"But Ciiiiaraaaa, I can't go out like this!" Emer examined the new dress with distaste, then shot her mother a stern glare. "What are people going to think?"
Ciara gave her a motherly smile and fixed the bow in her hair with no regard for good taste. "They'll think you're a very pretty young lady, just like I do. Not stop squirming. It's only for one day, it won't kill you to wear it for a day, will it?"
Emer tugged at the thin material in a vain attempt to get it to fit more comfortably. It might have looked quite pretty on someone else, but on her it looked like a rumpled sack. "Can't I wear a uniform instead? Deirdre gets to. She says a soldier has always got to look the part."
Ciara brushed some invisible lint from Emer's shoulder and sat back to look at her. "Your grandmother says a lot of things, pup. You're not a soldier, not yet anyway. You're a princess of Cearnach, and my beautiful daughter, and that's what I want everyone to see at the gala tonight. Now, try to smile, at least a little? Please?"
Emer forced a smile long enough to get Ciara to finally leave. When she had first heard of the big gathering that night, she'd been quite excited. Ciara and Deirdre together conspired to keep her at home most of the time, so she only rarely got to meet anyone from outside Cearnach itself. Tonight, dignitaries from all of the Three Kingdoms would be gathered together and it promised to be quite the spectacle.
She tugged at the hated dress again and grumbled under her breath. She could hear everyone laughing at her already. Glancing toward her bedroom door, she cocked one ear, listening for any hint that her mother might be coming back. Slowly, hardly daring to breathe, she knelt down and felt under her bed for the dagger that grandmother Deirdre had given her for her eleventh birthday. Ciara might be able to make her wear a dress, but she would show the whole world she wasn't that kind of princess.