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because this moment's really all we have

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The bar had always been Maggie’s refuge.

 

In her ten years since moving to the big city, she’s become a new person. She isn’t the quiet fourteen year old from the middle of nowhere anymore, she’s seasoned and accomplished and, dare she say it, happy.

 

But it was that time of year again, and she could feel the melancholy seeping in, the blanket of numb almost-sadness that made it that much harder to breathe. And the bar was the only place she could really catch her breath. Her aunt had worked there when Maggie first moved to town, and she has fond memories of sitting at the bar with her diet coke and doing her homework while Tom, her aunt’s boss, looked the other way. It had been her home, something she had desperately needed at the time.

 

“Hey, Maggie!” Tom calls out when he sees her. His hair has more grey in it than the last time she saw him.

 

“Maggie!” the other workers call out in a chorus.

 

She waves at them royally, laughing as she does so. Some of the staff had changed over the past ten years, but a steadfast handful remained the same. Her aunt didn’t work there anymore, but they still felt like family, and being at the bar made her chest ache with warmth, like coming home after a long vacation.

 

Tom walks out from behind the bar and pulls Maggie into a big bear hug. He smells like beer and faintly of cigarette smoke and she’s reminded, with a jolt, of her father.

 

“I thought we’d be seeing you this time of year,” he tells her.

 

“Am I that predictable?” she asks.

 

“You say it like it’s a bad thing.” He kisses her on the cheek. “Your drinks are on me, all night. No arguing.”

 

“You’re a saint.”

 

She takes up her regular seat at the bar and in moments there’s a pint of beer in her hand. Whenever Tom has a chance to slow down, they’d catch up on each other’s lives, small bits of information exchanged between the rush of customers. And as the night begins to wind down, Maggie turns in her chair, looking at the last remaining patrons: the ones who drink alone, seeking redemption at the bottom of their glasses.

 

She spots her, at the very end of the bar. Her hair hangs just above her shoulders, in small waves of auburn. Wire rimmed glasses sit at the bottom of her nose, and Maggie watches with a small smile as she repeatedly pushes them up, only for them to slide down again. She runs her hands through her hair, as though she doesn’t expect it to be that short. She looks around the bar, and she catches Maggie’s eye and Maggie smiles at her, earning a small one in return.

 

Maggie stands, and walks around the bar, coming to a stop in front of the woman.

 

“Do you mind?” she says, gesturing to the empty seat.

 

“Not at all,” the woman says.

 

Maggie sits down and holds out her hand. “I’m Maggie,” she says.

 

“Alex,” she replies, shaking Maggie’s hand.

 

“You come here often?” Maggie asks, and Alex laughs.

 

“That’s the opener you’re going with?” she asks. “I don’t get out much but even I know that that’s the oldest trick in the book.”

 

“Yeah, but it made you laugh, didn’t it? That’s the reaction I was going for.”

 

“So you’re not trying to woo me?”

 

Maggie grins. “That part comes later.”

 

Alex rolls her eyes playfully and Maggie’s grin somehow grows. Tom discreetly places to drinks in front of the ladies, throwing a wink at Maggie as he retreats.

 

“Wow, you get special treatment around here,” Alex comments.

 

“I’m practically royalty,” Maggie says. “My aunt worked here when I was younger so I was here a lot.”

 

“So, with this wooing part that’s about to come up, what can I expect?” Alex asks with a small smirk.

 

“Well, first I’ll scoot my chair just a little closer to yours,” Maggie says, doing so as she talks.

 

“Then I’ll rest my hand on your knee as I maintain eye contact.” Maggie rests her hand on Alex’s bouncing knee, calming her immediately. She looks into her eyes, a brown so dark she can see the outline of her own reflection in them.

 

“And then,” Maggie whispers, leaning in close to Alex’s ear, “I’ll whisper that you’re the most intriguing woman I’ve ever seen, nothing short of spectacular, and that I simply must get to know you.”

 

“And that works?” Alex asks, a slight shiver in her voice. Maggie hums in response. “Do the girls go home with you?”

 

“Almost every time.”

 

“I’m afraid I won’t be,” Alex tells her.

 

Maggie leans back in her seat. “And why is that?”

 

“I have a big day tomorrow,” Alex says.

 

“Wedding? Baby shower? Bar Mitzvah?”

 

Alex hesitates before answering, “I’m up for a promotion.”

 

“But tomorrow’s a public holiday, thanks to the royal family. You don’t get a day off?”

 

Alex shakes her head with a smile, as though she has a secret that Maggie really wants to figure out. It’s not just the secret, though. There’s something about Alex that Maggie needs to know, that she wants to know. The woman in front of her seems to pose a lot more questions than she seems to answer, questions that Maggie suspects she would spend a lifetime trying to find out.

 

Some people contain multitudes, Maggie had learned long ago. And Alex seems like she is one of those people, filled with knowledge and depth and something extraordinary.

 

“Well in that case,” Maggie smiles, “I’ll settle for some small talk.”

 

///

 

They do a lot more than small talk.

 

///

 

Maggie’s not sure if she’s woken up by the sunlight that streams through the window, or by the cold emptiness of the bed she’s in. Either way, she’s awake, she’s slightly hungover, and Alex is nowhere to be seen.

 

Well that’s a bummer. Maggie had really liked Alex, with her wire glasses and the stupid little smile that was always on her face. The way she had played with her short hair, the her fingers traced the outline of Maggie’s body before pleasuring her in ways she hadn’t known existed.

 

Fuck. She needs coffee.

 

Maggie gets out of bed and lumbers into the kitchen in search of something to distract her from the disappointment she feels. The coffee pot is full, and it’s still warm - a parting gift from Alex, she assumes. There’s a note on the counter in front of it, written in the most elegant handwriting Maggie had seen from someone under the age of eighty five.

 

I had a wonderful time. Thank you kindly for the free drinks. -A

 

“Free drinks,” Maggie mutters. “Glad I’m basically a broken fucking vending machine.”

 

But at least you have the day off, a little voice in her head reminds her. Thank god, a public holiday, she was desperate for one. The whole country had to come to a stand still while Arendelle crowned their new queen. Maggie rolls her eyes at the thought of it.

 

Look, she didn’t hate the monarchy, per se. It’s just that she didn’t really care about them. She had grown up learning about them: King Jeremiah IV had died when she was in elementary school and she remembers writing condolence cards to the royal family. She also remembers not really caring that the king had died; her own grandfather had passed away a mere two weeks before him, and there was no royal procession for the man Maggie loved most in the world.

 

They had learned the intricacies of the laws that kept the Crown Princess from becoming queen just yet; she was too young and inexperienced, and thus the Queen Consort would be the leader of the country until the princess was ready. But Maggie also remembers learning new things about herself that same year, about her sexuality and navigating it in a small rural town. It was hard to care about why the princess couldn’t be crowned queen when Maggie was being forced from her home and sent to her aunt’s house to live in a tiny cramped apartment clearly meant for one person.

 

But she understands why today is special. A coronation, the news cycles keep telling everyone, is an almost once in a lifetime event now that the princess is ready to step up to the throne and take control of the monarchy. It’s very special to be experiencing one, especially one for such a young ruler. Maggie decides to flick on the television and catch the thing because why not? Maybe she’ll tell her kids about it one day. Maybe it’ll distract her from the bruised ego she got from Alex leaving without a word

 

She finds the public broadcast and it seems she’s just in time for the main event. She spots Queen Eliza and Princess Kara smiling as some bishop or whatever places the crown on Princess Alexandra’s head.

 

Only.

 

That’s not Princess Alexandra as she remembers her, with long, flowing locks of dark hair, and a youthfulness to her face.

 

That’s Alex.

 

From the bar, Alex.

 

With the short hair and the cute laugh, and the wise eyes of someone who’s lived a tough life.

 

Maggie can’t focus on a thing the presenters are saying, all of it just white noise as she stares at the screen. Alex - her Alex - was Princess Alexandra.

 

A voice sounds from the TV, breaking through Maggie’s almost trance. “I present to you, her royal highness Alexandra Elsa Madeline Charlotte, Queen of Arendelle.”

 

“Holy shit,” Maggie says out loud. “I fucked the queen.”

 

///

 

She paces the apartment, trying to rap her head around it all. How had she not recognised one of the most famous people in Arendelle, hell, in the whole world?

 

Then again -- who would expect to see the crown princess in a dingy bar on a Sunday night? The only reason Maggie had been there was because it was the anniversary of when her parents kicked her out, something that didn’t get easier to remember with the passing years.

 

How was she even supposed to get in contact with her? Does she email somebody? Send a letter to the palace? Rock up there and demand to see the Queen? She’d get arrested before she even got a glimpse of Alex.

 

But before she has the chance to do something she’ll regret, there’s a knock at her front door.

 

This is it. They’re here to take me out, tie up a loose end.

 

She opens the door to reveal a man in an impeccable three piece suit. He towers over her, but most people usually do.

 

“Can I help you?” she asks him.

 

“I’m going to need you to come with me,” he tells her, his voice smooth and sure.

 

“What’s this about?” Maggie asks, folding her arms and raising an eyebrow in the way that used to get her sent to the principal’s office.

 

“I’m afraid we can’t talk about it here, Ma’am.”

 

Maggie spies an Arendelle flag pinned to his lapel, and based on everything that’s already happened in the past twelve hours, she knows he’s from the palace. She wonders if he’s there to take her to prison or make sure she never talks again. Can you even go to jail for having sex with the queen? Is that a thing? What would they tell her Aunt Issy?

 

“Ma’am? We don’t have all day.”

 

Fuck it , Maggie thinks.

 

“Let me grab my purse.”

 

///

 

They drive in silence, no radio, no chatting, nothing but Maggie’s racing heart and the constant hum of the hybrid they ride in. They ride through the city, passing by so many of the landmarks Maggie has come to define as home. And then, they arrive at the palace in the heart of the city, and they pass straight through the side security gate.

 

After she passes through a metal detector, the man leads her from the car and through the palace hallways. Maggie stares around in awe, at the tall ceilings and the beautiful paintings and sculptures surrounding them. She’s only ever seen pictures of the palace, and seeing it in person is an entirely new experience.

 

He leads her to a large, bustling office space, with a half dozen people at their desks. He leads her to a small office at the back of the room, and shuts the door behind them. He sits behind the desk. She remains standing.

 

“Are you going to kill me?” she finally blurts out.

 

“What?” he asks, surprised, finally breaking his silence. “No. I don’t know who you are, but the Queen Mother has asked me to draw up a generic non-disclosure agreement for you.”

 

“The Queen Mother? But I’ve never even met the Queen Mother.”

 

“Nonetheless, the palace is aware that you spent time with Her Majesty yesterday, and we want to make sure that whatever happened whilst you were in her company isn’t spoken of again.”

 

“I’d never-”

 

“Unfortunately, your word is meaningless, Ms. Sawyer. We need you to sign the non-disclosure. It’s very straightforward, but I’ll give you a few minutes to read over it.”

 

Maggie tries to read the words on the page in front of her, but all she can think about is seeing Alex again. Is she allowed to ask this man to take her to Alex? Hell, she doesn’t even think he’ll let her borrow a pen. As if he’s reading her mind, he hands her a pen.

 

She feels like she’s signing her life away, but she does it anyway.

 

The man’s phone rings loudly, and he answers it.

 

“Olsen. Yep. Uh uh. Understood. No problem.” He looks up at Maggie. “Come with me.”

 

He ushers her out of the room, and she ignores the eyes of the workers following her. The man - Olsen - leads her through what she thinks is a different part of the palace, but it’s hard to tell; everything looks the same.

 

“You will curtsey on arrival, and are only permitted to straighten once she has spoken to you,” he says. “You will call her Your Majesty the first time you address her, and then Ma’am after that. You will not speak until spoken to. Do you understand?”

 

“Yessir.”

 

“Your conversation today falls under the non-disclosure agreement you just signed, which means-”

 

“I get it. Nobody’ll hear about this from me.”

 

They arrive at an office door, and Olsen knocks on it twice before opening it.

 

The office in front of them is huge, with a large mahogany desk positioned in front of a large window overlooking the palace gardens. The walls are lined with bookshelves, and a fireplace sits at the back, surrounded by a large leather sofa and several smaller leather seats. And behind the desk sits Queen Alexandra, Alex, in a smart suit, writing away furiously.

 

She looks up from her work and spots Maggie, and Maggie swears she sees a hint of excitement in her features. Olsen bows his head slightly, and Maggie remembers that she has to curtsey.

 

So she does curtsey, though the only thing she can think is ‘ I fucked you so hard your voice went hoarse.

 

“Thank you kindly, James,” Alex says. “You can go.”

 

James looks at Maggie, bemused, before leaving the two of them. Maggie still curtseys.

 

“You… you don’t have to do that,” Alex says softly.

 

“Like hell I don’t,” Maggie replies. The shock is gone from her system, as is the confusion. When finally faced with Alex, she feels angry . “You weren’t going to tell me who you were??”

 

Alex stands up from her desk and crosses the room, shutting the door to give them privacy. Maggie can feel how close they are, an electricity between them she’s never felt before.

 

“I didn’t plan on letting things get as far as they did,” Alex admits, before rushing to add, “not that I regret what happened. Far from it, actually. That’s why I cleared time in my schedule today, I wanted to see you again, or talk to you at the very least.”

 

“You just sent a dude to my apartment to silence me, that sort of sounds like regret.”

 

“That’s James, head of PR. And my mother sent him.”

 

“Great, Queen Eliza knows I slept with her daughter.”

 

“She doesn’t know what happened,” Alex promises, “she just… had me followed to the bar.”

 

“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me who you are.”

 

“I didn’t think you’d recognise me.”

 

“You’re the most recognisable person in the world.”

 

“Well did you know who I was last night?” Alex moves forward imperceptibly, trying to get as close to Maggie as possible.

 

Maggie frowns. “It was dark. And your hair is shorter than it used to be.”

 

“And I was wearing glasses. You know, these are more of a disguise than you’d think. But I guess I was hoping that maybe you wouldn’t put it all together when you saw me in the media with my new haircut.”

 

This time it’s Maggie that inches closer to Alex. “You think I could forget that voice? That smile? Those eyes?”

 

“Are you trying to woo me again, Maggie?”

 

Maggie shakes her head. “Just telling you the truth. You’re pretty damn memorable.”

 

Alex moves forward again. She’s so close that Maggie can see the smattering of freckles across her nose and the little crease just above her eyebrows.

 

“But you know we can’t do this, right?” Alex breathes.

 

“It would be unwise,” she agrees.

 

“A bad move.”

 

They’re so close, Maggie can feel Alex’s body heat, she can feel her breath as she speaks.

 

“Foolish,” she whispers. And then Alex’s mouth is on hers, and they kiss. It’s soft and it’s slow, the complete opposite of their passionate affair the night before. But this is more than last night. Where last night had been impulsive and somewhat fleeting, this feels measured, and it feels like the beginning of something, even though Maggie’s not sure what that is.

 

Because all she knows for sure is what she feels in the moment. She knows Alex’s hair is soft in her fingers, and her lips are even softer. She knows Alex’s hands are cold despite the heat between them, and she knows that Alex smells like vanilla and something else she can’t quite place. But most of all, she knows that she never wants this to stop.

 

But, like most things in her life, it doesn’t go the way she wants.

 

There’s a knock at the door and Alex pushes - literally shoves - her away. A man with a stern look on his face enters, and Maggie can tell he’s not someone to fuck with.

 

“You asked me to remind you about your call with England, Ma’am,” he says in a gravelly voice.

 

“Thank you, Jonn. I’ll be ready in a moment.” The man shuts the door again and Alex walks to her desk. She opens the top drawer and pulls out a box, handing it to Maggie.

 

“A phone?” Maggie asks as she opens it.

 

“With extra encryption. Our messages won’t be intercepted and we can talk freely. My number’s already in there.”

 

“Oh, so we message now?” Maggie says, cocking her head in that way she knows drives women crazy. And it works because Alex leans forward and she kisses her again.

 

“Look. This… this won’t be much, it never can be. My country comes first and… and that’s that. You don’t have to take the phone, and you can walk away at any time.”

 

“Gee, I really hope there’s a ‘but’ somewhere,” Maggie mutters.

 

Alex smiles. “But. I really liked talking to you at the bar, and if you want, I’d love to continue talking to you.”

 

“I liked talking to you, too,” Maggie tells her.

 

“I’d love to stay and talk more now, but I can’t keep Queen Elizabeth waiting. She gets grumpy.”

 

Maggie laughs at the absurdity of what’s happening. She thinks she might be friends with the Queen, maybe something more than that.

 

Alex rests a hand on Maggie’s arm. “I very much look forward to hearing from you.”

 

And then she’s gone.

 

Maggie turns on the phone - it’s fully charged, because Alex is nothing if not courteous - and messages the one number saved in the phone. She holds back a scream of adoring frustration -- Alex has put a little crown emoji next to her saved name. Maggie types out a message.

 

tell liz i say hi x

 

Moments later, she gets a reply.

 

She prefers Beth, actually.

 

The stern man - Jonn, she thinks his name was - sticks his head back in the office.

 

“Ms. Sawyer, Queen Alexandra has asked me to escort you home.”

 

“Thank you very much…?”

 

“Mr. Jones,” he introduces himself. “I’m the head of the Queen’s security.” He says it as though Maggie, in her five feet and two inches of glory, poses a serious threat to the monarchy.

 

“It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Jones.”

 

Maggie takes one last look around the office, knowing that this isn’t the last she’s going to see of it.

 

And then she lets the head of the queen’s security drive her home.

 

///

 

Talking with Alex is one of the most natural things Maggie can think of. They haven’t seen each other in a couple of months, since James had brought her to the palace, but they speak practically all day, every single day. They text throughout the day, Alex telling her about the different meetings she’s had and things she’s had to do, and Maggie tells her about Steve, the guy she thinks is stealing her lunch every day. Then, in the evenings, they Facetime, and they get to know each other a little bit at a time, building a strong friendship on which they both hope something will blossom. With time, Alex tells Maggie about her family and what it was like growing up in the palace, and Maggie tells her about how her parents threw her out and Aunt Issy took her in.

 

And then Alex mentions something that makes Maggie stop.

 

“Mother set me up with another damn Duke, only this one’s balding and well into middle age.”

 

Maggie frowns. “You’re… dating?”

 

“I’m sure I mentioned it to you,” Alex says quickly, seeing Maggie’s reaction on her screen. “Parliament and my mother believe I should be married, that it’s unwise for a queen to be a young, unwed woman.”

 

“But… I didn’t realise you were actually dating people,” Maggie says. She shouldn’t feel this jealous, should she? She and Alex were friends.

 

Except you don’t have one night stands with your friends.

 

And you certainly don’t develop feelings for them.

 

For the first time in what feels like a long time, Maggie decides to be brave.

 

“Alex?”

 

“Yes, Maggie?”

 

She takes a breath. “What if… what if this were more than just phone calls?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“What if we found a way to see each other, like, in person?”

 

“But why?”

 

“Why? Alex, I like you, you idiot. I know we can’t have anything serious but I like you and I like spending time with you and I’d really like to see you in person.”

 

“We couldn’t…. be together again,” Alex says. “I can’t let even a whisper of my sexuality get out.”

 

Maggie rolls her eyes. “I wasn’t even thinking about that, I just wanna spend time with you. But good to know where your head’s at, perv.”

 

She can see Alex blush on the screen, and the small smile that plays on her lips.

 

“Leave it with me,” she says before hanging up.

 

///

 

The call comes three days later.

 

An offer for a position in the palace PR team, effective immediately. Sure, she’s not technically going to be using her history degree, but she gets to be closer to Alex (and she gets really great benefits, too).

 

“It’s Maggie, right?” James asks as she steps into his office. She knows it’s a stupid power move; he’s had to go over all the forms with her name on it.

 

“Yes, that’s correct,” she says with a saccharin smile.

 

“We’ve got a small team here; we manage the Royal Family’s appearances, their online presence, press releases, all that sort of thing.”

 

“Great.”

 

“Now, your job is going to be handling Her Majesty’s official appearances,” he tells her through gritted teeth. “It used to be part of my job, but the queen felt as though she wanted someone specifically on that task and you came with the recommendation of Director Jones.”

 

Well, at least it was good to know her cover story.

 

“You’ll also be spending quite a bit of time with Queen Alexandra, so ensure you brush up on the proper etiquette for royal interaction.”

 

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity,” Maggie says sincerely.

 

“The Queen has also asked that you meet with her during your lunch break, after you’ve been given a quick tour and rundown. Good?”

 

“Great.”

 

James smiles what feels like a forced smile. “Then I’ll get you set up with Winn.”

 

Winn proves to be a shorter guy with a friendlier smile that happily gives Maggie a tour of the unrestricted areas of the palace.

 

“I’m the IT guy,” he tells her. “Gotta keep these walls ironclad.” He taps the wall beside him as he says it. Maggie suppresses a laugh.

 

“Really, wow,” she says.

 

“Yeah, and I do things for the Queen personally,” he says, clearly trying to impress her. “Like, encrypted a couple of phones for her a while back for top secret government stuff.”

 

Top secret government stuff, huh? Maggie wonders if discussing things like Alex’s favourite Pokemon and least favourite Harry Potter book is a matter of national importance.

 

“Thanks so much for giving me a tour, Winn.”

 

“Any time, Maggie! Literally, whenever you need anything, just come find me.”

 

“I’ll keep it in mind. I’ll catch you later.”

 

He leaves her by Alex’s door. She knocks twice and hears scuffling, followed by a harried ‘come in!’

 

Maggie finds Alex behind her desk, smiling broadly.

 

“Maggie, good to see you,” she greets, standing up and walking to her.

 

“Right back at you.”

 

There’s an awkwardness between them that throws Maggie off. Speaking on the phone had been so natural and so fun, would things be different in person?

 

“Did I hear… it… it sounded like my IT guy has a crush on you. Is that going to be a problem?”

 

Maggie arches an eyebrow. “You were spying on me?”

 

“No, no,” Alex says hastily, “I just-”

 

“I’m messing with you, Alex,” Maggie says, and watches as Alex’s shoulders sag with relief.

 

“It’s nice to hear you say my name,” Alex murmurs. “Much better in person, you have horrible cell service.”

 

“Well whose fault is that?” Maggie says, leaning in closer and closer to Alex.

 

“Winn’s, probably.”

 

“Oh, definitely,” Maggie whispers.

 

Alex is the one who kisses her, but she kisses her right back, finding a comfort in her embrace that Maggie didn’t even realise she was missing.

 

“This… this is why I wanted to limited to phones,” Alex breathes, breaking away from Maggie.

 

“You kissed me!”

 

“I know… I knew I wouldn’t be able to help myself,” she confesses. “There’s… there’s just something about you, Maggie.”

 

Maggie nods, with a faux seriousness. “It’s the dimples.”

 

“This is careless,” Alex says, as though reprimanding herself.

 

“Alex,” Maggie says softly, “it’s okay that you’re gay.”

 

She shakes her head. “I need to be what my country expects of me, what they deserve of me.”

 

“And they can’t accept you as a gay woman?”

 

“Look, we’ve been unstable since my father died. I just want to rule calmly and fairly and make sure my country goes from strength to strength. I don’t think they’ll let me do that if I have a woman on my arm. I mean, they barely take me seriously as a young, unmarried woman.”

 

“So this, whatever we have between us, it has an expiration date.” She tries not to sound disappointed; they’ve discussed this before. She knew that this was always going to have to end.

 

“I wish it didn’t have to, but eventually, yes, I will marry somebody.”

 

Maggie leans forward again, though this time she simply hugs Alex, pressing their bodies close together. She thinks she can feel their hearts beat in tandem, the rhythm stronger together than it could ever be apart.

 

“Well then,” Maggie says, her voice somewhat muffled against Alex’s shoulder. “We better make this count while we can.”

 

///

 

Their daily lunchtime trysts eventually become a twice-a-day thing. The more time they spend with each other, the more time they want to spend together. Alex tells Maggie of the horrendous dates her mother sets up on and Maggie laughs along with her, ignoring the feelings that keep stirring in her being, the ones that demand more and more and more of Alex.

 

And the times she’s not with Alex, Maggie’s building a strong rapport with her colleagues, finding comfort and contentment in all aspects of her life in the palace. Even James starts warming to her, something Maggie never saw coming.

 

“Sawyer,” he says, walking to her desk. She’s been working with him for months but he doesn’t call her Maggie. She decides to take it as a compliment, though. “Her Majesty has requested to see you.”

 

“Alright,” she says, wondering what Alex could possibly want so soon after they last saw each other. “Should I head to her office?”

 

He shakes her head. “She’s in meetings all afternoon, and asked if you wouldn’t mind staying back a bit and meeting her in her chambers.”

 

Maggie’s heart skips a beat, and tries to school her features so James won’t get suspicious. In all this time, she still hasn’t seen Alex’s living quarters. And she wonders what the night will bring.

 

///

 

“So this is where the magic happens,” Maggie says, looking around the large, elegant living space.

 

“It’s the one place that’s completely my own,” Alex says, “nobody’s allowed in without express permission while I’m here.”

 

Maggie looks around the huge room. It’s a lot more modern than she always imagined the queen’s quarters would be. It’s almost double the size of her own living room, although she supposes that wouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

 

“There’s a tiny kitchen when I wanna make stuff for myself, and a decent sized bathroom.”

 

Maggie arches an eyebrow playfully. “And the bedroom?”

 

“Ironically enough, I’ve got a king-sized bed.”

 

Maggie takes a seat on one of the huge couches as Alex prepares them drinks.

 

“So tell me about these dates your mother sends you on,” Maggie says, watching Alex work.

 

“Well firstly, they’re all men, which, like, no thanks.”

 

Maggie laughs, and she can tell Alex is proud of having made her do so.

 

“It’s a lot of royalty from other countries, some noblemen from Arendelle. A lot of them I share ancestry with, which doesn’t help the situation.” Alex sits next to Maggie, and Maggie twists around so her body is facing her. Alex’s hand finds its way to Maggie’s hair, playing with it softly. It feels normal and it feels natural, the intimacy between them, as though they’d known each other for a lifetime already.

 

“And you’re gonna have to marry one of them,” Maggie says softly, allowing some of the sadness she feels to seep into her tone.

 

“Not of my own volition,” Alex replies. “I… I don’t want to put you through this.”

 

“Through what?”

 

“Listening to me talk about the people I see who aren’t you. Because, believe me, if I had my choice, it would be you and only you.”

 

Maggie leans forward and kisses her tenderly. “We can worry about that later.”

 

Alex arches an eyebrow. “You have other plans for this evening?”

 

Maggie stands, smirking as she does so. She offers out her hand to Alex, who takes it immediately. Maggie pulls her up off the couch, and kisses her again, this time with enough passion to ignite a furious fire within them both.

 

“Show me the king-sized bed,” Maggie murmurs into her ear.

 

And, in the early hours of dawn as Alex sleeps beside her, Maggie lies awake. She wonders how long she can pretend that she’s not falling for somebody harder than she’s ever fallen before. But more importantly, she wonders if Alex is falling for her, too.

 

///

 

Alex yawns widely, stretching her arms over her head. She’d had another late night spent with Maggie, and though she never regrets the time spent with her, Alex wishes that she could’ve had a later start. Damn 8am phone call with Mexico.

 

On the bright side, she now has more time to relive her time with Maggie, playing their discussions over and over again in her head, laughing and smiling every time.

 

(“So how was your date with the Duke of Cornwall?” “Horrible. There’s no way I could marry a man with the same degree as me, nor one as well read. We’d have absolutely nothing to talk about.”)

 

Alex knows she’s playing a dangerous game, and she knows they’re incredibly lucky that nobody’s found out about them yet. But she can’t bring herself to stop things. Maggie is… Maggie is who Alex wants to be with, she’s known for a long time. Every passing moment, every kiss, every touch, just reminds Alex of exactly what she wants from life:

 

Maggie Sawyer.

 

They spend months texting and months sleeping together, and Alex wishes there were a way they could just tell everybody and live happily ever after.

 

But Alex knows that though she’s a queen, this isn’t a fairytale. This is real life, and she had a real country to worry about.

 

A knock at her door interrupts her thoughts.

 

“Come in,” she calls out.

 

Kara enters the room in a cloud of perfume that Alex can smell from behind her desk.

 

“I have gossip,” she says, smirking. “That IT boy who stutters whenever we’re around told me about it.”

 

Alex rolls her eyes. “What did you do to get it out of him?”

 

“I may have told him it looks as though he’s been working out more.”

 

“Lying is very unbecoming of a princess, Kara.” Kara had taken to royalty a lot better than Alex had. She leaned into her role a lot more, kissing babies and laughing at the prime minister’s jokes. Everybody knew that Kara would’ve made a much better queen than Alex, who wanted nothing other than a quiet life away from the spotlight for as long as she could remember.

 

But their father had looked down on abdication, ever since his own brother had done so before him. And Alex refuses to disappoint her father’s legacy.

 

Kara lounges on the chair in front of Alex’s desk, decidedly un-princesslike. “So can I tell you this gossip?”

 

Alex sighs. “As long as it’s not about two guards having sex in the throne room again.”

 

“That was one time! And they’re getting married next year!”

 

“Good for them,” Alex replies, deadpanned.

 

“Anyway,” Kara continues, “Winn told me that there are two main rumours. The first is that you’ve hired a spy to keep an eye on the PR team.”

 

“What?? That’s ridiculous! I trust my team implicitly.”

 

“I don’t know, big sister, it was something about a new employee who spends an awful lot of time out of their office and in yours.”

 

Alex feels the colour drain from her face. “You mean Maggie? S-she’s, uh, she organises my scheduling.”

 

“If you say so,” Kara replies, boredly inspecting her fingernails. “The second piece of information is a lot more interesting.”

 

“Oh, yeah?” Alex asks, hoping Kara doesn’t notice how high her voice is getting.

 

“Rumour has it you’ve been sneaking someone into your room at night.”

 

“Exc use me??”

 

“You heard me. One of the night guards saw you.”

 

“They saw no such thing.”

 

Kara looks disappointed.

 

“You could tell me if you wanted to, you know.”

 

Alex hesitates. Can she trust Kara with such information? Can she bare telling anybody about it? Part of her wants to, desperately. She wants to tell the world she’s, well, that she’s in love. With a beautiful, confident, incredible woman. She wants to tell Kara how she’s never felt like this before, and she knows that she’ll never find this with another. She wants to tell her baby sister everything, the way she used to.

 

But the other part of her thinks that as soon as she says the words out loud, everything will change. And she’s not sure if she’s ready for that yet.

 

“Sometimes,” she says, “I wish we were normal. That we could fall in love and it wouldn’t mean anything to anybody but us.”

 

Kara smiles sadly. “I know what you mean.”

 

“You also like somebody??”

 

“But it could never be.”

 

“Kara, you deserve happiness. It shouldn’t matter who you love. What should matter is that you’re happy.”

 

“What, and you don’t deserve the same happiness?”

 

Alex shrugs. “Arendelle’s happiness is my happiness.”

 

“You’re allowed to live for yourself, too.”

 

Such a Kara thing to say , Alex thinks, because her mother had always taught her the opposite. Alex was to live for Arendelle, for the good of the nation. She was to be queen, and she had to act in a specific way. But Alex has always made sure Kara had more freedom, that she could do almost anything she wanted to.

 

They sit in silence for a moment, and it’s on the tip of Alex’s tongue. She wants to confess everything. She wants to tell Kara the whole truth and nothing less. But she holds herself back by a tether, knowing that she can’t open the can of worms that is her and Maggie.

 

A knock on the door interrupts them, and Alex wants to die when she sees Maggie walk in.

 

Maggie curtseys as she spots Kara.

 

“Your majesties.”

 

“Kara, this is Maggie, in charge of my scheduling.”

 

“I see,” Kara says, a mischievous gleam in her eye. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

 

“You have?” she asks, brow furrowed.

 

Kara smiles her megawatt smile before heading to the door to leave.

 

“Lovely to meet you, Comrade.”

 

Kara leaves and Alex is bright red and Maggie is even more confused.

 

“Does… does she think I’m… Russian?”

 

“No,” Alex replies, “there’s a rumour in the PR department that you’re my spy. Because you spend so much time with me. There’s also a completely separate rumour that I’m sneaking an unknown person into my room every night.”

 

“Oh, shit.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“I don’t know if you should be grateful that your staff are heteronormative fools, or scared that none of them are bright enough to put two and two together.”

 

Alex laughs, a warm feeling spreading through her chest. Maggie is the only person who can make her feel as happy or as safe as she does.

 

“So I guess I should start making less frequent visits?” Maggie asks.

 

Alex nods. “And we need to be more careful when you spend the night.”

 

“I’m still spending the night?”

 

“Of course. You think I’d give you up that easily?”

 

Alex makes sure the door is closed before kissing Maggie.

 

“You’ll just have to email me about my schedule instead of telling me in person.”

 

Maggie pouts. “Or you could come and visit me a few times? It’ll look like you’re being transparent? Hopefully prove I’m not a spy?”

 

“We’ll see,” Alex says, but they both know she’ll do it.

 

///

 

“I’m sick of these games, Alexandra.”

 

Eliza doesn’t even bother knocking on Alex’s door, she never has.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mother,” Alex tells her, barely looking up from her work.

 

“These games you’re playing. Hanging out in your PR offices constantly? What for? Do you need your subjects to like you?”

 

“They’re not subjects--”

 

“No, that’s exactly what they are. They’re not your colleagues, they’re not your employees. They’re your subjects. And it’s inappropriate for you to be spending time with them like this.”

 

“I’m not a child, Mother.”

 

“You’re the queen. And it’s about time you started acting like it.”

 

“That’s not fair,” Alex says softly. “I’ve been acting like it since I was in diapers. I’ve never been anything other than the future queen of this nation.”

 

Eliza squares her shoulders.

 

“Here’s what’s going to happen--.”

 

“Oh, so you’re giving me orders now?”

 

“You’re damn right I am!” Eliza yells, silencing Alex and shocking her even more. “I did not give my life for this country, and I did not lose your father just to have you lose the public’s confidence in your first year on the throne. Now here is what is going to happen. You will choose somebody right now. You will date them for two months, and then, you will get engaged to them.”

 

Alex nods solemnly.

 

“It’s time to grow up, Alex.”

 

And with that, Eliza leaves the room - and Alex - in a cold silence.

 

She realises that she and Maggie have reached their end.

 

///

 

She doesn’t tell Maggie.

 

She can’t tell Maggie.

 

But she does commit her scent and her touch and her laugh to memory. She swears to save Maggie to the recesses of her mind, to remember everything they ever had.

 

And she does all that she can she can to hold onto the last moments of happiness they have together.

 

///

 

Alexandra Elsa Madeline Charlotte, Queen of Arendelle announces her engagement to Count Maxwell Lord on a Saturday.

 

And despite the fact that she had spent Friday night in between Alex’s legs, Maggie finds out with the rest of the nation.

 

She feels her heart shatter, as though it were made of glass. She feels everything she’s known for almost a year get pulled away from her. Watching images of Count Lord with his arm around Alex makes her feel ill.

 

For the first time since she was fourteen, Maggie doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring.

 

/////

 

“You could’ve given me some fucking warning,” Maggie says as she storms into Alex’s office. She slams the door shut behind her.

 

“You shouldn’t be here,” Alex says, barely looking up from her desk.

 

“Like hell I shouldn’t be,” Maggie replies. “I need you to tell me something.”

 

“What?”

 

“Do you love me?”

 

The words hang between them, mangled with desperation and longing.

 

“Maggie…” Alex sighs. “You know we can’t-”

 

Maggie strides to the edge of Alex’s desk, peering down over her.

 

“You spend your nights with me, and you tell me what we have is unexplainable. But then without even informing me, you announce that you’re marrying him, and I just… I’m so, so mad. And I need to know. I need to know that you love me so I at least I know that I’m not crazy.”

 

Alex frowns. “Why would you be crazy?”

 

“Because I‘m in love with you, Alex! I can’t breathe unless I’m near you, and even then I think I might pass out unless I can touch you and hold you and make you scream my name. I’ve never felt like this way about anybody before, I’ve never seen this between anybody before. And I need to know it’s real, that it’s not just in my head. So I’m gonna need you to say it. I need you to tell me you love me. Because I know you do. I know it. I feel it. I just need to hear it.”

 

Alex stands slowly. She reaches across the table, and places her hand atop of Maggie’s. She leans over and presses their foreheads together, playing with Maggie’s hair with her other hand. She smells of peppermint and her morning coffee, Maggie notices. The scent fills her with every breath she takes.

 

“Please?” Maggie begs, her voice cracking. “Please.”

 

“I can’t,” she whispers.

 

“Bullshit!” Maggie yells, and she kicks the chair away from her. She runs a hand through her hair and she breathes deeply, praying that the tears that pool in her eyes don’t fall. “I can’t do this. I can’t.”

 

“Maggie-”

 

“Whatever this is, it’s over. I’ll be giving James my two weeks’ notice this afternoon, and you won’t have to see me again. We’re done.”

 

She throws open the heavy wooden door, and slams it behind her. Alex remains at her desk, her hands pressed to her mouth, stifling the sobs that threaten to escape.

 

///

 

Maggie’s the first one into the office, of course she is. It’s early on a Monday morning and she wouldn’t be here either, if she hadn’t had to confront her girlfriend. Well, her ex-girlfriend. Were they ever really girlfriends, or were they just some sort of fucked up friends with benefits?

 

“Morning, Mags,” James says as he comes through the office door. “Good weekend?”

 

“Horrid, actually.”

 

“Well just count yourself lucky that you didn’t have to work on the engagement press releases all Saturday.”

 

The thought of Alex with that man makes Maggie go cold. She downs the rest of her coffee and stands up, ready to tell James that she’s leaving.

 

“Morning, Maggie,” Winn says as he enters and makes a beeline for James’s desk, and after him, a stream of the coworkers enter, greeting Maggie with various levels of enthusiasm. She sits back down, resolving to tell James in a couple of hours. It’ll give her a chance to calm down a bit more.

 

Hours later and Maggie is still at her desk, trying to find a moment when James is free. Actually, she’s trying to work up the courage to do it, to walk away from everything she’s gained. She’s about to do it - stand up and walk over to him and resign - when the office door opens, and Jonn strides in. He walks over to James and puts a piece of paper in his hand.

 

“Oh my god,” he almost yells as he reads it.

 

“That’s the basic info,” Jonn says, “Spruce it up, get it back to me, and then we’ll send it just before lunch.”

 

Jonn leaves, but not before throwing an accusatory look at Maggie, which leaves her confused.

 

“James, what’s going on?” Winn asks, and the others echo him.

 

“We’re writing up a statement. The queen’s calling off her engagement.” A gasp travels throughout the room. Maggie feels lightheaded.

 

“But they just confirmed it, like, two days ago.”

 

He shrugs. “Personal part reads that she realised that she can’t get married when her heart is elsewhere.”

 

Holy fucking shit .

 

“Well where the fuck is her heart?” someone asks from the back of the room, and Maggie’s thankful they asked so she didn’t have to.

 

“With her country. And I quote “ My reign as monarch is still young, and I still have a lot to prove. I cannot possibly give my heart to another whilst I remain steadfastly in love with my country. One day I hope to marry the love of my life, but right now it is not Count Lord; it is Arendelle, wholly and truly. ””

 

“Holy shit,” Maggie says, and others murmur in agreement.

 

“Alright, I’ll turn this into a press release. Jack, call the outlets, tell them to be on the lookout for a special announcement. Gina, line up all our social medias and cancel any scheduled posts. We’re going dark until we post this. Maggie, you’re with me.”

 

///

 

Someone clears their throat in the doorway of the office, and everybody snaps to attention. When they see Queen Alexandra standing there, they jump to their feet, as per policy. Maggie feels her heart pound wildly in her chest at the very sight of her.

 

“I want to thank you all for your hard work over the past few hours,” she tells them. “You handled a tumultuous situation with ease and professionalism, and I truly appreciate it. I’ve prepared a luncheon for all staff members, after which you’re free to leave for the day. And then tomorrow… well, tomorrow we’ll face everything. You’re dismissed to lunch.”

 

The workers begin to file out.

 

“Ms. Sawyer, would you mind staying behind for a moment?”

 

Her coworkers give her weird looks as they walk passed her at her desk. Maggie knows it’s a risky move for Alex, one that’s not going to do anything to dispel the rumours that once lined the halls. Once they all leave, it’s just Alex and Maggie in stony silence.

 

Alex walks slowly to Maggie’s desk. Maggie doesn’t move an inch. Alex stands in front of Maggie, and they both breathe deeply and shakily. Alex takes one of Maggie’s hands in both of hers, squeezing it softly. She leans in, her mouth right beside Maggie’s ear.

 

“I wish,” she whispers. “I wish for your happiness even more than my own.”

 

Their eyes meet, and Maggie feels the love in her gaze, with every fibre of her being. Alex may not be able to say what she feels in her heart, but Maggie sees it in her eyes, she feels it in the warmth of Alex’s hand. It was as much of an ‘I love you’ as Maggie’s had been, and she revels in it for just a moment.

 

“Stay tonight,” Alex whispers. “Please.”

 

Maggie nods silently, and Alex presses a kiss to her cheek.

 

“Meet me in my quarters after lunch,” Alex says. And then she’s gone.

 

It’s the most public they’ve ever been, standing together in the middle of the PR office. Maggie’s heart races in her chest and before she can do anything else, she heads down to the lunch to find her colleagues, not wanting to raise anymore suspicion.

 

“What the hell did Queen Alexandra want with you?” James mutters to Maggie when she gets to the dining room.

 

“I… helped her with something and she wanted to thank me.”

 

“Which is why you were also in her office this morning?”

 

Maggie doesn’t reply.

 

“Look, I’m no fool,” James says, “I know the rumours were true, and I know you’re the one who’s been spending nights with the queen.”

 

“I--”

 

“Save it. I know you two are having an affair. But whatever’s between you, this country is more important and it’s best that you stay away as much as you can, especially now.”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“It means all eyes are on her, she’s still the queen and you’re a just commoner, and whatever was between you two is meaningless in the scheme of things.”

 

Maggie bites back everything she wants to say to James, how she knows Alex better than he could ever even dream of doing, how she had been sleeping with Alex for months, and how she’d seen inches of this palace he’s never set foot in. But she doesn’t, instead she just takes a deep breath, calming herself with the knowledge that she’ll be with Alex again tonight.

 

///

 

It’s her own fault, really.

 

Alex could’ve walked straight back to her office, but she had to have just one more glimpse of Maggie before her phone call with Spain. She’s so damn besotted with Maggie, she can barely believe herself. She’s acting like Kara did in her tumultuous teenaged years: sneaking her lover into her rooms every night, going out of her way just so she can see Maggie from afar for a few moments.

 

She spots her from her position on the balcony. She likes the view, flying under the radar and unnoticed by her staff members, but with a perfect view of the woman who sets her heart aflame.

 

And then, Kara pulls her by her arm, and she’s facing her sister, who’s seething and furious.

 

“What’s wrong?” Alex asks.

 

“I know what you’re doing,” Kara says, a venom in her voice that Alex has seldom heard before, and not once has she heard it directed at herself.

 

“What am I doing?”

 

“Sneaking someone into your quarters most nights. Visiting the PR offices way more than necessary,” Kara says, her eyes narrowing. Alex feels a tightness in her chest, fear building within her.

 

“I-”

 

“How could you do this to me? You know how much I like James!”

 

She feels relief flood through her, almost laughing in Kara’s face.

 

“I’m not seeing James,” Alex says.

 

“You couldn’t let me just have one thing, could you?”

 

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“It means I like him, but god forbid I get anything you don’t have. It’s always been the Alexandra Show, and it always will be. You get everything and I get sloppy seconds. Worst of all, you deny all of it.”

 

“You think I wanted this? For our father to be dead just so I could become queen? You think I wouldn’t rather be literally anywhere else, without the weight of an entire country on my shoulders? Kara, I’ve never wanted it to be all about me. I’ve given you everything I could, tried to protect you from the responsibilities of this life because I knew what it was like. I wanted you have fun, to have freedom. They were all making it about me, but god, everything I did was for you.”

 

Kara shakes her head. “I wasn’t a child who needed protection, Alex. And I know you’re seeing James. I’m not stupid.”

 

“Are you sure about that? Because I’m not seeing him; I’ve never even thought of him in that way.”

 

“Well you’ve been sneaking someone into your rooms, and it certainly wasn’t your five minute fiance.”

 

“That’s enough, Kara,” Alex warns.

 

“I knew the second I showed any interest in him you’d find some way to stop it, I just didn’t think you’d screw him.”

 

“Kara, I won’t say it again.”

 

“What’re you gonna do, Your Majesty? Have me carted away like every other problem you can’t solve? Why won’t you admit it? Admit you’re sleeping with him. Why can’t you just say it?”

 

“Because I’m in love with Maggie!” Alex explodes, her voice echoing across the room. And then she remembers where she is, and peers down to the room below. A crowd of her staff stares back up at her and Kara in complete silence, mouths agape. Her blood runs cold and she feels walls she surrounds herself with crackling and crumbling. The murmurs start immediately and she searches the group for Maggie. She stands, next to James, the only person not looking up at her.

 

Alex’s heart, somehow, sinks even more. Because this isn’t just her life on display anymore, now it’s Maggie’s, too.

 

Alex whirls around to face Kara.

 

At least she has the mind to look sorry.

 

“Alex, I-”

 

“Save it,” Alex says, her voice low. “As always, your selfishness triumphs.”

 

“I didn’t think-”

 

“Exactly, you never think, you never stop. I hope you’re happy.”

 

With one last glance towards Maggie, Alex storms away, to ready herself for the complete implosion of her life.



///

 

She can feel her colleagues stare at her, their eyes boring into her. Beside her, James is visibly tense, though he stares straight ahead. She can almost hear his mind whirring, piecing everything together, planning a defensive move before the news leaks.

 

“Alright, everyone,” his voice booms out over the murmuring. “Obviously this is going to be a sensitive issue, and something we need to get ahead of. First and foremost, nobody leaves this room until you sign a new non-disclosure so ironclad there’s no fucking way out, you hear me? I don’t care how long it takes.”

 

He yells some command at an intern to grab his laptop and a printer and bring it to him, and everybody else gets comfortable, knowing they have a long wait ahead. Maggie stands, rooted to the spot, unable to look at anybody.

 

“Are you okay?” James whispers to her, his demeanour completely changed from before, and she nods, almost imperceptibly. “You can go when you want, you don’t need to hang around.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

And she does, amidst a wave of glances and whispers, all eyes glued to the walking scandal who might’ve toppled the monarchy.

 

Maggie heads straight to Alex’s office.

 

“You can’t go in there-” Jonn begins to say, but Maggie doesn’t stop to listen. She throws open the door, rage coursing through her.

 

“What the fuck was that?” she demands, sounding as wild as she feels.

 

“Maggie-”

 

“This morning you can’t even look at me, but now you can declare about how you feel to everyone I work with? What the fuck were you thinking?”

 

“Ms. Sawyer, I ask that you lower your voice, I’m already contending with a headache.”

 

Maggie notices Alex’s mother, Queen Eliza the Queen Mother, sitting on the couch in the back of the room. She curtseys immediately.

 

“I’m so sorry, Your Highness, I didn’t see you.”

 

“That’s alright.” Queen Eliza stands up, and looks at Maggie as though she were a puzzle to be solved. “Well, I can see what my daughter sees in you; you’re a beautiful young woman.”

 

“Thank you, Ma’am.”

 

“I can’t see any way this goes over smoothly.”

 

“We’ll figure it out,” Queen Eliza says.

 

“You’re the one who wanted me to get married.”

 

“Alexandra, in light of recent events… What, with you announcing your love for Ms. Sawyer to our entire palace, and the fact that she’s a presentable, responsible individual, I think she’d make a fine addition to the royal family.” Eliza sighs. “I was out of place when I told you to marry anybody. You deserve to be married to someone you love.”

 

“Maybe I should just abdicate, let Kara take the throne.”

 

“Don’t be stupid,” Maggie and Queen Eliza say at the same time. The Queen smiles at her, but Maggie looks away, blushing.

 

Queen Eliza turns to Alex.

 

“You have my full support, Alexandra. I’ll call the Prime Minister shortly, and inform him of everything, too. But knowing Bertie, he, too, will be supportive. I trust James is handling the staff?”

 

“They’re signing non-disclosures as we speak,” Maggie tells her, before adding a hasty “Ma’am.”

 

Quinn Eliza leans in once conspiratorially. “You can call me Eliza,” she says. Maggie’s taken aback at the casualness, but protocol goes out the window once you’re screwing the Queen, she guesses.

 

“The staff keeping quiet will buy you some time. Think everything through. You deserve to shape your own narrative, Alexandra, in your own time. And when you’re ready, we’ll all be standing right beside you.”

 

Alex lets out a shaky sigh. “Thank you, Mother.”

 

Eliza  smiles at Maggie once more. “I’ll let you two talk things through.”

 

She shuts the door softly behind her and once it’s just the two of them, Alex sinks into her chair.

 

“So…” Maggie says slowly. “You’re in love with me.”

 

“I’m so sorry, Maggie,” Alex says, looking at her. Tears pool in her eyes, and Maggie wants to forgive her for everything and tell her it’ll all be okay. But it’s not that simple. “This is all so complicated.”

 

“It was always going to be complicated,” Maggie replies. “We knew that already.”

 

“This country was barely ready for me as a young unmarried woman. I think being a lesbian might be the tipping point.”

 

“Your mom’s right, you have time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.”

 

Alex shakes her head. “I don’t know how to do this, Maggie.”

 

“What, be out?”

 

“Everything about my existence has been about my country. I am damn good queen because I’ve been preparing for it since I was three years old. But this isn’t for my country, this is for me… this feels selfish.”

 

“Alex, I need you to listen to me. You get to have this, you get to be selfish. Because you deserve to have a real, full, happy life. You can do this Alex.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Alex tells her, “for everything.”

 

“I’m sorry too,” Maggie says, tears pooling in her eyes. “Because I can’t do this with you.”

 

“What??”

 

“You need to do this without me, for now. This… this has got to be about you and being true to who you are. This shouldn’t be about some floozy coming into the palace and seducing you.”

 

Alex winces. “Is that what you think?”

 

Maggie hesitates. “I think… I think the tabloids could turn it into that.”

 

“I’m not gonna let them do that.”

 

“You can’t control what they write, you can’t control what the people think.”

 

“So what, you want me to break off my engagement because you can’t stand to see me with another person but the minute anything might actually happen you bail?”

 

“Yeah, because that thing that might happen is my entire life being thrown in front of the press, Alex! And let’s not forget that you just told every single person I work with--”

 

“I know what happened, Maggie. I was there.”

 

“So you know that there’s no way we can control this now.”

 

“Why won’t you take this chance with me?” Alex asks.

 

“Because I have everything to lose here, Alex.”

 

“And I don’t?”

 

Maggie shakes her head. “Not like me. I’m just some country kid in over their head. I’m going to be eaten alive. I could hear the way they were talking about me already. If we had had time to prepare, this could’ve gone differently...”

 

Alex slumps back in her chair, running a hand over her face.

 

“Well if this is the way you feel, Maggie... “ Alex says, her voice cracking over Maggie’s name, “I won’t stop you. The door’s right there.”

 

Maggie retreats from the room, making her way down one of the grand corridors to the service exit.

 

“Maggie, wait!” she hears Alex call, and she turns around.

 

Alex strides towards her, ignoring the looks from the few other workers that surround them.

 

She reaches Maggie and takes her face in her hands, gently running her thumb over the soft skin of Maggie’s cheek.

 

And then, in the middle of the palace - the wide, open public palace, with other people around - she kisses Maggie softly, surely.

 

“I’ll never regret you,” she whispers, her forehead pressed against Maggie’s. And then, Alex departing the way she came, leaving Maggie alone once again.

 

///

 

Spending the night at home without Alex feels strange, and quite honestly, she hates it.

 

Nursing a scotch, she takes the time to tend to one of her bonsais, clipping at the small greenery, revelling in a moment of serenity, something that seems to be a lot rarer these days.

 

Her mind wanders, obviously, to Alex. Long ago, she’d made the choice to put her own wellbeing above all else; surviving was first, living was secondary. The past almost year has been fun, sure, but she’s scared of what would happen if they went public. She thinks she’s made the right decision.

 

But that doesn’t explain the sinking feeling in her stomach, the one that aches for Alex and for an eternity with her. She can’t remember the last time she’s so desperately hoped for a future, rather than dismissing could’ve-beens. Something about Alex felt inevitable instead of the vague notions of a maybe happiness past girlfriends had given her. Because with Alex, the happiness was there and it was palpable and it was real.

 

But Maggie knows she’d get caught in the crossfire if she were with Alex when she finally came out.

 

So she clips her bonsai and she tries to think of something other than Alex.

 

Her phone starts buzzing and when she sees it’s her Aunt Issy, she answers, grateful for the distraction.

 

“Hi Issy,” she says, taking a sip.

 

“Are you okay??”

 

“Yeah I’m fine, why?”

 

“Haven’t you seen the news?”

 

“I’m working on a tree.”

 

“Oh, Mija…”

 

Maggie feels her stomach drop at Issy’s tone.

 

She makes it to the couch in two strides, and fumbles for the remote. She turns it onto the Channel Four news.

 

“... Our source confirms that Queen Alexandra’s mistress, Maggie Sawyer, works in the palace’s PR department. Though no official comment has yet been made on the Queen’s sexuality, the leaked images do tell quite the story.”

 

Pictures of her and Alex fill the screen, a selfie of the two of them, alongside a shot of Alex kissing her cheek in the PR office, and then another one of their shared kiss from hours before.

 

“Are you okay?” Maggie hears her aunt on the phone.

 

“I’ll call you back,” Maggie mutters, hanging up. She feels everything and she feels nothing; shame and sadness and anger mixed in with a pervasive numbness that seems to be taking over. Her phone won’t stop buzzing, inundated with messages from what seems like every person she’s ever met.

 

She switches the channel.

 

“This is totally unacceptable,” comes the voice of a commentator, “Set aside the homosexuality, we don’t even know who this Maggie Sawyer is, and she could become the queen consort? Is there even precedence for this in our laws?”

 

“We’re getting information in as we talk,” says another, “Margarita Sawyer is the eldest of four children born to Oscar and Valentina Rodas, they moved here when she was still a baby.”

 

Where are they getting this from?

 

“Just what we need,” says a third, “even more immigrants infiltrating our highest levels of office.”

 

“I don’t think it’s our place to judge Queen Alexandra and her decisions,” says someone else and Maggie finds herself nodding along. “But apparently this Sawyer person hasn’t spoken to her parents in years. Is this really the type of person we want marrying into our monarchy?”

 

She thinks she might faint; this is all too much to handle. She knew this would happen, she just knew it. She could kill whoever it is who leaked the story, but she thinks Alex might’ve done it already.

 

A sharp rap at the door startles her.

 

“Who is it?” she calls out weakly.

 

“It’s J’onn,” comes a gruff voice from the other side.

 

She opens the door.

 

“Did Alex send you?” she asks, somewhere between hopeful and wary.

 

He shakes his head. “Chambers messaged me, said the press was piling up downstairs.”

 

“Who?”

 

“A plain-clothes guard; I’ve had one watching this apartment for months, ever since I found out.”

 

“You knew??”

 

“I’m very observant,” J’onn says dryly. “But I’m here to make sure you’re safe and that this place is secure.”

 

J’onn inspects the apartment before settling at the table, as Maggie sits glued to the TV. She watches as strangers dissect her life and discuss her personal matters as though she were merely a concept instead of a person. And it sends her down a spiral, a confirmation that she had been right to want to protect herself.

 

“J’onn?” Maggie says, her voice smaller than usual.

 

“Yes, Ms. Sawyer?”

 

“I can’t do this,” she whispers.

 

“Controversy was bound to arise, Ms. Sawyer” J’onn tells her. “But know that nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

 

Maggie shakes her head, tears falling against her will. “This is more than that. They’re going after my family, my baby brothers and sister. They don’t deserve that.”

 

“Nobody will understand what you’re going through like Queen Alexandra does, remember that.” He hesitates, and then he adds, “It’s okay to be scared, Maggie.”

 

She doesn’t reply.

 

J’onn leaves without so much as a nod goodbye. Maggie is left with nothing but the tv blaring gossip, an ache in her heart that had been a long time coming, and the overwhelming feeling that she’s made a mistake and taken the easy way out.

 

///

 

She doesn’t leave her apartment for days.

 

She sits in front of the television, and she depletes her whiskey collection by a fair amount and she calls her family dozens of times, each time leaving voicemails apologising profusely.

 

She watches images of the front of her apartment building, trying to get a glimpse of her. She watches reporters hound her neighbours, who, to her immense gratitude, remain tight lipped. They go after family, footage of her childhood home and of Aunt Issy’s house flashing through every news cycle. Issy tries to call and visit, but Maggie doesn’t need her pitiful ‘ Oh, mija ’ every five minutes.

 

And through it all, she just wants Alex. She wants to talk to Alex, to hold Alex.

 

There’s a knock on her front door, and part of her wishes it could be Alex, even though she knows it never could be.

 

But when she opens the door to reveal Princess Kara standing there, she doesn’t know what to think. She doesn’t know what she was expecting, but in no realm of possibility was it this .

 

“Hello, Margarita,” Kara says, somewhat stiffly.

 

Maggie curtseys automatically. “You can call me Maggie, Your Highness.”

 

Then she frowns. Kara’s the reason they’re in this whole mess in the first place.

 

“You know what?” Maggie says. “I take back my curtsey.”

 

“You can’t take back a curtsey.”

 

“I just did. Also,” she hesitates for a moment. “Fuck you.”

 

Kara gasps, laying a hand on her chest, taken aback. “You can’t say that to a princess.”

 

“What’re gonna do about it?” Maggie yells. “Have me arrested? Ruin my life? Have the media slander my family all over national television?” She pulls Kara into the apartment away from any prying ears, and slams the door. Kara rubs her arm where Maggie had touched her, frowning. Maggie rolls her eyes.

 

“You ruined everything between Alex and me,” Maggie says, jabbing a finger at her. “This is your fault.”

 

“My sister confessing her feelings for you ruined things? Does she mean so little to you?”

 

“Don’t you dare try and make me the bad guy here. You’re the reason everybody knows!”

 

“I didn’t tell the media,” Kara says adamantly, somehow straightening her posture even more. “It was Monel, and he’s subsequently been fired and about to be sued for breach of contract. That’s not on me.”

 

“You pushed her, before she was ready. Why, because you were jealous? You thought she was fucking James?” Maggie ignores the scandalized look Kara gives her for swearing.

 

“You can blame me for this all you want,” Kara says, emboldened, “but at the end of the day you’re the coward who’s chickened out at the last second and is breaking my sister’s heart.”

 

“Don’t you dare call me a coward, you don’t know me at all.”

 

“I know that my sister - a literal Queen and the ruler of this country - is sitting at home and crying. That even if she’s not alone in facing this, she doesn’t have the one person she wants by her side. Look. I know what it’s like to be targeted by the press. They’ve been writing about Alex and me before we were even born, and they’re never going to stop. What did you think was going to happen?”

 

“I don’t know! I didn’t expect to feel so… so not in control of what they’re saying about me. I thought if I bowed out, it would be a little easier down the line.”

 

“It was always gonna be like this, I’m sure J’onn told you the same thing.”

 

“And my family-”

 

“If they’re anything like you, Maggie, they’re strong enough for this shitshow. And it’s not like the palace is going to leave them fending for themselves.”

 

“I just. I don’t know how to handle this.”

 

“I know I’m not your favourite person but I’m one of the only people who know what this is like. You’re not in this alone, or at least, you don’t have to be.”

 

Kara leaves as suddenly as she arrived, leaving Maggie once again alone in her apartment.

 

As much as she hates to admit it, she thinks Kara is right. What’s the point of going through all of this if she didn’t get to be with Alex at the end of it? She pulls her cell phone from her pocket and calls Aunt Issy.

 

“Maggie, is everything okay? I’ve been calling like crazy; I thought you were dead.”

 

“If I were dead, you’d have heard about it on the news.”

 

“Are you okay?”

 

“I’m fine. I just want to make sure you’re okay with this. They’ve been saying some horrible things about you and the family.”

 

“Eh, they say horrible things about everyone. Mostly I was sad because I didn’t know how you were doing, or how you felt about Queen Alexandra. This isn’t just anybody, you managed to date the queen.”

 

“Go hard or go home, that’s what you always say.”

 

“Mija?”

 

“Yeah, tia?”

 

“Tell me about this girl.”

 

Maggie lets out something between a laugh and a sob, overcome with gratitude for her aunt, and how she always managed to make her feel better. For a moment, Maggie felt like she was sixteen again and telling her aunt about the crush she had on Jenny from Chemistry.

 

“She’s… she’s funny, in a really dry way, you know? Like most of the time she doesn’t mean to be as funny as she is. She’s smart, really smart, I wish every conversation we have would last forever. She’s passionate about everything she does, and she’s committed and she genuinely loves this country more than anyone I’ve ever met. And god, I think she’s the most beautiful girl I’ve seen in my entire life.”

 

“Wow, Maggie,” Issy says, “it sounds like you really like her.”

 

“Tia,” Maggie whispers into the phone, “I’m love her. I’m totally and completely in love with her.”

 

“Then forget everything else. If you love her, that’s all that matters. I can handle what they say about me, I’m a big girl. You just make sure you hold onto her, Maggie. Got it?”

 

“Got it.”

 

“I love you, Maggie.”

 

“I love you, too, tia.”

 

And so Maggie showers for the first time in days. And she gets dressed. And she braves the throng of reporters still outside her apartment because it’s all worth it, to have the love of her life by her side. Because that’s who Alex is. Alex is the person Maggie wants to spend her forever with. Alex is everything Maggie dreamed of having when she was young and stuck in her father’s home.

 

“Maggie, do you have anything to say about the allegations of your affair with the Queen?”

 

“Maggie is it true you got kicked out of home when you were 13? Have you spoken to your parents about this?”

 

Maggie whirls around to face them.

 

“I ask that you please leave my family out of this and give them their privacy.”

 

“Maggie! Maggie!” they call her name, becoming more demanding once she gave them attention.

 

“Maggie, do you love her?” one calls out.

 

The small smile on her face definitely gives away everything, and she knows giving them anything at all is a mistake, but she can’t help it. In no world can she deny the things she feels for Alex.

 

“No comment,” she says, and then she gets in her car and drives away, the bright flashes of photography following her as she goes.

 

///

 

Security doesn’t even stop her. She drives right through and she finds her way to Alex’s office with ease, a determined bounce to her step.

 

Alex sits behind her desk, like always, and looks surprised to see her.

 

“Maggie, what’re you doing here?” she asks, standing up.

 

Maggie crosses the office and kisses Alex with all of the passion and all of the love she contains within her. I love you , she tries to say, I’m sorry.

 

They kiss and everything else fades away. She forgets about the reporters and the struggles they’re bound to face going forward. She forgets about everything she’s had to worry about for the past few days because Alex is here and Alex is now and Alex is all she really needs.

 

“What was that for?” Alex asks, breathless, pulling away from Maggie.

 

“That was because I love you. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life loving you.”

 

“What about everything you said? Your privacy?”

 

“Fuck that!” Maggie cries. “Fuck anybody who says anything about us! Alex, I was scared - so scared - and I was stupid. I want to be by your side through all of this. I want everybody to know what you mean to me, I don’t want them to speculate about bullshit. I want this Alex.”

 

“You can’t run off again, okay? You only get one freak out; I can’t handle more than one.”

 

“I’m not going anywhere, ever.”

 

“Really?” Alex asks, tears pooling in her eyes. “Because I don’t know if I could do this without you.”

 

“I swear. I’ll be here.”

 

///

 

A Message from Her Majesty, Queen Alexandra

 

Since I was young, I have been very aware of the warmth with which I have been accepted by the citizens of Arendelle. I feel lucky to have the support of this wonderful nation, and am aware of the privilege and fortune I have been bestowed in my life.

 

I am also aware that there is an abundance of curiosity that surrounds my private life. I have never been comfortable with this, but have tried to develop a thick skin with regards to the fictitious stories written about me. I have also strived to develop a professional relationship with Arendelle’s media, focused on my work and the many issues that remain close to my heart.

 

However, this past week, has seen a line crossed. When faced with delicate information regarding my personal life, the media has subjected many people in my life to abuse and harassment. The homophobic and racist comments I have seen directed to Ms. Maggie Sawyer are unacceptable. Arendelle was founded on kinship and acceptance, something which I fear a select few in the media have forgotten. Our nation is one that welcomes people of all religions, genders, sexualities, and races. And though she has now been thrust into the public eye, that does not mean Ms. Sawyer should receive any of the abuse she has been. This is not a price she has to pay, nor part of the game that my life is often thought to be. This is not a game. This is Maggie’s life, and it is my own.

 

Though I feel as though I am entitled to privacy despite my title, I want to confirm that I am a lesbian. I hope that Arendelle can accept this, as my family, the prime minister and our government has already done. I do not believe that this information will in any way hinder my ability to rule our country with fairness and love.

 

I would also like to confirm that, like reported by various outlets, I am in a relationship with Ms. Maggie Sawyer. Maggie has been in my life for just under a year, and is a compassionate, intelligent and kind person whom I am privileged to love. Whilst I do not seek nor need anybody’s approval regarding this matter, I hope that the public will embrace Maggie as I and my family have done.

 

Signed,

 

Alexandra

 

///

 

Maggie can see the flashes from the camera hoard outside, the press waiting for their first glimpse of Queen Alexandra and her new girlfriend.

 

Alex slips her hand into Maggie’s, squeezing it tightly.

 

“Are you okay?” she asks, and Maggie nods.

 

“Let’s do this.”

 

And then, together, they face the world.

 

//////

 

“Are you ready?”

 

“Almost.”

 

Alex pops her head into the room, laughing as she sees Maggie trying to wrangle their daughter into the dress they had picked out a week before.

 

“Mamma no!” the little girl yells, trying her best to escape her mother’s grip.

 

“Mamma yes! Come on, Matilda, help me out,” Maggie replies with a huff. She spots Alex in the doorway and frowns at her. “You got the easy job.”

 

“Easy? I dressed two kids!”

 

“Yeah but they’re both infants, they barely move!”

 

Alex shrugs. “You snooze you lose.”

 

“Tag team, I beg you.” Maggie says, holding out a hand. Alex laughs and slaps it with her own, before taking Matilda from her wife.

 

Matilda’s dressed in less than five minutes.

 

In the meantime, Maggie sneaks into her sons’ room, where Theodore and Thomas lie in their bassinets, gurgling happily. They each wear a long white dress, the traditional Introduction attire.

 

(Maggie, of course, never thought she’d be on the balcony during the Royal Infant Introduction, holding one of her sons and introducing him to Arendelle. She’s always just been part of the crowd.)

 

“Hi Teddy, hi Tommy!” Maggie says to the babies, smiling down at them. She feels a small force crash into her legs and she looks down to see Matilda holding onto her.

 

“You ready to go, Tilly? Go and say hello to everyone?”

 

“I’m gonna wave, mamma.”

 

“You been practicing?”

 

Matilda nods and puts her arms up. Maggie picks her up and kisses her on the cheek.

 

“Where’s your mommy?” she asks.

 

“I’m here.”

 

Maggie turns around, and, like every single time she sees Alex, she’s at a loss for words.

 

“Isn’t your mother beautiful?” she asks Matilda, who nods fiercely. “I think so, too.”

 

“Well you’re not too bad yourself,” Alex says, kissing Maggie, and laughing when Matilda plants a sloppy kiss on her cheek. “How did I get so lucky?”

 

“You know, I ask myself the same question all the time.”

 

It was tricky sometimes, she admits, sharing her family with the entire world and being constantly on show could be exhausting. But Maggie has the fairytale life every little girl dreams of having. She has a platform she uses to change the world for the better. She has a loving wife and beautiful kids and enough love in her life to last her several lifetimes.

 

And most of all, she knows that no matter what happens, she and Alex will get their happily ever after.

 

Because they’re already living it.