Author Note: Sorry 'bout not updating my other stories, but I thought too much about the King and Queen and, well... it was too much fun not to :D So I'm going to try my hand at explaining their relationship-and how it all began. Roughly, anyway. I will catch up with the other stuff when college allows, but I'm also very interested in how this will continue. The King and Queen have both become very real to me through writing and thinking about them, and I hope you enjoy reading this! :D
Soli Deo Gloria
Disclaimer: Disney owns Tangled, its characters, and its story
It was a pleasant, warm summer afternoon in Corona. The sunlight glinted on the waters of the harbor, and fresh sea breezes filled the sails of merchant vessels and royal ships as they drifted in and out of port. Seagulls flew across a vibrant, cloudless blue sky, their cries disappearing within the echoing tolls of the guardhouse bell. In the city, people passed and chatted—shop owners sold and bartered—animals bleated and clucked as their masters led them to the market. Life was going on, as it always seemed to have done, as usual.
So that made Prince Thomas wonder why his life was not going on as usual.
"Mother, I just don't see the point of-," the tall, twenty-two year-old man protested as he adjusted his collar, "-of inviting every noblewoman in the city. I already told you I'm not eligible."
His mother rolled her eyes from where she sat on the couch, replying, "Dear, you're 'not eligible' when you've found someone. Right now you are what they call a bachelor—a very stubborn, very close-minded young man who has yet to understand the importance of what his mother is trying to do."
Thomas checked his cufflinks, muttering, "What my mother is trying to do is enslave me."
"No—I'm just trying to find you a wife."
"Is there really a difference?" He demanded in frustration, turning around to face her.
She sighed, gazing up at her son. He was taller and thicker than her husband, though he had his broad-shoulders and dark blue eyes. His face was squarish—handsomely so—and his chin and mouth were rimmed with a set of whiskers he had so carefully grown during the winter. His stern, Roman nose was perched over a frown, and his forehead bore that strong crease of thought—in this case, of discontentment—that she had seen on his father so many times. He was almost a physically matured man now. But he was still her son, and he also needed to grow up.
"Tommy, I don't know why you believe you don't have to consider the idea. I'm not forcing you into it, but I want you to think about the possibility." She stood and walked over to him, reaching up to smooth back his brown hair. "After all, dear, you are twenty-two years of age. Most of your friends have already found a wife… but you haven't."
"I don't want one, Mother. I've told you that I am quite fine without."
"I know you have. Just—know I am doing this because I love you and I care about your happiness."
He nodded slowly, murmuring, "Yes, ma'am."
She smiled and patted his cheek as she said, "I'll see you out in the gardens, dear. That's where we'll be meeting them."
"All right, Mother. But if I don't—if I can't find one this time, can we please not do it again?"
"We'll see." His mother left the room, closing the door behind her.
Thomas went over to his wardrobe and rapped his knuckles on the wooden siding.
"All right, Freddy, you can come out now."
There was a rather loud grunt, and then, a few seconds later, a muffled voice said, "Um… the door is stuck, Goliath."
Thomas grinned and yanked open the door to watch his cousin tumble out. Frederick Hadrian III quickly straightened to glare at his chuckling relative. Rubbing his rather long, beaky nose, Frederick muttered, "I see you had fun. Getting all spiffy and proper while I was stuffed in the old clothes closet. I think I tripped on one of those—what do you call them? Those marshmallow-looking things I tried to eat when I was three and Mum nearly throttled me for it."
"Um, they're called mothballs and—if I remember correctly—that was only a few Christmases ago when William made a bet with you."
"Yes, but Mum still choked me for it—kept saying the stupid things were poisonous."
"They are poisonous."
Frederick nodded, "Ah. No wonder she did it then. Anyhoo, why did you stuff me in the closet?"
"Because she'd have you thrown out if I didn't. You know you weren't supposed to be here until next Thursday."
"Well, your lovely Auntie Derma decided that her last, unattached son should go see the pickings. Speaking of—who is going to be out in that garden?"
"You were eavesdropping?"
Frederick looked insulted. He set a hand on his chest, remarking snippily, "I always eavesdrop, Goliath. Can't help it. God gave me big ears for a reason, you know."
Thomas held up a fist, smirking, "Yes, so I can box them when I've found out you've been listening in on private conversations."
"Hey, you're the one who stuffed me in the closet mate—and I can't plug me ears up with mothballs."
His cousin shrugged, "That's true. There're probably not enough in there to get one of your enormous ears blocked, let alone both."
"All right—all right. Stop with the 'pick on Freddy' time. Now wot's really bothering you, Goliath?" Frederick asked, folding his arms and staring up at his cousin.
"Well-," Thomas sat down in a chair set against the wall, sprawling comfortably and wrinkling his clothes, "-Mother's having tons of young, single noblewomen over today so I can 'meet, muse upon, and eventually marry' one of them."
"Hey—your mum says that all the time."
"I know, that's why I put air-quotes around it." He leaned forward, shaking his head as he sighed, "Freddy, I don't want to be married."
"At least your mother hasn't given up on you. My dear mum says she's lost hope. Matter of fact, so have I." Frederick sniffed slightly.
Thomas groaned and waved his hands vaguely, "Oh, you'll find a girl, Freddy—you're looking for her. Me… I don't want a girl. I don't want a wife, I don't need a wife—I can rule Corona perfectly fine without one. Women are just—they're just too difficult. All of the ladies I know just take and take and never give—never think about giving. What am I saying, they never think at all!"
His cousin frowned, "That's not necessarily true. They think about clothes, and men—hopefully men like me—and cooking, some of them. And that paint stuff they put on their cheeks to make them look like they're blushing all the time. That's odd, you know. But—they… they think. I think…"
"You sound so sure of yourself." Thomas said, smiling.
"Oh, blast you Tom! As if you know any better."
"Yes, and I don't want to know. I don't want to be married. I don't care, Freddy. I just don't care."
"Too bad about that. We have to go humor your mum. I need to go conquer a fair maiden's heart—or several. And you—you have to follow Auntie Caroline around and mumble pleasantries and try not to scare any of those beauties off."
"Ha ha. Very funny." His cousin commented dryly.
Frederick shook his head, "No, I'm serious. You're a big scary giant, Goliath. Just—just try to smile a bit. Who knows, maybe you'll find someone today."
"Yeah, and maybe, right now, there's a girl who doesn't want to be here as much as I don't want to be here."
"Catherine, will you please put that book down and get out of the coach?"
"Mother, please—I just have one more chapter-."
"No! We're late enough as it is! Besides, Katie, you are nineteen years old, we're here to see his Highness, and I will not let you walk around with your nose in a book."
Catherine rolled her eyes and continued to read, muttering, "I thought Lizzie was the prospective victim, not me, Mother."
"You're not the vict—I mean—you're just here to keep Lizzie sane and to prevent her from making eyes at that George of Dean."
"But she likes George, Mother. She's going to marry him."
"I know. But we have to keep up an appearance of interest to the crown. Now get out of there!"
Catherine closed her book, set it on the seat, and carefully exited the carriage. Her mother was frowning at her.
"Lizzie's already half-way up the steps and she'll have a panic attack when she realizes we're not with her. Hurry up, dear. And fix your hair while you're at it."
She hastened up the steps to join her trembling sister, smoothing back her hair and automatically lifting her dress to avoid stepping on its hem. It was a rather hot day, and she hoped they would not have to stay outside for the entire duration of the afternoon. After all, dresses could only be made so comfortable for wearing in warm weather, and no matter how delicate females were supposed to be, sometimes perspiration got the better of them.
Her mother followed behind, considering her daughters. One girl twenty and almost engaged to a Duke's son, while the other simply refused to be interested in men at all. Both were built the same way: not quite petite, slender, with large wide green eyes and long brown hair. The only difference was that Lizzie was nervous and Catherine, composed. Well—there were a slew of other differences as well, but not such as could be seen by anyone other than their mother.
Meanwhile, in the palace gardens, Thomas dolefully followed his mother around the various rose bushes, flowerbeds, and topiary. A servant passed them, carrying a tray of drinks to refresh the royal guests. The waiters drifted in and out of a virtual sea of pastel-colored dresses. Making up this crowd were daughters talking to their mothers, noblewomen gossiping with their friends, girls of all kinds chatting and singing and giggling. Basically, it seemed that every member of the female sex was here today. And he—the prince of Corona—was doomed to speak to each of them.
At first, the hours of matchmaking had gone well considering his resistance to the notion. He had actually met some kind girls who were rather pretty. But they were the early arrivals. It was the latecomers that he really had to watch out for. They were the ones whose parents—especially their mothers—long nursed a deep-seated desire to have their child sitting next to the king's throne. It was starting to annoy him that all these women seemed to be sizing him up as if he were nothing more than a generous slice of political chocolate cake. Not to mention, the temperature had risen and he was sweating like a hog underneath his finest doublet.
As they passed on to another family, his mother scolded him, "Tommy, stop gasping like that and come meet the Baroness of Sarphona's daughters."
He tugged at his collar, snapping, "Mother, I can hardly breathe! Is all this frippery really practical in such a heat?"
"Probably not but I did warn you to wear your light doublet."
"This is my light doublet!"
She pursed her lips, "Hmmm… we need to have a talk with the royal tailor, then."
The Baroness of Sarphona smiled and hugged his mother, exclaiming how beautiful she looked that afternoon. His mother did the same, commenting on the baroness's new haircut. As they did this, Thomas sensed the eyes of the twin daughters studying him. He bowed to them as customary, and they curtsied back.
"This is my son, Thomas." The queen introduced.
"These are my daughters, Sylvia and Tylvia." The Baroness of Sarphona replied, her face splitting into a proud smirk. "They are both eighteen, very well-bred, and love to attend royal parties. They also enjoy chocolate."
Both girls grinned. Thomas let out a groan—which was cut off by his mother's sharp elbow to his stomach.
"Thomas likes chocolate too."
"Chocolate is a very good thing to build a relationship on."
Thomas's eyes widened. This could be bad.
"Um—I see another friend of ours over there. Sorry, dear Vivian, we've got to scoot. Come along, Tommy." She laid a hand on his arm and hurriedly pulled him away.
"Sorry about Viv, Tom dear. I had no clue she was that interested in a marriage."
"Mother, they are all interested in marriage—that's why they're here for goodness sake."
"That's not the only reason."
He snorted, "Yes, they're also hungry. We should probably start calling the girls inside. They're talking about food and—and it's steaming hot out here."
"I know, dear, I'll get one of the waiters to start dispersing them. Go and cool off somewhere." She squeezed his arm before heading over to speak with a nearby servant.
"Thank you, Mother."
He knew just where to go. He had already discussed the location with Frederick should the opportunity arise. Now it had.
Thomas rolled his sleeves up and stuck his hands into the cool water of the fountain. He splashed the cold liquid over his face, sighing in relief as his body heat went down several notches. He repeated the action again. And again.
He was going in for a fourth time—most of his top sopping by now—when a familiar voice met his ears.
"You know, you could get an eye infection from that."
"Freddy?" He glanced behind him to see his cousin's pointed face poking out from amongst the leaves of a neatly cut, topiary giraffe.
"'Ello cousin. Enjoying the hunt?"
Thomas shook his head, "Not in a million years. How long have you been hiding in that animal?"
Frederick looked upward thoughtfully, "How long have I been sharing stomach-space with Rufus? Oh, I'd say about since you came down an hour or so ago."
"You can't be comfortable in there."
"Better than your wardrobe, let me tell you. Although-," he disengaged himself noisily from the giraffe, "-leaving Rufus has a bad side-affect."
For an answer, Frederick pointed at the giraffe, and his cousin saw that it now had a large hole gaping in it. He smirked.
"The royal gardeners are going to hate that. You know how disembowelment disturbs them."
"Yes, but would you believe I actually learned several things while I was in there?"
"What did you learn?" Thomas asked, running his fingers through his wet hair while he took a seat on the edge of the fountain.
Frederick pulled a leaf from behind his ear, informing, "Well, the wives of Count Walter and Count Elliot despise wot Lady Macintosh is doing with her tea parties."
"Oh, we all knew that." Thomas said sarcastically.
"No, there's more. Believe it or not, Lady Macintosh actually remarked that Fanny of Sile—you know, the one with the wart on her—had no brains when she married Sam of Wentworth. Said the poor gal couldn't get anyone else but since your mum is so desperate, she might have had a sporting chance."
"I've seen that wart and no. Besides, Fanny has a high-pitched voice that breaks glass and Sam told me he's starting to reconsider."
Frederick frowned, "Reconsider marriage?"
"Reconsider his decision to use wine glasses for guests. Apparently every time his wife talks she breaks one. Very off-putting." Thomas said, sounding amused.
His cousin narrowed his eyes, "There's no way you knew that on your own—who did you hear it from?"
"My ever-so-kind Ladies Ellen, Isabella, and Felicia."
Frederick smiled, "Knew it. That trio of gossipers walked by talking about Henrietta of Farth. The things they said… but let me tell you about Sylvia—or was it Tylvia? Anyway, I have something of grave importance to say, Tom, and I want you to listen."
The young man was speaking in a serious tone now, and Thomas straightened to attention.
"I." Frederick announced dramatically.
"You." Thomas responded.
"Have fallen in love with Sylvia of Sarphona. Or was it Tylvia? Doesn't really matter I sup—wot? Why are you laughing?"
The prince shook his head, howling with a deep, booming laughter that frightened away several pigeons roosting in Rufus's brother.
Frederick pouted, "Now really, Goliath, I would have thought you'd be a bit more sensitive to your cousin's needs."
"You do you realize that-," he chuckled, "-what you're saying is completely ludicrous?"
"Those poofed-up princesses don't care a bit about anybody but themselves and their cake."
"I like cake." Frederick pointed out defensively.
"I know you do but—hold on. Hold on—someone's coming."
Frederick dove back into Rufus, pulling in the branches to cover himself and spectacularly mangling the side of the giraffe.
Thomas hastily rose to his feet, waiting for whoever was coming around the bend. A second later, a young woman walked by, stopped, and then turned to him.
"Excuse me," she said, smiling at his drooping beard, "but could you point me in the direction of the rest of the ladies?"
"Erm—I think they're beginning to go back inside." Thomas answered, trying to figure out where he had seen the girl before.
She nodded, "Thank you. I was just wandering around and I got lost. You had a smart idea, though."
The girl pointed at his dripping front, explaining, "What you did with the fountain—I'm assuming you used the fountain water to cool off?"
"Um, yes." He grinned awkwardly. "Yes I did."
"Good idea. It's the hottest day we've seen in a long time. Thank you again, sir." She curtseyed—quite well, actually—and flashed him another one of those soft smiles again as she departed.
Thomas cocked his head, watching as she left. She still looked familiar and—and different.
"Who's the wayward woman?" Frederick asked, emerging from the giraffe again.
"I don't know. She didn't seem to recognize me but I think I know her from somewhere."
His cousin smirked, "Perhaps from your dreams? Gal looks nice."
"Nice." Thomas muttered distractedly, walking towards the direction the girl had taken.
Frederick trotted beside him, ducking behind every shrub or tree available. Eventually, Thomas spotted Catherine, for it was her, rejoining her mother and sister with another cluster of girls. She had a book in her hand, and immediately looked guilty when her mother began to fuss at her for its existence.
Frederick glanced over the top of the honeysuckle bush, remarking: "Oh look she has a book. Wonder where she kept that… you don't think she could fit that in her bodice, do you?"
Thomas rolled his eyes, reproving, "Freddy, it is no business of ours where she keeps her books. Though—it is an interesting conundrum."
"Why, that's the most flattering thing I've heard you say about any of these damsels." His cousin said, surprised.
"She's not a damsel."
"Well—wot is she then?"
"Different." Thomas answered, marching to where his mother had started to head towards the interesting girl and her family.
He joined his mother halfway there, stepping easily in beside her. The queen frowned at her son.
"Tommy, why are you all wet?"
"You told me to cool down, so I did. Who—who are they over there?" He indicated the object of their destination.
"That's Lady Marie and her daughters, Elizabeth and Catherine. She's the wife of one of your father's best milk-lords."
"I'm not familiar with that term."
His mother smiled, "Lord Brian owns several pastures and hundreds of cows. He provides a good deal of milk and dairy products for the palace as well as other homes of nobility. I think he and his family have a house in town, actually. Runs the business from the comfort of his home—rather intelligent man. Your father likes him."
"And what of his daughters?" Thomas asked, absently buttoning his sleeves up again.
"He has about nine of them—no sons. Elizabeth is the eldest and Catherine is second eldest. We've had them over here before when you were younger—back when there was a lot of debate going on about milk."
"I thought I recognized her."
"Yes. Wait—which one?"
He smiled, "The one with the book."
"Catherine." He repeated.