Marie went looking for Jehann. She had exciting news to tell him, but she couldn't seem to find him anywhere. She had looked in his rooms against her better judgment and had only found his messy quarters.
Marie turned around and found Jehann walking toward her. She smiled brightly as he got closer.
"I've been looking for you, Jehann."
He stopped and smiled uncertainly.
"What did you want?" he asked quietly.
Marie stepped closer to him and put her hand on his shoulder.
"My father has agreed to let me visit my mother!" She said excitedly jumping up and down.
Jehann smiled. "That's great, Marie!"
Marie's smiled broadened. "The only catch is that I have to take my aunt and cousins with me."
"Is that a bad thing?" He asked.
"Not really. I love Aunt Matilide and Victorie, but Louise on the other hand…" Marie trailed off.
"Louise is she…?"
Marie nodded. "Yes, she's the cousin I was talking about. We've competed for everything since we were toddlers."
"I see," Jehann said rubbing his chin distractedly.
"But still it'll be nice to see mother again."
"Hello Aunt Matilide!" Marie said excitedly. She came up to her aunt and kissed her on both cheeks. Matilide smiled down at her niece.
"Bonjour little Marie, how long has it been since I saw you?" Matilide said placing Marie's arm under hers.
"Six months I believe. I've missed you so. That woman keeps terrorizing me."
Matilide laughed at that. "She isn't that bad is she?"
They reached the carriage. "She treats me like a maid. It's terrible!"
Marie looked into a pair of sapphire blue eyes.
"Hello Louise," Marie said stiffly.
Louise grinned down at Marie. She looked over her slightly older cousin and raised a blonde eyebrow.
"Why are you always wearing blue, Marie-Therese?" Louise asked using Marie's full name. Marie scrunched up her eyes in fury.
"Louise, Marie looks beautiful in blue. It matches her eyes." Matilide said ushering Marie into the carriage.
Louise sat back while Marie climbed in next to her and Louise's twin, Victorie. Victorie smiled broadly at Marie and she managed a small smile for her.
"Of course mother, but with her hair, it absolutely washes her out," Louise said smirking at Marie.
Marie determinedly stared forward. She bit her bottom lip to keep from replying to Louise. The girl always knew how to push her buttons.
Matilide signaled to the driver and they were off towards Les Bleu Manoir, the small manor house where Marie's mother had been banished.
"Are you excited to see Aunt Therese?" Victorie asked patting Marie's thigh.
Marie smiled at her cousin. "Very much so, it has been a year since I saw her."
"Has it really been that long cousine? I wonder what Aunt Therese will say when she sees that little Marie has grown breasts!"
"Louise!" Matilide said clutching her chest in shock.
Louise reached over and grabbed Marie's chest.
"It's true mother, look she has little dugs!"
Marie scooted away from her cousin. She glared at Louise who only smirked at her.
"I see it. I see the manor!" Victorie said pointing excitedly.
Marie leaned over next to her and looked out the carriage window. She could indeed see the light blue manor house.
"Stop leaning out of the window girls. Young princesses don't gawk out of the window," Matilide said from the seat.
Both girls leaned back in. Marie waited with baited breath until they reached the manor.
The footman opened the door and helped out Matilide first, then Louise, Marie, and finally Victorie who was fairly bouncing.
"Carina!" Came a voice.
Marie whirled around. Her mother, Therese, was coming towards her. She could see her mother's vivacious red hair shinning in the sun.
Marie ran to her mother and threw herself into her arms. Therese gripped her only child tightly.
"My carina how I have missed you," Therese whispered into Marie's ear.
Marie began to cry into her mother's shoulder.
"The palace isn't the same without you Mama. That woman will never be have the queen you are!"
Therese patted Marie's dark hair and laughed lightly.
"Hello Aunt Therese!" Louise's voice came from behind Marie.
Marie growled into her mother's shoulder. How dare Louise infringe on her time with her mother. Marie lifted her head and was about to say something until her mother quietly shushed her.
Therese let go of her daughter. She smiled warmly at her niece.
"Hello Louise. You've grown since I last saw you."
Louise struck a pose in her green velvet gown. Matilide came up behind her daughter and lightly tapped her bottom.
"Stop showing off, Louise."
Louise sucked in a big breath and exhaled. She then smiled at her mother and aunt before kissing both of her aunt's cheeks and making her way to the manor.
Matilide bowed politely to Therese, even though Therese was no longer queen and took Victorie by the hand and followed Louise up the trail.
Therese turned to her daughter and smiled.
"So tell me carina. Who is this boy you keep writing about in your letters?"
Marie blushed heavily and looked down at her slippers.
"His name is Jehann and he is amazing."
Therese laughed and took her daughter's arm and folded it under hers.
"My little Marie has a crush. I thought I'd never see the day."
"It is not a crush," Marie insisted.
"I was your age once a long time ago. Crushes are nothing to be ashamed of carina."
"It won't go anywhere," Marie whispered sadly.
Therese stopped and turned her daughter towards her. She tipped up her chin and looked into her eyes.
"Let it grow, Marie," Therese said softly.
"What about father? He'll never approve of a mere chevalier courting his daughter."
Therese smiled and put a finger to her lips.
"We'll keep it a secret between the two of us for now."
Marie smiled and hugged her mother.
"I love you Mama."
Therese smiled and held her daughter tightly.
"Anything for my sweet princess," she whispered.