The Prince - Chapter 13

Well guys...this is the final chapter of the story itself!  I hope that you guys enjoy it as much as you’ve enjoyed the other chapters of the story.  This will be followed up by the epilogue, which should come to nifty in a couple of weeks, at earliest.


As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  My email is thefuturecanadian@yahoo.CA.  The yahoo group is also available to you, .  There will be a contest for an advance copy of the epilogue.  Information should be posted over the next couple of days!


Con abrazos y besitos! --David :)



The Prince

Chapter 13

“White Flag”


    As Margaret and Gavin slept peacefully, Alex was up, getting ready for what promised to be a very long day.  He woke up at around 5:30 that morning, but not of his own accord.  He had his very first 6am meeting with the Prime Minister and then was planning on going to the Senate, where the trial of his sister was getting ready to end.   Then it was back to the palace that afternoon to get ready for a public appearance at around 10 that night.  If he was lucky, he’d be back in bed by 1 am the next morning.  But this was his birthright, and he was responsible for being a source of strength for his nation.


    That morning, as he stood in the shower, he thought.  It seemed to be the only private time he would have for some time, so he sought to enjoy it.  He thought about his life, and how it was changing.  He thought about his reign, and how it would turn out in the annals of history.  More often than not, he thought about his personal life.  Would he ever end up loving someone again?  Would it be the same as the love he felt for Gavin?  Would the people accept him being in a loving, homosexual relationship, or should he simply resolve himself to be alone for all time?  The future seemed bleak and uncertain to him sometimes.


    At 5:55 exactly, he pulled himself out of the shower and quickly toweled off.  He made sure that his entire body was dry before walking out of the bathroom and over to his closet.  Given that it was the first meeting he had with the Prime Minister on his own, he wanted to make a good impression, so he pulled out a pair of khaki slacks and a striped shirt.  It was informal enough to still be modestly formal.  He pulled on a pair of black leather shoes and slid them on his feet after leaning against his closet to put on a pair of socks that matched his pants.  He walked back into the bathroom to check his hair.  He was a little scruffy, but it wasn’t enough to worry about.  He’d shaved the night before, after all.


    At 6:01, he was making his way to the first floor of the palace.  “Morning Highness,” Marcia said as he stopped into the Queen’s office.


    “Good Morning.”


    “The Prime Minister is waiting, sir.  There are also a few last minute changes to your schedule for today.”


    “Oh Marcia!”


    “You have a meeting with the Queen at 8 am before you leave for the Senate.  The President of the Senate won’t start without you in the gallery.  Also, the time tonight has been moved to 10:40.  The Princess won’t be back until later than expected from London.”


    “SHIT!” Alex said.  “What did she have to go to London for anyway?”


    “Your mother asked her to go,” Marcia lied to Alex.  “There was a delay in her flight back to Cabocha from England.”


    “Alright.  I’m sorry that I snapped.”


    “It’s OK.  You’ll get used to things soon enough, sir.”


    “I hope so,” Alex said, turning and walking toward the office door.  He put on a smile and walked into the office.  The Prime Minister, along with the Regent were sitting in the office.


    “Good morning, Highness,” the Prime Minister started.  


    “Morning.  Senator.  How are you two?”


    “We’re fine, sir.  So this is our first 6am meeting.  How are you feeling?”


    “Is there any way we can change the time to something later in the day?” Alex asked, half seriously and half jokingly.


    “We can do anything you want, sir.”


    “Great.  Then I’ll talk to Marcia about getting those set up for later in the day,” Alex said, jotting himself a note.


    “There is one other matter that we need to discuss with you, sir,” the Regent said.  “The Senate is prepared to rule today on your sister’s guilt or innocence.”


    “Today?  I thought there would be debate and such before a final verdict was set forth.”


    “Not when the Senate is acting as court.  They take an up-down vote, but there’s no debate.  There will be some announcements first, and then they’ll vote.”


    “Wow.  That’s far too simple.”


    “It works to keep us efficient, Sir,” the Regent joked.  “Far more efficient that some other legislative houses!”


    “You CAN’T be referring to the Chamber like that, Mr. Regent,” the Prime Minister said.  They both burst out in laughter, as they’d been personal friends for a long time.  


    “Well, anyway Highness, they’ll vote and then publish the verdict.  They will also announce their sentences, but because of the regency, they can’t be carried out until after your formal coronation.”




    “At which point, you will be responsible for carrying out the sentence as soon as you feel ready to, if they’re found guilty.”


    “OK,” Alex again responded to the regent.  “Anything else?”


    “No sir.  The Chamber has been quiet because of the trial in the Senate, so there’s nothing much going on from my end.”


    “And the President of the Senate will have a meeting with you later in the week,” the Regent said.


    “And until something happens with…the Queen…the Regent will sit in on these meetings as well.”


    “It’s only fair, since he’s doing my mother’s job.”  The two men smiled at Alex.  “I guess I should pass this on to my mother.”


    “That would be best,” the Prime Minister said.  “We don’t want to bother her too much.”


    “Alright.  Well, is there anything else?”


    “Not right now.  We’ll phone Marcia if there is, sir,” the Regent said.


    “Cool,” Alex said as the three men stood.  “I will also let you know if there is anything needed from our end.”


    “Very well.  Give your mother our regards,” the Regent said before he and the Prime Minister turned toward the door.


    “Good day, gentlemen.”


    They left the office, and Alex piled into the large leather chair behind his mother’s desk.  Marcia walked in just a moment after they’d left.  “Alright.  I’ve ordered you and your mother some breakfast.  Maria will be taking it up shortly.”


    “Is Mom awake?”


    “Yes.  She got up at 5:15 this morning.”


    “She needs to be sleeping more.”


    “Well, Highness.  It’s in her blood not to sleep in.  She hasn’t for as long as I’ve known her.”


    “I know, but I need her to be around for a while.  Call me selfish, but I’m not ready to have lost both of my parents.  You know?”


    “Well, sir.  I can say that I do.  I’m nearly 50 and I wasn’t ready either.  It’s something you have to grow into.”


    “Very well said, Marcia.  So I may need to call you at 3 in the morning to just cry.”


    “It’s alright, sir.  You can do that if you need.  Princess Margaret is more than welcome to that as well.”


    “I’ll let her know,” Alex said.


    “Great.  Well, go eat breakfast with your mother.  Tell her that I said ‘Good Morning’,’ she added.


    “I will,” Alex said as he stood from behind the desk.  “I will enjoy it, too.”


    “Alright,” Marcia said as she walked out of the office.  Alex followed her out and shut the door behind him.  He smiled once more and walked out of the office, toward his mother’s suite.  The guards outside the door stood and opened the door for him.


    “Alex!  Good morning,” Isabel said as she and Dr. Stoyanov sat in the main parlor of the Queen’s suite.  They were both smiling and carrying on.


    “Morning, Mom,” Alex said.  He walked over and kissed her on the forehead.  “Morning, Doctor,” he said as he shook Dr. Stoyanov’s hand.


    “So how was your first meeting with the Prime Minister?” the Queen asked.


    “Quite short, but interesting.  He said to tell you that nothing’s going on because of the trial.”


    “Oh,” the Queen said, “that’s good, I suppose.  It gives them a little break.”


    “Yeah.  The Regent was also very nice.  They both said to tell you hello.”


    “Good.  Just don’t let them weasel you into anything.  Be firm, and if you ever have to, stand your ground.  The Conservative Prime Ministers are the worst at trying to pass things they know you won’t approve of.”


    “Well, thank you for that advice.”


    “You’re quite welcome.”


    “So Maria is bringing up some breakfast in a moment.  A hearty waffle for me and a bowl of oatmeal for you, I’m sure.”


    “You shouldn’t eat too many of those, Highness,” the doctor said with a grin.


    “Is it legal for me to just get rid of people?” Alex said with a smile and a wink toward the doctor.


    “Oh if it were…” the Queen said.  “If it only were…” she joked.


    Maria brought in the breakfast in a few minutes.  Embarrassed that she’d not brought the doctor anything, she ran back down to the kitchen and fixed up some fruit and such for him.  When she brought it back in, he was very appreciative of all her effort.  The three talked for a few minutes more before Alex had to get ready to leave for the Senate.  He hugged his mother once more as it was all said and done and left the suite.  He called Marcia, who had the car brought for him, and then was down, on his way to the Senate chamber for what was going to be the final day of trial, if all went well.


    Once in the car, he sat back and thought to himself about what life after this trial would be like for him.  He wasn’t going to be talking to the press directly, but he knew that the palace would have to make some type of direct statement about the ruling.  It was only a moment, what with police escort, that he arrived at the Chambers of Parliament.  When the car came to a complete stop, the driver came around and opened Alex’s door.  There were flashbulbs everywhere, taking photo after photo of the Prince as he walked into the main entrance of the chambers.  He first walked into the rotunda, often called the “Queen’s Chamber” since it was in this part of the chamber that she delivered addresses to both houses of Parliament.  It was where Queen Isabel, like every other monarch before her, was both invested in her position and formally crowned.  It would also be the room where Alex’s mother would lay in state before her funeral at L’iglesia Santa Camila, named after Cabocha’s patron saint.  He walked up the huge staircase and looked out over the Parliament Park through doors that looked like windows.  It was truly a marvelous day out.  The sun was shining and the park seemed more alive that he’d ever remembered it.  From that point, he could have turned to his right and gone into the Chamber of Deputies gallery, but instead, he turned to his left, leading him into the Senate gallery.  For the past week, he’d been the only person allowed in the gallery.  The Senate had closed itself off to handle the proceedings in a fair manner.  Alex’s presence wasn’t a nuisance, and Elizabeth had only noticed him once.  (Granted she’d been giving him evil looks and such that one time.)


    The chamber was set up as it was normally.  It was in a half moon shape, the room.  At one end sat 15 chairs in three rows, separated from the rest of the chamber by a small wooden fence.  This was normally the area where the President and a few Senators from the ruling party sat.  In the case of the trial, the five judges sat in the first row, listening intently to the proceedings.  On the third row, there was a reporter, keeping a verbatim account of what was going on.  The rest of the room was divided into four sections.  The Senators, in normal situation, would crowd themselves into these pew like benches to debate and listen to whatever was going on.  In the case of the trial, only a few Senators were there.  The Princess’s defense team took up almost an entire section of the chamber.  The prosecution took up another section on the opposite side.  Alex noticed that one of the sections was quite larger than the other three.  This was the section in which the party in power in the Chamber of Deputies sat.  


    At promptly 8:05, Elizabeth and Massimo were escorted into the chamber, along with their attorneys.  Just a few minutes later, the panel of judges, which included the President of the Senate, came in from one of the two doors on either side of the head of the chamber.


    “This meeting is called to order,” he proclaimed, smashing his gavel against the small brown fence.  “We left off yesterday with a plea from the defense to dismiss all charges, as the actions of Ms. Saavedra are protected under the Freedom of Speech Act.  We have determined, by unanimous vote that the publications of the photo was meant to damage the reputation of an individual  and therefore is not protected under the Act.  Does the defense have anything more to add?”


    “No, Excellency.  The defense rests,” one of the attorneys for Elizabeth said.


    “Does the Crown have anything to add?”


    “No, Excellency,” the attorney-in-chief for the Crown stood and added.


    “Then at this time, the trial is considered closed,” the President of the Senate said with a bang of the gavel.  “Before we, as the Senate, begin our deliberations, we are required by law to review the charges against the defendants.  Will Elizabeth Saavedra please rise?” the President said.  Elizabeth complied.  “Against you, Ma’am, there is one count of treason.  If you are found guilty, the minimum sentence will be death by firing squad or hanging, whichever is the choice of the sovereign who is in power at the time of the action.  You will also be required to surrender all property, moneys, stocks, holdings, trusts, accounts, and other financial assets to the Crown for their redisbursal and to pay the cost of your incarceration and execution.  You will also lose any and all rights as a member of the Royal Family, and you will be forced to surrender your diplomatic passport.  Do you fully understand the charges against you?”


    “Yes,” Elizabeth answered, glancing from time to time at her younger brother, sitting alone in the gallery.


    “Will Massimo Perotti please rise?” the President of the Senate continued.  Massimo stood as Elizabeth sat back down.  “Against you, Sir, there is one count of treason.  If you are found guilty, the minimum sentence will be death by firing squad or hanging, whichever is the choice of the sovereign who in power at the time of the action.  You will also be required to surrender all property, moneys, stocks, holdings, trusts, accounts, and other financial assets to the Crown for their redisbursal and to pay the cost of your incarceration and execution.  You will lose any and all rights as a member of the Royal Family, and you will be forced to surrender your diplomatic passport.  Do you fully understand the charges against you?”


    “Yes,” responded Massimo as he too sat back down.  Alex noticed for the first time that he wouldn’t look at Elizabeth.  She was, after all, the reason that he was in his current position.


    “As a further consequence, your marriage will be annulled under the laws of Lorenzia, any joint holdings, should you be found guilty, will be liquidated.  Also, the rights of the children from your union will be void, and they will not be eligible for rights as members of the Royal family.”  Elizabeth turned to one of her attorneys and asked a question out of the earshot of the reporter.  The attorney nodded his head.  Alex could only have assumed that she was asking if that were possible.  Massimo looked at Elizabeth with a nasty, gnarly look on his face.  “Are there any questions?” the President asked.


    “There are no questions at this time; however, we would like to ask the Senate’s permission for delay in the resumption of deliberation so that we can consult with our clients.”


    “That is possible.  The Senate will begin deliberations on this issue at 11:00 am, sharp.  Any questions should be submitted before that time.”  There was another bang of the gavel and the panel of judges stood and exited the chamber.  Alex took a deep breath, for he knew that when the President referred to ‘the sovereign in power’ that meant him.  Under Lorenzian law, some things, including the execution of individuals as a punishment for their crimes, couldn’t be handed down when there was a regent in power.  He stood and walked out of the gallery.  At the top of the grand staircase, he stood and looked down over the large chamber before him.  There was a lot of activity it seemed on the lower level, and being that he didn’t want to get caught up in it, he simply watched.  No one seemed to notice him standing there, as they were all concerned with the Prime Minister, who’d just arrived from his office to the Parliament.


    Pulling out his cell phone, Alex dialed the number for the Queen’s office.  Marcia answered after the first ring.  “Hello,” Alex said.


    “Hello, Highness.  How are things going?”


    “They’ve recessed until 11.”


    “Ah.  How did it go?”


    “It went well.  They just reviewed the charges against them so far.  Nothing else.”




    “Now I’ve just got over two hours to waste.”


    “Why don’t you go to the Chamber and watch them?  They’re probably not doing much today, but you might find it interesting.”


    “Can I, though?”


    “You’re not the monarch, and you’re not on the floor, so yeah.  You can.”


    “I think I’ll do that.”


    “Just put your phone on vibrate, the President of the Chamber ejected a member for not turning his on vibrate last month.”


    “I remember that.  Thanks for the warning.”


    “Anytime, sir.  Enjoy the day.  Parliament can be an interesting place.”


    “Yes.  I’ve seen that over the last few days.”


    “Right.  Well, enjoy yourself.”


    “Oh I will,” Alex said as he closed his phone and walked toward the visitors’ gallery of the Chamber of Deputies.  True to Marcia’s words, there was no one in there.  The President of the Chamber was directing a few members’ debate on a fisheries bill that was before it.  Alex watched intently and became enthralled by the way the Chamber of Deputies worked.  Despite the mundane topic being debated, Alex found that he spent the entire two and a half hours in the gallery, and he enjoyed it!  Quietly, though, he slipped from the gallery of the Chamber and moved to the Gallery of the Senate.  He came back in just as the Senate judicial panel was coming into to discuss the case with the rest of the Senators that had assembled.  Just as before, the five of them came in and sat on the front row at the head of the room.  The reporter, just as she’d been before, sat on the back row, but she was there only to review testimony and such.  The clerk was there to keep the minutes of the meeting of the Senate.  Play by play, the judges recounted their experiences during the trial.  They were backed up by the recordings of the reporter.


    “Do you remember your fifth birthday?” a female voice came from behind Alex.


    “How could I forget it?  It was the WORST birthday I’d spent until this year,” Alex responded.  “I seem to remember how you spilled punch on me and then made fun of me.  Then you denied your part in the whole matter, and I got grounded for being irresponsible.”


    “Yeah.  I used to think on those times with an odd pleasure.”


    “What’s changed?”


    “The last month has given me a lot of time to think.”


    “I’ve heard that those facing the death penalty tend to reevaluate the importance of their life,” Alex responded, still not turning to look at the person behind him.  “Why are you here Elizabeth?”


    “I wanted to come and apologize.  I know that I can’t take back what I’ve done…”


    “Right.  And you can’t take back calling me a faggot or trying your best to make my childhood as miserable as possible.”


    “That’s true.  I do want you to know that I’m sorry for it all, though,” Elizabeth said from behind him.


    “You’ll have to understand that I can’t believe you when you say that, not after what you’ve said in your very own trial.”


    “I do understand.  And I am sorry, truly.”


    “Are you trying to make me go easy on you in the future?”


    “No.  I will take whatever punishment is given me, and I expect you to carry it out, regardless of what it is.”


    “And I will…It will be my duty, my responsibility.”


    “Yeah.  I remember when you were born, Dad gloated on you so much.  I knew that he still loved me, but he wasn’t the same.  I think that’s where all of my anger toward you has stemmed from over the years.”


    “He did take the time to teach you Bulgarian.”


    “Yeah.  When Mamika moved, though, I didn’t have anyone to speak it with,” Elizabeth said.


    “Elizabeth…forgive me, but I’m not in the mood to have a conversation with you about my childhood or your problems in life.  I think that you me that much,” Alex said, turning to look her in the eye.


    “I deserve that…”


    “You deserve a LOT more than that, but I’m trying to be, at least, civil.”  There was a moment between them.  “All I EVER wanted from you was just to know that I had an older sister that loved and cared for me.  You’ve more than shown the opposite…MY ENTIRE LIFE.”  Elizabeth wasn’t really shocked by the outcome.  “I am going to be King sooner than later, and this is one stressor that I don’t need right now.”


    “Alright.  I’ll leave you alone, will you do me one favor, though?” Elizabeth asked as Alex turned back to face the floor of the Senate.


    “It depends…”


    “Make sure that my children are taken care of.”


    “That goes without saying,” Alex said.  “They are still family.  They will probably end up living with Massimo’s family, since they don’t speak English or Cabochean very well, but they will be taken care of.  I assure you of that.”


    “Alright.  Thank you, Alex.”


    Elizabeth peacefully left the gallery, but not Alex’s mind.  He pulled out his cell phone and began typing a text message.  “Mags…Call me the minute you get this.”  He shut his phone back quickly and tried to focus all his attention on the proceedings on the Senate floor.


    Margaret woke up at the sound of receiving the message a few minutes later.  She was still soundly asleep in Gavin’s bed when the message came through, but woke upon hearing the beeping sound.  Not wanting to disturb anyone that might be sleeping in the house still, she decided to text him back.  “What’s up?”


    “I’m sitting in the Senate gallery, and guess who just came up to me,” Alex responded back after a second.




    “How did you know?”


“Lucky guess.  What did the bitch want?” Margaret responded back by text.


“She wanted to talk about her profuse sorrow and try to justify her constant hatred of me.”


“BITCH!” Margaret responded.




“So what did you tell her?”


“That I didn’t have time for her shit.  That I had other things on my mind.”




“So when are you going to be home?”


“Tonight.  There was a delay at the airport.  Did Marcia give you my message?”


“Yeah.  This morning,” Alex typed out quietly.  “I really wish you were here right now.”


“Why?  You did good enough without me!”


“Thank you for the vote of confidence.  I need a shot of that sometimes.”


“And I will always be there to give it to you.  No matter what!” Margaret typed back as she lay on Gavin’s bed.


“Thanks, Mags.  Love you!”


“Love you, too.  See you tonight.”


“What are you wearing?”


“Whatever they tell me to, I guess.  I’ve never done one of these things before.”


“Me neither.  I want to wear jeans, but Mom will have a fit.”


“Probably.  Call the people later and let me know.”


“OK,” Alex responded.  “See ya later, bitch!”


“Alright, fag!” Margaret typed back.


Alex chuckled a little bit.  It was different when Margaret used the word, because she used it in a very joking tone.  Elizabeth used it from a place of hate and suspicion.  In Alex’s mind, though, it would all be over soon.


“The Clerk will now clear the chamber and gallery,” the President of the Senate said, looking at the Gallery’s only occupant.  Alex smiled and walked out of the room.  He walked back downstairs and stood in the chamber.  There were a few tourists standing downstairs.  They all noticed Alex standing there, but there were so many guards standing around.  No one seemed to bother him.  It was about a half hour later that one of the Senate door keepers came out and told Alex that a decision had been reached and that the gallery would be back open in just a few minutes.  Alex thanked the man and smiled.  He walked upstairs and as soon as it was reopened, Alex walked back into the gallery.  The full Senate had left via the doors at the back, leaving only the reporter at the back of the room, waiting on their return to record the final vote tally announcement.


The attorneys for the Queen and Ministry of Justice returned in a moment.  They took their places on one side of the Senate floor.  There were about 10 of them.  Elizabeth, Massimo, and their defense team were the next group to come into the chamber.  Elizabeth simply sat in her chair and looked toward her feet.  Massimo looked blankly toward the front of the chamber.  The defense team spoke among themselves.  In a moment, the judges returned to the chamber.  Everyone one the floor stood until they were seated and then sat themselves.


“This court has reached its decision,” the President said.  “The defendants will rise.”


“Elizabeth Mariana Petrova Saavedra, Princess of Lorenzia.”


“Yes?” Elizabeth said, stepping forward.


“Your comments before the court were introduced during our deliberation with the full Senate.  Most everyone in this chamber was taken aback by some of the things that you said about your very own brother!  The evidence was also very clear against you.  The Senate felt that you maliciously sought to overturn centuries of law and tradition for your own benefit, for your own power and benefit.  This is one of the definitions in our nation of treason.  Therefore, the Senate found that you were guilty of the single count of treason brought against you by the Crown.”  Elizabeth shed a couple of tears before looking at them and accepting the verdict.


“Massimo Prietti.”


“Yes?” Massimo said, stepping forward.


“Based on the evidence presented by the Crown, the Senate determined that you were not guilty of treason by the definition of the term; however, you were found guilty of accessory to treason.  Your actions showed that you, well, took NO action to stop the plot against the legitimacy of the Crown and its succession.  Therefore, you will be sentenced according to new guidelines.  The minimum sentence for the crime that you’ve been found guilty of is life in prison, without possibility of parole.  You will still forfeit all titles, money, and other assets that you have as mentioned before.”


Alex sat in the gallery.  There was a feeling of both sadness and relief that swept all over him.  He pulled out his phone and prepared a text message that he was to send to Marcia, the Queen, and to Margaret.  “E: Guilty, M: Guilty, Accessory to Treason,” he typed out.  He hit send.


Marcia was the first to open the message.  There was a moment of silence in the Royal Office.  The Queen was next to open the message.  There were tears shed, but more because one of her children had been sentenced to death for treason.  Margaret was, for lack of a better term, happy.  One of the darkest times in her family’s history was coming to and end, well, some kind of end.  Margaret walked downstairs, where Ray and Paula were already awake.


“My sister was found guilty,” she said.


“That’s a good thing,” Ray said.  Paula smiled.


“Alright.  Got to tell Gavin.”


“Alright,” Paula said.  Margaret walked into the living room, where Gavin was sleeping, sprawled across the couch.  She touched him gently, stirring him.


“Elizabeth was found guilty.”


“Really?  Is Alex OK?”


“He just sent me the message,” Margaret said.  They locked into an embrace as Gavin stood.  Both of them knew that this is what Alex needed in that moment: vindication.


As they hugged, Alex stood in the chamber.  Calm and resolute, he walked directly out of the gallery and down the grand staircase.  Several members of the press had assembled.  Alex stopped at the base, flanked by three guards, as his sister was escorted from the Senate chamber.  Their eyes locked, but Alex saw no real remorse in her eyes.  The conversation from earlier had been nothing more than an attempt on her part to smooth out Alex’s emotions, and he knew that looking in her eyes.


“Congratulations, sir,” one of the guards around Alex whispered.


“Thank you,” Alex whispered back to him as he walked toward the front of the long chamber and out to a car that was waiting for him.  As earlier, he ignored the press and climbed directly into the long vehicle.  It sped off quickly.


In the car, Alex the magnitude of the situation that he was in.  His sister had just been sentenced to death, and he didn’t know if he had the strength to sign the warrant of death once he was crowned.


The drive back to the palace was escorted by police, as the ride to the Parliament.  The Press, though, clamored to get a picture of the Prince as he returned to the safe confines of the palace.  Once inside, he walked in.  He was enthusiastically greeted by several members of the palace staff who were quite happy for him and for the country.  As he walked back to the Royal Office to speak to Marcia, he was met with the same degree of enthusiasm from his mother’s assistant.  She came from behind her desk and have him a big hug.  Alex put on a smile, even though his mind was still occupied with thoughts of what he was to do.  He walked up to his mother’s suite, where there seemed to be an odd sense of relief and sorrow.


“I’m only the third monarch in Lorenzian history to put their child on trial.  Never has it been for treason.  Never has it been for anything other than minor offenses,” she said.  She knew it was Alex, even though she wasn’t facing the door.


“Never could I have imagined that my first action as King would be to sign my sister’s death warrant.”


“Alex.  Your father once told me when I was having a difficult time deciding what to do about an issue.  Isabel, he said, you have to lead with your head but listen to your heart.  That is the advice that I will give you today, Alex.”  Isabel stood and looked up into her son’s eyes.  “Alex.  You are going to be the best king this nation has ever had.  I have every faith in that!  I love you, my son.”


“I love you, too, Mom.  I appreciate you saying that.”


There was a moment between them, a moment that can’t be described with words, a moment that can only be shared between mother and son.  “Alright, Alex.  I have to get some rest.  I am going to stay up and see your first public appearance since December tonight.”


“I’m nervous about that, too.”


“You’ll be fine.  I guarantee that every hot, gay man in Europe will be watching!” Isabel smiled.


“Gee,” Alex said, blushing slightly, “thanks for making me that much more nervous!”


“You’ll do fine.  I promise!”


“Thanks, Mom.  Rest well,” Alex said as his mother entered her bed chamber.  The younger Saavedra then left the suite all together and went upstairs to his own.  The floor seemed cold without Margaret there.  He couldn’t wait until she got back, at least so that they could get that damned appearance over with.


The rest of the afternoon was filled with little to do.  Alex needed the time to mentally prepare himself for the appearance.  At the same time, Gavin and Margaret were getting to ready to leave Alabama.  Gavin kissed his mother and hugged his Dad.  He ran upstairs for a second to say good-bye to Conner.  The younger Butler made him promise to return in a few days time.  Gavin swore that he would, but made Conner also promise that he would be on his best behavior while he was gone.  Within just a short time, they were gone.  It was a quiet drive to Birmingham for the two of them, but mostly because both of them were so very tired from waking up as early as they did.  They were in the air just after 7 am local time (or 2 pm standard time in Cabocha).  Gavin and Margaret both took the time to rest on the flight back.  Whereas they’d left in the early morning, they arrived back in Cabocha well after dark.  In fact, by the time they got back to Cabocha, Alex had already left the palace for the evening’s event: the MTV Europe Awards, where globes would be given out in droves.


Alex arrived at the awards at around 8:30, well after the pomp and circumstance of the red carpet, or in Lorenzia’s case, the green carpet.  He was ushered to his seat, close to some of the most visible names in music in Europe and in America.  Christina Aguilera, for example, was two rows in front of him.  Mariah Carey was on the row directly behind him.  The seat next to him, though, was empty, as his sister hadn’t yet arrived.


At 9:15, he received a text message that Margaret had arrived back in Lorenzia and would be there shortly.  The car that was carrying the Princess went first to the palace.  As part of her grand scheme to surprise Alex, Gavin was to be dropped off at the palace just before Margaret left for the awards.  Margaret was amazed to see Gavin’s face as they pulled into Cabocha palace.


“My F-in’ God this is huge!” he said as he peered out of the window at the daunting mansion before him.


“This is home,” Margaret said, with a smile on her face.  “You nervous yet?”


“Very.  I’m afraid I’ll break something.”


“Don’t worry.  It’s all insured!” Margaret joked.  Gavin laughed, but he was still quite nervous.


The car pulled around the driveway directly to the front door of the palace.  The driver opened the door.  “Your Highness,” he said as Margaret stepped out of the car.  “Your Honor,” he said as Gavin stepped out of the car.


“Thank you, sir,” Gavin said as he climbed out of the car.  He looked up at the large entrance of the palace.  He was taken aback at he admired the charm and design of the building itself.


“Come on, Gavin,” Margaret said with a smile on her face.  “If you wait around here too long, the Queen will have gone to bed.”


“Oh shit!  I almost forgot about that.  I guess I still think of her as a normal woman.”


“She really is quite normal.  She’s a wonderful person to be around, especially if something is on your mind.  She seems to know just what to say or do to make someone feel completely comfortable,” Margaret said as they went up the steps to the ‘front door’ of the palace.


A guard opened the door for them.  “Thank you,” Margaret said, with a wink.


“Thanks,” Gavin repeated, a smile across the guard’s face as they entered the room.


The receptionist was still on duty in the main lobby of the house.  “Good evening, Highness.  Your honor,” she said to them.


“Good evening, Martha.  Is Marcia still here?” Margaret asked.


“I’ve not seen her leave.  She might have slipped out the back, though,” the lady responded.


“Alright.  We’ll just go around and see then.  Oh Martha.  This is Gavin Butler,” Margaret added.


“How could I forget such a handsome face!?” the lady said with a smile.  “The Prince is quite lucky to have a man that attractive around.”


“Thank you, ma’am,” Gavin said just before he followed Margaret back to the Royal Office.  Marcia was, in fact, still there, despite the hour.  She had a few things to take care of before she could leave, or so she always said to whomever asked.


“Marcia!” Margaret called.  Marcia ran around the desk and hugged Margaret.


“I’m so glad you’re home.  Your brother has called eighteen times wanting to know if you’d arrived yet.”


“Ah.  I’ll have to be on the way then soon.  Marcia…this is…”


“Gavin Butler!” Marcia said, reaching and giving him a hug as well.  “I am so glad to finally meet you.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about you from your brother and her Highness.”


“Well thank you,” Gavin said.  “It is nice to meet you as well,” he said, having never heard of this woman before.


“He’s done well to have such an attractive man around!”


“That’s what I say.”


“Actually, you said you were jealous of him because he’d met me,” Gavin jabbed at Margaret, hoping it would help to ease his nerves.


“No I was jealous that he was having good sex and I wasn’t,” Margaret poked back.  Marcia laughed as thought it were nothing to hear the Princess talk this way.


“Oh!” Gavin said, blushing a little bit.


“Now.  You two better get upstairs.  Her Majesty is waiting,” Marcia said.


“Alright,” Margaret said.


“It was nice to meet you, ma’am.”


“Likewise, sir,” Marcia said as the two exited the office from the back door often used by the Prince and Princess.  They took the elevator up to the second floor.  The two guards on duty stood at seeing the door to the elevator open.


“Good evening, gentlemen.  This is Gavin Butler,” Margaret introduced.  “He’s to be given access to these chambers just as Alex or I would.”


“Yes ma’am,” one of the guards said in a thick accent.  The other guard opened the door for the two of them.


“Thank you,” Margaret said as she walked past them.  Gavin followed closely behind her.


Never one to shy away from a challenge, Gavin found himself stricken with nerves as he entered the lavishly decorated parlor of the Queen’s suite.  There were paintings and decorations from all times in Lorenzian history.  “What should I call your mother?” Gavin asked.  “Should I call her “Your Majesty”?”


“Do you remember when you spoke with her on the phone?”




“She told you to call her Isabel,” Margaret replied.




“Then that’s what you call her,” Margaret managed to say before Isabel came into the room.


“It’s about time!” Isabel said as she walked over to Margaret and gave her a hug.  “I’m glad you’re back.”


“Me too, Mom.  This is Gavin, by the way.”


“Gavin!  It is a pleasure to finally meet the man who managed to take Alex’s heart,” Isabel said, extending her hand out for Gavin to shake.


“It’s nice to meet you, ma’am,” Gavin said as he shook her hand.


“Don’t be nervous,” the Queen told Gavin.  “I don’t bite.”


Gavin smiled.  “I’m sorry, ma’am.  I’m just…This is the first time…Shit!  I’m sorry,” Gavin said.


It was Isabel’s turn to smile at Gavin.  “It’s OK.  I understand that it can be hard the first time you meet the mother of the person you’re in love with.  I know from experience that it can be a rather daunting experience.”  Isabel’s smile calmed Gavin down a little bit.


“True.  This is actually the first time that I’ve met the parents of someone that I’m dating.”


“Ah.  Then I understand your nerves.  Would you like a whiskey and coke?” the Queen asked.  “Or would you like something to eat?”


“Actually, I am a bit hungry.”


“What would you like?  Our chef can make anything your heart desires,” Isabel said.


“Whatever you feel like eating, ma’am.”


“Then I’ll have her prepare some Lorenzian dishes,” Isabel said.


“Mom!  Just watch out for the very rich ones.  You know what the doctor said.”


“And if he were to say anything,” Isabel started, “I would simply ask him who is the one of us that controls the army, navy, air corps, AND marines.”  Gavin laughed at the Queen.  He instantly knew where Margaret got her sense of humor from and where Alex got his good looks from.  “Now leave us and get to those damn awards.”


“Yes ma’am,” Margaret said.  “Are you going to be OK with her?”


“I think so,” Gavin responded, looking back and smiling at Isabel.  Isabel returned the gesture.  With that, Margaret left them to their own devices.  


“So I’m going to order a plate of Lorenzian food.  Is that alright with you?”


“Oh that’s fine,” Gavin said.  


“Hopefully you’ll enjoy it.”


“Alex was always saying that there were no good Lorenzian restaurants in Birmingham.”


“I agree.  The best Lorenzian food is here in the Palace anyway,” the Queen said as she lifted the phone.  “The Kitchen please,” she asked the receptionist.  As she was connected, she returned to Gavin.  “It’s kind of a fusion of French, Spanish, Italian, and Bulgarian.”




“There is a very large Bulgarian population in and around Cabocha.  They have influenced the culture so much.  My husband was Bulgarian,” the Queen said.


“Very cool,” Gavin said.


“Yes.  Who is this?” the Queen asked on the phone.  “Great.  I’ve heard about you.  This is Queen Isabel.  Would it be possible to make a sampler of traditional Lorenzian dishes?”  There was a moment of silence while she listened to the other end of the phone.  “Ooh.  That sounds tasty.  What about some fried gnocchi?  Would that be possible?”  There was another moment of silence.  “Great!  We’ll be expecting you in a bit then.  Thank you.”  The hung up the phone and looked at Gavin.  “The night chef is preparing about 10 traditional Lorenzian dishes for us.  It will be amazing.  He also said that he’d bring a bottle of Lorenzian wine.”


“Nice,” Gavin said.  “You really are the exact opposite of what I’d always thought a Queen would be.”


“Well.  I am a child of the sixties,” the Queen said.


Gavin laughed.  “Yes ma’am.”


“So I’ll be honest with you about something, and then I need to ask you a question.”




“When I first found out about Alex.  I was hurt; I was upset; I was pissed; I was…beyond angry at him.  I woke up the next morning, though, and something in me had changed.  I realized that I had simply learned something about him that I just hadn’t known before.  Then I realized that the nation was behind him.  Then, if I came to realize that Alex probably wouldn’t have ever admitted it to himself or to anyone else if it hadn’t been from the loving place that you created for him.  For that, Gavin, I am truly endebted to you.”


“Well, ma’am, thank you for saying that.  I don’t think I did very much, though.”


“On the contrary, Gavin, you did.  You loved him for him, and not for his title.”


“Well…” Gavin started.


“And I know you didn’t know about him until the information in the paper,” Isabel said.


Gavin smiled, “Yeah…”


“He never meant to hurt you, Gavin.  He simply needed to be himself for a bit.”


“Yes ma’am,” Gavin said, smiling.


“But now for my favor.”


“Yes ma’am,” Gavin said, looking directly.


“My doctors have told me that…that I have weeks, at best.  My cancer has progressed faster than they’d imagined.”


“I’m so sorry, Isabel.”


“I’m glad you remembered my name,” she said smiling.


“How I could I forget the most powerful woman in the Lorenzian world?” Gavin joked.


Isabel smiled.  “You make an old woman feel good, Gavin.”


“But your favor…”


“Oh yes,” Isabel said.  “I am about to ask you something, and you are free to decline if you wish.  It won’t hurt my feelings.”  The Queen looked at him.  “I need you, when I do die, to make sure that Alex stays in one piece.  Whether fortunately or unfortunately, the people of this nation will be looking to him for strength and support.  In this country, it’s tradition that all businesses close on the day that a monarch dies.  Even non-critical hospital care shuts down for a day.  On that day, Alex will be the center of all of their attention.  He will need you to take his hand, whether physically or emotionally or both, and tell him that everything will be OK.  If I hadn’t had my Petr when my father died, I’m not sure that I would have been able to make it through that transition.”  The Queen looked at her hands, which she’d clasped together in her lap.  “I’m sorry…”


“It would be my honor, ma’am,” Gavin said as she looked back up.  In his eyes, she could see that he loved Alex, and she could see why.  There seemed to be a genuine feeling of love for Alex in his eyes.


It was only a few minutes later that the night chef served the two of them.  Isabel carefully explained all the dishes to Gavin, who was worried that he’d not be able to remember all the dishes and their ingredients.  As they sat there, Alex and Margaret were getting ready for their appearance at the MTV Europe awards.  Just before Margaret arrived, Alex was escorted backstage to get ready for the appearance.  Margaret was escorted by the producers to the room to get ready immediately at her arrival.


“Well hello there, you sexy Prince, you,” Margaret said as she entered the room.  She wanted to blurt out that Gavin was waiting for him at the palace, but there was also an element of surprise in the whole thing that she wanted to keep in tact.


“It’s about time.  How is my favorite sister?” Alex responded as a man fixed his hair.


“She is wonderful!” Margaret answered as she sat next to Alex and a woman came over to her, to help with getting her makeup and such just right.  “Pardon me,” she said, getting the attention of the man working on Alex’s hair.  “What does your shirt say?”


“Oh,” he said.  “It says ‘I’d do Prince Alex’.”


“We had this discussion a moment ago!” Alex said, a little smile from embarrassment on his face.


“That is HILARIOUS!  Where did you get it?”


“I got it at the mall in Nordes,” he said, referring to a neighborhood just north of Cabocha.


“Oh my God!  That is amazing,” Margaret marveled.


“Imagine my reaction when I found out I’d be doing his hair!  It’s not every day that a girl like me gets to touch the hair of a very hot Prince like him,” the man said, just as he was finishing up Alex’s hair.  “Was that as good for me as it was for you, Highness?” he asked, looking at Alex’s face in the mirror.


“It was the best I’ve ever had,” Alex answered jokingly.  “Thank you very much, Mateus.”


“Thank you for letting me do it, even though my shirt is in such bad taste!”


“It’s not in bad taste,” Margaret said.  “It’s hilarious.”


“Exactly,” Alex concurred.


It took the woman a few more minutes to finish Margaret’s make-up and hair.  Then she was off to get into another outfit.  Alex sat in the chair waiting on her return.  As they waited, Gavin and Isabel were stuffing their faces with the Lorenzian food.


“This is so amazing,” Isabel said.  


“It really is good.  I especially LOVE the fried gnocchi.”


“They are good.  Just don’t tell Dr. Stoyanov that I’m eating all this,” she said as she put a bit of one of the dishes in her mouth and wiped her mouth.  


“I won’t.  As long as you promise not to tell my mother that I found someone that can cook better than her.”


“I hope that I get to meet her,” Isabel said.  There was a ring of the telephone.  Isabel quickly picked it up and answered the phone.  “OK,” she said, just because hanging up the phone.  She grabbed the remote control for her TV and began searching for the channel.  “Alex and Margaret should be on in just a few minutes,” she announced.


“Good.  The sooner they’re on, the sooner he gets back here.”


“That’s a good way to think of it,” Isabel said, smiling.


Alex and Margaret were ready to go about 30 minutes after Margaret’s arrival.  One of the producers came to get them after just a moment.  The lady escorted them down a hall into a large area back stage.  The person they were to introduce came up to them.


“Highnesses,” she said, “I am so happy to meet the two of you.”


“We’re happy to meet you, as well,” Margaret answered for both of them as she shook both of their hands.  They also took a minute to meet the group performing with them, the Royal Lorenzian Youth Symphony, a new group of artists set up by the Queen the year before.


“We’ll be ready for you in one minute,” the producer said.


“Alright,” Alex said as they got into position.  The other performer was there was well, standing in position behind a large door that was to open onto the stage on which she would be performing.  The symphony, under the direction of Dr. Stoyanov’s daughter, Lelie, was also in position, with 300 of the nation’s most promising classical musicians ready to begin to play.


“And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, Their Royal Highnesses, Princess Margaret and Crown Prince Alexander,” the announcer called.  Alex and Margaret put on the smiles and walked out onto the stage.  Both of them were wearing jeans and fashionable shoes; Alex wore a green and white striped shirt; Margaret wore a cute top.  They walked to an almost deafening cheer.  As far as they could see, everyone in the place was standing.  They both knew, along with Gavin and Isabel who were watching from the comfort of the palace, that they were standing for Alex.  The crowd seemed pleased to see that Alex was out, in every sense of the word.


“Are you all having fun tonight?” Margaret asked.  There was another resounding cheer.  “Well.  I can tell you that Alex and I are as well,” Margaret said.  Alex agreed by nodding.  Beginning to follow the teleprompter, Margaret continued, “Well.  Alex.  We should get this going.”


“Yes.  We’re here this evening to introduce one of Lorenzia’s most promising new artists,” Alex started.


“She won Lorenzian Idol in 2005, followed it with a first single that went to number 1 on the Lorenzian and European charts immediately, and her first album is quickly taking the same track.”


“Performing ‘White Flag,’ we are pleased to present Donya Ouença and the Royal Lorenzian Youth Symphony,” Alex added as the door on the second stage began to open and the first chords of the song were played by the symphony.  The crown cheered as the cameras began to show Donya, walking out to the front edge of the oddly shaped stage.  She was wearing a white Versace dress, with a slit coming from the bottom to just above her knees, on the front of her dress.  A green sash was wrapped around her waist, buckled with a golden medallion.  The top of the dress was just as elegant, but also just as revealing, with a slit that ran to just the top of her well constructed abs.  Her boobs were pasted in place with the dress.  Her dark, rich, smooth, African skin popped against the dress.  Her hair was straight, with it pulled behind her left ear, and held in place with a single Lorenzian Magnolia blossom attached to a small hair clip.  As she walked toward the edge of the stage, to where the microphone had been placed, a train followed the dress, but it wasn’t the length of a wedding dress, but just enough to make the dress interesting.


She arrived at the microphone just a second before the musical cue for her to begin singing.


“I know…you think that…I shouldn’t…still love you…or tell you that…But if I didn’t say it…well I’d still have felt it…where’s the sense in that?...I promise…I’m not trying…to make your life harder…or return to where we were,” she sang.  “I will go down…with this ship…and I won’t put my hands up…and surrender.  There’ll be no white flag above my door, I’m in love…and always will be.”  After a musical moment, she continued with the second verse, “I know I…left too much mess and…destruction to come back again…and I cause nothing but trouble…I understand if you can’t talk to me again…and if you live by the rules that it’s over…then I’m sure that that makes sense…But I will go down with this ship, and I won’t put my hands up and surrender.  There will be no white flag, above my door.  I’m in love and always will be…And when we meet, which I’m sure we will…all that was there, will be there still…I’ll let it pass…and hold my tongue…and you will think…that I’ve moved onnn……..I will go down with this ship.  I won’t put my hands up and surrender.  There will be no white flag above my door.  I’m in love, and always will be………….I will go down with this ship.  I won’t put my hands up and surrender.  There will be no white flag above my door.  I’m in love, and always will be…….I will go down with this ship.  I won’t put my hands up and surrender.  There will be no white flag above my door.  I’m in love….and always will be……..”  Donya stopped, looked toward the grown as she sang the final chords of the song.  The crowd clapped and cheered wildly for her.  The cameras moved away from her, though, to the other side of the stage from where she was.


“Welcome to the REMIX!!!” Daddy Yankee called from the other side of the stage.  


“Donyacita and Daddy Yankee Bitches!” Donya yelled as she unfastened the buckle on her belt and let the bottom part of the dress fall to the ground, revealing a white mini skirt that showed off the muscular thighs that she was so proud of.  The two began performing a song that he’d not yet released in United States yet, Impacto.  It was his first single in Lorenzia, and the crowd loved it as they all danced around the floor just below the stage.  It showed a side of Donya that they’d not seen.  The youth symphony enjoyed the fact that there was a version of the song for them.


    Alex didn’t have time to enjoy the second song, though.  The first, a song which he’d avoided listening to simply because of its tone had taken a toll on him.  It contained every single word that he wanted to say to Gavin in that moment.  It brought a tear to his eye and a sense of desperation to his emotional sphere.


    Alex wound his way through the people to find where his sister had run off to.  “MARGARET!” he yelled over the music and the noise of several conversations.  Margaret turned and looked into his eyes.  She knew what was coming.  She seemed to know what he was about to tell her.  “Margaret,” he said as he walked up to her as she enjoyed a glass of champaign.  “I’ve got to do it.”


    “Do what?” Margaret asked, smiling.


    “I’ve got to go to America…” Alex started.  Margaret smiled, partly because of her brother’s resolute declaration and partly because she knew that, waiting at the palace was the man he was going to America for.




    “That’s all your going to say?”


    “That and let’s get the hell out of here, then.”


    Alex smiled as they made their way to a guarded entrance of the coliseum in which they’d made their appearance.  People spoke to them, and Alex was polite, but he was in a hurry.  Margaret was a bit more chatty, though, just to stall him a little longer and make him that much more nervous about going.  When they made it to the entrance, they couldn’t see the royal limo. Not wanting to wait any longer than he had to, Alex walked around to the front of the building, to hail one of the cabs that he was sure would be driving by.  Seeing the Prince and Princess waiting, one of the cabbies, in a traditional black and white checked cab, pulled to the curb and let them in.


    “Where to?” he said.


    “Cabocha Palace,” Alex said.


    “Right,” the cabby said, putting on his flashing caution lights and racing away from the coliseum.


    Alex pulled out his cell phone and dialed the switchboard at the palace.  “This is Alex.  ID 629.  Please call the checkpoints and tell them that the Princess and I are coming via taxi back to the palace.  We should be there in 20 minutes.”


    “Right, Highness.  I will do that right now,” the lady responded.


    Alex hung up the phone and let his head rest on the back of the seat.  “I’m fucking crazy!” Alex said.  “I’m about to do something completely impulsive, and I like it!” he said.


    “I’m proud of you, Alex.  I was wondering how long it would take you to come to your senses and get in touch with him somehow,” Margaret said.


    Alex looked at his sister and smiled.  He could tell that she knew something that she wasn’t telling him.  “You didn’t really go to London, did you?” Alex said.


    “No,” she answered.  “I know I promised I would never lie to you, and I’m sorry for that, but that’s all I’m going to say at the moment.”


    Alex didn’t care that she’d lied to him.  “Were you in Poland to see that Polish prince that had a crush on you?”


    Margaret looked at him and smiled.  “If you ever say that again, I will cut off your balls and have Maria cook them!” she chided.


    Alex laughed.  “I love you, Mags.”


    “I love you, too, Alex.  You’re my favorite brother.”


    “I’m your only brother.”


    “That’s Mom and Dad’s fault.  Not mine,” Margaret joked.


    It wasn’t long before the cab pulled up to the checkpoint at the top of the hill leading to the palace.  The cabbie stopped and the guard, after checking the car, let them pass onto the long driveway.  The cabbie made a joke as they worked themselves around the circular part of the driveway leading to the large front entrance.  “This is an amazing view.  Thanks for letting me bring you up,” the cabbie said.


    “How much do we owe you?” Alex asked.


    “No charge, Highness,” he answered.  “It was an honor.”


    “Then take this as a token of our appreciation,” he said, handing the man a $100 Lorenzian banknote.


    “Thank you, VERY much,” the man said as he looked at the picture of the Queen on one side of the bill.


    “No…Thank you,” Alex said as he climbed out of the car that Margaret had already exited.


    “You better go see Mom first,” Margaret managed to say as Alex ran up the stairs to the main entrance of the palace.  The guard opened the door for him so that he didn’t have to stop.


    “Evening, Highness,” Martha said as Alex ran past her.  


    “Evening, Martha,” Alex said as he climbed the stairs, running.  Martha had a smile on her face.


    Alex opened the door to his mother’s suite himself, “Mom, I’m going to Amer…” he managed to say before being stopped dead in his tracks.  He released the handle of the door, letting his arms fall to his side.  One of the guards, with a smile on his face, took the handle and shut the door to give the three of them some privacy.  Alex was amazed; Alex was shocked; Alex was happy; Alex was taken aback by the site of his mother and his one true love sitting on an antique sofa that had been in the palace longer than anyone else in the building.


    Gavin stood, still with no words having been exchanged.  


    “And just what will you be travelling to America for?” she asked, a cheesy grin on her face.  Alex couldn’t respond.  He was speechless.  Alex managed to take a few steps toward Gavin, still not believing just who it was that was standing in front of him.


    “Hi,” Gavin said, smiling at him.  Alex’s heart, which had become somewhat hard with guilt and aguish melted again at the sight of the smile.  That was the smile that he’d first fallen in love with some months ago; it was the smile that he’d longed to gaze into once again.


    “Hi,” Alex responded, numbness creeping over his entire body.


    Margaret crept into the room as the scene was going down.  Alex couldn’t hold back his happiness and began to let a tear fall quietly down his cheek.  Gavin was in a similar state, with a single tear falling from his left eye as he saw his man standing before him, with the sparkling green eyes.  Those were the eyes that he’d first fallen in love with; they were the eyes that he’d longed to gaze endlessly into once again.  Margaret looked at Isabel, who was sitting on the sofa, watching the two of them.  The two boys slowly walked to each other.  Just as they were within a short length from each other, Alex reached his arms up and placed them on the side of Gavin’s head.  He slowly brought his head down toward his and began to passionately kiss the man of his dreams.


    “Well.  I think I should be going to bed,” Isabel said.  “Help me in there, Margaret.”


    “Yes ma’am,” Margaret said, smiling and walking around them to help her mother into her bedchamber.


    “You did good,” Isabel whispered as they entered the room.  Just before closing the door, they got another good look of the two men, standing there, with lips attached to each other’s.


    “Damn right,” Margaret said, closing the door behind them.  "I should go into politics or something."


    Alex and Gavin continued kissing until there was no more feeling in either of their lips.  Slowly, as if in a movie or something, they separated from each other.  Gavin leant down and rested his forehead on Alex’s.  An energy absent for too long from both of their lives again travelled freely between them.  They were perfectly in sync once again; their worlds seemed again in order rather than chaos.


    “Alex.  I have missed you so much,” Gavin said, rubbing Alex’s left shoulder with his right hand.


    “Likewise,” Alex answered, both of them sitting there with their eyes closed and their foreheads still touching.  “Gavin…I’m sorry about what happened in America.”


    “It’s no problem, Alex.”


    “Yes it is.  I should never have lied to you, and I promise, if you give me another chance, I will never lie to you again.”


    “If I give you another chance, eh?” Gavin joked, with a smile coming to his face.


    “Yes,” Alex said, disconnecting from him and looking directly into Gavin’s eyes.


    “Well.  I will say this.  Most of the people of the world, guys and girls included, would do anything to meet a handsome prince charming and live happily ever after.”  Gavin looked directly into Alex’s eyes.  “It just so happens that I did!” Alex smiled widely, his eyes a little misty.  He wrapped his arms around Gavin’s waist and pulled himself into Gavin’s muscular frame.  Once again, he felt safe and loved.


    A short while later, Alex and Gavin escaped to Alex's suite.  Gavin was too busy paying attention to his boyfriend that the splendor of the suite wasn't even noticed.  They made love for almost 2 hours that night.  They slept for a few hours and then got up for the sole purpose of making love.  As the day passed, everyone who saw him smiled as we wore a naughty grin as a badge of honor.


    A few days later, Ray, Paula, and Conner were brought to the palace at invitation of the Queen.  They stayed for a few days as Alex and Margaret showed them around Cabocha and the area around the city.  The last three days of their trip was spent on the Queen's private island in Meditaira.  Everyone enjoyed, especially the Queen, who fell in love with Conner as well.  He'd been instructed to call her Isabel, but for some reason, the name Iza stuck.


    Ten days later, after the Butlers (including Gavin) had returned to America, the Queen's health took a turn for the worse.  Before being sedated, she admitted to see apparitions of her dead husband, Prince Petr.  Gavin flew back to Cabocha without thinking at Alex's request.  Within two hours of his arrival, the Queen passed.


    A week after that, the State Funeral was held, with the sounding of church bells around the country.  In Lorenzian tradition, church bells rang until the next monarch's investiture, which happened just a few hours later.  King Alexander III was installed, with his sister and his lover at his side, to the glee and cheers of a nation grateful for the new chapter in their history.