Ok, so you all forgot who I am. I haven't written fan-fiction at all in what feels like forever because there were matters in my life that took precedence. I return, humbly. None of this ever belonged to me, but to Meg Cabot, Disney and associates. BTW I stole Benyon, from the Scarlet Pimpernel, which belongs to the estate of Baroness Orczy.

The Genovian sun was unbearably warm, burning the bare skin of her neck as she strolled around the gardens, aimlessly wandering when she knew there was an excessive amount of paper work waiting for her in her office. Yet, she couldn't be bothered at all. Today, of all days, when the palace seemed to be in complete disaray, was the day Mia was arriving, for the first time. And, there was something terribly unfair about that, she wasn't prepared and still, things were charging ahead.

She felt as if it would take forever to piece herself together, and forever was a luxury she did not have. However, she knew exactly why she felt like this, which made it worse in a sense. His absence made her like this, what a pitiful excuse, but his absence made her feel weak. If it wasn't for the knowledge of where he was and who he was with, there would have been nothing to console her at all. Vicious in its intent, her loneliness had returned full force, that utter feeling of despair that seemed to fill her. She hadn't felt it so violently for years, yet there it was, quick to return at the most bizarre of moment.

But it was frustratingly stupid, for he was coming home today, back to her and the despair didn't lift, regardless of her futile attempt to make herself feel sane.

She was snapped out of her reverie by Benyon, the Head Valet, approaching her from across one of the lawns.

"Ma'am", he inclined his head towards her, clicking his heels together, "Genovia one has just landed, Joseph wished me to inform you they should be here in no longer than an hour". He smiled.

"Thank you, Benyon", she smiled slightly, "Is that all?"

"Another thing, Ma'am", Benyon bowed his head again in that annoyingly reverent manner, "The Music selections from the Ball on Saturday have arrived, the band wish to know your choices as soon as possible".

"Yes", Clarisse nodded, dismissively waving the idea of selecting music right now with a swish of her elegant hand, "Later, that will be all Benyon".

The man paused with an open mouth, but closing it again, clicked his heels and turned swiftly away from her.

The heat was still, even though she had noticed during their short conversation, stiflingly hot. She turned towards the cool attraction of the palace and began to walk slowly across the lawn, her hat pulled low over her face and her hands clasped in from of her.

She couldn't wait to see him any longer, and how pathetic was that. It disgusted her, her own weakness and inability to function without him. It had been stupid of her to make him stay on in California when at her disposal was 100 other security men, that was why they had parted on such a distasteful note. He had been angered with her insistence that he stay and look after Mia, but she only trusted him to do the job properly. It was important after all that Mia had the best security, in the hands of Joseph nothing else but such security was accepted. She was heir to the throne and Genovia came first, always.

He was second, he always had been and she had never endeavoured to change that, even though she had been given every opportunity. She would not allow it, that's why her selfishness at missing him was so terrible. She had never allowed him to be so deep in her affections that she had the right to miss him, yet here she was, missing him like he was vital to her existence.

Of course, in a way she hated to admit, he was. If it wasn't for him, she would never have survived the death of Philippe, which was still a painfully open wound. She wouldn't have been able to cope with Mia in San Francisco if it hadn't been for his unwavering, quiet support that propped her up.

She had thought so much, and wandered so far she found herself at her chamber door. Opening the door, she slipped into the cool, dark outer room and made her way to the couch, slipped off her shoes and hat and laid herself down. She was tired and uneasy, even though there was no reason for either. Maybe it was the fact she had been preparing non stop for the last two weeks in preparation for Mia's arrival. And if, she was honest with herself - which seemed to hurt more than being honest with anyone else - she hadn't slept properly since she had returned to Genovia. But now, her eyes slid shut and she fell into a fitful sleep. A half coma of thought and dreams and for all she tried to empty her overworking mind, all she could think of was Joseph.

Please R&R.

Thank you.