The first time Nico Meier saw her not as a princess but as the future queen of Wisteria was when he tried to kidnap her. He had expected her to be afraid, even expected Sid to defend her, but he hadn’t accounted for her looking at him with an expression far more shrewd than he had ever seen before. He hadn’t counted on her stepping forward and placing a hand on Sid’s chest to stop him, saying that she would go with Nico because she needed to know.
He felt a little better in realizing that Sid was just as startled by her answer.
She only continued to surprise him as she cooperated fully with the kidnapping attempt and then told him that she still trusted him. Even though he was really a knight and spy for Stein. Even though he had kidnapped her. She trusted him and knew that he wouldn’t be doing it without a good reason.
It was then that he started to feel hope.
When she was returned to Wisteria, he learned that she hadn’t said a word about his involvement and had flatly denied it when asked. There was no fear in her, only determination, and when she spoke to the King of Stein and asked for his help, Nico was humbled. He knew that part of her reasoning for attempting to stop the bandits in Stein was to help Sid, but he also realized that she honestly cared for her country and wanted to protect her people. And somehow, she continued to see him as one of hers.
During Sid’s trial she had stood tall and proud, even when she sentenced him to exile in Stein. He knew that the decision tore at her heart but he also knew that she was doing everything she could to help him and to help Stein. Everything she did was for her country, for her people, for her love, and Nico admired her for it.
The girl he had met that first day as the princess elect had blossomed into a fierce woman who would be queen. The night he had snuck back to her room, he had asked her why she had helped Stein and her answer had made him realize just how much he and the council at Wisteria had misjudged her.
“Because I trust you, Nico. And I want our kingdoms to know peace. Together.”
The day of her coronation and engagement ceremony to Sid, he had watched with pride as she stood with a regal air he hadn’t seen before as the crown was placed on her head. The tiny nod she had sent his way and to Byron, who sat by his side, made him swell with pride.
When she stood before Byron as Queen of Wisteria, she bowed deeply and told him in a voice that carried over the whole room, “May Wisteria and Stein know peace and friendship. I will fight for both as long as I am Queen.” More quietly, so only Byron and Nico could hear her, she said, “And Nico, I offer you a choice. If we are to truly have peace between our nations, then I will need an ambassador for Stein. The position is yours if you so wish.”
Byron only reacted with a tiny smile and Nico realized that she must have discussed it with him first. The offer was a generous one, and he swallowed thickly before bowing deeply to first his King and then to her. “I would be honored.”
Her smile was genuine if understated, and she patted his shoulder. “I was hoping you would say that. We will talk of this later. For now, enjoy the celebration.” With another respectful nod to Byron, she swept past them. Sid grinned at them both and followed after, and Nico realized that his loyalties weren’t as divided as he had previously thought. Byron would always be his King, but she… She was his Queen.