I love the pairing of the pale pink roses with black in this Victorian Maiden OP. It's like a classic take on bittersweet. The following is a little story that I came up with when I put this coord together.
The carriage cantered down the circular gravel drive and pulled up at the front of a large country manor. The house was a pale yellow with white trim and many lace-curtained windows. It was a cool spring day and a stray breeze left over from winter played in the horse’s tail and mane. A small woman stepped out with a refined grace. She patted her once black, now dark gray and white, hair in place and pulled her lace shawl tighter around her shoulders. Turning back, she watched her tall granddaughter awkwardly manage the decent down the carriage step and gasped when the girl barely caught herself before taking a less than graceful fall. The old women shook her head and sighed. “What am I to do with you?” she said. The young women simply smiled until her grandmother’s back was turned. Then she let out a small sigh of relief that nothing was further said. Rae wondered how her mother had managed to worm her way out of accompanying them.
She followed her grandmother’s quick pace into the house, always amazed at how quickly the woman walked. They were greeted at the door by a manservant who escorted them through the house to the garden out back. Rae rolled her eyes as they passed the overly ornate décor and furnishings that were, frankly, rather tacky. They came up to the doors leading outside and she could see the large gathering of ladies through the glass panes. A slight feeling of panic settled into her heart when she saw them. As soon as they exited into the cool morning air, her grandmother was met with many warm welcomes. Walking in her shadow, Rae accompanied her grandmother on her rounds to greet the ladies present. They smiled, curtsied, and engaged in the small pleasantries of proper society. The old woman was remarkable in these social settings. She remembered names, distant relatives, and the current doings of every guest. Rae was the opposite. Despite having known many of these women since childhood, she was hard pressed to remember a handful of their names.
After some chitchat with the hostess about her health and Rae’s progress in the local university, Rae left her grandmother to locate a group of girls her own age. She quickly saw them down by the fountain at the entrance to the gardens. The girls Rae called her friends were kind and generally meant well, but Rae felt no deep connection with them. She found conversing with them rather difficult. Even when she did have something to add, she felt her words were generally ignored. Sure enough, they would not disappoint her today. The group was all a flutter with talk of the ending school year and the upcoming Season. A couple of them competed with one another about how many new gowns and shoes their parents would buy them this year.
Rae herself had mixed feelings about the Season. On one hand, she loved the opportunity to don her fanciest frills and to people watch for the latest fashions. On the other, the social aspect scared her to death. She was a girl who was relatively capable of doing many things, sewing, math, and music especially. However, Rae excelled at being invisible, although, generally, it was not on purpose. She had been attending for a few years since she came out at 16 and every year was the same. There was excitement and a dramatic build that promised romantic adventure. At the end, she was always disappointed having held up the wall every event except when the occasional drunk old man would ask her to dance.
Seeing that no one was paying any particular attention to her, she snuck away further into the gardens. Rae strolled slowly through walls of dusty pink roses and beds of pansies and other flora. She came across a small pond and knelt next to its surface. Dragonflies darted to and from the soft purple lilies and her looming shadow scared away a few fish residents. Rae took to daydreaming about mermaids as she stared at the lightly rippled surface. She imagined herself as one, playing amongst colorful coral and crashing waves. A soft playful wind chilled her skin as it passed and tossed her loose dark brown hair. Deciding it was still too cold to swim, faeries playing in a sunbathed meadow occupied her thoughts as she got up to wander some more. Her education plucked at her thoughts with warnings of how illogical or physically impossible fairy tale things were. However, she tossed such feelings aside with a wave of her hand and defiantly dreamed up creatures that were even more fantastic.
The crunch of footsteps on gravel shook her out of her fantasies. She looked up to see a young man walking with a large wood bucket towards the small grove of apple trees. She could not see his face as he walked away from her, but she noticed his shaggy dirty blond hair and his tanned muscular back. A gardener she supposed.
“Wait,” she thought to herself and she pondered what it was she was seeing.
He was shirtless! She gasped aloud and ducked behind a nearby wall of roses.
After a couple of breathless minutes of embarrassment, she chided herself for hiding away. She breathed deeply in and out. Then, gathering her resolve, she peeked around the dusty pink blossoms.
Nothing. He wasn’t there. Her shoulders drooped with disappointment. Once again, she scolded herself for missing such an opportunity.
Rae bolted upright and frantically looked around for the source of the man’s voice, but there was no one to be seen.
She looked up at the sound and there he was, leaning over the top of the rose bush wall in the shade of the overhanging boughs of an apple tree. Her cheeks blushed a scarlet red that reached all the way to her ears. Not knowing what else to do, she hurried off in the direction she came.
“Hey wait!” he called.
The man started to hurry down the ladder he was using and slipped on the last rung. Rae turned when she heard a thump and watched as the ladder crashed through the wall of roses.
She hesitated for a second, not sure of what just happened, and then rushed to the scene. He was propped up on his side, looking quite surprised at the giant hole he had made in the rose wall. At the sound of her approach, he turned to her, and gave her a huge embarrassed smile that transformed his rugged face into the like of a young boy. It was so bright and honest; Rae could not help but smile sheepishly in return.
She looked up at the sound of her name and saw her grandmother hustling down the path towards her. The man hurriedly picked himself up and bowed smartly at the approaching woman.
“Just what in heaven’s name are you doing out here? Tea started a half hour ago.”
Rae’s grandmother grabbed her hand and pulled her back towards the house, not even acknowledging the gardener’s presence.
Just before they were out of sight, Rae turned to see the young man, his head bent, and his hands in his pockets, kick a nearby stone before he trudged off as if defeated.