I got this idea ages ago, when I was in London. There are song lines at the start of each chap. Credited to those who it belongs at the end. 'Carousel', the title, belongs to Rogers and Hammerstein and the studio that made it. None of these Characters belong to me, only Meg Cabot and Disney. Artistic Licence with age.
No more memories,
No more silent tears . . .
No more gazing across
The wasted years ….
London was a city she was familiar with, by any stretch of the imagination. Clarisse had, for a short time before she had become queen, been educated at finishing school there. It was an unhealthily business in general, with it streets bursting with people and its poisonous air, it was a far cry from the peaceful prettiness of Pyrus. But it was good; it was what she liked, busy and uninterested in anyone but itself.
Of course, she was not, as she desired wandering about the streets of London, but cooped up in a stuffy conference room with only a pen and folder for company and a group of boring diplomats and leaders, who had more interesting things to do than this.
"Well of course", she entered into the conversation tactfully, "My country seems to be getting the less fair deal, kindly remember we are making far more lucrative prophets - as one of the richest countries- in the EU than some of those who feel the need to Lord over these proceedings".
"NO!" One protested, "No, that is not true!"
"Gentlemen", she drummed her fingers on the desk, impatient with his arrogance, "Perhaps, as it is evident that we are all tired and running out of fresh ideas, we should adjourn and pick this up in the morning".
She looked around the table and then, removed her glasses from the bridge of her nose. She sat back slightly, waiting for a response as she rounded on them.
"Perhaps", one of the diplomats agreed after a while, "Her Majesty is right, we all are tired and I believe it is becoming dark outside".
She had not noticed it was dark and as she turned to look out the window, she realised it was true. She angled her head slightly, so she could see both Westminster and The London Eye's glittering lights.
"Enough", she repeated, "For this evening".
A slight ruffle of nodded heads and murmured agreements signalled the end of the mind numbing conference for that night, which ran in circles every time it came around. She wanted out of there because she knew her husband of nearly four years now, was waiting in the hotel lobby for her. Four years, she smiled inwardly, four years since they were married. Even now, as she thought about it she was well aware of her cheeks burning and the childish flare of excitement that rose in her. Slowly, quietly, almost grudgingly the occupants of the table stood up, donned hats and coats, filed away papers and turned on cell-phones. With their security, or assistants they made their way out of the room on small groups until she was left alone, not having had the energy to move.
Quietly and quickly she threw her papers into her brief case and tidied up her hair and make-up. Suddenly, from behind her she heard her husbands' voice.
She turned to him and smiled. She knew her smile wasn't entirely genuine simply because she was tired.
"You look tired, my dear" he added, "And I was hoping for a stroll along the Thames with you".
"Some night air might wake me, Joseph" she smiled, handing him her plush coat. He obliged, helping her to put it on.
"What did you do today?" she questioned, tucking her arm under his and swinging her handbag over her shoulder.
"I telephoned Amelia" he smiled, walking her along the corridor, "Then, went to the Art Gallery. It's huge, took me all day".
"You must have been terribly bored" she decided with an impish smiled.
"I actually quite enjoyed it" he laughed, holding the door open for her as they stepped out into the cold air, "It's interesting".
"And Mia, how is she?" she questioned, again tucking her arm under his. He smiled and with a leather gloved hand, he took her gloved hand in his and held it tightly.
"She's coping well, I think" he answered, leading her down a set of huge old steps which were hard to navigate because of the amount of people on them.
"I see", she raised her voice over the drone of people, "And the wedding plans, how are those coming along?"
"Well, too" he answered, leading her with a leisurely pace as they reached the bottom, "I think she enjoys planning a wedding she wants"
"Yes", she laughed, remembering with a strange bitter joy the time that Mia was to marry Andrew Jacoby and in the end, she herself, Clarisse had ended up married to the man she now stood beside.
"I am eternally grateful she did not marry then", she continued, stopping to lean over the barrier which separated the slowly moving river from those who walked along its banks, "I think she would be an entirely different, person - hell, I'd be an entirely different person!"
He laughed at her turn of phrase; she had a tendency for milder vulgarity having been married to a man who loved to swear for four years.
"True", he smiled, placing a soft hand on her back as they stood side by side. It seemed, after such a time she was now accustomed to his affection, even if it was slight. At first, when they had married she would flinch at contact, she had barely let him touch her. But now, it was entirely different and in some ways, it made their relationship easier.
She welcomed the hand on her back and moved closer, laying her head on his chest.
"Her Majesty is tired", he whispered, kissing her forehead.
"Well, that meeting would have put the most attentive person to sleep" she sighed, with a slight humour in her voice, "It shall kill me one day".
"You seem to be more and more tired these days Clarisse", he said with an amount of concern that touched her deeply.
"I know", she sighed again and yawned this time, burying her face in his chest. She looked up into his eyes, and then smiled again.
"You know, you're so very right" she shook her head, "I'm getting old, I have to slow down",
"You're not old, Clarisse" he laughed, "Only 58".
"That is old, is it not?" she argued.
"No my dear" he laughed, "You do not act old."
"I have no time to act old!" she exclaimed, "I am getting tired of palace life and work, too tired now".
"I see that" he said consolingly, lovely, "You are not so well these days".
They stood for some time, staring out onto the illuminated party boats that sailed down the river. His hand rubbed her back softly through her cashmere coat. She stood next tom him, cuddled in to him, stifling a yawn now and then.
"Joseph" she turned, almost warily to face him, "How would you feel if we moved house?"
He looked at her, puzzled that she had asked a question she knew the answer too. Then he realised she was simply trying to tell him she wanted out of the palace too. For the four years of their marriage, it was what he had been waiting for.
"I would love that, you know" he smiled, turning back to face the river.
"As would I", she answered quietly "I want to get up when I want, lie in bed all day if I feel like it, you know".
"Yes, I'd love that. You can cook, clean…"
She looked horrified -suddenly- and then, laughed.
"You hadn't thought of that, had you?" he laughed, taking her hand in his.
"No, I hadn't".
"Well", he answered, "I'll cook and clean".
"I'm doing this for you" she said suddenly, "I want you to have what you deserve and I want you for me, always. Jut for me, not so that someone can come into our suite. I want to live in the middle of nowhere and have you all for me".
"That sounds like heaven" he smiled, turning to face her, "But is it what you want?"
She glared slightly as he questioned her intentions.
"I am telling you it is what I want" she said curtly, "Am I not?"
He threw his hands up, "I was just checking".
"Well", she backed down, "Well, it's what I want!"
"Of course, it's a big thing, Clarisse. You have to be sure, that's all I'm saying".
"I have never been surer of anything, ok?" she had moved nearer him and laid herself against his chest. He smiled, and rested her head against him.
"Ok", he smiled, "I would love that, and I love you".
They started off again, this time his arm curled around her waist. They walked past the aquarium, where a group of young people sat along the steps, drinking and shouting merrily. She couldn't possibly imagine having ever done that and she wished inside that she had.
It was a cool, cold evening. Summery, but cool. The lights sparkled in the trees, the stars in the night sky and the lights on the approaching monstrosity that was the disaster of The London Eye.
"I hate that thing", she said absently, motioning with her head to the wheel.
"It's not so bad", he responded, "Not my cup of tea really, but it's a fun thing".
"I refuse, point-blank Joseph, to embark on that" she shuddered slightly, "It's so unsafe looking".
He laughed again and then, kissed her cheek. Not all of it was gone yet, but they knew what each other wanted and they were no longer desperate to lavish affection. They were settled and happy, and glad that years of torment and pain and desperation were behind them.
"I would not force you to go on, darling" he answered, walking her further down and past the wheel.
"You would never, ever get me on it!" she said stubbornly, "I am not one to be cajoled".
"That is arguable", he said slyly, knowingly.
"Ahh, Joseph!" her face reddened slightly, "You make me so self-conscious!"
"I do not mean to", he whispered gently, "Forgive me".
Again, they walked in silence, close, comfortable - faultlessly happy. Along the bank, just passed the huge wheel was a small carousel. Tinkling with old organ music and bright with lights, it was something of a childhood reminder. They stopped to admire it, to listen to the awkward, tinkling music, to listen to pleasurable noise of those who waited in the queue and those mounted on the ornamental horses. It glinted, a bright whirr of beauty as it began to go round to the tune of the struggling organ.
"Let's go on" she said suddenly, almost gleefully.
In her eyes he could see the glittering, fresh beautiful wonder of her innocence, an innocence that had never been banished by her hard life. He laughed, joyfully, happily.
"Yes", he smiled, taking her hand in his, "Lets".
He walked away from her, taking her brief case in his hands. She stood slightly behind him, still aware of the person she was and afraid that perhaps someone would recognise her. He stood at the booth, in a queue and fished in his pockets for some change. Then, he handed her a plastic token.
"Come on", he laughed, pulling her towards the queue with a tug, "I haven't been on one of these for years",
"Neither have I" she laughed over the noise of the organ, "I don't know if I'll be able to lift my legs up to get on one of those!"
They got on a horse each side by side, and she suddenly realised how ridiculous this must look, she was 58 and on a carousel. Truly, utterly ridiculous and yet as it began to spin and it didn't seem so ridiculous anymore. Maybe it was because she had grown up in the past four years alone, she had decided it was him that mattered- no one else.
So, little opener to Chap. Story…
Hope you enjoyed,
Lyrics from "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again", from Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Harrt,