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The smooth, cream velvet was pressed against your back, while the long, soft blue table cloth tickled your feet. The clang of glass resounded in the room, following by the gentle sips shared between you and the other girl. Her blue, crystal hues were looking hopeful as ever, watching you taste it to see your expression. Instead of having her hair in braids like the last time you've seen her, her locks fell in thick, platinum waves, making her even more beautiful than you could ever imagine. It'd be hard to not feel so inferior with her, but at this moment, you had other things in mind.

Ira gracefully set the porcelain teacup down to smooth out the ruffles of her dress. "How are you, dear [Y/N]? You could not believe how happy I was when I saw your letter in the mailbox. Thank you for it. I was sincerely touched and it raised my spirits enough to distract myself with what's been going on."

You forced a smile on your face, the pearls of your teeth grinding into one another so hard it began to hurt. Maybe it was a bad idea to accept this invitation. At this moment, it took you everything to keep you from exploding with emotions. You wished to throw away all of the kindness your father taught you and break it all into pieces. For look at where it got you. Lies, lies, and lies. People lied to you. You lied to people. People lied to each other. Even you were lying in this current time, spitting them all straight into Ira's flawless face.

"You're welcome. I'm honored to hear that. I hope your situation is getting better?"

She shrugged absentmindedly, her shoulders sagging by the minute. A look of exhaustion crossed her face and it almost seemed as if she was debating on whether she should give up this facade. It was terrible and evil of you, but you hungrily drank her expression in. Your heart pounding in exhilaration, you were satisfied to know that it wasn't just you who have to... suffer.

What the hell was wrong with you?

"Unfortunately, no. The marriage is still going on," she mumbled as she tapped the fine china of the tea set distractedly. "My fiance is still acting like the bastard he is. I cannot stand him."

"I see. And the royal ball is tomorrow, is it not?" you asked. Indeed it was. Tomorrow evening you were to dress your sisters in fine clothing and prepare them to look stunning for the Prince. While they were to dance underneath the chandeliers, you would be stuck in the quiet house, cleaning every crook and corner until the furniture sparkled. Stepmother made sure you understood that. The chores were obviously an excuse to make sure you wouldn't be able to sneak off to the ball. Not that you had a spare dress or dancing shoes to be able to do so. You've given up at this point.

The blonde female sighed and nodded. "Like I've said before, I will be forced to go with my fiance. I have a feeling he will be stepping on my toes all night long."

Taking another sip of the warm tea, the taste of honeyed liquid coated your tongue deliciously. This must've been expensive to buy. How fancy this was -- sitting here with your little dirty self, dressed in a shabby, white dress in room filled of items costing thousands.

"Speaking of the devil..." she said, clenching her teeth. A young man entered the room, his footsteps heavy and brisk. The first thing you noticed was how tall he looked. His black, midnight hair was gelled back perfectly and his blue eyes glimmered dangerously. A smirk laid there on his lips while he stood there tall and mighty, with confidence seeping off from him.

He walked right up to Ira and slammed his hand down the table. You flinched and frowned in dismay. No wonder she didn't want to marry him... for who would?

His eyes flitted from her and then to you, the pupils going back and forth to mock. He eventually scanned you up and down, his expression disgusted by your unkempt look. You shifted in your seat uncomfortably, feeling absolutely humiliated. "Chop, chop. Tea time is over. Your father told me that we should stroll through the lovely gardens today, Lady Ira. Lets get going already," he sneered, holding his hand out for her.

To your awe, she slapped his hand away and got up herself. "I'm not going anywhere with you," she spat out venomously. "Fuck off Vincent."

The man raised his eyebrows and let out a laugh. "Oh, how vulgar. No wonder your father couldn't find a husband for you. What man would want someone who's barely a lady?"

You dropped your jaw at this, but Ira merely ignored the comment as if she was used to this. "I am going on a stroll with my sweet [Y/N] instead. Good day." She swerved around Vincent and smiled at you kindly. Taken off by surprise, you stumbled out of the chair and clumsily hooked your arm around hers.

As the two of you were about to pass him in the room, he uttered something that made Ira pause. "You would rather walk with her than me? Are you serious? Just look at her -- she looks like she sleeps with the mice at night. If you catch a disease from her, don't come crying to me."

Ira whipped around and jammed her heal on his foot, leaving him howling in pain. "You can say anything about me, but don't you ever talk to my friends this way, you bastard." Stomping out of the room, she pulled you along for the ride and wouldn't stop until you were both outside. You blinked in confusion as she heaved in fury beside you. So much had happened so fast and you could barely comprehend it. One thing you knew for sure though: You were upset by your thoughts earlier and now felt so much respect to Ira. She was an amazing woman and the fact that she defended you... was really touching.

"Ira... thank y--"

"Are you okay? I am so sorry for everything. I can't believe he pulled you into our conversation like that. This was about me and he should have never done that," she said, rubbing her eyes in frustration. "That comment of his was darn awful. You did not deserve that at all."

"Hey, I'm perfectly fine. You stood up for me... thank you so much. But what about you? Are you okay?" Hesitantly walking up to her, you wrapped your arms around her. She instantly squeezed back, hard. You then let go to see her grinning.

"Never felt better. Come on, lets look at some flowers," she chuckled. Nodding your head, you followed her out into the garden, with your shoes stepping on rich soil.

The place was gorgeous. Though it was cold today, the sun was high in the horizons and the sky was ridden of clouds. Going down a path, bushes of white and red roses budded on either side cleanly. Behind them were high hedges professionally cut into lovely objects. You admired one of a woman twirling in a ballgown, looking elegant and regal with a huge bun on her head. Every object you could think possible was there too. From vanities, to flowers, to furniture, to fruits, they were picture perfect cut in green. Trees filled of apples and orange trees hung overhead you and they were looking ripe and ready to eat. Meanwhile, golden, brown leaves fell from the branches, slowly descending towards the ground.

The girl stood on her tip toes to reach for an apple. After grabbing two, she handed one to you and you accepted it with gratitude. Biting into the crispy fruit, sweet juices burst into your mouth. It had been a while since you've eaten something that weren't leftovers. Heart squeezing in pain at the thought of this, it was quite bittersweet.

The rest of the stroll went on smoothly, your mind at peace for the first time since that day with Blaise. You spotted butterflies fluttering around, bunnies and squirrels scurrying from under bushes, and birds resting in the trees to sing melodies. It was fine. Everything was fine. Your future was going to fine.

Ira suddenly had an idea, so she brought you into her room upstairs. Her bedroom was more extravagant than you had imagined. Soft, beige canopy hung over her king sized bed, the blankets and pillows made of expensive satin and seemed to be very soft to lay on. A white balcony was at the far end, showing a rare view of the vast garden as a whole. A vanity sat there in the corner, filled of contents of make up and brushes. The walk-in closet was huge... and that was where she led you to.

"I couldn't stop thinking about this... but there's this dress I want you to try on. I think you would look lovely in it," she explained, lifting a heavy gown from the depths of the closet. She brought it over to you and your stomach lurched at the sight of a silver, gray dress. It was one of the most stunning things you've ever seen.

But you were tired of this. During these past few months, your mind was consumed by the thoughts of dresses. You hated it. You hated how a single, damn dress could be your ticket to the ball... to the idea of freedom. Why? Why did it have to be this way?

Inching away from it, the fleeting happiness you felt was replaced by despair. You couldn't allow yourself to wear... it would give you hope... and that was the last thing you need. 

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