Look at me! New story.
Okay, some things to start out with:
1. This is the first time I've ever tried to conquer an AU.
2. This started out as a late birthday present for two very good friends who wanted me to give it a go (they seem to like it, I hope you do too) since the idea has been floating around in my head for like... 6 months now.
3. This will be a multi chapter story (I've written a good chunk of it already. Perhaps not halfway, but nearly ) I think it will be around 13-15 chapters in the end.
4. I'm having so much fun writing it.
5. I'm super nervous about posting it.

Disclaimer - I do not own Castle. I'm merely playing with them.

Alea Iacta Est

Katherine wasn't sure that she had ever seen anything as beautiful as the way the spines of the books in the library looked when the sun was shining through the large window on the far wall. The dust from the pages floating in the air, pieces of magic dancing to a melody that only they could hear.

She had been called upon earlier by a servant, telling her that her presence was needed in the throne room as soon as possible. As soon as her servant had excused herself to get her morning tea, she had quickly started getting herself ready, dressing herself in a modest but elegant dress that hugged her figure perfectly, the rich, purple fabric falling to the ground around her slipper covered feet.

One of her ladies came in and brushed out her hair for her, even though she argued as she did every morning that she was perfectly capable of doing it herself. The woman powdered her nose for her, trying to hide some of Katherine's tan skin (from spending too much time outdoors), tied her hair back in a long brown braid down the length of her back, and escorted her to the library, waiting until she was needed in the room just beyond the doors.

Until then, she was perfectly content to stay within the comforts of the library. It was one of her favorite places to disappear to when she needed a break. The smell of the pages calmed her down, but it was the words on the pages that had the greatest effect.

She didn't always like living in a castle, but the library made up for it. She realized just how lucky she was to be able to be surrounded by all of these things. Words were the only things that she had felt she could truly rely on, and she hadn't even managed to read a fifth of the large room yet. This room would be with her until the end of her life.

Katherine reached out, preparing to pull one of her favorites down off the shelf to get some reading done before she was needed.

"Princess Katherine," the woman, Mary, said to her, effectively forcing her hand to freeze just inches away from her book, "the King will see you know."

Katherine had to fight the urge to roll her eyes. The woman had always been kind to her, but Katherine had been trying to get her to drop the formalities since she was a teenager. After all, Mary had been in Katherine's life since the moment she was born. She had been the one to take care of her when she awoke in the middle of the night. She had been the one to feed her and bathe her. Katherine would think they would be on more familiar terms by now.

Instead, Katherine just smiled, "Thank you, Mary."

Katherine quickly moved over to the large double doors of the throne room, immediately finding her father at the other end of the hall, talking to a group of his advisors standing next to him.

"Father," she called out to him, alerting him to her presence.

King James immediately looked up at his daughter's voice, the seriousness fading from his face and transforming into a smile. He stood up, his advisors falling back and bowing their heads in respect, but he either didn't see or didn't care.

"Katherine," he said, stepping down from his throne and making his way over to her. She met him halfway down the hall. He immediately took her hands in his, lifting them from her sides and hugging them into his chest, "My dear, I've missed you so much."

Katherine leaned forward, pressing a quick kiss to his cheek.

"How was your trip father?"

The King let go of her hands and presented her his arm. She took it, wrapping her hand around his elbow and walking with him back towards the opposite end of the hall.

"Oh, it was how it usually is," he said, "long, boring, lots of talk about politics and young men asking how they could convince me to marry you off."

Katherine looked at her father and grimaced. He only laughed in response, patting her hand.

"Don't worry, my dear, I haven't forgotten our promise."

King James had married for love, despite the wishes of his parents. He had fallen desperately in love with a serving maid named Johanna. At the time, he had been engaged to another woman, a princess from a neighboring land, but he had called it all off days before the wedding. He instead married Johanna, and the rest of the kingdom fell in love with the maiden with the pretty smile just as he had. She was just and fair, but she was just as kind and generous, exactly what they were looking for in a queen.

A few years later the Queen became pregnant, and the whole kingdom was overwhelmed with happiness. That child was going to be the heart and soul of the entire land. Celebrations were planned for when the child was born. When Katherine was born, Johanna very nearly died. The midwives had managed to stop the bleeding, but she had already lost so much. No one had much hope. But Johanna did, if only for the little life she held in her arms.

Johanna had managed to stay alive for 10 days, nursing her darling daughter and cherishing her with all she had. In the hours before her death, she had called her husband to her bedside, making him promise that he would always treat their daughter with respect and love, and when the time came, he would let her marry whomever she wanted. He had agreed and kissed his wife one last time.

She later that night she fell asleep and simply never woke up again.

The entire country went into mourning. The entire country was a sea of black, the citizens of the nation losing themselves in the loss of their dear queen. King James had taken her death particularly hard, and sought comfort in dirty taverns all across the land (where the drinks were always free but he tipped double the cost). But by morning, he'd sober up and go spend time with his daughter, just like he promised his wife.

Despite the pressure to do so, James could never force himself to be re-marry. He was content to spend the rest of his life with the only part of Johanna he had left, his only daughter, who grew more and more lovely every day. When Kate became of marrying age, she had a plethora of potential suitors, and of course, James was not surprised. She looked like a young Johanna, and she had her spirit: free, wild, and a smile that could light up the darkest recesses of the night. He had told Katherine of the promise he made to her mother and made the same promise to her. And now, nearly 30 years later, he loved her just as much as he had as when he was a little girl.

"You do know," he said, "that you will have to marry eventually when I'm gone."

Katherine deflected the question, "Oh father, you still have but 20 years on you before it comes to that."

He laughed, "Oh Katherine, you have no idea what the world has in store for any of us. We're all just pawns in a giant, complicated game played by Providence."

Katherine shook her head, "I don't very much like the concept of Fate. If everything's already been planned then where's the excitement?"

James looked at her and smiled, "Just because the outcome has already been decided doesn't mean you know about it beforehand, my dear. Your whole life could be an adventure if only you let it."

Katherine smiled up at her father.

"I've missed you and the words you steal from others, father."

"And I've missed you," he said, squeezing her arm, "It's good to be home."

By then they had reached the end of the hall. Kate looked over slightly and saw her father's advisors staring at them, but when they caught her gaze, they looked away quickly. Kate shook her head and turned her to her father.

"Did you call on me for any reason, Father? Or did you just want to say 'hello'?"

James smiled, knowing that his daughter was far too observant for her own good, "Yes, actually. I wanted to let you know that I've arranged a surprise for you."

Katherine raised an eyebrow at him, "Did you not just ruin the surprise?"

He reached out a hand and chuffed her chin teasingly, "Well, I know that my daughter doesn't fare well with surprises, so I thought I would give her fair warning."

Katherine pursed her lips, "How very kind of you."

"Well I certainly thought so," James said with a smile, "He'll be arriving tomorrow afternoon."

"He?" Katherine asked.

"He," James reiterated, nodding as he spoke, "I saw him when I was near The Gates. He's a troubadour… Oh, don't give me that face. He's good. Very good. He writes all of his own work. I invited him here so you could listen to him."

Katherine didn't look convinced. In her experience, most troubadours were inexperienced at best. Their words were beautiful, but the delivery was poor and it took away from the experience. But, if her father thought that he was good enough to bring him into their home, then she was willing to give him a chance. Her father had never lied to her before.

"Well, I look forward to meeting him. Thank you, Father." She cast a glance back over to his advisors again and found them once again looking at the two of them, shifting their weight from side to side. Katherine turned and smiled at her father, "Now, your advisors look like they're going to keel over if they don't get a moment alone with you. I'm sure much has happened since you left 2 months ago…" Katherine leaned up and kissed her father on the cheek, "… I'll leave you to your work."

James pressed a kiss to her forehead and let go of her hands, silently telling her she was free to take her leave. He turned to his advisors as Kate turned away back down towards the end of the hall, towards the library. She sat down in one of the many armchairs scattered around the room, curling her legs up towards her chest. She reached back and grabbed a book off of the shelf behind her, deciding that she had a good bit of time to read before heading out to the town square.

She opened her book and began to read, but her mind kept drifting back to the words her father had said earlier, her thoughts filled with images of fates and pawns and troubadours that just wouldn't fade away.

I know not much has happened yet, but I would really like to know what you think.
Love it? Hate it? Let me know what you think!