A/N: I'm back with the sequel, and I must warn you that it might not be quite as happy as the last story...

The Princess Diaries doesn't belong to me!

January- six months after the honeymoon

January was usually a cool month in Genovia, a month when there was an occasional snow storm that blanketed the country and thus most of it's citizens stayed within their own four walls; a month when parliament was still on holiday, its members recovering from their Christmas and New Year's celebrations, as well as their 'exertions from their unusually eventful year in parliament, as Lord Felix remarked at the dinner held for them prior to Christmas.

It was also the month when the royal family remained in seclusion from the country, spending Christmas, the New Year and much of January at the Winter Palace in Lybitt, an occurance that had been happening since King Rupert had been on the throne, and the two princes were still very young- but this year, the occasion was more unusual and far happier that previous years, for a number of reasons, not that anyone in the country was complaining.

Firstly, Genovia now had a new Queen, Amelia, Phillipe's daughter, and the past six months under her reign had been smooth and prosperous, with the occasional teething problems as the 21 year old settled into her new role, but her grandmother, Queen Clarisse, was still around to support her, as was Mia's fiance, Lord Nicholas Devereaux, the Queen's eldest son Pierre (who was now back within the fold of the family and the country) and the Queen's husband of six months, the former royal Head of Security, Joseph Bonnell; as well as the Mia's best friend Lily and Charlotte Kutaway, Clarisse's former personal assistant and now a member of the reformed parliament.

The previous summer's events- Mia's arrival back in Genovia, her 21st birthday party, Viscount Mabrey's threat to thwart the natural order of accession (unless she was married) and the subsequent search for a husband and, a week prior to the coronation, a surprise wedding whereby, instead of the Princess married Lord Andrew Jacoby, Clarisse had married her Head of Security- had finally faded into recent history and the country, which was running smoothly (with Clarisse's occasional assistance), was settled again, happy that their Queens- past and present- were happy, as were the palace staff, who had witness the secret romance between Joseph and the Queen- but within the palace wall, not everyone was happy with life, not everyone was quite as content...

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Joseph Bonnell, clad in his tuxedo, poured himself a Scotch and dry from the private bar installed in Clarisse's suite just after their marriage ("not that we drink that much, but it's much more convenient this way!" Clarisse had reasoned with a sly smile, justifying both private bars, one here and one in the palace in Pyrus) and strolled towards the large picture windows to gaze out at the snow covered grounds, rapidly disappearing under the blanket of darkness, to wait for his wife to finish dressing, with a heavy sigh.

It was a week after the New Year, and while the royal family had entertained the members of parliament at the annual ball held on New Year's Eve, there was yet another dinner for some members, and he was getting heartily sick of socializing and entertaining.

He thought that, despite the fact that there had to be some entertaining while they were there, the annual vacation at Lybitt would be a chance to relax and unwind, a chance for him and Clarisse, his bride of nearly six months, to be alone and further cement their almost six month old marriage, and yet...

He sighed again as he stared mindlessly out of the windows, not caring that he too was in the dark, his thoughts far away...

He didn't want to admit, he didn't even like considering it, but marriage was harder than he had expected, and he certainly hadn't thought that marriage to his beloved Clarisse would be difficult, but things hadn't gone quite as he had expected and he didn't know what to do, what to think anymore...

When they had wed, on a beautiful July afternoon, he had thought his dreams had come true- and he still did, in many ways- but after their romantic, isolated honeymoon at the beach and Mia's coronation, there had been a time of bliss, a time for them to settle into marriage, before things between him and Clarisse had changed and had slowly gone downhill, more so in the past two months...

He hated thinking about it, but there had been times in the recent months that he had vague twinges of resentment, vague feelings of unhappiness and the occasional, deeply hidden yet still fully felt, regrets... it wasn't that he regretted marrying Clarisse, but there were times, coming ever more increasingly as time wore on, that he wondered whether their marriage was a mistake, that... that... they truly were meant to be together...that Clarisse really wanted to be married to him and... whether it was time to consider the future... a future that may or may not include Clarisse and himself together...