Story for the Day: Fashionable Sense
|A WIP of Alasdair. Look at that hair.|
The commander and Alasdair waited in their joint quarters for Prince Aldan Buthaena of Livanon to appear on the veranda of the palace. They looked below at the amassing nobility and watched them mill together while speaking in a polite hum and enjoying their spiced wines: glasses were clinked together, the smiles of civility and royal coldness were exchanged, and everyone seemed pleased to enjoy the quiet festivities without the attendance of his highness.
In a few moments, however, the crowed was silenced by the royal herald announcing that Prince Aldan was come. The trumpets sounded and captain Sarasa appeared first to place the curtain aside for his elder brother. Aldan soon appeared in the archway and everyone bowed with due esteemed as Aldan walked to the edge of the veranda. He said his short welcomes, waved his little hand, and stood on the balcony to bask in the delicate applause of his supporters.
The commander scoffed and turned away from the sight, sitting on the window sill with folded arms while Alasdair was all attention. Although she was hardly impressed with Aldan’s immoveable complacence and dismissive waves of the hand, Alasdair was vastly intrigued and could not help but make a thorough inspection of the man whose reign he had agreed to sustain.
Alasdair leaned over the sill to gain a more encompassing look, not at Aldan’s features but at his garments. His long, dark hair, sculpted brows and neat aspect could give Alasdair little interest where Aldan’s fashionable sense was concerned: his silk cravat, satin doublet, and embroidered breeches determined Alasdair’s opinion of him, and like him Alasdair did not. His opinion was formed on a matter of principle. He was aware that the future king of Livanon must maintain a certain appearance, but where there were those in Livanon in poverty, a good leader would never wear satin when many of his people starved. He saw now that much attention was given to the nobility, as only those with fortune and rank could interest the crown, and those without whom Alasdair observed upon entering the kingdom were separated and even disregarded. A king so bountiful in dress was poor in generosity, and Alasdair immediately felt that he should not like him.
The matter of Aldan’s character decided, Alasdair was now able to admire his taste in dress. Satin and silk were not Alasdair’s first choices for comfort or convince but he could admire the style and fit of Aldan’s garments all the same. “By the Gods, who is his tailor?” Alasdair exclaimed, peering over the sill, looking intently at the stitching of Aldan’s garment.
The commander half-smiled and shook her head.“That cravat must have been spun from the mouths of shellfish,” she said teasingly.
“I’ve never seen one that expertly made.”
“And I’m the happier for it. Please do not return to Frewyn with Livanon fashion. If I see our nobles wearing such absurd millinery, I shall never attend court again and leave you to fend off their offensive headwear on your own.”
“I don’t think Aldus would let me use money from the treasury simply to clothe myself when I have clothing enough already. By the Gods,” Alasdair swore, standing upright, “I’ve never seen a man look so . . .”
“I was going to say fashionable.”
“I believe it’s the sculpted brows and rings weighing down his small fingers that give such an illusion. They cannot give the illusion of good sense, however, something of which Aldan seems to have none.”
Alasdair did not hear her. He was too entranced by the pattern of Aldan’s doublet to listen.
The commander simpered at Alasdair’s fascination. “Well, if there is one thing I shall allow you to envy it would be his clothing.”
Alasdair gave her a vicious look.
“I said nothing about his garments being more exceptionally made than yours,” she laughed. “Your tailor understands the meaning of taste. Aldan’s cravat may be all the rage but it does little to help the mistake of his features. His smugness and stiff movements remind me of Allande.”
Alasdair leaned over the sill to remark Prince Aldan’s rigid gestures and lifeless mouth. Although the detail of the features between Alasdair’s brother and the Livanon prince were not the same, the general style of their motions, or lack thereof, and haughty countenance were the same, and Alasdair found that the more he observed Aldan the more similarities could be drawn. "He does look like my bastard brother," Alasdair said with mild disgust.
“Alasdair, you look like your bastard brother.”
"No, I do not," he contended in a injured tone.
The commander smirked and her eyes glowed with archness. “Very well, I’m wrong. He had the more becoming hair,” she shrugged.
Alasdair gasped and stabbed his finger at his laughing friend. "I'll have you know he had servants to do his hair for him."
“And perhaps you could benefit from the same.”
"I take great pride in arranging it every morning."
“I know it is all your enjoyment. Court is always begun quite late. Better to improve what is already superb than to open court at an acceptable hour, I'm certain.”
Alasdair folded his arms and pouted. "I look better than most of the women there," he huffed.
“Considering most of them wear beribboned hats enough to hide their unforgivable features, that is not a great a feat as it sounds.”
Alasdair sighed with indignation and buried his head in his hand."Why are you so horrid to me?"
“Because dearest, beloved, perverse, Alasdair,” the commander said, placing a hand on his shoulder, “You are the image of perfection already. Merely because none of the women you would fancy talking to approach you doesn’t mean that you're hideous. You're so attractive to be intimidating.”
Alasdair looked at his friend with circumspection but noted the sincerity in her voice and his wariness soon became shy partiality.
“If I were anywhere even near your league of aspectual excellence, I should be terrified to have you as a rival.”
Alasdair was about to say something to combat her assertions of her own unsightliness when he realized the imprudence of it and remained silent.
“The only reason no one went near your miserable brother is because his manner was so revolting it ruined the wreck of good looks he possessed. If you fussed less, women would approach you more.”
Alasdair caught a glimpse of his hair in the reflection of the stained-glass window. A few unruly hairs were out of place, and when he lifted his hand to smooth them out, he caught the commander suppressing a laugh. He chided her with a cut glare and fixed them regardless of her mirth at his expense. “Maybe I don’t want women to approach me,” he grumbled. He realized he did not mean what he said and sighed. “I would just like the few I do find approachable not to run away,” he murmured.
“Perhaps if you weren’t so terribly handsome you would.”
Alasdair acknowledged her intimation and began to smile. " . . . It's not exactly something I can help."
“You're merely happy because I have admitted that you're handsome more than once in the same debate.”
Alasdair looked to the side and made a furtive grin. “So?”
The commander smiled at Alasdair’s resorted confidence. She wished to tell him that his lack of self-confidence and willingness to make improvements was endearing but she had bolstered his self-esteem enough for one day. She would save these statements for the time when after Aldan and Alasdair should meet and Alasdair’s self-assurance should need another curative.