You wrapped the blanket around you, pinning it with the antique silver brooch your mother gave you on your wedding day just a year ago. You smoothed down the blanket so it fell flatteringly around your hips and looked at yourself in the full length mirror propped against the bookshelf. A girl stared back at you, (e/c) eyes dull and hair falling about her face in unkempt (h/c) locks.
You sighed, bending over to retrieve some bobby pins from their little cup on the nightstand conveniently located but a foot from you due to the size of your tiny apartment. You piled your hair up on top of your head, stabbing it full of bobby pins and creating a fragile mimic of the hairstyles of all the rich, beautiful women you saw in magazines and on posters.
Your gramophone crackled to life with a piano concerto from your husband’s favorite musician, Roderich Edelstein. You swirled about the room, humming along to the sweet, somewhat sad sonata, closing your eyes. With the gentle swirling of the blanket around your bare legs and the slight tickle of a few loose strands of hair on the back of your neck, the weight of the costume jewelry hanging on your ears and the coolness of the glass beads on your neck you could almost imagine you were one of those rich women in the magazines.
All of the men would ask you to dance with them, having eyes for no one else as you danced gracefully about the dance floor. Of course, you would say no to all of them for you were there with your handsome bank executive of a husband. The two of you would be the center of attention and maybe even draw the attention of royalty. Yes, royalty from another, exotic country. Maybe a Russian Czar or a-
The door slammed open and your eyes flew open, the spell broken. Once again you were in your uncomfortably small apartment with a blanket wrapped around you and hair messily piled up on your head with bobby pins. Your husband was no executive, just a simple bank teller and you weren’t rich, or even very pretty with the worn down slump in your posture and the bags under your eyes.
“(f/n)… What are you doing?”
Your husband stood in the doorway, green eyes inquisitive and one thin, blond eyebrow arched inquisitively. His faded suit was rumpled and muddy from walking home from work and he carried a brown paper bag of groceries and his ratty brown suitcase in his arms.
“Oh, Vash… It was nothing. Really.” You quickly began pulling bobby pins from your hair, letting your tresses tumble down to cover the blush that dusted your cheeks a soft pink.
He eyed you over, “You were dancing again.” His mouth pulled into a sour frown and he glared at you, “You know I can’t take you dancing, (f/n.) We’ve been over this before. We just don’t have the money right now.”
“I know…” you said sheepishly, unpinning the silver brooch and letting the blanket puddle around your feet.
“You think I don’t want to be able to take you dancing, (f/n)?!” he practically shouted, his frustration turning his face an alarmingly bright red, “You think I don’t want to be able to buy you fancy dresses or real jewelry?!” He walked over to you, roughly pulling on one of your earrings and making it snap off. “I want to be able to take you to fancy parties and-and go to operas and let you quit that stupid job you have cleaning house for Ms. Héderváry. I want to be able to buy you nice makeup and let you follow your art career but I just can’t!” He looked away from you, shame standing out clearly on his handsome face. “Not right now…” His eyes turned back to you, hopefully, “But I can! There’s been rumor of a promotion for one of the tellers at the bank. Maybe it will be me! I-I’ve worked so hard… Maybe one of the higher ups has noticed.”
“Of course you’ll get the promotion.” You drew Vash’s chin up so he would look you in the eyes, “I have complete faith in you.” The lie hurt like a knife in the gut. There had been promotions before… Vash had been sure he would get every one of them, but he never had. He probably never would. Everyone else had connections or bribed their way up in the ranks… It wasn’t about hard workers anymore. You knew that Vash understood that but sometimes… Sometimes it pained you to see him get so hopeful.
He smiled at you and placed a gentle kiss on your lips, “One day, (f/n)… One day you’ll have your dance.”
You rubbed your aching hands and dipped them in the bowl of warm water, letting out a relieved sigh. Ms. Héderváry had you scrubbing the floors in the Grand Ballroom today for the party she was having on Friday. It was her daughter’s birthday and there had to be a big, big party even if the little girl was only six.
Vash came crashing into the house with his usual door slamming. “(f/n)!” he cried, as he threw something down on the bed, picking you up and twirling you around, “I got it! I got it, (f/n), I got it!” He kissed you passionately, hugging you tight to his chest.
“Got w-what?!” You stammered, out of breath from his tight hug.
“The promotion.” He whispered into your hair, nuzzling it gently.
“Oh my God… Oh my God… Oh my God!” you hyperventilated, suddenly finding it hard to breathe or think or really do anything other than repeat “Oh my God” like some ritual incantation.
Vash nodded, stepping away from you to pick up the thing he had thrown on the bed, gently unwrapping the brown paper it was encased in. “I got you a present to celebrate. I thought you could wear it to Ms. Héderváry’s party.”
You peeked over his shoulder, curious in spite of your better judgment. Your husband was many things but magnanimous was not one of them.
Lying among the course brown blankets was a (f/c) dress. It was made of silk with an almost dangerously low neckline. It had puffy sleeves that stopped just above the elbow accompanied by long white gloves. Tiny jewels dripped down the bodice and skirt, winking coyly at you in the dim light of the lamp on the bedside table.
“It’s… It’s…” you tried to think of words to describe the beauty of the dress on the bed before you.
“I know.” Vash smiled, putting his arm around you and hugging you close.
“But… I’ll have no jewelry to wear with it. I don’t have anything so-”
“Here.” Your husband turned you around, putting something around your neck and clasping it in the back. He clipped something on each of your ears and gave you a little push towards the mirror, “Take a look.”
You stared at yourself in the mirror. The same girl as before looked back at you, a smile on her suddenly pretty face. Glass beads hung from her neck and costume jewelry glinted in her ears.
Vash approached you cautiously, not sure what you would think of his gift. “(f/n)… What do you think?”
“It’s…” you paused. “The second best thing I’ve ever gotten in my life!” You turned around, flinging yourself into his arms.
“Second best?” Vash asked inquisitively, putting his arms around your waist.
“Right behind my wedding ring.”