My back story continues. The first part is here on Mesmered’s blog.
Bianca and Kareem before leaving the Raji palace
Bianca and Kareem left the palace in a comfortable carriage that would take them to Veniche as fast as possible. The inside was cozy and Bianca put down the red rose Kareem had given her upon leaving and blotted herself against him.
He was wearing his Raji clothes without the huge turban he normally used in public appearances, and she looked at his serious face, sweeping her fingers through his short black hair.
“Why did you cut it?” she pouted.
“I do it every ten years to allow it to grow back stronger,” he answered.
“But I loved your curls!”
“The curling-iron is the cause I have to cut my hair from time to time,” he smiled.
“When I first saw you, your hair was almost like this,” she sighed. “I was so happy you let it grow!”
“Would you like me to wear a wig at the ball?” he suggested, amused.
“No, only elder men wear them nowadays.” She lay her head against his shoulder. “I think we should hide weapons somewhere, you could have a knife in your boots and I…”
“Why would we do that?” he interrupted, puzzled. “It’s a masked ball, is it not?”
She looked him in the eyes, serious.
“It is. But Lucia tells me the Others will be there too. She knows personally some of them! I want to be ready, just in case…”
“You always wear silver and I’ll have my charms, what could the Others do to us anyway?”
“I don’t know, that’s the problem. They’re unpredictable. What if they take a fancy in you or me?”
“Oh.” He pondered and sighed. “Then we shall conceal weapons in our costumes. I know you can be an action woman when necessary.”
“Thank you, my shrimati,” she purred. He grinned.
Kareem's official dressing before the haircut
“That’s my line,” he said.
“Is it?” she giggled. Then lowered her eyes, serious again. “I hope we’re doing the right thing,” she said with a sigh.
“If it’s a mistake, we’ll make it together,” he said gravely.
“With you, I feel invincible,” she said, holding him tight. “If we survive, I’ll take you to my family.”
“And where will we stay until the ball?” he asked.
“A hotel will do,” she shrugged.
“Then I’ll ask my good friend the Raji ambassador to shelter us.”
“You’ve been to Veniche before?”
“Of course. But never with a native.”
She pulled back to stare at him with mild suspicion. He gently laughed at her expression.
“What?” he said. “You know I traveled as much as you!”
“And how familiar are you with secret messages?” she challenged. She picked up her gloves and her fan. “Did you know we use these to communicate?”
the original drawing - I'm more towards medieval fantasy, but gladly re-did it when I found out it was more Regency style
“No, my shrimati, please, teach me the ways of Veniche women…” And after hearing all sorts of complicated explanations, he sighed. “I’m afraid your world is too complicated for me. I can talk the language of the roses, but fans and gloves are beyond me.”
She smiled fondly at him.
“You will learn. I know you will.”
“Do I have to dress like them as well?” he asked with a glint of irony in his dark eyes.
“If you want. You don’t have to wear the cravat, though,” she decided.
“I knew it,” he scoffed.
“I hate them,” she frowned.
“I know.” He kissed her. “Don’t worry, I can be a western gentleman if I have to,” he whispered.
“I know you can.” She lost herself in his eyes, thanking Aine for having put him on her path.