|A Royal Couple
Author: bluegirl-783 PM
The fourth part of Joseph and Clarisse's story, following after 'A Royal Marriage, 'A Royal Family' and 'A Royal Life', involving our favourite couple in an alternate universe as King and Queen, raising a family and enjoying their marriageRated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 25 - Words: 110,194 - Reviews: 112 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 09-06-11 - Published: 04-03-11 - Status: Complete - id: 6874814
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: FINALLY finished! I can't believe it... it's been five months but I've enjoyed every second of it!
I should be back soon with the fifth (and FINAL) part...keep an eye out for it!
Thank you to all my readers and reviewers- you all rock and I hope you keep reading!
The Princess Diaries doesn't belong to me!
"So Joseph," she said softly as she stood in the middle of the room, watching him as he fidgeted in the doorway leading to the bedroom- he hadn't been lying, he WAS keen to get back to the hospital- even if she slept for much of the day, he wanted to be there for her, even though she would be justifiably angry at him for his attitude about the baby.
"So, Mother," he echoed almost impatiently with a touch of insolence. "What's wrong?"
"Youe know perfectly well what's wrong- YOUR wife is in hospital after suffering a miscarriage, she lost YOUR baby," she emphasized the 'your' sharply, just as Clarisse had done the evening before.
"I realize all of that now and I feel dreadful... I was actually coming around to the idea of having another baby before this happened."
"You were 'coming around' to the idea? You had to force yourself to do that?" his mother looked horrified.
"Joseph!" she was stunned at his admission. "I hope you were enough of a gentlemen not to tell Clarisse?" she inquired sharply, but as his silence continued, she realized he had and she stepped over to where he was standing and slapped him, not too hard but hard enough for him to know how irritated she was at him.
Both of them were shocked at the action almost as soon as it happened, before Alexandra stepped away, looking ashamed.
"I've never done that before," she breathed heavily. "There were times when I wanted to do it when you were younger, but today... for you to let her know that you..." she trailed off, the anger rising in her again but also feeling a little sympathy towards him.
"Don't worry, I deserved it," he said simply, rubbing his cheek with the palm of his hand for a moment. "I shouldn't have let her know that...I've been cruel lately, haven't I?" he looked at her expectantly, wanting her to tell him off in the way he knew Clarisse probably wouldn't, no matter how angry she was feeling.
"Yes you were," she said bluntly before softening slightly, seeing Joseph was already feeling bad enough.
"I know you, Joey, you've always been far more tender and soft hearted than your brother or even your father... I could see that even while you behaving like a brat..."" they both smiled at that. "And while I never understood that side of your nature, I did and enjoyed watching it really emerge when Clarisse walked into your life... you really fell in love for the first time then, didn't you?"
"I did, and I still love her as much as I do now."
"Then WHY this sudden abrupt withdrawal from her and the children, the brusqueness in your tone whenever you talk to her?" her voice was sharp again. "I saw more than you thought I did, and I saw how much you hurt her."
"Damn it, I needed her at times, especially after Father passed away, and she wasn't there!"
"She was and she tried to be... you were just so busy pushing her away that you didn't notice... and there's no reason for cursing me, Joseph," she added chidingly.
"Sorry Mama," he hung his head in shame- he had though he'd been doing the right thing, trying to keep on top of everything and doing it by himself, but it was obvious that it hadn't worked out...
He was angry, frustrated and stressed all the time, Clarisse had been doing far too much and the children had been suffering from his indifference.
"So why.. why have you been acting like this?"
"I never asked for any of this Mother... I NEVER wanted to be King, lead a county, put everyone else's needs ahead of my own."
"You would still being doing that as a husband and father."
"After Clarisse and I married, all I wanted was a family with her, the occasional public appearance and a private life... not all of this!" he raged, waving his arms around the room and Alexandra couldn't help but feel sorry for him- he was right, he hadn't asked for any of this- he had been the second son (the spare) and he had deserved the life he had admitted only seconds earlier, but Rupert HAD been killed, his father was gone and he had to now accept that HE was the one they were all relying on...
"I understand your anger, son, but life hasn't turned out the way you wanted it so you have to accept what's happened and move on," she said almost callously but he knew that she was saying it because she cared.
"You know I'm saying this because I care, don't you?" she asked before, as he nodded, she continued:
"You HAVE to get over this fear you're not good enough to be King- you're doing a marvellous job- and STOP pushing Clarisse away-... one of these days, you're going to push her too far- she's your life partner as well as your Queen and I'm sure you know why you named her Queen not Queen Constort...
Clarisse is doing the best she can, and you have no need to be jealous of the children- she loves you and them equally and you are the future of Genovia- you can and you will do it together, and Clarisse will ALWAYS be there for all of you...
However," she frowned, the point of this mini lecture returning to mind.
"I know we instilled duty to your country from when you were little but, at the moment, things need to be parred down so that you can spend as much time with Clarisse and the children as possible while she recovers... Yes, things are probably going to be tough between the two of you for a while, and there will be things you will have to do... but YOU can do it, Joseph Renaldi, I know you can... and I know you WILL do this... You're a good man," she looked at him calmly- she had mellowed greatly in the past nine years.
"I know why Clarisse loves you... you need each other, but you need to find the balance you had before..."
"Thank you," he looked at her almost shyly and she couldn't help but smile- he looked like such a little boy at times, but she was certain that he and Clarisse would make it through.
"By the way... were you planning on going back to the hospital soon?"
"Yes... I know she's probably going to sleep, but I want to be there for her."
"Even if she doesn't want to talk to you?"
"Even then," he looked at her almost defiantly and she smiled- it was wonderful to see how determined he was to save his marriage. "Will you be in to visit her?"
"Not until tomorrow... today was quite a strain..."
She shuddered inwardly- she would never forget that morning when Clarisse collapsed into her lap, curled up in a ball from the pain, moaning Joseph's name as the pool of blood grew around them, before she descended into unconsciousness. She had never witnessed anything like that in her life and she hoped she never would do so again.
"But hopefully she will sleep until tomorrow- even with you there- she has had quite a few difficult days and will need her rest."
"So clearing my schedule was a good thing?" he asked almost timidly- his mother's words (as well as the doctor's stern advice) had all but gotten rid of his anger and hostility, and now he was feeling guilty and anxious, not only for Clarisse herself but for her health... after the strain she had been under (especially from him), this miscarriage could have the potential to send her over the edge, a concern he voiced to his mother only moments later, an idea she considered for a moment before discarding it with a shake of her head.
"No, our Clarisse is much stronger than we both imagine- she'd have to be after the childhood she had- and she'll get over this... with your help, of course. However," she added after a moment.
"I suggest that if your schedules are clear for the next week or so, you spend some time with the children...as you've seen, the boys adore you and the twins, while a little younger, know who you are..."
"The boys were worried about their mother."
"Hence you need to spend the time with them... we'll alternate between the hospital and the children, aside from your other duties..."
"I thought you were meeting Marie Louise in Paris next week..."
"Not while my son and daughter in law need me," and Joseph relaxed- finally, he felt a little better... now he had to make Clarisse feel better...
As expected, Clarisse slept for the rest of the day, waking only for medicine from her nurse, and much of the evening, but Joseph was there the entire time, even sleeping in a cot beside her bed and the following morning, after checking on her like an amateur (her colour seemed better), he snuck out, wanting to be at the palace when the boys woke up.
He did, however, leave a message with Jack (with whom he was barely on civil terms) saying that he would return as soon as possible after checking on the children, and that his mother would be visiting later on that day.
"You can make sure Her Majesty gets that message, can't you?" Joseph asked quietly, still a touch of menace in his voice- he was well aware the bodyguard liked Clarise more than he was supposed to, and if HE was out of the picture, would make a move on her- something he knew Clarisse wouldn't consider, but as a man, he knew...
"Yes sir," Jack said stiffly, meeting the King's eyes for a moment before looking away again- he wouldn't dare looking at Joseph again while they were alone- he suspected something and it wouldn't do for the King to find out his feelings... he could get transferred or fired before Her Majesty knew the truth and realized she had a choice, although Jack was ignoring the fact that she didn't have a choice- as Queen, she was married for life.
Clarisse awoke a little later to discover, with a mixture of disappointment and relief, that she really was alone, although, judging by the cot beside her bed and rumpled sheets, that someone had been there for the night, and she suspected it had been Joseph, the last person she wanted to see yet the first person she wanted to see when she woke up.
At the moment, her feelings for Joseph were decidedly mixed- as her husband and father of their lost child, she wanted (or rather, needed) to mourn with him but, by the same token, she didn't want him anywhere near her at the moment, especially if he was still as angry as he had been days earlier.
"Your Majesty?" she suddenly heard from the door, and she slowly moved her head to see Jack standing there.
"Yes?" she asked, still feeling weak from the blood loss (although much better as compared to yesterday- sleeping all day had really helped) and feeling thoroughly depressed and guilty (she had told herself she wanted the baby, but deep down she knew she had had qualms).
"I thought I would check to see if you were awake...His Majesty wanted to let you know he'll be returning later troday after checking on the children, and that Her Majesty Senior will be visiting later..." he relayed almost automatically before his tone changed. "How are you feeling?"
"Not wonderful... I suppose you know what happened yesterday," she looked resigned.
"Yes ma'am... but believe me, it will go no further than the key members of the security team... even the palace staff will only know that you were ill, nothing more..."
"Good," Clarisse looked relieved- the palace was a grapevine for gossip, and she didn't want this gossiped about, even in sympathy.
"Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Nothing at the moment," she smiled wanly at him. "How long have you been here?"
"I only arrived about an hour ago, ma'am..
"Please don't call me that at the moment," she looked pained. "It makes me sound older and isolated than I already am... please, call me Clarisse when we're alone..." She knew she was blurring the borders of protocol a little, but she felt lonely and needed a friend at the moment.
"Of course... Clarisse," he said almost reverentially- finally, he could use her name. "Only when we're alone... and you are definitely not old when people call you ma'am... it's a sign of a respect."
"Mmm..." Clarisse looked away for a moment before returning her look towards him. "Are you married?" She still felt strange from the sedatives, but she had always been curious about that.
"No," he smiled ruefully. "I'm much too busy guarding the royal family to have a private life..."
"Maybe you should try and have one... I loved having a private life, just Joseph, the boys and I...it was wonderful, even though we were Prince and Princess... it seems so long ago..." she trailed off and, after a few seconds, he stepped forward to see that her eyes were closed... she was drifting off to sleep again, which was probably a blessing for her...
It was mid morning when Alexandra stepped into the private room and, this time, Clarisse was wider awake and sitting up in bed, looking slightly brighter.
"You look better," Alexandra said positively as she pulled the chair up to the edge of the bed and sat down.
"How are you feeling?"
"Not as bad as I did yesterday, but..." she sighed, not wanting to relive the experience...
She couldn't remember much of yesterday- not that she wanted to- but she vaguely recalled Alexandra never leaving her side, cradling her head, smoothing her hair back and uttering soothing words while they waited for the ambulance, and she knew that she would never forget what her mother in law had done.
"Thank you for yesterday," she said softly, her cheeks pinkening slightly at the memory and Alexandra took her hand in her own and squeezed tightly.
"I'm just so glad you're alirght..." she paused for a moment, inwardly debating with herself about something before she looked directly at Clarisse.
"Actually, there's something I want to tell you, woman to woman, and hopefully it will help you to know that there's someone else who understands how you're feeling... I lost a baby, two years after Joseph was born... a little girl, I always felt it was, but who knows... but I feel that loss every day... I suppose that's why I was so hard on Joseph- I didn't want to suffer another loss, another disappointment, care too much..." she looked at Clarisse with tears in her eyes.
"The pain will get easier with time, dear- you'll never forget it, but time will heal in some ways... I know you're angry at Joseph- I'M angry at him- but you're going to need each other, so... you shouldn't push each other away..."
"Joseph did it to me, so why shouldn't I return the favour?" Clarisse asked bitterly.
"It's natural to feel like that, darling, and I don't blame you in the slightest... but the two of us had a talk last night, or rather I told him off and he agreed with me thoroughly- that he had been unnecessarily cruel but... he is also the father of the baby he professed he didn't want but had changed his mind..."
"Yes... he just needed to get his head around it... you two need to recover from this together."
"We'll see," Clarisse said non committally before reaching out and pulling the older woman towards her- she would never forget the confidence she had told her, and she felt slightly better knowing that there was someone else who understood how she was feeling...
Because of Clarisse's fears tht someone would 'let slip' that she was in hospital (and the reason for it), as well as the fact she was missing the children terribly, Dr Bangs agreed to release her later that afternoon- on the proviso that she spent a week in bed resting and that HE would call in every day to check on her.
"You were very lucky Alexandra was there and you got to the hospital in time... but you're a healthy young woman and should bounce back from this quite quickly," He said jovially, wanting to encourage Clarisse, but she didn't feel either encouraged or lucky- although the thought of seeing the children again cheered her a little.
She already knew her schedule had been cleared for a week or until she recovered (she could only imagine what Mabrey would say to that) from her 'illness' (the official story that was being released to everyone including the palace staff) but she didn't care either way.
Essentially, her baby was gone (which was her fault, despite her mother in law and doctor's words) and her relationship with Joseph was worse than ever... they were basically on opposite sides of the abyss and she wasn't entirely sure that she wanted to find each other again- divorce wasn't an option for them,but there was a possibility their marriage would never be the same again, that they would only be together for the sake of the country and the children.
She didn't want that- her parents marriage had been a nightmare, and she had known true happiness and love with Joseph (in the past few months, she had been revisiting memories of their early days together, their whirlwind courtship and blissful days or marriage)- but until she had worked through her own feelings (and knew what Joseph was feeling), she was afraid that this was was what was going to happen.
Joseph had kept his distance, not wanting to push, but he was visibly startled when he returned to the hospital later that day to discover that Clarisse was being discharged.
"Are you sure you'll be alright at home?" he asked nervously in an undertone as the two of them (along with a team of black suited men) waited in the waiting room while the nurses helped Clarisse get dressed and transfer her into her wheeled escort out of hospital- for once, she didn't argue at the thought of a wheelchair.
"She'll be in bed for a week to rest up- and yes, she'll be very sore and emotional for a while- and I'll be checking in every day, but I think it might be more beneficial for her to be at home surrounded by her family... You'll be fine."
The doctor's eyes regarded Joseph calmly for a moment- the younger man seemed nervous about his wife coming home, but the despite the words of advice he had given them, he knew they had to sort it out by themselves and it wouldn't occur in a hospital room, before his thoughts were interrupted by a door opening and a nurse quickly wheeled out Clarisse, who was looking pale, listless and unhappy.
She barely spoke in the limousine on the way back to the palace, but she squeezed his hand tightly as he and one of his bodyguards helped her out of the car, and it remained firmly in her grip as they slowly and carefully transferred her upstairs to the suite, Clarisse's stomach still incredibly sore and painful despite the painkillers she had taken before leaving hospital.
It was a relief to finally stretch out on the king sized bed, five pillows propping her up, and it was then that she let go of Joseph's hand and looked away, not wanting to look at him.
"Where are the children?"
"In their nursery- but I don't think it's a good idea to see them just yet... not until you're settled."
"I'll settle better once I see them," she looked at him angrily and he sighed inaudibly before disappearing outside, the children racing in a few minutes later, clutching drawings, crayons, trucks and doll, stopping in the doorway as their father stepped behind them.
"Alright you lot, you can say hello to your mother but try not to bounce the bed too much, you could hurt her..."
"Hello everyone," she smiled warmly at them, happy to see them but they still seemed a little worrked- their father's instructions had sounded so serious... it might be easier if they didn't touch her at all... before Phillipe crept forward to stand beside the side of her bed.
"Are you alright, Mama?" he asked timidly and she smiled warmly at him.
"I was sick, Phillipe, and I'm still not feeling the best... but I'm happy to see you...can I have a hug?" she asked softly and Phillipe beamed as he dropped his toys on the floor and leapt onto the bed.
Joseph noticed his wife wince as their younger son threw his arms around her, his body heavily resting on hers, before she swallowed it down and hugged him back as the others, now feeling less shy and worried, bounded forward and leapt on the bed almost in unision.
"You guys... settle down!" Joe stepped forward hurriedly, not wanting Clarisse jostled but was instantly silenced by a look from her- she was more than happy to endure more pain just to have her two sons and two daughters around her... at least they had been born safe and healthy...
Clarisse obeyed doctors orders and remained in bed for the entire week after the miscarriage- truth be told, she was pleased for the rest (as she had been when she had had the accident), and she was also pleased not to being seeing few of the palace staff aside from her ladies maids (although the staff had contributed to buy her an enormous bouquet of flowers) and the occasional bodyguard.
The children were always there (or mainly Phillipe and the twins were, as Pierre was at school all day) either colouring or playing quietly with their toys (ever mindful of their father's edict) and Clarisse found their company calming and somewhat healing.
Yes, she had lost a baby, purely an accident of nature although she still suffered guilt and depression over it despite Alexandra and Dr Bangs, but she was also beginning to realize she was still a very healthy thirty year old woman who had successfully given birth to four children (the last time had been twins) and she could, if she wanted, have another baby in the future, an idea that gave her hope but it would have to wait until her marriage had improved.
She and Joseph had barely seen or spoken each other since she had come home, although he usually came in once or twice during the day to check on her (although once she saw her surrounded by children, he was usually satisfied) and, not wanting to hinder her recovery, he slept on the sofa in the living room and, not that he was to know, upset her even further.
If that was the way he felt, she thought to herself angrily, not realizing he was trying to recover, then SHE wasn't going to encourage any reconcilation.
One time during that week, however, a heated argument almost sparked between them when, on one of his daily checkups, Joseph discovered Clarisse doing paperwork, despite the fact her schedule was cleared for a week to ten days.
"Are you KIDDING me?" he exclaimed as he stepped into the room, careful to avoid Phillipe colouring in on the floor (the twins were napping on the bed beside her). "This is precisely what Dr Bangs doesn't want you to do... you're suppose to be resting!"
"I am," Clarisse looked at him innocently. "I haven't left here since I returned from the hospital... it doesn't mean that I can't do some paperwork that cannot be avoided."
"It can until next week," he said sternly as he closed the file on her lap and began gathering her papers, notebook, and folder together. "You have had..."
"DON'T tell me what I've had!" Clarisse snapped, freezing Joseph in his tracks and attracting Phillipe's attention from the floor. "Don't you dare... you have no idea..." before she snatched her pile of papers back, opened the folder and began spreading the papers across her lap again as Phillipe settled back into his drawing.
"They why don't you tell me?" Joseph suddenly challenged, surprising both of them. "Why don't YOU tell me what you're feeling... I know I'm miserable..."
"Even though you don't want to go through with it at the beginning?"
"Even when I initially felt like that... but, as I'm sure my mother told you, I changed my mind and how I'm just as crushed as you... but I have no idea what's in your heart, what you're feeling... so I've told you what I feel (or partly)... it's up to you what comes next," he said simply before he turned and left the room, leaving Clarisse stunned... and feeling even worse than before...
It was much, much later- the children were back in their nursery, she had had her dinner in bed (thankfully, no one still suspected what had happened)- when Clarisse fumbled in her bedside cabinet and fouund her diary, the one she had written in during her romance and early days of her marriage with Joseph- at times, she still wrote like a little girl- and flipped to where she had been up to... as it turned out, the next entry was on her twenty third birthday...
"Again I have been negligent in writing in this diary- it's supposed to be a record of my life as Princess of Genovia and Joseph's wife, but both roles have kept me so busy that I've barely had a chance to do anything else!
I am releieved that I'm not Rupert's wife (although I'm very fond of him)- if I think the role and publicity associated with being the wife of the second son is bad (and it is incredibly intense), the mind boggles at what I would have had to undego as Rupert's bride... and future Queen...
Anyway, I seem to be settling in well... I can't believe that I'm 23 years old today, happily married to Joseph for eight months (and I am truly happy with him- he's a wonderful man and I know I can always turn to him with any problem I haave- he's so wise and so caring, quite unlike what other people still think of him) and... I think I'm pregnant.
I'm a little nervous about a) confirming the news and b) letting Joseph know... we're so young, our marriage is so new and our lives are barely settled... but I want this baby- our first child together- it's a miracle and I can't wait to see Joseph as a father...I know he would be a wonderful father... boy or girl, he'd adore either... I only need confirmation but...unofficially, I'm having a baby!"
She didn't realize she was crying until she felt the diary being taken off her and realized that Joseph was sitting beside her, his arm tightly wrapped around her shoulders.
"Oh Joseph, I'm so sorry... " she burst out before collapsing fully into his arms and burying her fact into his shirt. "I didn't mean to be such a pain..."
"I deserved every bit of your anger... I was a jerk, I know it... but the day you lost the baby, I did WANT it..."
"I know... but I don't know whether I did..." she sobbed harder, his hand never faltering in stroking her hair. "I don't know... you were so distant and cold... I fought with you, letting you know I wanted the baby because YOU didn't, but once... it happened...I wasn't sure whether I was being truthful to myself."
"It was lousy timing, butwe would have handled another child in our lives... I know that," he said confidently and she looked at him, stunned- they were on the same page, if only too late...
"I'm sorry for being such a jerk- you didn't deserve the rough end of my tongue for the past few months... I was just unsure of myself, I wanted to do everything myself, prove something and prove everyone wrong... unfortunately, I failed."
"And so did I... I lost our baby," she burst into tears again and he lay back against the pillows with her in his arms- finally, they were mourning together, finally they were reconnecting...
"There was nothing you could have done... besides, I feel the same as you..." before he proceeded to pour out his own feelings about the miscarriage to her, pulling her closer to him with almost every sentence.
"I suppose everything happens for a reason," she said philosophically. "Although it doesn't seem to help at the moment."
"I'm sure it doesn't... it doesn't help me and I was only a bystander."
"The morning after..." Clarisse began hesitatingly- he had opened up to her, so she could too... "My feelings towards you were mixed- I loved you and I hated you at the same time- I'm not even sure we're on the same side of the abyss at the moment."
"Maybe not... but we will be," Joseph squeezed her tightly, although careful not to hurt her. "We've had a few curve balls thrown our way, Clarisse, but we've always managed to survive and we will this time... Maybe we could focus on our relationship for a little while before we consider having another child..."
There was a silence before Clarisse, the soreness having dissipated somewhat, rolled onto her side and looked at him in stupefication.
"What are you saying... you want another baby?"
"Yes," he said confidently, and he meant it- even before his breakthrough before Clarisse's announcement and then miscarriage, he had been mulling over the thought of another child... four seemed perfect to other people, but a fifth... while afraid the baby mightn't fit in, he also knew that it could work.
"But only AFTER we work on our relationship... AGAIN!" he added, knowing she was going to say it. "But as soon as things are sorted out in every aspect of our lives... another baby would be fantastic."
"Boy or girl?" she teased.
"I don't care... as long as it's healthy and happy... but as soon as our relationship..."
"Is better... I do love you..."
"I love you too..."
"Yes, our relationship has to be better before we consider having another baby," she approved, finally feeling better about everything- finally, she felt hope for the future- hopefully, a stronger relationship and a baby would be in it...