THE tattoos along her pointer finger were due for darkening. She could barely see the measuring lines anymore, and it showed in her stitching. Sighing, she set aside the skirt panel mock-up and took a sip of water from the cup on her chairside table.
This was not a gown she had the luxury of mismeasuring. The Red Queen’s steward had given her precise measurements of the Queen’s shoulders, hips, waist, and bust; besides, it was to be the gown she wore for her first public speech in months.
The seamstress’s hands trembled. She was still quite young—her apprenticeship had only ended this spring, and although it wasn’t really her first time working on her own, it felt like it. She had never sewn a maternity gown before.
That was something she was distinctly forbidden to mention until the Red Queen’s speech. Nobody knew she carried a child, and even fewer knew she had taken a Charivi husband. The Yellow Queen’s only son—Pashzak Yolkerev, or something like that. If he was lucky, he would have given her a daughter. The Red Queen’s subjects might be willing to overlook a marriage alliance outside Zoldonya Chovrekozh if he gave them an heir. Otherwise, it might seem like the Yellow Queen had her finger in too many pies and wanted a bite of Zoldoni lands.
The seamstress took up her stitching again. At least the pattern wasn’t terribly complicated. It just required a lot of fabric—something that was not available in large quantities during wartime, no matter how much tadril the Red Queen threw at it. Every scrap had to find its way into the final product. The pattern left little room for error. No thread could be wasted. But, even if silk itself was hard to come, the signature vermillion colour she wore was no less stunning.
The seamstress worked long into the night. She caught herself nodding off more than a few times, always refreshing with another sip of water and a few more stitches. If she hurried, she might be able to sneak in a second fitting before marching ahead to the real thing. She prayed the Red Queen would like it. With the textile shortage, she’d need the tadril from further commissions—if not from the Queen herself, then from her recommendation to other members of her court. Otherwise…
She grimaced. Otherwise, she might have to fight.
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