Chapter 1:The Beginnings of a SeasonFluffy, whipped creams. Cakes tiered as high as her head. Confectioner’s sugar floating down on the scene like snow. These were the daydreams Lady Daphne was so rudely yanked from by the sensation of her corset being tightened yet again.
“Are you certain I’m doing this right?” her mother asked their dressmaker, concerned as Daphne grimaced before urging her to try again. Another desperate tug. “I just don’t think this is going to be convenient for her day to day. She looks…pinched.”
“It’s not that bad.” Daphne ground out past her clenched teeth, taking the only kind of calculated breaths the firm corset allowed. “It’ll just take some getting used to.”
She hobbled her way over to where her favorite dress lay draped across Ethel's work table, slipping it over her head before tugging the fabric down over her compressed torso. For a moment, the fabric obeyed her determined encouragement. But it firmly resisted once it reached the top of her stomach. For a moment, she squirmed within the shroud of fabric in an effort to encourage it downward again. But as the sleeves grew tighter around her upper arms, she soon found herself completely stuck in place.
“Daphne,” her mother began, hesitantly.
“No, I can do this!” she insisted. “Ethel, help me!”
Ethel, their longtime dressmaker and proud owner of the shop, stood beside her mother watching the pitiful scene play out. She looked concerned, unable to watch Daphne keep striving for a goal that just wasn’t possible anymore. Her hands were restless, fidgeting absentmindedly as she watched the futile attempt continue. She placed a hand on Daphne’s shoulder, stopping her mid yank and then gently pulled the fabric free from her grasp.
“Daphne, it’s okay. You don’t have to do this.”
Daphne looked to her mother, silently pleading for her to take her side in this. But she was met with only a sympathetic nod as she echoed Ethel’s words. Defeated, Daphne finally allowed them to assist her back out of the dress and release the corset with a swift yank on its ribbons. Both the dress and the corset were then rushed away to a shelf along the back wall where pending projects were stored. Yet again, Daphne had lost another dress to her rapidly increasing weight.
She sank back onto the seat behind her with a sigh. The past weeks had been a blur of activity as her family excitedly prepared for her upcoming debut. It was finally time for her to formally enter society as a young lady and seek a suitable husband! The social season was a thrilling point in Daphne’s life as she had always dreamed of finding her perfect match. The hopeless romantic in her craved it more than anything. But she had always dreamed of wearing her favorite dress for the occasion. Now, it seemed that dream would never come true.
It wasn’t her increasing dimensions that upset her though. Deep down, it was that aspect that she enjoyed the most. In her eyes, Daphne’s added weight simply made her that much more feminine. Gone were the hard, blunt lines of her former slimness. The soft curves that now filled out her figure spoke to a certain type of luxury and comfort. Was it so wrong that she enjoyed the more lavish things in life? No one batted an eye at her mother or father, sparing no expense on the finest home furnishings and art pieces. The only difference was that while they wore their lavish taste on the walls of the home, Daphne wore her indulgence on her ever-expanding waistline. But the community of Lemmington was already whispering that the whole debutante experience was a waste on a girl as “rotund” as she was.
Despite what others might say or think, she was secretly proud of her evolving figure. What point was there in attempting to exude wealth if you simultaneously strove to maintain the body figure of your average street beggar? To Daphne, her curvaceous body adorned in the latest fashions and on display at every debutante ball would be the definition of opulence. She hoped she could not only win the attention of the perfect suitor, but also find a man who would gladly feed her secret pleasure.
“This is actually good news, Daphne,” her friend assured her. “The trends have changed a bit since I first made that dress for you. I was going to do some alterations anyway! So it won’t be a problem to let it out a bit. Trust me!”
In truth, it had only been a few weeks since her whole wardrobe had been dropped off here for the same reason. It was becoming a regular occasion for Daphne and her mother to visit Ethel’s shop each month in order to make her clothes fit her again.
Her mother still looked a bit worried though.
“Are you sure it won’t be any trouble? This in addition to the other dresses we ordered for the season? The first event is only a few days away. I would have brought the dress earlier, but time seems to evade me at every turn these days.”
“No trouble at all, Lady Tryndamere!” Ethel chirped. “I would have called on you anyway! I want to make sure Lady Daphne's dresses are the talk of the town before she sets foot on any dance floor. She’s a beautiful girl. And once I’m done with her, she’ll be simply magnificent. Just you wait, Daphne. I’ll make you a goddess among men!”
Ethel’s enthusiasm began to rub off on Daphne, lifting her mood back to its usual cheery state.
“With a description like that, I can’t wait to see what you do with it!”
“Yes,” her mother said. “We both give you our deepest gratitude. I’ll return in a week’s time to fetch your finished work.”
“Actually,” Daphne piped up. “I’m sure I can manage on my own this time, mother.”
Her mother seemed pleasantly surprised.
“Are you certain?”
“Soon I’ll be a married woman! It’s high time I practiced managing my own affairs.”
“Very well,” she smiled. “I leave you two to sort out the details then. I’ll see you at home, dear! I’ll send Geoff with the carriage to fetch you.”
Left to their own devices, the two girls excitedly poured over the latest trends to make sure Ethel’s ideas were in line with Daphne’s vision. But Ethel was so skilled at her work. The small, creative details she dreamt up could easily spark new standards of their own if they were lucky! Daphne offered her some ideas every now and then, but she had full trust that she could trust her grand entrance to Ethel’s talent.
After sorting through piles of fabrics and color samples, the two were finally free for some leisurely chatter between friends. Because, though the pairing was a bit unconventional, they were very close. Daphne was always there to support Ethel in her brave pursuits. And, in return, Ethel aided Daphne in her more taboo interests.
“So,” Ethel prodded with a mischievous grin. “I see our plan has been working?”
She gestured towards Daphne’s soft, round belly.
“Obviously,” Daphne ran her hands over her stomach with a smile, raising her petticoat higher so Ethel could see the results of their secret plot. “What do you think?”
“What do I think?! Daphne, you’ve nearly doubled in size since I last saw you! I’d say this is a job well done!””
Ethel gave her belly a gentle squeeze before running her finger tips along her broad hips. In order to even reach the spot, she had to use the other hand to lift her now hanging belly out of the way. Almost as if she couldn’t help it, she grabbed a tape measure and hurriedly started measuring her growth. She first wrapped the tape around Daphne’s bust.
“Your parents still haven’t said anything about it?”
“Oh, no. I’m sure they’ve noticed the changes. But they certainly don’t know it's all intentional. The way my mother rants against thinness as the ideal, I’m beginning to think she’s a secret suffragette! And you’ve met my father.”
“You’re father is such a sweetheart,” Ethel said, jotting down numbers in a notepad before measuring her stomach.
“He’s always been supportive. If I told him tomorrow that I wanted to forgo the whole ordeal and become a traveling saleswoman instead, he’d be first in line to buy my wares no matter where I was.”
Ethel closed the notepad with a snap, a wide grin on her face. “I have good news! Your bust has expanded an inch and a half, but your stomach! It’s grown two inches since I last saw you!”
“I can’t take all the credit! Someone keeps hiding baskets of treats in the garden or slipping candies in my dresses. If it wasn’t for your help, I’d still be thin as a stick!”
Daphne made a face, sucking her cheeks in to appear gaunt and ghoulish and causing both girls to nearly fall over in a fit of laughter.
“Now we just have to find a bachelor who would appreciate all of our hard work.”
“Well”, Ethel drew the word out, hinting at some secret information.
“What? What do you know that you’re not saying!”
“There’s been heated gossip going ‘round about a certain eligible bachelor that just might cast your worries aside forever.”
“Oh really?” Daphne started getting dressed again, but she stalled a bit. “Who?”
“That’s just the thing! Everyone seems to know every detail about him but his name. But the rumor is that he’s practically snubbed every attempted match in favor of journey’s to far off lands where the women are more ‘plump for the picking’.”
“How mysterious! Well, don’t delay with the dresses then. Because I fully intend to go to every event I can in hopes we cross paths!”
“You can count on me, Daphne. I won't disappoint you."
Ethel tied Daphne’s sash around her in a neat bow and not so inconspicuously stuffed her pockets full of candies as she heard Geoff arrive with the carriage. “I'm going to let your dresses out a bit more than usual this time. So eat well!”
Daphne patted her pocket with a knowing smile. "You can be certain I will!"
8 chapters, created 5 months , updated 5 months
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