Co-writing idea Number the Very First:
Beneath and Beyond Petticoats (working title)
Chapter One /Intro/Snapshot (I love this word)
The flowers' colour was perfect. The exact right shade of the exact right colour. The inside of the petals was a darker shade, much softer looking, and would suit the velvet perfectly whilst the outside of the petal was a lighter hue, almost iridescent, and would be perfect for the satin. If only the stupid river bank wasn't so slippery! But, if I put my right foot there…and secured myself by holding on to there with my left, I could let my left foot dangle, balance my right arm accordingly and just grab at the leafs, pull up the clutter roots and all and gently—
The yell wrenched through my concentration: I started, lost my footing, slid down the bank, smearing mud all over the front of my clothes, tried to grab on to something only to find myself with a handful of thorns which ripped through my palms and out of my grasp letting me fall, completely unceremoniously, into the river.
"Curse you!" I screamed up at the vague white and brown-clad shape staring at me from the top of the river bank.
I swam a little further down the river, until I reached a much less steep part of the bank and heaved myself on to it, panting, gasping, spluttering, thoroughly soaked, covered in mud and hands pouring blood and stinging like utter hell.
"Do this again!" I yelled at the approaching silhouette, "And I swear to the Muses that I will disown you, run away and never come back!"
"You say this all the time but you never do it," she giggled, standing beside me and looking me up and down, eyes bright with mirth.
My mother was a beautiful woman, even I couldn't help saying so. She was plump, smiles had drawn tiny networks of lines around her eyes and mouth, her hair was streaked with grey, and yet she was beautiful: her smile dazzling, her face radiating life, health and kindness, her hair rich and glossy, her skin creamy and flushed at the cheeks like apples. She was dressed in one of her working gowns, and the green stains at the bottom of her white apron indicated that she had been gardening again.
"Well, what is it?" I asked as I set off in the direction of home, mother following me. "Whose daughter has been found kissing the blacksmith's son? Which famous courtesan is coming to stay at the Headheldhigh cottage? Whose stomach looks suspiciously larger than usual?"
"Now, now, Blue, don't sound so cynical! The news I have today is of nature to even blow you away, my dear ice statue of a son."
"You say this every time, mother," I snorted, rolling my eyes.
"Well, this time I know even you will be exited!"
"Oh really?" I smirked.
We'd emerged from the small woods and were walking up the small white road that led straight to the village, veering left across a field that was constellated with daisies, the silhouette of our house appearing, little by little, over the top of the high grass.
"Well…the princely court is coming to reside at the Headheldhigh Manor! All summer, all autumn and all winter!"
I stopped I turned around.
"The Idiot Prince and his Idiot sisters and their Idiot followers are coming to pester out village for a year and you made cut my hands and lose the most perfect flowers for the gown for THAT?" I yelled.
"Blue! You don't understand!" she shrieked shrilly, grabbing my hands and beaming dazzlingly up at me. "The opportunities! The Prince is a bachelor and so are his friends! Imagine the opportunities for your sisters! And all the fashionable young ladies will be residing here too—it is the most wonderful opportunity for you to create a reputation for yourself as a—"
"Seamstress. Boys who are seamstress don't build a reputation: they lose it," I snapped, unable to keep bitterness from creeping into my voice.
"Blue! Don't say that! You are wonderful at what you do, people admire you!"
"Mother: I am a boy who makes dresses. People most definitely don't admire me, and respect me even less."
Mother was about to reply but she was suddenly interrupted by a series of shrieks:
"Blue! Blue! Bluuue!"
I looked over my shoulder to spot a large group of girls rushing down the white lane and across the filed in my direction. Before I could gather my senses and run away, they'd caught up with me and were surrounding me, tugging at my shirt and all talking at the same time:
"I need a gown! It has to be red because his princeship's favourite colour is red!"
"And remember these gems you told me only to use for special occasion? This is a special occasion!"
"My hair needs to be perfect, Blue, utterly perfect and I rely on you!"
"There isn't enough time! He's coming in three days!"
"There's a ball and everyone's invited! I need to look perfect!"
"I completely rely on you to make me the most beautiful person present, Blue!"
"Blue, even the court ladies don't have a seamstress as good as you! You must help me dazzle the prince!"
"This is the chance of a lifetime, Blue! I need your help!"
"I can't do it without you, Blue, I must be your priority!"
"Blue, if you don't make me a gown then I'd rather die now!"
"Promise you'll help, Blue!"
"Blue! Get a move on! You have blood and mud all over you!"
"Yes, go get washed! Can't you see we need you!"
"There is no time to lose!"
Above the small sea of heads I caught a glimpse of my mother's face: a smirk wide like the ocean stretched all over it in the most detestable 'I told you so' expression I have ever seen on a human face.
I pulled my tongue at her.
One hour later I was sitting in the middle of the town's small material shop, perched on top of a stool, hair still wet, hands bandaged, clothes clean and dry, a pile of sheets balanced on my knees and a pen in my fingers. A long queue of women, young and old, and even children, stretched across the shop, through the door and into the street as far as the eye could see. There was silence.
"The amount of money?" I asked.
"A hundred Kings."
"Gold earrings, a gold necklace with a pearl pendant."
I peered at Rowena. She was a pretty girl, just out of adolescence, with rich satiny hair and a healthy complexion a little like my mother's. Quickly, I visualized a dress: low corset to accentuate her waist, long sleeves, not too tight, low collar, a lot of folds, large skirt, maybe a little bit of a train, satin shoes, black stockings, lace at the collar and sleeves but just a little. Blue and green shades would fit her eyes, her hair should be mostly down…
"Can do," I said, stretching out my hand.
She dropped the bag of coins in it and squealed: "Thank you so much, Blue, you're a lifesaver! I love you!"
"Yes, yes, of course. Out you get."
Next came Symphony, the pretty, if capricious, daughter of a rich merchant.
"Five hundred Kings."
"I'll buy accordingly."
I looked up at her: a young face, an exited stance, graceful limbs, velvety eyes and pale hair…I saw her in satin, pale shades, a lot of lace, throat and arms bare, gloves, not a lot of jewellery, intricate hairstyle, mostly up…
"Can do," I nodded.
She gave the money and told me that if she weren't already in love with someone else she'd fall in love with me and marry me.
I shrugged and sent her on her way.
On and on the queue went: older ladies, mostly young women, exited girls, anxious girls, each and every single one of them declaring her undying love for me before she left. When the queue finally ended, I closed the shop, sat myself down at a table, lit the lanterns, got out my pens and inks and began drawing.
Five days later found the sun setting on a queue once again: the Prince had arrived and the Ball would open in a few hours. The young (and old) women had come to gather their money's worth. The shop had been cleared, and Mother, Porcelain (the shop's owner) and several assistants were tending several girls under my orders.
Dresses were distributed, accessories arranged, hair, under my watchful eyes, were combed and styled, corsets fastened, necklaces tied, ribbons knotted, gauzes shaken, fans handed out.
Several breathless hours later, the last of my customers, the kind and gentle widow of a toymaker, left in a swish or sombre violet velvets and silks, swearing that I must be one of the Muses, sent from God as a reward to the woman of Daisiville.
Porcelain and her assistants, also clad in creations of mine, handed me the key and all filed past me to thank me and drop a kiss on my cheek, and I was left alone with my mother.
For her, I'd drawn a dress in the deepest autumn shades: reds and oranges and tawny browns, all in rich quiet folds of velvet. Her hair I gathered up and pined at the back of her head, letting the wild rebellious strands fall free from the pins. The dress hugged her bust to flare out at the hips in dozens of gauzy layers, the collar fell in folds about her shoulders, displaying the creamy perfection of her shoulders and throat. The sleeves fell to her knuckles, and the only accessory I allowed on her was a velvet ribbon around her neck.
"There…all set for the ball, Cinderella!" I smiled.
She twirled in the middle of the room, her skirts flying around her legs.
"Blueberry son of Switch—have I ever told you how much I love you?"
"You may have mentioned it…" I muttered, setting out to tidy up the shop.
"Well, I'm almost ready to go. Hurry up, you're going to make me late."
"Huh? Didn't I do everything?"
"Are you telling me you're going to go like that?"
I stared down at my clothes: the large shirt falling out of the trousers, sleeves rolled up, pieces of yarn and string stuck to my vest, my stockings slipped down to flop miserably over my over-used boots.
Then I caught up with what she'd said. I smirked and I said:
"Of course I don't, dear mother. Because I'm not going at all."
"Nonsense!" she huffed, waving away my words as mere folderol. "Who will chaperone your sisters?"
"You will!" I exclaim indignantly.
"And who will chaperone me?" she asked smugly. "Besides…there will be food…a lot of free delicious food like you could only dream off…and the young ladies are rich…all those dresses…you might find that the fashion at court is much better than any of your creations…"
"It can't be!" I scoffed.
"You don't know that," she said, tutting.
I glared at her.
"Fine! I will go! But only to see the dresses, eat the food, and then I'll walk home."
"Alright! I love you, Blue!" she squealed.
We walked out of the shop, locked it, and made our way towards the small carriage that used to belong to father and in which Violet and Rouge were waiting impatiently.
"Blue!" Rouge cried in horror as I sat beside her.
"You cannot possibly think of going to the Prince's ball dressed like…like…like that!"
"I'm not thinking of doing it, Rouge. I am doing it," I shrugged.
"Oh mother!" Violet cried, burying her face in mother's shoulder. "Why is it that Blue has the power to make anyone look beautiful and sophisticated and smart but he always looks like a miserable troubadour?"
"It is a mystery that I fear shall never be enlightened," Mother shook her head, feigning sadness.
"Oh be quiet, will you? I'm only going to chaperone you."
"And for the food," Violet pointed out.
I glared at her.
Prince Sepian watched from the balustrade as his guests entered the large and luxurious hall below. Another flock of young ladies entered and he winced as the lady beside him sank her nails into his arm for the hundredth time.
"Sepian!" Princess Rosemorte hissed. "Them too! I thought we would be coming here only to find savage peasants and country mouse but look at how they are dressed!"
Sepian's second sister appeared beside him.
"Those gown…where did they get those gown? Why is it that they looked so good! Oh Muses, look at this one!"
A young woman had entered with a much younger boy at her side. She was dressed in a blue gown, the corset perfectly cut, flowers and lace trimmed at the edges, the skirt like shifting waters as she moved, features and tiny forget-me-nots angled in her silky hair.
"Oh Muses oh Muses!" Rosemorte moaned, twisting her hands together.
"Oh Muses it can't be!" Lavenda sighed hoarsely.
"For the love of God, ladies! They're only dresses!"
"They are not only dresses! They are...they are masterpieces, Sepian! But you could never understand!" Rosemorte waved him away impatiently. "Lavenda, let us go greet our guests. It is our mission to find out where they got these gowns and go back to court triumphant!"
"I hark you, my sister!" Lavenda said, brightened up by the prospect of a mission, investigation and triumph.
The two Princesses hurried down the balustrade, their smiles perfect on their faces, and began greeting the guests. Now that he saw them for a distance, it did seem that their dresses looked over the top, clumsy and inelegant in comparison to the garments the townspeople were wearing. Well, no matter, it would only humble them.
Sepian knew that he should have gone down to greet his guests too, but frankly, he could not face the prospect of having to dance with so many ladies. He'd make an appearance later, confirming his reputation as a lazy and non-conformist prince, flirt with a few young women and then withdraw. Meanwhile, he'd go have a little walk in the gardens.
Walking through the fragrant bushes, Sepian started as he encountered his second surprise this evening: a boy was lying stretched out on the grass, arms thrown spread-eagled, mouth wide opened and eyes closed. He was dressed in bedraggled garments, the first truly peasant-like person he'd seen so far. Except that…his hair was fine and glossy even in the faint light from the moon and the lanterns, and his skin radiated, fair and smooth, in the semi-darkness, and his eyelashes fell long and dark against his childish cheeks.
Sepian smirked. The potential for immediate amusement was enormous, and he wouldn't miss such a chance. He bent forward, kneeling beside the boys head, and bent his face until it was only a few inches away from the boy's.
The boy opened his eyes.
"Rutting hell!" I yelped. Sitting up so quickly pain shot from my neck.
"What the—" I looked up into the smirking face of some random nobleman. "Exactly what were you doing?" I snarled.
"Staring…" the other murmured serenely.
"Did your mother never tell you it's rude to stare?" I scolded.
"She may have, but the chances are that I wasn't listening when she said it."
"You say this so casually," I remarked. "Well, it is to be expected. You noble people have no respect for anyone."
"You don't seem to be very respectful either," the arrogant noble pointed out.
"Ah yes, but then again, I'm a peasant. I'm rude and uncivilized, aren't I?"
"I'm asking you?"
"I'm asking you too."
"You're the peasant. Shouldn't you be giving answers instead of asking questions?"
"You're a noble, shouldn't you be in there spotting your bride?" I snapped. I stood up.
"I don't need to spot a bride. I found one."
Ah, damn it! I couldn't help asking. Affairs of the heart always had, and would always, fascinate me.
"A very feisty, fiery, and rude peasant," the noble answered, standing up too.
"From Daisiville, yes," he answered, sounding happy.
"Is it Orchid?"
"It…might be…" he said slowly. "I don't know the name."
"How can you marry someone whose name you don't even know?" I asked, indignantly. These noble people, really!
"I didn't get a chance to ask," he said humbly.
"Mmh…so do you love her?"
"I might very well do."
"Was it love at first sight, then?"
"Might have been," he shrugged.
"Listen. You do realise there is no such thing as love at first sight, don't you?"
"Isn't there?" the nobleman raised his eyebrows.
"There isn't," I said firmly. "It's all about body chemistry and instinct."
"It is," I confirmed.
I patted his shoulder reassuringly.
"Love grows out of chemistry, though, so don't lose hope!"
"Um…I won't," he said hesitantly.
"I must now leave. You may be rude and a little annoying, but I think I may well begin to like you."
"You're welcome. I might se you again. I might not. In any case, I shall drop a hint to Orchid that you like her. I hope for you that your romance goes well. Fare you well, rude nobleman!"
I waved and walked off. I really needed to tidy up Porcelain's shop, and then I rally needed to get a good night's sleep. Still, that poor little nobleman…rude boy, but he seemed sweet inside. I wondered if Orchid liked him too.
Sepian stared, blinking, at the darkness into which the boy had just vanished. Never in his life had he been treated the way that boy had treated him, almost like a harsh but nonetheless kindly Grand-uncle or something of the sort. He looked about fifteen and had treated Sepian as though he was older than him by twenty years. He had been completely oblivious to Sepian's attempt as flirting with him and had drawn his own far-fetched conclusions. Then he'd just told him he might like him as though he, the peasant boy was doing Sepian, the King's son, a favour.
Worst of sell, Sepian had no idea who the boy was, what he was called on even how to find him.
Okay. For this one I wanted a crossdressing/identidy jumble kind of plot, set in a fictional, fantasy land. Basically: Blue is a guy who makes dresses. Sepian is a Prince. Blue's skills get noticed by the royal princesses, and they decide to employ him. In order to build and keep his reputation as a dressmaker, Blue dresses up as a woman and pretends to be one to work at court. While still as a boy and before all of this happens though, he meets the prince without knowing who he is.
While working at court, he has to keep pretending to be a woman, but sometimes goes around as a guy, careful not to let people notice that Blueberry the capricious and whimsical seamstress isn't the same person as Blu the mysterious and eccentric young man.
Blueberry: our main protagonist, a boyish, immature but nonetheless loveable young man. He is a talented dressmaker and artist. He loves: girls in general, because he thinks they are adorably silly creatures, love stories and gossip (even though he denies it and does his best to suppress and keep hidden this side of him), food, animals and pretty things. He hates: arrogant people, not getting his way, being interrupted while 'composing'.
Sepian: our second main protagonist, insignificant prince (throne-wise. He won't inherit anything too important so he can do pretty much whatever he wants). Womanizer/manizer (he loves girls as well as boys, doesn't seem to be too fussed so long as he gets plenty of sex) isn't too fond of commitment, and though he doesn't exactly shun it he still always manages to mess it up in the end. He likes: pretty people, enjoying himself, pleasures of the flesh, strolling about with a handsomely languorous air about his person. He hates: taking decisions, having something refused, being patronized, not getting his way.
Rosemorte and Lavenda: Sepian's sisters. They both adore Blue. One of them realises he's a guy at some point. Their personalities have yet to be developed.
Rouge and Violet: Blue's sisters.
Blue's mother: -
Cowriting potential: pretty good since we could share POVs between Blue and Sepian. For example: Chapter, me, Blue POV; Chapter two: you, Sepian POV; Chapter Three, me, Blue POV, chapter for, you, Sepian POV etc etc etc :)