It was a work of art, really, this dress. It was an Irish Dancing dress, and since Anna had started going to classes again, over the past three years, she had been saving up for one, with the money she earned from her Saturday job at the library.
The dress was midnight blue, like the sky above her, and had a silver lining. It had an acid green spiky border, and green and silver diamonds decorated the front panel of the skirt.
The bodice was moderately plain, but it had the acid green at the neckline and the cuffs of each sleeve. Silver and green embroidery was all that adorned the bodice, but Anna felt that it was enough. Some of the dresses she had seen were hideously tacky. This one, at least, was subtle and tasteful, at least in her opinion. After all, she had designed it.
Carefully pulling on her long white socks, Anna wondered whether this was a good idea. Since the wedding had unexpectedly been moved outside, someone had made a makeshift stage. She would have a firm surface to dance on, at least.
I need light, she thought. Reversing the magic she had worked earlier was the next step. Anna turned the night back into day. Well, it was almost evening. The wedding had been in the afternoon, and it was several hours long. She estimated that it must be about five or six o'clock.
Her dance shoes took a few minutes to do up, as always, but eventually Anna was ready. She did not bother with a wig; instead she sent a shock of magic to her hair to curl it tightly, in the Irish Dancing style. Then she sent a message to Spook.
Ask the musicians to be silent until I knock twice on the back of the stage, she told her friend in her mind. Then get them to play The Irish Washerwoman.
It was a strange request, but Spook obeyed her. Taking a deep breath, Anna slipped behind the stage and knocked twice. The familiar tune started, and she began to dance.
Although she had never performed in public before, Anna knew that she was doing well. The audience was captivated, and the bright sunlight made the dress look stunning. She smiled, knowing that really, this was the most important thing. With a huge grin she leaped into the air, her legs spread in a beautiful jump.
I wish Patrick were here, she thought. Patrick was her dance teacher, and she knew he would be proud if he saw her now.
For a few moments, Anna was able to forget that this was her wedding, and the fact that she was supposed to be dignified. She was caught in the high of the dance, as she had been since her first lesson, at the age of thirteen.
The music came to a finish, and Anna bowed, suddenly feeling slightly foolish. It was always like that, afterwards. When she came down from that fantastic high, she felt silly. But everyone was clapping and cheering for an encore. She started to unlace her shoes. They booed, thinking that she would not honour their request.
"Hang on a minute!" she told them, laughing. Her pale cheeks were flushed with the exertion. From a bag she produced her jig shoes - her hard shoes. Contrary to popular belief, these were not the same as clogs. Anna had had to fend off this question more times than she could count.
Then she ran back onto the stage, her shoes clacking as she went. The musicians struck out a lively reel - it was 'Music for a Found Harmonium'. Fondly remembering the first time she had heard this tune, at her dance class all those years ago, Anna started to dance. She had rarely done a hard shoe dance in reel time, but it was a success and everybody cheered.
"No more encores!" Anna told them, quite out of breath. Matt came over and pulled her off the stage.
"Hello, Anna Duignan," he said.
He looked at him in amazement. "What did you call me?" she asked. "My surname's O'Sullivan."
"You never knew my surname though, did you?" he pointed out. "And now that we're ... married ... you take my surname!"
It hit Anna, then: just what she had done. She was married. And she was still only nineteen years old.