Jason caught up Sarah’s hand in his own. “Mother,” he focused on her. “This is Sarah Ann Smith, my Friend and Fiancée.” Jason then took one of his Mother’s hands and switched focus to Sarah. “Sarah this is the Lady Abigail de Borguez Duchess of Laville, my mother.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Sarah bobbed a curtsey, but was nearly pulled over as Jason placed her hand in his mother’s.
“The pleasure is all mine,” Lady Abigail stated with such sincerity Sarah believed her.
The woman quickly moved her hand to Sarah’s elbow. Bringing Sarah with her Lady Abigail sailed toward the table in the sunlight.
“I’m so glad you are doing well. My son wasn’t sure if you would be or not.” They stopped in a ptach of daylight. “You are feeling recovered, are you not?”
“For the most part yes,” Sarah replied hesitantly, “but…”
Her thought was cut off by a gasp from Lady Abigail. The woman was studying her. One hand went to her mouth before Lady Abigail flourished it towards her son.
“Goodness, I thought you said she was not related to my dear cousin?” Lady Abigail looked sternly at Jason.
“No mother,” Jason smiled, “I assure you she is not, if you remember…”
“Of course, of course,” her hand flourished again as she turned back to Sarah. “It was so much easier to believe before I saw her.” Lady Abigail shook her head. “You do look so much like his daughter, Rosaline, may the Gods keep her safe.”
“I hadn’t noticed,” Mathew muttered sarcastically, gaining a harsh stare from all but Sarah.
“Well she is wearing Rosaline’s clothing,” Lady Abigail faced Sarah again, “are you not?”
“Yes I am ma, my Lady,” Sarah nearly called her ma’am, which according to Martha would have been a horrible mistake.
“Cousin Walter is a very generous soul. Now turn slowly.”
Sarah obeyed, performing that slow turn mothers everywhere adored putting their dressed up daughters through. Except this time she was acutely aware of Lady Abigail’s gaze. A gaze, that suddenly made Sarah feel very self conscious, as if she was being scrutinized to determine her worthiness of being Jason’s Fiancée.
“Jason, dear,” Sarah heard Lady Abigail state halfway through Sarah's second rotation. “Take her up in a waltz, please.”
“Mother,” Jason protested, “is that really necessary?”
Her only response was to benig tapping her foot in the one, two, Three pattern of a waltz. Jason sighed as Sarah stopped spinning and faced him. Lady Abigail began to sing a tune in time with her foot.
“Sarah, would you care to have this waltz with me?” Jason smiled apologetically as he held his hand out to her.
Trying to imagine herself a princess at a ball, Sarah responded with as much grace as she could. “Why I’d be delighted to,” she fumbled a moment unsure of how to address him.
Lordling Jason, he mentally supplied.
“Lordling Jason,” Sarah quickly repeated raising her eyebrows in question.
Jason just smiled as she took his hand, but before he could pull her into his arms, Lady Abigail stepped up. Without missing a beat in her tune, she helped Sarah to hold up her skirts.
“Thank you,” Sarah said as Jason drew her into his arms.
Lady Abigail stepped up again to adjust Sarah’s arm and hand placement.
“Thank you,” Sarah muttered as Jason smiled.
His mother still did not stop the tune, merely nodding in acquiescence to Sarah’s gratitude. Now properly positioned, Jason moved Sarah into a waltz. Her feet felt clumsy next to his graceful ones. It had been ages since she had done any sort of dancing at all, let alone a formal couples’ dance. The only reason she had a clue at how to waltz at all was because her home town used to have ho downs all the time. Jason held her slightly tighter. Unable to see her feet, Sarah looked up at him.
“Follow my lead,” he whispered a twinkle in his eyes.
As they gazed at each other the rest of the world faded. For a moment things were perfect. He was her knight in shining armor; she his inspiration and muse. Then it was shattered as they both remembered they were not supposed to be in love. The waltz ended. Jason withdrew such that he held Sarah’s right hand. She curtsied. He bowed and then turned to his mother.
“Does she pass?” he asked grinning impishly.
You could have told me this was a test, she shot at him mentally, with a slight glare. His only response was to flash her that same impish grin.
“This is not the first year trials,” Lady Abigail flourished a hand at him. “Come, let us take our mid-day meal.”
In a swish of skirts Lady Abigail glided over to a table. Mathew quickly helped her to sit as Jason did the same for Sarah. No sooner were they seated then the food was brought out. As they were served Sarah tried to discreetly watch Lady Abigail. The only problem was, Lady Abigail seemed to be discreetly watching her. Still Sarah tried to copy the woman’s manners as best she could as they ate.
“Something bothering you mother?” Jason asked. He too had apparently noticed the slight frown that had run across her face.
“No, no,” she insisted. “I was just thinking of how much work there is to be done.” Lady Abigail beamed at them both.
Sarah found herself smiling nervously back. She wasn’t sure what kind of work needed to be done, but Sarah figured she’d find out soon enough.