Actions

Work Header

Four Universes Where It Mostly Worked Out

Chapter Text

1. The One Where On-the-Job Training is Less Essential

Henry Bolingbroke has always thought his cousin Richard could be positively unbearable at times, but he has come to realize that until their grandfather had died, he had actually not known the meaning of the word.

At least, Richard doesn't really have to insert the fact that his father is king now, and that he will therefore be king next, into every single sentence.

After all, Richard won't be king for years and years.

***

2. The One Where Things Go Slightly More According To Plan

"Stop pacing, Richard," Robert says. "You're going to drive everyone completely mad."

"I don't care," Richard says. "If I have to go completely mad you can all damn well suffer with me. How long does this normally take, anyway?"

Robert looks down at his long and fashionably pointed shoes, his face slightly pink. "I haven't the slightest idea," he says. "I think it's supposed to take a while, though, isn't it?"

"I'm going in there," Richard mutters, and every attendant in the room stands at attention nervously until Robert lays a hand on his arm and reminds him that as happy as Anne is to see him at basically every single other time, she probably doesn't want him to watch her giving birth. And besides, it is just not the done thing. Not that helps, exactly, especially when they can hear Anne crying out and Richard's fingers dig into Robert's arm in a way that he ends up having to apologize for later.

It is nearly midnight when Richard is allowed in to see Anne, and despite the pointiness of his shoes and the assurances from everyone involved that everything is fine, just fine, perfect even, he virtually runs into her chamber and almost falls on his face in a most unkingly manner.

And there is Anne, looking ridiculously beautiful even though she's exhausted and sweaty, and little Edward of Windsor (as there's never been any question he'd be called), who is red-faced, pointy-headed, wrinkled and screaming, and has apparently just peed all over the midwife.

It's the most wonderful thing Richard has ever seen.

***

3. The One Where Richard Is a Girl

Sir Simon Burley often thanks God that the worst fears of the English, when Prince Edward died and left behind only a gangly nine-year-old girl with a weird old-fashioned name, have not come to pass.

It isn't even because she has more than enough uncles to deal with the actual running of the country. Queen Richeldis, despite the weakness of her sex and her own slightly silly preoccupation with all things fashionable, is clearly as brave as her father had been; numerous occasional verses have been written, in English, Latin, French, and ungodly combinations of the three, about the slender maiden queen who subdued the mass of rebellious peasants like St. Catherine preaching to the pagan philosophers. And (indeed, rather like St. Catherine) she is as clever as she is brave; as her tutor, Simon can vouch for that.

The one problem on the horizon: the question of marriage. There has never been a queen regnant, unless you count the Empress Matilda, and of course nobody does. And for a queen to marry a foreign prince is dangerous; for her to marry a subject would be disastrous. Never mind that Richeldis -- as good as she is at keeping all the eligible courtiers off-balance -- seemingly only has eyes for the Earl of Oxford, who is both already married and, from the way he looks at his wife, not much for the company of women.

"If I were a boy," she sighs, "I could marry the Emperor's daughter instead."

Before her brother died, and indeed, before the Emperor had died, there had been talk of an engagement between young Edward and Anne of Bohemia, but the English had found the potential alliance insufficiently compelling, in those days. It is rather a pity, now, though; an alliance with the Empire against the French schismatics might have been quite useful. Although they may very well have one, anyway. Simon is not quite sure why or when Richeldis got hold of the portrait they had sent from Prague, or started to write letters to her long-dead brother's not-quite-former-fiancée, but she is filled with giddy excitement whenever a response arrives.

"Anyone would think you're in love," Simon teases her once, and the young queen flushes pink and exclaims "Of course I'm not!"

"Perhaps," she says, after a moment, "I simply won't marry at all."

***

4. The Modern Royalty AU

Richard has been largely unbearable since the Act of Parliament that replaced him with his cousin Henry.

Edward of Aumerle knows from personal experience that normally when Richard refuses to get out of bed it's a great deal of fun. Obviously removals from the throne are the sort of thing that change that, but, he reflects, at least they are far less pointy than they were in the Middle Ages when the English throne was less of a tourist attraction.

Granted, the inherent display qualities of the modern monarchy make the whole episode rather inexplicable. Henry, theoretically Duke of Lancaster and now King, is solid, staid, with six impressive children, a suitably stiff upper lip, and no girlfriends in sight, let alone boyfriends. No matter their official stances on the matter, Edward expects that the tabloid press is secretly nearly as depressed as Richard.

Which is, granted, difficult.

Edward, therefore, decides to take matters into his hands. There are, after all, important truths to be told.

"I am not sure how to break this to you," he says, clearing his throat nervously, "but now seems as good a time as any. Erm, are you aware that as the king of a constitutional monarchy you don't actually have any real power?"

"I don't?" Richard looks -- not shocked, exactly, more akin to someone attempting to divide by zero. It's nearly as great a blow to his conception of the world as actually being overthrown. "Since when?"

"Well. The, uh. The Glorious Revolution. In 1688. Essentially, it put Parliament in charge of everything."

"Parliament's been running the country already for over three hundred years?"

"That's right, your majesty."

"You'd think someone might have mentioned it to me. I've been making a complete tit of myself for years, then?"

"We all thought it was funny."

Richard looks contemplative for a moment.

"So why did Henry bother to overthrow me?"

It's Edward's turn to look surprised. "Damned if I know."

"Well, fuck this, then," Richard says. "I'm going to spend the rest of my life on a beach surrounded by naked men."