A/N: It's about that time again – New Story Day! Here's a few crucial points for you all: First, while this fic is heavily inspired by The Princess Diaries, it does take a few creative liberties. Emma is a senior in college and not high school when all of this is happening. Also her father is not dead, and this is not just a CS story but also a little Snowing reconnection story as well. Each chapter will start with a little snippet from Emma's diary like the original books did and then have both Emma and Killian's POVs. Finally, I did not feel like making up the name of a fake country and I know all the words to that fake national anthem for Genovia and I need to find a way to include it somehow. I have no idea how long this story will go on for, and I am totally open to suggestions and thoughts! I hope you all enjoy and thanks for reading!
Today my entire world got turned upside down, and I'm still a little too in shock to understand it….
The last semester of senior year was upon them, and with it came both a strong sense of relief, and a wave of worry. For Emma Swan, who had spent the past three and a half years learning everything she could about the subjects that intrigued her, the end of her schooling proved a bit frightening. But at least she had this class – European Relations 101 – to remind her that not all courses were created equal, and that it would be nice not to have some mandated requirements like this in the real world.
"I swear Professor Jennings is the most boring man alive. I mean look at him right now, he's half asleep himself." Emma heeded the whisper of her roommate and best friend Ruby, finding it hard to disagree with her assessment.
Professor Jennings was a nice man from all Emma could tell, and over the past few weeks she'd often remarked on his sweet temperament, but Ruby was right, he struggled to keep anything engaging. His voice droned on about the lingering tensions between different members of the European community, and after weeks of lectures, Emma felt no real connection to anything he'd said. Maybe it was her preference for literature over history, or simply her lack of association to the countries they described, but Emma felt fatigued at the end of each class time, for fending of sleep was harder than it should be here.
After a few more minutes of mind-numbing boredom, something caught Emma's eye that didn't make much sense. One of the smaller countries in the region was labeled 'Genovia' and she'd never even heard of the place before. She was half embarrassed at her ignorance, and half curious as to why no one ever spoke of the place.
"Excuse me, Professor?" Emma said, certain that Professor Jennings wouldn't even know what to do in the presence of a raised hand after weeks of limited student participation. The man's eyes grew wider behind his glasses, which he subsequently pushed up his nose.
"Yes Miss Swan?"
"We haven't talked about Genovia in class, and to be honest, I've never even heard of it. Does it not play a roll in the relations in the area?" Professor Jennings smiled, joyous that this was a real question and he finally had some engagement.
"Well I typically wait until later in the semester to go over Genovia, but I see no harm in talking of it now since it's caught your eye." Professor Jennings pulled up a PowerPoint presentation from his laptop about Genovia and began to talk at length about the country's legacy and independence.
The small parcel of land was home to well under a million people, and resided squarely between France and Spain. Its culture and history was an eclectic one, for people across Europe had moved there at differing times, and it was under the control of a parliament and a reigning monarchy at one time. When Professor Jennings moved to the slide of the monarchs in question, Emma's heart nearly gave out, for there staring back at her, was a man who looked exactly like her father. She'd only ever seen him in one photograph that her mother had hidden away in a memory box, but Emma knew it was the same man.
The man on the screen in front of her looked more reserved than the one in her mother's photograph, dressed in a suit instead of casually, and though he was a bit older now, his light hair and his blue eyes remained the same as did his handsome face. Emma knew in her heart this was the same man, recognizing him from more than sight alone, but a gut feeling she jut couldn't shake. The only information her mother ever gave Emma about her father was that she'd met him while on a European vacation her last semester of art school and that his name was David. So when Professor Jennings referred to him as King David, Emma actually let out a pained squeak.
"Emma?" Ruby's hand came to clutch Emma's arm, her eyes curious and Emma tried to even her breathing, but it felt like a weight clung to her chest.
"Look at the King," Emma said, and Ruby looked away from the dozens of doodles on her notebook to the screen at the front of the room. Her hand then flew up to cover her own gasp.
"He looks just like…" Ruby trailed off before saying the man in the picture she had. Without her mother knowing, Emma had made a copy of the picture, and hung it up in her dorm, just to feel a little more normal. She liked to think that if he knew about her, her father would be proud of her just like her mom was, but those had always just been fantasies. Emma closed her eyes, trying to reason with herself. There was no way that her dad was the King of a European principality. There was just no way.
But what if he is? Emma thought, and she felt so many things at once she could hardly understand it. Part of her had always wondered what her dad was like. She knew it hurt her mother to talk about him, and she'd never wanted to do that as a little girl, so she often avoided the subject at all, but life raised by a single parent was lonely sometimes. Emma often wanted someone to be there for her alongside her mom, a dad to take her to those elementary school dances, and teach her how to ride her bike. Mostly she just wanted to know if she would be enough for her father, wherever he may be.
The only other member of the royal family listed with King David was his mother, the Dowager Queen Ruth of Genovia, and Emma heard Ruby call out without so much as bothering to raise her hand.
"So the King isn't married? No children?" Professor Jennings startled a bit but shook his head.
"No. It's actually long been a subject of intrigue in the region, for the King was a rather social fellow, oh about twenty, twenty-one years ago. But something changed and he pulled himself largely from society. He is still beloved by his people though, but there has been some worry that he will never settle down and make an heir for himself."
"I have to go," Emma whispered to Ruby and her friend nodded, immediately standing up herself.
"Thank you Professor. But Emma's not feeling well at the moment. I'm going to go take her to the health center." Professor Jennings stood there, speechless as Emma and Ruby hustled from the room. Once through the door and down the corridor, Emma reached out to hold the wall. The world still felt like it was spinning, and she couldn't shake the feeling that she'd just figured out the single greatest mystery of her Universe.
"I don't know what to do." The worlds tumbled out before Emma could even think about them and she looked up to see Ruby appearing stricken as well.
"I think you need to talk to your mom, Ems." That sounded like a nightmare if Emma was being honest with herself. On the one hand she would be furious with her mother for keeping something like this from her, but on the other hand Emma didn't even have enough information. A picture wasn't proof. Speculation about King David's love life also wasn't proof. She needed more. Emma started moving through the hallway and outside of the academic building as Ruby followed close behind.
"Emma, where are you going?"
"The library. I want the facts, Ruby, and if this guy is my father…" Emma trailed off, struggling even to hypothesize such a thing out loud. "If he's my father, I need to know what I'm dealing with when I talk to Mom." Ruby nodded.
"Well where you go, I go, chief." Emma barked out a bit of laughter, grateful for the bit of release Ruby's quote brought. It didn't fix anything, but it felt good to know that she had her best friend, and the person she trusted most standing here by her side.
They spent the rest of the afternoon finding out every detail they could about Genovia. That wasn't to say there was a lot of information, because Professor Jennings was right, King David and his mother kept largely to themselves. Sure there were pictures of benefits and balls and royal galas, and ones of the royals doing good works and making proclamations to the people, but none of it felt particularly personal, at least not until they stumbled upon an interview he'd done for a European news outlet some twenty years ago.
Within the article, Emma discovered that King David loved classic rock and classical music equally. She smiled at that, thinking it a strange dichotomy, and knew it was one she had too. Emma loved all kinds of genres, but classical especially was her outlet when things got too heavy or stressful. What she wouldn't give for a little Mozart right now. King David also majored in literature when he studied at Oxford, and had listed three of Emma's favorite authors as his top three – James Joyce, Jane Austen, and Earnest Hemingway.
"You guys have a lot in common," Ruby mused quietly and Emma felt her heart clutch in her chest. That's what she'd been missing all these years – a connection to the parts of her that her mother didn't understand. Emma loved her mother, but the woman was a little peculiar. Call it artistic tendencies, or an abundance of free-spiritedness, but Mary Margaret Swan just looked at the world differently. While Emma often preferred the safety of adventures within the pages of a book, Mary Margaret always tried living life to the fullest. Everything had potential, and every risk was worth taking in her eyes, which was why this was so hard for Emma. Why would her mother keep this a secret? It made no sense at all.
Before Emma could get too hung up on that, though, a ping sounded through the computer speakers, and a new notification came at the top of the screen. Emma scrolled back up to see that a new article had just been posted from the Boston Globe of all palaces. It said that the Dowager Queen was set to visit Boston in the coming days to visit the Genovian consulate and to attend the Boston Symphony Orchestras one-night event alongside the Genovian National Players. The article went on to say that Genovia was one of the few international principalities with a consulate in Boston, for most opted for locations in New York along with the mandated ones in Washington DC, but Emma barely noticed that. Instead she had a moment of clarity and understanding. All this must be happening for a reason.
"I have to get home and talk to Mom." Ruby nodded, shutting down the computer before crossing her arms and looking back to Emma.
"Will you be back tonight?" Emma gave a shaky nod. With the way things were beginning to look, she couldn't imagine staying home with her mother tonight. Too much was about to happen for that to be a possibility.
With a quick goodbye, and a bravery Emma could not pinpoint the source of, she made her way to the T and hopped the green line back to her mother's Cambridge town house. The ride did nothing to subdue Emma's rapidly firing thoughts, and the twenty minutes felt like twenty days, but finally she arrived, standing at her front door frozen for a moment. Everything was about to change right now, and this was her final chance. She could pretend that none of this had happened, protecting the bubble her mother and her had lived in for twenty-one years, or she could be brave and seek the truth. One path guaranteed a life of what-ifs, the other frightened her because of its threat to the bit of happiness she already had.
Trust your instincts, Emma. Your heart knows what to do, her mother's voice rang out in Emma's head with the advice she always gave her, and Emma knew what she had to do. Unlocking the door and heading inside, she steadied herself for everything about to happen and only hoped that her relationship with her mom could survive the fall out.
The first thing Emma noticed walking into the house was the incredibly loud reggae music playing. Emma sighed a little in relief, knowing that Bob Marley on her mother's playlist meant she was in a good mood. That mood was about to shift, but it would be easier to approach this if her mom was coming in from a good place.
She didn't bother to yell that she was home, or announce her presence, knowing full well that her mother couldn't hear her from her studio upstairs, but someone did notice her entrance, her dog of ten years, Louie. Since getting him as a raggedy little pup when she was still in elementary school, Emma and her mom had fattened Louie up some, and healed him back from the stray he'd been to the healthy and handsome golden mix he was now. Emma immediately crouched down, loving the furious wag of Louie's tale and the kisses he gave her at her return.
"I missed you buddy," Emma said, pulling him close to hug him. Like magic, Louie's presence seemed to calm her down, and give her that extra bit of strength to go confront her mom. She quickly changed Louie's water and gave him his dinner before doing so, marking him as fed on the 'Pup Patrol Chart' her Mom made years ago, and then heading up the stairs.
She quietly opened the door to her mother's studio with shaky hands. When she walked inside Emma noticed the last bit of daylight kept the space beautifully lit, and that her mother, though now in her early forties, looked far younger. Maybe it was the excitement on her features, or the splotches of paint all over her clothes and skin, but Mary Margaret Swan had a glow about her that could not be denied. The piece she was working on was gorgeous, with layers of yellows and greens creating a breathtaking forest landscape. Emma could tell it would be a huge hit at her Mom's next show, but saying that would have to wait.
"Mom?" Instantly her mother turned around, a huge smile crossing her face.
"Emma! I wasn't expecting you, honey. Come in, come in! Look at these new pieces. I swear it's like they came to me in a dream and I've been painting like crazy all week." Emma didn't move from her spot.
"Actually, I need to talk to you, and I think we should do this downstairs." Her mother's face fell, and now anxiety spiked in her eyes.
"Okay, I'll be right there." Emma nodded, feeling the emotion already obstructing her windpipe, but as she moved into the kitchen, she pulled out the information she'd printed on King David. Her mother was back downstairs just a minute after Emma, looking harried and in a bit of disarray. "What's going on, Emma?"
"We need to talk about my father." Emma watched her mother blanch at the statement and now the anxiety in her expression morphed to full blown fear. Still her mother tried to cover it up.
"Emma, honey, what's brought this on?" Emma shoved the papers forward as her mother moved to pick them up.
"I was in class today and I saw him. I saw the man in your picture." Mary Margaret let out a squeak of her own, eerily similar to the one Emma had let out in the face of King David's picture, and that was all the confirmation she needed. "You knew, didn't you? You knew who he was all this time." Her mother nodded, tears pooling in her eyes.
"I knew." Holy shit, Emma thought to herself, her mind frantically trying to make heads or tails of this.
"Why didn't you tell me?!" Her mother's eyes returned to Emma's face once more as she shook her head.
"I didn't know how." Emma's whole body shook with raw emotion. She felt like she was going to be sick, and cry, and scream all at once.
"I need to know, Mom. I want the whole truth. I deserve that at least that." Her mother hiccupped on a sob, but clamped back on her emotions to give Emma what she wanted.
"I want you to know I never lied to you, Emma. No matter what I've done, I never did that. Tell me you understand that." Emma gave a curt nod.
"You still kept things from me. Things I had a right to know."
"I know you did, sweetheart." Her mother took a steadying breath and looked down to the recent picture of Emma's father in her hand. "I met David when I was abroad in France, and we spent a week together. We talked about everything, and also nothing at the same time. I didn't even find out he was a prince until the last night we were together. He hadn't told me, claiming that he wanted to see if someone could love him for just him, instead of his throne." Emma heard the warble in her mother's voice. She was about to break.
"And did you love him?" Mary Margaret nodded.
"It sounds silly, I know. No one can fall in love that fast, but I did. I thought he hung the moon and the stars. Everything about him inspired me, he was good and kind and charming. He even asked me to go back with him, to Genovia." Emma didn't understand.
"So why didn't you stay with him? Why did you walk away?" Her mother's tears finally began to fall.
"Because I was told in no uncertain terms that I was an unfit match for the future King. On the day I was planning to go with David, I received a visit from his Grandmother, who told me that if I followed David she would take everything from him: the crown, the title, his birthright, everything. She told me that it was against the law for a royal to marry a commoner and she wouldn't hesitate to have David thrown in prison if it came to that." Now Emma understood on some level. She also thought this woman – her great grandmother – sounded like a real witch.
"So you left to protect him," her mother hung her head down in defeat. Suddenly Emma understood what it must have been like for her mother. All these years Mary Margaret had never even introduced Emma to a man she considered a significant other. Emma assumed it was to protect Emma, but now she wondered if she hadn't been hung up on her father. "You still love him."
"Some loves never fade Emma. I left a part of my heart with him when I came home, but from my heartbreak came my greatest miracle – you." Emma felt the tears in her own eyes now.
"Does he know about me?" Her mother shook her head.
"No, he doesn't. I thought of telling him a million times, but every time I worried that they'd tried to take you away from me. I've been selfish, Emma, keeping you from him, but I would have rather died than let anyone take you. So I changed my last name and I moved from New York to here." The floodgates opened, as Emma cried, letting it all out right there in the kitchen. In an instant her mother was there, cradling her to her chest and comforting her.
It was all just so much – she had a father, and years they could have known each other were already gone, and yet she had her mother, who was not only strong enough to raise her on her own, but to leave the life she'd had behind and start a life where they could be together. Her mother loved her enough to do all this, and so Emma's anger turned instead to sadness, sadness for her parents that they'd been torn apart, sadness for the memories she'd never got to make, and sadness for the fact that she might never have known if not for this stupid course.
"Mom," Emma croaked when the tears finally began to recede. "I don't want to hurt you, but I feel like have to meet him, like a part of the puzzle of my life has been missing all these years." Her mother nodded.
"I am always on your side, Emma. Whatever you decide I'll support you." Emma knew it would probably pain her mother greatly for Emma to walk down this road, but she never waivered in her support. She wanted the best for Emma, and Emma had to appreciate that.
"I love you, Mom." Her mother gave a soft coo at the words that made Emma feel like a little kid again, bringing Emma back to her chest and holding her close.
"I love you too, Emma, so much. And I'm sorry. I should have given you the chance to face this sooner."
That simple apology, that confession of wrongdoing was somehow enough to melt away the largest part of Emma's resentment, and now, exhausted from facing the truth, and in need of some rest, Emma decided to stay home after all. She texted Ruby, informing her that she'd catch her up on everything tomorrow and headed up to bed. As she drifted to sleep though, Emma thought about what her next step should be, and settled on a need for a plan. Somehow, she'd have to speak with Queen Ruth on her trip to Boston. Now the only question was – how could Emma possibly do that?
"It's good to have you home, little brother." Killian shifted his glance out the window of the royal palace, to his brother Liam who stood in the center of the room beaming at him.
All of two hours had passed since Killian arrived back here after a few years spent mostly abroad, but Liam had now said those same words at least five times. Killian had no idea how much his brother missed him during all that time away, but it was clear as day now. The usually serious man was all smiles and excitement, and though he felt glad to be back, Killian felt a pang of guilt too. He'd only returned because he didn't know what to do next in his life, and maybe if he had, more years would have passed without visiting Liam. He felt badly because for Killian this palace didn't have the same sense of calming that it did for Liam.
"Don't you have any responsibilities to see to today? Or since my leaving has the world declared constant peace, leaving the King without need for your services." Liam let out a slightly disgruntled sound, making Killian grin.
"Your brother is indispensible, Killian. Surely you should know that by now." The King himself appeared, without preamble or formality, dressed as casually as his title allowed, and before Killian could so much as bow, he'd walked across the sitting room to hug Killian.
"It's good to see you, son." The informality might be surprising to some, but not Killian. King David had always been more like an uncle or a father to him than his brother's employer, and between moving to the palace at ten, and leaving for Oxford at eighteen, Killian spent more time than he could quantify with the man.
"It's good to see you too." David moved further into the room, bringing Killian with him to sit down, presumably to catch up.
"So, has Liam tried to convince you to join his team yet?" Killian grimaced but nodded. Pretty much all the time that hadn't been filled with Liam's smiling excitement was spent talking of the royal security force and what a good opportunity it would be for Killian. He had the skill set, trained in everything from weapons to languages, but Killian couldn't imagine a life like that for himself. He wanted to make a difference. The problem was he couldn't seem to put that into words without insulting his brother and his life's work.
"He has Your Majesty." King David gave Killian a look.
"None of that Killian. You are as close to family as I have ever had, and hell, if I can get Liam to call me 'sir' despite his sense of honor and formality, surely you can call me David." Killian grinned, more than ready to grant David's wishes. "I take it you have hesitations about the position. I doubt it's the danger that dissuades you, though."
"Not at all. It's just – being away has made me see the world differently. Oxford was…"
"Consumed by pomp and circumstance if my memory serves. The global elite mingling for four years, knowing that even though most of them are terrible, they have the whole world at their fingertips." Killian nodded, glad he hadn't been the one to say it.
"Exactly. To then travel, and to see life as it truly is for the people not so generously provided for, it made me see how ridiculous it all is." David nodded, patience clear behind his bright blue eyes.
"So why did you return? Last I heard you were building an orphanage in Romania."
"I came back because even that doesn't feel like enough. A hundred people can come together to build a school, or a home, but change still comes too slowly. I couldn't fix the poverty or the corruption. By the end it felt like I couldn't do anything at all."
"What if I told you I could change that?" Killian furrowed his brow.
"How?" David smiled.
"My father had an idea a long ago to use our surplus resources to make this world a better place. He died before he could see that dream in action. I always meant to take it on, but alas, duty calls. I am saddled with national security and speeches and royal banquets, but you, Killian, you are someone I could trust to advise me on what can and should be done." Killian didn't know what to say in response to the compliment.
"I'm hardly qualified to lead any sort of initiative."
"Killian, by governmental standards you might be overqualified. I have a good many buffoons in parliament who couldn't process out two plus two equals four if their lives depended on it." Liam barked out a bit of laughter from his place across the room as Killian grinned. "Besides, for now there is no set council to lead. I simply need someone who I trust to give it to me straight. What can we improve, and what can we no longer afford to ignore? That's what I'm looking for." Killian considered for a moment, unsure how such an opportunity had fallen in his lap.
"You going to pretend to think about it for a while still, or can you just admit you like the man's proposal and agree?" The bluntness from his brother felt more like their norm, calming Killian some, and so he nodded.
"It's a great honor." David slapped his hand on Killian's shoulder happily as a thoughtful look passed his face.
"It's more than that. This is a chance to leave a legacy that matters." Killian nodded, knowing that King David, amiable and content as he appeared to be, regretted one thing in life – his lack of family. For years Killian wondered why the King simply did not marry, until one day Liam told him what he'd heard from the former head of Genovian security.
It seemed that King David once loved a woman once, a foreign born student who stole his heart in the span of a weeklong holiday. She disappeared though, and after years of searching, the King resigned himself to the fact that she did not want to be found. Determined only to marry for love as his parents had, David then remained a bachelor, which was a shame, for Killian knew he would make the best father. All he had to do was see the King's kindness to him and Liam to have the proof.
"Well I accept then. Thank you." David smiled again.
"No need for thanks. If anything it is I who should be thanking you. You'll not only have to put up with me, but with your brother as well." Liam grumbled something about the King not being as charming as people believed, and Killian took it as a chance to return to his rooms once more. He needed the space to process all that stood before him now, and to work out why even in the face of this amazing opportunity, he still felt like something was missing.
"How do you always manage to get so much more out of him than I do?" Killian heard Liam ask as he moved into the hallway.
"Because he reminds me of myself at that age." Killian felt pride at the comparison, but then a niggling thought crept in. He should very much like to be like David in all areas but one. He hated to think that life would be as lonely for him as it had been for the King. And with that thought, a flash of recognition came to Killian - what was missing might not be something, but someone. He could only wish that somehow he'd find her, wherever she may be.
Post-Note: And there we have it – my attempt at a Princess Diaries like AU. I'm curious to think what you guys think, and to see if I should even move forward with developing it. I have a few ideas on what the future of this fic would look like (and this would be the angstiest chapter by far), but would love everyone's input. Thanks again for reading and I hope you have a lovely rest of your day!