In her heart, Alina really had given up on ever seeing anything pretty again. Which would have been no less than what she'd deserved, given what she did in Feloria. So when they let her into Ourania's guest closet, she almost cried. And when they said she could have whatever she liked from there, she fell to her knees. The noise she made was... well, it's not really fit to talk about in polite company, ok?

She picked a dress, a real dress, the first she'd seen in... she can't even remember. And, oh! What a dress it is! An Illuminan masterpiece in every sense of the word, but the most special thing about it was the way it filled Alina with a deep impression of both of her mothers, so much so that she could swear she smelled them on it.

The blouse fit her like a dream, following the shape of her body and still billowing the way a proper silk should (it must be breathtaking when it's wet, she thinks). The very top of it is a pink the color of rose quartz that follows the plunging v-line of the neck down to the the spot on her breast where her scar rests hidden and almost healed, where it bleeds slowly into cerise and then a deep orange that plunges beneath the blue ribbon-tied sash around her waist so that she resembles nothing so much as the sun setting over a calm and placid lake. Her sleeves are cut away at the shoulders to reveal the skin underneath, then wrap around her arms again until they reach the middle of her forearms. They end there in the same reddish pink color as the center of her blouse, right at the exact spot her glass bracelets begin. And everywhere like stars, sewn all up and down the fabric, are flecks of Illuminan Glass that glitter in every color of the rainbow. Around her neck sits a long, snowy scarf that trails and swishes and bounces gracefully with every turn and shift of her body.

She wears a pair of strikingly white leggings under a series of layered skirts that open up at the front. The shortest is red, ending just at the tops of her thighs. Under that and slightly longer is orange, then another in yellow, one in green, a blue, an indigo, and finally a violet silk that brushes against the floor next to her soft opaline slippers. The slippers may just be her favorite part: not gaudy or showy or trying to make her taller than she is, and perfect for dancing with strong and supple leather on the soles for walking across stones and through rivers. If only she could find one.

Then around her neck she wears a snowy scarf which reaches down all the way to the orange layer of her skirt, so that when she moves she is the clouds over her sunset lake and the rainbow blossoming beneath it as well. Everything is motion, dance, and grace of the highest caliber. It's wonderful. It's amazing. She feels almost more Queen than Princess, though not quite. Not quite yet. It's not time for her to exchange her crown.

Jessamine had been walking around as if in a trance this entire time. She'd often seek out a balcony and stare out past the roots and blossoms of Argossa to where the ocean rose up to meet the world tree, and from there across the horizon in the direction of Illumina. Other times, she'd turn the other way and stare at Feloria instead. The wonder of this place was wasted on her; she had nothing but wistful sighs and distant looks to give any of it. Until she saw her sister, and it all fell away in the most delighted squeak. Which brought on a blush. She never squeaked! She didn't! That was a Lina thing, she was much more... a-anyway, let her do your hair Lina, let her do it! She's going crazy with nothing for her hands to do, so please!

This is how Alina finds herself sitting in Ourania's council with her normally floofy hair bound up tight in a series of intricate braids. Two tiny plaits that loop from her bangs, just across the tops of her ears, then join again at the back of her head. Underneath that spot her hair is pulled back tight into a large knot like the center of a ribbon which pulls the rest of her lavender curls up to rest above the scarf instead of leaving it to mix and tangle with those trails of fabric. She's beautiful, and for once she feels like it too.

And not a moment too soon! Because it takes every bit of borrowed strength from Argossa and the cleansing power of being allowed to look royal and beautiful again to give her the courage to swim back into her memories and listen to his words again. Even still, she doesn't look up at the High Queen or any of her friends, preferring to stare fixedly at a particularly pretty part of the floor where Illuminan glass embraces sparkling Jedadi jewels. There was a lesson to be learned there, she thinks, but right this second she's not sure what it could be. She swallows, and notices her hands are shaking.

"...He talked to me," she says with a voice that's fighting not to quiver and failing miserably, "W-when held me prisoner. H-he kept, kept dumping water on me until I couldn't breathe and then in between... he talked to me. He told me that he had a job for me. He w-wanted a, a witch. From Hecatia. Asked f-for Diana specifically, I think 'cause-- because she's so famous and talented. Maybe anyone would have done. I don't know. He wanted me to win her over to his service. Which I."

She squeezes her eyes shut. The guilt washes over her like a wave of hot needles, little crystal shards feeding on her uselessness and trying to take over her body again. But nothing happens. Nobody even yells at her, so she takes the deepest breath of her life and finally manages to turn her emerald eyes to Ourania's face.

"I did what he asked. I asked Diana to spy on him for me, but that still means... anything she does is my fault. O-or if she gets hurt then I," she sighs, "I'm really sorry. He had my sister. He's still got my mother, I didn't know what to do. But he said... he said something else, too. He said that, s-said that when he had Diana and the... I think he called it the Caduceus? He wants that. He thinks that with that and Diana that he can force you to marry him, Your Majesty."

She dips her head again. She's so tired, all of a sudden. Is it ok if she rests now?