Sorry that it's been ages, I'm rubbish, I know! Enjoy :)
'Ladies first,' Jack said, as the door men opened the doors to one of their sitting rooms, already full of the rest of the guests. Despite this being a family only event with no more than a couple of dozen people, the Royal family didn't do things halfway. And for parties that meant finger food and champagne.
I walked in to the room hesitantly, Jack following close behind.
I looked up to see a thin, blonde woman with impeccable posture striding over to us. It slightly scared me that that woman was in fact the Queen of England.
'Oh darling, you must stop running around the country and come to visit us more!' she exclaimed, before, grinning, she turned to face me. 'So you're the reason we haven't seen him for the last few weeks! You must be Rose, I'm Margaret, Jack's mother.'
'It's lovely to meet you,' I replied smiling. I hadn't expected her to be this nice and welcoming, but then I guess that preconceptions are dangerous things.
'Thank you, my dear. And make sure to call me Margaret, there mustn't be any "Your Majesty" rubbish between family,' she assured me, smiling widely. 'Now Johnathon, please oblige your mother and fetch this wonderful young lady a drink! We can't be forgetting our manners now, can we?'
'Of course not, mother,' he agreed, beaming with pride that she had approved of me. 'I'll be back in a minute, Rose.'
As he left, his mother smiled lovingly after him.
'So, have you been enjoying each others company as much as rumoured over the past few weeks?' she asked, not looking at me, but still watching his back.
'Well, yes, I suppose,' I replied, confused about the line of questioning.
'Ah, I thought so. He's probably been showering you with gifts - that's normally the way the men of this family court,' she said, eyeing me critically. 'I'd imagine that that ostentatious necklace is from him.'
I glanced down at the necklace; it was the one he had sent that first week.
'Yes. But I only accepted it because he said that it hadn't cost him much,' I explained, unwilling for her to see me as a gold digger or something.
'Hmm, of course... Even though that is an heirloom passed down from queen to queen since Elizabeth I. But then I suppose you weren't to know,' she said the last bit with a slight simper, patting my arm lightly.
I was to astonished to reply. About ten seconds ago she had been so nice, but as soon as he was put of earshot she had basically just accused me of being a gold digger, only interested in Jack's money.
'And I suppose my son bought you that dress?' she said, eyeing the expensive thing with a frown.
'No actually, my mother bought it for me for my last birthday,' I replied, fighting to stay calm and polite as her judging eyes narrowed slightly. 'But Jack is certainly very generous.'
Speaking of "her son", where had he gone? He had said that he wasn't going to leave my side, but at the first possible moment he'd slipped away. And in the meantime, his mum was trying her best to coerce me out of his life.
'Yes, but somehow I doubt that it's his good qualities that interest you,' she stated plainly, sweeping away to leave me with my mouth hanging open. The nerve of that woman! How could she dare suggest...?!
Fuming, I turned away, anxious to find Jack again, before I could be accosted by any more of his mental relatives.
I walked further into the room, surprised that it wasn't easier to spot him - there were only a couple of dozen people and a few servers.
'Rose!' a girl called, her jarringly bad American accent making my name sound odd.
I turned in the direction of the noise to see a girl I had never seen before in my life barrelling towards me. She grabbed hold of me and hugged me exuberantly.
'Oh my gawd! You like can't imagine how happy I am to like finally meet you! Jacky has told me all about you!' she squealed, in a high voice. I just blinked, more than a little taken aback. 'Oh my gawd, you're like soooo pretty! I like love your hair!'
'Er, thanks,' I managed to reply as she stroked my hair slightly.
'Have you met mom yet?! She would like so totally LOVE you! I think I already like do, I mean wee only just met but I feel like I've known you for like YEARS! Don't you?' she asked, barely pausing for me to nod shakily before she ploughed on. 'Oh, there's like this one thing that I really have to tell you about Jacky though. You know that whole like cute protective thing that he's got going on that reminds you of one of those really rubbish male protagonists in a terrible story? Well, like so totally not cute after a while. Soon you're all like "Calm down, I can cross a road without you holding my hand"! Like, you know?'
'Er-' was all I had time for this time before she just went ahead with what she was saying.
'Yeah, I thought so! I can't believe that Jacky didn't introduce us before! I can already tell that we're going to be like best friends!'
I was probably in too much shock to say anything in response to her expectant gaze. For a moment I thought that the brief silence would turn into something really awkward.
But then Jack's hand was around my waist, and his lips were whispering a 'sorry' into my hair and I was able to relax.
'Ugh, why did you have to interrupt Jacky! We were having a girl talk!' she complained angrily, before flashing me a winning smile.
'Hello Magaret,' he said in a suffering voice.
'Ugh, I told you, it's MAGGIE! Gawd, can you like not remember anything?' she shook her head disappointedly, turnung ti me again. 'Ah well, it was like so nice meeting you! See ya later! You too, Jacky!'
And with that she span on the spot and flounced off to the other side of the room. We stood in silence for a second, before my brow furrowed and I turned to Jack.
'Er, why is she American?' I asked, perplexed. Jack laughed, shaking his head and placing a flute of champagne in my hand.
'That's a bit of a long story...' he chuckled, taking a sip from his own glass. 'You see, my sister Margaret, or Maggie as she would rather be known at the moment, likes to be obsessed with things. And she tends to go the whole hog with whatever she decides to like each month. You see, at the moment its american tv, some strange cereal called Fruit Loops, and her upper east side American boyfriend, So, of course, she has to do the stupid accent at the same time.'
'Woah, that's pretty mad,' I said, without thinking. Luckily, Jack just laughed.
'You're telling me! I had to live with the girl!' he complained, but he was smiling. 'What did you think of my mother then? She seemed to really like you.'
I looked up at his excited, expectant eyes and realised that I couldn't tell him what I really thought. Not only would it upset him, but I also wasn't entirely sure he would believe me over her.
'She seems really nice,' I said, smiling as I looked away. 'She obviously cares about you a lot.'
He seemed happy with that, and was about to say something when we were interrupted my a bellowing voice.
'Ah, Johnathon, my boy!' I turned around with him and saw someone whose aquiline profile I had seen so many times before. On the side of coins.
I didn't quite know whether to curtesy or run away.
'Where have you been, son?' he demanded, chuckling before turning to me. He was quite thin, a slight belly starting with middle age while his hair was pepper gray but still mostly intact. 'Ah, it's you! Long time, no see! How are the family?'
I didn't quite know what to say.
'Dad, this is my girlfriend Rose. You haven't met her before,' Jack said, sighing. I looked up at him, but he didn't meet my eyes. His own had a hard, far away look in them.
'Oh, of course not! Sorry Joan, you look a lot like someone you see-' he tried to say, running his hand anxiously through his hair.
'Her name is Rose, Dad,' Jack corrected him, his voice emotionless.
'Oh yes, quite right... Canapés!' he declared, running away from us to one of the suited waiters carrying platters of food.
'Jack...' I started, not too sure what I was going to say, but not liking the tension apparent in his jaw. Unfortunately, his mother chose that moment to appear out of thin air.
'Enjoying the party, Rose?' she asked, before turning dismissively to her son. 'Oh Jack, you can't keep the delightful girl all to yourself! Take her to meet your cousins, won't you?'
'Of course, mother,' he agreed, seeming to relax a little bit.
He took hold of my hand again and led me over to one of the windows where two boys about his age where standing.
'Hello Jonathan,' one of them said, slightly coldly. It was strange to hear Jack's full name all of the time when I had only ever known him by his nickname.
'Hi Rupert,' he smiled back, pulling me forward. 'This is my girlfriend Rose, and Rose, this is Rupert and Freddy. They're brothers, the sons of my father's brother.'
'Nice to meet you,' I smiled politely, taking them in. They had dark, almost black hair and the same precise features, although Freddy's jaw was squarer and stronger.
And they were both wearing the same vaguely preppy style that Jack seemed to favour, with light chinos, pale shirts and jumpers. Somehow Freddy seemed a bit less neat, his hair ruffled like his clothes - the overall effect made it look like he had just walked through a minor hurricane.
On the other hand, Rupert's clothes were definitely starched, his hair cut precisely and arranged perfectly while his shoes had the shine of the recently polished.
'Yes, of course, a pleasure and whatever. But really, Jonathan, you must do something about the staff, they are slacking terribly! I actually had a lukewarm canapé! Imagine that? I know, shocking,' he said quickly, his nose almost constantly wrinkled with disgust. 'And where can one get a good glass of champagne around here? They seem to be barely circulating! Ah, there's one!'
He spotted a waiter carrying a tray full of drinks and clicked his fingers to call him over.
'Well, finally!' he exclaimed, taking the flute he was offered by the waiter who promptly walked away. 'Must be because the Prince in over in this corner now! No offence taken, I hope, Jonathan? I merely meant that they recognise your importance too much to neglect you.'
He took a sip of the champagne and promptly spat it out on to the floor.
'Are you quite alright, Rupert?' Jack asked, only able to get a word in as his cousin glared at the glass in his hand.
'No, I am not! This champagne is almost room temperature! Don't these stupid commoners understand that champagne is supposed to be served chilled?! Despicable!' he complained, loudly, looking around for the offending waiter. 'Come Jack, and help me get that imbecile to understand the proper way to serve a glass of champagne to the royal family!'
Rupert started to stride away, giving Jack only a second to turn to me.
'Sorry Rose, I'll be right back!' he promised, before following his cousin.
I stared after him for a second, until a new voice intruded on my thoughts.
'So, you're the girl that everyone had been stressing over, then?' I jumped, turning to see the other brother, Freddy, still standing there. He hadn't spoken until now, and I had almost forgotten he was there.
'I suppose...' I trailed off, noticing the way that he leaned back against the wall, a totally relaxed contrast to his uptight brother.
'I can see why. I mean, it's not exactly a surprise that Jack fell for you. He's predictable when it comes to women, and you, being young and beautiful, definitely fit the bill,' he explained, looking at me with a strange expression on his face.
'Er, thanks?' I said, uncertainly. It sounded like a complement, but there was something in his look that made me feel more than slightly uncomfortable.
'You're welcome, Rose,' he smiled, stepping slightly closer. His hand reached up slowly and he rang his fingers through my hair. 'Such exquisite red hair...'
I didn't quite know what was happening and I'd like to be able to blame my lack of reaction on nothing more than that, but I'd be lying. There was something almost hypnotising about his brown eyes and I couldn't break his gaze.
He moved ever so slightly closer and I suddenly realised where we were, what he was doing. I stepped back, pulling my hair from his grasp, angry at myself.
'I would prefer it of you didn't touch my hair,' I told him, my words short.
'Oh, so what they say is right. Redheads are feisty,' he smirked, raising an eyebrow suggestively. I would have probably done something I'd later regret, if Jack hadn't returned at that moment.
'Is everything okay over here?' he asked, eyes flicking between the two of us.
'Positively smashing, I'd say,' Freddy grinned, relaxing back to lean against the wall. 'Isn't it Rose?'
'Yep,' I agreed, looking away from him to smile at Jack. 'But maybe you could introduce me to some more of your delightful relatives?'
I had always thought that my family was mental and dysfunctional but the Royal Family, made mine look almost normal.
Jack looked confused for a second, before nodding slightly.
'Well, let's go and say hello to some of my second cousins then...'
'It was really very lovely to meet you, Rose,' Jack's mother said, and I think that I was the only one to see the glint of spite in her eyes.
'Yeah, we like so have to meet up again soon! Wanna go shopping next week?' Maggie grinned, hugging me exuberantly.
'Well, er, yes, goodbye,' the King managed, around his mouthful of mini-pastries.
'Let's go, Rose, I'm staying here but I'll show you to the car,' he smiled, taking my hand lightly in his.
'Thank you for having me, it has been a lovely day,' I beamed, catching his mum's eye for a second and raising my eyebrow slightly.
But then we were gone, the door shut behind us, alone in a wide, ornately decorated corridor.
'Jack... There's something that I haven't been honest about,' I said quietly, looking down at my hands as we kept walking.
So, maybe this wasn't the best place to do it, but I couldn't keep lying to him, even if it was just by omission.
'What is it, Rose?' he asked tenderly, stopping and turning to face me.
'Well, er, the thing is, I- er,' I stammered, trying to work out how to tell him. I paused, looking up into his bright blue eyes.
'Yes? You know, you can tell me anything, Rose,' he assured me, looking concerned. I looked down at our entwined hands, taking a deep breath.
'Well, the thing is, er, well.... Basically, magic exists, I'm a witch, and I go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,' I blurted out in one go. No, subtlety is not my strong point.
'Look at me, Rose,' he said quietly, his free hand guiding my face up to look at his. And he was smiling. 'I know.'
'What do you mean "I know"?' I asked, surprised. Sure, I hadn't quite known what to expect, but it definitely wasn't this.
'Well, the reigning monarch knows all about that world and as the heir to the throne, so do I. And when the people doing background checks on you for my father told him that you went to Hogwarts, he "warned" me,' he laughed at that, but stopped as tears came to my eyes. 'Are you okay? Rose?'
'Yeah, I'm fine,' I sniffed, rubbing my eyes. 'It's just, I've been stressing about whether to tell you and how to do it and when... And, all along, you knew.'
'I'm sorry Rose, I just wanted to know if you trusted me enough to tell me yourself... And you do,' he smiled, and leaned down, kissing the years off of my cheeks before pecking me on the lips. 'Now, I think that it's time I got you home.'
I nodded, looking away from him as I tried to hold back the unexplainable tears. What was wrong with me? Did I want it to be a whole big issue or something? Of course not, but then why wasn't I feeling happier about his reaction.
Smiling a slight watery smile, I pushed the thoughts away, deciding that I was probably just stressed from the madness of meeting his family.
'Yeah, I should probably go,' I agreed, starting to turn away from him. But he grabbed my hand and pulled me back towards him, kissing my still damp cheeks.
'There, that's better,' he said, kissing me lightly on the lips. Then, hand in hand, we walked through the palace and into the night and my waiting car.
'When will we see each other again?' I asked, as he opened the car door for me.
'Don't worry, well work it out,' he promised, smiling down at me. I bit my lip, looking away. 'What's wrong, Rose?'
'It's just, I'm going back to school soon and I don't know how I'm going to be able to see you during the term and it's three whole months there and we've barely got to know each other and then we're going to have this big stretch of time when we're not together and I don't know how it's going to work,' I said in a rush, looking back at him.
'Don't worry, we'll make it work when we get there,' he reassured me, pulling me into a hug. 'Now I think it's time to get you home - its late and I don't want your parents worrying.'
'Okay,' I sniffed, nodding but not pulling away from him.
'God, I wish I could just come with you... But there's so much here that I should've done weeks ago. But we'll see each other again soon, don't worry,' he stepped back and smiled as I climbed into the backseat, shutting the door after me.
I settled back, clicking my seatbelt into place and turning round to watch him wave after the car until we were out of view.