Story by T.Charters copyright (C) 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org
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All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, Gods or Demons, living, dead or imaginary is purely coincidental.
Amanda shook her head. "If it weakens Allegra and makes everyone else feel a little more comfortable then it's worth it," she replied.
They walked into the Council chamber with Marc and Romana following close behind.
Romana glanced around and managed to look nervous for all of them. "Are you all right Milady?" she asked.
The council chamber was oval in shape, with a large circle of tables surrounding a loan chair positioned in the very centre of the room. The room was crowded with others impatiently waiting for them to arrive. They mostly stood and bowed. They nearly all of them stared at Amanda as though they didn't trust her in the slightest.
A taller man approached Pop, or the Prince Consort. "Your Highness," he said while ignoring Amanda completely.
"Highnesses, plural," Pop suggested less than delicately.
Marc crossed his arms and glared. He was incensed. Amanda could almost hear him growling angrily in the back of his throat.
Even Romana stared and looked more than a little upset with the lack of respect the man had shown.
Amanda shook her head. "Don't worry about it," she said while nodding politely to the taller man. "It's really not that important."
The man turned and frowned while seeming a little surprised by Amanda's reaction. He turned back toward the tables.
Amanda stepped into the centre of the chamber as everyone else took their seats. She placed her hand on the back of the chair but didn't even attempt to sit down. She turned and glanced around. She smiled. "Why are you all so angry with me?" she asked as politely as ever.
Almost everyone immediately sat more upright, their chairs scrapping on the floor. They all seemed more than a little shocked by Amanda's directness.
"I have never claimed to be anything more than what I am," Amanda continued without waiting for a reply. "It seems to me that you've been fed a story which I'm not aware of. I don't know what that story is," she said, "nor do I care to hear it, but please allow me to tell you one of my own." She glanced at Pop and smiled.
He simply nodded in return.
"I was born human it's true," she revealed. "I remember being happy and had I at that time known about the Fey or been asked before being turned I would still have said no."
There was some murmuring in chamber from those who couldn't understand that decision. They all believed that the Fey were somehow superior to humans.
"Even as a child I never had any desire to be anything more than what I was," Amanda continued. "A princess was never on the top of my wish list," she said chuckling briefly. "Later I became a nurse because I like to help people. One night I was attacked and turned then my entire family murdered because I refused to do as I was told." She paused for a moment to let that sink in. "I ran and was rescued by The Watch. They saved me and I willingly joined them to help where I could. Never in all that time did I consider or even think about revenge." She paused once more and again glanced around the room. "Now!" she said darkly, "this is where the real story begins. A few months ago a young woman walked into the emergency department of the hospital I was working at. Her injuries were horrific, blunt force trauma, sun burns and lacerations which could only have been caused by someone experimenting on her while wilfully removing her skin. At the time I thought she was like me, another familiar without a sire. Had I known she was the Crown Princess or that it had been her own sister Allegra who had inflicted these injuries, it would have changed nothing. I love Jane with all my heart and would do anything for her. I never asked to be elevated or expected anything in reward. These green eyes are her's not mine."
For a long time everyone just sat and stared.
"You were elevated by the Crown Princess?" one of the Council members asked with some surprise.
Amanda nodded. "I was," she replied. "I was injured and she saved me. I would have died otherwise."
"Do you have proof of these charges against Allegra?" another inquired.
"We do," Amanda revealed, "and we have since had her business shut down. Allegra was colluding with the humans," she added, "for what purpose we don't know."
There was a sudden cacophony of voices as everyone began to speak at once. Clearly the story they'd been fed differed greatly from Amanda's.
She held up her hand until there was silence. "Don't overreact," she advised. "A very wise person once told me that you shouldn't tell others what they can and can't think or even believe. You have to take the good with the bad. No one should be controlled against their will."
Pop smiled. He looked rather proud.
"Will there be anything else?" Amanda inquired.
The same tall man who had treated her so disrespectfully slowly and nervously rose from his seat. He was obviously the leader of the group, though for how much longer was uncertain. He bowed. "No, your Highness," he said. "I am deeply sorry that we demanded this of you. It was a mistake. We had been led to believe something very different."
Amanda smiled. She didn't seem offended. "Whatever makes you all feel more comfortable," she said graciously. She turned to leave and only then noticed that the Queen, Jane and Ambassador Grent were standing in the doorway. They'd obviously come to help. To plead her case. They all looked equally proud. The Queen seemed to have a tear in her eye.
Jane bounded over and hugged Amanda.
The entire council instantly sprang to their feet.
Jane turned and glanced around. "I need you to do something for me," she announced rather seriously.
"Anything," the Council Leader replied while trying to sound far more gracious than he had in the beginning.
"Familiars are now to be treated with the same level respect as everyone else," Jane advised. "Is that clear?" she said. "Do you understand what I mean?"
The Council Leader nodded. "Perfectly," he responded.
Amanda tuned to Jane and smiled. "Thank you," she said.
Pop stepped closer to his wife. "I think the kingdom will be in very safe hands one day," he whispered.
The Queen just nodded. She was actually crying.
As they turned to leave Amanda called to Romana. "Where to next?" she asked.
"Your morning meeting with the staff," Romana replied while smiling broadly. They were clearly running very late.
Marc lingered behind and spoke with the Council leader.
The taller man appeared to go quite pale.
When they stepped outside Amanda turned to Marc. "What did you say to him?" she asked.
Marc uncharacteristically smiled. "I merely suggested that he treat you more respectfully the next time," he replied.
Amanda smirked. Her smile faded. "Thank you," she said.
The door to the room swung inward and the same man appeared in the opening.
Allegra glanced up from where she was sitting in the corner. "So did the council tear her down?" she asked gleefully, grinning wildly as she did. She chuckled, licking her lips. "It would have been delicious," she said. "I wish I could have been there to see it."
"I warned you not to do this," the man snapped. "But as usual you wouldn't listen." He glared. "The council has sided with the palace," he explained, "soon the enforcers will be here along with the palace guards. It won't take them long to learn that it was I who fed the story to the council. You have to leave, you can't stay here any longer. I may yet be able to recover from all of this."
Allegra glared. Her features instantly hardening. "No," she said. "You won't!"
When they returned to the palace Amanda and Jane briefly retired to their suite.
Jane looked a little upset. She stood with her hands on her hips and stared. "You should have told me," she said.
"I didn't want to worry you," Amanda replied.
"That's not your decision to make anymore," Jane responded.
Amanda nodded. "I'm sorry," she said. Afterwards she smirked.
Jane frowned at her. "What?" she asked.
Amanda smiled "You know you're really cute when you're angry," she quipped.
Jane glared and crossed her arms in front of her. "I'm always really cute," she suggested.
Amanda sniggered then laughed out loud. "Yeah," she agreed, "you are." She took Jane by the hand and pulled her close. "At least this should weaken Allegra a bit more," she reasoned.
They hugged for a long moment.
"I'm still mad at you," Jane whispered.
Amanda smiled once more. "So I guess I'm sleeping on the couch tonight then," she said.
Jane immediately took a step back. She frowned. "We have a couch?" she asked glancing around. She turned and smiled.
Amanda laughed. She shook her head. "Sometimes I don't know when you're being serious or not," she said.
"Me? Be serious?" Jane returned. "Never!" she exclaimed "That's what Mum wants."
"You two are more alike than you know," Amanda suggested.
Jane glared once more. "Okay," she said with her hands again on her hips, "now you really are sleeping on the couch."
Amanda laughed. She felt happy and for the first time truly content. She smiled. "I love you," she said.
When Amanda stepped into the hall both Romana and Marc were waiting for her. "I know," she said, "I'm late."
"You're never late Milady," Romana suggested. "Everyone else is just early."
Amanda turned and stared. She laughed. "Nice sucking up," she said. She sounded impressed. "Where did you hear that?" she asked. "In a movie or something?"
When they stepped into the palace kitchen all the staff stood and clapped. It was clear that everyone already knew what had happened.
Amanda playfully bowed.
She asked for the managers and senior staff to gather everyone together.
Afterwards she smiled and glanced around.
Everyone looked a little curious.
"You all know that I was once the same as you," Amanda began. "I never asked to be elevated, but I am extremely thankful that the Crown Princess offered me this chance. Even before we knew anything about the palace or any of you, both she and I were disgusted with the way that familiars were treated." Amanda smiled. She seemed a little embarrassed. "You may not know this," she said, "but I was once terrified of being found out. I was convinced that should I meet a real vampire I would be killed on the spot. What the Crown Princess has done today will only make life better for all of you. I pray that you use this new level respect to your advantage. There will be many Fey who will not be happy about this decision," she said more seriously. "Be careful! The actions of a few could still have a huge impact on the rest of you. But know this," she said, "I will fight for each and every one of you. I will not allow anyone to treat you with anything less than the respect that everyone deserves."
Someone behind started clapping. Amanda turned around. Everyone else bowed.
The Queen was standing there. "Well, said," she agreed. "And very true," she confirmed. She smiled. "I am so very proud of both you and Jane. I wouldn't wish for either of you to be any different."
They stepped into the hall and began walking toward the throne room at the opposite end of the palace.
"And how is Jane?" the Queen asked.
"A little angry with me," Amanda admitted.
The Queen turned and stared.
"She's upset because I didn't tell her about the council," Amanda explained. "I didn't want her to worry."
The Queen nodded.
"Also I may have suggested that you and she have a lot in common," Amanda revealed.
The Queen raised and eyebrow and stared.
"Great," Amanda muttered regretfully. "Now you're angry with me as well."
The Queen laughed. "I will admit that we do have at least one thing in common," she suggested.
"What's that?" Amanda asked.
The Queen smiled. "We are both incredibly stubborn," she admitted. She turned to Marc. "So what do you think of our Princess Ward?" she asked.
Amanda immediately frowned. She wasn't sure where this was going.
"From the moment I first met the Princess my feelings have not diminished your Majesty," Marc replied graciously. "The Princess has earned not only her place here but everyone's trust and respect, there were others who were less deserving."
The Queen nodded. "And you Romana?" she asked.
"I think the Princess is brilliant, your Majesty," Romana replied rather excitedly.
"Your Majesty?" Amanda asked. She was starting to feel a little worried and wondered if she might have done something wrong.
"I don't like you being called the Princess Ward any longer," the Queen explained. "You deserve something more fitting. You are not just a ward of the Royal house, you are a loved and valued member of this family and your title should reflect that."
Amanda didn't immediately reply. She didn't know what to say. She actually didn't mind what she was called.
The Queen smiled. "Have you and Jane thought of marriage," she asked rather directly, "and what would occur afterwards?" She didn't even sound slightly disturbed that Amanda and Jane's relationship might be frowned upon elsewhere in the world.
Amanda had never let it worry her. She really didn't care what others thought. The only person who had appeared if only slightly surprised was David and only because he hadn't known. She didn't want to imagine the drama that would ensue in the human world if a Royal was in a same sex relationship. She appreciated that the Fey were not concerned about such things.
"We've thought about it," she admitted a little reluctantly. She still wasn't quite sure where this was going though the word shotgun had certainly entered her thoughts.
The Queen laughed. "Don't worry," she said. "No one is going to force you into anything and never before the two of you are ready. All I was going to say was that should you marry, you would be crowned her Royal Highness the Princess Amanda Hamilton-Ayers."
"Crowned? Hamilton-Ayers?" Amanda prompted.
The Queen nodded. "But we needn't wait until then," she suggested. "Although unusual the crowning ceremony could be performed at anytime."
"Anytime?" Amanda repeated. She looked torn. She hadn't considered any of this.
The Queen smiled at her. She seemed to understand what Amanda was feeling. "I realise that your last name is now your only link to your real family," she said. "I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to lose them. If you wished you could choose the name Chambers-Hamilton-Ayers to honour them." She smiled once more. "Think about it," she said. "It's your choice. There's no hurry. You both have an eternity to decide." She hugged Amanda then continued walking across the throne room.
Amanda just stood and stared after her. In the end she turned to Romana and Marc.
Romana was grinning and jiggling excitedly.
Marc looked as implacable as ever.
"Not a word!" Amanda warned.
"But a Royal wedding..." Romana started sounding quite excited.
Amanda glared though without any real menace. "Maybe one day," she said chuckling nervously.
When Jane stepped round the door into their suite she found Amanda huddled on the floor in the corner of the room.
It seemed like the place they both ran to when they were worried or upset.
Jane sat beside Amanda and smiled. "You too," she said.
Amanda frowned. "Not Pop as well?" she responded.
Amanda leant against Jane and rested her head on her shoulder. "What is it with them?" she said.
Jane shrugged. She was silent for a moment. "So do you want to?" she asked a little hesitantly.
Amanda looked up. "Are, are you proposing?" she stuttered just as nervously.
Jane nodded. "I, I guess so," she stammered in reply.
Amanda smiled. She chuckled. "I remember you saying you didn't want to be the girly one," she said.
"Only because you had me dressed in pink, cartoon print pyjamas at the time," Jane playfully retorted.
They both laughed and chuckled a little nervously.
"So do you?" Jane repeated.
"I do," Amanda replied.
"But?" Jane added.
"A royal wedding," Amanda said, "with thousands of people watching and then being crowned afterwards. I'd be terrified of making a mistake and upsetting everyone."
Jane smiled. She hugged Amanda and pulled her close. "You only need to worry about upsetting me," she responded.
Amanda nodded. "I know," she said.
"We could always elope," Jane suggested.
Amanda smirked. "Can you imagine how much trouble we'd get in," she replied.
Jane laughed. "They'd probably welcome Allegra back," she said.
Amanda cringed. "So what are we going to do?" she asked.
"I'm going to speak with Bob," Jane replied.
"You are? Why?"
"I need to ask him something."
Amanda stared. "You really mean it," she said. She felt a little guilty for joking and not having sounded so sure.
"I do," Jane replied.
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