Length: 800 words
Rating/warnings: PG, none
Summary: Miles has a favour to ask of his Aunt Alys. Missing scene for Winterfair Gifts.
If this is a sample of the timing Miles had in his ImpSec career, no wonder he was so successful. Alys did not leap up. Instead she smiled blandly and straightened her spine, her body language telegraphing that Captain Illyan's knee was a perfectly correct place for a Vor lady of rank and taste to be seated. Simon, equally bland, slid his hands to more decorous locations.
For a split second Miles hesitated in the doorway, then cannoned into the room with his usual forward-momentum expression on his face.
"Hello, Simon, Aunt Alys. I was hoping to find you."
"Good afternoon, Miles," Alys said severely. "How is your garden?"
"It's doing fine. Aunt Alys, I have a favour to ask." Wisely, he gave her no chance to object before continuing. "I have a guest coming to my wedding from the Dendarii fleet. She's never been on Barrayar before, and she doesn't have a lot of experience of ladies' formal dress. Would you be willing to help guide her through the minefield? I don't think my advice would be good for much, and Ekaterin has far too much to do already." He gave a small, hopeful smile. "Also, I think she will need the very best advice I can find for her."
"Why is that?" Alys asked at once.
"She's a sergeant in the fleet," Miles began obliquely. Alys felt Simon suddenly move beneath her, as if something had struck him. She spared a look for him and saw his eyes alight. Clearly there was something interesting here.
"So, a sergeant," Alys prompted when Miles ran dry. "And what is the problem? She has poor dress sense? Who is she and why is she on your guest list?"
Miles took a deep breath and said, "She looks a little--unusual. But she's a very good friend of mine."
"Do you know her?" Alys demanded of Simon.
"I have never met her," said Simon carefully. "I believe I know of her, however."
Alys saw Miles shoot a worried glance at his ex-boss. What did Simon know? She would not, of course, press him for information, but he might have more to add.
"I am not willing to work blind, Miles. What exactly is the difficulty? Why can't this girl go to whatever shop she likes and ask them to fit her out with a suitable wedding outfit?"
"She was bioengineered," Miles said. "She is eight feet tall and has, ah, fangs. And claws. I don't want her to be exposed to any insult here."
Alys blinked at the mental image this conjured up. "Oh. I see." Nothing was ever ordinary, around Miles. She tried another tack. "I am not a fashion consultant, Miles. And whilst I have agreed to be your Coach, I have had my fill of wedding preparations for the rest of my life."
"She likes nice clothes, and she's very smart, but she always chooses pink if you leave her to herself," Miles answered obliquely. "Bright pink. It doesn't suit her. If you don't help her, you'll have to look at whatever she does choose to wear to the wedding all through the reception. She stands out in a crowd."
"I would imagine so." Alys paused. "Eight foot of bright pink, you say?"
"Without a doubt."
"Very well. I must do what I can to avert such a thing. I will introduce her to my dressmaker."
Miles gave a relieved sigh. "She was--is a very dear friend. I know exactly what kinds of, er, reactions she might find here, and I want her to have an enjoyable time. You will make sure your dressmaker knows what to expect? She won't make comments?"
Alys raised an eyebrow. "Dear Miles, she is my dressmaker. Of course she will not make comments about anyone I recommend to her. In your fleet, if you sent someone to your armourer, would they make rude comments?"
"No, Aunt Alys." Miles looked a little cowed. Good. Hopefully she could speed his departure. Simon was shaking with poorly suppressed laughter.
"Very well. You may leave her in my hands. What is her name?"
"I will do everything I can for her."
"Thank you very much." Miles seemed to get the message at last, and he bowed himself out. Alys leaned back against Simon. He put his arms around her again and let his laughter escape.
"His very dear friend, he says," Alys murmured. "Inviting one's lovers to one's wedding used to be considered poor form, in general. The poor girl. Both girls."
"How do you know she was his lover?" Simon demanded, startled.
"My dear, it was written all over his face."
Simon gave a chuckle. "I shall be pleased to have a chance to meet her at last."
Alys smiled in return. "I'm just glad Estelle likes a challenge." She twisted around and slid a hand behind Simon's head, and they returned to what Miles had interrupted.