"The Merits of Flying"

By LadyCleo

AU – How the movie should have gone. Andrew interrupts the moment before Mia and Nicholas kiss. Mia/Andrew all the way and inspired by frankiebaby's "A Royal Duty." If you like – review as encouragement.

Chapter One

"She's really quite lovely." Andrew glanced up from the cup in his hand as Lady Elissa spoke. Around them the soft strains of music continued on, guests mingled around the sunlit garden in a happy manner. "You make quite a charming couple."

"Thank you." Andrew took a brief sip of the wine and glanced back over his shoulder, catching a brief glimpse of Mia as she stormed after Nicholas into the garden. Andrew's stomach tightened for a second as he tried to push away the decidedly sinking feeling in his head. Try as he might he couldn't she the feeling that Mia was slowly slipping out of his grasp. It didn't help that every time he turned around, this Nicholas fellow popped up out of the blue. It was getting to be really quite annoying. Rival or not, Andrew found he had a distinct dislike for the other fellow and his creeping way.

"It's a pity neither one of you seems inclined to fight."

Andrew choked on air, "I beg your pardon?"

"An arranged marriage takes a degree of fight. You have to be willing to sacrifice on all parts." Elissa smiled slightly as Andrew straightened up before her, "Neither of you seems to have the heart to make this work."

Choking down his sputtering, Andrew gave her a genuine wince of a smile, "Really, I assure you-"

"If I might make a suggestion," Lady Elissa set her glass down on the table and took a step closer. "I think your affection for Princess Mia is genuine and in time she may develop a similar affection. But, it won't happen if you don't start fighting for it." Elissa motioned back towards the gardens, "To start with, I suggest you don't leave them alone for long. He's liable to sweep her off her feet right before your eyes." Bowing her head, Elissa moved quickly away from the table.

Andrew's intestines dropped and twisted again, his heart skipping a beat as he slowly digested her words. The woman had struck a cord, but try as he might he couldn't understand why. He had a perfect relationship with Mia. Not only did they trust each other, but they were comfortable- Andrew stopped mid thought and inwardly winced. 'Comfortable' perhaps one of the deadliest words ever uttered in a relationship.

Glancing back over his shoulder, Andrew turned slowly towards the bushes where Mia and Nicholas had disappeared. "I trust Mia," He declared to himself. Standing up a little straighter, he rolled back his shoulders as though preparing for a battle. "There's no reason that I shouldn't trust her," he assured himself, but the words didn't have the desired affect, in fact they appeared to have the opposite affect.

"Who was that chick?" Lilly questioned, startling Andrew as she manifested beside him. "And why do you trust Mia?"

"Nothing, uh – will you excuse me a moment." Steeling his shoulder, Andrew moved briskly across the yard and towards the towering green bushes. Yes- he trusted her, but damn it to all hell he didn't like the idea of leaving them alone. Elissa was entirely right about Lord Nicholas; the man had an alternative motive. Anyone with a twittering splatter of brains could see that.

Rounding of the corner Andrew pulled to an abrupt halt, his worries seemingly about to be justified. Mia stood squaring off for battle before one of the fountains. Her voice was an octave higher than normal, her fists clenched at her side, "I loathe you."

"I loathe you." Nicholas retorted back as he took a step closer to the smaller woman. There was a glint in his eye that Andrew didn't like, and he was far to close to her for someone in the middle of an argument. They looked more like lovers about to embrace and less like enemies.

Andrew's spine stiffened, his stomach jumping back up into his chest. Clearing his throat, Andrew stepped forward, feeling almost- territorial. It wasn't enough that the bastard kept jumping up out of nowhere- now he had to stand infernally close to her.

Mia whipped around, eyes going wide as she struggled to recompose herself. Andrew inserted himself next to Mia, forcing Nicholas to take two steps back. "I hope I'm not interrupting."

"No," Mia reassured, straightening her dress she turned back to Nicholas, "We have nothing else to say to each other." Slipping her arm through Andrews, she thrust her chin in the air as though to say 'get going now.'

Nicholas winced and bowed his head, "Of course, excuse me I need to go find my date." He placed emphases on the last words as though expecting it to upset the pair before moving quickly out of view.

Andrew frowned as he watched the other fellow move away. "What was that about?" The question couldn't help but be asked and Mia's reaction was immediate.

Her grip tightened on his arm as she began to seethe, "He's- uggh, he's just- there are no words that can describe that-" Releasing Andrew, Mia threw her hands up into the air and started pacing along the length of the fountain. "Who does he think he is? Waltzing into the palace, threatening my throne- he just makes me so- so angry and frustrated." Andrew watched as the range of emotions flashed across Mia's face. A small irk of his own emotions boiled up his throat- Andrew stomped down on them quickly.

Pulling to an abrupt halt, Mia swung back around. "Andrew- I want to get out of here."

The frown etched quickly across his face, confusion wrinkling his forehead, "What? Where-"

"I don't care, I can't handle this, I can't- I want to get out of here now."

Andrew glanced over his shoulder towards the sound of the tea party, a spilt second of indecision flashing across his face. Duty would demand to remain – but Elissa's words were imprinted on his head. Before he could justify his own actions, Andrew acted. "Alright," Moving forward he grabbed Mia's hand, tugging her gently in the direction of the palace. "I've an idea."

Andrew threw open the large wooden doors, shedding light into the dark interior of the garage. The twelve Royal cars of Genovia gleamed back at the odd couple standing in the doorway. "I think this should provide a suitable escape for the afternoon."

Mia snorted, "Only if you can find the keys."

"That shouldn't be too difficult." Glancing around, Andrew spotted the two rows of labeled keys. Winking at the princess, he scooted over to the wall and grabbed a set. "Let's try these." Moving over to the first car, a nice black Bentley, he slipped the key into the slot and turned them. The locks popped up and Andrew pulled the door open, "Your transportation awaits, madam."

Mia snickered lightly as she slipped around Andrew. "I'm impressed," she admitted, climbing into the passenger's seat. Andrew shrugged as he closed the door and slid over the car's hood.

Pulling open the driver's door, he slipped into the seat next to her. "The Royal Air Force Academy likes to make sure its Lords are properly equipped with all skills, as it happens, kidnapping the local royalty and stealing cars just happens to be one of those things." Inserting the key into the ignition, Andrew brought the car to life.

"I bet that comes in handy often."

Andrew grinned, "Precisely." The car moved forward, leaving the dark shade of the garage and merging onto the gravel path. Winding slowly down the graveled road, they passed a bemused set of palace guards and slipped through the open palace gates.

The countryside flew by slowly, the road winding through and around the local fields. Mia sighed as she sunk back into the car seat, gaze glued to the rolling hills. The frustration seemed to ebb slowly away, the crawling feeling beneath her skin slowly sinking out of focus as she relaxed against the leather.

"Where to?" Andrew's voice startled her briefly.

"Just drive until we run out of road or country, whichever happens first."