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Ruby looks down at her hands. They've always been a touch too masculine, too big, though they had never gotten as big as her sisters. She counts that as something she's unrealistically lucky for, some miracle of science that she didn't deserve. It takes her a moment of fortification to make herself look at the mirror again, to which she turns her head back and forth, holding onto her own chin as she does so. There's a boyish curve to her smile still, but if she looks at it the right way, it looks almost just childish, like she's just as soft as she aims to be, and so she keeps her head at that angle. She's been quietly working on this for months.

She has to do it right. It's something that no one but her sister would know for sure, but there are parts of Ruby that always has to have things exactly right, the playact of confidence falling away at the first signs of failure. Her black nail polish is slightly chipped, but that's fine - no girl she knows ever has it perfect. Well, except the girl she knows. The only girl whose opinion Ruby really cares about always has the perfect pale blue nail polish, cleaned up around her nail beds and carefully painted on. Weiss Schnee. She’s Ruby’s best friend, even if she doesn’t always know it.

Except, she’s the best friend of a boy who doesn’t exist. The boy who Ruby plays on television, the one that Ruby needs to be sometimes for the simple act of survival. And today, Weiss will know. Today, Yang is calling a meeting with all of the friends her and Ruby share, the ones who know so much about Ruby and yet so little, and Ruby is going to be wearing a dress in public for the first time. It’s black and red, just like the clothes she usually wears, but it means so much more.

It’s amazing, the kind of things a girl can learn from drag queens. A few Youtube videos and Ruby has the general idea of how to tuck, though she doesn’t go through all of the dramatic flare of taping; it sounds painful, and she’s wearing a dress anyway. But first, her leggings go on, careful in their distribution of fabric. She puts on socks before anything on her top half, knowing that the skirt will get in the way of putting on her socks and ankle boots - Yang had warned her about that. Ruby wouldn’t have even thought of it. She’s humming softly as she picks up her boots, almost sticking the left one on her right foot before she fixes herself. It’s kinda nice to just laugh at herself.

Then, the most important part. To her, anyway. She pulls on the dress slowly, letting it flow over her like a river, baptising her in all of its feminine glory. Yang says that she doesn’t have to view femininity as attached to dresses, doesn’t have to view it as makeup, as boobs, as anything, but sometimes it’s nice to think that she can just slip it on like this. Just something so simple as a dress, and she’s just as much of a girl as Weiss, as Yang, as Blake. Yang says she already is, but Ruby’s still working on that.

Yang is going to come back soon. As soon as everyone is gathered, Yang will fetch Ruby and they’ll walk in together so that Ruby doesn’t have to feel alone. She smooths out the skirt of her dress and looks at her makeup again. Maybe it’s a bit generous to call it makeup, but she only knows how to do eyeliner and mascara so far, and just bottom liner for the eyeliner. She’s proud of it, and Yang had been the first time she had done it too. Speaking of which, her sister knocks her knuckles against the door once before bursting into the room, throwing the door open.

“You ready to get crackalackin, little sister?” Yang asks, bounding across the room with her wide steps until she can wrap her arm around Ruby’s shoulders. Ruby laughs and shoves her off good naturedly.

“I’m not little. But I am ready,” she says, grabbing Yang’s hand even as she had just shoved it off of her shoulder, and they leave together. Anxiety grips her heart even as she asks it not to, as she asks it to calm and to leave her alone and to just this once, please? Let her have this? And Yang calms her by a thumb stroking against the heel of her hand and Ruby takes deep breaths, cools the fiery storm inside of herself.

Yang has gathered their friends in an empty classroom in an empty hallway, so that they’ll be the first people to meet Ruby. Well, not that she’s a whole new person, but well. She almost feels like she is, with the dresses that make her happy and the nail polish that makes her happy and the makeup that isn’t makeup and yet still makes her so happy, she feels as if she could burst. She’s buzzing by the time they make it to the door, anxiety and excitement an odd cocktail that made her feel fit to bursting, filled with the feeling of butterflies and champagne bubbles.

“You sure?” Yang asks, giving her an out, but Ruby just nods. She opens the door and leads Yang in, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be the other way around. Their friends turn around at the sound of the door opening and Ruby watches their reactions, gaze flitting from face to face and yet so obviously watching one more than the others (though she might never admit it aloud).

“Oh. Pretty dress,” Jaune comments first, always so bumbling with his words, and Ruby lets out a laugh, relaxing. Blake seems to break out of a stupor and takes up one of her analytical looks, nodding.

“Name and pronouns? Also, you still cannot take me shopping. I will go with you for an allotted two occasions. That’s it,” Blake asks and offers, and Ruby holds in a noise of excitement, instead answering.

“Ruby and she/her! Only two times? Why not more?” she pouts, though it’s mostly only for show. The rest of their gathered friends give varied reactions though all so positive she could cry, except for Weiss. Weiss doesn’t say a single word and something in the range of Ruby’s chest is shrivelling, shaking, doesn’t have any idea of what to do in this situation. Things grow quiet as the rest of the group eventually realises Ruby’s distraction (and then soon after, the source of it), and Weiss seems to realise she’s being stared at. She clears her throat and her face colors, and it’s the first time Ruby has ever seen a Schnee blush.

“You look beautiful,” she says, and Ruby smiles the biggest smile.