Story for the day: Outfits

 I hate when women do this. I despise pettiness, especially when it involves something as inconsequential as clothing. This is a portion of a chapter from book 6.

Rautu will not like your dress
When Nerri arrived hoping to find her sister in high spirits, she was greeted with looks of astonishment and horror. Merra was wearing the very same gown in the very same style and her dreadful expression told her of her disapproval of the arrangement. She could not help but notice that Merra Lingha’s slender form was well suited for the item where her robust build was not and she was about to calm her sister by telling her she would miss the celebration when the notion of Captain Connors entered her mind. He had asked her to come, she had accepted and the gown would secure her entrance to the event. Without it, she felt she could not enter and without entering, she could not meet him and if she could not meet him, they could not dance together and if they could not dance together, she would be forced to wait for the next holiday to be invited by the captain anywhere. The events following her taking off the dress burst on her and spiraled down into misery and despair. She would not relent. This was her opportunity to be at his side and she would be steadfast in her obtainment of his presence for the evening.

    This was not to be borne. The remonstrance that followed Nerri’s unwillingness to comply with Merra Lingha’s wishes was hushed and severe. It was understood that Nerri would change into something else. It was Merra’s right to wear it, she being the elder and more convinced of the two, and she had a gentleman to impress. Bilar was all her ambition and securing his affection was eminent, therefore she would not be the one to remove the gown. She had not been told of Nerri’s consideration of the captain. There had been no opportunity, as Merra had spent the chief of her time in the infirmary under Bilar’s auspices, and she could not have guessed that Nerri, the younger and less confident of them, would imagine herself attached.

    The disagreement over who was to wear the dress escalated into an audible tone just as the commander was walking from the commons to the great hall. She stopped at the infirmary entrance when she heard the two young women caught in their circular argument and once Merra observed the commander standing by and listening to them, she grabbed Nerri’s hand and brought her over to her commanding officer.   

    “Commander MacDaede, please, you must help us,” Merra said with a terrified countenance.

    “I shall if I can,” the commander said, simpering at Nerri standing at attention in her gown. She remarked both of the girls and wondered why there was such a commotion. “You both seem to look very well,” she assured them, misunderstanding the means of their equal distress.  

    “That could be so, commander, but we are wearing the same dress,” Merra said.

    “You are. I have eyes enough to observe that much.”

    “Pardon me, commander, but we cannot wear the same thing.”

    The commander looked at Nerri’s confounded expression and was relieved to find that someone other than herself had not understood the object of such a statement. “And why is that exactly?” she fleered. “I’m certain both Bilar and Connors will find you ravishing beyond description.”

    Merra forwent the revelation of Nerri’s preference and repeated, “But we are dressed the same,” as if this would illuminate the reason for her disapproval.

    “And because you are sisters, you two are not permitted to consider the same article?”

    “Well, no. Not at the same time.” Merra looked to the side in confusion. She felt that the commander, being a woman, would know that two of the same gender, particularly in the same family, were forbidden from dressing in the same manner on any occasion but her scoffs indicated that she found the idea an absurdity.

    “This is a Nnodainya nonsense, I’m certain,” the commander smirked. “Is this one of those unspoken rules you ridiculous creatures make?”

    “Pardon me, commander, but did you not grow up around women?”

    The commander raised a brow and folded her arms across her chest. “. . . No,” she said in a firm tone. “You shall have to explain the rules of this stupidity because I daresay I have never heard of it.”

    Merra could see that the commander’s patience was being tried and she attempted with respect and civility to keep the explanation short. “If there is a special occasion, women usually consult one another on what to wear-“

    “Yes, yes, now I remember this business,” the commander said, waving a dismissive hand at the girl, “and I am equally reminded of why never had female friends when I was young. Most of their quarrels are petty and ridiculous, as this one undoubtedly is.”

    Merra looked at her sister for assistance was she would give none.

    Nerri said nothing in front of her commanding officer. She was only silent and hoped that the matter would be resolved without her being called to interfere.

    When the discussion would not advance, the commander exhaled in mild disgust and advanced the argument for them. “Well, there is an easy method to settling this.”

    The sisters gave the commander hopeful stares.

    “Which one of you was the first to purchase the dress?”

    Merra spoke first, claiming she had bought the article that very morning but Nerri soon confessed that she had purchased it the evening previous. Merra was shocked to hear of her sister’s prudence and was moved to question the truth in her statement when she was silenced by the commander’s ruling.

    “Then Nerri shall be the one who wears it,” the commander decided with a nod.

    “But, I-” Merra began.

    “No, my dear. She purchased it first. Therefore, by your own rule, it is you who should have consulted her.

    Merra’s spirits faltered and her expectancy dissipated. She believed that she would be the victor of the dispute and she had little to say in defense of her conjectures. “I didn’t know she had bought it,” she murmured to herself. “I  . . . I didn’t think she would go.”

    “You cannot blame Nerri for your horrible lack of forethought, Merra.” The commander saw that Merra was instantly miserable. Tears formed in her eyes, her head dropped between her shoulders and she looked at the gown with sadness and confusion at her own folly. “However, instead of pretending to invoke this rule in hopes your sister will acquiesce to your omniscient desires, you may ask her to wear her armour, which is acceptable at formal occasions,” the commander amended. “Or perhaps some alteration can be made to make the gowns to make them appear different. Don’t you girls enjoy frills and bows and other such frippery?”

    Nerri laughed at her officer’s snide yet helpful remarks but her sister found this kind of humour at such a time unnerving. She realized how much wearing the gown had meant to her sister and though Nerri could not understand why they were unable to wear the same item when their bodies were so dissimilar, she resigned her claim to the dress and gave the right to Merra. “I will change into my armour,” she said quietly, feeling that being allowed to attend in more comfortable attire pleasing.

    Merra Lingha’s cheerfulness renewed and though Nerri’s reasons for wearing the gown at been slighted, she was still happy even if her younger sister was disappointed.

    Judging by how quickly Nerri’s wants were overlooked, the commander had begun to suspect that Merra being the elder and perhaps handsomer of the two was accustomed to always getting her way. The two sisters were amiable enough but Nerri had relinquished too easily when it was her sister’s conduct was indefensible. The commander noted how Nerri’s displeasure was overlooked and though she was still able to attend the celebration, she sensed that Nerri’s projected success of the dress had gone. She asked Nerri to come with her to the barracks where she had a particular uniform for her to wear. Nerri nodded her approval and followed in silence.   

    “I know that while among your people you were expected to give Merra every allowance but you need not do so here, Nerri,” the commander said as they entered the barracks. “She may be older than you and while that may have been important in your clan, to the rest of the kingdom age means little with regard to familial rights. Only nobles make such a commotion of it due to their inheritance laws. My mate is nearly thirty years older than I am and I still dominate him.”

    “Well, I know how very much she was anticipating this celebration,” Nerri said smilingly. “I didn’t want to ruin it for her. I found one of these gowns because I thought I am part of the kingdom now and this is what women in the kingdom wear for these holiday events. I can’t deny that I’m a little happy to take it off. I don’t feel comfortable wearing this anyway.”

    “And you are the better for it. What horrid contrivances,” the commander said, sneering at the gown. “If I would have told your sister what I really thought of those horrific, pink objects she should have cried the length of the main hall.”

    Nerri looked down at herself and sighed, “Is it truly that terrible, commander?”

    “I abominate any dress, ever since my mother attempted to make me wear them. They never fit properly on a woman with larger charms. I always prefer wearing my armour to anything else. At least it’s fitted and it will keep me in, which is all my aspiration. To be out in society is one thing but to be out of my top is entirely another.”

    “Do we have special uniforms for formal occasions?”

    “We do and you may have one if you like, but I daresay I shall never wear them.”

    “Are they unbearable?”

    “Only in their inability to house my thick thighs, not in their ability to repel others,” the commander said with a pert laugh.

    “Will other officers be wearing them?” Nerri asked, recalling the
captain’s earlier questions to her.

    “Possibly. Do not tell me you are not permitted to wear what Connors is wearing. I shall cry with horror.”

    Nerri laughed and with a blush admitted, “Nnodainya are not permitted to wear the clothing of men.”   

    “Well, you’re doing famously on that account.” 

    They shared a hearty laugh at the expense of the Nnodainya’s absurd rules and the commander gave Nerri the formal Frewyn uniform to wear. She was pleased to see Nerri so good natured and thought of how well she would do for Connors. The commander remained in the barracks on Nerri’s request while she changed so that she may give her good opinion on how the armour looked. Upon seeing the fitted breast and delicate fauld of the half-plate outfit, she agreed that this would suit her well. There was some worry on Nerri’s side as to whether the high boots were acceptable but the commander swatted away all her fears. “Not to worry, Nerri. I’m certain you could wear anything, or rather nothing at all, and Connors would be delighted.”

    “I have never had someone show me interest,” Nerri said, her eyes low in reverie. “Merra is my elder by one year. I had to wait to be considered . . .” but she checked herself, realizing that any waiting to be done was over. “Commander?”

    The commander hummed and raised a curious brow.

    “May I ask how you would know about my interest in the captain?”

    “Do you know who my mate is?” the commander said with a half-smile. “There is nothing that escapes his notice. Not a gesture, not a word, not a sideways glance or an amorous sigh.”

    Nerri flushed with colour and placed her hand to her brow. “The Den Asaan has told you?” She began to dread that her admiration for the captain had been noticeable and she hoped that others had not observed it.

    “No, he hasn’t told me. Your doting looks at the good captain in the mess have betrayed you.”

    Nerri groaned in misery for her carelessness and turned away in shame.

    “As well, your peeking at him while changing in the barracks-“

    “That was an accident and I turned away,” Nerri refuted, her complexion reddening with embarrassment. “I hope he did not notice.”

    “There’s nothing to fear, Nerri,” the commander said, patting her on the shoulder. “He is perfectly saved all for you. None of the noblewomen admire him despite all of his vast achievements for this kingdom and he has taken no interest in any young female-looking creature in the servant’s quarter.”

    “You are sure, commander?”  Nerri asked with a hopeful gleam in her eye.

    “He has been my right hand for many years now and I can tell you he is not otherwise engaged for the evening or any other evening beyond what orders I give him. He’s always about cleaning the garrison and arranging the weapons racks when he is not on patrol. Wretched dress or not, you shall be all his concern for the celebration, I assure you.”    

    One speech from the commander and Nerri was ready to pageant herself the great hall wearing little more than her weapon at her side.