Day 2 - Trance
Don't Kill Anyone
Unlike her usual self, Olivier had waited until the last minute to leave her precious, cold fort and get to the train station. Buccaneer had insisted on driving her to make sure she arrived on time. Knowing his superior, and the murderous intent now focused on the back of his head, any of the other soldiers, aside from himself and Miles, would have turned the car back around before they’d even got halfway to the station.
“I never thought I’d see the day,” he commented, eyes sparkling with the laughter he held back.
“If you weren’t one of my best men, you wouldn’t live to see the end of the day,” she hissed after a few moments, the trance she had been in for most of the day broken by his words.
“The look on your face reminds me of the time I had to escort Miles’ daughters home when they tried to sneak into the fort to surprise him on his birthday. They gave me the same exact look—cheeks puffed out, nostrils flared, a bit of a pout, arms crossed, and that same glare. Though, I’d have to say your gaze feels much fiercer than the both of theirs combined,” he said, watching as she changed her expression with each trait he mentioned.
“I am not pouting,” she said, bringing her arms to her sides and folding her hands in her lap.
“Not anymore,” he laughed.
“Just watch the road,” she snapped, nostrils flaring again.
“Yes, Sir,” he said, hoping she couldn’t see the smirk on his face in any of the mirrors.
They didn’t talk for the short remainder of the car ride, but he was entertained by her effort to keep a stoic expression on her face until they arrived at the station.
He opened her door for her, against her wishes, and even managed to carry her luggage to the train without having to argue with her about it.
She took her time getting the ticket being held for her at the window, staring up at the cloudy sky while she waited in the longest line. Even after the woman in the booth told her the train was due to leave any minute she kept her pace to the train slow, dragging her feet along like lead weights.
“Acting like a child being punished again, eh?” Buccaneer asked from his spot beside her.
She uncrossed her arms and buried her fists in her pockets as she picked up her pace a bit. “No, I’m just tired,” she argued.
“I’m sure you can get some rest on the train ride,” he replied, watching her carefully for any signs of danger.
They were quiet again, until she started to board the train. Halfway up the steps realized she didn’t have her luggage and turned to him.
Buccaneer found it a bit odd, not having to look down to meet her eyes, it was the first time they’d ever been completely eye level with each other.
The whistle of the train broke them both out of the strange trance they had fallen into.
“My luggage,” she prompted, breaking eye contact to look down at the case he held.
“Right,” he muttered, holding out the luggage to her expectant hand.
She grabbed the handle, but he didn’t remove his metal hand. “Lieutenant,” she said, giving the luggage a tug, and finally looked back up at him when he didn’t release it. She narrowed her eyes at the cheeky grin on his face.
“Don’t kill anyone, we’re running out of stain free gloves,” he told her, releasing his hold on the luggage as the train started to move.
When she didn’t immediately turn and continue up the steps he waved to her. Unable to move the rest of her body she raised her free hand and waved back. After a moment her legs finally got the message to move, and she made her way into the hall of the car of the train she’d be in for the remainder of her trip.
Once in her own little cabin, alone due to her family’s wealth and her own military rank, she relaxed as much as her body would allow on a train full of strangers and closed her eyes. Maybe he was right, and she would be able to get some rest on the train, but it certainly wouldn’t be sleep. She would be in that state between the lands of the sleeping and waking world, the one she had made sure all of her subordinates knew how to access. As her own rule for soldiers, she never went fully to sleep in a place where she was surrounded by strangers. Her body would rest while she remained alert, and prepared herself for the inevitable family gathering.
Day 3 - Baby
An Unwanted Guest
When the first thing to disturb her senses was the sunlight filtering through the east-facing window she had so intelligently forgotten to close the curtain of the night before, she knew it was the calm before the storm. Less than an hour later, sitting with her back flush against the cushioned wall, eyes closed, hands folded in her lap, and one leg crossed over the other the noise of the compartment door being slid open caused her hand to fly to the sword on the seat beside her as she opened her eyes.
She was about to get up and close the door, but a small gurgle sounded from the empty doorway. She looked down, and her eyes widened. Another strange gurgle/babble escaped the baby’s—or was it toddler, she didn’t care enough to know—lips. She was still for a moment, unsure of what to do. That was until the baby started to cross the threshold into her cabin in strange walk, stumbling with the movement of the train.
“No, this is my room, out!” Olivier commanded, unconsciously pointing the baby in the other direction with her sheathed sword.
The baby smiled and continued in her direction.
“No, you aren’t cute or funny. Where are the people in charge of you?” she demanded, getting to her feet.
The baby didn’t respond, but took a few more steps in her direction, and clung, much to Olivier’s dismay, to her pants clad leg.
Olivier, thoroughly disgusted, held back the impulse to shake her leg free of the child, as she would do if it were a horny dog.
Not wanting to have drool, or even worse, mucus dry and crust on her uniform she set her sword down, doubled over, and hooked her hands under the babies armpits. She was glad to find the baby let go of her pants without a fight, but grimaced at the sight of the string of drool running from her pants to the baby’s mouth. She watched it with a strange fascination, much like one watching a horror film, as it thinned and broke apart as she straightened, holding the baby as far away from herself as she could with two arms.
The baby let out another gurgle, which sounded strangely like the word “ma ma” and kicked her legs playfully.
“Well, if you won’t tell me where the people in charge of you are, I’ll have to go find someone to give you to,” she grumbled.
She marched into the corridor and looked in both directions for any other form of life, nothing, not even a fly.
She was getting ready to cross into the other car of the train when she heard a strangled cry and the slamming of a cabin door. “My baby, my baby is missing,” a woman shrieked. Olivier slowly turned to face the idiot of a woman as more doors flew open and heads peeked out of the separate cabins.
“There she is, she took my baby,” the woman accused, pointing in Olivier’s direction. Two men ran towards her, but stopped at the sound of her voice. “Why would I want such an abomination?” she asked, marching to the woman and dumping the baby in her arms.
“She’s not an abomination!” the woman shouted, causing the baby to cry.
“No, she’s not, you are—letting her wander off in the early morning hours, on a moving train. Mothers should be just as, if not more, alert than soldiers,” Olivier replied, in a whisper meant only for the woman’s ears. “And you made it cry. How am I supposed to relax now?” she complained as she walked back to her cabin and gently slid the door closed. This time she took care to hook the latch and close the curtains. She gave the darkened spot of drool on her pants an annoyed glare as she sat down.
As she let herself drift back into her state of half-consciousness, she considered the start of her first day of vacation a bad omen for the rest of it. In the North, one learned how to read signs—aching joints meant a drop in the temperature, a ring around the moon meant snow, the increase in the number of insects meant a rise in temperature. That baby was just the start of it.
Day 4 - Funeral
Don't Dress For a Fuenral
Olivier tried to sneak past her family (plus one) waiting at the train station in Central, but her idiot of a brother spotted her as she begun to walk in the other direction.
“Livi, we’re over here!” he called, waving his arms flamboyantly, eyes sparkling.
“I told you she’d be wearing her uniform, Father,” her youngest sister, Catherine quipped.
“She’s even got her sword with her,” Arm-e pointed out.
“She’s not going to hurt him is she?” the unfamiliar man asked, looking up at Arm-e.
“No, they’re just playing,” her father answered, laughing at the spectacle Olivier and Alex were making.
“Back, no hugs,” Olivier demanded, her sword flashing in the light.
“But Livi, I haven’t seen you in ages,” he said, standing just out of her sword’s reach.
“And my sword hasn’t cut anything in ages,” she replied, getting ready to take another step forward.
“Now, Olivier, put that sword away. Alex, leave her alone. We have things to do today. And would you take off that coat? You look like you’re going to a funeral with that expression on your face and black coat in the middle of spring,” her mother said, taking a step towards her. “We’ll have to stop by the house first, I don’t want you carrying that thing around all day,” she said, waving her hand at the sword sheathed at her daughter’s hip.
“But, Dear, we can’t ask her to do that. That’s like asking Alex to leave his gauntlets at home. They’re both part of the military, and if a situation occurs they’re expected to step in, whether they are on or off duty,” her father cut in.
“May I take that?” the unfamiliar man asked, holding his hand out for Olivier’s suitcase.
“Who are you?” she asked, looking him up and down in judgment. He was only a few inches taller than her, seemed to have an athletic build, and was staring at her with sparkling green eyes. He must have been one of the newer valets, but he wasn’t in any kind of uniform.
“Allen Walker, Arm-e’s fiancé. Pleased to meet you. May I take your luggage and coat for you Miss Armstrong?” he asked again.
If her hand hadn’t tightened around the handle on her luggage moments before to brace herself for him grabbing it, as all the valets would have done, she would have dropped it during his introduction. Arm-e’s fiancé. There was something wrong with the picture. “No, I’ll take it,” she said, walking past him.
“Well, if she won’t leave it at the house, then she’ll just have to put that funeral coat back on to hide it,” her mother ended the argument Olivier hadn’t been paying attention to, but the word funeral had caught her attention.
She was staring at the distracting scene in front of her—the engaged couple holding hands. Arm-e’s hand completely enveloped her fiancé’s. She would have laughed, but she could feel her mother’s intent, and irritated, gaze focused on her. She turned to face the tall stringy woman just as her name left those thin lips, “Olivier!”
“Hmm?” she asked, her mother’s stern tone completely ineffective against her.
“So, which will it be? Wear the coat, or leave the sword at the house?” her father asked, rolling one of the curls on his beard between two fingers.
In answer she dropped her luggage and slowly pulled the coat back on. Her eyes glinted with amusement at her mother’s frown of disapproval. If this is anything like other weddings I’ve been forced to take part in it will just sour as a funeral, at least I’ll be dressed appropriately. She laughed at her own thoughts while she smoothed the fur collar of the coat.
She went to grab her suitcase again and follow her already retreating siblings and mother, but her hand only grasped air. Her other hand went back to the hilt of her sword while her narrowed eyes looked for the black case. She huffed and crossed her arms when she noticed Allen carrying it with the hand Arm-e wasn’t currently occupying with hers.
“He does have some admirable qualities,” her father laughed, patting her on the back.
She looked back at Arm-e’s hand hiding Allen’s and chuckled.
“She’s always been a bit like mother,” Olivier reflected, her steps matching her father’s.
“Eh?” he asked tilting his head to the side.
“She’s always been attracted to shorter men,” she chuckled, returning the pat on the back he’d given her.
“I’m not short, I’m just not as tall as your mother. Not that you can say anything about height, Catherine is almost as tall as you,” he teased.
“She’s finished growing by now,” Olivier answered. “Have you gotten shorter?” she joked back, measuring from the top of her head to the top of her father’s, where curled tendril sprung forward from his otherwise slicked back hair.
“You just wait and see, one day you’ll start shrinking, too,” he laughed, batting her hand away.
She swallowed her retort, and the smile that had been tugging at the corners of her mouth, when they got to the two cars, and everyone stood watching them.
“You’ll come with us Olivier, we’re going to be getting measurements taken for the dresses,” her mother announced, gesturing to the car her three sisters stood in front of.
She inwardly groaned at the word dresses. “I’ll be wearing my dress uniform to the ceremony, Mother,” Olivier argued, mimicking the movements of the tall woman by placing her hands on her hips.
“Absolutely not, and that’s fina—”
“Oh, it doesn’t look like there’s room for me in the car, I’ll just go with them,” Olivier cut off her mother and pulled open the door of the car her father had just started.
“Are you wearing a tuxedo, then?” her father inquired, staring at his defeated wife glaring at the funeral-goer who had just slammed the car door.
“No, but they can take my measurements for a new dress uniform,” she replied, relaxing back into the leather seat. Now she could take off the coat she was beginning to regret wearing in the heat of Central’s early spring.
Once they got inside the tuxedo shop she shed her coat and the standard jacket she wore beneath it, placing them on the coat rack. She stood still, and followed the instruction of the tailor as he measured her, making small talk when necessary. Eventually she emerged from the small room to find Allen sitting in the vestibule alone.
She grinned at him, the grin most of her subordinates knew to be afraid of, and took a seat on the bench next to him.
Allen grinned back at her, his eyes still sparkling. She bit back a laugh as she remembered her sister was also attracted to shiny things and scooted a bit closer to him.
His gaze grew confused and he moved down the bench away from her. She followed him. The process repeated until she had her prey trapped between herself and the coat rack which stood at the end of the bench.
Why’d you decide on spring for the wedding?” she questioned, locking his wrist in a vice-like grip.
“Arm-e wanted to have it while the cherry trees are in bloom,” he answered, meeting her fierce gaze without backing down.
She smirked. “So, you’re a wimp giving in to whatever a woman asks,” she concluded.
“No,” he spoke up, “Making the woman I love happy does not make me a wimp.”
“Good answer, but be warned, if you ever hurt my little sister I will be needing my coat to wear to your funeral,” she threatened.
“I’d kill myself if I ever harmed her,” he countered, removing himself from her grasp and making a smooth exit from his seat on the bench.
Her father and Alex finished up soon after that. She waited with her father while he made the first payment to the tailor, only half the money up front to guarantee everything was made properly.
“You’re right, he does have a few admirable traits,” Olivier said as they walked to the car where her brother and future brother-in-law waited. “I think I’ll drop my sword off at the house—I don’t feel like wearing my coat all day,” she announced as she got into the car.
Day 5 - Birth
A Mother's Wishes
There were certain things her mother just would not forget about, such as her wearing a dress to her sister’s wedding.
No matter where she went after they got back from the tailor her mother had followed her like a shadow, better than any of her aides at Briggs—her mother would have to give them a lesson or two if she ever met them. It was times liked those she remembered why she had been so eager to get out of the high-society house and into the military.
Entering the academy had changed her life. There, she could cut men down with her sword and words instead of having to curtsy and bat her eyes at them. She didn’t have to listen to idle gossip about the most promising bachelors in town or mindless relationships. No, in the academy they talked about guns, skill, intelligence, swordsmanship, and the future of the country. Only a few men recognized her, but it didn’t take long for them to acknowledge her skills as a soldier.
Now, waking up for the first time in year in her old room she felt like she was back to where she had been weeks before signing her life away to the military—practicing her fencing in the backyard, cooking her own meals and eating them in the kitchen, because her mother wouldn’t search there, waking up early for her workouts, and going to bed early.
Olivier was up before the sun, and standing outside her bedroom door was her mother, with an itinerary for the day.
While she ate her breakfast, her mother entered the kitchen with swatches of fabric. She ignored the fabrics being held up to the bare skin of her fore-arms and savored the food made by professional cooks, even the coffee was amazing. “Thank you,” she told the kitchen staff, all of whom had been waiting for the blue eyed woman to snap at their mistress.
“I wanted to have them use a different color, but the one that goes best with your pale skin is the same as your uniform,” her mother sighed.
“I’m not wearing a dress,” Olivier announced.
“I didn’t go through false labor five times in the last month of pregnancy with you, and then spend sixteen hours in labor when you’d changed your mind and didn’t want to come out, only to have them have to perform cesarean and take you out for you to refuse to wear a dress to your sister’s wedding,” her mother huffed.
“You should have noticed then that I’m stubborn,” Olivier replied, continuing down the hallway while her mother remained rooted in the same spot.
“I’ll just get your measurements from the tailor,” her mother called.
“That doesn’t mean I’ll wear it,” Olivier shot back, rounding the corner.
Once safely in her room she retrieved her sword and decided to go practice in the back yard. She opened her closet to grab a light jacket and frowned. It was still full of those ridiculous dresses she had been forced to wear.
She quickly closed the door on the frilly pink clothes, but opened it back up just as quickly.
A smirk spread on Olivier’s face when she saw her mother walking as quickly as she could towards her spot in the small thicket of trees she was practicing in.
“Oh, is it time to go pick out the flowers yet?” Olivier asked, slicing at her target hanging from an oak tree.
“No, but what do you think you’re doing to those dresses?” her mother snapped, using a pair of scissors to cut the strings the filled dress nearest to her hung from.
“I thought I’d put them to good use. I won’t be wearing them anymore,” Olivier explained, using her sword to lop off the faceless, dirt head of one of the filled dresses in example. “Having Alex around to help every now and then isn’t so bad,” she said, explaining how she’d been able close the bottom of each dress and fill it with dirt in a matter of hours.
“Why I…I didn’t—”
Olivier cut off her stuttering mother, “I know you didn’t give birth to me for however many hours just for me to cut up dresses, but you should have realized I’d be stubborn from the very start.”
Day 6 - Wedding
Don't Leave Your Sword
Olivier navigated her way through the crowd and found herself a seat in one of the emptier rooms of the first floor. She would go to her room for the night, but she refused to leave the engagement party early after the little challenge her mother had issued earlier in the day when she'd come to remind her the party started in less than an hour.
“Why I’m bothering to tell you to dress properly, I don’t know. I doubt you’ll even stay downstairs long enough for anyone to notice.”
Olivier took a long sip of her vodka, relishing in the slight burning sensation it caused at the back of her throat. She set her glass down noiselessly on the maroon-clothed table. To say this room was emptier than others was true, but emptier did not mean empty by any means, it was still crowded full of people holding a high status in society. Men wearing their most expensive suits, silk ties, and cuff links made of rare gems. Women with their delicate hair styles, layers of perfectly, painted, make-up, sparkling fingers, necks, and wrists, polished nails, expensive shoes, and designer dresses. Olivier chuckled to herself as she watched people mingle with their hollow laughs, exaggerated smiles, and dramatic hand gestures.
She frowned as her laugh caught the attention of a couple close to her.
“Oh, Honey, it’s the oldest,” the woman informed him, pointing in Olivier’s direction.
Suddenly, people were migrating towards her. She stood in attempt to leave the room, but was surrounded before she took her first step. She silently cursed herself for agreeing to leave her trusted companion sheathed in her room.
“Mr. and Mrs. Novick,” a man her father’s age introduced, extending his hand to her.
“Major General Olivier Armstrong,” she supplied, shaking his hand. The name was slightly familiar, maybe one of her father’s friends.
She repeated the process, re-acquainting herself with people she had gone to school with, friends of her parents, and their families. They were all smiling at her like they’d met a long lost friend, her own frown stayed in place.
“To think you’ve kept your family name. So terribly sorry I missed your wedding,” a woman she knew from school gushed.
“I didn’t have a wedding,” Olivier replied.
“Oh, you eloped?” the woman’s husband inquired.
“No, I’m not married,” Olivier explained, enunciating each word clearly for the couple to understand.
A gasp shot through the people gathered around her.
“I thought it was Armstrong tradition for the eldest to be married first,” another woman, older, commented.
“Traditions are easily broken,” Olivier scoffed.
“You and that Mustang boy were such a cute pair when you were children,” Mrs. Novick said.
“Yes, I thought it would be the case of opposites attracting,” Mr. Novick commented.
“It would have been a great wedding. Two high-ranking officers from high class families,” a brunette at the edge of the circle rambled.
“Did someone call me?” a voice called.
Olivier turned, her light blue eyes meeting his dark ones. She smirked, and he frowned.
“They’re just talking about our wedding.” Olivier explained, waiting for the group to draw him into their circle.
“W-we-wedding?” he asked, face a bit paler than usual.
“Oh, yes, it would have been amazing,” the brunette went on, her green eyes sparkling at her day dream.
“See, you two make a stunning pair,” Mrs. Novick asserted, curling her slender fingers around Roy’s arm, and dragging him into the circle.
While the others were discussing the details of the make-believe wedding Roy sidled up next to Olivier. “What did you tell them?” he hissed.
“Oh, just something I like to call revenge. Your letter is the only reason I’m here,” she sneered. “I need to go freshen up,” she announced to the crowd, which instantly parted for her.
She shot Roy a smug look while she grabbed her glass and left the circle, which enclosed around him.
She could hear Roy’s muffled voice stammering about the fraternization laws when someone asked him why he didn’t pursue a relationship with her and laughed. Her eyes focused on a blonde hanging back in the shadows of the room. “So, I’m not the only one who dressed practically. You’d be wearing pants, but you’ve got a gun under that don’t you?” she asked, motioning to the long, slit skirt.
“Yes, Sir,” the sharpshooter answered, her eyes never leaving the crowd Roy had been engulfed by.
“He’ll come out of there alive, Lieutenant, stunned and a bit confused, but alive,” Olivier laughed, moving from her spot next to the worried woman, and leaving the room.
She made her way to the main room and traded her empty glass for water. After careful inspection she found room full of people she didn’t recognize, probably people Allen and his family knew, and sat down in a comfortable black chair in a dark corner.
The remainder of the party was uneventful, that was until after it was over. Once the last of the guests had gone home she found herself cornered by the rest of her family.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Alex blurted out.
“What exactly didn’t I tell you?” Olivier replied.
“That you and Colonel Mustang have been secretly in love since before he left to go study alchemy,” Catherine cried, her eyes sparkling.
“Exchanging coded love letters through mail,” Arm-e added.
“Making wedding plans,” Strong-ko spoke up.
Olivier could feel the vein in the side of her face pulsating. “I don’t know who your source is, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” she growled.
“You don’t have to lie to us, we won’t tell anyone,” her mother said, grinning from ear to ear.
“The only thing Roy Mustang is good for is sharpening my blade on. I’m going to my room, and if I hear anymore of this ridiculous lie will cut of the tongue of the one who mentioned it,” she threatened, shoved past them, and stormed up the stairs.
“I told you it wasn’t true,” she heard her father say through his laughter.
In her room, she stared at her sword leaning against a bedpost. "I'll take you everywhere from now on," she vowed.
Day 7 - Understanding
There were certain things one should not attempt, especially without knowing all the facts, and Olivier usually knew better.
“Oh, that dress looks perfect on you, Arm-e,” Catherine squealed, as her older sister executed a turn for all to view the dress from every angle.
“My darling, Arm-e, Allen won’t be able to talk when he sees you,” her mother exclaimed.
Olivier watched from the corner, one leg crossed over the other, using the end of her blade to bounce her foot. She yawned, not bothering to cover her mouth as Strong-ko placed the veil atop Arm-e’s head, a single curled lock refusing to stay put under the crown of fabric.
Olivier hid her chuckle of amusement as the four female members of her family attempted to smooth the golden lock back.
“I can cut it off for you,” she offered, removing her foot from the tip of the covered blade, and brandishing her trusted companion.
“After what you did to Alex, never,” her mother shouted. “Now put that thing away and go try on your dress uniform at the tailor. You father should be here any minute with the car,” she ordered.
“It doesn’t look bad,” called Olivier over her shoulder as she marched out of the boutique, hand raised to cover her eyes from the harsh rays of sunlight. “Unbelievable,” she muttered under her breath, the sunlight shouldn’t have been much of a problem for her, considering she was used to it reflecting off the snow covered ground, maybe direct sunlight was different.
Minutes later she raised her eyebrow at Alex as he scrambled out of the front passenger seat and held the door open for her. When he showed no sign of moving she gave the slightest hint of a bow of thanks and took the seat he had previously been occupying. “Why did you take so long?” she asked her father while watching Alex clamber into the backseat—really such a big man in such a tiny vehicle.
“Oh, just out doing manly things,” came her father’s vague reply as he pulled out into traffic, no bothering to check the street before hand.
Despite her fear of the way he maneuvered the vehicle she chuckled at his comment. “Manly things, such as showing off your muscles?” she inquired.
“No, some alchemy practice for Alex, you know he’s going to make ice sculptures for the wedding, and Allen showed us his swordplay,” her father replied.
A scoff sounded from Olivier as she looked back at Allen, clutching the arm rest of the seat.
“He isn’t half-bad,” her father murmured, pulling to the side of the road with a screech of the brakes.
Olivier wasn’t the only one to throw open the car door as soon as it was stopped and make her way into the shop.
With the orders of the two tailors in the shop, Olivier and Allen walked back to the fitting rooms with the prepared articles of clothing. After a few minutes of standing without moving a millimeter, for desire of not being poked by a needle while being prodded, she was able to get back into her pantsuit, and take the same seat she had occupied on the bench in the vestibule just day’s before. Soon enough, Alex left and Allen joined her.
Recognizing the stunt he was pulling on her as the tactic she had used against him, she didn’t move when he sat down right next to her, invading all personal space on her right side.
“Arm-e would appreciate it if you wore a dress to the ceremony,” he informed her, watching her right hand as it moved across to her left side.
“And I would appreciate it if no one said anything further about me wearing a dress,” she muttered.
“Understood. I’ll have a word with Arm-e if you beat me at a fencing match,” Allen suggested, holding out his hand to hers for a shake to seal the deal.
“If I don’t?” she asked, wearily—there was always a catch.
“You wear a dress,” he stated.
“When?” she asked, shaking his hand confidently.
“Four, in the backyard,” he suggested.
“I’ll be there,” she agreed, letting go of his hand, and standing.
“Where are you going?” he called.
And she did practice, using what was left of the dress wearing, dirt golems Alex had made, but not for long, because she kept picturing Allen trying to hold a sword properly, which only resulted in a fit of laughter.
Olivier stared incredulously at the green-eyed man holding his own sword at her chest.
“Bravo, Allen,” her father cheered from the sidelines.
She narrowed her eyes at the man staring at the scene in amusement.
“You’ll wear a dress then?” Allen asked, not moving from his stance.
“I never go back on my word,” she hissed, still reaching for her sword, stuck just inches out of her grasp in the tree.
After withdrawing his sword, he stretched, the few inches he had over her giving him the ability to reach her sword, and pulled hers out of the trunk of the tree. “That’s a fine blade,” he commented as he handed it back to her.
He didn’t catch what she mumbled under her breath as she walked away, but behind her back his soon to be father-in-law was giving him a cheeky grin.
Olivier waited inside for her father, and when he finally walked in with Allen at his side she pulled him away from his conversation, down a hallway, and into one of the smaller rooms on the floor.
“I thought you sent me to the best school,” she exclaimed, throwing herself down in one of the puffy armchairs.
“In Armestris. Allen lived in Xing half his life, didn’t you notice his family wasn’t exactly pure Armestrian?” he inquired, sitting down in a chair across from her, with more grace than she’d exhibited since arriving in Central.
She opened her mouth and then closed it. She knew his family was different, and no wonder they hadn’t spoken to her much when she hid during the party, they didn’t speak the language well.
“I thought you knew not to jump into a battle without knowing more about your adversary,” he joked.
“I do, I just didn’t,” she huffed, cutting her sentence short.
“So, you’ll be wearing a dress now,” he teased.
“I never go back on my word,” she persisted, crossing her arms.
“An Armstrong never does,” he commented. “Oh, and I’ll make sure your mother doesn’t bother you about it. She didn’t even know about the bet, or deal as you two called it,” he told her.
“Fine, I’ll go have the ridiculous thing fitted tomorrow while everyone else is picking out which color to use for table clothes, or, I don’t know some other trivial thing mother mentioned on that list of hers,” Olivier told him, getting up from her chair.
On her way up to her room, all she could think of was learning those Xingese swordplay techniques.
Day 8 - Kiss
It's Not Unusual
Both her father and Allen had been sending expectant glances at her all day—through the two hours of choosing the “perfect” fabric and color for the table cloths during the reception, which still ended in indecision, an hour and a half of flipping through illustrations of hair styles, for all of them sans Alex, and now as they toured the grand hall of Rowling’s Inn too see if it was up to par for the reception.
Olivier groaned as her mother pulled out the three sample pieces of fabric they’d gotten earlier and compared them to the golden butter-cream paint on the walls. By the clucking sound her that came from her mother’s mouth and the way she shoved the fabrics back in her handbag this certainly wasn’t going to be the place they’d decide on.
She was starting to remember what it felt like to shop with her mother—the pressure that built up in the back of her head, sounds mashing together, the film of fog dulling her surroundings, and the weight of her eyelids, fighting to stay closed each time she blinked.
She barely kept her footing when her father nudged her. “When are you going to go?” he whispered.
She slowly turned her head in his direction, her vision slightly obscured by hair and the film of fog. “What was that?” she asked, her senses clearing as they walked back out to the streets.
“When are you going to go to the boutique?” he asked, his whisper a bit louder than the first one.
“I need-did they just? Again?” Olivier asked, her voice a bit louder than her father’s whisper.
“Pardon,” her father replied, utterly confused.
“They kissed. Out in public!” Olivier exclaimed, scrunching her face up in disgust. There was one thing that disgusted her more than her first sip of coffee at Briggs, and that was public displays of affection that surpassed a quick hug or holding hands. Not only had Arm-e leaned over once to kiss him, but twice.
“Really, your private life should stay private! What are you two going to be doing next, groping each other in public,” Olivier fumed.
“Why, I never!” her mother cried, holding a hand over chest, as if she’d just had a heart attack.
“But, Livi, they’re in love!” Alex exclaimed, the emotion in his eyes causing them to sparkle.
“I’m going to leave, before I get sick,” Oliver announced, making her exit by walking between the blushing couple.
“Just don’t stay out too late, darling,” her father called, waving enthusiastically to her back.
The crowd on the sidewalk quickly parted for Olivier as she walked by grumbling to herself about couples using love to excuse their inappropriate acts in such public places.
By the time she had gotten to the dress shop she had doled out enough glares to passers-by to alleviate a fraction of her frustration. She held her head high as she entered the boutique of certain doom.
The seamstress quickly recognized her name, and took her to the back, where sure enough a dress nearly the color of her uniform was waiting to be fitted. She silently cursed her mother for her unfailing hope that she would wear a dress.
Exactly what she wanted to do during her vacation—sport a dress, and while doing so leave herself in the hands of a stranger with a mouthful of needles.
After a few minutes of pinning fabric here and there, the woman looked up at her. “Is something wrong, hun’? Just let me know, I can fix anything you don’t like,” she volunteered, her voice a bit of a mumble through her gritted teeth.
“It’s not the dress. Honestly, it’s partly the dress, but I dislike all dresses,” Oliver brushed her off.
“Well then, what’s bothering you?” she asked, pulling another pin from between her teeth.
Olivier gave her a rather put off look and crossed her arms.
“Now, don’t go moving on me like that, I don’t want to stick you. I can’t promise you I can fix your problem if it doesn’t concern the dress, but I can listen, and trust a woman twice your age, just telling someone about it can help,” she insisted, pins moving up and down ever so slightly with each syllable that passed between her clenched teeth.
Olivier considered the offer, and decided to tell the woman, at least they could relate on one level—working with sharp pointy objects day in and day out.
The woman listened to her quick synopsis of the event and her outlook about the public display of affection while diligently going about her work of noting the miniscule adjustments that would make the difference between a stunning and ordinary gown. She looked up at the blonde before her and smiled, showing the wrinkles around her mouth and eyes. “It’s not so unusual to see that nowadays as it was when I was growing up,” she began, taking the remaining pins out of their place inbetween her teeth. Her voice came across more clearly as she continued, “One day it’ll change for you, just you wait. Now, go on, I know you’re itching to get out of that dress.”
Olivier would have snorted at the woman’s comment about her point of view changing, but she forgot about it when she was told she could change out of the dress mocking her for the deal she’d made.
Back in her pantsuit, with her dearest friend at her side, she left the shop and made her way home hoping her eyes wouldn’t be victim to anymore displays of saliva exchanges that the seamstress had told her were becoming more common to see in the open these days.