Disclaimer - This is a story in progress. Sections will be posted as they are finalized. I have done research on this time frame and the political climate. While I tried to stay true to some of the historical trappings, I took liberties with MANY things. It is fiction first. I apologize to any history buffs and to the people of Spain and France for my lack of knowledge. When I get paid to write these things, I promise to get it exact, but until then, I have a day job and not enough time or money to hire a research assistant.
Copyright - This is an alternative uber tale. No copyright infringement is intended. This is not to be used for profit.
Subtext and Sex - Yes and yes. If the idea of two women loving each other is not your cup of tea; go get a glass of milk and skip this. If you are under the age of 18 years of age or this type of story is illegal in your state or country, please do not read it.
Violence and Language - There are scenes of fighting. The language is pretty mild.
Credits - This story line is completely my own, but the poem that is found as a journal entry in Section Three is by a very talented poet. I inquired if she would lend her beautiful words to this story and she accepted. I cannot tell you how honored and grateful I am. Thank you Renotta. Your poetry is always a source of inspiration.
Dedication - This is for my twin sister. She has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement and like me, is a huge romantic. Youre amazing.
Thank You - Big hugs to Cindy at ForevaXena, Stacia, and Tracey for beta reading and for your words of encouragement. Kisses to The Bards Village for all the wonderful feedback and for giving me a home in your talented community. A big thank you to Mary D for the Xippys on "Written in My Days" and "My Cup of Tea". Im a beginning writer and these awards have encouraged my to write on.
Danielle slowly composed herself and with all the courage she could muster, rose and addressed the people who loved and cared for her and Maria.
"I can think of no greater gift than what all of you are offering Maria and I," Danielle said taking a deep breath. "I know youve put a good deal of love and thought into this fabrication and are willing to give up much to allow us this chance. Somewhere in the back of my mind I prayed that Maria and I would get an opportunity to be together, but honestly, I thought it wouldnt come without a considerable struggle and I never, ever, realized how much I would have to give up."
"We love you both very much," Rosa said. "But, if you have any doubts about this, now is the time for you to make them known."
Danielle walked to Rosa and knelt down in front of the Spanish woman, taking her hand and holding it in her own. Looking into the eyes of the woman who had brought Maria into world, Danielle saw her doubt and knew she needed to put Rosas mind at ease.
"I love Maria," Danielle said softly. "I will never be able to tell you exactly how much. This bond we share is not of this earth, its stronger and more spiritual than anything I have ever seen. If the story my mother shared with me is true, then I have no doubt that Maria is the other half of my soul. I do not question that its Maria that I want to be with for the rest of my living days. I promise you that my love for her will never die, and as long as she wants me to be by her side, it is there that you will find me."
"It seems you were destined for each other," Rosa leaned forward and kissed Danielle on the cheek. "I remember the look in Marias eyes when she first met you that day in the garden. I had never seen Maria stumble over her words or act so unsure of herself as she did when she saw you. I knew then that she had fallen, but I wondered if you felt the same for her."
"And now?" Danielle asked.
"Now . . . now I am certain of it and it couldnt make me any happier," Rosa said, pulling back and studying Danielles face. She watched as Danielle smiled, and it filled her heart to know that Maria was so deeply loved by a young woman that she admired and cared for. Few things in life were cut and dried, but this bond was strong and undeniable, and it filled Rose with joy.
"We have a lot to do now, Danielle," Rosa said seriously. "But the first thing we need to do is make sure Maria agrees to our illusion; after all she is a part of this."
"Yes, of course," Danielle said, standing. "I know she loves me, but agreeing to something of this magnitude will take some convincing, if Im not mistaken."
"You really do know my daughter, dont you?" Rosa chuckled. "Shell be thinking of you, Danielle, and your safety. That will be at the forefront of her mind. The life you will be living will be difficult, and Maria will not like you subjected to it."
"Danielle," Catherine interrupted, looking at her daughter. "You do realize that we will have to change your appearance and you will have to leave Spain as well?"
"I knew it would mean drastic changes," Danielle swallowed hard. "Im willing to make them and I think once I convince Maria of it and my commitment to her, shell come around."
"Shed be a fool not to," Fredrick said, finally stepping in to voice his support. "If she gives you too much resistance, just come and find me, I might have a way of convincing her." He winked at Danielle and gave her a big grin.
"Why does that not surprise me?" Danielle laughed. "Id better go up and tend to our patient. As soon as she wakes up, Ill talk to her. Please dont do anything until weve come to an agreement on all of this. I love you all very much. You will never now what this means to me. I am truly the luckiest woman alive."
Danielle turned and walked out of the room. Small tears formed again as she thought of the love of her family and friends and the sacrifices that were being offered for her and Maria.
Danielle walked into the room and looked down on the foot of the bed at the dog, whose tail was wagging. She petted Cora on the head and scratched her behind the ears. Maria still slept soundly and she didnt want to wake her just yet; her body needed to heal and the best thing she could do was rest. Sitting in the chair next to the bed, she leaned back and watched the slow rise and fall of the tall womans chest. Danielle let her thoughts drift back to the beginning of their connection as she closed her eyes.
Its still so hard for me to believe I actually found you. I was so confused and scared at first, but I could not deny the feelings that I felt for you and the responses that you evoked in me, Danielle thought. You tried to deny us at first and I cannot blame you, but even you realize now that we are only complete when were with each other. You must allow us this chance together.
Danielle stopped her musing, and when she turned her attention back to the bed she was surprised to see gentle blue eyes looking at her.
"How are you feeling?" Danielle asked.
"Like Ive been trampled by a horse, but it could be worse," Maria yawned and tried to stretch but grimaced in pain as she felt the sharp ache in her side return. "Not much worse, though."
"You just take it easy, Maria," Danielle said leaning forward. "Youre going to need your strength very soon."
"Ill assume theres a reason you just said that?"
"We seem to have a lot to talk about," Danielle smiled and reached down to grab the Spanish womans hand. She took her other hand and lightly ran her fingers up the inside of the dark arm. "As much as I would like to let this wait until later when you have healed more, Im afraid we need to talk now."
"Umm hmmm," Maria said, trying to concentrate. All she could think about right now was how good it felt to feel Danielles fingers running up and down her arm. The trail of her touches was causing her head to swim, and she closed her eyes enjoying the sensations. "Go ahead . . . tell me whats going on in your head, Princess."
"Well, to begin with," Danielle said continuing her manipulations, "You can never call me that again. The princess is no longer with us."
"What?" Marias eyes snapped open. "What are you talking about?"
"Just relax," Danielle said slowly. "This is going to be a little hard to explain, but believe me, the result could mean that you and I will get our chance to be together. First, though, I need to tell you some things, Maria. You know that I have dreamt of your eyes since I was very young and I knew immediately when I saw you that it was you I had wished for all my life. I prayed to find you. I was surprised at first that those blue eyes of my dreams belonged to a woman. I tried to fight the feelings at first because they were new to me. But, Ive never . . . Ive never . . . what Im trying to tell you is that Ive never felt for anyone the way I feel for you. I love you, Maria, heart and soul. Its you I want to hold and you I want to be with night and day. I love you so much, Maria. When I thought you might not make it, it tore me apart. I felt like a piece of me was slipping away also. Its hard for me to explain, but I need you. I feel like our souls are connected and I cant imagine being separated from you ever again. You told me you loved me, but do you feel these things, Maria?"
Maria looked at the beautiful woman still holding her hand and felt her heart beating faster. This was it, this was what she had dreamt of and hoped for. Of course she felt the same, but shed never been very good at expressing her emotions. She wanted Danielle in every way possible and she knew all too well how her life had changed when the princess came into it. It scared Maria in many ways. She had never been vulnerable before and this woman had invaded her heart and left her defenseless. But, just as Danielle had said, she couldnt fathom the thought of being separated from her. She was hopelessly in love with this woman, the princess of France, the woman who had been intended for her brother, and nothing could change that.
"Danielle," Maria said squeezing the soft hand in her grasp. "Everything I have known to be true in my life has been changed. Id be lying if I didnt tell you that it scares me, but what scares me more is the thought of you leaving me. Now that I know what this connection feels like and how much you love me, I think my heart would simply stop beating if we were separated. I love you. You are my world. I want you with me forever. Dont you ever doubt that again."
Danielle stood and leaned down to capture Marias lips in a kiss that sealed their love. It was slow and soft and passionate. Different from the heated and urgent kisses that theyd shared before they had committed their hearts to each other. This kiss was intentional and deliberate. Marias hand moved up to Danielles neck and she pulled her a little closer as she ran her fingers into the back of the soft blonde hair at the base of her neck. Their tongues mingled together and they slowly explored each other, moaning softly as their breathing turned ragged with a building passion. Maria let her tongue run across Danielles lower lip and then captured it, sucking softly. Danielle moaned louder and then pulled away to look at the beautiful woman causing these reactions in her body.
"Oh, Maria," Danielle said blushing, bringing her hand to the dark womans cheek. "The things you do to me. Every time we touch the feelings seem stronger and more intense. I love you."
"I feel exactly the same way, my love," Maria said covering the small hand holding her face with her own. She took Danielle's hand and moved it down to rest upon her rapidly beating heart. "Do you feel that? That's what you do to me. The desire for you consumes me."
Danielles own desire raged as she sat back down. No words could begin to describe how her body responded to this Spanish woman. In her wildest dreams, shed never imagined it would feel like this. When their lips connected Danielles body melted into the embrace, leaving her unable to distinguish her skin from Marias. It was as if their emotions and passion mixed together and became the blood in her veins, allowing her to live and breathe. She truly came alive when Maria touched her.
Maria watched as a glow burned in the green eyes of the young woman whose hand she held to her heart.
"What are you thinking right now?" Maria asked.
"Thinking is something that I dont do very well when Im around you. Why is it that you are the only person Ive met who can leave me unable to form a coherent sentence?"
Maria smirked and raised her shoulders in a shrug, unable to answer that question.
"Well, whatever the reason," Danielle said, "This feeling, the one I have right now, I wouldnt trade it for all the riches in this vast world."
They sat, completely lost in each others eyes. After a few moments, a peace overtook both women at the recognition of two souls united.
Cora rolled over and barked, causing them to pull away from their gaze, laughing.
"Shes good at ruining the mood," Danielle teased and ran her right hand down the little dogs back. Cora wagged her tail in response.
"She likes you and thats pretty rare," Maria smiled. "Now, what is this about the "princess" being gone?"
"Thats a bit complicated," Danielle leaned back but left her hand securely wrapped in Marias. "Im going to tell you the whole story, but you have to promise me that youll let me get it all out before you interrupt. Promise?"
"Our families love us very much, Maria. We both know that. Theyve devised a plan that would allow us to be together, but we will both have to give up our lives as we have known them."
"Im still listening," Maria said.
"Fredrick wanted to marry me in name only, allowing me to stay here in Spain and be with you . . ."
"Hold on . . ." Maria interrupted but was stopped abruptly by a small hand covering her mouth.
"You promised!" Danielle said, looking sternly at blue eyes.
Maria sighed and nodded her head in resignation.
Danielle slowly removed her hand. "For many reasons, that would not have worked, the least of which being that I could not allow Fredrick to give up his chance of finding what you and I have. He deserves to be loved and I could not live with myself knowing he sacrificed that for us."
Maria shook her head in approval but did not speak.
"Now, this next part is where I need you to be umm . . . to be flexible," Danielle said.
Maria narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips together.
"Lets say that while trying to escape from her captors, the princess of France was fatally wounded. In that scenario, since the princess was dead, the young man from Spain would not have a wife to marry and in turn, all obligations to her title and country would expire with her last breath," Danielle said.
Danielle watched as Maria closed her eyes and knotted the sheet into a ball with her free hand.
"Now, envision a young woman with say, short hair, dressed differently, with a new name, who loved a Spanish woman more than her own life," Danielle bent down and kissed Marias cheek.
"Can I speak now?" Maria opened her eyes.
"I love you, Danielle, but what you are talking about here is much more than a change of identity. Do you understand that?"
"I know, my love," Danielle said. "I realize that I could never return to France or see my mother or father again and that we, for all practical purposes, would be living a lie. Im willing to accept this fate if it means Ill be with you. Our families believe, however, that we would have to leave Spain, and that means you would have to leave the villa and the people you care about. Thats a lot for you to give up."
"Its not just that," Maria swallowed. "You are a princess, youve been accustomed to the finest things that this world has had to offer. Fine china to eat off, servants to bathe you, dress you, and take care of your every need. And just where would we go, two women travelling alone? Do you know what a life on the road would consist of? Sleeping on the ground, searching or hunting for our next meal - and the dangers we could encounter. What if we are attacked? This is not a masquerade ball, Danielle."
"But I will be with you, Maria. I can adapt with your help, and Im not as helpless as some people think."
"I cant let you be subjected to this, Danielle. You are royalty. You shouldnt be reduced to peasant status just to be with me. You dont deserve to live that kind of life."
"I think I should be able to make that choice for myself and I choose us, Maria," Danielle said, raising her voice. "I choose whatever that will mean."
"Well, I dont," Maria snapped. "Its not what you were meant to do."
"Meant to do? Not what I was meant to do? I suppose marrying some man for the sake of my fathers political goals is exactly what I was meant to do. I was meant to love you, Maria. Look at me and tell me that you dont feel that."
Maria ground her teeth together in frustration and didnt answer.
Danielle stood up and walked across the room. "Maybe its you that cant make this choice. Is that it, Maria? Is it too much for you to give up? Are we not worth these sacrifices?"
"Thats not it!"
"Well, then what are you saying? Help me to understand because right now it looks like you dont want this."
"Thats not what I think!"
"What then?" Danielle begged.
"What if . . . what if . . ."
"What if what?" Danielle felt tears begin to well in her eyes.
"What if something happened to me? What if I wasnt able to protect you? I couldnt stand to think that you could be harmed because you chose to be with me and live a life on the run," Maria said hanging her head.
Danielle moved back to the bed and sat down. She placed her hand on the tall womans cheek, lifting her head to look into her eyes. "Is that what all of this is about?"
"I seem to become distracted around you," Maria said softly. "I wasnt there to protect you from being kidnapped in the first place, and I should have seen that coming. I let my guard down. My emotions got in the way. I never let my emotions get the best of me and because I was distracted, Ortega was able to get the upper hand. I would rather die than see you harmed again."
"You saved me, Maria," Danielle said. "It was you that freed me from Ortega. Have you forgotten?"
"No," Maria said. "I have not forgotten, and I have not forgotten that you were almost killed because I didnt take the time to make sure that our path to the horses was secure. I should have seen that man on the roof!"
"But it was you who saved me again," Danielle said. "You stepped in the line of fire and risked your life to save mine. Maria, I trust you with my life, but there are no guarantees."
"Well, thats not good enough," Maria sighed. "Your life is too important to be put at risk. I wont have that."
"Why, because Im a princess, or because you love me and youre afraid that if something happened to me that youd be alone and you couldnt take that?"
Maria closed her eyes. That was true. She couldnt imagine her life without Danielle in it. When she thought of it, it felt like the weight of a mountain sitting on her chest, crushing her lungs.
"Thats it, isnt it?" Danielle asked softly. "I understand that feeling, Maria, but we cant let our fear keep us from this opportunity. You can have me now and risk losing me in the future, or you can lose me right now."
"Do you have fun doing that?" Maria asked, opening her eyes.
"Exposing my vulnerabilities like that."
"Your weaknesses are the same as mine," Danielle said. "I know what youre feeling because I feel the very same thing. Now that weve found each other, we are forever connected, body and soul. I honestly think that if I was separated from you that my spirit would die, and in a matter of time the flesh would die right along with it. So, the way I see it, Id actually have a much longer life span by staying with you and taking my chances."
"You really feel that?"
"Yes, dont you?"
"Yes, but I was too ashamed to admit it. I thought youd think I was weak."
"You are many things, Maria, but weak is definitely not one of them." Danielle said, smiling.
"And you, Princess, are no longer a princess," Maria sighed, finally giving in. "What shall I call you now?"
"Hmm," Danielle said. "What do you think of Margaret?"
"Perhaps not," Danielle smiled. "Why dont we leave that decision for later. Right now theres something I need to do."
"And that would be?
Danielle leaned down and kissed Maria passionately.
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