Cordelia hesitated just outside the glass and mirror ballroom. It had an official name, and suddenly she couldn't remember it. This ball was the first after the end of the Pretendership, a celebration of peace for Vorbarr Sultana and Barrayar. They were going to dance again on that marvelous wood parquet floor.
The room would be stuffed with Counts, Countesses, Lords, Ladies, hangers on, political allies and enemies. As Lady Vorkosigan and Co-regent of the child Emperor, she'd have to meet and mingle with all of them, and try desperately to remember names.
She'd escaped from Aral's captivity, fought a war against him, left a home planet for him, started a child with him, and now had fought another war with him. Their baby was in a replicator, trying to survive. All she wanted to do was sit quietly next to baby Miles.
She kicked resentfully at the hem of her sweeping skirts, setting silver braids twirling around the warm brown satin of the full-length dress. Why couldn't she just wear a demure sarong? Damn these archaic customs, anyway.
A woman behind her cleared her throat delicately, and she turned to see Lady Alys in a long black dress with dark purple insets. Mourning clothes, but so stylish she outclassed the other women.
Cordelia gave Alys a strained smile, and glanced anxiously at the swirling crowd inside.
Alys smiled delicately and said, “In this situation, Lady Vorkosigan, we have a saying, “Il est temps d'enlever les vêtements de bébé, mon ami.''
Cordelia's French was rudimentary but she grasped the idea. She smirked back at Alys,
“Ah, well, in the Betan Astronomical Survey Service, we say, “Il est temps de foutre cette wormhole, chérie.”
Lady Alys gave a refined snicker, and the two of them stepped into the ballroom, heads high.