A.N: *Winces* Sorry Glee readers, but watch this show, and ship Swan Queen! Please.
A.N2: This story is AU, set in Fairytale Land, cause I need some fluffyness to balance out the angst of my other fic.
"Who will be attending?"
Snow White smiled at her husband, pleased with his apparent interest in the ball she was throwing for their daughter and replied, "Cinderella and Aurora, and their children of course. King Philip is very hopeful that this will lead to a match between Emma and William."
James made a face, "I dislike the boy, and I expect that we'd have known long before now if he was her true one."
Snow nodded in agreement, "I agree, but Philip is still hopeful."
James sank down next to her, "And who else?"
Snow peered down at the list of invitees and at the checks that indicated they would be attending, "The noble houses from our Kingdom and the ones surrounding us will all be here, with their eligible sons no doubt, and minor royals will all be in attendance."
James took the list from her and raised an eyebrow at one of the names listed, "You invited the Queen?"
Snow didn't need to ask which Queen he was referring to, "I did."
James scoffed, "Be prepared for a rude note informing you that she won't be attending." He paused and then let out a chuckle, "I heard she sent a dead fish to Philip and Aurora the last time they had a ball and invited her."
Snow hummed sadly, "I don't blame her. She has no reason to call any of us friends. When she was fighting for her throne we stood by and let all of the nobles of her Kingdom slander and threaten her. She asked for help and to a one, we all declined. A dead fish is tame considering what she did to the nobles who opposed her."
James frowned, "We couldn't throw our weight behind her without risking our trade with the nobles of her Kingdom. And she was more merciful than I would have been if someone questioned Emma's right to succeed you."
Snow grinned at him, "Oh I know you'd cut off a hundred heads to protect your princess."
James shrugged, "I make no apologies for loving my daughter." He set the list down and said softly, "I hope she finds her true love so that she can be happy... after the ba-"
Snow cut him off, "I know James. It did tame her wild ways though."
James shook his head, "It made her less... loose with her body and more reckless with her safety."
Snow put a hand on his arm, "Then fates willing, this ball will lead to her finding her true love and she can have her happily ever after. Nineteen years without one is long enough. "
James nodded and leaned in for a kiss.
Emma shifted uncomfortably next to her mother on the throne that had been positioned between her mother and father. She did her best to mask the scowl that wanted to bloom across her face as she nodded to yet another fluffed up dandy as he bowed before her with his most seductive gaze trained on her.
He stood and spoke confidently (arrogantly) "I desire a dance greatly your Highness."
Emma replied far colder than protocol allowed, "If I have time." She nodded, which was a clear dismissal and the dandy walked away, clearly offended.
Snow let out a sigh, "Emma, you must be careful not to offend our guests."
James let out a bark of laughter, "Oh leave her Snow, the boy was an arrogant fop. I want no son like him."
The crier's voice boomed out, "Prince Henry!"
Emma sat up straighter as her parents shared a look and her mother spoke, "I didn't know there would be another Prince here tonight..."
The crowd between the great doors and the raised dais where the royal family sat began to murmur and coo. The women were exclaiming while the men where talking together like gossipy old hens.
James smiled, "The boy must be handso..." He trailed off as they crowd parted and a tiny figure stepped forward with the dignity of a King.
Emma had to force herself not to coo like all the women had done, her mother had no such inclination and let out a pleased giggled.
Prince Henry was a toddler, his elfin features and sandy brown hair, made it hard to guess his exact age as he approached the throne with measured steps and a somber countenance.
When he had reached the point where if he continued further the royal family would be unable to see him because the dais was raised he stopped and bowed with more grace than half the men and boys at the ball.
Emma's mother shot to her feet and hurried down the stepped of the dais to stand in front of the little Prince.
She held out a hand and spoke, "Will you come up here your Highness?"
The little boy nodded and seemed relieved as he took Snow's hand and let himself be led up the steps so that he was standing directly in front of the royal family.
Emma's father was grinning at the boy as he spoke, "And what brings such a Prince here to our ball?"
Prince Henry replied in a high childish, but clear voice "Mama says it is proper to present myself to our hosts..." He rocked on his heels and tacked on belatedly, "Your Majesty."
Emma took in the boy as her mother fussed over him and told him how very handsome he was. He was in an exquisitely tailored suit, a miniature ball costume, with silver and purple detailing in his doublet. Around his head was a silver circlet, no doubt to emphasize his status as a Prince. The biggest difference between his suit and the others was the underlying color. Whereas most of the men and boys had come in brightly colored suits with many many frills, Henry's suit was a very dark gray and simple in comparison though one could tell that more money had likely been spent on his suit than some of the finest suits in the room.
To Emma's mind, most of the men at the ball could have done better in emulating the small Prince.
Her mother moved to sit upon her own throne and asked, "And who is your mother?"
Henry cocked his head in confusion and replied, "Mama is mama..."
Her parents laughed and her father actually clapped his hands, "Well said your Highness."
The boy's somber face cracked as he smiled at the King and Queen.
Her father spoke seriously after a moment, "And will you dance with the Princess tonight your Highness?"
Henry made a face and shook his head, "I have to go to bed soon..." He looked at Emma directly as if considering her before he smiled at her and declared, "You can dance with my Mama though!"
Emma blanched at the thought even as her mother nodded seriously, "That sounds lovely Prince Henry."
The voice of the crier carried across the hall once again, "Regina! Queen of the Summerlands!"
Emma heard her mother gasp, "She actually came!"
The crowd hushed as the name was called and began to part until finally there was a clear path to the dais from the door where a figure in a dark ball gown stood.
Emma leaned forward, interested in this particular Queen because of the stories she'd heard about her and the way her parents and the parents of her friends spoke about her. It seemed that everything said about her was either said with disapproval or grudging admiration. She was far enough away that Emma couldn't make out her face or her features save for her dark hair.
Emma heard a pleased squeak and turned her attention to Prince Henry who looked like any royal child did when they wanted to break protocol and rush their mama or papa. So this woman was his mother...
Emma looked up and found that the Queen had stepped close enough to be seen in detail.
She was stunning... Her skin might have been called olive or tan, and yet it was fair at the same time, clear and free of freckles or marks save for a small beauty mark just left of her lips. On the right side on her upper lip was the faintest of scars and it made Emma wonder where she'd gotten it. Her eyes were dark and in the instant that her gaze met Emma's the Queen's step faltered for the barest of seconds before she resumed her fluid approach.
As Emma watched the Queen come closer she felt as if the air had been sucked from the room. She distantly took in the fact that the Queen's dress was black with red splashes of color and silver thread instead of brightly colored just like her son's. Her jewels winked in the light and the ruby pins in her hair matched the red of her lips perfectly, giving some proof to the rumor that the Summerlands and their Queen were very very rich. Her gown was low cut, almost inappropriately so, and Emma found it hard to drag her eyes away from the flesh revealed and back to the Queen's eyes. When she finally did she caught the slight upturn of the Queen's red lips on one side, letting Emma know that she'd been caught staring.
When she'd reached the edge of the dais she stopped and gave a very shallow curtsey, which wasn't strictly against protocol as she was a Queen in her own right, but the rules of courtly courtesy demanded a certain level of deference to a King and Queen in their own realm.
Emma turned to glance at her mother and father to see if Queen Regina had offended them but both looked dumbstruck. It was possible that they wouldn't have noticed if she'd decided to strip down naked if only because they were so surprised that she had actually come in the first place.
She spoke in a slightly low, almost smoky voice, "May I approach further?" She'd also omitted the honorific for Emma's parents and Emma found herself slightly put out on her parents behalf even as she prayed they'd say yes to the Queen's request.
Her mother nodded almost eagerly, "Of course you may! We are so honored that you decided to attend Regina!"
Regina swept up the steps and when she'd ascended completely she held out a hand to her son who clutched it immediately with a beaming smile.
Emma had to credit this aloof woman with the fact that her son clearly loved her even if her attitude bothered her.
Regina looked down at her son and addressed him, "Have you been a good boy Henry?"
Henry nodded rapidly even as Snow White did the same.
Emma's mother rushed to assure the Queen, "He's been perfect. He looks so handsome in his suit and his manners are wonderful."
Henry looked pleased with the praise as he looked up at his mother. She softened and smiled at him as she smoothed hand over his hair and let him lean into her side.
He snuggled into his mother's side and announced, "You must dance with the Princess later Mama."
Emma blushed hotly as the Queen's eyebrow shot up and she drawled, "Must I dear?"
Henry nodded solemnly, "I can't since I hafta go to bed and I said that you would instead."
Regina corrected him, "Have to..." She glanced up at Emma who was grateful that she'd gotten the blush under control quickly. The Queen spoke in an even tone, "Of course I will dance with her Henry," She paused and then inclined her head, "If the Princess agrees of course?"
Emma opened and closed her mouth before she finally choked out, "Of course."
Regina held Emma's gaze for a long moment before she addressed her parents, "I hope you'll excuse me your Majesties, I would like to put Henry to bed myself."
Emma's mother smiled in understanding, "Of course Regina, I hope we'll see you at the feast?"
Regina nodded, "If my son only commands one story tonight then yes."
Henry pouted up at her before he bargained, "A story and then a song."
Regina sighed but the twinkle in her eye as she spoke gave away her true feelings, "Very well, to bed with you then."
Henry nodded before he yawned and held his arms up. Regina swooped down and lifted him into her arms without hesitation. It was odd to see such a richly dressed woman hefting and holding a small child. It was also plain to see that neither Henry nor Regina cared what the guests thought of them as Henry laid his head on his mother's shoulder and Regina brought a hand up to rest on the back of his head.
Regina descended the stairs and then turned back to the royal family.
She inclined her head and spoke to Emma, "Until we dance Princess…"
Emma nodded and finally offered Regina a small smile which the dark Queen returned with a smirk before she turned and swept from the ballroom.
Emma's father spoke up as soon as he was sure that Regina was out of earshot, "Well she doesn't seem like she eats small children."
Her mother let out a tinkling laugh, "She seemed lovelier than I'd imagined if a bit… aloof."
Emma spoke up without taking her eyes off Regina's back, "Except with Henry."
Snow hummed in agreement and with Emma's gaze fixed on Regina who was about to exit the hall she missed the considering look her mother shot her. Emma shifted on her throne again and then let out a sigh, suddenly eager for the dancing to begin, after Henry's story and song of course.
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