Catherine was fairly certain it was the wife who was supposed to look the most extravagant in a marriage. She was also fairly certain it was her husband who was the more extravagant of the two.
“Charles,” she asked, eyeing his new hat. “Another one?”
“It had very beautiful feathers, you'll agree,” he told her, smiling. “And I am King. I must keep up appearances.”
She watched him as he carefully put the hat on, and smiled to herself. “You're a – a peacock, husband.”
He looked at himself in the mirror, turning his head and brushing at the feathers. “I am?” He turned to her, and smiled. “No one's stopping you from buying a pretty dress.” He looked her up and down. “Although that one is very pretty.”
She curtseyed, blushing a little at the compliment. “Thank you, your Majesty.”
“Oh, shush,” he replied, and looked at himself in the mirror again. “We are equals, dearest. Sort of.”
She didn't mention the many ways in which the laws restricted her and not him, but she did appreciate the gesture. He did try, after all. “Sort of?”
He shrugged, turning to look at himself from the back. “What's mine is yours, and what's yours is mine.”
“So, if I wanted to try one of your hats...”
He grinned at her. “Oh, you're more than welcome to try anything from my wardrobe, dearest!” He eyed her again, smiling a little. “Although I don't know if my clothes suit you.”
She smacked him on the arm, but not too hard. “I think your clothes will suit me better than vice versa.”
That brought a mischievous spark to Charles' eyes. “A challenge? Why not.” He smirked. “Although I may need help with your corset and whatnot.”
She nodded. “I'll help you with that.” Perhaps he'd appreciate her difficulties with her wardrobe a bit more once he'd worn her clothes. “It's agreed, then? Perhaps tomorrow evening?”
“I don't think we have anything that can't wait.” He leaned in to kiss her. “Tomorrow evening it is.”
She patted him on the arm and left him to preen in front of the mirror a bit. “Until then, darling.”
It had taken some effort to convince Sotherby, Charles' main advisor, to help out.
“This is completely inappropriate,” he muttered, as he helped his King with the corset. “I don't even know how these things work!”
“You need to get out more, Sothers,” Charles said, and grinned.
Catherine just smiled. “They're not that complicated, Sotherby,” she told him gently, showing him how to lace it up the back properly. “And you'll have to pull hard.”
“Not too hard!” Charles yelped, as Sotherby tugged firmly.
“Sorry, Sire,” he immediately replied, and loosened them.
Catherine shook her head. “No, no, Sotherby, it's supposed to be tight.” She gestured at him to give her room, then tugged herself.
“I can't breathe,” Charles managed to get out.
Knowing full well her husband could be rather dramatic, she let go a little. “Better?” she asked, as she tied the laces.
“A bit,” he replied, and gave her a look. “And you wear this every day?”
She nodded, and smiled. “Sotherby? We'll need the rest of the clothes.”
He gave a quick bow, then left them alone to get the dress.
Charles looked down at himself. “Hm, not comfortable, but it does look good...”
“Peacock,” she said, and laughed. “And don't worry, the dress should be less complicated than this, so I'll leave you and Sotherby to it.” She still had to get into his clothes, after all.
He gave her a peck on the cheek. “I'll see you soon, dearest.”
She walked out as Sotherby had finally gathered the dress in his hands, and she smiled at him. “Good luck.”
Sotherby nodded. “Thank you, your Majesty.”
She stayed to watch him struggle through the door, and giggled to herself. She would have plenty of time to put on Charles' clothes. She knew some of her ladies-in-waiting wore men's clothes sometimes, but she had never dared to herself. Not until now, at any rate.
She twirled in front of the mirror, watching as the jacket fanned out around her. She hadn't put on a wig, but she was wearing one of Charles' best hats, a beautiful dark one with three yellow feathers. “No wonder he spends so much time in front of the mirror,” she told herself, stroking the dark red jacket.
It was, however, time to see if her husband and Sotherby had managed to get the dress on properly.
“My dear Catherine!” Charles greeted her, grinning as he took in her appearance. “You look...”
She closed the distance between them, smiling at the way he looked in her blue dress with the dark blue underskirts. The low neckline was almost comical on him, but his narrow waist was beautifully emphasised. “Marvellous?” she asked. It was the first English word she had learned, only because Charles used it so often.
He kissed her. “Entirely. Your legs are very pretty, my dearest, you should wear men's clothes more often.”
“Really?” She glanced down at herself. It felt odd, having her legs out like this.
He smiled, following her gaze down. “Yes, really. The prettiest pair of legs I've ever seen under a man's breeches.”
“Including yours?” she asked, giggling at the compliment. The clothes were a lot more comfortable than her own as well. She could see why some of the other ladies had taken to wearing them.
There was a sudden knock on the door. “Your Majesties?”
“Yes, Sothers?” Charles asked, still looking intently at Catherine's legs.
“It's, er, there's a reporter, your Majesties. From HHTV? Something about an interview.”
Catherine looked up at Charles, worried. “They can't see us like this, not the public.”
Charles just smiled. “Slightly different public, those people in the 21st century,” he mused, and then started to grin. “I have an idea.”
She knew that look in his eyes, a twinkle that spoke of mischievousness befitting a boy, not a King. “What do you have in mind?”
“Well,” he started, “if you wear one of my wigs, and use make-up to create a moustache...”
“Charles, we can't,” she replied. She couldn't pretend to be her husband, not to the public, not even if they were from the future.
“We can,” he insisted, his grin widening. “I'll just – I need time to shave, and to fix my hair...” He looked at her pleadingly. “Oh, darling, it'll be fun.”
She bit her lip, thinking. It would be rather a lot of fun. “All right, I'll do it.”
He kissed her briefly once again. “You won't regret it, I promise!”
She smiled as he turned to get ready for his own appearance. “I probably will,” she muttered to herself.
She was fairly certain that this Mike Peabody man suspected something, but she just smiled at him. “Well, Mr. Peabody?” Her voice was not deep enough to be Charles', but it was close enough.
He eyed her suspiciously, then turned to the man holding up a strange black box. Mr. Peabody had assured her this would record their talk for the public. “I'm here with King Charles the Second, the Merry Monarch. We're soon to be joined by his Queen, Catherine, to discuss the recent events in the Anglo-Dutch war.”
Catherine raised her eyebrows at that. “Really? I thought you were here for a nice party.”
Mr. Peabody very briefly glared at her, but swiftly smiled. “I'm sorry, your Majesty, I know how fond you are of parties, but if I could have a brief word with you about the Anglo-Dutch War, I can go back to the studio for the office Christmas party, and -”
“What's all this about a party?” Charles asked, bursting in with a grin.
Catherine coughed to hide her giggle at his entrance. Still in her dress, he had shaved off his moustache and cut one of his own wigs to resemble her hair. It hadn't gone entirely successfully. “Ah, there you are, darling.”
Mr. Peabody eyed them both. “I'll come back tomorrow for a proper interview, shall I?”
Charles beamed at him. “That would be best,” he replied. “Give our love to everyone at the station, you know, Jessica and Bobsy, and dear Samantha of course.”
“Give Jessica and Samantha especially my love,” Catherine added, winking at Mr. Peabody as he and his crew left. “They're delightful!”
“You're almost better at being me than I am,” Charles whispered to her, pecking her on the cheek.
Catherine nodded. “I do rather like this.” She looked up at him. “That's not strange, is it?”
“Of course not, darling,” he told her. “It makes you happy, and harms no one.” He took her hand in his. “It's definitely making me happy...”
She giggled at him again. “You look very pretty in that dress,” she said, after she had regained her composure, and looked him over once again. Really very pretty.
He gave her a rather clumsy curtsey. “If it pleases your Majesty, may we retire to the royal chambers?”
She nodded, feeling a little anxious. “That would please me very much.”
They walked back to the bedroom hand in hand, and Charles smiled at her. “You know, dearest, there's no reason why you cannot pretend to be a man a little longer...”
“Oh?” she asked, interested.
“The French have certain... items,” he explained, still smiling, “that are useful when ladies wish to be like men in the bedroom.”
She had heard of those things, whispers from her ladies-in-waiting, and blushed. “Sounds... intriguing.” The idea of being able to do those things to her husband was strangely exciting. “If you're certain, darling.”
“Very certain, and very curious,” he informed her, his skirts rustling against her breeches as they walked. “I think it's my best idea yet.” He looked down at her legs. “The clothing exchange comes a close second, though.”
“I'll be happy to wear men's clothes more often, my peacock,” she told him, smiling. “If you promise the same with women's clothing.” He did look rather good in those clothes, after all. There had to be a dressmaker discreet enough to make her husband a well-fitting dress. She eyed her own jacket, and decided to also find a tailor who could make her properly fitting men's clothes.
“I would be delighted,” he replied, entering the bedroom and closing the doors behind them. “Very delighted.”
Their future, she thought as he kissed her, was going to be an interesting one.