51 Chapter 51 Tea Party
The tea was hot, but the smell of the leaves as they steeped brought a warm happy place inside of him. Stella was busy placing the cookies and tiny sandwiches on the table. He practiced picking up the teacup and holding his fingers in just the right way. He knew how to do it, but his muscles didn't.
"Ready?" she asked, sitting down in front of him, with a proper stance and he nodded.
The tea party began with introductions around the table.
Sir Teddy Rumpton did not have a proper stance as he sat slumped in his chair. They gave up trying to get him to sit up straight after he almost fell onto the table, causing the fine china to rattle. His red hat was on straight at least, and his matching red jacket had been cleaned to within an inch of its life by Stella.
Lady Broomstick sat up straight in her chair, but everyone knew she wouldn't eat a bite as it might ruin her figure. Her dress was only a little rumpled, as it didn't lay just right on her stick frame, but it shined in the light from the window as the sun gleamed on its yellow fabric.
"It's a beautiful day," said Stella, picking up her cup with the proper finger positions, and she blew gently on the tea before taking a sip.
"I agree, the sun is finally shining and the storm clouds have blown away." Joseph struggled to hold the cup still as he took a small sip. It almost burnt his mouth, but the flavor was heavenly. He fought the urge to melt in his seat right to the floor.
"I do hope you like the tea, its my personal mix." Stella was smirking as she watched him nod enthusiastically, before catching himself and giving a proper nod. He almost spilled the tea.
As they sampled the sandwiches and little cookies, they continued to make small talk. This was so hard for Joseph. He tried to make conversation with Sir Teddy and Lady Broomstick, but they refused to join the conversation, with added to the difficulty.
The tea party was both fun, and a learning experience for the two of them. They never knew when either of them might be invited to an actual tea party, and needed to know how to make small talk that didn't actually imply anything.
"Stella, what would it be like, not to be human?"
"I'm not sure, not human as in elven or dwarven, or not human as in dragon or demon?" She set the rest of the food on one plate for them to finish eating later, then gathered the dirty dishes together to take back to the kitchen.
"I'm not sure. I was just thinking, there's a lot of things that humans can't do, like dragons can fly, and stuff like that." He had to be very careful about what he said, he knew there were spies watching them at all times.
"I think it would be great fun to fly, but I don't think I would like to be a dragon. Can you imagine how much they must eat?"
There was a knock on the door, and Stella went to answer it. The guards had been getting really good with screening who could come to the door. They all knew that the slaves didn't have to wait for someone to answer the door, they could just knock, then come on in. A woman came in carrying two packages, and they both knew their outfits for the ball had arrived. The next two hours were busy with them trying them on, and making sure they would fit.
Joseph wore a proper tuxedo, and Stella wore a beautiful dress that made her look more like Sylva than Stella. He caught himself staring at how beautiful she was in it, and had to look away. He was way to young for that stuff!
She was beaming at it. Apparently, the seamstress had even included the slits so she could run if she needed to, and she could reach a knife she placed in a sheath on her inner thigh. He felt proud that she was finally getting something she actually wanted. Not something that someone else had thought to get her, but something she designed herself.
After the seamstress made a few last-minute adjustments, she left.
"Don't take the dress off yet! I need to get something!" said Joseph, running to his bed.
Stella watched in confusion as he returned with the bag of jewelry his father had left him for emergencies. Coins would have been too bulky and noticeable, and jewels were worth more. Her eyes lit up as he pulled out a matching set of earrings and a necklace. Her eyes went wide when she saw them. The necklace was a 1 carat star sapphire on a platinum chain and the earrings were ½ carat sapphires.
"I wanted to get you rubies, because they went with your eyes from your past life, but I thought these would go with your dress better."
"I love them! I don't know if I can wear the earrings though, my ears aren't pierced."
"That's okay, these pinch your ears instead of pierce them. You'll have to be careful not to lose them, but I think you'll not have any problems with that."
"Well, I think you are adorable in your suit."
He froze as he handed her the jewelry, then sighed. He was hoping to be more handsome, but he was willing to take whatever he could.
As they carefully packed the clothes away, Joseph thought over his progress while at the castle. He had been there for 25 days. The 200 hours of exercise and 100 hours of dancing were completed last night, so he was able to get both fit and flexible. They were planning to practice dancing so he could get used to the added advantages before the ball. He had finished PURIFY FOOD a few days ago, but he wanted to be flashier about how he cast it, in the hopes of getting a bonus of some kind, unlike when he cast DECAY the other day. So, he was planning to wait until they were up in the north to cast it.