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New Year's Eve Mood Fic: Jubilant


Wig_Powder

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“New fashions?” Ro said, looking skeptically at her friend, “Entirely new?”

 

“Entirely!” Annabel said, raising her hand, “I’ve never seen anything like them before. They’re shorter, lighter, and just look amazing! Please say you’ll come with me to look at them tomorrow. Mom refuses to enter the store and says I can’t go in either unless someone goes with me. Please???”

 

Ro laughed at the plaintive look on Annabel’s face. “All right, all right! But I expect these dresses to live up to what you’ve been saying.”

 

“Thanks, Ro!” Annabel said, squeezing Ro’s hands, “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I just hope they feel as great as they look.”

 

“We’ll see,” Ro said, shifting in her chair and grimacing as her corset dug into her side, “At the very least, they can’t be much worse than what we’ve currently got.”

***

The next morning, Ro got up and decided to dress in her best daywear, in order to try to make a good impression on this Mrs. Dror, who owned the shop Annabel had found. Once she’d laid out the cream dress dotted with pink roses, she called for her mom, bracing herself for her least favorite part of her whole daily routine. Her mom came in, slid the corset around Ro’s chest, and then started lacing up the back, As always, she did her best to keep it relatively loose, but Ro could still feel her lungs and ribs tightening in protest. While part of her had gotten used to it, as her mom had insisted would happen, she still hated the things and how much they restricted movement and air. She didn’t care if it made her shape more appealing, she’d rather be able to breathe. Besides, wasn’t her future husband eventually going to see her without all the frou-frah? Wasn’t it better to be honest about your appearance? Not to say it couldn’t be enhanced a little, but she thought everyone would be much better off if they dressed to flatter the body they had, rather than trying to squeeze themselves into a singular beauty ideal.

 

Nevertheless, she let herself be laced up, then put on her dress, did her hair and makeup, and came downstairs for breakfast. Annabel would be coming at eleven, so she’d probably have enough time to eat and get through another chapter of her book before then. Well, depending on what happened in the chapter; people kept singing the book’s praises, but Ro mostly found Joyce to be a slog.

 

In the course of eating, Ro reached for the pepper shaker to season her eggs, only to discover that her mom must not have completely tightened the cap when she’d refilled it yesterday. Fortunately, it was still on firmly enough that she didn’t upend the entire shaker onto her eggs, but it did mean a small cloud came out rather than a light dusting of grains. Ro winced, quickly set the shaker down, and grabbed for her napkin. “Ih…hihh…hitchh!

 

The corset cut into her chest as her lungs desperately tried to blow out the irritant. Unable to find a full release, Ro was forced to sneeze four more times. “Hekshh! Epshh! Kitchh! Tchhh!!

 

Once the itch subsided, she set the napkin down and breathed in as deeply as she could, trying to recover as quickly as her corset would allow. Her parents blessed her sympathetically, and she responded with a nod, waiting until the worst of the discomfort had passed before she risked having a sip of milk. After that, she waited another two minutes before she resumed eating, and even then, she tried to eat without breathing, to avoid the pepper setting her off again. It was things like this that made her try to eat breakfast before getting dressed as often as possible.

 

Fortunately, the rest of the meal passed without incident, and she was indeed able to read another chapter of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man before there was a knock on the door. If she was honest, she was happy for the excuse to put the book down.

 

Annabel beamed at her. “Morning, Ro! Ready to go?”

 

Ro nodded. “Just let me say goodbye to my parents.”

 

Two minutes later, Ro stepped out of the house, slipping on her gloves as she did so. “Where is this store, anyway?”

 

“A block or two off the main thoroughfare. Still respectable, but not as commonly frequented, if you see the difference.”

 

“Still, it must be a relatively new store. I’ve never heard of it before.” Ro said as they headed for Annabel’s car.

 

“I think it is,” Annabel confirmed, “The woman’s name certainly sounds like she comes from overseas; maybe she came over here to try her luck. And hey, selling European fashions to Americans is a time honored tradition.”

 

“True,” Ro said with a chuckle as she settled herself into the back and waited for Peter to crank up the engine, “It sounds like this is quite a departure from the norm, though. Do you think she’ll be successful with these new outfits?”

 

“Only time will tell,” Annabel said, “But depending on how our trip today goes, she may wind up with at least one loyal customer.” Ro laughed again and then changed the subject; better not to build up her expectations too high, after all.

 

It probably took them about twenty minutes to arrive at the shop, and Ro took a minute to look it over. For the most part, it looked like any other shop, with no elaborate outer décor and the store’s name, Mrs. Dror’s Modernities, written in tasteful lettering on the door and the top of the window. But it was the clothes in the window that really made you stop and take a second look. Annabel had been right—they were very different from anything Ro had seen before. They seemed to hang loosely off the mannequins, instead of being artfully pinned and arranged. Indeed, the first two words that came to Ro’s mind were “straight” and “sleek”. The five gowns on display all seemed to be made of a variety of materials and sported different patterns (from none at all to being covered with small blue flowers), and yet they all seemed…lighter than the dresses Annabel and Ro were currently wearing. Ro’s eyes flicked from one dress to the other, trying to figure out if she approved of them or not.

 

“Told you!” Ro was jolted back to reality by Annabel’s laugh, “Entirely new look!”

 

Ro nodded. “You got me on that one. Come on, let’s see how they look when they’re on actual people.” Annabel grinned eagerly, and the two of them entered the store together.

 

A bell tinkled as they walked in, and a woman in her fifties looked up immediately. Ro was a little disappointed to see that she wasn’t dressed in the new fashion, but rather an (admittedly magnificent) dress in the current style. “Welcome, ladies!” the woman said in a thick but understandable accent, coming around the counter, “Mrs. Dror, at your service. What are you here for?”

 

Annabel pointed to the dresses in the window. “We were wondering if we could try some of those on. They’re just fantastic.”

 

“I’m so glad you think so,” Mrs. Dror said with a smile, “Far too many people passing by give them shocked or dirty looks instead. Honestly, it’s as if they think I’m proposing young ladies walk around in their negligees!” She clucked her tongue and shook her head before returning to the matter at hand. “Now then, did you have a particular dress you wanted to try on?”

 

Annabel shook her head. “Whatever you think would be best for the both of us. We want to get the most positive impression of these dresses as we can.”

 

“Of course, of course. Let me just get a look at the two of you.”

 

With that, Mrs. Dror walked around the two of them, her eyes sweeping up and down. Then she clapped her hands. “Yes, I think I know what will do. A moment.”

 

She moved over to a long rack of dresses on the back wall and quickly picked out two gowns, one a shiny teal with no design and the other blue-grey with a black lace overlay. Returning to Annabel and Ro, she handed the teal dress to Annabel and the lace one to Ro and pointed to a bank of small rooms, curtains hanging in front of them. “You can change in there. I’ll call my seamstress to help with the corsets.”

 

“But…we’re already wearing corsets,” Ro said, placing a hand on her side for emphasis, “Do these require a special type of corset?”

 

Mrs. Dror blinked for a moment, then laughed. “No, dear. They require no corsets at all.”

 

Ro stared at her, and she suspected Annabel was doing the same. “They…they don’t?”

 

“Not to say that you should dispose of undergarments altogether, but corsets aren’t necessary here. In fact, they’ll ruin the line of the dress.”

 

“But then…what are we supposed to wear instead?”

 

Mrs. Dror moved away again, returning a moment later with some small pieces of fabric that looked like someone had cut off the top half of a nightgown. “I know they don’t look like much,” she said, clearly noticing Ro’s skeptical look, “But they work. Give them a try, and you’ll see.”

 

Ro took the offered hangar. “I…okay. But will you be the one to help me, then? I just…I don’t see how any of this works.”

 

“Hey!” Annabel said playfully, “Who’s the one who found this store, anyway? I should be the one getting the attention from the proprietor.” But when Mrs. Dror turned to look at her, Annabel chuckled and waved her hand. “No, no, go ahead and work with Ro. I think she needs you more than I do.”

 

Mrs. Dror nodded. “Go on into the changing rooms. I’ll fetch my seamstress and we’ll help you both presently.”

 

She moved off towards the back room, and after glancing at each other, Ro and Annabel went to the changing rooms. While she waited, Ro removed her dress, then stood in front of the mirror and held the blue-grey dress up in front of her, trying to picture how it would actually look on her. It matched her skin tone, but she had trouble imagining how it would hang off her body. She was still trying to puzzle it out when Mrs. Dror entered. “All right, just give me a few minutes to undo this.”

 

Ro wasn’t sure if it was due to years of experience or her line of work, but it actually took considerably less time for Mrs. Dror to unlace the corset. As always, Ro sighed in relief as the corset was pulled off, even as her heartrate increased slightly now that the moment of truth was even closer at hand. Mrs. Dror held up the bit of cloth, which she said was called a brassiere, and showed how it was held together by small hooks that were sturdy but easy to undo. “You should be able to do it yourself once you get used to it,” she said, slipping the thing around Ro and fastening the hooks as Ro pulled the straps over her shoulders, “No more relying on servants or siblings.”

 

Glancing at herself in the mirror, Ro had to admit that the brassiere was covering her chest quite well, and was certainly more comfortable than a corset. Taking the dress from Mrs. Dror, she took a deep breath, let it fall over her head, and then looked at herself in the mirror.

 

In all honesty, it took her a moment to adjust. She was so used to seeing herself with a small waist and thrust out bosom that the sight of her with no obvious chest or waist at all was hard to process. Then she ran her hands down the dress, enjoying the soft feel of the cloth under her hand and against her skin, and decided that it didn’t look half bad. “Can I walk in it a bit?”

 

“Of course.” Mrs. Dror said, pulling the curtain aside and gesturing for Ro to walk through. Ro did so, and noticed immediately that the skirt brushed against her legs as she moved, creating a pleasant feeling of forward momentum. She was sure it must trail out behind her a little as she moved, and liked the idea of it. She walked up the length of the shop to see if the feeling continued (it did), then stopped for a moment and twisted her body from side to side. Both the dress and the brassiere moved with her, with none of the usual pain that came from moving too quickly in a corset. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, and the brassiere did nothing to prevent her from filling her lungs. It was…liberating.

 

“Ro!” Annabel’s delighted gasp caused Ro to turn around. Annabel looked great in the teal dress, and based on her broad smile, she apparently thought the same thing about Ro and her dress. “That looks beautiful! Do you like it?”

 

“I…think I do,” Ro said, moving back to where Annabel and Mrs. Dror were standing, “What do you think of the new undergarments?”

 

“They’re a little strange, but I’m not going to complain that I can bend down without getting poked for my trouble. I’m sure Mom’s going to cluck her tongue, but if I can assure her that this is the latest thing, she’ll eventually go along with it.”

 

Ro nodded, knowing her parents would be the same way. “Are there any special accessories that go with these dresses?” she asked Mrs. Dror.

 

“Oh, plenty,” Mrs. Dror said, smiling the smile of a salesman who knows they’re about to earn their pay, “There are all sorts of ways to make a statement with these gowns. Gloves, jewelry, headwear…it all depends on your personal preference. Would you like me to pick some things that work for these particular dresses?”

 

“Yes, please!” Annabel said eagerly. Ro just nodded. Might as well let someone who knew what she was doing take charge.

 

Mrs. Dror moved to a glass counter full of the items she’d just mentioned, looked over at the two of them thoughtfully, then pulled out some things and made her way back over. “For you,” she said, handing Annabel some silver bracelets, a silver brooch, and a headband with a silver flower, “Relatively simple, so as not to overpower the dress. And as for you…” she presented Ro with a long string of white beads that looked like it would go down to her navel, as well as a headband with both brilliants and a mixture of black and white feathers, “Some contrasts, I think.”

 

Both women busied themselves with putting on the items. But as Ro moved to hang the beads around her neck, the headband slipped a bit in her hand, turning the decorative piece sideways and causing the feathers to brush over and under her nose. A tickle sprang up immediately, and Ro desperately moved the headband away from her face, bringing up her free hand to rub at her nose, since she didn’t have her handkerchief handy. It only delayed the inevitable, however, and she turned her head to the side, hoping she wasn’t about to sneeze on any of Mrs. Dror’s outfits. “Heehhh…HESHIEWW!!

 

She sniffed, straightened up, prepared to apologize…and then blinked in surprise. The sneeze had been louder than her usual sneezes, but it had also been the only sneeze. She’d been able to take in enough air to get rid of the irritant in one go, instead of having to work it out bit by bit with what scraps of air she could manage. Most of all, there was no accompanying pain in her side from the corset. She still felt lightheaded, but it was more of a pleasant tingle in her nose and chest than the usual feeling of faintness. Ro put a hand to her head and another to her chest, more dazed by the realization of her new position than by the sneeze.

 

“Ro?” Annabel said hesitantly, “Are you all right? That sounded like it hurt.”

 

Ro shook her head slowly, her daze gradually being replaced by a feeling of elation. “It didn’t hurt. Not in the slightest.”

 

She turned to Mrs. Dror, who was also looking at her in concern, but with a hint of a knowing smile on her lips. “I’ll take the dress, the brassiere, the accessories, and anything else you think will go with this dress. And do you think your store will be busy later this week? I think I need to bring some of my other friends round here…”

***

 

“These are wonderful!” Mabel said, looking through the rack of dresses, “Such lovely patterns!”

 

“I do what I can to seek out the more interesting fabrics and designs,” Mrs. Dror said, inclining her head modestly, “As long as fashions are changing so dramatically, I might as well follow the trend and make my clothes as visually bold as I can. I do keep plenty of more plain, simple dresses so as not to scare people off, but I prefer to make a statement.”

 

Linda, meanwhile, was still frowning at the brassiere she’d been given. “Are you sure these work, Ro? I mean, I’m a little…” she gestured at her front, which was plenty prominent even without the aid of a corset. In fact, her corset required much less lacing than Ro’s, which Ro had always envied.

 

“You’ll be fine,” Ro promised, “If Mrs. Dror says it’ll cover you, then it’ll cover you. I trust her judgement.”

 

Linda raised her eyebrows skeptically, but took the brassiere and the sun yellow dress into the changing stall, Dror’s assistant following behind to help with the corset. Ro, having changed into a dark green dress with gold stripes as soon as she’d arrived at the store, sat back and waited. Five minutes later, she was rewarded with an “Oh my God!”, and Linda burst out of the stall, grinning from ear to ear. “I can breathe!” she cried, running her hands down her sides, “And my chest still feels contained! Why did it take so long for this to exist?!”

 

“It gets even better,” Ro said, “Remember how you told me you have to stifle your sneezes to avoid popping out of your corset?”

 

Linda grimaced and nodded. Ro smiled and passed over one of the accessories she’d found while waiting, a large feather fan. “See what happens now.”

 

Linda took it from her, frowning at it the same way she’d frowned at the brassiere. But after she gave Ro a look and Ro responded with an encouraging smile, she lifted the fan to her face and waved it under her nose. Her face contorted almost immediately, and she dropped the fan, starting to lift her hand to her face before remembering the point and turning her head to the side instead. “Ah-GESHHH!

 

Ro saw Linda’s chest quiver with the force of the sneeze, but based on the stunned expression on Linda’s face, the brassiere had indeed held position. Linda turned back to Ro, grinning even more excitedly. “It’s a miracle.”

 

“Isn’t it?” Ro said, grinning back, “I was coaxing out sneezes every five minutes while I was waiting for you, just to revel in the fact that I don’t have to prolong the discomfort anymore.”

 

“Do you think it’ll work for me?” Mabel asked, walking towards them with at least five dresses draped over her arm, “It takes me forever to sneeze when I’m all cinched up; it just keeps getting stuck until I finally get someone to come with me to a washroom or something and undo a few of the strings.”

 

“Only one way to find out.” Ro answered, pointing to the changing room.

 

As Mabel approached the small cubicle, Mrs. Dror came up with a brassiere and a black feather boa. “I’ll help you change, dear.” She said, sporting the same knowing smile she’d had when Ro had come in the first time. This time, though, Ro was smiling in the exact same way.

 

She and Linda watched the stall, almost holding their breath in anticipation. There was some murmuring as Mrs. Dror showed Mabel how to put on the brassiere, and some appreciative sounds from Mabel. Then silence fell for a bit, and then finally…

 

Eh…ehh…Ek-shh!

 

Mabel immediately threw back the curtain, the boa draped around her shoulders (it went perfectly with the dark red dress she was wearing) and a triumphant look on her face. “Sold!” she declared, causing everybody to laugh. Ro got to her feet and moved over to the cabinet of accessories. “Maybe we should see what other items Mrs. Dror has that could…emphasize our new looks.”

 

The others were more than happy to do so. As they were in the middle of looking through the feathered headbands, Annabel finally arrived, having been held up by something going on at home. While she was a little confused at the enthusiasm of the other three and their newfound ability (“I can’t say I’ve ever noticed the corset causing any issues in that department,” she said, “though it’s certainly a relief not to wear them for plenty of other reasons.”), she decided to get into the spirit of things. And so for the next hour, the store rang out with giggles, gasps of joy, and above all, sneezing.

 

Hihhh…HIPSHHH!!

 

Eh-KIRSHHHH!!!

 

Ah…ahh…At-chish!

 

Ipshh! Tshh!

 

When all was said and done, they’d purchased a dozen dresses and at least three times as many accessories to go with them. Mrs. Dror happily took their money in whatever form they had, and seemed just as pleased at their enjoyment as she was about her payment. “Feel free to come back any time,” she said as the group left, “And make sure to recommend me to your other friends. Perhaps they’ll find my dresses just as rewarding as you have.”

***

 

One month later, Mabel threw a birthday party for her friend Helen, and invited Linda, Annabel, and Ro, even though Linda and Ro were acquaintances with Helen at best. “One of the dresses I got was for her,” Mabel explained, “The more people she sees wearing them, the more likely it is she’ll go for the idea. Besides, we have to debut these things publicly sooner or later.” Ro couldn’t really argue with that logic.

 

The evening of the party, Ro looked over her new clothes carefully, trying to figure out what the best combination would be. After a lot of deliberation, she decided to go with the first dress she’d ever tried on. She paired it with the white beads and a silver bracelet, and then carefully considered her options for headwear. After a minute, she picked a band with white, black, and one dark blue feather, which all curved dramatically to help frame the wearer’s hair and jawline. With a sly smile, Ro positioned the feathers so that they were relatively close to her nose; not enough to be constantly tickling her, but would easily brush against it if a breeze blew through or she turned her head quickly enough. She didn’t want to be constantly sneezing throughout the party, but if it happened every so often…well, that counted as a form of advertising too, didn’t it?

 

When she arrived, both Mabel and Helen greeted her at the door. Helen was still dressed in the old fashion, but Mabel was wearing the dark red dress, complete with feather boa, which had been wound very high up on her neck. Ro’s eyes flicked to it, eyebrows arched knowingly. Mabel just looked at Ro’s headband and arched hers right back. Then they smiled at each other, and Ro went inside to mingle with the other guests. People immediately hurried up to her when they saw she was in the new fashion too, wanting to know more about it or just giving her compliments, which Ro was more than happy to accept. Many of the women wanted to know where she’d gotten it, and she named Mrs. Dror’s shop without any hesitation. Tempting as it was to keep the place to herself, Mrs. Dror deserved as much business as she could manage, after what she’d done for Ro and her friends.

 

Heh-GISSHHH!!

 

Speaking of which…Ro turned around and saw Linda in the hall, wearing a flame-orange dress and holding a large fan covered with cream-colored feathers. She caught Ro looking and waved the fan in her direction, her eyes closing again a second later. “Ah-TISHOOO!!” Helen immediately blessed her, while Ro and Mabel both nodded, hiding smirks.

 

Linda’s dress was probably even more of a sensation than Ro’s was, due to its eyecatching color (or possibly because her sneezes caused heads to turn anyway). The men admired her legs, while the women wanted to know how comfortable the dress was. Linda made sure to mention how much easier it was for her to breathe, which made the women even more intrigued. Ro joined in, singing the praises of the brassiere and how it provided protection without hemming you in, and her listeners, male and female alike, got a definite excited gleam in their eyes.

 

Five minutes later, Annabel arrived, wearing a peach dress studded with blue gems. While she hadn’t accessorized with items in quite the same way the other three had, she did have a white fur stole draped across her shoulders, one that looked like it could tickle your nose if it was pulled tightly around you. She met Ro’s eyes, grinned, and shrugged, patting the fur affectionately. Ro grinned back and touched her headband before returning to mingling.

 

Their dresses had the desired impact; not only did at least half the women say they’d be visiting Mrs. Dror’s shop in the next week, Helen disappeared midway through the party and returned wearing Mabel’s gift, a deep blue number with a sprinkling of brilliants to simulate the night sky, which turned heads and returned the attention back to the guest of honor, as it should be. That didn’t stop the four of them from sneezing sporadically throughout the party, though it was done less to get attention and more just to revel in the fact that they could.

 

Later in the evening, when the guests had eaten and had broken off into smaller groups to chat or play games, Ro and her friends all gathered together, smiling in satisfaction at a job well done. “I believe the old style will be completely passé around here by the end of the month,” Mabel said, pouring out glasses of champagne, “And by the time we hit the halfway point of the decade, corsets as we know them will have mostly vanished.”

 

“I’ll drink to that!” Ro laughed, accepting a glass.

 

“Here here!” Linda said. Annabel didn’t offer her own opinion, but smiled a little wider and smoothed her dress with her free hand. Once they all had a drink, they lifted them high, and Mabel declared;

 

“To the end of an era, and the beginning of a much more exciting one.”

 

“Cheers!” the others replied, clinking glasses before taking a long sip. Almost as soon as Ro swallowed, she felt an urge to sneeze spring up as the bubbles tickled her nose. More concerned about spilling her glass than sneezing, she quickly set it down and pulled out a handkerchief. “Hahhh…HATKSHHEEW!!!

 

Even in the middle of her own sneeze, she could hear Linda sneeze as well (“Ep-TESHHHH!!!”), since hers were even louder than Ro’s. As Ro opened her eyes and lowered the handkerchief, she realized that the other two also had their handkerchiefs out. Wordlessly, she pointed to the champagne glasses on the sideboard and raised an eyebrow. When all three of them nodded, she grinned. Annabel was the one who first started laughing, and soon, the others joined in. It seemed like there were outside forces that wanted to help them celebrate their newfound freedom. Ro wasn’t about to complain; in fact, she looked forward to seeing what else might be in store in the coming decade. New fashions would surely be just the beginning.

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This was a lot of fun to read! I really liked how you created these characters with their own distinct personalities, and that was a nice way to tie sneezing into the plot without making it explicitly a fetish thing in-universe. Everyone having their noses tickled by the champagne was a really cute ending, I love little fun moments like that.

Thanks for sharing!

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Thanks for reading! I like finding ways to incorporate sneezing into stories in unique ways, so it's always nice to see that people like my attempts!

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Thank you! I figured it was good to have different sneeze issues and sneeze sounds for each character, and I'm glad it made it more interesting to read!

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