It was early in the morning, not quite dawn yet, when the seventeen year-old Joe heard a knock on his window. Through the glass, he saw Clarisse, perched on the awning.
“A Queen does not climb trees.“, he told her, opening the window, and motioned for her to get out of the cold morning air.
The young woman leaped gracefully onto his bedroom floor and he could see the poise of the Queen she was going to be.
The next moment however, she was in his arms, shivering slightly and he placed his hand very gently on her back, while she buried her nose in his neck.
“I don’t want to be Queen.“, the eighteen year-old girl said in a muffled voice.
Joseph exhaled deeply, supressing the shiver her breath send over his skin.
“You are going to be a wonderul Queen, my darling. Beeing able to affect change in our country, isn't that ...“, he paused, trying not to speak his immediate thoughts out loud.
“You are everything Genovia could ask for in their Queen.“, he finally settled on.
His hand dropped from the back of her head to the sensitive place between her shoulderblades, when she moved to meet his gaze. Her blue orbs burning and freezing him simultaneously in the time it took her to look for the truth in his eyes.
“I can’t do this without you... I won’t.“
Her hand caressed his cheek, gentle eyes begging him to see.
“You won’t.“, Joseph said as a matter of fact.
Her forehead furrowed, as he placed his free hand to her chest.
“I am right here.“
Understanding lit in her pale freckled face, and when his eyes found hers again, her lips met his as well. And in a moment of weakness, he wrapped her tight in his arms, closed his eyes and answered her kiss, laced with all the passion he held for her. Kissing his lover goodbye.
"Will you help me?", she aked, when they parted, arms still wrapped around each other, hands clasped behind backs.
"Always.", he answered without a moments hesitation.
"Then run away with me, Joe.", Clarisse said, a new urgency in her tone, took a step back and cupped her hands around his. "Take me away. Don't let me marry another."
Joseph was shocked by her words, wanting so badly to do exactly as she asked, wanting to take her in his arms right there and then, whisk them away to a place no one would ever be able to find them. Disappear. Chase the waterfalls around the world. Count the stars high and low. Let themselves be led by the summer air.
His eyes met hers, promting a sigh from the young woman.
"Fine. Then I'll do it on my own.", the blonde girl said and turned, to make her way back out the window.
He cought her arm in one swift movement, took her hand and spun her into him, like the part of a dance they had swayed to long ago.
The blue eyed beauty focused her gaze on him, anger visible in her stance.
"You are going to be Queen, Clarisse. All the richess of the world at your feet. Children of your own and the people of our country loving you for the firm but kind ruler you are to be. There's this promise of a life, you and I couldn't afford in our wildest dreams. The promise of a future we could never have."
"Is love not a good enough reason to run away from all that?", she asked him in a whisper, her body sagging against his side.
"It is.", Joe's voice caught in this throat. "Our love for the people in this country simply has to be reason enough to stay."
Their foreheads tipped together.
"Become who you're supposed to be. I will be there... And whatever happens... We will grow old together."