Disclaimer: Never owning Reign

AN:

"I always enjoy his company - as I know he always greatly enjoyed mine."

"Except for the day when he left you in tears because he decided to marry me. Oh, life is full of surprises, isn't it?"

So. Here's the thing I teased about in my recent video! The above is canon dialogue from Episode 20, Season 1 from Hortensa (Catherine's cousin) and Catherine herself and this story is going to address what all that could have meant/playing out what this Reign canon could have been. Spoiler alert: Henry's gonna end up with Catherine - I just wanna see how we got to that point. For my own comfort as always, they'll be older than fourteen because nope nope nopeity nope. Also: reminder that Henry was the second son until his older brother died. I'm thinking this would be a kind of prequel for For the Love of a Prince? Don't look at that one if you haven't read it already as I'm going to do some heavy revising for it to incorporate things from this story into that. My bio has a link to my YT channel where I talked a bit about this story. So if you wanna go see me talk for a bit, visit my bio after you read! That was a lot of text. ANYWAY. Strap in and enjoy the read.

They'd come in ships. An armada from Florence to France, the timber groaned with the great load that it carried. Servants and staff and ladies and gentlemen bound for a new life, a new world, there were two young women sat aboard its flagship. One with dark hair, the other fair. As free spoken as the brunette was, quiet was the one with golden curls atop her head. The two stood as they docked, swathed in the richest fabrics that their Medici money could buy to better impress who they'd been sent to meet. His Royal Highness, Prince Henry of France. The thought of one of their daughters marrying in to royalty set the family into motion making plans for Hortensa and Caterina to be sent west. They had thought that perhaps Caterina alone should be sent as Il Magnifico's heir, but with Hortensa also eligible - why not both? The more available candidates, the more likely one might be chosen. The other could always find an appropriate husband within the Valois Court should the Prince take no liking to her. Pinching her cheeks and biting her lips, Hortensa radiated a confidence in her beauty that Caterina could not match. Her hair the Medici red, her stature small - she was nothing the French eye would desire, unlike her cousin. They had been in competition ever since they were children and this would be their last. Taking heart that at least her mind and manner were beyond exceptional, the duchessina allowed her hand to be taken and a servant to help her down onto the dock where her cousin stood tall and smiling at those gathered. A princess was meant to be admired from a distance - would she pass the test?

A figure glittering around the edges adorned in thread of gold walked their way and as he passed, the people bowed. So too, did the Florentines as the Prince met them for the first time. He took each of their hands in turn to offer polite kisses upon their knuckles as a charming prince ought, and as the girls rose after being so addressed, they were finally able to better take in the young man that one of them would be marrying. He was tall, a smile of his own in place, and for Caterina she felt as though she could nearly feel a kind of sadness behind his warm brown eyes. Ducking her head as she realized she was staring, she took his right hand that was offered to her as the Prince guided them carefully down the dock to where carriages were awaiting them along with the King himself. Much to Caterina's surprise, His Majesty embraced her as though she were his own child. His palms against her shoulders, Francois leaned in to lay welcoming kisses against her cheeks. A nervous chuckle escaping her, she watched on with a soft hand against her cheek where his fatherly affection had been given as he repeated the same for Hortensa. Only her uncle, Pope Clement, and her Aunt Clarice had treated her so - was this a good sign? Did His Majesty look favorably upon a Medici bride for his son? Yes, the two of them had been sent with the aim to catch the Prince's eye, but if King Francois was against the match in any way, she and Hortensa would both be without the title of princess attached to their name. Hoping to make her family proud - or at least not disgrace them - Caterina walked once more alongside the prince as the company disbanded and began loading what they could from the ships onto the carriages. The French had sorely underestimated in how much the Florentine candidates for the Prince would bring with them and were struggling to get the many trunks onto the carriages with still so many ships left to come in to harbor.

As he helped her into her carriage, Henry whispered to her in a low voice so that only her ear might hear him over the servants and the horses. "Forgive me, but I could not understand the letter well. Which one are you?" His Italian was horrible, his tongue running over the syllables and swallowing the words.

She replied in French for him, slightly better than his Italian although she did forget herself for a moment. "Caterina - that is, Catherine, Your Highness."

AN: So. I like this. Lemme know what you think or if you have any questions on the premise! And yea - this is officially the prequel for FTL. Literally changed the story summary for it in the middle of writing this lmao aka FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW FROM THAT STORY. Thank God it's barely off the ground so I can rewrite those chapters after this one is done. I got re-intimidated by that story CONSIDERING IT'S SPANNING THEIR WHOLE LIFE TOGETHER so please keep the faith! I hope you liked this!