My first story! I'm excited and nervous all at the same time. I've never written anything to be viewed by the public before. Anyway, on to the story. This first chapter might be confusing, but don't worry, all will be explained in time. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: If I owned The Princess and the Frog I most certainly would not be writing fan fiction about it.
They arrived by night on a private yacht at a time when no one else was around to notice them. They took extra care to not be seen as they traveled the dark streets of New Orleans in a borrowed automobile, passing block after block as silently and as quickly as possible. From one end of the city to the next, the car sped around countless corners until they had reached the high end part of town where its destination was placed. The La Bouff mansion was placed at the end of a long, notoriously expensive avenue where the people were usually in bed by eleven to ensure they had their nightly dosage of beauty sleep. It was easy for the plain covered car to slip through the front gates and up the short cobblestone path unnoticed. The young mistress of the house, Miss Charlotte Alexandra La Bouff, was waiting anxiously in the doorway for the car's arrival.
It was a chilly night, one that caused Miss La Bouff to pull her shawl around her tighter, though she loosened her grip when she caught sight of the automobile rattling toward the mansion. The night was dead silent, save for the rustling of the wind. All of the servants and butlers had been dismissed on a one day holiday at the insistence of Charlotte, who believed they all worked too hard anyway. It would go unmentioned that she'd had a difficult time fixing herself lunch without the help of the cooks.
The young heiress held her hand up in a wave, as though it would help guide her visitors to the grand porch. The car had no trouble finding its way, and only a second after it had jerked to a stop the back door flew open and two figures in dark coats and hats that hid their faces scrambled under the cover of the overhang. A middle aged chauffer emerged as well, but did not follow the couple inside. He was told to wait, the visit wouldn't take long, and he respectfully obeyed, though he looked on with sad eyes as his employers walked inside, the woman clutching a bundle to her chest.
No one spoke until the two guests had peeled off their outer layers of clothing, revealing them to be a tan man and a dark-skinned woman, both dressed in casual, but obviously foreign attire. Charlotte tapped her feet nervously. "I wish I could say it's good to see you, Tiana, but…considering…," she couldn't find the right way to word it.
"I know." The woman said, speaking with the same accent as her hostess and looking down at her special cargo cheerlessly.
"We shouldn't waist time, love," the man spoke to the woman, his wife, in a clearly European accent. He set down two small suitcases and a folder at Charlotte's feet. "We must be gone by dawn."
"Yes. You're right, Naveen." Tiana's eyes watered as she took the bundle in her arms and shed the blanket from the top, kissing the baby's forehead gently, before holding the child out to her father, who caressed her tiny cheek and did the same.
"I'll love you always, princess." Naveen whispered to his daughter. Tiana hugged her close one last time, and then handed her over to Charlotte.
"I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think I had to." Tiana told her best friends firmly. "Dr. Facilier is still out there. I can't…I can't risk her being in danger, and you're the only one I trust to take care of her. We'll come back for her as soon as he's caught, I promise." Charlotte nodded solemnly and looked down at the baby girl in her arms. She looked just like her daddy, with slightly paler skin and his deep brown eyes, though her hair was darker and she had her mother's dimples. The poor girl had no idea what was even happening. She reached out toward her mother, her mouth twisting into a confused frown that made Tiana - strong, no-nonsense Tiana - collapse against Naveen as she let her sobs come. The prince held his wife close, trying to be the rock even when he was ready to cry, too.
"Don't spoil her too much." He said in an attempt to make the situation a little less gloomy. No one laughed, but Charlotte put on an forced, but appreciative smile. She didn't know what she should do. It wasn't her that was losing a child. She didn't know how to comfort her heart-broken friend. Naveen reached out and held the baby's chubby hand for a second. "I'll always be with you, my sweet Evangeline." He made eye contact with Charlotte, his expression betraying his sadness and fear. The prince and princess made their way to the door, but Tiana started to cry out and reach for her daughter.
"We can't leave her!" She choked through her tears. "She needs me! I can't lose her! No!" Naveen held her close to him and struggled against her suprising strength, but he managed to get her outside and into the car.
"We trust in you fully." He said to Charlotte through the window. "We'll send a letter soon. Just…make sure she always knows we love her." He rolled up the window, and they were gone. Charlotte was left, standing helplessly outside her home with a child wriggling and crying at the realization that her mother was nowhere to be found.
It was creepy to travel the huge house at night when no one else was there to keep company with. Charlotte was all alone, and since her father had passed away from heart conditions only weeks before she'd had only the staff to give the mansion a homey atmosphere. She headed swiftly to the third floor bedrooms. A nursery had already been prepared. It was the room Charlotte had stayed in as a child, and most of the furniture was hers from years before. Just about all of it was pink and lacy, but the baby wouldn't mind, at least not until she was older. Charlotte looked at the little girl and wondered what in the world she had gotten herself into. She had no clue how to raise a child, and what if she messed her up? Tiana would never forgive her. The baby was screaming now, her few teeth fully visible as she wailed for her mother.
Charlotte panicked and could do nothing but bounce the baby up and down on her knee. "Shhh, shhh, baby girl. C'mon sugar, it's okay. Oh where's that baby food?" She was speaking more to herself than to the baby. The folder Naveen had given her was nearby, and she somehow managed to leaf through it and balance the baby at the same time. Mumbling to herself, she recited the instructions. "Okay, okay. Before bed: warm bath, pj's, blanket, read the book, lullaby. Hm," she looked down at the baby, whose cries had lessened to pitiful hiccups. "Well, you look clean enough to me. Let's just skip that part."
She hoisted the little girl onto her hip and placed her inside the crib. Inside one of the suitcases were all of her clothes, and in the other was an assortment of books, toys, and games. "My goodness," Charlotte said to herself when she saw a 150 piece puzzle among the goodies, "Tiana's got one smart cookie on her hands. Oh! There it is." She picked up a green blanket patterned with small crowns and tiaras. It distracted the child well enough so Charlotte was able to (somewhat) easily switch her dainty blue dress for yellow footie pajamas. "Good. That's done. Now, what book?"
It couldn't just be any book. Naveen had said the book. The question was: which one? An old leather bound book was sitting on top, an old Maldonian folk-tale collection. Charlotte held it up for the baby to see, but the infant's brows creased and the early signs of another fit were evident. The book was thrown aside hastily and three more books were tried, though each one had negative results. A green book was next, and Charlotte's eyebrows raised thoughtfully when she saw the golden words The Frog Prince written in fancy lettering across the cover. To her surprise the little girl smiled and clapped her hands when she saw the familiar story.
"Figures," Charlotte chuckled, "of course Naveen would want to read this to you. Your daddy's cheesy that way." She pulled a chair next to the crib and began to read the story just as she remembered Tiana's mother, Eudora, used to. The baby was delighted with the voices Charlotte made for each character, and the young woman herself was getting into the fairytale. It wasn't until the last page was turned that she noticed her god-daughter was out cold with a thumb in her mouth and the blanket under her head. Charlotte smiled at the sweet scene and turned her head to look out the window. The night was clear and crisp, and the moon was brighter than ever over the city. The stars twinkled everywhere, but one was noticeably more dazzling than the rest. The Evening Star.
Charlotte looked from the sleeping infant to the star, and then out to the distant port where Tiana and Naveen were sure to be preparing to leave for Maldonia. "Please, please, please." She whispered, turning off the lamp and leaving without another word.
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