So this is for Rhiannamator. I was hoping to have this chaptered fic finished before I posted it, but I seem to have lost inspiration on it. I'm hoping that posting it will bring the inspiration back. Don't expect too many chapters, or for them to come too quickly though.
Warnings: Cross-dressing, slash, fantasy Au, occasional magic use
"Your highness?" Heath sighed and looked up at his handmaiden, a buxom blonde woman named Trish. "It's time to get dressed, the festival starts today?" Heath sighed and nodded, tossing the baby blue covers back and climbing to his feet, shivering when his bare feet touched the icy cold stone floor. Trish hurried to open the heavy wooden door, ushering in the servants carrying buckets of water.
"What colour did you want to wear today?" Trish asked, hurrying to the closet and opening the doors to peer at the assorted dresses inside.
"I don't know Trish," Heath sighed, fluffing his hair away from his face, examining his nails casually. "Just pick one please?" Trish rolled her eyes fondly and gathered up the pale green day dress from the side of the closet, laying it on the bed before shooing Heath into the bath.
"Hurry up your highness," she fussed, picking up his brush and beginning to tug it through his hair, preparing for the day ahead.
"What is actually involved today Trish?" Heath asked softly, tilting his head back to allow her better access.
"Well, today the other royals are arriving," Trish began. "So you need to be in the entrance hall to greet them. They'll be here before lunch, so there will be a picnic set up out in the gardens. Your mother wishes for you to entertain the young princes and princesses, and you know how she wishes for you to find yourself a husband." Heath nodded slowly.
"Tomorrow is the joust, the young princes and perhaps some of the kings will be participating along with their knights," Trish continued, tugging aparta particularly stubborn knot. "It is most probable that one of the princes will ask you for a favour, you are of course to give one to the prince that your parents decide on." Heath sighed and nodded.
"Wednesday will be the day that the royals can explore our kingdom, with the finale ball that night before they leave on Thursday," Trish finished, beginning to braid Heaths hair back in order to be able to pin it up. The redhead sighed and relaxed into the warm water, allowing the hand maiden to do as she wished.
"Alright, out out. I don't need you falling asleep in there," Trish scolded, pushing at Heaths shoulders until the princess grumbled and climbed out of the bath.
"Arms up," Trish demanded, settling the corset around Heaths waist and tugging firmly, before attaching the petticoats.
"Do we really have to do all of this?" Heath asked with a sigh, shooting Trish puppy dog eyes, paired with a slight pout.
"Yes your highness," Trish sighed, holding the green dress up for Heath to step into. "You are representing Snowfall Kingdom. You have to look your best." Heath rolled his eyes at this, but slid his arms into the sleeves, the cuffs coming to just under his elbows.
"Why do these damn seamstresses have to make these buttons so tiny," Trish muttered under her breath, her fingers flying up Heaths back belaying the annoyance in her voice. Heath smiled softly and pecked her cheek with a gentle kiss when she was done, stepping into the forest green slippers waiting by the bed before he headed for the door.
"Princess…" Trish sighed, holding up the silver tiara when Heath turned around. The red-head blushed softly, and ducked his head to allow the woman to settle it firmly in front of the braided updo on top of his head.
"Thank you Trish," he said, smiling sweetly at her before exiting the room, nodding gracefully at the servants as he traversed the corridors.
"Ah, Heath," his mother greeted as he entered the dining room. "I trust Trish briefed you on the day's events?"
"Yes mother," Heath replied, taking his seat at the table. "What time will the other royals be arriving?"
"All throughout this morning," his mother replied, pursing her lips as he piled up his plate. Heath ignored her and nibbled on his food, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at her.
"I do hope that you will try to find a husband at this event," she stated, peering at Heath. "You are almost 24 after all, and very soon you'll be reduced to the status of being single forever."
"I have told you already Mother, I do not plan to get married until after I have met my True Love," Heath said, his voice clipped and short. "If that doesn't happen until after I'm 50, then so be it." His mother sighed and shook her head.
"At least try," she ordered, rising and motioning for the servants to clear the table. "Now I believe Prince Drew should be arriving soon. We should be ready to greet him." Heath nodded and rose as well, following behind his parents as his ever patient father fell in line with the Queen.
Reaching the Entrance Hall swiftly, despite Heaths impatience with the slow pace of his parents, the doors were already open and Drew was actively shaking his cloak off, his parents quickly moving forward to greet Heaths parents once they realised they were no longer alone.
"It's raining outside," Drew announced to Heath once the red-head reached his side, extending his hand with a slight lift to the right side of his lips, Heath immediately offering his hand to the young Prince, blushing when he felt Drew's tongue lick the back of his hand quickly.
"We're supposed to picnic outside for lunch," Heath murmured, peeking outside the giant wooden doors hesitantly to find only a light sprinkle of rain dusting the grass.
"I'm sure it'll dry up by then," Drew laughed, Heath turning around with a hand on his hip and a fond glare directed at his friend.
"If that's counted as rain, then I'm a blonde," he announced, blowing a stray strand of hair off his forehead.
"Good luck with that, ginger," Drew shot over his shoulder as he turned to ascend the main steps, following one of the young servant girls. Heath puffed up in fury, only to deflate at the warning glare his mother shot him.
"You will not behave like that this week," she hissed through her teeth, fire flashing in her eyes. "King Matthew and Prince Jeffery are attending, as are Prince Justin and his family. Not to mention, King Jason has agreed to attend his first royal event outside of his country in 10 years, and he requested permission to bring his brother."
"King Christopher replied as well dear, as did Queen Amy and Princess Tara," her husband added meekly, the Queens eyes continuing to stare a hole through her son.
"As did Lady Winter," she finished. "Therefore, you will most certainly find someone this week, and you will not ruin Snowfalls image and reputation by gallivanting around with your ill-mannered, uncouth friend." Heath dug his short nails into his palms, nodding shortly at his mother before turning to face the front doors.
"Why did we decide to ride all the way here instead of taking the carriage?" a voice commented from outside, two men entering the castle and lowering their hoods.
"King Matthew!" the Queen greeted, rushing forward and offering her hand.
"Your Majesty," Matthew greeted, bowing low over her hand and kissing the back of it.
"Your Majesty," Jeffery agreed, following his brothers lead when she offered her hand to him in turn.
"Your Majesty, Your Highness," Heath greeted sweetly, offering a quick curtsey in front of them as they offered him a pair of warm smiles.
"Princess," Jeffery nodded, stepping forward to offer a shallow bow. "Have you heard about any young, corruptible maidens recently?"
"Jeff!" Matthew snapped, stepping forward to cuff his younger brother lightly around the head.
"Perhaps you will find one at our delightful four day event," Heath offered, laughing at the young Princes comment. Matthew was only 29, and Jeffery was 25, only a year senior to Heath. Being that Matthews kingdom of Winterscrest was Snowfalls closest neighbour, and required significant trade between the two kingdoms, Heath and Jeffery had practically grown up together. As a result, Heath had stopped being offended at the elder Princes crude jokes many years ago.
"I only hope that I can find one as lovely as you," Jeffery offered, bowing to the King and Queen again before he and Matt were ushered out of the hall by a harried looking servant.
Most of the rest of royals turned up in short order, Heath pasting on a smile and greeting each one with a kind word before sending them through with the servants to freshen up in their rooms. Once Lady Winter - an intimidating woman that always made Heath wonder if vampires were actually real - had ascended the stairs, he noticed that Trish was coming down the stairs, stepping behind the door to wait silently. Tilting his head in curiosity he turned his attention back to the Entrance doors just as Queen Amy walked through the doors, her hand resting gently on Princess Tara's shoulder as the young woman glance around uncertainly.
Tara had been the illegitimate daughter of Amy's father, and shortly before he had died her mother had come to the castle, begging for him to acknowledge Tara's existence. The then 8 year old had been humiliated in front of the court as her father had laughed in her face, calling her the daughter of a whore and making fun of her. The story went that Amy had sat beside him with a blank expression on her face, before Tara and her mother left finally, Tara red-faced and her mother with tears running down her face. The King had died two months later when he had suddenly contracted a deadly illness - from one of his mistresses no less, as evidenced when she died less than a week after him - and Amy had assumed the throne. Her first act as the newly crowned Queen was to bring Tara into her court, setting her mother up for life in the castle and acknowledging the young girl as her sister. There had been a bit of an uproar, mainly from the elder nobles within the kingdom of Firestone, but Amy had held fast to her decision. Tara had been crowned a Princess, and with Amy's insistence, had been named the heir to the throne.
Heath had met the young Princess when she first debuted in court, after Amy had held a ball for her 9th birthday. He had only been 15 then, and had eagerly agreed when the shy little girl had asked him if maybe, he would like to dance with her, her dark curls hanging around her face. His mother had scoffed about two Princesses dancing together, but Heath had paid her no mind. He had always loved being in Amy's kingdom, she had promoted female strength and equality since the very beginning of her reign. Even now, as Heath watched through the doors, there were several female knights surrounding the royal carriage, and a dark haired woman slipped in behind Tara, taking up residence against the wall.
"Your majesties," Amy greeted warmly, stepping forward to curtsey shallowly in front of the King and Queen.
"Tara," Heath greeted, stepping forward to take the young Princesses hands in his own.
"Your highness," Tara said, her eyes fixing on the warm brown eyes of the elder Princess.
"Please, don't worry about this week," Heath said softly, smiling warmly. "There will be several of us younger set, and we're all very friendly."
"I just turned 18," Tara confessed softly. "Amy said that this is when most Princesses start to look for husbands." Heath gave her a reassuring smile, squeezing her hands gently.
"Don't worry about it right now," he soothed gently. "You have plenty of time before anyone starts pressuring you. And anyway, look at Amy. She's almost 35, and she still hasn't ever been married. Somehow I doubt that anyone - especially her - will pressure you to get married until you are absolutely ready." Tara smiled gratefully, her shoulders relaxing.
"Thank you," she whispered, glancing over her shoulder. "By the way, don't worry about Brooke. She's my bodyguard; Amy thinks that there might be some plot on my life. Some intel she's heard of." Heath laughed and nodded to the young woman against the wall.
"I wouldn't worry about it," he assured Tara, releasing one of her hands to motion to Amy. "She only ever hires the best professionals." The younger woman shot him a smile, her whole face lighting up in response to his words.
"Excuse me Your Majesties, Your Highnesses. May I escort Queen Amy and Princess Tara to their quarters?" Heath turned around to see Trish, demure mask firmly in place as she curtsied deeply.
"Thank you Trish," Heaths mother said regally, Trish motioning for the two women to follow her. Brooke followed behind Tara at a discreet distance, Heath raising an eyebrow at how close Amy and Trish were walking and mentally noting it to ask Trish about it later.
"Eyes front Heath, the carriage of Goldenrock has just arrived," his mother hissed, Heath reacting automatically and straightening up, preparing to meet the final two arrivals for the first time in his young life.
"Jay are you sure that Midnight is going to be ok?"
"Yes Adam," a patient voice replied from outside the doors. "I'm sure that he will be fine." Heath waited impatiently as two figures came through the door, both with hoods over their heads.
"But Jay…" one of the pair said softly, his hands coming up to sweep his hood back. The first thing Heath noticed was the long blonde hair pulled back in a heavy braid, matching perfectly with the soft hazel eyes alternating between pleading with his brother and glancing out of the door.
"I promise Adam, Midnight will be just fine," his brother replied, sweeping his own hood back. "You don't have to worry; Tundra will stick by her and make sure nothing happens. You know how close they are." Heath let out a small gasp as the piercing blue eyes of the elder man found his, the corner of his lips curving up in a small smirk.
"King Jason!" his mother exclaimed, stepping forward to offer her hand to the elder blonde, introducing herself and her husband in short order.
"And may I present my son, Princess Heath," she insisted, Heath catching on immediately and offering his own hand to the King.
"Charmed, I'm sure," Jason said with a slight quirk of his lips, Heath blushing when he leant down and brushed those lips over the back of his hand.
"And my brother, Princess Adam," Jason introduced, stepping back and motioning for the other blonde to come forward. "It's his first time out of Goldenrock, and I just knew that this would be the perfect event for his first one." He paired it with a charming smile, one that Heath couldn't help but swoon inwardly over.
"Pleased to meet you," Adam greeted shyly, curtseying deeply. The Queen scoffed when he wobbled a little, which only served to redden Adams cheeks. Heath stepped forward with a sweet smile and linked arms with the young Princess once he rose, leading him forward.
"Why don't I show you to your room, so you can freshen up?" he suggested easily. "Then once you're settled in, if you like, before lunch we can go down to the stables, and I can introduce you to the stable hands. We have some of the best in all the lands, and I assure you that your horse will be well taken care of." He heard his mother cough in annoyance, and immediately chalked it up to the fact that the King was trailing behind them.
"Of course you're welcome to join us Your Majesty," he added quickly, turning around to shoot a winning smile at the King following behind them, Jason immediately laughing softly.
"No, you two go ahead," he chuckled. "I'm an old man, I need my rest."
"Jason, you're only 29," Adam laughed, rolling his eyes at his brother as they reached the landing.
"And compared to you two young things, that's old," Jason teased as they reached a door, in front of which Heath stopped.
"This room is yours," he explained. "You're welcome to head in and freshen up, and when you're done Adam I'll be waiting."
"I won't be long," Adam promised, hurrying through the door. Jason rested a hand on Heaths shoulder gently.
"I would like to request a favour," he said softly, Heath tilting his head a touch to the side. "My brother, he is only just 18. I know that you are already older than that, and being that this is your home castle, I would like to request that you keep an eye on him? Despite being taught how to act in these situations, he has never had the opportunity to practice. I beg of you, to guide him over the next few days." Heath was struck by the pleading look in the Kings eyes, and rested a gentle hand on his forearm.
"Please Your Majesty, do not worry," he soothed softly, offering a gentle smile. "The younger Princes and Princesses are all quite close. We all look out for one another, and I know that Adam will be accepted into our group. We're not picky on who we include."
"Thank you Princess," Jason answered, the relief obvious in his eyes. "I really do appreciate it."
"Can we go now?" Adam asked, coming out of the room. He'd changed from his riding clothes into a soft, sky blue gown that hung just below his knees, and paired it with pale blue slippers with a ribbon that crossed around his calves to tie on the outside of his legs.
"Sure," Heath agreed, giving him a smile and linking their arms again, guiding Adam down the stairs. "Don't worry Adam, I'm sure you'll love the stables. The stable hands are lovely, even if they are a little insane." He laughed and nudged Adam gently, the blonde laughing along with him as they exited the castle.