“What time is the party again?”
“Sundown.” Basilio wipes sweat from his forehead with a towel and throws it at me. I swat it away, opting to just drink water a maid left out for us while we were sparring.
I look out the narrow windows; it’s late afternoon. “We should get ready then.”
Basilio shrugs. “I’m gonna practice for a while longer. Do you know what to wear?”
I sigh. “Actually, I was thinking of going in my dancer clothes.”
The dark man sputters, “What?! It’s your special day!”
“I know, I know, but I have nothing special to wear.” Out of habit, I start stretching my arms.
“What about that shopping spree?”
I let out a short laugh. “Yeah...that wasn’t on our minds at the time.” Catching the look in his eyes, I add, “Don’t get me wrong, we bought a dress, but they were casual. I guess I’ll just wear those…”
Basilio claps a hand on my back in reassurance. “Don’t worry, girl, you’re special regardless of what you wear.”
I blush. “Thanks, Basilio.” I let out a breath and get up from our resting spot. “I’ll see you in a few hours.” On my way out, I bump into Lon’qu, who was just coming in. “O-oh...hello.” I bow slightly. He returns the gesture, meeting my eyes briefly. We both blush, the memory of sleeping together that night still very fresh. He brushes past me and I glance at Basilio, a queer look in his eyes.
Back in my room, exhausted, I flop onto the bed. “Why is swordfighting so haaard? I wanna take a nap…”
“...Olivia, wake up!” Loud clapping interrupts another Lon’qu-related dream. I keep having them lately. They’re all ridiculously sweet and innocent, like going to a park or picking flowers. Of course, it’s uncharacteristic of Lon’qu, but a girl can dream.
“Wha--?!” Vaguely in the dim light, I see a figure on the bed with me. “Lon…?” A smile starts forming on my face.
“What? No, it’s Flavia. Get up!”
My eyes fly open. “Oh gods, Flavia! Why are you here?!”
“I should be asking you that!” she retorts. “You’re not dressed!”
I rub my eyes. “What time is it…?”
“Come on, everyone’s waiting!” The blonde pulls me off the bed and undresses me, much to my embarrassment.
“I can dress myself…” I mumble.
“I know girl, I’m just speeding things along.”
The bleariness out of my eyes, I stare at Flavia’s attire. “What are you wearing?”
“A dress, girl. You know what that is,” she replies teasingly.
“It’s so pretty…” It’s a long blue dress that sparkles like the night sky, complimenting her skin. “Goes well with your eyes.”
Flavia blushes, a rare occurrence. “Shut up. Now, take this.” She thrusts a mint green dress at me.
“Flavia...this isn’t mine.” I furrow my eyebrows at it. It’s covered in clear plastic to keep it safe.
She shrugs. “It was in your closet.”
Slowly, I take the plastic off and feel the fabric. This is… “This is the dress I wanted,” I say out loud.
“Hm?” Flavia is more interested in finding matching jewelry, pawing through my vanity.
“The dress I saw Lon’qu’s first night shopping.” The only person who knows is him. Did he…? No, it was probably Basilio. That could mean he was playing with me earlier.
The blonde finally stops to look it clearly. “It’s a wonderful color.” Then snapping out of it, she commands, “Put in on! You’re already late!”
“Oh gods, you’re right!” Hurriedly, I throw the dress on, the hem just hitting my knees. Perfect fit. Definitely must’ve been Basilio. The East-Khan pushes me into the seat at the vanity, making me choose which jewelry set. I decide on pink heart earrings and a dark blue bow necklace as Flavia fusses with my hair. She decides to leave it down for a change, but keeps the few braids intact.
When I finish putting on red lipstick, Flavia comments, “Lovely, Olivia.”
I blush hard, avoiding her gaze in the mirror. “Thank you.”
Surprisingly, she gives me a kiss on the cheek. “Happy birthday. Now put on your best shoes and let’s go!”
I arrived at the party to a chorus of, “Happy birthday, Olivia!” All I’ve been doing since is flitting around, making conversation. Only a few rich people I’ve entertained for their parties and the Shepherds were invited, but it’s a big turnout.
“Lady Olivia!” I hear Chrom of Ylisse call out for me in the middle of Shepherd girls fawning over my dress. They all ooh and push me towards him, to pegasus knight Cordelia’s subtle disappointment.
“H-hello, Prince Chrom. You know I’m not a proper lady…”
He pulls me in for a hug. “But it’s your birthday! It’s the least I can do for today other than sending you dozens of flowers on the behalf of the army.”
I giggle. “You’re too kind.” I hit him lightly on the arm. Just then, Lon’qu appears at my side, grabbing hold of my elbow. “L-Lon’qu!”
“Oh hello there! You must be Basilio’s representative! I’ve been told you’re quite strong.” Chrom holds out a hand. Reluctantly, Lon’qu takes it.
In a clipped tone, the dark-haired man says, “I must borrow the birthday girl for a bit,” and pulls me away.
I look over my shoulder and mouth, “Excuse us.” When Lon’qu brings me to the other side of the room, I ask, “What do you need me for?”
“Was he harassing you?” His mouth is set in a thin line.
“What? No, Chrom’s a sweetheart.”
“Who is he?”
“The prince of Ylisse…?”
At this, Lon’qu balks. “Oh gods…”
I pat his shoulder, noting that he doesn’t recoil. “It’s a simple mistake.”
Lon’qu shakes his head. “Are you enjoying yourself?”
“Yeah, I’m having a lot of fun!”
“Even though everyone’s eyes are on you?” Absentmindedly, he tugs on my hair.
“It’s my birthday, so I love the attention.” I giggle and wink, causing him to blush. “Are your eyes on me?” I ask softly.
Lon’qu’s eyes widen, shocked. He starts to stutter a response, but I’m called for a round of toasts. I glide away, mentally slapping myself. I forget about it in the sweet toasts and the music swells, signaling everyone to find a partner and dance. I’m twirled from partner to partner, laughing, drunk from a few glasses of wine and the rush of dancing.
Finally, I end up with Lon’qu for the last dance of the night. I wrap my arms around his neck and nuzzle up to him. “O-Olivia...this isn’t the position for ballroom dancing.”
“You wanna do that?”
“Yes, please. I’ve...I’ve learned how to do it properly...to impress you.” His brown eyes meet mine, blushing hard.
I sober up a little. “Then let’s dance.” To my astonishment, he’s learned very well, even picking me up and spinning me, making the skirt of the dress flare out. When the song ends, everyone claps and I realize we were the only ones on the floor. We hear several whistles and our cheeks turn red. “Thank you, Lon’qu!” I gush, hugging him.
I could’ve sworn he said, “Anything for you,” but I might be imagining things. He pulls away first, but his touch lingers, his rare grin lighting up the room.
Feeling a bit lightheaded, I announce, “Let’s get some cake!”
After the last dedicated partiers leave, I draw the line. Flavia and Basilio insist that we stay up all night like the previous years, but I’m done. I’m tipsy, I’m tired, and my bed’s calling me. Which is a good sign of an amazing party. “Nooo guys, let me sleeeep…”
“So early girl?” Basilio questions, a glint in his eye.
“It’s like...wayy past midnight?” Both Khans continue to protest, but I wave them off, going towards the stairs. I trip on the third step. Thankfully, I grab on the banister to keep my balance, but I feel a sudden cool touch on my elbow. I already know who it is.
“I’ll, um...I’ll escort you,” Lon’qu volunteers, lightly pulling me up the stairs.
“Good night!” the Khans chorus. Lon’qu and I share a chuckle. They’re gonna keep the festivities strong, just for me.
Lon’qu takes me back to my room, his hand on my arm even though I haven’t stumbled again. “Did you have a good time, Olivia?” he asks once we reach the door.
I nod, grinning. “Soo much!”
He gives me another rare smile. “I’m happy.”
“Did you have a good time, Lon’qu?”
Lon’qu ponders. I’m ushering us into the room when he replies, “Yes, I did, surprisingly.”
I laugh. “Yay! It means a lot that you did.” Where did that come from? a part of me questions. I don’t think about too much as I start towards my bed, saying, “Well, thanks Lon--,” when he pulls me to him, my back to his chest. My cheeks are on fire from the sudden intimate contact that he initiated. Is he drunk too?
The dark-haired man sighs. “What am I doing…?” He seems to be asking himself more than me. He wraps his arms around my waist loosely, but I don’t dare move. “What are you doing to me…? I wish I was drunk, so this would make more sense, but…”
“Are...are you okay?”
“No. You’ve bewitched me without spells.” His mouth is too close to my ear, making my breath catch in my throat. “How, Olivia?”
“I-I don’t know.” My face only gets hotter. “How are you touching me like this?”
“I’m not afraid of being near you...anymore.” He pulls me closer, his jagged breath an indication of him fighting with himself. “In fact, I think I...no, not that.”
“Let me go,” I weakly say, wishing he doesn’t comply.
“I can’t, Olivia.”
A thought comes to me. “Are you...the one who bought me this dress?” I feel him nod against my hair. “You remembered…”
“Of course I did. I wanted to make you happy for your birthday.” It worked. We let a silence grow between us, neither one moving. Lon’qu sighs again. “Can you feel my heart racing?”
I move my head to hear his heart thumping hard. “Mm-hm…”
“Is yours too?” His voice grows desperate. I want to deny it, but… As an answer, I take one of his hands and guide it to my chest, where it’s beating wildly.
“L-Lon’qu...what does this mean?” I inquire timidly.
“We seem...to have grown feelings for each other. I-is that okay?”
I look up at him, reaching up to kiss his nose. “Yes. It’s more than okay.” He blushes, finally letting me go.
“What now?” He maintains a hold on my hand.
“Sleep with me tonight, please?”
“A-alright. I’ll be right back.” Hesitating, he releases my hand and slips out of my room. I change out of my dress in a daze and throw on my pajamas. Lon’qu returns, wearing just black pants that reach his shins. In the dark, we both blush and make our way to my bed. We settle under the covers in the same position as last time, letting out a breath. “I’ve missed this…” Lon’qu admits. I reach up to kiss his cheek, feeling brave. The reddened man looks at me tenderly, a hand over his cheek.
“You’re not the only one.”
His hand moves to my hair. “Your eyes...they’re so beautiful. Where they always pink…?”
“Of course silly,” I whisper. With that, he pulls me down for a sweet kiss on the lips.
“How are you feeling?”
I roll my eyes at Basilio. “You know the answer.” For the umpteenth time, the host of the party announces my name and Basilio pushes me out to the audience. I search for Lon’qu out of habit, but I didn’t need to try hard; he’s in the front, his eyes on me for the first time. We gaze at each other, smiling widely. The music starts for my favorite routine and I dance away, never looking away from him, feeling complete.