A Changing Love

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Chapter 12 - Aftermath

Nathalie’s POV

After my coronation on Friday, I spent the rest of the weekend with my family before they had to fly back to Denmark on Sunday afternoon. I had them moved to the palace, making it easier for us to see each other. My grandma disappeared for most of the weekend and coincidently so did the King. They had a lot of catching up to do after being separated for over 40 years, so I don’t blame her for not spending that much time with the rest of us.

I got to show Selene the palace, although I am not all that familiar with it yet. I have only been here 2 times before this past week. Selene was ecstatic about everything, she especially loved the library where we spent a lot of our time reading some of the old fairy tales that we found. My mother also went into the city to explore the Monacan culture but I didn’t join her. I watched a movie with my father and Selene instead.

However, on Saturday evening we all ate dinner together. That includes my father, mother, sister, grandma, King Florestan, and me. I found it rather awkward at first considering I had to act like the Princess I am but I also had to act like the daughter I am to my parents. After a while, the tension vanished a bit probably because Selene wouldn’t stop talking and asking the King all sorts of questions. I have to admit it was kind of amusing to watch his face when she threw 12 questions at him at once. But he took it with a smile and answered as many as he could. I could see him looking at grandma from time to time and smiling at her and she always returned his smile. Their eyes were full of love and I could see that they loved each other more than they let others see. I couldn’t blame them. Their marriage had been broken, not by will but by force. I know that grandma has not been with anyone since she left Monaco. She told me when I was a kid that my grandfather was the love of her life and that she never looked at another man. I used to admire the love that they shared and I was always sad that grandma didn’t have my grandfather anymore. Now I know why, and it’s clear that their love for each other never left even though they had to leave each other.

I know that it’s hard for grandma to leave after seeing the King again when it’s been so many years since they last saw each other. I now stand outside the airport where I said goodbye to my family, for now. It might only be for a couple of days, but the reality sinks in that in 8 months it won’t be for a few days but months. Jeremiah drives us back to the palace and I see a lot of people looking and waving at the car as we drive by. Considering I am in a car that is formal and have the Monacan flags attached in the front, I don’t blame them. They all know that it’s someone important meaning myself or the King. Only official members of the royal family are allowed to drive a car that has the Monacan flag.

We reach the palace and I already see Sir Bisalion waiting for me outside the entrance to the palace. As the car comes to a stop a guard opens my door for me and I step out and walk the steps to where Sir Bisalion is waiting. He has a stern look on his face which means that whatever he has to say is serious and that it isn’t a friendly visit.

“Your Highness,” he says in his monotone and formal voice.

“Sir Bisalion,” I simply say but with a smile. Before she left my mother gave me a talk about how I had to be nice to those around me, even though I do not wish to be here, it’s not the workers’ fault. She is right. It’s not that I have been mean to anyone, I might just sometimes be lost in thought and I don’t acknowledge everyone around me. So when someone says hello to me, I might not always notice, but that is about to change. I know that I can’t do anything about me being the princess, so even though I am miserable I don’t have to make those around me feel the same. I will try to be positive, welcoming, and do what I can so that people aren’t afraid of me. I have to say that it gets lonely in the palace when you don’t have any friends or anyone to talk to. I could call Kat but she would never be able to fully understand my situation.

“If you would follow me, Your Highness, the King has requested your presence in his office,” Sir Bisalion says and immediately he starts walking towards the stairs without even hearing my answer. I guess he doesn’t care whether or not I want to meet the King, but when he summons me, I have to go see him. I mean, he is the King.

This time I don’t bother responding to Sir Bisalion and simply follow him up the steps and to the left where the King’s office is at the end of one of the many hallways. As we reach the office’s large oak double doors Sir Bisalion knocks firmly but not too loud. A knock I am sure he has practiced and perfected over the years.

“Enter,” comes the simple answer from the other side of the door, and Sir Bisalion pushes open the door and walks in holding the door for me and waiting for me to enter. I walk past Sir Bisalion and I look at the King sitting behind his large wooden desk that is stacked with papers on one side. Along the walls of his office are high bookshelves that on one side of the room is filled with books, some old some new, and on the other side of the room they are filled with binders all containing official documents regarding the Kingdom. Behind his chair is a wall with a big window to let in lots of light. In front of his desk sits two leather chairs and I sit in the one on the right, while Sir Bisalion takes the one on the left. The King looks up from the papers he was reading and acknowledges our presence.

“Nathalie, glad to see you’re back from the airport. I trust that the family arrived safely at the airport?” he asks me with a small glean in his eyes. He is happy at the mention of our family. I also notice that he didn’t address them as MY family but as THE family. He considers himself as a part of our family now that he has finally met them.

“Of course, Your Majesty,” I tell him with a gentle voice and a smile on my face. After this weekend I feel closer to him, but he’s still the King and I have to address him accordingly. I might feel closer to him, but it’s a long journey before I will begin to call him my grandfather.

“Splendid. Now, I called you here because tomorrow you will be participating in a series of interviews with different journalists from the country that would like to get to know you. You will be meeting four different journalists and each will have ten minutes of your time. They have been briefed on which matters they are allowed to ask you about and I have restricted them from asking about your personal life in Denmark. So unless you choose to tell them something about your life they are not to ask any questions. The last journalist will only be asking questions that the public has asked. There might be personal questions in those, but you can choose whether or not you will answer and how you answer those questions. It’s completely up to you.” he finishes informing me about the interview.

“Of course, Your Majesty,” I say to him still smiling, although at the prospect of me having to answer so many questions I am kind of nervous. I’ve never been a fan of people invading my personal life or simply asking me a lot of questions, so I’ll have to put on my smiling and sweet face while I’ll be dying inside because of my nerves.

“Good. I trust that Sir Bisalion has informed you of the correct way to answer journalist or other’s that ask you questions. Always in a formal tone never raise your voice and smile, be kind we want them to like you as it is their image of you that will be portrayed to the public,” he tells me again and I have to listen to his advice on how to answer journalists. Sir Bisalion did indeed already tell me all of this but I’m glad that he refreshed my memories.

“He has, Your Majesty” I answer his question about whether or not Sir Bisalion has taught me all of the skills required for this task.

“Excellent, William would you mind giving us a second? I will send her out afterward and you can brief her on the schedule,” the King says now direct towards Sir Bisalion.

“As you wish, Your Majesty” Sir Bisalion answers, and with that, he stands from his seat and walks through the doors and closes them when he was outside. I turn back to the King and I see that he is looking at me.

He doesn’t say anything for a few seconds, simply studying me. While he is studying me I am also trying to get a read on what he might be thinking. In his eyes, I see happiness, apprehension, fear, and a bit of sadness. It’s an odd combination and it makes me wonder what’s going on inside of his head. As he continues to remain silent I find myself becoming more nervous at the prospect of what he has to say to me. But just as my thought begins to spiral he breaks the silence.

“You know seeing Maggie again after all these years has been a wake-up call for me. She has always been the one to keep me grounded and make me feel a sense of normality. I’m afraid over the years without her guidance I have forgotten these qualities. For a man who once had it all, a wife, children, family, someone to call home, it changed me when they all had to leave. I didn’t feel like I had a home anymore. Maggie was and always will be my home. Spending the weekend with her and the rest of the family made me realize that although I do not have Maggie with me any longer, I have something else to keep me grounded and to ensure the connection with our family. I have you, Nathalie.” he says while his tone changes from sad to hopeful. I would have never expected to hear him express his thoughts and feeling to me. He has always been reserved, never speaking to me if it wasn’t official business.

“You’re the link to our family, to Maggie. It’s made me realize that the reason I never dared to speak to you was that you reminded me too much of the life I once had. It was painful to remember that life. However, after a talk with Maggie, she forced me to realize that by pushing you away I was also pushing the rest of the family away. That is something I do not wish to do. It’s also why I find it almost painful when you refer to me as Your Majesty or King. But I don’t blame you for calling me that. It is after all, what your training has taught you to do. I want to change that. From now on, if you feel comfortable with it, I would like for you to always address me as grandpa or Florestan. Whichever you feel most comfortable with. This is of course both in formal and informal situations. We are family, and I am not ashamed of that. Also, I would like for you to always speak your mind when talking, never hold anything back especially with me.” he finishes and I am shocked.

I never expected him to say anything like this. It has left me completely speechless and for a few minutes, I simply sit and process everything he has told me. It’s a lot to take in, but when I am ready I look at him again and see he has a worried expression on his face.

“Look I will be honest with you, it’s going to take some time for me to get used to all of this. In the beginning, I will probably only address you as Florestan. Now, this has nothing to do with how we have spoken to each other up till this point. It’s simply because I don’t know you yet. At least not enough to call you grandpa. However, I would like to at some point be comfortable enough to call you grandpa. So I will try. In regards to me speaking my mind, it won’t be a problem, at least not around you. Around other ministers and such it will take some time for me to get used to always speak my mind, but I realize that it’s something that I will have to learn if I am to one day be Queen.” I tell him and I gradually see him become happier and more joyful. I definitely made the right decision by allowing him to be more than just the King.

“Thank you, Nathalie. I appreciate you allowing me to be a part of your life. Also, here is my number for my personal telephone. You are always allowed to call or text me, even if you just want to talk about nothing important, you can “rant to me” as the youth calls it these days,” he tells me with a gleam in his eyes and I look at the small piece of paper in my hands that holds his number.

“Now I know how impatient William can be at times so you better go with him now before that old friend of mine throws a fit,” Florestan says while chuckling and I giggle at the way he talks about Sir Bisalion. I would never imagine Sir Bisalion as a man that gets impatient. He always seems like he has everything under control.

“You might laugh, but I can mention several occasions where he has rolled his eyes at world leaders when he thought that they were wasting his time,” Florestan tells me while laughing a little bit.

I hear a knock on the door and Florestan tells whoever it is to enter.

“Come on in William,” he says and I am surprised he can recognize the knock, but I guess that’s to be expected after over 40 years with them being friends. I see Sir Bisalion enter and he stands behind the chair he was sitting in earlier.

“I was just informing Nathalie of your impatience and your talent at rolling your eyes at world leaders. Apparently, you have been on your best behavior around her,” he jokes with Sir Bisalion.

“You know how much I despise those meetings where they simply talk about themselves for hours as if I have nothing better to do with my life. You know there is this cooking show I have been watching lately, you should give it a try Florestan. It might bring some excitement into your life. At least other than the excitement I bring to your life,” Sir Bisalion says and I am once again shocked. I have never heard him talk to Florestan that way and to hear that he loves cooking shows. Their teasing and laughter continue for a few minutes before they look at me again.

“I think we broke her William,” Florestan says with a grin on his face.

“It’s probably your bad humor that has left her shocked,” Sir Bisalion teases again.

“I would have never imagined the two of you being this close or casual with each other,” I tell them honestly.

“Well, I am his BFF. That’s Best Friend Forever in case you don’t know,” Sir Bisalion says and I break out laughing. The way he casually said BFF but with his crooked grin just made my facade break and I couldn’t hold in my laughter any longer. Those two are definitely friends.

“Alright, William stop teasing her. If I remember correctly you still have some work to do,” Florestand says still smiling.

“Well right you are, Florestan. After all, we can’t all be sitting on our behinds all day doing nothing like you. Come along princess, we better get some work done before he throws a fit,” Sir Bisalion says and with his final words, he turns around and starts walking towards the doors.

“I do more work than you do, you lazybum!” Florestan yells after Sir Bisalion. I simply stand up laughing and start following Sir Bisalion.

“See you later, Florestan,” I say while smiling at him.

“See you later, Nathalie.” He responds and with that I following Sir Bisalion through the halls of the palace.

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