Countries Come Together

Description: A young princess is put through an arranged marriage to man she has just met. It seems that both of their fathers have seen trouble come into their countries and will do anything to stop it. And that includes forming with an alliance through marriage between strangers.

Oh and also the kingdoms/countries that are mentioned are from my imagination. They are somewhat based on real countries.

Enjoy.

Chapter Four

"Maria! Oh thank god I found you!"

Maria looks up from her book and sees Chennai running into the library. She's dressed much like Maria, in a pair of faded jeans and a tee. Her golden hair is curled around her red face. She looks like she's just run a mile.

"Are you okay?" Maria sits down her book and moves around in her seat so she's facing her best friend. Her face is etched with concern and interest.

Chennai, however, isn't looking at Maria anymore. Her wide eyes are glued to the prince who is still sitting across from Maria.

"Chennai?" Maria tries to stifle a laugh but fails miserably and it comes out a snort.

Chennai shakes herself out of her trance and turns to Maria. "Do you have any idea what your father has done?" She asks in a deadly serious tone.

"Nope, and quite frankly I don't really care." Maria moves to pick her book back up.

"Well I thought you'd like to know that your wedding is being set up for you outside in the west gardens." Chennai crosses her arms slyly over her chest and gives Maria a pointed look.

"Oh my god!" Maria practically jumps over her chair as she runs to the window. She leaps onto the window seat and leans against the cool glass. She feels movement beside her and notices that Chennai had followed her up.

Through the glass they can see the west gardens. The flowers are blue, violet, and turquoise. It reminds Maria of the sea and has always been her favorite garden in the kingdom.

"Oh my god. Oh my god." Maria continues to repeat that phrase as she sees white chairs being set up in the center of the garden maze. "How could they have done this so fast? I just left them a little while ago."

Chennai turns to face Maria and glances at her wristwatch, "Hon, it's going on 4. They've been at this all day." She smiles gently, "Besides, there are a lot of people who'd love to be planning your wedding."

"4?" Maria asks in a high pitched shocked voice. She hadn't heard the last part of what Chennai said, or if she did she pretended she hadn't.

Chennai nods, "You've been reading all day with the enemy."

Maria slumps her shoulders, groans, and presses her forehead against the glass.

"I was joking." Chennai places a hand on Maria's shoulder.

"I know." Maria whispers.

Behind them a chair squeals against the marble flooring. Both of the girls swing around at the sound and see Finn getting up and stretching his arms over his head.

He catches them watching him and cocks his head to the side, "What?"

"Nothing." Maria and Chennai shake their heads in unison.

"I've already sent over some of our friends to spy on the progress of 'mission wedding." Chennai starts.

Maria frowns and holds up her hands. They are no longer looking at Finn. They are facing each other. "Mission wedding?" She arches an eyebrow mockingly.

"Well we need to have phases." Chennai concludes. "Phase one: espionage."

"Espionage?" Maria laughs, "What are we going to do? Bribe the florist to send the wrong flowers?"

Chennai's eyes brighten, "That's a great idea."

Maria laughs even louder, "You're gone in the head."

Chennai glares at her playfully, "Hey, I'm doing this for you."

The trio remains silent. Maria leans against the window and crosses her arms over her chest. She glances up and sees that Finn is leaning on the back of the chair he had been sitting in earlier and is watching her.

She subconsciously avoids his gaze and looks down at her shoes.

"Come on; let's go see if we can set off the doves." Chennai takes Maria's hand in hers. Maria is jerked forward and off the seat when Chennai jumps down and she grips the back of the nearest chair to make sure she doesn't fall.

"Doves?" Maria turns sharply at Chennai.

Chennai nods fiercely before she takes off running towards the main hall, dragging Maria behind her.

"Be careful, I hear doves tend to bite." Finn calls after them jokingly.

Maria hadn't caught the joking tone and turned to look at him with wide eyes. All she saw was him laughing as she was pulled into the hall and towards the back door.

CCT

Maria is now sitting in her bedroom. She has papers spread out all over her bed and has her face in her heads in a defeated motion.

Suddenly her door opens. She can't see who it is because of how she's sitting but she can tell it's her mom. She's the only one who comes into her room without knocking who doesn't automatically go into a rant when they come into the room.

"Hey sweetheart." Margaret comes closer. Maria can hear her soft heeled shoes pad against her floor. "What is all this?"

"French." She groans and then looks up and rests her hands in her lap. She's sitting cross-legged in the center of her bed. "I can't seem to get it to flow the way I want."

Margaret cocks her head to the right, "You'll get it. You're great at languages."

Maria shrugs while she moves some papers out of the way. Margaret sits down beside Maria and crosses her own legs. She's no longer in one of her 'queen' ensembles. She's wearing simple jeans and a worn gray sweatshirt that Maria guesses that she had taken from dad.

"I heard you and Chennai were causing some trouble in the gardens today." Her eyes twinkle with interest.

Maria laughs.

"Mr. Cambridge almost had a heart attack when you guess moved the chairs to form a path to the parking lot." Margaret is now laughing too.

"Well we were hoping he'd get the message and leave." Maria said it with full humor but after she said it she knew she shouldn't have. "I'm sorry." She moves her gaze so she's staring at her hands.

Maria can feel her mom's gaze on her. It's strong and courageous and holds fierce compassion. "You don't need to apologize." Margaret whispers.

They sit in silence for a few seconds. Both of them are avoiding the subject that they both know is going to come up. So finally Margaret adjusts herself so she's facing her daughter.

Maria however remains to be stubborn and she just stares at her hands.

"We are only doing this, because we think its best." Margaret says in a small voice. She has always been able to make the worst situation not seem so bad. She places her hand on Maria's.

Maria looks up and meets her mom's gaze. "For me or for our country?" Her voice barely comes out louder then a whisper.

Margaret sighs before replying, "Both."

Maria nods slowly, "Isn't there any other hope to stop the Meraignians?" Her body has heated up, her hands are sweating, and hot tears have welled up in the back of her eyes. She barely has enough strength to hold her mother's gaze, but she does.

Margaret silently shakes her head 'no'.

Maria can't hold her mom's strong gaze anymore and she turns her head away so she's looking at the pile of papers on the edge of her bed. Then slowly she allows the tears in her eyes to fall.

Her body starts to shake and she closes her eyes.

Margaret wraps her calming arms around Maria and Maria half lays in her lap. She breaks down and cries while Margaret gently rubs the small of her back whispering soothing words.

CCT

"Our father's insane." Mason hasn't called Roman their 'dad' in days. In fact most of the time he tries not to refer him as anything except 'father' and 'his highness' and most of the time it comes out in a very mocking tone.

Maria rolls her eyes and continues to stand up straight even though she feels as if her back is about to break in half.

Right now Maria is standing on a podium like step wearing the most gorgeous dress she has ever seen. It isn't very fancy but it suites Maria, or at least that is what Sheila had said. It's a strapless dress with a nice flowing floor length body that shows off her slim features. There are some silver beads sewn into the hem and it makes it sparkle.

"I think we all already know that, Mason." Maria informs him.

A few tailors are working hard to get her dress perfect and ready for tomorrow.

It's been a week since her break down with her mom and since then things have been okay. She's been avoiding her dad and Finn. In fact the only human contact she has really gotten is from Mason, Chennai, her mom, and Millay. She's been keeping herself locked up in her room and only comes out when she's finished a book and wants to get another one from the library.

However this morning her father banged on her door and ordered her to come out. So here she is. In a dress shop being fitted for the dress her and Chennai picked out in a bridal magazine Sheila and Margaret had brought up for her.

"But seriously, I thought this was some sort of phase and that he'd realize his mistake before actually making you go through with this." Mason is the only one with Maria right now (other then the tailors). Everyone else went back to the palace to make sure everything was running smoothly.

Maria won't look at her brother. She just plays with her fingers and keeps her gaze anywhere but at Mason. She knows he's talking like this because of her (and because he doesn't want her to get married either) but it's breaking her up inside. "Mason, please, can we talk about something else?"

"Like what?" Mason stops pacing and turns to face her.

"I don't know, how about football or something." Maria suggests.

Mason stares at her, "You want to talk about football?" He asks dully.

"Sure, why not?" Maria shrugs.

"Because it's baseball season." Mason folds his arms and shakes his head at her.

Maria laughs, "Well I've always been a soccer and basketball fan myself." She keeps silent for a few seconds before she hears someone talking rather loudly outside their room.

"I'll be right back." Mason holds his hand up to her; telling her to stay where she is.

Maria stretches her neck out to try and see out into the hallway as Mason opens the door but he keeps himself tightly pressed against the arch so she can't see anything except him.

"What are you doing here?" Mason asks gruffly.

Maria doesn't hear the reply but she doesn't really need to because Mason opens the door widely and suddenly Finn walks inside.

"Bloody hell." Maria mutters loud enough for everyone to hear.

Mason chuckles, "That's my sister for ya."

Maria glares at him for a second before turning back to Finn. He's dressed a lot like he had been the last time Maria saw him; in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. He has a pair of dark sunglasses in his hands and is tapping the lenses against his leg.

"Young man you can't be here." Maria jumps at the sound of one of the ladies' voices. She looks at the older lady as she walks over to Finn. Her eyes are wide with shock, "You're the fiancé! You can't be here!" She practically hits him with her clipboard trying to get him back into the hallway.

Mason laughs loudly before coming to Finn's rescue, "He's alright."

The lady glances at Finn before mumbling something under her breath and heading back over to Maria.

"What are you doing here?" She manages to cough out.

"I wanted to see you." Finn tells her shortly.

"You could have seen me at the castle." Maria shrugs her shoulders and turns her back on them so she's looking into the mirror. She takes a deep but shaky breath and tries to calm the nerves that have started to boil inside her stomach.

She can see Finn through the mirror. His gaze hasn't left her. "No I couldn't have. You've been avoiding me."

"No I haven't." Maria tells him.

"Yes you have." Both Mason and Finn say.

Maria glares at her brother through the mirror, "Who's side are you on?"

Mason playfully glares back at her before clapping Finn on the shoulder, "I'm going to get some coffee. If you do anything to upset her," Mason's voice has turned deadly, "I'll kill you." Then he smiles at Maria, "Play nice." Then he leaves.

"Mason!" Maria turns sharply to call her brother back in but Mason doesn't reappear through the door so she slumps her shoulders.

Finn's face has grown slightly pale but he composes himself and turns back to Maria, "I wanted to talk about tomorrow."

Maria closes her eyes and takes another deep breath. She feels like she's about to explode. "Can you ladies please excuse us for a minute?" She can see the hesitance in the three ladies faces but non-the-less they nod and leave the room just like Mason had. Maria turns back to Finn and crosses her arms, "Go on."

Finn casually walks across the room and sits down in one of the chairs. "I wanted you to know that I didn't choose this."

"Well neither did I." Maria snaps at him slightly.

Finn waves aside her tone and continues as if she'd never said anything, "But, I'm also okay with it."

Maria locks her eyes against Finn's and stares at him with shock traced all around her face.

"You're a great girl, Maria, and even though I've never been a great commitment kind of guy I think we'll be fine." His accent is so thick that Maria has to strain to understand. She is still frozen as he stands up and walks closer to her.

Maria can feel her hands start to shake so she holds them behind her back.

Outside she can hear her mom and Sheila talking about the flower decoration for tomorrow's festivities. Maria glances at the door and then turns back to Finn. "You're not supposed to be here."

Finn smirks lightly before taking something out of his breast pocket, "I wanted to give you something."

Maria watches him curiously and watches him hold out a velvet box.

"A gift from me to you." His smirk deepens as Maria stares at it and then hesitantly plucks it from his hand. Their fingers touch lightly and Maria jerks her hand back.

"Till tomorrow." He tips an imaginary hat in her direction before he turns away from her and starts towards the back door. Then he suddenly turns around and meets her gaze once more, "You look amazing." Then before either one of them can say anything he slips out through the back door.

Maria stares at the door for a second before turning her attention to the small box in her hands. She stares at it for a second before taking a deep breath and opening the lid. Inside is the most gorgeous engagement ring she has ever seen: with three diamonds on a sterling silver ring. Maria closes her eyes briefly and closes the box again.

The front door opens and her mom walks in followed by Sheila, Chennai, and Mason. Maria picks up her clothes that had been sitting on one of the chairs along the wall and smiles at them. Her clothes are hiding the ring box in her hand. She rubs her thumb up and down the velvet.

"Maria, hon, go get dressed." Margaret tells her. "We're going to for lunch."

Mason sends Maria a secret 'all knowing' look. Maria ignores him and starts heading to the changing rooms.

"She looks absolutely amazing." Sheila tells the group.

"Spectacular." Chennai adds.

Maria grins to herself before ducking into one of the dressing rooms where the ladies are waiting to help her out of her dress.