Introduction

I started this Fanfiction story because I felt that Henry, the man persistent enough to have chased Danielle across the courtyard merely to learn her name, certainly would have gone after her when he learned that the woman he loved was supposedly engaged and leaving the country without even telling him. This story picks up in the garden of Hautefort as the Queen tells him that Nicole is engaged.

One other issue I had was that we don't see Henry deal with Danielle's 'betrayal'. One scene he is unforgiving of her, yelling at da Vinci, the next time we see him is at the altar waiting for the Spanish bride. If she hadn't made such a scene would he have married her and never looked for Danielle? She would have wandered off from Le Pieu's- never to be heard from again? Gabriella runs off and suddenly he realized he loves Danielle? When he didn't care enough to find out where she was before his wedding? The wedding had to have taken at least a few weeks to arrange. The Spanish Royal Family didn't take a plane to France, after all.

So, I had to deal with these holes in the storyline. Of course, my version would have had to be a miniseries, not a two hour theater movie.

I became totally enthralled with writing this and it turned into a full novel length story. The Word document is 275 pages in a size 12 font, so have plenty of ink and paper if you plan on printing it out.

Below are some things you need to know before reading the story.

Notes:

M. stands for Monsieur

Mme. Stands for Madame

Mlle. Stands for Mademoiselle

Matante is the French affectionate form for "my aunt"

Dauphin is the title used by the Crown Prince of France. It is used similarly to Prince of Wales for the British heir apparent. The wife of the Dauphin is the Dauphine.

Before the revolution, when France had noble titles, Monsieur and Madame were used to address members of the nobility, being roughly equivalent to the English "My Lord" and "My Lady." They could be used capitalized before a surname or, in lower case, as a pronoun.

M. Le Pieu (Monsieur Le Pieu) is equivalent to "Lord Le Pieu", as is appropriate given that he owns Château Beynac, one of the most impressive medieval castles in southern France and which was held by Barons in the 16th century.

Auguste de Barbarac is an untitled noble.

Auguste de Barbarac is addressed in the opening scene of the movie by Maurice as "Monsieur Le Seigneur" which translates to "My Lord, Lord of the Manor," referring to the lord of the manor and is an appropriate form of address for a servant to use for an untitled noble.

Although not officially controlled in France, the use of "de" (the nobility particle) in a last name usually indicated nobility, especially as long ago as the 16th century.

He also dresses appropriately for a noble, with the embroidered tunic which is under his fur trimmed leather jerkin in the opening scene. A commoner would not wear this. It would be against the sumptuary laws of the time. These are the same laws that Gustave talks to Danielle about when she is dressing up to go to court.

Nicole's dress, which Danielle wears to the masque, is also clearly the dress of a noblewoman. When Marguerite wants something "Fit for a Queen," the Baroness immediately thinks of this dress.

Finally, the Baroness would have forfeited her courtesy title of Baroness if she had married a commoner. She tells Danielle how she had risen to the level of Baroness. She was not born a baroness; therefore she uses the title as a courtesy because her first husband was a Baron.

Places:

Château d'Hautefort is the castle of the Royal Family in the movie.

Château Beynac is M. Le Pieu's castle.

Château de Dieppe, Château de la Roche-Guyon and Château des Tourelles are all real places, as are the Royal Palaces of the Louvre and Fontainebleau and Notre Dame Cathedral. Other locations exist solely in my imagination.

Drew Barrymore/Danielle has green eyes and Dougray Scott/Henry has blue eyes, so do the characters in my story, unlike the companion book, which was apparently written before the movie was cast.

Chapter 1

Engaged to a Belgian?

"Engaged? To a Belgian?" Henry said in disbelief. He felt as though he'd been punched.

"I'm afraid so," the Queen said sympathetically. It was heart-rending to have to break this news to Henry.

"That's impossible! There has to be some kind of mistake!" he said with conviction. She would have told him. He was certain.

"She was travelling by boat this afternoon," the Queen continued. "Baroness Rodmilla was quite reluctant to talk about it."

"Well, it's no wonder- with tidings such as these," Henry turned and walked a few steps away from his mother. He was staggered. "Do you know, if she was betrothed, she damn well should have had the decency to say something!" he said angrily.

"Would you have listened?" she asked tenderly.

"Of course not! I would've—" A vision of Nicole, as she had looked this afternoon at Amboise, came to his mind. 'There is something I must tell you…I cannot stay long…There is much to say…You're not making this easy…Why did you have to be so wonderful?...Last night was the happiest night of my life.' She had been crying before she came, he realized. She had cried out in distress when he had embraced her and run away. This explained her odd behavior, Henry realized, feeling sick and betrayed. "Oh God, how could I have been so blind?" he walked back to his mother. "There I was, pouring my royal heart out and she was simply trying to bid me farewell," he said bitterly.

Marie reached a hand out to touch his cheek, wishing she could comfort him. "It is a strong woman who can keep her wits about her, with you trying to steal her heart."

"Yes, and what a clumsy thief I turned out to be," he said in despair.

"Oh, come now Henry," she said as he turned and walked away. "Any choice is better than Spain," she called after him.

'She is my only choice,' he thought desperately. 'If I cannot have her, what does it matter who I marry?'

Upon leaving his mother, Henry immediately told Capt. Laurent to get the horses saddled and they headed with all haste to the Baroness' home, determined to speak with Nicole before she left.

As they rode towards the Manor de Barbarac, Henry replayed their last encounter over in his mind. 'When she arrived she looked upset and said she had something to tell me. Was I so focused on what I was planning to share that I didn't realize she had something so momentous to tell me? As I told her about my sleepless night and wanting to share my life with her she seemed to get more upset. When I pulled her into my arms she recoiled. What was so different about today? Yesterday at the monastery and later at the gypsy camp everything was so perfect. Did something happen? Did I do something to frighten her off? Are they forcing her to honour the engagement? Surely, she would have told me if that were the case. After all, what guardian wouldn't prefer me as a marriage prospect?' he thought. 'She cannot be gone, yet. I was with her only a few hours ago,' he prayed as they rode up before the Manor de Barbarac.

As Henry pulled his horse to a quick stop and dismounted, the Baroness came out of the door and swept into a deep curtsey. "Why, Your Highness, to what do we owe the honour of your visit?"

Approaching the Baroness Henry said, "I am here to see the Comtesse de Lancret, Baroness."

Eyes widening in surprise the Baroness said, "Oh, Your Highness, she left hours ago, I'm afraid. The luggage cart left this morning. She went for a walk and as soon as she returned she left on horseback."

"Nicole went for a walk?" he asked, upset that he was too late.

"Yes, she said that she needed a solitary walk to say 'goodbye' to France, Your Highness," she said sweetly.

Henry felt his world crumbling around him. He was "France" to Nicole? Could the love he felt really be so one-sided? "Baroness, I would like to see her room before I leave."

"But, of course, Your Highness." The Baroness was a bit panicked now, with the Prince in the house and Danielle locked in the root cellar. Fortunately, she had already banished the other servants to the fields for the afternoon.

She led the Prince upstairs to the guestroom and waited outside while he looked around. She was relieved that she always insisted it be kept clean and ready for possible visitors so it did not look or smell like the unused room that it was. Henry walked around the room, trying to picture Nicole reading by the fireplace or sleeping in the bed. The wardrobe was empty and there was no sign that she might still be here.

'She really was just trying to bid me farewell,' he thought despondently. 'Who is she marrying? Why? Why not me? Could it be a love match? It must be, for why else would she have chosen to honour her engagement to this unknown nobleman over being the future Queen of France? She was so upset at Amboise, even pulling out of my embrace. I should have realized there was more to it than Nicole just being overwhelmed with the honour of marrying the arrogant heir to the French Crown. I should have followed her when she ran off! Stupid, thinking she just needed some time to adjust to the idea.'

Taking one last glance at the room, Henry left the guestroom and headed back downstairs. The Baroness followed him downstairs and outside. Suddenly, Henry turned towards her and demanded, "How is it that she is engaged to a foreigner without being first presented at court and having the marriage approved? A French comtesse cannot marry without the Crown's approval."

The Baroness looked troubled and said, "Your Highness, they have been betrothed since they were children." Thinking quickly she added, "The approval was sought years ago," hoping he wouldn't go looking for record of such an approval. "She is so looking forward to being reunited with her fiancé. They have been the best of friends since they first met as small children."

The Baroness watched the emotions playing across the Prince's face and held her tongue. She watched the hope and determination die in his eyes. He had decided not to chase after the woman who had spurned him for another. Henry composed his features, politely thanking the Baroness and bidding her farewell. He mounted his horse and headed slowly back to the Château d'Hautefort.