Callum disliked many things about noble life, but dancing had never been among them. A waltz was predictable and calming, the steps a simple pattern that flowed together with ease. The dance itself didn’t occupy much of his mind, but it did ease his nerves about attending the ball itself. It meant only having to interact with one person at a time and paired with Lady Violet meant he had no reason to put up a charade; she was as safe as any of them from Edin’s wrath
As annoying as it was that King Edin would be watching the interaction he’d designed, at least Count Calbert was not around to further instigate the plot. Cal had no intention of keeping Edin’s desire for a wedding a secret, and he was fairly certain Lady Violet had no part in their father’s plans. “I’m betting both our fathers had a hand in setting up this dance. Our king has deemed you to be made of exceptional wife material, though I’m sure you have bigger dreams than a marriage designed to make me look better.”
Cal spoke freely as he led the dance, curious to hear what Violet thought of the attempted arrangement.
Violet's face said a lot. Her body moved along with the music complying with each step but her face showed utter distaste for the dance. She sighed deeply as the small talk continued. “ I am very certain that is what is happening. Not to be rude, but dancing is not something I would have signed myself up for voluntarily. Though that is nothing against you M’lord, I simply do not like these rituals, makes me feel like I am a show pony.” she said as her eyes looked around at the other dancers, Spotting her sister. “No offense taken,”
Cal said, his eyes following the same direction as Violet’s, spotting the rarely seen younger Damien sister. “I take it your sister is well? Nice to see her out and about.”
He added but put no further effort into continuing the forced small talk.“We could always abandon the dancing, ruin their plot, enjoy the wine instead.”
He offered with a grin.
Violet nodded slowly “ Yes, Nice to see her out” she said with an undertone of concern in her voice. She felt saddened by the small, frail and pale looking lady yet she also felt happy all at the same time for her.
She turned her attention towards him with a heavy relieved sigh “ Yes, please..” Although Violet was not one for drinking , she felt at this moment in time she needed one.
Cal nodded, he had no desire to force someone to dance with him and he’d never turn down the chance for a drink and to dash his father’s hopes that he’d be complying with the king’s wishes. Both the night and the season were young, he’d have another opportunity for dancing soon enough anyhow. The youngest prince of Caesonia subtly led Violet from the dance floor, mindful enough to not bump into any of the other couples who moved and twirled about. “These events are rather dreadful, aren’t they? If it wasn’t for the wine and the music I’d assume they only existed to torture us all.”
Cal spoke once they were far enough away from the dancing couples. He let his posture drop back into a slouch, shoulders moving to fight off the stiffness of the dress clothes. Once they had reached the tables laid out with wine and food he poured two glasses of wine and offered one to Violet. “So, anything here that redeems these parties for you?”
He asked, content to watch the others and make simple conversation. He noted that not only was Wulfric dancing with Wystan, but Auguste too seemed to have escaped the forced pairing as well and danced with a woman who was clearly not from any of the major noble families. Tonight it seemed, every one of his siblings was outperforming him in further angering their father. Rather than jealousy, he only smiled proudly at them.
Violet followed him , mindful of the dancers as well. Reaching the table she accepted the glass “ Thank you , your highness” she smiled at him politely before taking a small sip. She looked around at the dancing patreons and caught a glance at Roman. “ I suppose the friends you can acquire makes it rather interesting. “ Her attention is moving back to him. “ What is that smile for? “ she asked curiously as she noticed the prince looking at his brothers. “ What about you? I suppose I'm surprised that someone as yourself finds displeasure in these events as well.” “I can’t help but notice each of my siblings dancing with someone who lacks a proper title, and that will certainly displease my father, an upset with his status quo. Now that does please me.”
Cal couldn’t help but chuckle at Violet’s assumption that he enjoyed these things. “These events are just another way my father shows off. People of Caesonia starve and suffer while we dance and feast, it’s more than a bit grotesque. As for friends, most here would prefer to find themselves in the king’s good graces rather than mine, and I get more honesty from the servants than I do from most of the lords and ladies here. I’d rather spend my time in the library far away from all this. I don’t enjoy being a show pony nor a pawn anymore than you do.”
Cal admitted, taking a much longer drink from his own wine. “Meet anyone of interest tonight?”
“ I suppose you would know that more than myself, your highness.” she said taking another sip of the wine “ I don't envy your position I will omit. I agree that there are more masks in this room than there are true faces. It makes me rather guarded as you never know who you are really speaking with.” she chugged back the drink , and grabbed the bottle pouring another glass. “ I don't hold much interest in anyone, your highness. As many have declared me tarnished due to my outwardly appearance. “ she adjusted the collar around her neck “ It doesn’t paint a lovely image for my partner to have a wife with a deformity. I've learned long ago that even though people may say to my face this isn't the case, their actions speak much more to this than words. “ she took a pause, taking a sip of her drink again. Looking over at him “ I apologize for being forward, but I don't have anything to hide, what you see here is what I am. You don't really need to hide anything. “ she smiled towards him. '' I do enjoy reading myself as well, my sister, she is a really good author as well. I always carry her books with me. I make sure my handmaid stitches pockets into my gowns for such a thing.” she pulled out a small handwritten novel out of her pocket “ Don’t tell her that however, she may get a bit too excited about it.” she smiled. “An author? How wonderful.”
Cal said admiring both the book and the secret pocket, a bit jealous that his own clothing was often tailored too tightly to hide things of use, like books. “No need to apologize for honesty, it’s refreshing, and I won’t tell a soul, I am an excellent secret keeper.”
He said, pausing for a moment as he thought about his next words. “I suppose I can lift my own mask for a moment. I don’t desire a match between us, my father does, and playing the obedient son is the last thing I wish to do. I take great pride in being my father’s least favorite child. But for anyone to claim a few scars makes you tarnished is deeply stupid. You survived something many would not, that is a sign of strength. And it sounds like you’re wise enough to see through much of this court's nonsense. Both are admirable qualities that matter more than flawless skin. As for me, there are many here who find me too soft, unlike my brother’s I’ve never taken to swordsmanship or hunting, my interests lie in nothing that this court sees as a showing of strength.”
He offered up one of his own flaws, something he’d been vexed by for much of his childhood, before lifting his wine glass for a toast. “So here’s to our imperfections, and if you think about it would you wish to read a story about someone who was absolutely perfect?”
He asked before finishing off his glass.
She stayed quiet, sipping on her drink. It was always so interesting to hear people's perspectives, yet actions always proved so different. The only exception was Roman, who nearly cursed himself into an early grave from the passion he felt against her comments. Yet others were so quick to just disregard everything and say it's no big deal yet she had been made to feel as such growing up with all of these familiar faces. They have simply gotten wiser with their words.
Violet drank the last of her wine and set the glass down as the music had slowed and the dances had finished. She watched her sister run off in a panic from her partner when she got concerned. “ I am sorry your Highness, If you’ll excuse me. she said curtsying before moving towards her sister.
Reaching her as she finished talking to their parents she pulled on crystals arm gently “ are you alright?” she asked, concerned.