Author's Chapter Notes:
Hey all! Here in the UK we've been bombarded with Queen Jubilee-ness. Now, as a Scot all that just annoyed me, but our Queenie has an inspirational story.
Enter Princess Isabella and heir to the throne of the largest empire in the world...throw in her own personal prince that she shares more with than she first realises and there's bound to be fireworks :) A love story in the making :D
Hope y'all enjoy! It's a little different from my usual stuff, so prepare yourselves if you're already a reader of mine.
Contains British spelling as it is set in Britain :D However, this royal family has been changed, so it wont correspond with what you know about the real British monarchy :D
Chapter One: The Princess and the Pea
I awoke to the familiar ringing of a distant bell, a bell I knew signalled the start of a brand new day. The sun was streaming through a small gap in the curtains, lighting up the large room and helping me awake fully.
My room was extravagantly large, but filled with precious items and comforts to make it feel like home. They included photographs taken on family holidays and trips overseas with school friends, as well as medals and trophies that I've won. One corner of the floor was dedicated to an organised pile of teddy bears all sitting together. They'd been in the same position for years, and I hadn't had time to sort through them since my return. I was sure more than half could go to a good charity.
Like them, my room hadn't changed, barring a different set of bed linen and new curtains hanging on the windows. I wasn't the same, unlike them I had grown and changed.
I tried to remember what the girl who left home all those years ago had been like, but I found it difficult to imagine my eleven-year-old self. Life experiences, new friends, and a growing view of the world had changed me into a new person, and it was someone I was proud to be. I just hoped my parents would be proud, too.
I'd only been home two days, but today was the first I'd see them. Their visit to Paris had been lengthened for reasons I wasn't too sure of, and they'd been unable to get home in time for my homecoming. I couldn't pretend I wasn't disappointed by that fact, but I also couldn't deny my mother and father extra time together in a romantic city, God knows they needed it.
I'd spent the previous day reacquainting myself with my horse, Steel – named after his colour as my six-year-old self thought Grey wasn't imaginative enough – and lunching with my sister Rosalie. She was younger than I, and she was also home for the summer. The two of us hadn't seen each other in over a year, and I relished the time to get to know her again.
I'd been travelling Italy the previous summer with my best friend from boarding school, and had missed the few months we usually spent together at home.
I lay in bed, and listened to the palace awaken around me. I could hear windows and doors leading to the patio being opened below my window, and people walking the long halls – mostly maids going to begin their shifts, or the earlier ones finishing. A worker started up what sounded like a hedge-trimmer in the distance, jarring me where I lay.
Summer at the palace was my favourite season. The grounds were expansive and fulfilling, the gardens invigorating, the grass greener than ever, and the entire place was full of life. Family usually came to visit, distant cousins, close cousins, uncles and aunts, all spending the long days together when duty didn't call.
Mother and Father usually spent the summer months at home, but it varied year-to-year. If there was a natural disaster, it was seen as appropriate that the King visited the affected area. If there was another world leader's death, wedding, birthday or coronation, they attended, and sometimes an invite for Rosalie and me would arrive at the palace.
It was two years at least since I'd seen most of my family, and while I'd have liked some alone time with my father, I couldn't deny that I was excited to see them. Having no other close friends, Rosalie and I had always enjoyed the company of our cousins – older, younger or similar in age.
A knock at the door sounded, and I stretched out of bed before calling for them to enter. Angela, a pretty young girl that was new to the palace staff, came in timidly, unsure as to how she would be received. I smiled gently, letting her know I was comfortable with her presence and she should be with mine.
"Miss, would you like breakfast in your room this morning, or downstairs?" she asked quietly, keeping eye contact like she had no doubt been taught to do.
"What time are Mama and Papa arriving?" I asked her.
"The King and Queen are due to land in under an hour, Your Highness. They are expected to be back within the palace around mid-morning." She blushed under my gaze as she answered, but otherwise remained quietly standing in the middle of the room.
"Then I shall dine downstairs. Thank you, Angela." She blushed again and I smiled, wondering how long it would take her to become accustomed to working closely with me. It wasn't until she was leaving my suite that I called after her. "Oh, could you wake Rose as well? It would be nice if we could eat a light breakfast together."
"Of course, Your Highness," she replied with a nod of her head and a curtsy.
I'd have to sort that out, I thought.
She'd called me "miss" when she came in, and that was more than enough. I wouldn't have her addressing me so formally when we were alone together, nor would I allow her to curtsy every time she met or left me. I never forgot that I was Princess Isabella, heir to the throne to millions of people throughout the world, but it was nice to be just Bella as often as I could.
My father was the ruler; I lived happily in his shadow and wanted to continue that way as long as possible.
A few hours later, while I was finishing pinning up my hair to compliment the dress I was wearing, Angela walked into my room, alerting my to the fact the Mama and Papa were home. With a giddy smile and a light feeling in my chest, I ran along the corridor and flew down the stairs, much like I did when I was small.
I knew I was making a show of myself in front of advisors and bodyguards as my mother took her coat off in the entrance hall, but I couldn't contain the happy squeal that escaped my lips as I ran towards her. I didn't notice that there were more bodies in the foyer than usual, that outside in the sunshine there were more cars than were necessary, or that just inside the door there were far more pieces of luggage than was needed for two people.
My mother's softness and scent surrounded me, making me oblivious to anyone or anything else as she took me in her arms and pressed a kiss to the top of my head. A feeling had been missing since I'd returned, and now that she was there, I truly felt like I was home.
I opened my eyes and grinned comically at my father over my mother's shoulder before letting go, stepping around her and launching myself at him too. I was never ashamed to say I was Daddy's little girl. I heard Rose arrive and Mother welcome her youngest daughter home, but I stayed under my father's arm and let him guide me to the day-lounge, intent on listening to his stories and thrilling him with some tales of my own.
They'd been attending a summit meeting of European heads of state in Paris. Prime Ministers, presidents and monarchs of the European Union were getting together to try and combat the rising debt crisis in our neighbouring countries. Father was one of the only two Kings within Europe, while all the other modern-day countries relied on parliaments and governments to rule them.
I had grown up learning every day about the history of our family, how generation after generation had ruled with a panel of parliament-type advisors behind them, but ultimately running the country themselves. It was an odd thing in the modern world, but it had never been changed, and Father always told me it probably never would.
"But when it's your turn, Isabella, you can do anything. I know you'll have the belief and power to do whatever is best for this country."
I shivered as I remembered those words. I hoped that day was a long way off. My duties as a princess were similar to that of a queen, only without all the responsibility of making decisions that affected an entire population. At the moment, I just turned showed up to the events I was told to make an appearance at, chose charities closest to my heart that I wanted to be patron of, and made public appearances in support of local organisations and companies.
I wasn't making it out to be unimportant, but my duties and responsibilities as Queen would no doubt take over my life. I just hoped when the day came, that I'd be trained as best as my father could manage, have a strong board of loyal friends and advisors behind me and a loving, supportive husband by my side.
I sighed; the last was one of the few things I hoped for more than anything in life. I tuned out as Rose asked our mother question after question about Paris from her spot beside her on the sofa.
There had been a few guys who'd caught my attention at school, from the town in Switzerland we'd been situated in, but none of them had lasted more than a lunch or a group get-together. Mother and Father had been friends since childhood, as their parents were long term friends. My mother, however, had been the eldest daughter of a foreign dignitary, from an important and wealthy family, and she reminded me time and again that that was the only reason she managed to marry the love of her life.
An heir to the throne couldn't marry just anyone. In fact, my father had been in line for an arranged marriage, but his mother had done everything she could to show everyone of importance that my mother was the right choice for him.
I missed my grandmother. I had no doubt she'd have done the same for me if she was still around, but sadly she had passed away, dying of severe pneumonia only three years ago.
I couldn't imagine myself married – no longer a single unit but part of a pair, with someone to consult with, rely on, depend on and think of first. I wondered how long it would take me to find a man I could see my future with, someone who would love me as much as my father loved my mother.
I looked at them even now and could see the way his eyes lingered on her face as she spoke. I'd seen the way she turned her entire body to face him when he entered a room, the smile that would light up her face when he brushed past her, secretly brushing her hand, or the sadness that would be etched into her features when he was away on business and she hadn't been able to accompany him.
Their love was timeless, a story from the ages that neither Rose nor I ever tired of hearing.
I wanted what they had, but I had no idea how to find it. The only men in my life were my father, his advisors and friends, and all my male cousins. There was no one else out there who knew the real Bella Swan, and it scared me to think there might never be.
"Isabella, how is Alice?" My mother's voice jars me from my thoughts as she asks about my best friend and, as I cleared my throat to answer, I realised my father had been watching me closely.
"She's good. She phoned yesterday from her hotel in Milan. She cannot wait for fashion week. She hoped your offer to stay here still stood for the week after?"
"Of course. It would be great to meet her. Your father and I have heard nothing but glowing praise from you, and I'd like to meet the girl who made your time at school so worthwhile. You know how I worried when you left. Alice seemed like a blessing when you first mentioned her."
I nodded with a small smile. My mother was right; if it hadn't been for Alice's single father spending every penny he made from his company in New York to send her to the same boarding school for girls as I went to, we never would have met. She had a passion for fashion, but for art in particular.
I'd discovered sketches in her room one afternoon and had been floored at how exceptional her detail in everything was. I remembered the happiness she exuded when she talked about it, and the exhilaration she explained she felt when she saw someone wearing something she'd made or designed.
Of course, once I knew that, I humoured her. For my sixteenth birthday, she both designed and created a beautiful dress out of green silk and navy taffeta. It had been made on a budget, but it fit perfectly and had been praised by the magazines who had managed to take pictures of the event and me.
I don't think I'd ever seen her happier. Since then, when it had suited the royal advisors and stylists, she had been in charge of what I would wear to certain events. I think, to date, I had worn nine of her creations, and all of them were currently being shipped back to London from our school outside Zurich, as were most of my belongings.
Once lunch had been cleared away by the maids from the dining room, Mama, Papa, Rose and I retired to the back lawn, where fresh lemonade and fresh-baked biscuits sat on one of the garden tables.
We'd only been out there for just over an hour when my father spoke up in a serious voice. "Rosalie, I'd like to talk to your sister in private. Would you mind excusing yourself for just a little while?"
Rosalie was surprised but she hid it well. It certainly wasn't often that my father refused to talk openly in front of both of us.
"Of course. I might spend the afternoon at the stables with Jasper," she answered with a smile, the awkwardness forgotten as she saw an opportunity to spend more time with her horse – and her favourite stable-hand. I tried to hide my smile, but I was pretty sure my mother caught it. Jasper was a year older than me, so the five-year age gap between him and Rosalie would not be something taken lightly by either of my parents.
However, I knew something no one else did. Jasper had a serious thing for Alice. They'd never met, but he'd accidently found a picture of the two of us on my phone when I dropped it one day while riding, and the rest, they say, was history. He'd been infatuated ever since, asking for tales and information.
I hadn't told Alice, and I hadn't told Jasper that she would be coming to spend the summer in the palace in just over a week's time.
I felt uncomfortable as Rosalie skipped off; suddenly wishing I had her there for some sort of protection. The tiredness I hadn't noticed in my father was all of a sudden weighing him down, and I knew it had to be bad when my mother laid her hand on his to offer him some sort of support and comfort.
A myriad of scenarios ran through my head, from illness to a death I hadn't heard about, but nothing that actually concerned me directly. I'd already been shipped off to a boarding school three thousand miles away when I was eleven – what else could they possibly do to me?
"We're sorry we missed your eighteenth birthday, Isabella."
I came up short. That hadn't been what I was expecting.
"Oh, it's okay. Alice said she might organise a little something for all of us once she got here. Just a family barbecue or something," I added in case they thought Alice would want run of the palace.
"That would be nice," my mother replied with a faint smile. Somehow I realised that my birthday had very little to do with what we were talking about.
"You've grown up so fast, Isabella, and I hope you know how proud we are of the woman you've become."
I nodded with a lump in my throat.
"You're not a child anymore, Isabella. Your father and I know that, and while we think it's still too soon, it's been decided that you're transition into future queen needs to be solidified."
My brows furrowed in confusion. I thought back over everything I had been taught, trying to recall what it was I hadn't already done.
"A strong leader needs a strong support system, Isabella. No female ruler of this country has ever ascended to the throne without a husband, but there's plenty of time to worry about that."
I was only about ten in my memory of that conversation, and it ended with me giggling lightly and my father smiling fondly. I was too young back then, and there was no need for me to worry about being married. It seemed now, however, that the time to worry about such things had come.
I wasn't ready.
"I…what do you need me to do?" I asked obediently. Growing up, I had learned quickly in which situations Charlie was my King first and my father second, and this was one of those times. As my King, he needed his successor to take responsibility.
"You know we wouldn't make you do anything you weren't comfortable with, Isabella. Please remember that, but this is out of our hands," my mother continued softly, but I was looking at my father, begging him with my eyes to tell me anything except what I knew was coming.
"We were married by your age, Bells. This has to happen," he said softly, the tenderness in his eyes telling me he wasn't happy with the decision either. He might have been King, but when he was advised in a certain way, there was no alternative. I had to be married, and by the sounds of it, soon.
"So, what then? Do I get a list? A string of dates, balls where I have to dance with different suitors?" I asked jokingly, trying to lighten the mood. The slight furrow of my mother's brow and the increase in pressure in my father's grasp of her hand told me it was more serious than I realised.
"Isabella…you don't get to choose. Not this time…"
"What? I don't understand. How can I not choose who I marry? You told me even with an arranged marriage I got a choice. Was that just a lie to keep me happy?" I asked, my anger rising. How could I not choose the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with?
"The circumstances changed, Bella. It's important you don't fight this."
My head was spinning, my tears threatening to spill and my anger bubbling.
"We had so many opportunities to tell you, but you were so happy at school, seeing the world. No time seemed like the right time, and we're sorry for that."
"Wait…what?" I was confused. How long had they known?
"Isabella, your marriage was arranged when you were twelve. He's been the choice for nearly six years…we just never thought we'd have to deal with it so soon."
They'd known for six years. They knew who I was going to marry for six years. They'd kept it from me for that long, playing along with the notion of me having my own independence, getting to know new people in different countries, the possibilities of finding a guy of my own. They'd chosen already, taken that freedom away from me.
"We're sorry, Bella, but it won't be as bad as you think."
"As bad as I think?" I yelled. "I have to marry someone I've never met, spend the rest of my life with someone I know nothing about! How could you let me believe I had the freedom to choose? Ma, you listened as I told you about Garrett and Stephen! You encouraged me to go out and meet new people! What was the point if all along I was to come home and be forced into something I don't want?"
There had been very few occasions in my adult life when I'd raised my voice to my parents, and it didn't go unnoticed by the stationed bodyguards, nor the workers in the garden.
My mother's face was streaked with silent tears, and my father was watching me gravely. The two people I respected most in the world had been lying to me.
"I feel cheap. What was it? Did you sell me off to the highest bidder?" I spat.
"Bella! How could you think that?"
"Maybe because you've lied to me for most of my life? You've sold my future to the highest bidder, took the one thing I had left in my life to choose for myself! I didn't choose to be born here or brought up the way I did! I didn't argue when you packed me off to Switzerland at eleven, or complain when I had to spend my holidays learning about our family and its history. You led me to believe I'd be able to choose who I spent the rest of my life with, and I actually looked forward to it! I always knew it might not be with the person I wanted, but there was always a possibility that we'd love each other as much as you do…now, I don't even have that…"
I felt tired suddenly. My tears were dripping from my chin, and I knew I'd made a scene. Wiping them with the back of my hand, noting that my mascara had run too, I turned to leave, needing to be anywhere but with them.
"Isabella…" My father's voice was old, tired and rough from emotion, and it stopped me in my tracks.
"Forgive me, sire, but I need to be alone." I heard his slow intake of breath and knew I'd hurt him. I only ever called him by his title in public or in interviews, never at home. However, I needed that separation.
I was halfway to the door when my mother's voice interrupted me. "Isabella, don't you want to know who he is?" She didn't sound smug, but tired like my father. She knew I wasn't okay and was cautious in asking. I guessed I'd have to know eventually.
Maybe when I walked down the aisle and had to say his name in front of millions of people.
"What does it matter, Ma? It's not like it's going to change," I replied resignedly, before entering the cool shade of the house.
I nearly ran into someone coming out into the grand hall, but I ignored them, mumbled a small sorry, and continued towards the marble staircase. It didn't occur to me that they weren't dressed in palace uniform and that there shouldn't have been anyone other than immediate family in the palace.
It seemed to take twice as long to get back to my room as it did to come out of it. I passed maidsthat all stood with their backs to the wall and let me pass, but I didn't acknowledge any of them as I usually would.
I drew the curtains in my room, and crawled in beside the largest teddy on my floor, snuggling amongst them all like I used to do when I was little and scared of the thunder outside. Choosing my favourite from the pile – a giant pea – the irony was not lost on me. I cuddled in and shut my eyes, trying to shut the world around me out.
I didn't stop the tears as they tracked down my cheeks, nor did I answer my phone when it rang. Even when the light outside faded and the moon made an appearance, I stayed curled in my safe place and ignored the rest of the palace as it went about its business.
No one else's life had been turned upside down. For everyone else, the sun went down with the same old problems as it had rose with.
Author's Chapter End Notes:
Soooo, what do we think?
This fic wont be too long, but it wont be like five chapters either :) Somewhere in the middle should do it :P
Anyways, leave me a wee review if you so wish, if not I'll see you next time!
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