Disclaimer: I do not own Tin Man. Any and all mistakes are my own.
AN: Hi all! This is my first Tin Man fan fic, though I've been obsessed with the thing for months. I'm working on some longer pieces as well, but I won't post them until they're complete, so this will have to do for now. This piece is a bit different for me, but it was fun to write. I would love to hear from you, I love all kinds of feedback, especially constructive criticism. And who knows, I might be convinced to do a series of one-shots about DG's reign. Oh, the possibilities...
She didn't think she could do this. She wasn't a girl that gave up easily, but this was beyond her. Beat up Nick Stafford for trying to feel her up in the sixth grade? No problem. Run around an alien world to save her family and defeat the evil witch that imprisoned her sister? Simple. But become queen and rule a country? Nope. Not going to happen.
But it didn't really seem like she had much choice in the matter. In fact, she had been trying to get her mother to change her mind for months, but it was impossible. The reasoning was, Lavender was already dethroned and the people couldn't trust an unseated monarch. And they certainly couldn't trust the woman who had imprisoned her, witch or not. Which meant that DG was left to take the throne. The people wanted their savior princess to rule and that was what the people were going to get.
Course, DG seemed to be the only person to think that this was a bad idea. Incredibly bad. There was the fact that the sum total of her memories from the pre-Kansas era totaled a scant few hours, some of which were terror filled. There was also the fact that all she knew of politics came from a trip to D.C in eighth grade, a government class in high school and a few episodes of The West Wing. She better have some damn good advisors, because she was sure she was going to cause some huge diplomatic inside within a day of her reign. Maybe she should start a pool. . .at least she could make some money off of her ineptitude.
A knock at the door startled DG from her thoughts and she sighed. Another thing she had no idea about were the traditions of the Outer Zone. And apparently the coronation of its queen was steeped in ceremonies hundreds of years old and everything about them was—in her mother's words—nonnegotiable.
Which left her in her room, the night before her coronation as Queen of the O.Z, about to leave on a midnight vigil. The suns had long since set and the full moon was high in the sky, bathing the country outside of Central City in a serene glow. The city itself though, was awash in blinking neon and flickering firelight, bouncing against recently whitewashed walls. DG stood on her balcony, high above the city, gazing out across the darkened streets and out towards the green earth. For one second, she desperately wished to be out in the wild again, sleeping along the Old Road, tramping through undergrowth and being the country girl she was raised to be. The knock at her door came again, more insistent this time. She turned away from the landscape and moved towards the entry.
On the other side, Cain was waiting for her, along with half a dozen men as some sort of honor guard. He smiled encouragingly at her, stepping aside so she could pass him. She tried to return the smile, but she felt sick and was unable to do it. It all started now. No turning back. Just one step and it would begin. One small step.
Cain cleared his throat, his smile gone and his blue eyes concerned. DG hadn't moved from her spot in the doorway. She took a deep breath, smoothing her sweaty palms on her plain white dress. It was long sleeved, floor length and formless. She felt like she was wearing a bed sheet. But it was a part of the tradition, that she spend her vigil in a simple white garment, representing the humble purity she would bring to the monarchy.
DG finally moved, her bare feet quiet against the cold marble floor. The men moved around her, their boots making more noise than a full squadron as they marched along. Cain walked half a step behind her, eyes everywhere despite the safety of the palace. She wanted to tell him to relax, that he had nothing to worry about, but it would be pointless, even if she could talk.
Which was yet one more charming tradition she had to adhere to. From the moment she left her room for her vigil, she was not allowed to speak again until she recited her oaths at the coronation the next day. Azkadellia, being the ever helpful sister, had cast a spell on DG that froze her vocal cords, rendering her literally speechless. DG had gaped comically for several minutes while she tried to speak, before giving up and attacking her laughing sister with a pillow. DG understood the sanctity of it all, but that was unnecessary. She couldn't even hum, for crying out loud.
The walk to the Great Hall was over soon enough. Cain stopped her with a hand on her elbow, before ducking past the great gilded doors with three other men to scour the room inside. DG rolled her eyes—considering that she was going to be in there by herself for the next couple of hours, it was going to be the most well-guarded room in the entire country. But that just wouldn't be good enough for Cain; he needed to see for himself that it was secure. Eventually, they all reappeared and the Tin Man held open the door for her so she could pass through.
DG once again found her feet stuck to the floor as she stared at the doorway. One of the guards shuffled his feet and she remembered that she still had an audience. Clenching her hands and eyes straight ahead, she strode forward into the Great Hall, trying desperately not to flinch when the door closed behind her.
The Great Hall wasn't quite as big as the one at the Northern Palace, nor as beautiful as the one at Finaqua, but it was certainly functional—the epitome of a city space. A short staircase led down from the door which she had entered in, a bright red carpet bisecting the stairs and ending at the marble floor. The floor was a deep emerald, polished enough that she could see her reflection in it. Silver lines created diamond patterns on the floor, expanding outward to the walls. A row of jade Corinthian columns were evenly spaced along the perimeter, creating impenetrable shadows in the dimly lit room. Between the columns hung intricate tapestries depicting great moments in the history of the O.Z and the Queens who ruled. Several magnificent crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, but none of them were lit. Moonlight filtered in through a set of high windows, providing the only illumination in broken square pieces on the floor. The Hall was beautiful, even in darkness. But it made her feel all the more insignificant as she padded down the stairs and walked across the expanse. She stopped halfway across the room and sank to the floor, staring ahead.
Even though the room was beautiful, it all focused on one fixture. Opposite from the main door was a raised dias, a dozen steps leading to the platform. Atop it sat the throne, empty, imposing. It was a stiff backed chair, carved out of some dark wood. There were no straight lines on this chair, the wood of the backrest curling and flowing like the wind. The four solid legs of the chair thickened as they descended, resembling roots of a tree. The armrests jutted outward, carved vines in the wood falling down to join the legs. A shaft of moonlight fell upon the chair, highlighting the green upholstery. It was truly the throne of a Queen.
DG drew her legs up to her chest and rested her chin on her knees as she stared at the chair. It was going to be her throne. Though she had had months to get used to the idea, it still didn't make sense to her. She was just a farm girl from Kansas, forget royalty. But then that tornado had come and her whole life had changed. And she had spent the past couple of months trying to adjust.
Adjust. That was the wrong word. Trying to survive sounded better. Saving the world had been the easy part. Then there was a veritable civil war to solve, before they could focus on trying to return the O.Z to its former glory. And those were the large problems, that didn't mention the daily exhaustive grind of her life now. There were her lessons with Tutor to try and rediscover her magic, her lessons with her mother to understand O.Z politics, her lessons with her father to understand the military that she would command, the lessons with Glitch to teach her self-defense, the lessons with Cain to learn how to ride a horse and how to shoot (which she'd had to beg him for), the lessons with Raw on different peoples and customs in the O.Z, the lessons with Azkadellia on etiquette with some lessons for dancing thrown in for flavor.
It was all a horrible joke, she was convinced. Most days she was too tired to do anything but collapse into bed. But she had to learn all of that if she was going to be not only Queen, but a fair and just Queen who supposedly knew what she was doing.
DG snorted. Who was she kidding? She knew she wasn't cut out for this job. Maybe if she had a few more years to prepare then she could give it a shot, but the few months of cram sessions weren't enough. Her family and friends said they would be there to help her while she was getting started, but she didn't think that would be enough. She wished she had someone she could foist half of her duties off on.
But that was a road she wasn't quite ready to go down either. According to her mother, if she was married, her husband would be sitting vigil with her, since he would be Prince Consort. Though the Queen had all final say in troop movements, the Prince Consort was really the troop commander and handled military operations and all security issues. Since she was unmarried, it meant that either DG had to handle it all herself, or she needed to appoint someone to handle it. While she would prefer her father continue on, she knew that he wanted to spend time with her mother and she didn't want to ask him to shoulder that burden again. It looked like she would be doing it, unless she could convince Cain to take on the job.
DG forced her mind away from that line of thought—Cain doing the job normally meant for the Prince Consort. She had enough to worry about at the moment than wondering where exactly she stood with Wyatt Cain. She'd ask him about the job later and that was all she was going to say on the subject. She wouldn't think about how he might be getting experience for later, taking a job where his title might change further down the road. DG groaned and leaned backwards, letting her head crack against the floor. She frowned and brought a hand back to massage her head while she mouthed the word 'ow'.
As she stared at the chandelier above her, she strained her ears for any sounds. She couldn't hear the guards inevitably patrolling outside or much of anything. There was the faintest echo of the city though, of cars rumbling by and people yelling at each other late into the night. The Great Hall was much closer to street level than her room was. She closed her eyes, trying to picture the people and the streets outside.
These people. They had asked for her. Asked to be led by this young, eccentric princess. They cheered her every time she went out in public, heralded her as the savior of the O.Z. Many of them tied their well-being directly to her, saying how everything had suddenly taken a turn for the worst with her 'death' as a child. And now, with her return, things were starting to look up. They loved her. They believed in her. And they trusted her.
That thought brought tears to her eyes and DG quickly wiped them away. So many families had found themselves torn apart or destroyed altogether by the witch. But the world had changed. The witch was gone, the House of Gale restored and the suns shining bright upon the land every day. That alone gave them hope. And they thought that she could continue to keep their hope alive and strong. And after fifteen years of hell, didn't they deserve that? Who was she to deny them anything?
Getting to her feet, DG circled the outer perimeter of the room, checking behind each of the pillars, fingers gliding across the surfaces. She continually found her eyes drawn back to the throne, almost ominous in its aura. Her eyes also drifted to the heavy brocade curtains behind the throne which shielded a set of doors that led to a balcony. That balcony stretched over one of the main squares, stories below. She would stand on that balcony tomorrow to be formally presented to the people. She snickered at the thought of Cain throwing a fit about that, being out in the open and a prime target to anyone with a sniper rifle and a grudge. Though she always thought he overreacts, DG couldn't help but agree with him on this one. Of course, the entire royal guard was going to be active, every reinstated Tin Man was going to be patrolling the streets and even a few viewers were going to be on hand, trying to sift out any ill intent. She was going to be pretty well-protected.
DG was supposed to be spending the entire vigil contemplating her future reign and how she was going to help the greater good. Initially, she thought that she was either going to end up falling asleep on the throne or the floor (not a problem, she wasn't going near that chair and the floor was too cold to sleep) or she was going to drive herself insane counting the tiles in the ceiling (also not a problem, it was too dark to tell if there even were tiles in the ceiling). So instead, DG spent the time doing what she should have been doing—contemplating her reign and everything in her life that had led her to this moment.
She was sitting on the floor again, her knees pulled up to her chest and her arms wrapped around them when the suns first peeked over the horizon. Staring at the throne once again, she didn't notice when the door opened or Cain quietly stepped through. He stood for a moment, lips quirking at the sight of her huddled form, eyes wide and vacant. He half expected her to be asleep, but was proud to see her wide-awake. He cleared his throat and her head twisted to see him. She quickly climbed to her feet, joints cracking from sitting in one spot for so long. She winced but made her way across the floor and up the stairs. Before she passed him into the hallway, she turned around and looked at the throne one more time. She bit her lip and sighed, then preceded him into the hallway, following her honor guard back up the stairs to her room.
Waiting for her were several maids to help her get ready. A steaming bath was already drawn for her and she shooed them out of the bathroom (with a great deal of gesticulating) so she could take her time and soak. She didn't care about being on time, right now she needed to take a moment and relax. Lord knew when she would next get a moment to breathe. . .probably not for a few years, so she was going to take advantage now.
DG sighed deeply and sank into the water up to her chin. The only bit that this royalty thing had going for it was being pampered. But even that got old real quick. DG had dismissed all of her maids almost immediately—just because she was a princess didn't mean she couldn't dress herself. Besides, she still stubbornly adhered to her Other Side fashion sense and refused to relinquish her jeans and t-shirts. And she certainly didn't need help getting into that. The maids still cleaned up the room while she was gone and tended to the fire, but she didn't care as long as they weren't present while she was there. That would just be creepy.
But they were going to have to help her today because she simply couldn't get into her dress on her own. DG had tried to convince her mother to let her wear something a little less complicated and a little less. . .extravagant. But that was another one of the nonnegotiable aspects of her coronation. Apparently, the Queens of the O.Z had been wearing the same style of dress during the ceremony for six hundred years. Yeah, that was an argument she couldn't win. So, she was stuck with the monstrosity.
Speaking of which, it was about time she got out and started getting ready. The water was cold and her fingers were all wrinkled anyway. Quickly toweling off, she wrapped herself up in a robe, took one last cleansing breath, then entered the lion's den. Almost instantly, the maids were swarming around her, ushering her to sit in front of the vanity where they could tend to her makeup and hair.
DG had to silently fume as they pulled at her hair, forcing it up into some elaborate twist that left little ringlets hanging down, brushing her shoulders. They tried to cake pounds of makeup onto her face, but she had pulled some of the bottles out of their hands before they could open them, refusing to let them turn her into a clown. And since she wasn't able to speak, she could only glare and hope they got the message. The whole experience was made worse by the fact that the maids worked in silence, barely speaking unless it was to get a quick opinion or have someone pass them something from across the table. DG wasn't adverse to quiet time, but she was about ready to scream and their silence wasn't helping.
Once hair and makeup was done though, it was time to force herself into the dress. And, lucky her, she had to wear a corset. The only good thing about a corset was that it gave her some impressive cleavage, where there definitely wasn't any before. She wasn't sure that the tradeoff of asphyxiation was worth it though. Once the corset was laced up she stood still as they basically sowed her into her gown.
The fabric was beautiful, she would say that about it. It was some sleek silver material, soft as silk. All along the hem and the seems was delicate embroidery in emerald thread, invisible from far away, but incredibly intricate close up. The silver seemed to shimmer as she moved, almost changing colors. The gown itself was strapless, the bodice adorned with vertical rows of the tinniest pearls. The skirts flowed outward in a huge plume of silver fabric, the emerald thread weaving throughout the material, condensing into shifting swirls. Behind her stretched a train nearly six feet long, the delicate embroidery continuing along the edge. In the front, the skirts split down the middle to allow for easier walking, revealing several layers of fabric and allowing her feet to poke through.
Which was the top of the entire outfit. As ridiculous as DG thought the dress was, nothing topped the shoes. They were red. And they sparkled. Another nonnegotiable part of this costume. She had to wear ruby slippers, despite the fact she was wearing silver and green. Apparently they didn't care about clashing. At least they were flats, that made her happy. She was almost ready.
The very last bit needed was the necklace. The emerald of the eclipse had been taken out of that horrible silver binding and strung onto a simple silver chain. One of the maids reverently clasped it around her neck, the gem falling just above her breasts. She wore no other jewelry, just the emerald. And as the maids stepped back, DG stared at the woman in the mirror, amazed and a little scared. That woman looked like royalty. She looked like she knew what she was doing. DG wished she had her confidence.
But there was no more time to worry about it now. Because she was going to be late for her own coronation. So she walked to the door, glancing behind her to make sure the train didn't get caught on anything. She paused before the entryway, allowing one of the maids to open the door.
Cain stood on the other side, calmly waiting, clad in his abhorred black dress uniform. He turned at the sound of the opening door and DG had the pleasure of seeing his eyes widen and his mouth fall open slowly. Well, she would give props to whatever dress could make Wyatt Cain speechless. Desperately wishing that she could make fun of him, she instead settled for raising an eyebrow, trying to ignore the blush she could feel rise up her cheeks.
Cain cleared his throat, shaking his head slightly. With a smile and a tip of an imaginary hat (damn dress uniform didn't make an allowance for a hat), he motioned her forward. Once again surrounded by an immaculately dressed honor guard, they made their way down the corridors and stairwells (which was a trick given her big poofy dress) and to the Great Hall. It felt like the entire palace was deserted, no one in sight. Of course, that wasn't true. Most everyone was either patrolling the grounds or already in the Great Hall, waiting for her to make her appearance.
The continued silence just continued to grate on her as they walked down the final hallway to the gilded doors, firmly closed. The guards peeled off to the side, standing at attention. The doors wouldn't open until she gave the signal that she was ready. But she didn't think that that moment would ever come.
In fact, she knew that moment would never come. With a rush of terror she stood frozen, staring at the doors. All of her insecurities came back to her, slamming into her body one by one. She couldn't do this. She couldn't be what these people wanted or needed. She managed to offend at least one person a day, how did they expect her to run a whole country? She couldn't do this. Nope. She had never backed down from a fight before, but this was one she didn't even want to try to win.
She was a deer in headlights, staring at the closed doors, imagining the packed Hall beyond. She couldn't breathe. And when she opened her mouth to speak, the silencing spell tightened like a vice around her vocal cords and she began to panic more. She had no control over herself as she pressed a hand to her chest, feeling her heart racing beneath her clammy skin.
But suddenly Cain was in front of her. "Princess, you have to calm down." But instead of his soothing voice helping, the nickname he always used for her made things worse. She wasn't going to be a princess any more. She was going to be a queen. Her frightened eyes darted to him. He quickly shifted so that he blocked her view of the door and then took her hands in his own. "Come on, kiddo, you have to relax here or you're going to pass out. Take a deep breath."
She tried to take a shuddering breath, but the stupid corset was trying to kill her. Cain placed her hands on his chest, right over his heart so she could feel the steady beat. "Try to match my breathing. Take a deep breath. Slowly. You can do this, DG, just focus." She closed her eyes and instead focused on her hands and the beat beneath her palm. One desperate minute passed as she fought to make her breathing match his. Finally, she was able to breathe, able to feel like she wasn't going to pass out.
She opened her eyes after one more shuddering breath. Cain's concerned eyes met hers, her hands still on his chest. "Better?" She weakly smiled, her eyes sliding past him to the doors before her face crumpled. She had never felt so insecure in her life as at that moment, about to step into her turbulent future. She was terrified. Not just of screwing up the country, but of disappointing everyone that had put so much faith in her.
A calloused hand on her face brought her eyes back to Cain's. "DG, listen to me. I know you can't talk and that's probably driving you insane, but just listen. You can do this." She began to shake her head but he grasped her chin, stopping her. "Yes, you can. It's not going to be easy. There are going to be a lot of problems along the way because this country is far from its former glory. But you can help it get back to that point. It'll take time, but you can do it. You'll learn the politics and the military and the etiquette and everything else that you've been worrying about. It will all come easier to you after a while. I know you can do this."
She frowned at him, wondering just why he had such confidence in her when she didn't have any. Reading her mind, he smiled, squeezing her hands. "I know you can do this because you are exactly what this country needs. When I first saw you, you were this little sliver a girl, running to save a stranger's family with nothing more than a slip of bark in her hands. Not many would do that. You trusted a headcase, a broken man and a coward with your life and you never looked back. And your courage, intelligence and heart lead you to make the right decision. That girl I first met couldn't do this. But you aren't that girl anymore. You've grown into a beautiful woman and I am honored to know you."
Even if DG could talk, she would be rendered speechless by his admission. He was not a man given for heartfelt words of any sort, which made this so much more important. She actually felt tears prick at her eyes, but she blinked them away. Cain smiled then, one of his rare, full blown smiles that made her weak in the knees. Before he released her hands, he said one more thing to her. "I'm proud of you, DG. You've taken everything two separate worlds have thrown at you and you've come out on top. Whatever happens today, tomorrow, or ten years from now, I'm always going to be proud of you."
Unable to stop herself, DG threw herself at Cain, wrapping her arms around his neck. Queen or no, she was still going to be fond of impromptu hugs. The guards around them—studiously ignoring the scene—grew to love their new monarch all the more; not just because she was human enough to be scared, but because she was still clearly the farm girl from the Other Side. It was why the people would always love her.
DG kissed his cheek as she pulled away. She smiled at him, a grateful, confident smile that let him know that she was alright. She could do this. He gave a short bow and then stepped back, leaving her to face the doors once again. DG smoothed out her skirts and took a breath. Head held high, she signaled the doormen that she was ready.
The doors slid open smoothly, revealing the transformed Great Hall. Not nearly as imposing as it was last night, it was packed with noblemen and courtiers from across the O.Z. The light from the ablaze chandeliers reflected off of every kind of color ensemble as the delegates from different people and lands were dressed in their finest. The center aisle was clear all the way to the dias where her parents and sister waited, along with a Justice, an old political official from some court or other that was always given the honor of crowning the Queen.
Carefully, DG started forward, taking the stairs slowly, her ruby slippers flashing with each step. She refused to start the coronation by falling flat on her face, so she moved a bit slower than was strictly necessary. She tried not to look at the people on either side of her as she walked across the marble floor. They were all unnervingly silent. She instead looked at her family. Her mother and father stood off to the right, dressed in immaculate clothes, looking every bit the royal family. They both smiled proudly at her, hands covertly clasped between them. Next to them stood Azkadellia, dressed in a simple gown of ivory, black hair cascading down her back. She was demure and elegant, everything the witch was not. She smiled at her sister encouragingly and DG was bolstered by their support.
She was at the stairs though and brought her attention to the ceremony at hand. She carefully walked up the stairs and stopped two from the top directly before the Justice. He was a rather portly man with a smattering of gray hair. He was clothed in a simple blue robe, belted at the waist with a silver rope. He looked down on her sternly, but there was a decided twinkle in his eyes as he spoke.
"Crown Princess Dorothy." His voice reverberated throughout the Hall, easily reaching everyone's ears. She almost flinched at the sudden sound, but stood her ground, staring up at him, hands clasped before her. "You come before us now, seeking the Crown. Speak the Oaths of the Land, that we may grant your desire."
DG took a moment, recalling the words she had spent days memorizing. She could feel the spell around her vocal cords vanish. Refusing to look at Az, she kept her eyes on the Justice and spoke the ancient words, praying her voice wouldn't crack from disuse. "Before you, I come to seek the Throne of the Outer Zone. I come, ready to devote my being to the benefit of this world. I will protect this land and its people with my magic and body, sparing no expense for their safety. I will share in their prosperity and their despair, for their lives are tied with mine.
"I will be mother and daughter to these people, teaching as well as allowing myself to be taught. I will journey along the Old Road of this land, restoring beauty where it is lost and ending that which has poisoned it. I will mourn with the grief-stricken and rejoice with the victorious. I give my soul to this land for all eternity as I call upon my ancestors to guide me. Before you I come, humble and ready, for this greatest responsibility."
Slowly, she bowed her head and kneeled upon the stairs, her speech done. She had been half tempted to write it out on her hand, but it wouldn't fit. No worries, she had gotten through it just fine. The Justice moved above her, but she had to keep her head lowered and was unable to see what he was doing.
"With your Oaths spoken, I grant you this Crown, this Throne, this Land and this People as your charges. Watch over them as beloved children, guide them through trials and protect them from peril. Give them your life, as they will give you theirs." Her breath hitched as a weight settled upon her head. The silver crown, a rather lopsided piece that stretched higher on one side than the other, was now upon her head. She looked up, able to see the smile of the Justice before her and her family's grins out of the corner of her eyes.
The Justice stepped back and to the side. "We honor our Lady, Queen Dorothy of the House of Gale!" DG, hardly able to believe it, stood up and turned around. All before her, the delegates and nobles of the entire world bowed. In the front row, grinning wildly was Glitch. Raw was next to him, representing the Viewers. Both of them looked at her proudly from their place on bended knee. Her eyes slid over the people towards the back. Cain stood at the top of the stairs, grinning proudly at her. He bowed when she looked at him and she couldn't stop her answering smile.
"Your Majesty." The Justice was motioning to the back of the dias where the brocade curtains were pulled back to reveal the door. With her family smiling and following behind her, DG calmly walked past her throne. Two guards opened the doors, letting the room flood with sound from Central City. The moment she stepped onto the balcony, cheers erupted all around her. The square below was absolutely packed with people, all waving silver and green banners with the symbol from the House of Gale imprinted on it. They cheered and waved at her, some whistled, others chanted her name. Kids leaned out of windows and climbed light poles to get a better look at her. And all she could do was stare at the crowd.
But then she knew. Staring at these people, her people, she knew. She could do this. She could be the Queen they deserved. The Queen they wanted. She could do this. She would do this.
I hope you all enjoyed it! Now please, click the little review button and let me know what you think!