There was never any mistake that the neighboring kingdoms of Snowdin and Versalia had a...strenuous relationship.
In the past, King Gaster had caused several small wars, mostly political in nature, over his questionable trade policies and scientific advances. Once, a true war had been on the horizon--you had personally watched your father rally the troops in secret, sending spies to see if they were lying. You had been raised in hushed whispers that the monsters were plotting something, and though you had been raised a benevolent princess, you were also taught to be wary and wise. There were peace treaties signed and broken on both sides, and when you grew old enough to advise your father, he actually bent his ear to you when you suggested a yearly celebration of peace between the two kingdoms. The edges of your territories touched, and so a castle was built on that border to hold a huge banquet once a year, for more than just the signing of papers.
It was there that you met the princes of Snowdin.
It was there that you fell hopelessly in love with the youngest one, oblivious as he is to your affections.
And it was there that your father and King Gaster announced your peacemaking betrothal…
...to the eldest.
“somethin’ wrong? is the dress too tight?”
You shook your head, and Sans hummed, seeing through your carefully constructed facade like always.
This was the announcement night, and while you were happy for the sign of good will between your people, you can't fathom how this misunderstanding had happened. You had always been able to talk to Sans easily, not swayed to stuttering from a hopeless crush like when you tried to talk to his brother. For all those years you had been trained to speak under pressure, nothing had ever prepared you for the pressure of talking to someone so strikingly princely , in more than just title.
Most princes were downright rude and spoiled, entitled little shits who only wanted you for your land rights. But not Papyrus.
Papyrus was one of those princes that rightfully earned the title, birthrights be damned. Even had he not been born royalty you've no doubt anyone would have difficulty seeing him as anything but. His manners were impeccable, his chivalry unmatched--much like his sword. He led the knights of his kingdom alongside the captain of the guard, and he did so with grace and finesse beyond anything you had ever been capable of.
This is a far cry from his brother, the crowned Prince, Sans….your fiance. He was more business-minded, quick as a whip but lacking most manners and niceties royalty use. Perhaps it was the kindred spirit in him that appealed to your own weariness of the facade, but what really drew you together was how often you talked about Papyrus.
You suppose that, observing from the outside, it was easy to assume you despised Papyrus and fancied Sans, seeing as you actively avoided the younger prince in favor of the elder's company at every turn. You had never been the best at expressing yourself outside of the calculated future queen facade.
“we can just tell them no,” Sans said, squeezing your hand gently as you sat beside him, the thrones and the castle they belonged to now promised to you both once the marriage was completed next month. “that you have feelings for papyrus?”
“The controversy that would spread...and we only just achieved peace between the kingdoms,” you sighed. “Besides that, I've no clue if your brother even sees me, and no desire to box him into this against his will.”
“oh, but against my will is fine?” he chuckled, and you smirked. As business-minded as he was, you knew he thought this was a good move, and you supposed that marrying a good friend is better than marrying someone you can't stand.
“I think I'm tired from the dancing. I'm going to retire for the evening.” You sighed, and he stood with you.
“i'll make somethin’ up. think about what i said, though--there's still two more days of the festival, they have time to make another announcement.”
“...I shall consider it. Goodnight, my Lord.”
And with that, you turned to walk the empty halls, the chatter and music of the party fading into the distance as you moved towards your bedchambers, deep in thought.
You half-wish you had said nothing to your father. That this castle had never been built and that the tenuous, formal treaty had stood, rather than this. It wasn't as if a poor life awaited you--just a relatively empty one, it seemed, devoid of both love and duty, until King Gaster seceded the throne to Sans and you. Then at least you could forget yourself in the duties of a queen. As a princess, you have nothing but the things that are given to you, and your feelings are all you felt as if you could truly claim.
And to watch time pass, and grow old as Papyrus finds his true love? A relatively happy life with Sans, with at least one heir, while your heart wishes you were with another. Bittersweet at best.
You paused, one hand on the banister as you stopped on the steps.
Would you even be able to conceive an heir? Monster reproduction, you had heard, requires a bond, a soul bond, deeper than anything you had ever felt and, as far as you know, forged in love. You suppose you may grow to love Sans as you do Papyrus, as irrationally upset as that thought makes you feel. But if you don't? What of the kingdom?
...questions for another night, you supposed.
You squeaked, hand flying to your breast as your corset wringed the tiny breath from you. You know that voice, and you can't help the blush from settling on your cheeks, can't control the way your heart starts to beat like the intense war drums of your childhood.
“O-oh, Sir Papyrus, I didn't see you there,” you flustered, brushing your hair behind your ear nervously as you turned to see him, standing there in all his splendor, his helmet under his arm and looking as ragged as a ray of sunshine can. “You...weren't at the ball.”
“Ah, yes, training with the new recruits went over a little too well, it seems.” He closed the distance, offering his arm to you in a chivalrous display. You took it, heart pounding as your hand slid over the smooth, cold armor. He smelled like oranges, you could tell from this distance as he helped you up the stairs. “Were you unwell? It isn't like you to leave a party so early.”
“Fatigued,” you explained briefly. “It has been a long night of talking, mostly. I decided to retire early. Thank you for escorting me.”
Do you sound too informal? Does he want to be addressed as a knight, a prince, or a future King? You don't even know at this point, and you're too afraid to ask. So you focus on the steps and not tripping over the frilly hem of your gown.
“Yes, Father did say there was to be a rather large announcement tonight. It is regrettable to have missed it,” he sighed. “What was it? I'm too busy with the Guard to be included in these things anymore, you know.”
You giggled demurely behind your hand at his little stab at himself. You know many balk at his insistence of being on the same level as knights and even commoners on the battlefield, but you actually find it endearingly brave.
“Well, it was a big one,” you said softly, trying to keep your smile fixed as you neared your bedchambers. “...I am to be wed.”
“Gracious, my lady, that--that is joyous news indeed!”
He stuttered, and you cocked your head, observing him. He never stuttered! And his arm tightened on yours for just the briefest of moments...What exactly was going on here? Or is that your imagination creating a reaction you wanted to see?
“Yes. My marriage to Sans will...bring great prosperity to this land.”
This time his arm definitely tightened, because it hurt just a smidge, but by the time you winced it had passed, and a strange look had crossed his face as you stopped in front of your door.
“To Sans! Of course, that's...well, that's only reasonable, isn't it? It is a relief you won't be leaving for some far-off land.” His smile was the same as ever, and you smiled softly back.
For some reason, it was much easier talking to him knowing you would never have him. A bittersweet sort of acceptance made the whole exchange natural.
You placed a hand on his cheekbone gently, and the setting sun in a nearby window almost had you thinking he was blushing. A girl can dream, right?
You leaned up and kissed him gently on the cheekbone, eyelids fluttering closed as you enjoyed this rare moment of boldness and the surprising give of his bone beneath your lips. It was feather-light and intimate, and you would likely think about it for years.
“Wowie, my lady,” he breathed as you leaned back, shyness overtaking you in the wake of your candor. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
He looked so starry-eyed, almost literally, his gloved hand coming up to gently tap the place you kissed, and you giggled as if you had a secret...which you did.
The secret being that you love him.
“I don't know. Perhaps it was just for walking me to my bedchambers...or perhaps it's for always being so kind. I'm excited to become a part of your family, Lord Papyrus.”
And with that, you turned to enter your bedchambers.
You jumped and slammed the door back shut, having never heard the Prince raise his voice like that unless rallying the troops. “Y-Yes my Lord?!”
He seemed embarrassed at his outburst. “Oh, I'm...I'm terribly sorry for startling you. I was just wondering, my lady, if you would be attending the tournaments tomorrow? I know you usually skip the sporting events, but...I will be competing and would very much like for you to be there.”
You never missed a chance to see Papyrus astride a horse, or wielding a blade, or both. “Oh, I never miss any of your events, my Lord,” you giggled behind your hand. “I will be there. With my ladies-in-waiting.”
“Yes, splendid!” He smiled wide and stood tall, giving you a classic hand-on-heart salute. “Then, I wonder, since my lazy brother doesn't participate in such things, if just this once...I might sport a favor of yours? To symbolize the...promise of peace.”
You felt your face grow warmer at the suggestion, and hope the setting sunlight from across the hall covered your wanton blush. A favor was no small thing, and though a bachelor like him may take many favors, one from a princess is almost certainly a sign of romance.
But...it's true, it would be a sign of good will, especially since Sans would never have the chance to sport it. Besides, you only have a month left to entertain your silly dreams…
“Of course, Sir Knight,” you said, drawing your handkerchief out. You had embroidered this one yourself, your initials and tiny pink roses on rich purple fabric. “It's only natural we flaunt the kingdoms’ new connection.”
He seemed to hold his breath as you dropped it into his hand, and you almost thought he might pull his hand away and tell you it was a joke, like some of the other princes you knew might.
But he didn't, because of course not. He was too sincere for pranks like that.
“Right!” He said, gently closing his hand around it. “I shall wear it proudly when I win.”
“Cockiness is very un-princely,” you chided playfully as you slipped behind the door. “I shall see you on the morrow to see if you can match those words in action, my Lord.”
There was silence between you two for a long moment as you tried to puzzle out why exactly he just called out his own name, and he chuckled a little, bringing his hand to cover his face just a bit.
“I only meant...would you consider calling me Papyrus?”
“Just that?” You asked, hoping you weren't fidgeting too much with the door.
“Yes. Just that.” He confirmed with a firmness that surprised you. “I like it when...I mean, it feels right.”
“Very well...Papyrus.” You could feel the smile on your face as it rolled so easily off your tongue...no honorifics or titles...he was right, it felt right to say it out loud that way. “Rest well, or you won’t be of any glory to me tomorrow at all, now will you?”
He chuckled. “I’m always on my toes, Princess. Rest well.”