Chapter 126:

Interlude: From theory to practice

The Y-files [GL]

Maura's POVBookmark here

After Jonathan dropped me home, the house was in a chaotic state. Everything was being prepared for tonight.Bookmark here

Amid this chaos was of course mom. For some reason, she seemed more nervous than ever. When she noticed me she rushed toward me and said “Have you heard yet?”Bookmark here

Okay, now I knew something special was up, by seeing my confused look mom quickly deduced that I hadn't heard the news yet.Bookmark here

“The queen is coming tonight.”Bookmark here

I looked at her astonished. I had never been in the presence of royalty before, and now the queen of Belgium was visiting for my mom's birthday.Bookmark here

“In her letter, she said she wasn't visiting in an official capacity, so we don't have to stand on ceremony. But still,... I need everything to be perfect.Bookmark here

Mom was clearly impressed that the queen would be present. I knew the queen had often visited Aunt Kath's birthday parties, but never those of my mom, which was a subject you did not want to get her started on... But living abroad, until recently, I myself, had never been to one of aunt Kath's parties.Bookmark here

“Is the queen pretty?” I asked. I was expecting some old woman. Mom was already giving instructions to the staff and ignoring me completely, so I took out my phone and looked for pictures of the queen. She was a beautiful blonde woman in her twenties. I had to make sure to remember her face so that I wouldn't make an idiot of myself by not recognizing her. I also looked up some stuff about protocol. How to address her and all that stuff. I needed to make sure I didn't embarrass my parents and did everything right.Bookmark here

While the house was in disarray, I made my way to my room to get ready for the ball. The new dress that Thea had made for me was a beautiful bright blue silk dress. Mom's beautician was doing my make-up and my nails to match everything.Bookmark here

Valerie had told me to get a gift for Fien, that would make my intentions clear. I had gotten us matching rings with each other's names engraved in them. I felt really nervous. I had learned all these tricks from the master, but all I really wanted was to get through to Fien and show her that I like her more than just friends.Bookmark here

I shook the doubts out of my head. I needed to clear my thoughts and go straight for the prize as the master called it. If I start doubting myself, I will look insecure. I was having trouble enough already to keep composure when Fien was around, that I shouldn't add another layer of doubt to it.Bookmark here

While getting ready, and thinking of all kinds of situations time was flying by. Guests were already arriving. But now that I was just waiting for Fien to arrive, time had started to move excruciatingly slow. I had given Jonathan instructions to pick up Fien and to let her enter through the back door so that we could enter the ballroom together. I was waiting by the back entrance when I heard a car stop. This was it. I gulped. I quickly straightened my dress and did my best to look the best I could. I could hear Fien's jolly banter with Jonathan. I was surprised at Fien. Those two seemed to have made friends fast even after that fiasco last weekend. When the door finally opened, all the smooth opening lines Valerie had drilled into me left my mind instantly. I felt my jaw drop. Fien looked incredibly cute in a silk pink dress with golden laces. The tiara she wore made her look like a princess in a fairy tale, and her make-up accentuated her cuteness.Bookmark here

When our eyes met, I noticed she was staring at me in exactly the same manner. The master's lessons flashed back into my head and I said “Y-you look amazing!”Bookmark here

I noticed that Fien's cheeks turned slightly red under her makeup but instead of turning all shy she answered coyly “Why do you sound surprised?” I was a bit taken by that answer. I had not meant it like that. I wasn't prepared for that “S-sorry, I didn't mean it that way.”Then she looked at me a little shy and said “Well, thank you, you look amazing yourself,” she then attached a cute bracelet to my arm, and said, “A little gift,” then she looked at me intently, gave me a kiss on my cheek, slightly slower then you would do for a greeting, and said, “I really love what you did with your hair.”Bookmark here

My heart was beating like crazy in my chest. Was this the same Fien I knew? I remembered my own gift, she had completely taken the initiative away from me. I decided to wait, and find a better moment to give it to her. Instead, I decided to take the lead again and offered her my arm, and said “Shall we?”Bookmark here

Fien gently took my arm. Being connected like this was already enough to make my heart beat like crazy. “Let's take the plunge together.”Bookmark here

When we entered the ballroom, I saw Fien's eyes fixed on the huge crystal chandelier that was hanging from the ceiling. “Y-your house is just like the movies,” she said. Fien was clearly impressed by the room. She had not yet noticed that all the eyes were on us. After all, the young lady of the house had just arrived with a beautiful partner, and more importantly, it was a girl. This would probably be part of the gossip for a while, but I had already steeled my resolve for that.Bookmark here

A lot of people came to greet us, and exchanged empty pleasantries, some of the other girls had arrived too. I noticed Elodie and Eline talking to Elsa and Tina. Mia and Valerie were talking to Therese and Eve. When my eyes met with the Master's she gave me a little wink as encouragement, making Mia notice us too. I saw that Valerie wanted to come over, but Mia stopped her, and then nodded to Fien. It seemed like a lot more was going on than I realized. Maybe I should just make this a moment for us. It seemed like we would probably just get interrupted constantly around here. I wanted to find a spot to be alone with Fien, so we wouldn't get caught up in other people's rhythm. While I was looking for an ideal spot, my mom came to get us, to introduce us to someone. The first interruption that was proving my point...Bookmark here

I recognized the person she wanted to introduce us to immediately, Fien clearly didn't. “Just copy me,” I whispered a little panicky to her. Making good impressions in these kinds of situations was important. I had been drilled with that from a very young age. I made a slight formal bow like I had seen online and bowed my head to the queen of this country. “Your majesty.”Bookmark here

Fien now realizing who this person was, quickly copied me, but the formal bow was slightly off, and stammered “Y-your majesty.”Bookmark here

The queen chuckled at Fien's clumsy attempt for protocol and said “No need for all these formalities tonight, I am not here in an official capacity.”Bookmark here

Then she turned to mom and said “But I did not expect your daughter to have a girlfriend. They look cute together.”Bookmark here

"G-g-girlfriend." I had not even confessed yet. It didn't really bother me to be called that way but... I looked at Fien, she seemed to be in as much trouble as I was.Bookmark here

Mom was clearly surprised by that revelation too, and the chance for me to deny it had clearly passed. So mom did her best to divert the conversation and said “I guess she takes after her cousin Anna. She has an adorable girlfriend too.”Bookmark here

The queen seemed truly interested in that and asked mom several questions about Anna and Claire. It was clear the formalities were over, and Fien and I could see in mom's eyes that she wanted us to move elsewhere, so we moved back into the hall. I needed to create an opportunity to confess to her before the same thing started happening over and over. The ball itself hadn't started yet, and I noticed the balcony was empty. So I guided Fien there.Bookmark here

When we were finally by ourselves I felt myself get short for words. I had practiced this moment so many times with Valerie, but now that the real moment was here, my throat was dry and I could feel my heart beating like crazy. Fien looked even more amazing in the moonlight.Bookmark here

“Look at the beautiful full moon!” Fien said in that joyful expression of hers.Bookmark here

“F-Fien, I wanted to talk to you alone.”Bookmark here

Fien looked around and finally noticed we were completely alone. I noticed that she became shy again, and she looked at me with upturned eyes.Bookmark here

“F-Fien, I think I like you.” What was I saying? I practiced this over and over just to say one of the lines I should absolutely not say.Bookmark here

“Well not think, I absolutely like you.” I corrected myself. I had messed up this moment too.Bookmark here

While I was berating myself in my head, Fien said “I like you too, Maura.”Bookmark here

I looked at her and she was smiling at me with such a bright smile.Bookmark here

“I don't mean...” Like friends, I wanted to say, but Fien had put her hand on my lips to shut me up and had then brought her lips to mine.Bookmark here

Her soft lips were touching mine. This was my first kiss, and even though our lips just touched briefly, it felt like a whole new world had opened to me. When our lips parted, Fien looked shyly at me and said "I meant it like that.”Bookmark here

“S-so cute!” I embraced her, and this time I kissed her. When our tongues met, I felt her warmth against my body and wanted this moment to last forever. I don't know how long we kissed, it felt like it lasted an eternity, but in reality, it can't have been more than a few seconds.Bookmark here

I remembered my present and conjured the box with rings and said “I got us matching rings” and put one on Fien's finger. I was so nervous that my hands were shaking the entire time. Fien took the other one and put it on mine. I noticed her shake too. The both of us had trouble looking each other in the eye. Those rings were such an embarrassing gift. I could not understand how the master could pull these stunts with a straight face. My own heart was beating so fast that I could hardly say anything.Bookmark here

In the background, I heard the music start. I noticed sparkles coming up in Fien's eyes and askedBookmark here

“Shall we dance?”Bookmark here

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