Dreamers – part 9

Today, I had a bit of a challenge in using the prompt from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth in the story.  However, I remembered a throwaway line in an earlier section and that cleared things up nicely.

Prompt: Ballgown

By the time Gilbert and Madeline were able to come together once again, it was the day of the annual awards ceremony for the IIA.  Gilbert fussed with the collar of his dress shirt.  He knew how Erik felt about having to dress up for these things.  He felt the same way, in fact.  However, it was part of the job.  He heaved a sigh as his fingers tangled in the bow tie once again.  “Maddie?” he called.

There was a rustle of fabric and then she was at his side.  After she got his fingers untangled from the fabric, it was a simple matter for her to tie it herself.  Then, she kissed his cheek.  “Charmingly awkward,” she said.

As she stepped back, Gilbert got a good look at her gown.  The soft peach color accented her fair complexion perfectly.  It was sleeveless, but she had long gloves that covered most of her arms.  “Well,” he said, blinking.

Madeline stifled a laugh and said, “I’ve got to finish helping Gretchen get ready.  Can you handle Erik’s tie?”

“I can help him with his,” Gilbert said, grinning.  “It’s my own that I have trouble with.”  He heaved a sigh as she headed for the door once again.  “We need to talk about that thing still.”

“Felicja and Taurys will be at the ceremony,” Madeline said, heading out the door.  “We’ll talk there.”

“Yes, dear,” Gilbert replied.  She was avoiding the subject.  He shook his head and headed off to help his son get finished dressing for the ceremony.  Normally, they wouldn’t bring the children to events like this.  However, Director Williams had insisted that they be there.  After all, their parents were among those being honored.

He tapped on the door of Erik’s room and then peered inside. Erik was already dressed and, to Gilbert’s surprise, he’d managed to tie the formal bowtie without any help.  “Good job,” he said, smiling.

Erik shrugged.  “It’s not hard,” he said.  Then, he stepped up to Gilbert and tilted his head.  “Why are you getting an award, Papa?”

“Well,” Gilbert said, as he struggled for a moment to find the words.  Finally, he sighed and shrugged.  “My boss feels like what we did was special enough that we need to be congratulated in a special way.”

“Don’t you want to get an award?” a new voice said.

Gilbert turned around to find Madeline and Gretchen coming down the corridor.  He smiled at the gown that Madeline had found for their daughter.  It was blue and white with just enough frills to show that she was still quite young, but there was enough formality to it that Gretchen wouldn’t feel like “a baby”.

Shrugging again, Gilbert said, “I just did my job.”

“Arthur feels we went above and beyond the expectations of our jobs,” Madeline added, her voice soft.  She waved at Erik and said, “Get your sister’s shawl, Erik.”

“Yes, Mama,” Erik said, as he hurried off.

Gretchen looked at each of her parents and frowned.  “Are you two fighting?” she asked, her voice faint.

“No,” Gilbert said.  He gave her a weak smile and then shrugged.  “I need to ask your mama to do something that she doesn’t really want to do.”  He turned to Madeline and, still talking to Gretchen, added, “I know that and I understand why, but I have to ask anyway.”

“If she doesn’t want to do it, then she shouldn’t have to,” Gretchen said, sounding a bit annoyed.

Madeline chuckled.  “We all have to do things that we don’t want to do, sometimes, Greta,” she said.  “Papa didn’t want to be in Veligrad for seven years.  You didn’t want to go to summer camp.”

For a moment, Gretchen frowned.  Finally, she nodded and said, “Papa doesn’t want to get an award.”  Then, she headed down the corridor and took her shawl from Erik.  “Let’s go outside, Erik.”

“All right, Sister,” Erik said, as he followed her through the door.

Gilbert offered Madeline his arm.  As she looped her arm in his, he said, “I wouldn’t be asking this of you if it weren’t important, Maddie.  You know that, right?”

“I do,” Madeline murmured.  She kissed his cheek and then nodded.  “I’ll do what I can, but I can’t make any promises.  Their spirits might have moved on or they simply might not want to talk.”

“I just want you to try,” Gilbert murmured.  He sighed as he looked down at their formal attire.  “After the awards ceremony.”

“After the awards ceremony,” Madeline repeated.


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