A/N: This is AU themed story. All the events and characters shall be mostly fictional. The countries and empires might be both fictional and real.
Done with that, this is my first attempt at writing so reviews shall be accepted. Fell free to point out any grammatical mistakes as English is not my first language.
Hope you enjoy! R&R.
"How can you throw the kingdom into rot by your our hands, when you made the promise to protect it with your life?!"
"A Queen regent not a week after the mournful incident? What shall become of the kingdom?
"All but a child to rule over us. Is this what shall become of the great dynasty of Grazvania?" Voices rose above one another in protest to the proceedings. The Prime minister occupied the raised platform. He looked stately in the blue robes and velvet collar. At his cue the voices quietened and soon the great court hall was filled with nothing but the disapproving murmurs.
The second minister turned to face him, "Surely, My Lord you shall not allow such steps to be taken! This seat is not the place of a child, and a Lady no less." He said.
The minister, with his arm placed before him turned towards the minister. His face drew tight as he spoke, a certain degree of coldness in his expression, "What do you suggest, second minister?" he asked, his commanding voice reverberated across the high dome of the hall. He looked at all the people occupying the court one by one. "I am aware that the recent events have caused much agony and heartache among our people. The death of the King Bernard and Queen Roseshaw has, for sure, left a deep impact upon us. None of us would have expected that our dear princess would occupy the throne so early in her life."
"That is precisely why she should not yet occupy this seat!" came the sound and the angry murmurs broke out again.
"Silence!" first minister ordered, his voice was now strained with anger. With one swift movement he stood and the rest of the people scrambled after him. He clasped his hand behind him. "Not one week after the death of our King and you refuse to uphold the sacred rules of this land!" he remarked, his gaze burning holes into the embarrassed ministers. "No matter what you may say Princess Charlotte is the true and rightful heir of the throne. The oldest of the line of Hosteinburg. By our sacred rules she had the ability to take the throne with her eighteenth birthday, which if I remember correctly passed a month ago. I shall bear no insolence against the names of my Kings and Queens. Any one who objects shall be punished accordingly." He continued sparing a harsh glance at the second minister. "Princess Charlotte has been taught this duty her whole life, she is one of the most brilliant minds of our country, and is fully capable of ruling this kingdom."
He walked down the platform towards the start of the aisle and looked up at the carved marble grill above the raised area. Seeming satisfied by the emptiness he continued, "In a week Princess Charlotte shall take her rightful place on this throne. We as her ministers and advisors shall help her every step of the way for that is what we had vowed the day we stepped into this palace." He looked back at his ministers. "The preparations should be marvellous. Keep my heeds in your mind. You all are dismissed."
Slowly the ministers bowed and left, leaving behind only the second minister.
"My Lord, I apologise for my insolence." He said coming to stand before the prime minister. His eyes conveyed a deep sadness "I can not fathom the happenings these days," he sighed in continuation, "for me the grief is still too near." The prime minister nodded once and then thumped at his back. "I know Lord Arthur, the grief is still near for us the people but think of the princess who lost her parents, her family. Not just princess Charlotte but also princess Rosalind and Isabella. For them this might just be unbearable."
"I am aware my lord. But do you truly believe that Princess Charlotte will be able to sort out the country?"
There was an extended moment of silence. "That remains to be seen," the minister replied finally, "although right now she needs the confidence to step up and how do you think she would have felt had she heard our session of today." Lord Arthur looked down in guilt, "Truly," he continued, "there could be no worse feeling than your own advisors not accepting you when you need the whole world to." And standing a little sideways from the marble grill of above Princess Charlotte leaned against the stone. Truly, she thought closing her eyes in disappointment, there was no worse feeling.
The Princess sighed, looking beyond the deep darkness of the night sea. Remembering that incident turned her insides in worry. She knew for once that she was not yet ready for the responsibility. The grief of her parents was still fresh in her heart. People whispered the cause of their death to be the disease that had taken the palace, but she knew, not just as the inhabitant of this place but also because she was the only person her parents had warned before their death. That day standing behind the screen, aching to run into the bed with their warmth she had upheld the propriety and had listened to their advise with silent tears soaking her gown. She had known that day, by the tiredness in her father's face and the remorse in her mother's that they had given up. She had wanted, in a moment to childishness, to be mad at them, to throw tantrums and to somehow make them believe that they too shall live but she had stood that day as her sisters entered half an hour later and talked with their parents in naivety, speaking of the many happenings of the city. She had upheld it all until when leaving she had stood before them disregarding the screen and she had seen the soft smile on her mother's commanding face and the proud expression on her father's often cold one that she had broken and cried in front of them like the child she yet was. She had hugged them tightly and maybe seeing the devastated expressions of the great royals the healers had left them as they were. She had wept until she couldn't anymore and looked up to see the reddened eyes of her parents who after a few moments regained their composure just to shoo her to her rooms. The next morning had been the dawn of mourning for the Great King and his Queen wife had departed from the world. She remembered that day clearly. The dishevelled expressions of her sisters, the nonbelieving sobs, the quiet mourn, people coming over to her in pity, mourning with her. It all happened before her and yet as she stood before the cold bodies of the two people she respected and loved the most, she couldn't weep, couldn't sob. She just stared numbly as they were lowered into their graves and closed her eyes in desperation to quench that little voice screaming inside her to Stop. Stop it all.
She stood beside her sisters and long after that, hugged them tightly and allowed them to weep and take out all the anguish on her shoulder. When she had finally tucked them in their beds and instructed the Madame to keep their eyes on her she had quietly closed herself in her room. Leaning against the cold stone wall she didn't knew when the tears started or when she broke into quiet sobs as she stumbled out onto the balcony. She was sure that the servants and guards near her could hear her anguished cries but she didn't care. For surely everyone was allowed to grieve.
Her grief was although cut short, as two days later the prime minister had approached her and had reminded her of the duty she must fulfil.
Sighing once again, she pressed her cold hands onto her face and moved to close the balcony. Her train of jumbled thoughts was disrupted by a sharp knock on the door.
"Yes," she called out, wiping the few trails of evaporated tears. She brushed the imaginary crinkles from her dress and clasped her hands in front of her, regal and commanding yet still showing the petite upbringing of a princess; for even though she might be leaving this page of her life behind forever after tomorrow, for just a night she wanted to be comforted by the things the knew. And at that moment the only thing she felt she could hold onto was her etiquette of a princess her mother had thought her in her childhood.
A maid bowed into the room. "My Princess, Madame Cathiel has arrived and is waiting for your approval." A small smile graced her features and she nodded in confirmation.
"Very well. Send her in." Was her reply. The maid bowed and moved out of the room. A few moments later, a plump, greying woman entered the room. She bowed with a smile. "My Princess. You honour me." Princess Charlotte gave a light chuckle and moved forward to hug the old woman. "Madame, how long has it been?" she said and the pulled away to look at her, "I can not explain how glad I am because of your presence here." She continued, walking forward towards the fireplace and motioning the Madame to sit down after settling in herself.
"Princess," Madame started uncertainly, looking at her and trying to gauge her expressions. Princess Charlotte nodded to prompt her talk. "I offer you my deepest condolences. I can not explain My Princess, how devastated I was to hear the news." For a fleeting moment, a wave of sadness passed through her face. "Thank you Madame." She said after a bout of silence, "It heartens me that you decided to come back from your comforts on my one request."
"Anything for you My Lady." She replied, inclining her head in respect.
"I know Madame that you have always been the advisor of my mother. I know I can trust you therefore, right now I want you to help me through this time of need." Madame smiled in nostalgia and met the eyes of Princess Charlotte.
"What can I do for My Princess? If you want me to act as your advisor than I shall without hesitation."
"I won't ask that much from you Madame. You deserve the comforts you have earned by the hard work you did in your time."
"Of course not! My Princess, your mother Queen Roseshaw had asked me years prior to help you adjust if the need ever arises."
The Princess smiled once, her gaze turned towards the fire, "I won't ask you to help me. The court will be something different than the work mother has always done but I must ask you to take one responsibility off of my shoulders."
"Just tell your servant the work Princess. I shall take it with honour."
"I shall somehow move on from my grievances. Even if I don't for a while, the matters of the throne shall keep my mind concentrated," her expression hardened as she continued, "I am sure that you also feel wrong about the sudden disease." Madame's eyes widened and she made a gasp of realisation. "I do My Princess, I also felt wrong yet...", she swallowed looking down at her cold hands. Swiftly she got up just to drop at her feet. Taking her hands in her shaking ones she continued "If it is the truth Princess! I fear for you. I fear for you. Those who can tear apart your father shall destroy yourself." The princess squeezed Madame's hands in her own.
"I am aware Madame. I fear too, for I know not the working of the court well enough. But I have some clues and by tomorrow eve I shall have the power too."
She looked at Madame's disapproval, and her face softened, "I need to Madame. If I do not get them to pay, and leave this to flourish. One day it shall destroy me and the rest of the people."
"I, as the heir of the line of Hosteinburg, cannot allow this." Her voice dropped into a soft command, "This is my duty not just to my kingdom but to my family. I must fulfil the responsibility my parents have left me with." The Madame inhaled sharply. For a while there was only the crackling of fire in the large room.
"What can I do for My Princess? Tell me Princess how can I take away your burdens? How can this old hag keep your safety and fulfil her promise?" Princess Charlotte got up and moved towards the window. She stared out at the deep black, her eyes meeting with the shadows. Her consternation was quite visible. In her agitation she paced around the room. The Madame came to stand beside her. Seemingly sure, she turned towards Madame and took her wrinkled hands.
"I can only fight against those beasts if I don't divert my attention elsewhere. I fear for not me but my sisters. I think not, I can bear any harm to them." She squeezed Madame's hands in her own jewelled ones. "Keep them out of danger, protect them. I shall overcome my anguish but I fear that it won't be as easy for them. They are but children not yet ready to face the harsh cruelty." Madame nodded, once and then moved back just to curtsy.
"If that is what my Princess wants. If this is what my Queen orders. I shall even give my life for this cause."
Princess gave a relieved laugh, "I know that I can trust you Madame, just like my mother did."
The Princess Charlotte was just about to retire herself when the other princesses arrived at her quarters. "Yes?" she called out as she motioned the maid to bring her gown. She slipped herself into the soft silk and rubbed the cream onto her hands.
"Princesses Isabella and Princess Rosalind has requested to meet you, My Princess." A maid informed and at her nod the two entered. Princess Isabella still adorned with her royal gowns and jewels moved to greet Charlotte for she had been extremely busy in the preparations for the coronation and couldn't take out the time. Isabella's corn hair, so unlike Charlotte's brown ones, slipped past her shoulders at her movement. Her blue softened as she hugged her sister and dragged her over to the fire. Charlotte took Rosalind along with her and soon all of them were sitting cosy before the burning ambers. Rosalind, being the Middle caring princess she was, leaned forward to softly place her hand on Charlottes. "Are you feeling well?" her voice was soft, so much like their mother when they sat together to chat sometimes in the winter and the queen had softly braided their hair and had listened to their tirades. Yes Charlotte remembered that time, and it did nothing but increase the anguish in the turmoil of her heart.
"I-" she started, but the words 'I'm alright. I'll be fine. It is just a throne. I have been prepared for this' struck in her throat, "I do not know."
"Do you not want to become a queen?" Princess Isabella asked, her eyebrows furrowed in question.
"It is not about want to, Isabella." She replied, her tone bearing a hint of exasperation .
"You have always known that this throne shall be yours, one day."
"When I dreamt of this, this throne," she said, staring into the flames, "I thought- I hoped that I shall be old and greying. Never once I thought I shall be left stranded like this."
"You do know that we are here with you?" Isabella replied shorty, a while later. Seeing their oldest, their calmest sister in anguish was not easy for her. Too much was changing with which she couldn't cope up. Charlotte nodded. There was silence for a long moment. All of them still grieved by what had passed and on edge for what was approaching. Rosalind took the silence as cue to leave, for she wanted her sister to be at peace when she goes into the public tomorrow. She got up and dragged Isabella up with her, "we shall leave now," she said. Isabella turned to her in surprise but was cut off once Charlotte nodded. The Princesses left leaving Charlotte. She retired soon after but while laying on the sheets under the silken canopy of the bed, she twisted and turned in the darkness willing to fall asleep but the butterflies in her stomach, the heavy heart and the rising headache made it impossible to catch rest.
She woke up in the morning feeling jittery; with her temper at the edge. The Madame, seeing her nervousness asked for herbal teas to be prepared before the princess started getting ready.
Princess Charlotte stared into abyss as the maids scrubbed at her hair and neck. It took a long time for the bath that day. When she returned to her rooms in the silken robes, her Coronation dress was laid out upon the bed. She stopped at it's sight, for it was unlike anything she had ever worn. Unlike the pastel, flowy dresses that the princesses were accustomed to, this royal blue robe was covered in embroidery and velvet. The heavy fabric of the dress settled heavily around her legs. She held out her arms as the maids fluttered around her, settling the dress, putting the perfume. The dark jewels, once that were worn by the Queen Catherine of old were polished and shining as they adorned her ears and neck. The servants, satisfied by the order moved back respectfully and stood to a side. Princess stared at her own image in the mirror. Gone were the dresses with their puffed out sleeves and petite layers, now she was adorned with the dark colours of her house, the thick velvet dress of her ancestor's style, hugged her arms and bodice. The cloth trailed a few inches more than before. As she stood there she knew that gone was the neutral princess whose only responsibility was to find a suitable match for her life, in her place stood the Lady Charlotte Windlesham, the line of Hosteinburg, the Princess ready to take the throne that was promised to her at birth. She stood up straighter and held her head high, drawing her face into an neutral yet firm expression. Madame , standing a few feet behind her, smiled proudly, for she could see the commanding aura around her, and she knew that the girl that once sneaked out of the palace and played in the gardens with the children had grown up into an exceptionally fine woman. And she hoped that she would see the people realising it and that she would see the kingdom flourishing under her just yet curt rules.
The princess inhaled sharply, looking at her image one last time before she turned, ready to walk out of the palace residence and towards the great courtyard of the ceremony. Madame moved forward with a black box in her hands. She gave a curtsy and inclined it towards her. The Princess gave her a questioning look but accepted the offer and gasped as she pulled the lid open. Inside was the Black jewel ring, the sacred ring that was passed between the queens of her family.
"This-", she felt the words catching in her throat.
"Yes My Princess, your Mother, Queen Roseshaw left this in the hands of her trusted officer." She replied, then continued proudly, "this is the ring of the Queen Monarchs of Grazvania, before you only worn by four ladies."
Charlotte picked it up delicately and just after a moment's hesitation, with the quiet approval in Madame's eyes slipped it onto her right hand. The black diamond glittered on her ring finger. Finally, she thought, something to give her the conviction she needed. This ring meant that she was the accepted Monarch of her family and she knew that it shall quench, even if a little, the disapproval of the court. Her spirits lifted as she moved out into the great passageway where her sisters and rest of the important palace servants were waiting. She entered the hall that lead to the great courtyard in the midst of two rows of spectators. Madame came to stand at the side. Princess Rosalind and Isabelle, adorned in their finest, dropped into a deep curtsy, all the people following after them. "Hail!", Said Rosalind, as a part of the custom, her voice echoing through the hall, "Princess Charlotte, go in peace of mind and comfort of heart. The line of Hosteinburg accepts you as their Monarch."
Charlotte's eyes met with hers and although she stood in propriety, her approval and excitement could be seen from her eyes. It lifted Charlotte's spirits and after a moment of hesitation she called out to the guards to open the gates. She held her head high, her chin parallel to the floor, her spine regally erect and her hands locked gracefully in front of her with care to show off the dark jewel.
She entered the courtyard in the loud approval of the people. As she walked down the stairs and into the open flat, that led towards the high steps of court on the other end, she couldn't help but smile at the crowds of people littering beyond the barrier of guards, trying to get a glimpse of their future queen and their hails echoing into the sky. She felt her confidence , that had dimmed after hearing the court men, rejuvenate. Things were going to work out well as long as she had her people by her side. She walked gracefully down the stone path and came to a stop before the step leading into the open court room. The ministers lined the sides and dropped into bows. The bishop came to stand before her and the duke of Vinsalac came forward with the ruby red and golden royal robe. She felt the heavy mass settle around her shoulders and her heart flutter unfaithfully in her ribcage. She climbed the few steps in utter silence. No one dared to speak or even murmur while watching the proceedings. Taking the presented symbols of the Monarch she held them in front of her as she was taught. Closing her eyes, she inhaled a sharp breath before turning behind to face her fate.
"Do you, as the true heir of Grazvania, accept the proceedings as with a true heart?", rang out clear and loud voice of the bishop. She looked forward resolutely. Without hesitation she answered,
From the corner of her eyes she saw the crumble in expressions of a few court men, although she was glad to see most of them holding neutrality and some, especially the First minister, encouraging her quietly.
"Do you swear to govern this kingdom in the light of it's sacred laws and rules?"
"I swear to do so." She was glad that her voice appeared collected even though she was nauseous inside.
"Do you swear to keep Justice and Peace prevailing in the country, but to still answer to the call of war if there arises any need to protect these lands?"
"I swear to do so."
"Do you swear to protect the equity of men, to forbid any kind of wrongdoings and to punish all the evil mongers?"
"I swear to do so."
Satisfied the Bishop turned towards the guards. They withdrew their ranks and the people filled into the courtyard. It was only for a few minutes before the bishop held up his hand for silence, although it felt like an eternity to her. And then were said the words that will come to shape the future of not just Grazvania but also the Great Ottoman Empire of the East;
"I hereby declare Charlotte Windlesham, the first of her name, the heir of Hosteinburg, the daughter of the King Bernard, Grand daughter of the Great King Edmund, as the 46th Monarch of the Empire of Grazvania, the 15th Monarch of the line of Hosteinburg, and the Queen Monarch of this Kingdom."
Every one waited with baited breath,
"Hail the Queen! Long live her realm!" roared the voice of bishop. Every one bowed in respect to their new Queen and soon there was nothing to be heard but the cheering hails of the Crowds.
To be continued...