Disclaimer: 'Stargate SG1' and all the characters associated with the show belong to someone who isn't me. As I doubt that the owners would be willing to trade their rights for some magic beans that aren't in any way magical, this is not going to change at any point in the foreseeable future.
Author's Note: Revised this chapter to include a little Sam/Jack ship – thank you, VisualIDentificationZeta for the suggestion.
"I'm going to miss this place – seriously." Sam insisted, seeing Jack's disbelieving gaze.
"That fond of being called 'Your Highness', Your Highness?"
"No." She grimaced; although she had been able to introduce some measures designed to shift power from the monarch's hands to those of the people, the Armidans continued to honour and revere her as queen, refusing to tone down the ceremony. "But it's been great to be able to help here, to make a difference without fighting."
"It's a nice change, definitely." Daniel said, a touch wistfully, remembering the quiet, peaceful year he had spent on Abydos after the defeat of Ra.
"You know," Jack grinned at Sam, "if you really don't want to come back to Earth, I could probably persuade Hammond to let you stay here and rule your planet." He teased, knowing perfectly well that the general wouldn't agree to losing her any more than he would.
"That's alright, sir."
"I've gotta admit, Armida isn't bad." Jack said.
"It must be a pleasant change to fish in water where there are fish present." Teal'c said, so soberly that the other man couldn't be certain whether or not he was being made fun of.
"That reminds me," Jack pointed a mock-accusing finger at Sam. "We have got to talk about my country estate."
"What country estate?"
"Exactly! I'm a knight of the Round Table, for cryin' out loud! And an ambassador! Shouldn't I get a castle of my own, or at least a manor somewhere?"
Sam stifled a laugh. "I'll see what I can do."
"Make sure there's a pond."
"Planning on retiring here?" Daniel asked.
"I've heard worse ideas." Jack brightened. "We could always come here for our next vacation." He glanced at the castle behind him. "I think that Carter's place can just about squeeze us all in."
"Don't worry, we'll be coming back. We've got to keep an eye on the naquadah mining."
"Make sure that nobody's trying to sneak off with a bit extra?"
"Exactly. Half should be more than enough, though, especially since the Armidans are going to be trading some of what's left."
"Any plans what you'll do with your share?" Jack asked.
She shrugged before frowning at Daniel. "What possessed you to include a share for me?"
He chuckled lightly. "You do realize that I had to argue them down to a one-eighth share for you as Queen, right? Most of the naquadah deposits are on Crown lands; the Armidans thought that you were entitled to all of it. It's going to be amazing once they've finished work here. I'm glad that you decided to stick with a Roman-based infrastructure for their new heating and sanitation systems. It would be a shame for Armida to end up an Earth clone."
"Nobody needs pollution." Sam agreed. "Janet's last communication said that they've had quite a few volunteers to teach the Armidans about modern medicine, though – she's interviewing them herself so there's no need to worry on that score. SG-11 are going to be coming next week for an excavation of some of the sites around here." She glanced at Daniel. "They said that you're welcome to join them."
Daniel brightened visibly; between organizing the treaty, encouraging the Armidans to take their first, tentative steps towards a more democratic means of government and going over what assistance from Earth would do Armida the most good, he had been unable to conduct a dig as he had hoped.
"Planning on bringing any souvenirs of your reign back with you?" Jack asked Sam, smiling at the thought of General Hammond's likely expression if she returned to Earth wearing her crown.
"Her reign's not over." Daniel pointed out immediately. "Sam's Queen for life. You've really impressed the Armidans, you know," He told her seriously, "the Council are drafting a proposal for the succession law and they want your first child to succeed you; boy or girl. It's a big step forward for them. There are monarchies on Earth that still don't have absolute primogeniture."
Wisely skipping over the issue of a future prince or princess for Armida – really not something she wanted to think about right now – Sam answered Jack's question. "I'm just taking the sword with me; Lord Cai insisted."
"It is a wise course of action," Teal'c told her gravely, "if the sword is in your possession, it cannot be used by another to usurp power here."
"Careful, T," Jack cautioned, "you're starting to look very at home with this whole politics thing. You wouldn't want to have to spend all your time dealing with the likes of Kinsey, would you?"
Teal'c's expression left no doubt as to his feelings on the gentleman in question.
"Since you're the Ambassador, if anyone's going to be dealing with Kinsey…" Daniel began mischievously, enjoying the look of horror on Jack's face when he realized where this was going.
"Hang on – she's the Queen!" Jack protested, pointing at a now giggling Sam. "Shouldn't she have to deal with Kinsey?"
"Just with heads of state." Sam said, doing her best to smother her giggles and adopt a suitably regal expression. "For a mere senator, I'll delegate."
"You're not a queen on Earth, you know," Jack began warningly, glaring Daniel into silence before he could point out that Sam would be always Queen of Armida, regardless of where she was, "back there, I'm in charge. Just you wait until our next mission – I think I know who's going to be stuck on cooking detail."
"You want to kill us all?!" Daniel demanded theatrically. "I thought we were friends!"
"Friends don't wish Kinsey on friends." Jack retorted grimly.
"Perhaps you could settle your next dispute with Senator Kinsey through combat to the death." Teal'c suggested with a completely straight face.
Jack grinned. "That could work."
"Well, if you'll excuse me," Daniel rose, "Lord Cai said that I could pick some scrolls from the library to bring back to Earth." He left the room, with Teal'c following.
"So, Carter, have you considered bringing back any of your clothes?" Jack asked teasingly. "I especially liked that blue dress."
"If you like it that much, you're more than welcome to borrow it, sir," she assured him, her expression solemn.
"I think I'll pass." He chuckled. "I can't believe that we've been here more than a month. This is definitely going to be one of my longer mission reports."
"And one of my most interesting." Sam added. "Being a Queen is not as easy at it looks."
"You got to outmaneuver Samuels," Jack pointed out. "That was fun."
"You did a lot of the work there, sir. You make a good Ambassador."
"I aim to please." He sketched a mock-theatrical bow. "So, all set for the ceremony tomorrow?" She nodded. "They're not planning on springing a shotgun wedding on us before we go, are they?" He asked, remembering that the Armidans thought that they were engaged and wondering if they were planning to ensure that he made an honest woman of their queen before they let them leave.
He was aware of the fact that he should have been unnerved by the idea but he couldn't pretend that it didn't have its appeal. He thought that he saw faint regret on Sam's face when she shook her head but dismissed it as his imagination.
"That's probably a good thing," He responded once he found his tongue. "It'd be tough to explain that one to Hammond, at least without getting 'His and Hers' court martials as a wedding present."
"They can't court martial us." Sam responded automatically, blushing slightly as she added, "we both have diplomatic immunity, remember?"
"Right." Jack smiled slightly, meeting her eyes. "Can't forget that part."
"Because I care about her, a lot more than I'm supposed to."
His own words from more than a year ago – understating his feelings but close enough to the truth to satisfy Anise's zatarc detector – echoed through his head, together with Sam's own confession and her assurances that none of what they said had to leave the room.
The idea that they now had the freedom to take them out should they so choose was frightening and exhilarating in equal measure.
Teal'c and Janet had both been present and although neither of them would ever have dreamed of breaking their confidence, he had sensed their sympathy. General Hammond had never been told, of course, but it was rare that he missed anything; he had as good as admitted that he knew when the Entity had taken over Sam's body.
The last thing Hammond would want was to break up his flagship team, he knew that they worked best when they worked together. If this loophole allowed him to keep them on the same team, he would.
If the expression on her face was any indication, Sam's thoughts were running along the same lines as his.
"So," he said slowly, "I guess we'll have a lot to talk about when we get back."
"Yes, s… Jack." Her voice was low. "We do."
Although she knew that it was very unlikely, given the size of the population and how far it was spread across the country, it seemed to Sam as though every man, woman and child in Armida had assembled to see them off.
A tiny hand tugged at her gown as she passed and a small girl, no more than three or four years old, pushed a posy of flowers into her hand before shyly ducking behind her mother's skirts.
Behind her, Daniel and Teal'c had each been crowned with a wreath of flowers and Jack was being handed a wreath of his own. He, unlike the other two who had reconciled themselves to their wardrobe some time ago, had refused point blank to wear the tunic he had been offered, insisting that he would never live it down if he returned to the SGC in a dress.
Unlike Jack, Sam had eight ladies in waiting to contend with and they had taken complete charge of her wardrobe; outfitting her in a deep blue velvet gown, the sapphire necklace she had been given at her coronation and a slender gold coronet, a compromise when she had declined to take her crown out of Armida.
As friendly as her ladies in waiting were, their fussing and clucking was not something that she was ever going to miss.
Lord Cai, whom she had surprised by naming Regent the previous evening, was acting as her escort, with Jack walking at her other side, as befitted the Queen's champion. They were flanked by a troop of royal guards, who fanned out once they reached the platform that had been erected for the farewell ceremony.
Once Sam had been enthroned on the gilt chair set out for her, with Jack standing next to her and Teal'c and Daniel to his side, Lord Cai began his farewell speech, his elaborate praise bringing a blush to Sam's cheeks.
"And though it grieves us to bid farewell to Queen Samantha, our prayers and our well wishes follow her on her quest against an enemy who would do both her peoples harm," Lord Cai proclaimed solemnly.
Despite Jack's argument that, for the sake of tradition, they should tell the Armidans that they would be going on a quest for the Holy Grail, Sam had refused to do anything so clichéd and decided instead to tell Lord Cai and the Council as much of the truth as she dared; that she and her team were part of a fight against a powerful enemy who wanted to control the galaxy.
Several songs had already been composed about SG-1's fight with the Goa'uld and if life mirrored art as far as they went, Sam would be very happy.
A rousing chorus of cheers let her know that Lord Cai had finished speaking and she became uncomfortably aware that their large audience were watching her expectantly, waiting for her to speak.
'Nobody said anything about having to make a speech!'
Although it was only a few seconds, it felt to Sam as though she had been standing silently for hours before she began to speak.
"I never expected to be a queen," She began, sounding more confident than she felt, "but I never expected to travel to other planets either, so I guess stranger things have happened." A ripple of laughter welled from the crowd and out of the corner of her eye she could see Jack suppressing a grin. "Armida is a beautiful planet, with wonderful people and I can only hope that I will be able to be as good a queen as you deserve. My team and I have work to do on Earth, but I promise you that I will be back soon and, in my absence, the Lord Regent and the Royal Council will govern in my stead." There was more applause and Lord Cai and the members of the council dipped their heads in acknowledgement. Unsure what else she could say, Sam remembered her oath at her coronation, the promise she had made to the Armidans and to herself. "I promised to govern and protect the people of Armida," she said softly, "and the first part I can do through the Lord Regent and the Council but I'm afraid that I can't do the second if I stay here."
Sensing that she could say no more, Lord Cai spoke up, "Go with the blessing of the gods, Your Highness, and know that we eagerly await your return." He bowed deeply, raising her hand to his lips and kissing it ceremoniously.
"Sir Jack," Lord Cai dipped his head respectfully in Jack's direction. "We entrust Queen Samantha to your care and protection during her quest."
"Thanks." Jack said, still feeling awkward about being Queen's champion, even though he knew that this particular queen was more than capable of looking after herself. He hadn't dared ask what the penalty would be if anything happened to Sam on his watch.
At Lord Cai's nod a page, the boy who had asked to be Jack's squire, approached carrying a sword sheathed in a scabbard.
"To aid you in your duties, my lord." The boy told him, with a shy smile that became a wide grin when Jack returned it.
"Thanks, kid." Although nowhere near as elaborate as the one Sam had liberated from the stone, Jack's new sword was clearly the work of a gifted and dedicated craftsman. 'Maybe I should take up fencing,' he mused, 'it'd be a shame to let this go to waste.'
After a blessing from the priest who had officiated at Sam's coronation, the crowds parted to allow SG-1 to walk the short distance from the platform to the stargate, with people bowing or curtseying as Sam passed.
Behind them, Lord Cai and the priest were already discussing something in hushed voices.
'Probably a royal wedding.' Daniel mused, smirking inwardly at the thought of his friends' likely reaction if they returned to Armida and found preparations for their own wedding underway.
"Daniel," Jack's voice cut into his thoughts, "dial the gate."
"Aye, m'lord." He responded, dipping his head in mock deference as he entered the coordinates for Earth on the DHD. "Your wish is my command, sire."
Jack contented himself with a scowl before turning to Sam, "can we have him beheaded for that?"
"Spoilsport. So, your Highness," he extended his arm in a courtly gesture, "ready to come back to Earth?"
"After all," he said as they climbed the low steps leading to the Armidan stargate, ignoring Daniel's groan and Teal'c's long-suffering frown, "there's no place like home."