Title: The First Years the Hardest

Summary: "I waited for you for over an hour," Joseph said softly. Clarisse smiled sadly, "I know. I'm sorry. Time got away from me and Mia needed my help and the Spanish-" …."I'm sure they would have cut you some slack so you could spend time with me on our Anniversary." He said cutting her off.

Disclaimer: I do not own Princess Diaries, nor do I own Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, I also do not own any of the Cast members. They belong to Meg Cabot and Disney & all of the other respectful owners. I do however own my writing, so please don't steal Johanna-002©.

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-01-

Striding down the hall, Mia was clad in a pink sundress and was whistling a happy tune to her self.

Just as she was reaching for the handle of her office door, she heard muffled voices.

"Don't raise your voice at me," Joseph growled. "I am not being disrespectful towards you. I am not shouting at you nor am I getting in your face."

Clarisse rolled her eyes, huffing as she crossed her arms over her chest. Why couldn't he see Mia still needed her!

Joseph shook his head as he eyed her. This wasn't what he wanted- to be fighting with one another.

Clarisse hadn't changed much since they married, and quite frankly he wasn't sure how much more he could put up with. She hadn't made much room for him and very rarely, would she ever put a day aside to spend with him.

Not to mention, it was their first wedding anniversary… She hadn't even remembered.

-o-o-o-

Joseph strode into the living chambers, white roses and chocolates in his hand.

"Darling," Clarisse cooed as she accepted both gifts. "They're beautiful! Oh, Truffles, my favorite!"

"Of course!" He said as he kissed her.

"But what's all this for?" Clarisse asked seriously, her smile never leaving her face.

Joseph's smile fell. "What do you mean?"

"What's the occasion?"

A pain shot through his chest. Was she serious? Did she not know what today was? Joseph placed a fake smile on his lips. "Nothing… just a 'because I love my wife'."

Clarisse smiled, fingering her roses. "Well thank you. I appreciate it." She kissed his cheek, before grabbing her coat and glasses.

"Where are you going?" he asked a she made her way to the door.

"Mia needs my help." She answered over her shoulder.

"Are we still on for lunch?" He asked, trying desperately to control the pain in his chest and the angry rising slowly inside him.

"Yes." She answered before smiling and closing the door.

Unbelievable… she was not only working on their anniversary, but she had forgotten it.

-o-o-o-

Mia's eyes widened when she heard the angry words' come out of Joe's mouth.

"… I was in the military seven years Clarisse. I know how to yell and get in your face. But, I would never, ever disrespect you in such a manner!"

She didn't her hear grandmother's reply… she didn't hear anything really… Until,

"I'll see you around one for lunch." Joseph said.

'Like hell you will,' Mia thought. She wasn't going to have Joe yelling at her grandmother and then expect to have lunch with her… 'Stay out of it Mia!' her brain warned her.

Joseph left the office, passing Mia as he did so. 'Maybe Clarisse would remember by lunch time… she just has a lot going on right now…' he told himself.

His hand fell to his hip and her grimaced when he felt the small jewelry book in his pocket.

Maybe at lunch he could give it to her. Maybe by then she would remember...

-o-o-o-

Clarisse let a frustrated sigh pass her lips. She knew she needed to rearrange her priorities. Joseph had waited patiently for her for over six years- standing in the corner, hidden amongst the shadows… It was time they venture into the light together.

He had awakened so much inside of her during their honeymoon. He was so patient and caring… like he had always been.

She knew, deep within her heart, that it had been because they were meant for each other. It was instinctual – something that couldn't be taught or even learned – it was just present when you found the person who completed you.

Those two weeks away were the freest and most lively she had ever experienced, but once they had returned everything had resumed to normal… she was pushing him away more and more each day.

Not wanting to be intimate and develop an even deeper relationship hadn't been the problem; knowing how to do that... learning how to say no to duty, was what perplexed her.

She hadn't struggled much to let go of her duty to the thousands, in lieu of her duty to the one; didn't even have to convince herself that her happiness should come first. She had accepted that, and was happy with that decision… it was the decision that would allow her to grow old in peace and live happily ever after with her beloved.

She had tried to relinquish control to her granddaughter – a very capable Queen- but it seemed that the transition was too much for Mia. The girl could only handle so much. So of course, Clarisse took on the burden… she had become the Queen's right hand.

With a deep sigh, she forced the negative thoughts from her mind. For at least the millionth time, she suspected, she put her duty to her country over her relationship. She knew Joseph was suffering…

A shiver ran up her spine as she remembered Joseph's words to her just a few days before she almost lost him. "Perhaps it is time you consider the duty you have to yourself."

She didn't know what to do. She was caught- let her granddaughter and beloved Country suffer, or save her marriage.

It seemed to be a logical choice right? Wrong.

Both decisions involved her family. Mia, her only grandchild- the ruler of her country… Joseph, her husband…

-o-o-o-

Mia had kept Clarisse on her heels. The young Queen threw out any diversion she could in order to keep her grandmother from leaving.

"Well dear," Clarisse said as she looked over the budget plan, "Everything looks good." She pulled her glasses away, letting them dangle around her neck. Checking her watch she said, "I'll be back in an hour or two, okay? I'm supposed to meet Joseph for lunch."

Mia's eyes widened. Why would she have lunch with that man? He yelled at her that morning! Quickly, she remembered the Parliament meetings that would be resuming in a matter of weeks… Perfect.

She had enough notes and ideas she could discuss with Clarisse that would keep them busy for at least the next hour in a half.

"Well, actually I wanted your advice on some Parliament stuff." Mia said, reaching for a file in her desk. "We can have lunch here."

Clarisse weighed the idea… "Sure," she said.

-o-o-o-

Joseph checked his watch for the sixth time. He had been waiting for a little over an hour for Clarisse to show up at their spot.

He had planned a beautiful picnic for the both of them… But she wasn't here.

Joseph noticed a figure walking towards him… He smiled. She had made it!

His smile fell when he noticed it was Olivia- Another pain rippling through his chest.

Olivia smiled sympathetically at him.

"She's not coming is she?" he asked.

Olivia's smile fell and her head hung slightly. "No sir. She sends her sincere apologies, but says Her Majesty needed her help with parliament… She also requested a dine-in with Her Majesty…"

Joseph sighed, a hand running over his face. "I waited for over an hour." Olivia hung her head a bit more. "Please tell me you got caught up in work and forgot to tell me."

Olivia shook her head. "No sir. She called just now, just before I came out here."

"Thank you Olivia." He said. "Will you help me clear this up?"

Olivia nodded. Minutes later they were walking side by side back to the palace. "For what it's worth sir, Happy Anniversary,"

Joseph nodded. "Thank you Olivia. At least you remembered."

-o-o-o-

Mia looked up to see Charlotte. "Hello Charlotte,"

Charlotte smiled. "How are you Your Majesty?"

"Fine," Mia answered simply. "Hey Grandma, will you go over my proposal for the Spanish ambassador once I'm done?"

"Yes darling," Clarisse said. "I've read your financial report and your proposal for the education board. They are very nice. I think you'll have no problems getting things amended and into place."

"You Majesty," Charlotte said with a smile. "Joseph has asked if you would be available for dinner tonight?"

"Of course," Clarisse said with a smile. "I suppose I should defiantly be there, seeing as I had to cancel lunch."

"Exciting day, huh? It's a shame you spent it here instead of with him." Charlotte said nonchalantly.

"What do you mean?" Clarisse asked innocently.

Charlotte's eyes widened. Did her Majesty not know today was her anniversary? No… wait… That would explain why Joseph was so upset earlier.

"Nothing Your Majesty," Charlotte said quickly. She had gotten a lot better at lying in the last year. "I just meant that it was such a nice day today. I'm sure he would have enjoyed the company."

"Oh," Clarisse said simply.

Charlotte bit her lip. If Clarisse didn't put her husband on the bottom of her priorities so often, she would have mentioned her anniversary… But honestly, she felt Clarisse could use a bit of a wake-up call. Maybe facing Joseph's wrath and hurt later would do her some good.

Joseph was such a good man. The kind of man Charlotte, and any woman with their head screwed on right, would be proud, not to mention highly privileged to have married.

If Clarisse didn't realize that Joseph wasn't bound to stay… that he could leave… would leave, if she didn't get her act together- she'd never forgive herself.

-o-o-o-

Joseph paced the dining area. Again… he was waiting- Had been for the last 45 minutes.

He kept telling himself that she would come, that she was only trying to look her best… some how though, he couldn't force himself to believe it.

She wasn't coming.

He groaned. What a fucking waste of time. She was never going to change. He obviously wasn't important enough to her. She didn't even have the decency to show up for a simply dinner date, or in the very least, notify him before he was left to wait hours on end!

He heard a small rustle a few feet away… Hope! Maybe she had come!

Nope.

Joseph heart completely shattered when he saw Charlotte, her face sympathetic as she gently shook her head no.

"I'm sorry," she whispered.

-o-o-o-

Mia jumped in her seat when she heard her office door being opened.

Clarisse looked up as well, her face sympathetic when she saw it was Joseph and Charlotte.

"Hello darling," Clarisse said with a smile. "I'm sorry about dinner."

Joseph nodded. He wasn't going to yell or lose his temper. The more casual he was, the more understanding he pretended to be… the guiltier Clarisse would feel.

"Don't' worry about it," he said sincerely.

Mia smiled proudly to her self. See, Joe just needed to be taught a little lesson about taking his anger out on her grandmother. He was a good guy, but like all good guys, sometimes they just lost their head.

Clarisse smiled and patted the seat next to her.

"No thanks," he said. "I've only come to say that I'm going to bed."

"Already?" Clarisse asked as she looked to her watch. "Well, it is ten."

Joseph nodded. She still didn't seem to remember… His heart shattered all over again.

"I waited for you for over an hour," Joseph said softly, "Both for lunch and just now for dinner."

Clarisse smiled sadly, "I know. I'm sorry. Time got away from me and Mia needed my help and the Spanish-"

"I'm sure they would have cut you some slack so you could spend time with me on our Anniversary." He said cutting her off.

Clarisse's eyes widened immediately.

"Yes," Joseph said as he crossed his arms over his chest. "Today is June 17. Our Anniversary… That was why I got you the flowers, and that was why I wanted you to take today off."

Clarisse felt her heart break. Had she really forgotten? No!

"That was why I wanted to have lunch with you." He said. "But you left me waiting for over an hour… Olivia finally came out and notified me that you were going to be eating with Mia. She helped me clean up everything I had prepared, and as we made our way back inside… she wished me a happy anniversary."

Clarisse looked down. God! What had she done?

Joseph sighed. "I also wanted to have dinner with you, but once again you left me waiting… Charlotte had to notify me that you would again be canceling on me."

Clarisse turned her head, willing herself not to cry.

"I was hoping that any moment you would come find me and remember… but you never did." Joseph reached into his pocket and pulled out the small jewelry box. He placed it down on the coffee table in front her.

"Good night Clarisse… Happy Anniversary," He said before walking calmly out of the office, closing the door softly behind him.

-o-o-o-

Clarisse's heart broke as she heard the click of the door, and the dam containing her tears broke. Her shoulders began to shake as the tears quietly fell from her eyes- slowly trickling a trail down her cheek, staining them as they flowed.

What had she done? Was today really her anniversary? Had she really let a whole year go by, only rarely making time for them?

She was never going to be able to forgive herself. Joseph was never going to be able to forgive her!

What if he left? He wouldn't leave her… would he? She couldn't change over night! 'But it's not over night. It's been a year!'

"Oh God!" She sobbed quietly, her voice coming out in a jagged whisper. Her left hand immediately flew to her mouth as to muffle her cries and her shoulders shook violently.

-o-o-o-

'And this is why you mind your own business!' The little voice in Mia's head shouted.

Feeling guiltier than ever, she didn't have the heart to look over at her grandmother- hearing her hoarse cry, Mia felt even worse.

If she hadn't been so persistent on keeping her busy all day, her grandma wouldn't be crying and Joseph wouldn't be so crushed… Now she understood why he had been angry earlier that morning.

Looking over, Mia nearly fell out of her chair at the sight- Clarisse was drowning in her tears. Her body was shaking so furiously and she was crying so hard that she was struggling to breath- she was taking in deep gasps between her cries.

Mia immediately moved to sit next to her, wrapping her arms tightly around her.

"God…" Clarisse cried. "H- He's n.. never g-goi… going to for- forgive m- me."

"I'm sure he wi-"

"No!" Clarisse cried, pulling away from Mia. Her hands covering her face as she cried harder. "W- Would you? I'm a horrible wife!"

"Grandma," Mia cried, "That's not true."

"What kind of wife forgets their Anniversary?" Clarisse yelped, "Our first Anniversary," her cries dying down slightly, she managed to say, "He's never asked me for anything- ever! He… He only wants to spend time with me. And I- I push him away."

-o-o-o-

Joseph threw himself down on his bed- his old bed. He had decided to retreat to his old room for the night.

He needed some space. Clarisse had literally shattered every ounce of his heart and he wasn't sure he could see her right now.

Not only that, but she still hadn't come after him.

Psh, like he was even expecting her to. She had too much pride- Would never allow anyone to see her emotions. Maybe she really was the Ice-Queen.

He dismissed the thought almost immediately. She wasn't heartless… just a bit of a bitch.

He sighed. He had never thought of his wife in such a way before. But after a year of putting up with her cold and distant attitude it was a description that very well suited her.

Joseph turned over, laying flat on his stomach. He would give his life for her. He had, for nearly twenty years, risked his life for her- every public speaking, every gala, every ball… He had always been wiling to take a bullet for her- leave his daughter and family in any attempt may her life be in danger.

With all of that being said, the only thing he asked in return was for her to love him, to be his wife, to be with him… and she wouldn't do it!

"Ugh, fuck my life."

-o-o-o-

Clarisse threw caution and her proper façade out the window. This was no time for rational thinking and absolute maturity!

This was a time for daring! Following her heart! This was a time for showing her husband that she did love him… that she would always love him.

Coming upon their shared suite, she stopped. Taking a deep breath and allowing her racing heart to return back to normal, she slowly pushed open the door.

She gasped, her eyes widening and her hand instantly coming up to her mouth.

Joseph had decorated the room in the most beautiful of decors that she had ever seen, and it was even more so because he had done all of this for her.

Candles lit the room, rose petals trailed across the floor and soft music played, the balcony windows thrown open to invite the light of the beautiful moon.

Clarisse felt a pang of guilt shoot through her. He had gone through so much for her.

She let the door close behind her, and quickly made her way to their bedroom. She prayed that he was there… that he hadn't left.

Pushing the bedroom doors open she was greeted with a trail of petals leading to either side of the bed. The comforter that they slept under disguised in the many color petals: Orange, red, white, pink… He had intended to make love to her amongst a real rose bed.

Reality reared it ugly head, and she realized all too quickly that he had not retired to their suite. Had he actually left her?

Clarisse dodged for the closets. "Oh thank God," she whispered as she saw that his clothes were still there. He hadn't left her.

"Where is he?" She cried as she ran out of their suite, the door slamming closed behind her.

She had made it to the bottom of the stairs, her chest rising and falling in both despair and from the lack of oxygen. Her tears had ceased, but her eyes we're blood shot and her make up was smudge- she didn't care.

She had no idea where she was going. All she knew was that one minute she was jogging, the next breaking into a full sprint, before finally, she was standing outside Joseph's old room.

Clarisse took a deep breath and pushed open the door. She blinked, willing her eyes to adjust to the complete and utter darkness. She quickly but quietly made her way to the sleeping quarters. Pushing open the door, her anxiety immediate sated when she saw her husband lying on his stomach- his face buried in a pillow. He hadn't left her!

Quickly Clarisse made her way over to him, she hesitated for a moment when she saw him shift, but as soon as he settled she sat down beside him, her hand immediately coming to rest on the small of his back.

-o-o-o-

Joseph heard his door open, and groaned inwardly. He knew who it was.

He shifted, his arms tucking under him as he burrowed further in his pillow.

He was of two minds- On one hand he wanted turn over, forgive her, pull her towards him and have his way with her- rough, passionately, mercilessly; knowing full well that she would let him, especially now considering the circumstances. But on the other hand, his heart was shattered and he would also be very content to just be left alone- at least until morning.

Felling the bed shift, and the weight of her delicate on his back he sighed softly. "What do you want?" He asked after a moment.

He heard her shuttering breath. "Joseph… I am so sorry. I- I don't know why I forgot and I know that thus far I've been a horrible wife… But I promise I can… I will change. Please… Joseph?"

With long pause, he weighed her words carefully. Slowly, he turned over, coming to lie on his back, his eyes focused on the ceiling. He couldn't look at her, not yet.

"I am head over heels in love with you," he said softly. "I have waited for the day when I could celebrate a wedding anniversary with you."

Clarisse remained quite, her eyes focused on him. She held her breath. What was he getting at?

"But, Clarisse, you haven't let me in. You won't change. It's been a year."

"Jo-"

"Let me finish," He said sternly. "I don't know what you expected, but this is not what I expected. Clarisse, I love you and I want to be with you."

"I want to be with you too!" She cried.

Joseph sighed. "Actions speak louder than words Clarisse." He rubbed a hand over his face. "Unlike Rupert, I am not bound to stay. No law is keeping me here."

Clarisse felt her heart completely dissolve. He was leaving.

"I've walked away from one marriage because my wife wouldn't put us before the job. Please, Clarisse, don't make me walk away from this marriage."

Clarisse chocked out a sob. "You're leaving?"

Joseph pulled her to him, her face burring in his chest, her fists clenching his shirt tightly and her voice hoarse as she pleaded for him not to leave her. He smoothed a hand over her hair.

"I'm not leaving." He said softly.

Clarisse's heart leaped at his words, her heart pounding so loud her ears were ringing. She cupped his face in both of her hands. "You won't leave me? Please! You'll stay with me right? I need you! I want you! I love you, please, please don't ever leave me."

Joseph placed his hands over hers. "I won't leave. I don't want to leave. But Clarisse, you have- we have-"

"Shh," Clarisse said, her forehead coming to rest atop his. "I know okay. I know. I'll change, I promise. We'll spend more time together. I love you Joseph, I love you so much! Just please, don't ever leave me. Please. I love you."

All the pain that had been building up in Joseph's chest immediately subsided. She did love him. She was willing to change. She was sorry. She wanted to be his wife.

"I love you." He said softly before pressing his lips softly against hers. "I love you…"

Clarisse pressed her lips harder against his, and only pulled back enough to whisper, "I am so sorry… I love you," against his lips. "I'm sorry for everything…"

"Just think of all the fun we get to have making up." Joseph said softly.

Clarisse kissed him once more. "I'll make all of this up to you. I promise. And next year, our anniversary will be spectacular and everything will be better. Okay? Everything will be better."

"Who says our Anniversary can't be spectacular now?" he asked his hand running up and down her back. "Well just make the most of the hour we have left."

"Tomorrow we'll go down to the beach house. We'll have a second honey moon: We'll stay two weeks, and we'll stay up late and eat junk food, make love any and every where…" She said, her arm snaking around to hold him. "Joseph,"

"Mm," he asked, his fingers fiddling with hers. He brought her hand up with his, comparing them in size before lacing their fingers together.

"You'll help me right? You'll help me make the changes?"

"I've always been willing to help you, haven't I?"

She nodded. "I am so very, very sorry. I love you so much."

Joseph tightened his grip around her. "I love you too."

"Who ever came up with the saying: 'the first year is always the hardest' definitely had us in mind."

Author's Note: I don't know what to say about that... But it was in my brain and now it's on the internet... Once I thought about it, I just couldn't stop thinking about it, so I'm sorry if you hated it... But you can expect a new chapter of "Butterfly" and a "Wedding Night" One shot soon... Because I love you.

My PD RANT: I've tried to read every PD fanfiction I could find. And you know what I've come to discover? Clarisse, in my opinion, always seems to come off a bit... Bitchy. Am I the only one who see's that in the PD writings? The plots are always one of: She pushes Joseph away because of her insecurities... and he's always expected to apologize and plea with her!
It's so... frustrating. So I thought I needed to write something where because of Clarisse's attitude, and because she won't change, Joseph threatens to leave... I quite like the idea of her apologizing and pleading with him.