Disclaimer: Princess and the Frog belongs to Disney, not mine, nada.
It was not a matter about if she got a prince, but when.
Lottie would not say she was impatient per say, but time be damned when faced with Charlotte LeBouf.
Of course, she would have to expedite the process.
Lottie was the heiress (i.e. princess) of a wealthy sugar plantation empire – she had the means to do so.
After word spread about the eldest prince of Maldonia's bride, it was to be expected that Lottie's name would be mentioned because she was the best friend of the bride. Of course, that would lead to her daddy –
Oh, that sparked interest.
During the next Mardi Gras, in her nineteenth year of age, Lottie had letters from foreign dignitaries inviting her or desiring a visit for their young bachelor of an heir.
Situated in her private corner of Tiana's place, Lottie gossiped day in and day out about her invitation and glorious plans with her best friend.
Or, at least tried to.
Being a business owner with a borderline obsessive-compulsive mindset, Tiana rarely left the kitchen during the rush hours – which was exactly the time Lottie decided to visit.
During those off times, when the restaurant was between meal times and the china was in the midst of being polished Tiana would finally allow her a moment of rest and sit across from Lottie, a bemused expression on her face. Between her ledger and Lottie's rambling, Tia would gently nick a letter from between Lottie's eagers fingers and read the letter with a critical eye.
The sweet smell of cinnamon and a foreign scent of Maldonia would whisk by, and out of the corner of her eye, Lottie could see a soft smile forming on Tia's lips.
"He's a Casanova," Naveen murmured, his voice like bourbon and the oaky cigars her father would allow her to occasionally taste. He would look over Tia's shoulder as he polished the wine glasses. Lottie and Tia would look at one another and simultaneously turn their heads toward him, an eyebrow raised suspiciously in his direction.
"Just sayin'," Naveen would redden but would insist on sticking around as he polished whatever Tia threw his way.
One day though.
"Oooh, Tia!" Lottie squealed out loud, her voice causing the various fine china and window planes to tremble slightly at the high octave. She held up a pressed flower. Or rather, a pressed bud, but Lottie was a romantic for all things princess-y. The touch of pink glitter near the unopened blossom and Lottie was more than delighted.
There was no return address.
Tia hummed, an equally curious expression on her face as she delicately placed a finger on the unopened bud.
"It's quite pretty, Lottie," she said before she disappeared back into the kitchen.
Lottie pouted. A little part of her was hoping it was a ploy from Tia and Naveen, possibly setting her up with a 'nice gentleman' but no dice. They were too nice and too pragmatic (Tia, anyway) to throw someone her way.
"Ah, buttercakes," Lottie sighed as she carefully tucked the bud back into her purse and back into the fray with the various invites.
Unbeknownst to her, Tia walked straight into the kitchen and soundly punched Naveen in the arm.
Lottie finally got an approval for a suitor from her father and the happily married couple. It must have been the 83rd letter and Lottie absently wondered if it wasn't the thrill of finding her prince that made actually finding the one (or potentially the one), a little disheartening.
She snorted, "Don't get cold feet, Lottie LeBouf."
A few weeks later, she was playing hosting to a young baron from Russia who had a house in New York City.
Their engagement was announced two weeks later.
They were engaged for three days before Lottie punched him in the face.
Lottie was holed up in her room for days.
Tia was by her side throughout, a hand gently combing through her hair and the patience of a friend until her frustration boiled over like bubbling gumbo and she tugged Lottie to the bathroom. A light shove and Lottie was up to her chin in hot water, iridescent pink and blue bubbles surrounding her like a soapy wonderland. Tia's work-roughened hands scrubbed out the grit and hairpins from her hair, and Lottie cried more. However, she wasn't sad, no, she cried out the sadness the first day. Listening to Tia hum, a lullaby from when they were younger, and the sweet smell of ginger blossoms, she cried because she knew she could look for someone better, a prince, her prince.
The following day, her hair pinned up and a fresh coat of makeup hiding her swollen lids, Lottie took to the town and stuffed her stomach with beignets and sweet and creamy chicory coffee until all she wanted to do was sleep. Lottie fell into her bed with a satisfied sigh. She would awake, not with a kiss from a prince, but with a letter on her nightstand.
Carefully, she opened up the cream covered envelope, a sweet and gentle scent hit her nose, and pulled out another pressed flower – it was a flower with dozens of little white blossoms.
Yarrow, she would later find out from her gardener.
A flower meant to cure heartbreak.
Lottie was twenty when she finally wed.
He was a duke from an old family in England.
His name was Richard.
She visited Richard's family home – they lived in a very nice estate in New England. The family castle from just a few generations ago was worn down from war and disuse.
The family was royalty in title alone.
Lottie didn't mind – a Duchess was better than being a plain missus after all.
On her wedding day, everything swathed in pink and white, and Lottie sat in the middle of it all, like a proper princess. Something felt off, she frowned, uneasy bubbling in her stomach like fizzy cola. Before she could allow herself a proper freak out befitting of a woman who was on the verge of marriage, Lottie found another letter tucked against her something blue from Tia. Her best friend and Maid of Honor fashioned a bow, made from the material of the blue dress that Lottie lent to her years ago during that fateful Mardi Gras celebration, it was meant to be wrapped around her bouquet.
The light blue envelope nearly blended into the color of the bow. She picked it up, honestly delighted.
Again, there was no return address. Inside – Lottie blinked.
Was a leaf?
She carefully picked the green leaf up and… oh, it unfolded to a cylinder-shape, like a little cup for the fairies and pixies she read about in books. Lottie was perplexed at this plant-flower thing, but it smelled nice; it was like the mint tea she would have with her dad on weekends.
Carefully, she tucked the leaf into the waistband of her wedding dress.
Weeks later, while reminiscing over her fairy tale wedding and the name Duchess of Havenworth, Lottie would find that leaf again as she prepared to tuck her wedding dress into her Special Dresses closet.
She saw something green flutter in the distance. Kneeling down, she picked up the plant and smiled fondly.
Her sister-in-law, while over for tea and cookies, would comment on the leaf that Lottie was waving around – "Oh, it's a shellflower."
"Mhm," she nodded, "It's supposed to mean 'good luck.'"
Later that evening, before tucking herself in bed next to her sleeping husband, Lottie would disappear into her private room. Opening up a leather bound notebook, she carefully placed the leaf next to Tia's blue ribbon.
The earlier pages held a rosebud, yarrow, and now a shellflower.
Before closing the book, she brought the shellflower close to her nose, the scent of mint, cheerful and nostalgic washing over her.
"Thanks for the luck, honey," she murmured to her mysterious friend before she closed the book.
Ten years of marital contentment ended not with a bang but over a plate of beignets and hot chicory coffee.
Sitting in the patio, Charlotte slid the divorce papers toward him in one smooth motion.
"Thank you for everything, sugar," she said softly.
Richard smiled sadly, signing the papers with the same calm demeanor that she had grown to adore for all these years.
"I think, Ms. LeBouff," he said as he reached over the tabletop for her hand. She immediately grasped and laced their fingers together. A gesture between friends. "The honor was mine."
He hugged her tightly before he left, their last official hug as husband and wife. Their divorce papers were en route to the courthouse.
"Be happy," he murmured into her blonde hair.
"You darn tootin', I will be," Lottie answered with a charming grin.
The corners of Richard's lips twitched upward before he pressed a kiss to her forehead and left as quietly as he always did, every morning for ten years.
The day her divorce was official, Lottie was in Tia's home again – charming her goddaughter and godson with stories of her stories about her and their mother during their youth, all with a spice of Lottie charm whilst rocking her infant godson, the newest addition in Tia and Naveen's growing family, in her lap.
Lottie only turned her head away for a moment, but the next thing she knew, Ray was babbling and attempting to wriggle out of her arms and onto the table.
"Now Raymond," she murmured, wagging her finger at the exact, infant-replica of Tiana. "What's wrong with you buttercup?"
"You got a letter, Lottie!" Maddy peered over the table. Louis was right behind her, whistling a little ditty that he learned from his father.
Louis paused mid-whistle, both of his front teeth were missing, and scampered over to his twin sister. "You should open it, Aunt Lottie!"
A frown suddenly appeared on Maddy's face as she nudged her brother, so that she was closer to Lottie. She side-glanced at it wearily, "How'd it get there?"
Ah, pragmatic like her mother.
"Magic," Lottie said smoothly, juggling Ray into her arms to reach for the letter. Maddy frowned while Louis gaped openly at the magic statement.
After all these years, she would really like to know who sent these things. At first it was romantic, it technically still was, but with age came skepticism. She looked around, but there was only the wait staff around, busy with their own individual tasks.
Ray, content with chewing on her designer lapel, allowed Lottie to pull out her newest pressed flower in peace.
It was purple, a vibrant purple reminiscent of the hundreds of thousands of Mardi Gras beads thrown during the festival. Maddy leaned up, her eyes as large as sauces. Lottie brought the flower closer to the young girl, allowing her to gently, touched the inner petals, they were a lighter shade of purple, almost in reverence.
"There's my beautiful brood of children!" Naveen's hearty voice echoed in the restaurant as he stepped out from the kitchen.
"Papa!" Maddy squealed as she ran directly into her father's open arms. He swung her into the air, catching her safety into his strong arms. Her laughter rang like bells, infectious and it cracked a smile on her face.
"What is that, you have there, Lottie?" Naveen chuckled as he sat down next to her. He tickled Ray chin, Louis scampering onto his lap, as he leaned closer. He blinked, his smile, if possible, growing wider. "Oh! A columbine!" He slid into the chair beside her. "They're in bloom in my country right now."
"They're popular?" She asked.
"Quite," Naveen nodded. "They're adored among florists for their durability, but even more so for the young women. These flowers mean 'resolved to win'," his smile brightened, "Often as a meaning for a new goal in their life, whether for a boyfriend, fiancée, or – oh," Naveen twirled around, his daughter squealing in his arms, "There you are darling!"
"Happiness," Lottie murmured, eyes looking from the columbine to Tia as she walked over to Naveen, her arms wide open as Maddy and Louis scrambled into her embrace. "My resolve to win my own happiness."
It was the 14th anniversary of the opening of Tiana's Place and they were holding a masked ball.
Lottie was dancing with Louis. His little feet planted on her expensive heels, so it was more like she was dancing for the both of them, but it was all very nostalgic.
The last notes of the chords of the song ring throughout the restaurant, met with light applause, when Lottie feels a light tap on her shoulder.
Turning around, she meets a set of eerily familiar hazel eyes hidden by a green mask – similar in style to a peacock's long feather tail.
"May I ask for the next dance, Mme Lebouf?"
The voice is anything but flashy. His voice was similar to Naveen's, a baritone voice, a little more serious but with a light melodic tinge, like hot chocolate with a shot of bourbon on a cold winter's day.
"Who are you?" And suddenly, Lottie realized Louis had wrapped his arms around her trim waist, glaring up at the masked man with something akin to – to –
Lottie could not contain the smile breaking across her face – Louis was jealous!
Lottie ruffled his hair.
Usually, Louis would pout and complain but other than a quick glance, his eyes focused on the stranger.
"An admirer," said the stranger and back when Lottie was younger, she would have blushed and squealed but age and many admirers later, allows Lottie all the grace that she once thought as dowdy. She smiled and calmly pried Louis from her body. She leaned down, pressing a kiss to his cheek, "I'll be fine, honey. You go and see your momma, you promised her a dance, didn't ya?"
"But…" Louis glanced suspiciously at the stranger.
"I will be nothing but a gentleman," he answered honestly, a hand to his heart in promise.
"You better be," Louis stated before he disappears into the crowd for Tiana, occasionally shooting a glance from behind his shoulder until he reached his mother.
Lottie watched him until she saw him with Tiana. When she turned around to the masked figure, she missed Tia's surprised reaction.
Or Naveen's reassuring touch on her shoulder.
The notes of the next song are starting to strum – slow, soft, waiting to gain momentum. She smiles, an eyebrow elegantly arched as she takes the stranger's hand. "Now tell me," she says sweetly, her voice as honeyed as glaze for Tia's famous beignets, but her baby blue eyes are narrowed in the slightest as she looks up at the admirer. She was her father's daughter after all. Business was in the LeBouf blood. "I can't say I've ever seen you in these parts."
"I used to come to New Orleans quite frequently when I was younger," the stranger answered, "Unfortunately, my schedule does not permit me as much time to visit." He looks up, his grin honest, "My most favorite memories were from here."
"Oh my," Lottie replied, allowing herself to be led. His movements smooth and easy, he's obviously a good dancer, probably taught since young. "We might have run into each other then!"
"We have," the stranger agreed, his smile widening.
Lottie frowned, leaning upward. Something – something was indeed familiar. She touched his cheek with a gloved hand, "Who are yo – "
"You promised me the next dance, Lotti!" Maddy cried as she clung to the bottom of Charlotte's dress.
"Cheese and crackers," Lottie exclaimed, a hand to her heart, "You scared me, Maddy!"
Maddy giggled, an apologetic expression on her face as she buried her head into the length of Lottie's dress.
"It was wonderful dancing with you, Ms. LeBouf," the stranger murmured. He reached into his breast pocket and pulled something white from his breast pocket, "Please accept this as my thanks for the dance." He bowed, "Abinaza."
"Ah shucks, thank you!" Lottie murmured, her fingers lightly brushing against his as she grasped the flower.
A white carnation.
Right next to her book of pressed flowers was a book with the various meaning of flowers.
A white carnation symbolized pure love.
"Lottie," Maddy tugged on Charlotte's dress, "Uncle Ralphie gave you a flower! He must like you! Daddy always gives mommy flowers!"
"Who?" Lottie gaped.
"Yeah," Maddy giggled, her fingers tracing the lace against Lottie's dress, "The guy you were dancing it. It's Uncle Ralphie!" She blinked innocently, "Are you going to be Uncle Ralphie's princess?"
"Land heaven's," Lottie sighed, pressed the flower against her cheek, the delicate petals tickling her nose. She patted Maddy's head, "I gotta go find me a prince, sug!"
Lottie smoothed out her dress as she rested on the bannister of the balcony on the outdoor patio. Her mask was tucked into the waistband of her dress. She pulled out her pocket mirror, critically checking her make-up with the help of the bright lights that decorated the building.
"It's a nice night," a familiar voice murmured against her side. "Although your sudden company is making my night even nicer."
"Well," Lottie smiled to her lap, a blush blooming across her cheekbones as she tucked her mirror back into the hidden pocket in her dress. "The same can be said for me as well, sugar."
His smile widened, his golden colored eyes warm and sweet, like that of the little boy she danced with years ago. They sat in quiet, the boats passing along the river and the sweet sound of Louis' trumpet a comforting background noise.
"I was hoping for another dance," he murmured quietly, shifting slightly in his feet as he averted his eyes downward slightly, nervously.
"Well, before we have another dance." Lottie grasped the pink rose in her hairband, and with a gentle tug, she pulled it free from her short, curly locks. She blew a wayward curl of golden blonde hair from her face before presenting it to her dance partner, "For you."
"Oh," he blinked. Even behind his mask, she could see his surprise through his body language. He reached for it, their fingertips brushing again and –
"Thanks for the flowers, Uncle Ralphie," Lottie said earnestly.
"Faldi faldonza," he muttered in defeat, sliding his hand down his face wearily. He turned his face slightly to the side, waiting for her reproach.
"I kept them all," she said softly, her fingers touching the carnation reverently. "It's in a book in my bookcase. I thought it was Tiana or another admirer. Richard, even. I asked and they always denied it."
She looked up, her finger touching the white carnation tucked on the neckline of her dress, right above her beating heart. "Were you going to say anything, hun?"
Ralphael sighed, a small smile on his face as he peeled his mask off and tucked it into his coat pocket. He glanced at the pink rose in his hand, "No…no, I don't think I was ever going to say anything."
"Well that's a shame," she murmured as she grasped the flower and tucked it into his breast pocket. She splayed her hands against his chest, carefully smoothing out the imaginary wrinkles on his suit. "Why not?"
"I was…I am afraid," Ralphael murmured, his breath tickling her face as he moved closer. He moved closer and closer until their foreheads touched.
"Of little old me?" Lottie asked, looking at him wryly through the thick fan of her lashes.
"I was six and a half when I met you," he murmured. "I didn't want to – or you to think – "
"I should be the one worried," Lottie interrupted, her fingers firmly pressed against his lips. "I'm almost twice your age."
He grinned, pressing a kiss to his fingers. "I like older woman."
"And I like princes," she murmured, leaning up on the balls of her feet to press a kiss onto the corner of his lips. "And you gave me flowers, and I gave you one; I think we're doing pretty well."
"And we danced," Ralphael chuckled, tentatively slipping an arm around her waist.
Lottie hummed, impressed with his forward behavior and even more so with the hesitance in his eyes, his golden eyes seeking permission while simultaneously waiting for reprimand.
"Coffee," Lottie grinned, "Tomorrow morning? We have some catching up to do."
His eyebrows shot up but he laughed, his baritone voice one of the sweetest sounds she heard that evening, "Yes, yes Ms. LeBouf, I would be ever so grateful."
"Charlotte," she said. "Charlotte LeBouf of LeBouf Sugar Plantations."
"And my name is Ralphal," the corners of his lips quirked upward. "Second Prince of Maldonia."
"I like princes," Lottie repeated.
"And I like you," he replied earnestly.
"We are in agreement," she said softly, "That we like one another."
Ralphael leaned downward, "We'll have to seal it with a kiss."
And so they did.
Flowers are as follows:
Rose bud – purity and loveliness; I interpreted it as a 'young love'
Yarrow – Sympathy, cure for heartache
Shellflower – Good luck
Columbine (purple) – Resolved to win
White carnation – Pure love
A/N: During the credits, I took note that Naveen's younger brother was listed as Ralphie, hence, Ralphael. This fic was written purely for fun, so I hope you enjoyed it. Yeah, I know, big age gap, but hey, it was a common thing thing back then for older men and younger women, so why not the reverse? Besides, I bet Lottie would be a cool older woman. haha Tell me if you liked it! I heart reviews.