A New Life to Live

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. I also had a lot of help from my friends Denise and Kathy for the ending of this story, which you'll see when I get it written!

Chapter 1

Charlotte, her heart thumping wildly with excitement, struggled to maintain a composed air as she followed the Queen of Genovia onto the royal jet, Genovia One. In her thirty-one years of life, this was to be her first time flying, her first visit to the country of her mother's birth, her first permanent job. No wonder she was elated! And having known the queen now for over six weeks, Charlotte was convinced she was going to be completely happy working as her Majesty's personal assistant. She could hardly believe her good fortune! Her superior of the Genovian Attaché Corps in the San Francisco branch had stressed that it was NOT good fortune, but rather her hard work over the years finally paying off, but Charlotte wasn't so sure. All she knew was that when she had heard the Queen of Genovia needed an aide for the time she was in America, Charlotte had applied for the post and concentrated on pouring all her energies into doing her absolute best so that she would be highly recommended.

A week before the queen had arrived, Joseph, the Head of Security for the royal family, had come to San Francisco and interviewed Charlotte on the queen's behalf. Charlotte had liked the man instantly, and her admiration for him had only deepened during the past weeks. She had been informed by some of the other staff that she was to be wary of his interest, as he was said to be quite a lady's man, but Charlotte had only found him unfailingly polite and courteous. Joseph had never indicated by word or look that he was interested in her in that way, not that she WANTED him to be, of course. Still, he WAS a very fascinating man, and she had never had the experience of having a man court her. Lying in bed at night the first few weeks of her new job, she had wondered sadly if she were really that insipid that not even someone supposedly known for chasing many women would pay special attention to her. During the days, however, if she had ever happened to meet Joseph's eyes, she invariably saw the warm twinkle in them directed towards her, and she would bask in his obvious approval. Yes, Charlotte thought highly of Joseph, and knew she had him to thank for suggesting to Queen Clarisse that, since she was so impressed with Charlotte's organizational skills, Charlotte should be approached and offered a post as the queen's aide on a permanent basis in Genovia.

As for the queen herself, Charlotte adored her Majesty. In the beginning, she had seemed very formal and almost curt with the staff around her and even her grand-daughter, but Charlotte had known instinctively that underneath the seemingly cold and formal exterior was a woman terrified of losing the last of her family. Occasionally Charlotte wondered if she knew that only because she recognized the emotions. She herself was alone in the world now that her mother had died last year.

Unbeknownst to Charlotte, Joseph had skillfully drawn Charlotte's entire life history from her either during the first interview or from various talks over the past few weeks, and had passed the information on to the queen. Now both knew as much as Charlotte herself did about the girl's past. Charlotte's father had never been in the picture -- she had never even known his name. Charlotte's mother had fled Genovia as a young girl, pregnant with Charlotte and cast off from her family. She had changed her name to Kutaway, since that is how she had felt at the time, and had never spoken of family again, nor kept anything that might have given Charlotte a clue as to heritage other than that she was originally from Genovia. Rather than completely disregard the country of her birth, however, Charlotte's mother had encouraged Charlotte to learn what she could about Genovia, and to apply for the Genovian Attaché Corps when she was through university.

Now, as she looked over the dignitaries flying back to Genovia with the queen, Charlotte almost gulped. Her major ally, Joseph, was not on board, as he was to remain with the princess until her school year finished in a couple of weeks. Genovia's prime minister, Sebastian Motaz, was sitting ahead with his wife and young daughter. Because of her attention to even such small details as the type of pillow Mrs. Motaz liked, the prime minister's wife had praised Charlotte for helping make the stay in San Francisco such an enjoyable one. Mr. Motaz had been Charlotte's mainstay during the early part of the Independence Day Ball two nights ago when Joseph had gone searching for the princess, and Queen Clarisse had been anxiously awaiting news, as had all the other guests. He had helped stall the reporters and had kept the von Trokens at a distance. So even though Joseph was not returning to Genovia just yet, Charlotte was thankful she had some allies available should something go wrong in the foreign country which was to become her home.

Lord and Lady Fricker were on board as well, and it looked as though Lord Fricker was already half asleep. Charlotte sighed. She couldn't understand anyone who would drink enough to not know where he was most of the time. She felt very sorry for his long-suffering wife, who had been the one to beg Charlotte for help before the State Dinner -- asking Charlotte to take his glass from him before sending him in for supper. She had told Charlotte to just say to him, "Remember what happened at the Winter Dinner?" and that had worked. Charlotte never HAD heard what had happened at that supper but she decided she really didn't want to know. The Frickers were not likely to be a problem, not like some couples she already had been warned to watch carefully.

The 'villains' of the piece, Baron Siegfried von Troken and his wife, were also aboard, obviously quite upset that Genovia was still entrusted to the Renaldi family, now that Princess Mia had accepted the throne. Charlotte, however, was a little concerned, having overheard the Baron say to his wife the night of the Independence Day Ball, "One day, you WILL be queen. There are still five years before this supposed princess reaches her majority. Anything can happen in that time. We can make certain of it." Shuddering at the thought of the von Troken's ruling any country, Charlotte resolved to be extra vigilant when it came to watching the ambitious couple in this period waiting for the Princess to attain her majority.

In spite of all the intrigues, Charlotte was still thrilled that she had the opportunity to be a part of Genovia's history. Her eyes travelled over the dignitaries ahead of her. The most important person on board, of course, was the queen herself. Charlotte eyed the curtain behind which the queen was seated in privacy, and once again rejoiced that it would be her job to assist Queen Clarisse in whatever ways she could to make the royal life an easier one to bear. Well, her job ... and Joseph's. At least, Charlotte thought that Joseph had more than a professional interest in the queen, and she couldn't believe that any woman would be impervious to his charm, not even a queen.

No one else seemed to have noticed what Charlotte had seen after only two weeks at the embassy with the queen in residence. Charlotte had been the one to walk in unnoticed on Joseph and the queen when they were dancing privately following one of the princess' dance lessons. Charlotte had been privy to Joseph's anxiety and deep concern when the queen and the princess had taken a day off to tour San Francisco by themselves. Charlotte had seen the growing intimacy between the two as Joseph had aided his queen any way he could with her grand-daughter, acting as a mediator much of the time. Charlotte had noticed occasional looks full of desire Joseph had given Queen Clarisse when he thought no one could see, and she had glimpsed reciprocal looks from the queen when Queen Clarisse thought herself unseen. Charlotte had seen the two dancing at the Independence Day Ball, and had seen them leaving together near the end. She had seen Joseph take the queen's hand and kiss it just before they turned the corner and disappeared from view. She knew no one else had seen them, because the maids had never mentioned anything. A secret romance was definitely something the maids would have delighted in sharing with everyone in the consulate. Of course, there was always the possibility that Charlotte was wrong. Perhaps they were only very good friends. Time would tell. Only that morning the cook and her helper had been giggling about Joseph and one of the queen's temporary ladies' maids having been seen in the garden late last night, very close together.

Charlotte sighed and settled herself more firmly in the airplane seat. Joseph had wished HER a pleasant good night, even though she would have been delighted to go out to the garden, and had even daringly mentioned that she had seen one of the queen's scarves out there, and that perhaps they should fetch it. Joseph had merely smiled and said he thought he could manage to locate and retrieve a scarf on his own. Leaning her head back and closing her eyes, Charlotte decided she had to forget trying to get Joseph interested in her. It was painfully obvious that he was not going to ever think of her in that way, nor she should care. She was going to Genovia to do a job, not to find a boyfriend! According to her mother, love was vastly over-rated anyway.

The smooth ride in the royal jet lulled Charlotte to sleep.

To be Continued ...