs, a sound which up until this moment Callista hadn’t known just how much she’d missed. “Callista you came! Come sit with me, I sent Corvo looking for you when they didn’t announce you. Did he find you? He’s very good at finding people, but you know that…”

A seat is brought up and Callista sits beside the throne. Not below or lowered. Next to the Empress. Emily holds her hand as they talk too, the ring of state seemingly far too large on her hand, but she wears it well. She wears everything well, even the crown which must be so heavy for such a small head. Other dignitaries are presented to her throughout this time, and it is with some confusion that they regard Callista, unsure whether to acknowledge her as well. When one Lord fails to nod to her, Emily promptly dismisses him, turning back to her conversation with Callista about how many dresses she has.

“That’s actually why I wanted you to come…but I’ve been afraid to ask.”

Suddenly she is ten years old again, and the girl Callista held while she wept for her mother in her sleep.

“Well, I wanted to ask for quite some time, but people said it wouldn’t be right.” she glances around the dais, her eyes fixing on several people who seem to shuffle nervously. “But now that I’m of age, I decided something.” she grins suddenly and deep in her gut Callista knows what is coming and braces for it.

“Fuck them.”

She hears Corvo, ever present behind the throne, laugh shortly, and several other people gasp. Her cheeks flaming, Callista gives the young Empress a reproachful look, but resists the urge to admonish her.

“What did you wish to ask me, Your Majesty?”

Still grinning impishly, Emily shuffles forward on her throne, as though she is not an Empress but a girl in the school yard about to impart some great tidbit of fun.

“Callista Curnow, will you consent to be my Lady of the Wardrobe…please?”

Callista blinks, taken aback. The silence around the dais is suddenly deafening, and it as though the entire room is holding its breath. Out of the corner of her eye she catches sight of her uncle whose eyes are on her, shining with such pride she might almost mistake the brightness for tears. She notices with surprise that the man standing next to him, wearing a Captain’s coat, is Samuel Beechworth, the boatman. He too is smiling, and inclines his head toward her in acknowledgement.

“I, Emily…Your Majesty, I am not highly born…” Callista says at last. The position of Lady of the Wardrobe was the highest position in the Royal Household save for that of the Royal Protector himself. To hold such a position was to be in charge of the palace, the Empress’ wardrobe, the organization of day to day life as well as acting as a confidant and adviser. “Surely there are others…Celia Pendleton, perhaps? Or Lady Timish who is newly returned? Even one of the Boyles…”

“Lydia Boyle is my court musician.” Emily said with a little sniff. Callista noted she said nothing of the other remaining Boyle sister, and little wonder. “And the day a Pendleton enters my court is the day I’ll invite the Outsider to dance, though I’m sure she’s not at all like…them. And I do not know Lady Timish. I do however, know you. Please say yes, Callista?”

There is such pleading hope in those dark eyes that Callista finds her resolve crumbling. She glances over the throne to where Corvo is standing, eyes everywhere but on them, roaming the ballroom for danger. He is never at ease, she realizes, even on a day of such fun and during a time of such prosperity and plenty, Corvo Attano stands ready. Alone.

Her eyes return to Emily, and under the glittering powder that has been applied to her eyes and the faint tint of rose to her cheeks, Callista sees the tightness of the girl’s features. It breaks a  piece of her heart to think that she might cause this girl, this young woman who has already endured so much, any form of pain.

Reaching out to grasp Emily’s hand in both of hers, Callista resists the urge to slide from her chair onto her knees, contenting herself to simply bow her head. On impulse she kisses the girl’s hand, not her ring, her hand, and looks up smiling into the face of her Empress. Beautiful like her mother, wise beyond her years, and bright with happiness.

“It would give me the greatest happiness and honor, Your Majesty.”

In the days that follow Callista Curnow finds herself swept up in a flurry of activity. At the insistence of young Emily, both Callista and her uncle are moved into the Palace and Geoff Curnow finds himself bestowed with the honor of becoming Commander of the Palace Guard, a position he protests until the Lord Protector takes him to one side. Callista never knows what is said between them. But she suspects it has something to do with needing men who cannot be bribed. There are meetings to attend and servants to be watched, and multiple cake makers tried and tested before Callista decides on a stout woman from Morley who does such things with pastry that Callista wonders if the Outsider is fond of sweetmeats. There are also dresses to be fitted, and then refitted, as the Empress seems to be growing taller each day. 

She counts one hundred of them, and realizes it will not be enough.



I’ve had this idea on the shelf for a year, pretty much since my first days in the fandom. But animating the whole scene properly was always too gargantuan a labor for me to tackle. So instead I made just a few scenes. Your imaginations can hopefully do the rest of the work for me. ;D

Merry Dishonorable Holidays, you beautiful fandom, you! I love you, guys!

This is it, this is the Dishonored Christmas Special! And Dishonored it sure is. Christmas, not so much. XD

P.S. Forgive me, Whaler fans, for I can’t draw their gas masks. XD They look like paper cups. XD