Crazy Fantasy: Part 1-3

Thankfully, there was nothing scheduled until eleven when we were to go out to the local heritage site allowing me to sleep in for a bit and then consult with our ‘tour guide' about when I could fit in a chance to go out riding with Gen. Aaron was a young man, probably a few years older than I was, and seemed ready to try and accommodate a meeting or two.

"Well, the other young ladies will be disappointed, but I can't see the sense in you going to this opening tomorrow morning. But right after that there is a visit to an inner city community centre planned, and they could use the publicity you'd bring."

I nod in understanding. "But I could meet you on the way there and then I'd have tomorrow morning free. What about the museum tour on Thursday?"

"It's an original one, but you've been there before, or you will be there next time you visit. I'd advise you stay in town if you chose to skip, because you are suppose to be part of a ceremonial parade in front of the building after the tour. Maybe Genevieve would like to join you that day?"

"No, I couldn't ask her to make an appearance like that with me. We're leaving the next day and the paparazzi would be all over her. If they aren't already," I cast a look at the morning paper that has a picture of us dancing, me whispering in her ear. I can still remember the moment. The caption underneath doesn't help matters either; something along the lines of "future princess in our midst?"

"I don't know when else you could meet her. Wednesday is completely booked. It's all charities and hospital visits, then dinner with the premier and his caucus."

A look of disgust appears on my face that I'm not able to hide quickly enough.

"Is something wrong, your highness?"

"I hate politicians."

"I'm not particularly fond of them, myself, but you have to attend, I'm afraid."

"Thank you for your help, Aaron. It's a shame Genevieve doesn't work at this park we are going to. Then I could have someone to walk with me while I wear this costume," I say looking at the old fashioned suit laid out for me.

* * *

"Are you ready yet, Jess?" I call out to her. She forgot to mention last night that she had to work today.

"Alright, let's go. You're welcome to join me if you want. I'm working the Ingraham House. And I'm sure the prince will be glad to see you again."

Jess had her hair up in a bun and will change into a turn of the century dress when she gets out to King's Landing, the local heritage site where she works.

"And what sort of impression will it leave if he sees me working there. I've so far managed to show off my unconventional way of life by outright saying that I'm running a charity; not just sponsoring it, and he'll be seeing me tomorrow at the community centre, what will his grandparents think if they see me at the Landing as well?"

"Who cares? Diana worked in a day care, didn't sh-ee-he-he," Jess finishes as she picks up the morning paper.

I look over her shoulder and gasp. There, on the front cover, is the picture of William and me dancing, him whispering in my ear.

"You never told me about this," is all Jess says.

I shake my head as I grab the paper to read the caption. It really doesn't do much for my reputation with the Queen, making it seem like I'm after a crown.

"I didn't-no, that's not true, I saw the flash. He was saying I look beautiful when I smile."

"How is it that you always manage to find all the good guys?"

"Just unlucky I guess. The ones I've found all have ropes attached. First an early death, and now a crown. Besides that, they are perfect."

I throw the paper on the floor by the door. "Let's go. Mom will be calling while we're on the road, if I know her."

The two of us hop in the elevator and drive out of the city. There is one wonderful characteristic to being chauffer to my friends. I get to enjoy the woods that cover this land. I spent some time visiting family on the prairies and gained a new respect for our trees. They are beautiful.

Jess and I chat on the drive and just as I predicted my cell rings. We exchange a smile as I grab the phone and turn it on.

"Hey, Mom. I'm on the road right now, driving Jess to the Landing. Can I call you back?" I say without waiting for her to speak.

"King's Landing?" a familiar male voice, with the most mystifying accent says. I can feel my face turning red. "I'd rather meet you there."

"William?" I say disbelief and embarrassment ringing through my voice. Jess bursts into laughter beside me. Obviously, she figured out who I was talking to.

"Good guess," he says with a smile in his voice. "Will you meet me at King's Landing?"

"You're going to get sick of me. I got a message last night saying you are going to the community centre I work in tomorrow." I shoot Jess a dirty look as she continues to giggle at me.

"Then I guess that means I won't be able to go riding with you tomorrow morning," he says, but there is hope in his voice.

Damn him! Damn him, damn him, damn him! How can he worm his way so wonderfully into my life?

"I'll meet you in the Ingraham House. It'll probably be one of the last houses you visit. You'll know it by the gardens."

"Alright. I'll see you there," he agrees and hangs up.

I turn off my phone and say to Jess, "Looks like I'll be joining you after all."

"Good. I was hoping for more of a chance to see the royals than just showing them around. You'll play the piano, right?"

"Only until they get near the house. I'm not nearly skilled enough to perform in front of the Queen!"

"You're nuts. You have to play while they're here. Please? The house just isn't the same without your music."

"Fine. But I'm making sure they arrive at the end of the song. I'm not playing an entire piece."

"If you insist. Now, what dress should we put you in? Definitely one that will emphasize your beautiful bod, but not seem obvious that is the purpose. And I'll be sure to do your hair in a gorgeous bun. You'll be stunning."

"As long as you don't put me in that bird cage, again. How did our grandparents stand those things?"

"They're great for the posture. But I know what you mean, I hate them too. Too bad we are playing high class some-bodies who always wore the damn things. Take the next exit. It'll get us closer to the costume department."

I switch lanes and turn down the drive Jess intended. As we pull in, a harried site manager jumps out of his office and runs over to our car.

"Jess! It's about time! The royal entourage is expected in half an hour. Everyone is supposed to greet them at the gate," he says as we step out of the car.

"He must have called you right before he left then, Gen," Jess says to me, ignoring her boss. She had been working her for years, and the two were close friends.

"Or they're late. I don't think William would be calling right before he left the hotel," I say to Jess, and then turn to the site manager. "You don't mind if I hang out with Jess at the Ingraham House, today, do you, Dave?"

"You know I normally wouldn't have any problems with the idea, but today, Gen, I don't know if security would let me. Not so you can meet the prince."

Jess bursts into laughter. "Meet him? More like marry him!"

I just shake my head at her. Dave has a lost look on his face and I take pity on him. "You haven't had a chance to see today's paper yet, have you?" I ask.

"No, I've been too busy. Why?"

Jess wraps an arm around my shoulder. "Our little Gen has managed to attract some high ranking attention. Namely Prince William. The two of them are on the cover of the paper in a, uh, enviable position."

Dave looks at me.

"He was leaning over to talk to me when someone managed to get a picture of us! We were dancing!"

"Well, after a night out with him I can't really say no. Now go change, both of you. I'll see you out front."

* * *

A beautiful melody fills my ears as we walk towards the yellow house with beautiful gardens. This must be where I'll get to see Gen. She wasn't in the reception line, but her friend that had been with her at the airport handed me a note from her explaining why she wasn't there. It wouldn't do for us to be seen together again here, and then tomorrow at the community centre. At the end of the note she added, "P.S. I would love to go riding with you. Just name the time." She then wrote an address and some instructions on how to get there.

"This is the Ingraham House. Built in 1840 it has been restored to its 1890 condition," our guide tells us.

It's a beautiful house. And air conditioned! I rejoice as we step inside. I can finally see who was playing the song as we enter. Grandmother seems pleased by the music and applauds as Gen strikes the last chord. We all follow suit.

She rises, a soft blush playing upon her cheeks, and curtsies. I smile at her and her cheeks raise a hue.

"Welcome to the Ingraham House," another woman says, coming down the hall.

"Mrs. Ingraham!" our guide says. "It's wonderful to see you. And I see your sister is visiting from Fredericton. How are you today, Miss Delarier?"

"I'm having a delightful visit. It seems you have some guests with you as well. I don't believe we have met," she says in Grandmother's direction.

"Then you are in for a surprise, my dear. This is her royal Majesty the Queen Elizabeth and her husband Phillip. Also, their grandson, Prince William."

Both ladies gave a deep curtsy and a gently, "Your Majesties".

"It is an honor to have you in our humble home, your Highness. Please, allow me to show you around," ‘Mrs. Ingraham' says.

"I would be delighted," Grandmother says. Then she adds, "You play beautifully, Miss Delarier."

"Thank you, your Majesty."

"If you will follow me," Ingraham says, leading us to the staircase. "Please watch for the steep climb."

Grandmother and Grandfather follow behind her but I choose to stay on the main floor.

"Aren't you going to be missed?" Gen asks.

"Perhaps," I say off-handedly.

"This is one of the most beautiful houses in the town. Do you not want a tour?" she asks, her eyes going to our guide for the briefest of moments.

"Are you offering?" I ask, playfully.

"If that is what you wish."

I offer her an arm which she accepts. "Then lead on, my lady."

She leads me around the main floor then up the stairs to the second, pointing out key features around the house. As we return downstairs, we meet up with ‘Mrs. Ingraham' and my grandparents again.

"There you are, Gen," she says. "Will you and the prince join us for lemonade in the gardens?"

Gen looks up at me to see my opinion, and though I mask my lack of desire to join them she seems to read it anyway.

"Are there enough chairs?" she says, concern seemingly in her voice. She is a good actress.

"You do have a point. We can always bring some out from the kitchen," Ingraham adds.

At this I step in. "There is no need to trouble yourself, Mrs. Ingraham. This countryside of yours is quite beautiful. If Miss Delarier doesn't mind, I would enjoy a walk around the grounds."

"I would be delighted, your highness."

"With your permission," I direct at Grandmother.

She nods. "Have a delightful walk, my dears."

Gen curtsies and I nod my head before we leave. We walk down the pathway in silence for a bit, just enjoying the view and each other's company. I decide to break the silence.

"You take a wonderful picture, you know."

She blushes and turns her head away. "Thank you," she says quietly.

"Is something wrong?" I ask.

I bet I'm moving too fast for her. Until three days ago, we had never met. Until last night, the only man in her life still held her heart in mourning.

And here I am taking every possible opportunity to be with her. Whenever I ask to see her, she says yes, of course, but is that just because I have rank and propriety demands it?

"Nothing that can be fixed," Gen answers. "I just feel like a bit of an idiot after our conversation this morning."

Oh! Well that isn't a problem.

"I don't see any problem with it. Your friend does laugh at the oddest things, though," I say, smiling at her and wrapping my arms around her tiny waist. "No wonder you have had such perfect posture today," I add, feeling the corset she wore. "I wondered why you were leaning more on me than into the stairs."

"It isn't too tightly cinched. It's not as bad as some I've worn."

"Do you do this often?"

She looks away from me towards the horizon. "I would come out on the really busy weekends and help out." Loneliness fills her voice, and she looks back at me. "Jess has been working here since she was old enough to hold a job."

I look at her eyes. A bit of the sadness has returned to them. She's remembering something, or rather someone.

"You spent a lot of time here with Scott?"

Gen nods sadly. "We worked the Ingraham House together. Mr. Ingraham had built this house for his wife during the summer to get away from New York. They were a beautiful couple and we enjoyed bringing them back to life. We had some good times here."

I hold her tighter in a hug to show my thankfulness to her for telling me about everything. After a moment, she pulls away, more of the smile back in her eyes than there had been all day.

"Have you met Captain Bill yet? I'm sure he would enjoy a visit," she asks, then laughs, "and a chance to get a word in about the paper."

She leads me down a pathway through the woods to the shore of the river. Laughing, she calls out to the captain of the small vessel we find at the dock. An older sailor comes out and smiles when he sees us.

"Is that you, Gen? It's been a long time since you last visited us out here," he says as he hugs Gen. "And is this the same young man I saw your picture in the paper with? It's a pleasure to meet you, sir. Anyone who can cheer this one deserves more than his due." Rather than the customary bow everyone else gives me, Bill offers his hand. I smile and shake it.

"Bill!" Gen chastises the old seaman. I don't know whether it is for his comments or his actions.

"It's good to see some spark in ya, darlin'," Bill says. "When are you expected back at the house?"

"We should probably start back. I wish we could visit with you more, Bill."

"Why don't I walk with the two of you part of the way back. I have to set out soon, I have a shipment to get to St. John's today, but I can spare ten minutes, I think. The tides don't shift that of fast."

I smile and agree to the company, though I wish it could be just the two of us. The captain proves delightful company. The mood stays light throughout the conversation, but I can sense there is a passionately serious side to the weather worn old man. Soon the captain says his goodbyes and we continue on our way, but not before Bill takes me aside.

"I don't mean to sound presumptuous, highness," he starts when we are away from Gen, the first time he actually acknowledges my station, "but whether you are intending to or not, you are having a large affect on Gen's life. Our families are very close, and I've watched that girl grow. Since the accident, though, she hasn't been the same. Today she is closer to what she was like before than ever, and it's because of you. What I'm saying is that I don't want to see her hurt, and I certainly hope you aren't leading her on."

I can't help but smile at this man. Not even my teachers are willing to confront me, and here he is standing up for a girl, woman, who isn't even his own. Gen certainly is lucky to have so much love surrounding her.

"You have nothing to worry about, Captain. Gen is having the same affect on me. I would never hurt her. Honestly, I would like her to come with me for the rest of the tour," I pause for a moment. It is true. I would love to spend this trip with Gen at my side. But if the press ever got wind, it would be a complete disaster. "Unfortunately, that wouldn't be good for either of us in the public eye."

"Then you'll be leaving her behind when you leave Friday," he says accusingly.

"Physically, yes, but it won't be easy to forget her. And I don't really want to. I would like to come back and spend more time with her. Hopefully it will be possible."

The captain smiles at this. "I think that Gen will agree. Treat her well, sire. She is our princess."

I nod and move over to where Gen stood in conversation with another of the actresses I met today. She says goodbye to her friend and then turns to Bill.

"I hope you didn't pick on William too much, Bill."

"Not at all," I answer.

"No more than I do any of you girls' beaux the first time I meet ‘em. Come and see us again soon, Gen."

Gen moves to hug the old man and I feel the loss instantly.

"I'll try Bill, I'll try," I hear her say. She then moves back to my side, though I don't wrap my arm around her again.

"It was a pleasure to meet you, William. I hope I'll see more of you," he held out his hand and I took it. He is being himself around me, and I genuinely appreciate it.

"Thank you. The feeling is mutual."

Gen proceeds to lead us back to the house and we quietly talk.

* * *

We watch Bill turn and walk back towards his boat then leave on our own way back. William turns towards me and smiles.

"I'm glad you introduced me to him. I don't think I've ever met anyone like Bill."

"He's pretty original," I agree. "He and my Dad were neighbors as kids and he and his wife are my sister's and my godparents. Their kids and the two of us grew up together. They are like family."

A forlorn look appears on William's face as I finish speaking and look from the trees to him. "William?" I ask. "Did I say something?"

He stops walking and turns to me. I follow his actions immediately.

"You could never say anything wrong to me, Gen. There are just some things, that I wish, I could *share* with you."

I look into his eyes as he tries to explain his feelings. His words struggle to portray something which can only really be felt, and while he is doing a pretty good job, his eyes tell me everything. God, there is such depth there. And pain. No, not so much pain as loneliness. He hasn't exactly had the fullest life. There is something in those eyes that leaves me wanting to share all the joy I know this world has.

William tries to explain further, but I gently place a finger on his lips, silencing him. His startled eyes look into my own and understanding fills them, pushing back the loneliness. Silently he reaches up and takes the hand I'm holding to his face in his own. Gently he turns my hand and kisses my fingertips. My heart just about stops. I haven't felt this way for what seems like the longest time.


No. I can't think about him. As much as I hate it, he is dead. William is here, alive and apparently committed. He never would have gotten past Bill if he wasn't. It's time to move on. And if I can't be with Scott, I will find someone he would approve of. I will not forget, but it is time to move on.

I smile shyly and blush when Wills looks up from my hand. God, how can he do this to me? Everything just feels so natural.

"I don't want this to end," Wills states. "This time I've had here with you has been the most wonderful time I've spent with anyone." I try to speak but Wills cuts me off in a similar fashion to how I stopped him before. "Please, let me finish. There is something special between us, Gen, but I don't know how we'll be able to let it grow. My life doesn't lend itself to relationships well. In another few days, I'll be moving on to another province, and then I'm back to England for school. But I want to try. There have been a lot of things I've given up for ‘God and Country' but I can't give up whatever we may have."

Mutely, I stood looking into his eyes while he spoke, just wanting to talk, but now I find myself at a loss for words. Gradually I shake myself from my stupor and begin to speak.

"I know it will be difficult, but I don't know if I could go back to life before you entered it, or that I would want to. I'm willing to go through a few hardships if it means we can see where this goes."

Wills wraps his arms around me, his happiness at my view apparent as he holds me close, and honestly, I am just as glad to see our relationship progressing. Wrapping my own arms around his waist, I rest my head on his chest. This feels so right, so natural. I don't want it to end. But, of course, time soon catches up with us and Wills moves away slightly so we can resume our walk back to the house. For a little way we walk in silence, but soon Wills begins to speak.

"This is something I don't want to do to you Gen, but if we make any public appearances together I can almost guarantee you that the paparazzi will begin swarming. They are something I have had to deal with all my life, and while you shouldn't have to, I'm afraid you are going to."

"Don't worry about me. Cameras may not be the highlight of being with you, but as long as I can be with you, I am happy," I re-assure him. Actually, it might be kind of exciting having the cameras around. It they stick around long enough maybe the charity will get some publicity.

"Are you certain?" he asks, looking into my eyes.

"Absolutely. Everyone has to give up some things in life. I'll just have to make sure my hair and make-up are perfect before going out now."

Wills smiles.

"If you don't mind all the attention that leaves us with how public we even want to be. With us being on opposite sides of the ocean, my visiting you would set off a fury. Even over the next few days, any time we spend in the public eye will put a flame under the media's butt. I'm afraid that once they realize we are together they will never leave you alone, just as they did with my mother. In my opinion, you take a better picture than she did."

I blush at his compliment. "Thank you, Wills. I don't mind them, but I don't know how much of the time we get together I want to share with them. Like you said, we don't have the greatest conditions around us for this to work."

I look up and realize we are almost back to the house. I have my arm looped through Wills', a perfectly acceptable position, so I leave it there. Wills also seems to notice where we are as he turns to me and asks, "Are you ready to ‘meet' my grandparents? We can wait if you want."

Ack! I'm terrified now. The prince of England wants to introduce me to his grandparents. You normally think of the guy being nervous to meet his girlfriend's family. What is it with me and finding guys where the case is vastly reversed? God, I'm going to be introduced to Queen Elizabeth. I wonder if this is how Di felt?

My grip on Wills arm must have tightened because he stopped us walking and looked into my eyes. He has gorgeous eyes. "We'll wait. Don't worry about it, Gen," he whispers.

"No," I say more forcefully than I thought I could have. "I won't lie and say this isn't terrifying, but if we wait it will only be worse. Besides, I have a feeling your grandparents will be more accepting if we tell the out here than anywhere else on your tour."

Lowering his head, he rests it on my own. "You are amazing, you know that?"

I giggle. "Not that amazing," I say, holding up my shaking hand. "And if we don't do this soon I may just turn and run."

It is Wills turn to laugh as he wraps his arm around my waist and begins to lead us to the house. As we reach the gate to the garden, I sigh, forcing all the tension out of my body and putting on my society face. Wills opens the gate for me and gives my waist an encouraging squeeze. We walk up the pathways of the garden to where everyone sits having tea. As we approach Prince Phillip, Jess and Dave rise. It is so odd to have this. Wills bows to his grandmother and I curtsy to her and then her husband.

"Did you have pleasant walk, William?" Elizabeth asks.

Wills glances at me and smiles. "Very. They have a beautiful countryside over here. And I couldn't ask for better company. I believe you have met Miss Genevieve Delarier Hudson?"

"You are the same young lady our grandson spent so much time with last night, are you not?" the Queen asks me.

"Yes, your majesty," I answer gently.

Prince Phillip seems to have caught on to what Wills is doing and smiles at the two of us.

"I didn't get a chance to tell you last night, but you are a wonderful dancer, Miss Hudson," he says, his way of showing approval, I guess.

"Thank you, your highness," a simple answer for a simple compliment.

Somehow, my responses, or lack thereof, impress Elizabeth and she invites me to join their group. Jess seems to realize the importance of this action and offers me her chair and asks Dave to help her get two more chairs from the kitchen. Quite suddenly, I find myself alone with the royal family. Wills is the first to speak.

"Grandmother, I would like to ask your blessing on our courtship. We both realize that it won't be under normal conditions, and that there will be many challenges along the way, but want to try. Please, give us your blessing."

Wills takes hold of my hand as he finishes speaking. His eyes hold a desperation I've never seen in a full grown man's before. They are almost begging for the Queen's blessing.

Elizabeth seems to realize this, and Wills' unspoken pleas are probably all that kept us from being shot down immediately.

"You leave me in a bit of a position, Wills. Miss Hudson, somehow you have managed to capture my grandson's attention, and while he seems to be prepared to try this, I do not know anything about you. I won't forbid you to see each other, but, I'm sorry Wills, while I know so little about you, Miss Hudson, I can neither give nor deny you permission."

Wills' shoulders sag a minute bit, and a little of the sparkle goes out of his eyes, but there is still hope. Personally, I can understand where the Queen is coming from. This is the first time I've really met her. At least she didn't say no.

"I understand," Wills says quietly. "May I have your permission to miss an appearance or two in order to spend some time with Genevieve?"

Elizabeth does not seem shocked by this proposal and agrees provided they aren't too numerous, and not high profile. Wills agrees, and mentions a ride tomorrow morning. Elizabeth looks to her husband and he nods.

"You will be back when we go to the community center?" Phillip asks.

Wills smiles and squeezes my hand a little tighter. "We will have to be."

At the Queen's puzzled look, I explain, "I volunteer there with the reading program."

Jess and Dave appear from the house with a couple of kitchen chairs, Jess giving me a questioning look. I respond with an "I'll tell you later" look and she nods.

"You must be very busy then. You work here, don't you?"

"Only when it is particularly busy. For the last year though I have put most of my energy into a summer riding camp for under privileged children," I answer, hoping it won't be too scandalous. Personally, I don't see the point in my trying to increase my own wealth when I can put my energy towards helping others. Some may say survival of the fittest, but I don't think children should suffer because their parents don't make enough. Anyway, all the money I have will just sit collecting dust. I'm just putting it towards a good cause.

The Queen actually seems pleased. Well, I suppose a woman organizing a charity is better than a student working through university at a heritage site is. I wonder if it is better than just a student would be?

"A riding camp? That sounds like something that would be available to the higher class. How is it that you have made it cost little enough so the under privileged can afford it?" she asks.

"There has been a lot of work to it, but with donations of time and money, and a few extra horses, I am able to provide a free seven day camp to twenty kids each week of the summer. All the instructors are volunteering their time, and the Hudson's have given their stables for it. Starting the first week of July I'll be out riding every day."

"You must love children to put this much effort towards a camp for them," Prince Phillip questions.

"I certainly enjoy their love of life. Many of the children I work with at the center have seen more of the dark side of this world than I care to imagine, but they still act like children from a middle class family in suburbia; playing, laughing and living. Recently I have had some major changes in my life, but the kids gave me something to keep going for. I want to give something back to them."

Elizabeth sends a questioning look at Wills when I mention the ‘changes' in my life, but he ignores it. This can't be easy for him either. I hope he doesn't get chewed out too severely when he leaves. I probably just set off a bunch of alarms with that last line. Didn't Di have some hidden demons she brought into her marriage? Sigh.

* * *

Poor Gen. She is being interrogated by them. She is one of the strongest people I have ever met. I hope Grandmother sees that. Gen is the perfect woman to become Queen. I can't believe I'm thinking like this. We just met three days ago and I'm already considering marriage. She certainly is something.

Since the others have returned to the table, grandmother and grandfather have stopped with their investigation and a polite conversation continues until grandfather declares that we must move along. We have other engagements we must get to. We all rise and I tell them to go on ahead of me. I'll catch up. Gen understands and leads us away from the others.

"Gen, you are amazing," I say.

She blushes. Oh, what a beautiful blush. "Thank you, Wills, but I really-"

"Sh," I cut her off. "I have no doubt that you impressed them. Once grandmother gets to know you better we will have her complete blessing."

Gen just smiles at me and I hug her. I don't want to leave her. God, please let grandmother see how important Gen is becoming to me. "I have to go," I say, pulling myself away from her. "When and where should I meet you for that ride?"

"Out at the Hudson's farm. It's on that note. Your driver should know where it is. We have to be in the city early enough for you to meet up with your grandparents on the way to the center, so we'll have to leave by quarter to ten. How long do you want to ride for?"

"As long as we can. Would seven be too early for you?" I ask. I have been getting up at early hours all my life. I just don't want to make Gen get up early if she isn't used to it.

"You're letting me sleep in. I used to catch the bus before then," she jokes.

Thank God. "I'll see you in the morning then," I say, turning and beginning to walk away.

"I'll see you," Gen calls.

I turn and wave then jog to catch up with my tour group. As I re-join them, Grandmother finally gives me the look I've been expecting since I walked up with Gen. "We are going to have a long talk later" radiates from her face. I don't really care and just smile at her. There is absolutely nothing she can do for now, and forbidding me from seeing Gen is something she knows better than to try. And Gen did a wonderful job of selling herself. She couldn't have shown how wonderful she is any better if she tried. She is amazing.

Time progresses and after a meal in the hotel and some traditional festivities, we leave ‘the Landing' as Gen calls it. Grandmother can finally say what she has wanted to since I presented Gen to her.

When we are securely in the car and on our way, Gran turns to me, "Wills, I realize that you seem to think that there is something between you and this young lady, but there is barely any chance that you could carry on a relationship with her. I can't see how you expect me to give my blessing to your courtship when for the majority of the time you will be on opposite sides of the Atlantic. It just isn't practical."

I sigh and look at her from across the limo. "I know that it won't be easy. We both have thought about it. Please don't worry about me, Gran, if this isn't meant to be, I'll deal, but if it is… Considering how we have just connected, I'm willing to take any chances I have to. Will you give me the chance, though?" I ask, sending a prayer up to any and all listening deities.

"Do you truly realize how difficult it is going to be? You can't just jump in the car and take off for a weekend to see each other. There will be no possible way to keep this out of the media's attention if you ever decide to visit her over here. Your phone isn't guaranteed secure, if you call her as much as I expect, and someone gets hold of that… Your young lady is something special, I saw that while she spoke, but will she be able to handle the pressure the media will put on her? And she will have pressure put on her. Your mother brought that to a large extent, and you now have it. Everything is focused on you right now, but it will transfer to any prospective love interest. What can you do to help her deal with that attention if you are half way around the world?"

"What could I do for her if she were in England?" I counter. I wasn't lying when I said I'd thought this through. Gen may not fully realize what she is in for, but I have known for years. When Mom was alive, she told Harry and me to be careful of the women we associate with. There are many who want a title, lots who want the press, and most of the real good ones can't handle the cameras. There are very few special ones we will meet who aren't any of these that just want the right guy. She told us to make sure we found that one ‘perfect' woman. Otherwise, we would regret it for the rest of our life. There is a reason many of my family has been viewed as playboys. We can't trust women. But I trust Gen. She has such honest emotions, and is more open with me than she is with anyone, I think. She's got strength of character, and nothing will take that from her. Not Scott's death and definitely not having the press follow her.

"Gran, no matter where we are, there is no way I could protect her from the facts of our lives. And I don't want to try either. It wouldn't be fair to her. Anyone who I date is stuck with the whole package, crown, press and all. If I try to protect her from them, it is as if I am keeping a part of who I am from her. I would feel like I was lying to her."

Grandmother nods. I can't read her expression with the poor lighting from here, but I'm guessing she has a skeptical look on her face. I know she isn't finished trying to talk me out of this, so I sit quietly, waiting for her. After a moment, she tries again.

"What did she mean when she said she's had some changes in her life?"

Where did that come from? That is something I never expected. "I don't know if it is my place to tell you that," I say. "It's personal." Though I know you'll find out as soon as you get a file put together on her.

Grandmother gives me a skeptical look, knowing the same thing. "Will it come back to haunt you?"

Will it? From what I've seen, she realizes that he is gone and is starting to get on with life. For some reason I don't think Scott will ever be a big problem between us. He probably would have been her husband if it weren't for the accident. When I first found out about him I was envious that he could have such a wonderful woman, I'll admit. But I will never wish him out of her life. There is very little I know about him, but I know he was a good man, worthy of her love.

No, this won't come back to haunt me. Gen can talk about this with me whenever she wants; she is free to discuss anything she wants with me. Setting my face determinably, I shake my head.

"No, she is continuing with life, and whenever she wants to talk about it, I'll listen."

Grandmother just sits there. She doesn't acknowledge that she heard me, and when grandfather puts his hand over hers, she just continues to look out the window. Finally, several minutes after I answered her question, she spoke, "If everything you say is true, you have my blessing."

She said it so quietly that I barely heard her, but it was clear as day what she said. Stunned, I say quietly, "Thank you," and we ride the rest of the way to our next engagement in silence.

* * *

I call after Wills as he walks away and he turns and waves before jogging to catch up with the rest of his group. I watch them go up and over the hill then turn to go help Jess with cleaning up.

I find her in the garden loading up a tray with the tea set she had used to serve the royals. Not wanting to surprise her while she held a couple thousand dollars worth of china, I moved slowly and noisily. She looked up and smiled at me.

"Did things go well?"

Taking the tray from her, I answer, "If having the crown prince of England introduce you to his grandmother and ask her for permission to court you, yes." I don't know how I keep a straight face as I say that.

"What?!" she exclaims.

I nod, letting the smile start to show.

"What did she say? Are you and Prince William officially a couple?" she asks excitedly.

"Well, she didn't say yes or no, exactly. She claimed she needed more time to get to know me. It was *so* terrifying!"

"And…" she says expectantly.

"And what?" I ask, innocently.

"And are you a couple?"

Carrying the tray into the kitchen as Jess carries the extra chairs she brought out, I explain, "We have permission to see each other. Wills can miss a few minor engagements so we can see each other while he's here. So, I guess, in most respects, yeah, we are together."

"Ha ha!" she calls. "This is totally awesome! My best is dating the hottest piece of meat to even come close to sitting on the throne, ever. You actually have a *prince* charming now. Ah! So what's he like?"

"Strong. Everything about him radiates this power. He has been raised to be a king. But even with that, he has this gentleness to him. Any time he moves to hold me, it seems like he's holding a glass slipper. Only, I feel more like a feather. He is so controlled. A real gentleman."

"Sounds dull," Jess mutters as we begin to wash the dishes.

I shake my head. "Not at all. The manners can get a little irritating, but in time I'll probably get used to them, and he will become more aware I'm *not* a ‘lady'. Wills is a wonderful listener, I feel like I can say anything to him, and he feels the same way. He's taking things slow. I think he's afraid of scaring me away. I think I flinched a time too much last night. But, being with him, it just feels so right."

Jess looks at me, smiling to see me happy, and especially interested in a guy, and asks, "So when are you seeing him again?"

I blush. "Tomorrow morning. He's coming out to the farm and we're going for a ride, then we're going back into the city so he can meet up with his grandparents before going to the centre."

"Your mom will be so happy. Will you spend tonight at home? Carly will definitely want details."

"That kid had better keep quiet, though. I don't think it would be good if this got to the press too early. Wills will feel so awful. His mother was so tormented by them, he is probably afraid I won't be able to handle them. He's wonderfully protective of me," I sigh.

Jess gives me a questioning look, saying, "There must be a story to this one," leaving me having to explain.

"As we were coming back here he asked me if I was ready to meet his grandparents. I was terrified. My grip on his arm must have tightened because almost immediately after he suggested it he looked at me and said we would wait. Of course, I quickly said no, but it is so nice to know that he is so concerned, and aware, about me."

"Good grief, girl. You have it made. How on Earth do you find these guys?"

Scott. With all the excitement, I have totally pushed him behind me. But that is what I need to do. It is time to move on and Wills is here to help me do that. I just hope I can. I don't want a relationship built around getting over an old one. As nice as it is to have Wills here to help me I don't want him to. His understanding is all I need. Anything else because of Scott is unwanted. But if he's there for me, because of me, who I am I to say no?

Scott, give me the knowledge and strength to move on. Get it through my thick skull that it is possible to love another.

"Gen, you alright? Your face suddenly changed."

Oops. "Yeah, I'm alright. Just thinking."

"About Scott. I'm sorry, Gen. I shouldn't have-"

"No. It's past time I started to move on. You've know that for a long time. Odd as it may sound, I don't think I would be able to if it weren't for Wills. Scott isn't here anymore. He will always have a place in my heart, but he can't keep it all anymore. I don't know how I know, but I know that Wills and I are meant to be together. I've only known him for a few days, but he is already taking parts of my heart that were reserved for the living Scott."

"Does princy realize how bad you've got it?"

"I think so. And I think he returns it. He's being very careful, though."

"He doesn't want you to go running," Jess assesses truthfully. "Well, you did back off the first time he tried to make a move. You took a little while to warm up to his advances."

I sigh. "Honestly, I just want him to make his move and get it over with. Ya know, get past the tension. It's not like we are feeling out how far we want this to go. Hell, we've already talked that one out. We kind of had to, if he was going to approach his grandparents about us. We're in it for the long haul.

"Jess, what am I doing?"

"Rambling," she jests. "You're falling in love. Again. It's a good thing too. You've been too much of a robot lately. What are you going to do when he leaves next week?"

"Spend hours on the phone and fork out a ton of doe for the bill. It'll take some getting used to, but we want it to work. On holidays I'll go visit him."

We have finished cleaning up and now move into the parlor to talk.

"Won't he come visit you?"

"When our relationship is well known to the press, probably, but until then I'll be the one doing the traveling. I don't mind, though. England is beautiful."

"Especially when you're in love."

"That's France, dear," I laugh. "And not yet, but I'm working on it."

God, I am. Wills is very quickly becoming a key part of my life. Just like Scott was.

I smile as a thought occurred to me. Everyone thought Scott and I moved quickly. It was nearly two weeks before he introduced me to his parents. It hasn't even been two days and Wills has already spoken to his grandmother about our courtship. It may sound outdated, but for a family that's only power comes from tradition, it's very serious. Like declaring you are going steady in high school, public embraces, all out make-out behind closed doors.

I wonder how far Wills wants to go? Somehow, I know it won't be too far. He is from a breed of gentlemen you don't see much anymore. He isn't about to do something he will later regret. Oh, but if we ever get that far I bet he'd be a magnificent lover. I don't have much experience there, hell, I'm a virgin, but even in the way he treats me, he'll make an excellent partner.

Jess and I chatter for a bit then go and get changed and head home. Mom, predictably, is thrilled and we spend hours going over everything from the last two days. Finally, I go to bed anticipating what tomorrow will bring.

* * *