“Announcing: Queen Mia Thermopolis!” The guard yelled with every inch of his lungs.
Mia made a gentle gesture in the air, hoping to convey to him that he didn’t have to announce so loudly every time. But again, it was no use. He stood proudly, chin up and aimed at the sky. She wondered if he dreamed of this job.
The queen gracefully made her way down the palace stairs. There was a surprise guest this evening, and it made her feel a little excited. There was no telling who it would be. Only that her wonderful, elderly grandmother Clarisse, had planned it.
She approached said grandmother, whose hand was held tenderly by Joe’s. They both smiled at her with their mischievous smiles. Mia inwardly sighed. What were they planning now?
“Genovia welcomes a special guest this afternoon,” the former queen Clarisse began.
“And hopefully forever,” Joe adds softly, and they turned to each other with mirthful smiles.
“Am I going to have to dodge another man hoping to become king tonight?” Mia asked sorrowfully. She was already planning out all the possible escape routes. She hadn’t climbed out of a window in a long while.
“Oh no, not at all, my dear Mia!” Clarisse’s voice carried throughout the hall, even without raising it. Mia still admires her greatly. She was still a queen in Mia’s mind. And she showed it every time she spoke.
“So who is it? Who’s the guest?”
Her grandmother and step-grandfather shook their heads, once again sharing private smiles. Mia held in a groan of long-suffering. She was a queen. Queen of Genovia. And she had been so, for the last 20 years exactly.
She held herself up, reminded of age-old lessons to treat every moment in another’s presence with a great amount of respect and patience.
And then she slumped with her impatience.
“Come on, please grandma? I want to know if I can sleep early tonight. I hate Valentine’s Day.”
Her grandmother put on an expression of shock for show. She even put a graceful hand to her lips and everything. But her eyes twinkled.
“We shall see, later this afternoon.”
“Announcing-!” The guard started again, but this time Mia was able to catch his attention. He flushed in embarrassment. But with a carefully placed smile, Mia was able to assure him that he wasn’t in trouble. She just wanted him to lower his voice just a tad.
“Announcing,” the guard began with a much more level inside voice. “The Head of the United States, President Moscovitz!”
His voice had picked up again at the end, but Mia didn’t care.
She didn’t care at all either about how she presented herself to the crowded room.
Instead, she searched frantically for her dear friend Lilly. She gathered up her queenly dress and stepped around in her flats. The news gathered around were starting to ask about the absence of high heels once again, despite meeting the president today, and yet Mia still didn’t care.
Achingly familiar blue eyes met Mia’s brown, fraught gaze, and everything around them, including time, stuttered to a stand-still.
It might have been because everyone in the room quieted and parted away so that there was a clear path between her and her best friend. But nothing mattered. All she could see was Lilly Moscovitz, recent former President of the United States.
The only voices in the room were two women, both simultaneously saying…
“Shut! Up!” And then there was excited screaming. Mia and Lilly rushed toward each other and hugged fiercely.
There was uproarious applause, and the two women giggled. All the mystery and theatrics were worth it! Her best friend was in her arms once more!
The crowd began to mingle again. But they avoided the two fancily dressed women in the middle.
“It’s been forever!” Lilly whined. “Actually, how long has it been? Three years? Four?”
“Four,” Mia sorrowfully confirmed. “Since your inauguration as President. How was that, by the way? I’ve had constant news from the States, but couldn’t ever come to visit. You know how it is…”
“I know! I would have visited you every day if it weren’t for, well, my job,” Lilly said. “Which was brilliant, by the way! With you at the inauguration, I had already established peaceful relations with one absolutely gorgeous country at the very start of my term! It honestly really helped. How’s Genovia? I’ve truly missed this place. Though, more importantly, I’ve missed you!”
Lilly’s hands on Mia’s shoulders lower just an inch, and Mia’s heart beat quickly.
“I’ve missed you, I really have,” Mia feels tears threatening to fall. But she’s got guards. No one threatens her without her will. Not even her own emotions. “I wish you were here every day- oh but none of that…Genovia’s been spectacular! The country is flourishing without abandon, and I’m busy every moment of my day!”
They both sighed.
Out of the corner of Mia’s eye, she spots her grandmother and Joe. They were giving her a great thumbs up. She raised a skeptical brow.
“I hear that Clarisse and Joe arranged for your arrival,” Mia starts, staring brazenly suspicious at the two in question.
“Oh yes! My term’s ended, and they’ve already got the newly re-elected president in office.”
“Leslie Knope’s back in office? Oh, I liked her,” Mia nods, turning her gaze away from Clarisse and Joe.
“Me too. Though I like you more,” Lilly confesses. “Quite a lot actually.”
“Quite a- Lilly?” Her breath was lost. Lilly held Mia tenderly in her arms. Mia’s heart was racing.
“I-you-my-“ Mia stuttered.
“I just,” Lilly begins, “I’ve always felt something for you, Mia. I thought it was just friendship at first. And we were best friends, so I had really been confused when it came to my feelings for you. And, I don’t know, I’ve held a lot of hope over the years since you’ve never married. Every day since we last met, which by the way, we hardly got to talk to each other that day, it was dreadful…every day I’ve really, really missed you. I’d dream about coming here in some sort of shining armor I’d order from Genovia’s royal armory, and I’d dream about seeing you there…across the ballroom dance floor, doing the royal floss, when a group of miscreant crown chasers zip-line into the room and I take out my sword-“
Mia leans into her ridiculously gorgeous best friend and kisses her so the news crew around them can’t keep recording her amusing fantasy.
Her lips are distractingly soft, and her arms around Mia press gently as she tries to close any shred of distance between them.
“Mmph, you’re hilarious,” Mia grinned against Lilly’s mouth, “and you’re…I think you’re the one I’ve been waiting for all this time.” She felt a little choked up.
Their eyes were shining and some magnetic force pulled them close into another fantastic kiss.
When they parted, Lilly dropped her head onto Mia’s shoulder. “Your grandparents knew, somehow, that after my term ended, I was going to move to Genovia…”
“You! Oh my god! Oh my- Oh my god!” Mia squealed and they both giggled as she spun them and their embrace around with exhilaration. “You’re moving here? Oh my god!”
The room was quiet once more. All attention back onto the center. As if they’d ever left it, Mia thinks with distracted amusement.
She settles into a deeper, heartier embrace with her friend- no. Her girlfriend.
Lilly looks back into her eyes with the happiest grin. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“Oh for the love of-“