Chapter 1: Something on her mind
“What’s the matter, chicken?”
Prince Harry, coming in from a walk with the dog, found his wife-to-be looking forlorn as she closed the oven door on one of her classic roast chickens.
Meghan smiled in spite of her gloomy thoughts. She loved all of his pet names for her, but ‘chicken’ took top billing in her estimation. It was a play on the fact that she was always roasting chickens and the American slang for women ‘chick,’ which, truth be told, made her inner-feminist cringe slightly, but coming from Harry, the sweetest guy in the world, it lost all offensive meaning.
“Nothing at all, Muffin,” she said, teasing him back with the foodie references.
He pulled her into his arms. “What did you do today?”
She sighed. It was hard to remember anything with him touching her, looking at her with those soulful eyes, and smelling so delicious.
“Let’s see,” she tried to remember. “There was the meeting with the archbishop. It was like bible study, I suppose, which I’ve never actually done before, but I remember friends talking about it and it always sounded cool.”
Harry laughed. He always loved her Yank way of speaking. It was one of his many favorite things about her.
“And then there was tea with Kate and the kids,” she said, bending down to pet her dog, who had been clawing at her legs. “How’s my Guy?” she asked the beagle.
“He’s great actually,” Harry said, moving away to put away his keys and remove his coat. (No jealousy at the dog behind her Guy, because as Harry saw it, he was her Prince.) “You’d never know he recently had broken bones.”
“It’s amazing and such a blessing how quickly he’s recovered,” Meghan assented. “He had so much fun playing with Lupo today. George and Charlotte were disappointed because they wanted them to chase the ball, but the two dogs had eyes only for each other, ball be damned. So the kids dragged me up to their nursery to watch Marvin exercise the hamster wheel!”
"Marvin!" Harry was grinning as he plopped down on the large, comfy sectional sofa in the living area of their cottage. "I haven't seen Marvin in ages. How is the little bugger?"
"The little bugger is thriving," said Meghan as she opened a bottle of red wine. "Oddly enough, George has discovered the Royal Hamster twitter account and has had his nanny print up several drawings, which are all pinned to his bedroom wall. His favorite is the one of Marvin wearing the bathrobe he wore when he met Obama. Lucky kid. You still haven't made any arrangements for me to meet Obama, have you?"
Harry let out a 'ha' sound, which was more exasperated than amused. "Honey, meeting the first African-American president of the United States isn't as easy as picking up the phone and ordering a pizza."
"I know, but you've already met him, what, a dozen times, and if Prince George at the age of five has met him, how hard can it be for the fiancée of Britain's 'people's prince'?" She joined her husband-to-be on the couch, handing him a glass of wine, and having one for herself. She happily leaned against him as he wrapped his free arm around her. Guy, the dog, jumped up and snuggled against Meghan.
"All right, Duchess," he said in a getting-serious tone. "Confide."
"Yeah. How do you say it stateside? 'What's bugging you?'"
"I'm not bugging! Nothing's bugging me!"
"Meghan, I know when you're troubled. I sensed it as I came inside."
Just then, Meghan's phone made a sound. A texting alert. She knew it was her phone, not Harry's because his iPhone had customized sounds.
"Oh," she said, laughingly shaking her head as she looked away from the phone. "It's just Angela. She keeps texting these photos of dress-tiara combinations. Speaking of... I'm supposed to meet one of your grandmother's assistants tomorrow. She's going to show me the royal tiaras."
"Oh!" Harry was truly excited at the idea of his wife on their wedding day. He had many images in his mind. He kept picturing her in various bridal looks he had seen over the years. The predominant image was something like Princess Grace. "I want to go with you. I want to help you pick out the jewelry."
"No, you can't," said Meghan sternly. "You can't know anything about my look at the wedding. It's bad luck."
"Oh bad luck!" Harry exclaimed, rolling his eyes. "I didn't know you were superstitious."
"About that, I am. My parents are divorced. I've been divorced once already. I can't afford to take chances."
"All right, then. Is that what's 'bugging' you?"
She looked at him sympathetically. “Harry, you’re British ignorance of American slang is adorable, but I hate to inform you that ‘bugging’ went out at the turn of the century. I think the term you’re looking for is trippin’.”
“OK. What’s tripping you?”
Chapter 2: Distractions and Consolations
Harry makes a little progress but not much. Much to the detriment of the cottage carpet, Meghan is being rather scatterbrained.
“It’s all so freaky,” said Meghan, tossing her phone onto the armchair that formed an L from the sofa where Harry and Guy lounged.
She moved over to the mantlepiece, taking a long sip of wine, and gazed at the large artwork that hung there.
“This art is so interesting,” she said. “It’s by your cousin, right?”
“Yes, Sarah Chatto,” replied Harry. “Stop evading. What’s bothering you?”
“Who is Sarah Chatto?”
“No, really, part of marrying into your family is getting to know all of it. I’m trying to keep all these names straight. Sarah is the daughter of Princess Michael of Kent?”
Harry chuckled. “No, no, no. Princess Margaret.”
“Oh right. Princess Michael is the one the tabloids say is racist, even though I wasn’t offended at all by that blackamoor brooch or whatever. I actually thought it was amazing. It takes some upper body strength and some good posture to wear something like that, and she’s no spring chicken.”
“Don’t apologize. Just talk to me.”
*Ping to Meghan’s phone.* Meghan practically ran over to the phone on the otherwise empty armchair. She checked to see the text message while Harry ran to grab a towel and started dabbing up the red wine which had splashed out of Meghan’s glass.
“Wow! That Strathmore Rose tiara of your great-grandmother was incredible! I would love to wear it on the forehead too. So vintage.” She instantly regretting mentioning any tiara she might wear on the wedding day (because it would be bad luck for Harry to know in advance anything about her appearance on that day) but Harry was too busy blotting the carpet with a dry towel--now staining the towel of course.
“Oh my gawd, Harry, I’m so sorry. What can I do?”
“It’ll be fine,” said Harry. “Don’t put anything on it. All those things people try to sell you, to use on red wine stains, none of them are legit and most of them will make it worse. I’ve got it now. The trick is to do it quickly, before it can set in. I will have someone call the carpet cleaners tomorrow. The palace has a good contractor. Wills and I gave them plenty of business growing up.”
“OK,” said Harry, walking into the kitchen with the wine-soaked towel. He filled the sink with water and put the towel in it to soak. Then he returned to the living area, put Meghan’s glass down, and took her in his arms. They stood, embracing, in silence for several minutes. “I love you,” he said softly.
“Right back atchya,” she said.
“Did something happen with the archbishop?”
“No, Kate’s wonderful.”
“Something in the press? Another nasty comment from that nasty so-called ‘sister’ of yours?”
“No, but Samantha has been uncharacteristically quiet. I’m sure she’s cooking up something good for next week.”
“We’re not inviting her to the wedding, are we?”
“Well, I’m glad you brought that up,” she said, coming out of the embrace, but still touching him, their arms locked. “I’ve been researching past royal weddings and apparently it’s tradition in your family to have at least person blacklisted. That, and there has to be one person who is there, in spite of no one wanting them there. Like Kate’s uncle Gary.”
“So I was just thinking, Samantha is a dead ringer to be either the present-but-unwanted Uncle Gary or the conspicuously uninvited Fergie. I’m thinking the former is more fun. What do you think?”
“I think her being Uncle Gary makes more sense,” Harry said with a smirk. “Especially given that our ‘uninvited Fergie’ has to be Fergie!”
Meghan looked disappointed. “We can’t invite Fergie? I was hoping to ask her about Oprah!”
“Can’t we just invite Oprah?”
Meghan’s eyes widened to the size of, roughly speaking, trash can lids. “Can we?" When he merely smirked for a reply, she squealed and exclaimed, "We’re inviting Oprah!” She jumped up and down and did a little jig, only stopping when the cooking timer sounded and it was time to check on the chicken in the oven.
Chapter 3: The Truth
Harry gets impatient and Meghan finally tells what is on her mind.
"You need to focus," said Harry, pulling her to the couch. He sat her down and made her look at him in the eyes. "Spill."
Meghan exhaled. Her eyes wandered. She felt very silly all of a sudden. "Oh I don't know, it's this whole title thing...."
"Title thing?" That was not the sort of 'thing' Harry had been expecting.
"Well.... I mean.... You're a prince and...."
Harry smirked. "You're my princess."
Meghan looked sheepish but doubtful. "Well, in a sense, yes.... But not really. Right?"
Harry was more confused than ever. He could only look his confusion, being at a loss for words.
Meghan sighed. "Harry, you know I'm not actually going to be a princess. Something about having to be a born a princess. I can't be Princess Meghan, only Princess Henry."
Harry shrugged. "So what?"
Meghan just couldn't hide it anymore. The disgust exerted itself in her expression. "Harry, I do not want to be Princess Henry!"
"You won't be. You'll be a duchess. Like Kate."
"Well, that's just it, isn't it? I can never be 'like Kate.' Kate's going to be Queen."
"No, of course you won't be 'like Kate' because you'll be like Meghan. And no, you'll never the Queen, but you'll be my Queen."
Their lips locked and they kissed passionately. They would have kept going, but Meghan still had something she needed to get out. She gently pushed him back. "I'm just curious. If it's such a big deal about having to be born a princess, why does even your grandfather call your mother Princess Diana?"
"My grandfather? When did you talk to my grandfather?"
Meghan shook her head in some embarrassment. "I didn't. I've been watching documentaries about the royal family, you know, for research, and there was this one where your grandfather was driving and talking about Sandringham, and as they went by the house where your mom was born, he referred to her as Princess Diana. I just thought it was interesting, given that all the royal scholars make such a big deal about being born a princess versus marrying into royalty, and how you can only be a princess if you are the former...."
Harry rolled his eyes. "I get it. Yeah, I think my grandfather has a slightly different view on it. More Continental than British. You know, like, in Denmark. It's different there. If you marry a prince over there, you are a princess, period, end of story. My grandfather was born a prince, his sisters were born princesses of Greece and Denmark. I guess old habits die hard."
Meghan looked as though she was genuinely trying to follow this. "But... that doesn't explain about your mom. I mean, she wasn't born a princess."
Harry shrugged again. "Well, Granddad isn't really a stickler about those things. Never has been. He probably referred to her the way that his audience would understand."
"So.... If people got into the habit of calling me 'Princess Meghan,' he would probably adopt the nomenclature as well?"
Harry half-shrugged this time. "It's possible." Then he looked serious. "Why does any of this matter?"