Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters since Princess Diaries 1 & 2, and its characters are the property of Disney, Buena Vista, and Meg Cabot. I make no money from this work of fiction.

AU: What if Viscount Mabrey had brought up the old law "A woman cannot be queen lest she be bound in matrimony" one year after Rupert's death, just when Clarisse had left Joseph and Mia in San Francisco and returned to Genovia to await their arrival in a few weeks? Set immediately following the first movie ...

CLARISSE MUST MARRY!

Part One:

"The Parliament is now in session, Prime Minister Motaz presiding."

"Viscount Mabrey, you have the floor," Genovian's Prime Minister Motaz nodded gravely at the man in question who stood up.

"Thank you, Prime Minister, your Majesty. Before I begin, may I say welcome back to Genovia? Those of us unable to attend the Independence Day Ball in America will just have to make do with the parade planned here on the REAL Independence Day, when Princess Amelia will visit the country of her father's birth for the first time."

"Get to it, Viscount," Lord Crawley growled, doodling on the paper in front of him. "Say what you want to say, or sit down."

The Viscount shot him an angry glance, then cleared his throat. "It has now been a full year since the death of King Rupert."

"King Rupert, may he rest in peace," everyone murmured.

"Quite," the Viscount said. "As you are all aware, Queen Clarisse has assumed the duties of the crown."

Lord Crawley rolled his eyes. "Indeed, we all know that, Viscount! And we ALSO know that the heir to the throne, Princess Amelia, has been found in America and has agreed to be our queen upon reaching her majority at the age of twenty-one. We know, too, that that will be in five years."

"And in the meantime ..." the Viscount purred.

"In the meantime," Lord Crawley sighed as if the Viscount was completely hopeless. "In the meantime, Queen Clarisse is doing an admirable job as the reigning monarch."

There was a general murmur of agreement from the benches as the members of Parliament nodded and whispered.

"Yes, she is, isn't she?" the Viscount turned his eyes to Clarisse, sitting beside the Prime Minister, as did the other members of Parliament.

The Prime Minister murmured, in a low voice that only Clarisse could hear, "Your Majesty, I fear the Viscount is up to no good."

Clarisse felt herself tense, but she returned the Viscount's gaze impassively as he came up and put his hand on the desk by her before looking around the room, and saying, rather triumphantly, "In spite of not being born into the royalty but merely marrying into it, Queen Clarisse is ruling our land."

"Your point, Viscount Mabrey?" the Prime Minister spoke up.

"There is a law in our Constitution, a law which has been there for three hundred years, and that law CLEARLY states, and I quote, 'Genovia shall have no queen lest she be bound in matrimony'."

"Oooh," came the murmurs of the Parliamentarians.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, please!" the Prime Minister shushed them.

Clarisse stood up, her eyes flashing. "Princess Mia is only fifteen years old!" she protested. "That is far too young to marry!"

"Princess Mia is not the queen yet," Lord Palimore rose to his feet and thumped his cane.

"This is almost the twenty-first century!" Clarisse protested. "That law is archaic! You cannot possibly expect my grand-daughter to be married by the time she is twenty-one and ready to assume the throne!"

"Well, your Majesty, it IS giving her five years to prepare," Lord Harmony spoke up. "I'm sure with your help and our approval, she WILL be married by that time."

"Your approval?" Clarisse echoed.

"But, of course," Lord Palimore nodded sagely. "That is a requirement, naturally."

"I believe I still have the floor ...?" Viscount Mabrey spoke loudly over the noise as the members of Parliament again commenced talking among themselves.

"Proceed!" Lord Palimore thumped his cane again, and sat down.

"As I said, Genovia has a law on its books at the present time. I respectfully submit that, since the Princess still has five years before reaching her majority, and Queen Clarisse will be acting as the reigning monarch for that same five years ..." the Viscount hesitated, and Clarisse tensed again. "that is too long a period for Genovia to have a queen ruling without a man at her side."

Clarisse sat down, her legs suddenly unable to support her. She stared almost blankly at the Viscount. What EXACTLY was he saying?

"A woman cannot be queen lest she be bound in matrimony," Viscount Mabrey reiterated.

Clarisse was stunned and speechless. She hardly felt Prime Minister Motaz' hand cover hers and give it a squeeze in silent support.

"Therefore, Queen Clarisse MUST marry in order to continue ruling Genovia." Viscount Mabrey spoke loudly over the ever-increasing murmurings.

"Doesn't the fact that Queen Clarisse has already been married mean that she is exempt from that law?" Lord Skylar spoke up hesitantly.

"The law doesn't expressly say the husband has to be alive, does it?" inquired Lord Peroit.

"The law states ..." the Viscount began.

"I really don't think we can expect Queen Clarisse to continue ruling on her own, can we?" Count Vitello added his own comments.

Lord Jerome nodded his head. "I know my lady wife would be lost without me to make her decisions for her. Thinking is hard on a woman, you know."

"Especially a woman who would marry YOU," Lord Crawley muttered. "She's obviously not done it much."

Again over-riding the other comments, Viscount Mabrey raised his voice and said, "The Prince Consort needs to be someone well-versed in the politics of our great country, would you not agree? Someone used to dealing with people from all walks of life."

Again there was a low murmur of agreement and the members of parliament nodded their heads.

The Viscount smiled in satisfaction, then turned and looked directly at Clarisse. She returned his look with an icy glare. Shaking his head indulgently, the Viscount looked back at the men on the benches and continued, "Therefore, although admittedly Queen Clarisse is fully nine years older than I am, I would be willing to make the sacrifice and undertake the task of being the man she needs by her side. In short, I am presenting myself as a suitor for her hand, and I seek Parliament's approval."

Clarisse sucked in her breath, unable to believe his gall. "SHUT UP!"

"I BEG your pardon?" the Viscount swung back to frown at her.

She opened her mouth to deliver a blistering refusal to his preposterous proposal as she began to rise, but Prime Minister Motaz' hand tightened on hers, impeding her movements and he stood up before she could. "Viscount Mabrey has given us all something to think about. Parliament is dismissed for now. I declare this session at an end." and he banged the gavel on the desk in front of him.

To be continued ...