A Queen for Figaro

[08.07.00] » by Hoyden




"Please, your Majesty?"




"Just this once?"


"Absolutely not."


"Well, why not?"


Edgar looked up in mild irritation.  "Chancellor, are you deliberately trying to provoke me?  It belongs to my father, not to me.  I won't wear it, no matter the circumstances."  Having said his piece, he returned his attention to the document lying in front of him, blowing a stray hair out of his face.


The Chancellor hovered in the doorway, and the tenacity that Edgar usually found so useful in the man reasserted itself.  "Majesty," he remonstrated, "what is a king without his crown?"


"Undoubtedly a sane and intelligent individual without the weight of gold and jewels to crush his brain," Edgar muttered into his paperwork.  Finally seeing that his was a lost cause, the Chancellor sighed and departed, shutting the door quietly behind him.


Tomorrow was his birthday, more officially entitled "the anniversary of the birth of his Majesty, King Edgar Roni Figaro."  Edgar shook his head in disgust and bit his lip lightly.  He sometimes wished it could just be a plain old birthday.  But he had been urged that the people needed a reason to celebrate – apparently, the fact that he was alive and well was as good a reason as any.  He rolled his neck, trying to ease some of the tension out of his body.  It didn't work very well, and he cursed lightly under his breath before digging into his desk to find the secret stash of chocolate that had been a gift from a renowned sweet shop in South Figaro.


He began to scan another document when he heard a knock at the door.  "Chancellor," he groaned, "will you PLEASE leave me in peace?!"


The door creaked open in spite of his wishes.  "This had best be important," he growled, not even looking up.


"Sounds like it's past somebody's bedtime," Sabin drawled as he strode in, preparing to fling all the sand off his cloak.


"Not on the carpet," Edgar reprimanded absentmindedly, scrawling his signature at the bottom of a sheaf of paper.  Sabin rolled his eyes and obediently shook his cloak out over the windowsill.


"So, ready for the big party tomorrow?" Sabin asked, seating himself on Edgar's desk and neatly thieving a piece of chocolate.


Edgar rubbed his eyes.  "I feel ancient."


Sabin snorted.  "That's because you work too damn hard.  That's what the Chancellor's for – to free you up from some of this mundane stuff.  Trust me, he can handle some of the petty property disputes.  You ought to be living it up – you're a young king and tomorrow's our birthday.  Let's get drunk."

"But I'm not finished!"  Edgar fretted.


Sabin was already pawing through the liquor cabinet.  "Well well, what do we have here?  Imported all the way from Maranda…brother, have you been hiding this from me?"  He held up the bottle to the light and whistled appreciatively.  "Now that's what I'm talking about," he said, pouring them both a glass.  They sipped at their drinks in peace for a few moments, enjoying the companionable silence.


Finally the martial arts master spoke.  "I hear they want you to get married."


Edgar stared into his glass glumly.  "Yes…the popular choice is a lady from Jidoor.  Or more accurately, the trade contracts that go along with her."


His twin took a long, deliberate swallow.  "Sounds like a shitty reason to get married.  You don't need the contracts that badly.  Better find someone you can stand talking to for the rest of your life or you'll be sleeping next to an iceberg."


"Have you heard from…her?" the young king ventured finally, his voice straining and cracking a bit at the end.


Sabin nodded, not even having to ask to whom the pronoun referred.  "She's coming tomorrow, you know.  If you don't want to marry an ice princess you'd better be persuasive – this could be your only chance, Edgar.  Don't squander it or you'll regret it."


The sea blue eyes twinkled a bit, banishing the former gloom.  "Now who are you to give me advice in matters of the heart, brother?  I'll wager you pinched three of my maids on the way in."


"Four," Sabin corrected.  "And I just want to see you and a dear friend happy.  You're made for each other – you just gotta stop dancing around the subject.  Gotta make her see you're serious."


"I don't think she'd believe me," Edgar sighed, sinking back into misery.  "She's never believed a word I said."


Sabin looked like he was trying really hard not to laugh.  "I've always thought that was a positive characteristic on her part."


"Brother!"  The young king groaned, anguished.


Sabin finally gave into his laughter.  "Isn't this terribly ironic?  You've flirted with women since you were 13 and now the one you really want thinks you're full of it."  His laughter died down, but a bit of a smile tugged at the corners of his lips.  "Don't worry," he reassured him, clapping him on the back.  "We'll work something out."


Edgar's eyes snapped open.  "No.  Oh no.  Sabin, no plots, no games, don't say anything, don't DO anything.  You make me nervous when you start talking like that.  Promise me you won't make a mess of things," he demanded, looking rather like a skittish horse.


Rolling his eyes, Sabin downed the rest of his glass.  "See?  I told you.  You worry too much and you work too damn hard.  You need to relax, brother.  Like I said, everything will be just fine!"


"I'm doomed," Edgar moaned.



It was loud, that was certain.  The great looming castle reverberated with the sound of its celebrants, and periodically she had the ridiculous urge to cover her ears.  She picked her way through the crowd, smiling at the familiarity of the great stone walls with the rich carpets and wall hangings in the royal colors of Figaro.  The castle was alive today as it probably had not been in almost a year…though Figaro had certainly suffered less damage than other towns she could name.

"TERRA!" a male voice bellowed, and before she knew it, she was gasping for air from the force of Sabin's bear hug. "How's my favorite green-haired witch?" Sabin asked jovially, just stopping himself from mussing up her hair as he usually did.

She ducked and mocked scowled at him. "Hey, I'm the only green-haired witch you know!" she retorted.

"Must be why you're my favorite," he grinned cheerfully. They went through this drill nearly every time they saw each other. At first it was just annoying, and now it was so stupid it was funny. The crowd around them cheered as he bussed her noisily on the cheek; she attempted to swat him away and failed miserably, as usual. He slung an arm around her shoulder and led her off in the direction of the throne room.

She caught sight of herself in a large mirror and skidded to a halt, inspecting her curled and beribboned hair anxiously and smoothing her dress. Sabin waited patiently, his dark blue eyes faintly amused. "You never cared before," he observed, his voice deep and drawling.

Her mouth crinkled in annoyance. "Can't I be a normal woman and care about how I look?" She stole a sidelong glance at him. "Oops- I forgot. You're terrified of actually caring about a normal woman," she said, and then paused as she saw him approach her with a devilish look in his eyes.

"I am so going to tickle you into submission," he growled. But the gruff love in his eyes couldn't mask the sadness – sadness she suspected resulted from the fear that anyone he loved would be taken away from him. He looked startled as she sympathetically patted him on the cheek, and then linked her arm in his.

"Shall we?" she asked, her smile brilliant. Just before the door to the throne room, they paused and waited for a courtier to announce them.

Sabin leaned down and whispered in her ear, "I remember that dress. Edgar gave it to you! Did you wear it to impress him?" he taunted in a singsong voice. Her elbow made contact with his side and he grunted in pain in the middle of his laughter.

"I'm going to kill you, Sabin," she hissed, her cheeks rosy. Their tiff was interrupted by the fanfare of trumpets.

"Prince Sabin Rene Figaro, Heir to the Throne of Figaro! Lady Terra Branford!" bellowed an announcer, his voice echoing throughout the hall. Terra bit her lip anxiously, knowing there would be a huge crowd inside.

"It's magic time," the prince informed her, his eyes smiling while his face became noble and proud. "Smile nice and don't trip." That was all the warning she got before the doors swung open and he led her down the red carpeted aisle.

A hundred eyes were fixed on the usually absent Prince of Figaro and herself, and she could hear the noise of courtly chatter swell as they approached the King. Terra kept her eyes transfixed on the carpet in front of her as they walked, and when they stopped before the dais, she curtseyed and looked up to see Edgar standing before her. There was something odd about his smile, and as if in a daze he moved forward and reached for her hand. Of course he can't hug me in public, she reminded herself, though miserable with the thought. He mouthed formalities she would never remember, and then to her surprise, pulled her into his arms. "I've missed you so," he whispered, his voice rough with emotion.

The shocked crowd buzzed with exclamations and questions, and Prince Sabin just smiled and asked the Chancellor to adjourn court until the feast that evening. Edgar didn't precisely run away with Terra, but he certainly walked quickly.


"So…what brings you to my humble castle?" Edgar inquired of her. They were walking through some back hallways, used only by the king and a few others, and his hand was casually linked with her own. Though Terra considered there to be nothing casual about the maddening little strokes of his thumb against her palm, and it was with some effort that she dredged up an answer to his question.

"It was time to move on," she answered simply, trying to keep the wistfulness out of her voice.

He stopped them and brushed a green ringlet away from her face, his blue eyes confused. "But I thought your children…"

She closed her eyes and sighed. "I just needed some time away to think.  Besides, Katarin and Duane are more than capable of taking care of them, and they have been their defacto parents since I left them to fight Kefka.  I just wish…" she trailed off, not sure what it was that she wanted.  But she shook her head of sad thoughts, remembering her official reason for her visit.  "I came to wish you and Sabin a happy birthday, and here I am burdening you with my concerns.  I'm sorry, Edgar," she said softly, and wrapped her arms around him.  The silk of his shirt was smooth against her cheek as she laid her face against his chest.  Hesitantly, his arms encircled her and he tucked her head beneath his chin.

"Don't be, my lady.  I am delighted that you're here, whatever the reason.  And even if they bury me in paperwork, I swear I'll always have time to listen to you, dear heart."

She looked up, truly touched by his words, and in some far part of her mind was surprised by how close he was to her.  And another part knew that she'd been waiting for a very long time for this, and so as he gazed at her with a strange expression in his eyes, she knew what she wanted to do.  He gasped a little as she moved her arms from around his waist to around his neck.  "Terra," he murmured.  "I really think we ought not-"

She silenced his words as her lips touched his in a fleeting contact.  She pulled her head back so she could look him in the eye, and the fierce expression she saw almost took her breath away.  Almost.  But the passionate, hungry kiss that followed, with Edgar's arms tightening about her, really left her quite mindless.  She supposed that they really should slow down, but she was so caught up and his hands were making all sorts of interesting explorations.  Still kissing desperately and clinging to each other, they gradually made their way down the hallway…

And bumped into something with a lot of muscles.


Terra and Edgar jerked apart, flushed and guilty like a pair of teenagers.

"And just where do you think you two are going?" Sabin demanded, his face stern.

Edgar's mouth worked but no words came out.  Seeing his inability to speak, Terra timidly volunteered, "Somewhere else?"

Sabin flashed an exasperated glance at his brother.  "Uh-uh.  You, missy, back to your room, while I have a little discussion with my dear, dear brother."  As Terra departed, he thwapped his twin upside the head.

"Owww," Edgar protested.  "She started it."

"Riiight," Sabin agreed sarcastically.  "Better pick out a ring or I'm going to introduce your face to the flagstones.  I don't care what you do with other women, but Terra's special and you'd better be serious before any romps take place in the royal bed.  Got it?"

Edgar rubbed his head and glared at him.  "I thought this was what you wanted me to do."

"It is.  Congratulations.  Just don't get carried away."

"Easy for you to say," the king huffed as he stalked off.

"Are you feeling a bit uncomfortable?" Sabin called after him maliciously.


Edgar's response was a very rude hand gesture just before he slammed the door.



Terra lay awake, staring at her bedroom ceiling dreamily.  As far as she was concerned, the evening feast had been utterly, completely perfect.  Earlier that afternoon when she had returned to her room after a bit of exploration among the east wing of the castle, she had found a gorgeous dress of wine-colored velvet and jewelry to match lying on her bed.  Accompanying it was a brief note in elegant handwriting, asking her to please wear it to the celebration that evening.  Her breath had caught in her throat, already knowing whom it was from before reading the scrawled signature.


The evening had seemed pure magic, sitting beside him and dancing with him.  She smiled, remembering her fright when he had asked her for the privilege to dance with her.  She had stuttered that she knew nothing of dancing, but he promised something simple.  And so he led her to the middle of the floor, with hundreds of eyes watching them intently.  Those expecting the intricate dance that was popular this season in court were surprised to see their elegant and fashionable king lead her in the simplest of waltzes.  When she had miscounted and stumbled a bit, he steadied her and they continued to whirl around the floor, and Terra was oblivious to any and all who might tear her gaze away from the shining ocean blue of his eyes.


Perfect.  Utterly wonderful.


She turned onto her stomach and hugged her pillow, biting her lower lip gently as she thought.  There was such an extreme difference between the king who had wooed her at the feast and the king with lonely eyes and desperate embraces.  As much as Terra had enjoyed the company of the former this evening, it was the latter who haunted her thoughts.


A very devilish smile spread over her face.  The last time she'd seen Sabin, he was well on his way to being drunk.  Which meant that he would be a bit indisposed by this time.


That thought deciding her, she crept out of bed and slid on a gossamer night wrap.  As she stole down the hallways, upstairs and downstairs, through many twists and turns, the flagstones were icy cold beneath her bare feet.  She reached a doorway that let her out onto one of the bridges that led to the west compartment of the castle, and shivered as the night desert wind swept over her on her way across the bridge.  More twists and turns, and at last she reached the king's private apartments.


There were guards.  She hadn't thought about that.  Stupid, she berated herself.  Of course the King of Figaro would be guarded while he slept!  Finally deciding that these guards were probably used to it, she walked toward them and they parted without a sound or a raised eyebrow.  She slipped into the room and shut the door behind her.


The room was lit by the full moon, and in the dusky blue shadows she made out his tall form curled slightly in a mammoth bed.  Her heart raced a bit as she crept over to its side, and then her eyes softened when she looked at him.  He seemed utterly exhausted and she shook her head regretfully, having no wish to wake him from much needed sleep.  She turned to leave but stopped dead in her tracks at the sound of his voice.


"Terra?" came the sleep-roughened baritone.  She turned around to see him blinking in drowsy confusion, the blankets falling into a puddle around him as he sat up.  "Is something wrong?"


She suddenly felt extraordinarily foolish.  Who was she to be disturbing him in the middle of the night on a whim?  "I…I just wanted to see you," she confessed quietly, not removing her gaze from the surprisingly vulnerable picture he made.  He tilted his head slightly to one side, his eyebrows furrowed.


"In the middle of the night, Terra?" he asked, his voice almost inaudible.


She stepped into the shaft of moonlight beside his bed.  "Please," she whispered, then paused, trying to force the words to come out.  "Please, I don't want to be alone anymore."


The look on his face nearly broke her heart.  "You only ever had to say so, dear heart," he murmured, his eyes echoing her loneliness.  "Will you…would  you, perhaps…"


She did not wait for him to complete his thoughts.  Instead she quietly slipped into his bed and snuggled beside him.  He carefully wrapped her in his arms, as if afraid she might break, or would suddenly vanish.  Content, drowsing comfortably against him, she heard him whisper, "Please don't leave me," with aching desperation.


"Never," she assured him, brushing his lips with her own.  With a sigh he settled down, and it was not long before the regular rise and fall of his chest told her he was asleep.  And with a wondering happiness, she found it was not soon after when she sank into peaceful oblivion.



Edgar's eyes reluctantly opened when he heard the polite rap at the door.  "Your Majesty!" came the Chancellor's voice.  "I know it's quite early, but I rather need your signature on these documents so I can send them with the messenger."  Edgar groaned in protest, which his Chancellor evidently took acknowledgement because the door flew open almost immediately.  The man bustled in, several sheaves of paper in his hand, and handed them to Edgar, who had still not moved from his bed.  The king browsed through the papers and signed them, and it was only after he had handed them back that the Chancellor coughed discreetly.  "Majesty," he said slowly, "if you are perhaps finished…dallying with women, we must have a discussion about your selection of a wife."  Edgar glanced back at Terra's sleeping form and nodded slowly.


The Chancellor was on his way out the door when he paused and said, almost as an afterthought, "His Highness the Prince is on his way.  May one suggest you wake the young woman up so as to avoid any…unpleasantness."  Edgar grinned at that, and the Chancellor bowed and departed.


Am I finished dallying with women?


Edgar traced Terra's delicate neck with one finger.  Maybe not ever finished flirting.  But am I finished with having a different woman sleep beside me every time I turn around?  Am I finished with wooing women who mean nothing to me?


Yes.  And I'm tired of being lonely.  She's tired of being lonely.  But does it necessarily follow that because she likes Edgar, she must also like the King?


"I warned you.  She had better be fully clothed or you're going to be missing some teeth."


"Good morning, Sabin," Edgar said blandly.  "All your concern is for naught.  Nothing at all transpired last night."


His burly twin looked more than a little suspicious, one blond eyebrow raised skeptically.  "You'll pardon me, of course, if I'm tempted to believe that silver tongue of yours is dealing out horse pucky.  Propose already, you idiot.  It's about time Figaro had a queen again."


"Sabin, she just arrived yesterday," Edgar protested, hoping to make him see the impropriety of the whole thing.


The response was a disdainful snort.  "Oh- and this matters….why?  Blockhead, you two were thick as thieves last year and lovesick to boot.  Almost made me nauseous, what with her whole, "I want to know what love is!" and your half-hearted flirting with meaningless women.  We've gotten over the main problem – you two have apparently realized that nookie is fun and that you are quite capable of being more than friends.  Now all you have to do is get married.  Simple, end of story."


And this point Terra mumbled something in her sleep and burrowed further underneath the covers.  "You ungracious lout, don't talk so loud.  You'll wake her," Edgar reprimanded him.  "And if it were as simple as that, the whole matter would be done already.  But it's not simple.  Most women marry and become a wife.  My wife, however, will be more than that – she will be a queen, with all the responsibilities that go along with that.  I will not…damn it all, I cannot take advantage of her feelings to persuade her into marriage if is not what she truly wants.  Figaro has always given its queens equal authority, you must remember that.  My wife will not be allowed to stand by and be merely a figurehead."


His twin frowned in contemplation.  "I really think Terra can handle it."


"Can, yes.  Should?  Will?  I don't know.  And I won't take that choice away from her, not as it was taken away from you and me."


"Just make sure she has the choice to make, Edgar."



Terra's stomach finally woke her up.  Still snuggled in satin sheets and blankets, she was loathe to move.  But breakfast was starting to sound really good…now who had gone to all the trouble to leave breakfast waiting for her?  A few things in Terra's mind assembled themselves and they were as follows:  1.) breakfast was an excellent idea as she was fair starved, and 2.) no Edgar.


No Edgar?  She irrationally patted the space beside her in bed, as though he'd just been misplaced.


"Your pardon, Lady Branford, but he has come and gone already this morning," a prim voice informed her.  Terra's head swiveled to see the Chancellor standing in the doorway, his eyes properly averted from what Terra quickly realized to be her less than formally clad body.  She reached for a handsome velvet robe on its stand beside the bed and quickly wrapped herself in it.  Feeling a bit silly, as it was made for a man over six feet tall, she sat at the small table and the Chancellor joined her.


"My lady," he began softly, but firmly.  "I regret that I must ask you some personal questions.  The waters you tread are much deeper than you may have imagined.  Are you in love with His Majesty?"


Terra blinked, but saw no point in dancing around the subject.  "Yes, I care for Edgar a great deal."


A wry smile crossed his face.  "Permit me, my lady, to point out to you Edgar and His Majesty the King are almost separate entities.  Should the two of you follow…this…to its natural conclusion, I must warn you that you will never simply be Edgar's wife.  You will be queen, with all the power and responsibility that the position entails.  Are you prepared for that?"


She tried to force words to come out, and succeeded marginally.  "I…well, yes."


He nodded his head approvingly.  "You have a long road ahead of you and much to learn, but His Majesty and His Highness speak well of you.  I am content with that."  He raised her hand to his lips departed, all swirling crimson cape and bustling efficiency.


"Queen?" she whispered to herself after he was gone.  "Me?"



That night, Edgar invited Terra up to the topmost part of the castle, promising an excellent view of the castle and desert.  And indeed it was – the night wind ruffled her hair and it was very peaceful there, as though they had the whole world just to themselves.


She thought something was troubling him, and gently tried to coax him into confiding in her.  He looked uncertain, but the halting words finally came out.  "Many men tell their beloved that they have nothing to offer them, but I cannot say the same.  I have everything to offer you…but I don't know if you want it.  I know it's so soon to ask you, but I feel as though I've been waiting forever, and you don't deserve the hardship and pain and-"


"Edgar," she interrupted, using a smile to soften the rudeness of the action.  "If being your wife makes me Queen, then that's just the way it is.  I understand responsibility – I took care of fifteen orphans for three years.  I understand diplomacy.  And I also understand that you are a good man and I love you.  I will marry you, but on only one condition."


"Name it," he said instantly.  "Whatever you wish for is yours."


"Please rebuild Mobliz," she whispered.  "I want them to have a good town to grow up in.  If you do that I will be your wife and your queen."


His jaw hung open for a moment at the easy resolution at what he had thought would be a painful struggle.  "You will?"


"I will," she assured him, putting all her strength into the statement.


Edgar whooped with joy and swung her around in his arms.  Bringing his face down to hers, he kissed her soundly as the people of Figaro, who had been watching all along, exploded into cheers and applause.  The impromptu festival that commenced lasted well into the early dawn hours.  For indeed, Figaro had a great reason to rejoice – after so long, they would finally have their Queen.

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