April 10, 2009
Nate asks Madeleine what she is thinking, but she makes no answer.
The two of them walk in silence; the wizard has taken his leave, there’s an urgent matter about an evil ring and a hobbit.
“If you’ll excuse me, Your Highness,” says the wizard, “I have to save the Middle Earth.”
Madeleine thanked the wizard, and then head to the Farther Away kingdom, back to the castle.
Somewhere between the Meadows of Joy and the Valley of Contentment, Nate asks Madeleine, “After we find the prince, what’s next?”
“What do you mean, what’s next?”
“The two of you get married and live happily ever after?”
“…hmmm… What do you think should be next, Nate?”
“I don’t know, princess. I guess you’re to be wed and rule the kingdoms?” Nate says with a shrug, “After all, you’re both royalties,” he says, eyeing Madeleine intently.
“Oh I see…,” Madeleine says vaguely, closing her mouth in a pout.
She keeps silent all the way to the castle, responding to Nate’s attempt at a conversation with monosyllables.
“Okay, did I do something wrong?” says an exasperated Nate, breaking into a halt right in front of Madeleine.
“No,” says Madeleine, turning left to avoid Nate, and walks past him.
“You haven’t said anything more than “hmpfh”, “yes”, and “no”. Between you and me, a horse would be more responsive. Granted, a horse can’t speak, but–“
“Oh, so I am worse than a horse now!?”
“That’s not what I meant, I–“
“Well, here we are,” Madeleine points to the tower of the castle, not a mile from where they are standing, “We’ll be arriving any minute, so you won’t have to endure my presence anymore.”
Madeleine walks determinedly towards the castle. When she arrives, a ruckus is raised. The kings and queens come out to see her; Francis and Felicity are disappointed that Madeleine come home alone. Well, with Nate, but he is only a servant to them. Felicity puts her head on Francis’ shoulder and weeps.
“You didn’t find my son?” asks a limp Francis. The last fortnight has drained the strength out of him.
“Actually, I think I know where he is,” says Madeleine, looking around.
“Where??” asks a frantic Felicity. “Here?”
“Ah, there,” says Madeleine, picking up the dog that is licking the end of Felicity’s skirt, and then giving him a kiss on the mouth.
And what do you know, it turns into Frederick.
“A dog?” asks Felicity, “and all the while we thought it was a frog?”
“You thought it was a frog,” says Nate, “milady,” he adds, after seeing all the virtual daggers people are throwing him, “Her Highness was bitten by a dog, of her great aunt, Clarisse, when she was ten.”
“Rommel…,” says Madeleine, trance-like, and shivers.
“Well, no need to dwell on that,” says a joyful Francis. “I believe a wedding is in order.”
So a wedding is prepared for. Flowers, music, lots and lots of food and even more wine.
The day soon comes. Madeleine is dressed in a white, flowing dress with a very long train. The orchestra starts to play and thus the ceremony begins.
“Dearly Beloved,” the priest starts, “We are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses, to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony. It is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly and solemnly. Into this holy estate these two persons present now come to be joined. Should any person have any objections and can show just cause why they may not be joined together, let them speak now or forever hold their peace.”
“I object,” says a voice from far back.
All heads turned to see who it is that have a death wish. It is Nate.
“Thank God someone said something,” says Marcus, “I object, too.”
“Marcus??” Marianne asks, flabbergasted.
“Well, that kid is horribly namby-pamby, don’t you think?”
Marianne hesitates, “Well, when you put it like that…”
“This is just outrageous!” exclaims Francis, while Felicity, having fainted, is being fanned by a flock of fussy ladies-in-waiting.
“Well, there’s nothing we can do,” persuades Marianne, “if they should decide to call the wedding off. Right?”
“W-w-well,” Francis stutters, “I-I suppose”. He had a crush on Marianne when they were young. Seems the feeling hasn’t wear off.
“I hate mushy words, princess, and I know you do too,” says Nate, “I do love you. The way you smile. Without pretense, no mask, simply you. Looking at your eyes, I see them as windows without curtains, because they are open and clear, as if to say, ‘You may look into my soul for I have nothing to hide’. Sometimes–, well, most of the time,” Nate chuckles, “I see the little girl in you. When you cry, of feel lonely, or afraid, I want to be there by your side, and put my arms around you. I don’t quite know why, but I love you.”
Madeleine looks at Nate, then shoves the bouquet of flower she is holding into Frederick’s hands.
“Wait,” Frederick calls, “Do you think you are going to be able to live happily ever after with him? Princesses live happily ever after with princes, Madeleine, not with…what is he anyway?”
“Happily ever after is so overrated,” replies Madeleine, “But pray do not worry that little brain of yours, Fred… We’ll get to happily ever after eventually.”