Chapter One: A Butterfly Flaps its Wings
When he had first come to Genovia, Andrew didn't know what to expect. A bratty princess, perhaps, one who was used to getting her own way, but presenting a perfect face to her adoring public. What he found was quite different. Mia was everything a true princess should be, just like the ones in the stories his mother would read him when he was younger, only she had an awful lot of accidents! Idly, he wondered if anyone had ever slipped a pea under Mias' mattress, before dismissing the thought as ridiculous. He re-focused upon his surroundings, as he was supposed to be watching Mia review the guard. Watching Mia riding gracefully towards his location, he sent her what he hoped was an encouraging smile. It went unseen however, for at that very moment the unthinkable happened.
Andrew watched in horror as Mias' horse seemed to falter before rearing up sharply. Thankfully, Joe rushed forwards to help her, but he created a whole new set of problems, as with jerk, and a frightful ripping sound, a wooden leg emerged from the princess' skirt. All eyes were on this peculiarity, held in the firm grasp of the stunned Head of Security. Mortified, Andrews intended fled the parade, and he followed as quickly as he dared, dodging around dignitaries and soldiers alike.
Andrew came upon her in the stables curled on a corner bench, quietly crying. He paused in the doorway, unsure how to begin, but seeing Nicolas approaching in the distance, he drew on his courage and entered softly.
The whisper was unexpected, and the young womans head turned to its source.
"Andrew? What?" Confusion was evident in her posture, her voice hoarse from sobs that never came.
Slowly he moved towards her, knowing, that like her horse, she could spook and run at any moment, which would certainly leave what was left of their growing friendship in shreds upon the ground. Taking a breath, he knelt onto the bench, gathering her in his arms, silently offering her some much needed comfort.
"I just came to see if you were alright." His voice was quiet and unassuming. "There aren't many people who could stay in control when a horse reacts like that."
"Yet another in a long line of screw-ups!" Mias voice was harsh and full of self-loathing. "I'm never going to be able to get this right. Perhaps it would be better… Maybe I should just give up. No more lessons or parades or stupid headlines. No more parliament enforcing ancient laws and idiotic deadlines… oh!"
She stopped suddenly, aware that she may have said too much.
"Mia." Andrew held her in a loose embrace, sincerity echoing in his every word. "I know it isn't easy. I believe that forcing you into this marriage is wrong, I do. But you chose me, out of all the men in the world, and that means that I will fight for you. I wish we had more time to get to know one another, to fall in love, and I'm sure that given time I would love you. But we don't have it. All that's left to do is fight for every second we have and to stand and show them, that yes, sometimes it all goes wrong, but you are Amelia Thermopolis Renaldi, and you are the next queen of this country. And I will be by your side through all of it, not because it is my duty, but because I wish to be there. You are amazing Mia. And you always will be, no matter what anyone, media or man, has to say."
She was looking at him as if she had never seen him before, and to him she had never seemed more beautiful. Tear-tracks down her face, eyes bright and amazed, and her heart open to him for the very first time.
"You know," her voice was different, gentler, as her fears were soothed by this mans' words, and his embrace. "I never stopped to think about what this would mean for you. Ever since I was a little girl, I would dream about falling in love, and having a wedding like a princess. And then I became the princess, but lost my choice of happily-ever-after. I was so angry about not having that; I didn't even give you a chance. I'm sorry Andrew. I will try. I just always thought…"
Her name was but a murmur as he held her close and let her cry. Grieve for the first time for the choices that had been stolen from her. Eventually she pulled back and looked up at him, vulnerable as he had never seen her.
Entranced, he barely heard her whisper, "Thank you, Andrew."
Slowly, lest she pull away, he lowered his head, only to find hers lifting to meet him. As first kisses go, it was not a passionate climax, but chaste and short, yet in that simple touch a myriad of emotion was conveyed.
For the first time since Michael had left, Mia felt the stirring of something special beginning. As he pulled away from her she gave him a watery smile and he grinned back, gathering her close to him again. He did not know how long they stayed like that, holding each other in the tack-room of the royal stables, but eventually the peace was broken by a quiet cough.
Andrew looked up to find Joseph staring down at him, at them.
"Forgive my intrusion, Princess, but the Queen has arrived."
Regretfully he removed his arms and stood, offering a hand to Mia as he did so.
"Right, yes." She was still distracted he knew, but no longer distraught. "Of course"
Squaring her shoulders, and bestowing a small smile upon her intended, Mia left, leaving Andrew and Joseph alone.
Joseph stared at the young Duke for a moment, giving Andrew the uncomfortable sensation of being under a microscope, until the corners of the elder mans mouth turned up slightly and he gave a nod, leaving Andrew bewildered, but with the distinct feeling that he had just passed some sort of test.
Joe was pleased. The young suitor had met his gaze evenly, calmly, not something many could claim. Perhaps he would do. Spotting Lord Devereaux lurking near the window of the building he had just left, Joe set off striding with purpose, towards the young lord who was looking a little lost for words.
Yes, that one on the other hand… Joe smirked. He had some would-be crown-thieves to intimidate.
A/N: So, good, bad? Should I continue? Still at uni, so updates will be irregular, but expect more soon (hopefully!)