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last modified March 21, 1999
by Amy R.
G. This fanfiction bends Forever Knight series time. Please see the disclaimers, citations and credits in the endnote.
"Who's dead, Sara?" It took Natalie a moment to respond, but the calmly professional tone she directed into her cellular phone belied the terrifying visions she'd had to fight down in that moment. It was a Saturday night, and having a new call come in before she had even managed to finish parking her car and begin the paperwork from the last case was as normal as normal could be in the life of a metropolitan coroner on the night-shift; finding her sister-in-law on the other end of that call was not.
What on earth is Sara doing awake at this hour? Natalie asked herself, taking a deep breath and using that mundane concern to smother the image of her ten-year-old niece's body lying broken and cooling on the park grass, the way her job had required she see her murdered goddaughter just two years before. "Sara?" Natalie prompted. "Is Amy all right?"
A choked but genuine laugh burst from the receiver. "That's a dose of perspective, isn't it? I'm sorry. Yes, Nat, Amy's fine. We're both fine. She's asleep in her room, and I'm out here with the television. You really haven't heard?"
"Diana is dead."
"No." Natalie shook her head, unable to accept the statement. It simply was not possible. The name needed no further clarification. Sara had just said that the princess was dead, and she had said it as if such a thing could be true. "How?"
"Car wreck. In Paris. Apparently, photographers on motorcycles chased her car until it crashed into the wall of a tunnel. The news didn't know, at first, whether she was going to make it or not; they just now announced that she didn't. Nat, I'm sorry. I was sure you would have heard about it on police radio, or something."
"No, that's okay," Natalie said, finally taking the key out of the ignition and turning off her car's headlights. "Ironically, I just came from a car accident. Hit and run, with the emphasis on 'hit.' I can't quite make the connection, though, if you know what I mean. That's the stuff of my life, not hers."
"It's disorienting, isn't it?" Sara asked softly. "After losing Richard and Cynthia, and everything that's happened in the past few years, how can something like this hurt so much?"
Natalie did not have an answer for that.
"Look," Sara offered. "I know you're on your cell phone, and this is hardly official business to bill back to your office. Why don't you call me when you get home?"
"That won't be until six in the morning," Natalie objected.
"Believe me, I'll still be awake." Sara paused for a moment, and then dropped her voice to a whisper, as if afraid she would wake her daughter with the plaintive ferocity of her next words. "God, Nat, she wasn't ever supposed to die!"
"I know," Natalie agreed helplessly. "I know."
Slowly closing up her phone and sliding it back into her coat pocket, Natalie Lambert pondered that for all that "never die" had come to mean something far different to her than it meant to her brother's widow, she did indeed know exactly what Sara meant. Even Natalie was willing to admit that pathology was not usually the most life-affirming of professions, but if the grief and despair that inevitably accompanied her work sometimes crept into her own outlook on life, it had never colored her original perception of Diana as vibrant, bright, a glorious, sunny break in the rain-clouds that otherwise represented British public life.
She was supposed to live forever, happily ever after. No matter how bruised by the real world, fairy-tales were not supposed to end in twisted hulks of metal in dark Parisian tunnels.
Natalie replaced her key in the ignition and switched on her radio, intending to scan down to a talk frequency, but was surprised to find the "adult-contemporary" station she favored apparently broadcasting news. For long minutes, she listened to the flustered, late-night deejay performing above and beyond his job description, reading wire reports when he would normally have been taking romantic song dedications. It was all so surreal, Natalie thought, staring out at the empty, lamp-lit cars of the night-shift. She had witnessed death tonight with her own senses; she had lost those she loved until it sometimes seemed there was no one left to lose; why should this have any impact on her at all? Even so, when the voice on the radio finally silenced itself and gave way to the next slow, sweet song in the line-up, with lyrics proclaiming that love conquers all, Natalie crossed her arms over her steering wheel, laid down her head, and cried.
The teary mist that had gathered while she reflected on the news was soon washed into a torrent as Natalie ran through her memories of the princess's life, so inextricably linked with memories of her own; the song seemed to mock and mourn them both. Just half-a-year younger than Diana, Natalie had turned nineteen the summer of the royal wedding, and there had been something inescapably exciting about watching this girl, her own age, walk onto the world stage. If the shy preschool teacher with the big nose and divorced parents could become this elegant, endearing, unutterably-beautiful, storybook princess, the young Natalie had thought, then what couldn't she, herself, accomplish?
She and Richard had both been taking summer courses at the University of Toronto in July of 1981, Natalie remembered, she after her freshman year and he before his. Overachievers, maybe, but primarily the advantage of school was campus housing, and being able to afford it themselves; they had never said a word on the subject, but each knew the other was resolved, come Hell or high water, that neither of them would ever live under their grandmother's roof again.
The Lamberts' cousin, Gail, had turned her apartment -- and, most importantly, her television -- open to a general party from the evening of the twenty-eighth to midday on the twenty-ninth. Gail's then-boyfriend and future husband, David Luce, had picked up Natalie, Richard, their roommates, and what seemed like half of the summer-dormitory population in his second-hand Ford station-wagon, stopping off for beer and pop on the way over. Natalie remembered that she and Gail had stubbornly stuck to non-alcoholic, high-caffeine drinks that night; neither wanted to be asleep when Lady Di became Princess Diana, and the heir to the throne said "I do." The next afternoon, excited and exhausted beyond rational sense, Natalie had accompanied Gail as the older girl got her curly, brown hair cut in imitation of Diana's straight, blond locks; it had taken months to grow out into something manageable.
Natalie sniffed, sighed and sat up, berating herself slightly for letting this get to her as she switched off the radio and drew out her key. As an adult, she had never had much tolerance for royal-watchers, and, after all, what was one more stranger's death on the night's roster? But looking into her own eyes in the rear-view mirror, Natalie admitted to herself that while she had been a stranger to the princess, the princess was far from a stranger to her. Every one of Diana's life trials, however personal or petty, however much her own fault or others', had been lent a certain grandeur, authority, legitimacy, simply by being hers; if it could happen to the princess -- beautiful, rich, famous -- then one need not feel as culpable, as alone, when it happened to oneself -- average, middle-class, obscure.
There had been something perversely comforting in knowing that even the princess could lose her prince to an old flame, when the caddy had spent days parked outside the Raven. . . .
Shaking her head fiercely, as if to deny that embarrassingly unfair comparison, Natalie wiped away the tear streaks with the sleeve of her coat, gathered up her clipboard, purse, and evidence-sample case, and went inside the Coroner's Building.
"She's dead," Grace announced in a hoarse voice as Natalie came into the morgue. The large woman looked up from the portable television on Natalie's desk only long enough to confirm, from her friend's expression, that she already knew. "They killed her, Nat. The paparazzi." Grace leaned forward and switched off the sound, then ripped her gaze away from the unending stream of images of Diana and turned to Natalie. "The news says that after the crash they didn't even try to help. One just stood there taking pictures while she lay dying! Apparently, some bystander tore into that one and beat the heck out of him."
"Good," Natalie said decisively, and then blushed. "I mean, you know--"
"I know," Grace smiled. "That was my first thought, too."
Noting that there was still no body awaiting her attention, Natalie pulled up another chair and began half-heartedly thumbing through the forms that needed to be filled out for the hit-and-run, passing several of the data sheets to Grace. Neither of them had their minds entirely on their work, however, and Natalie finally caught Grace's eye and turned up the volume by mutual agreement. In an odd communion, they sat silently together while the newsman restated again and again what little he knew, his voice rolling over ever more pictures of the princess who would now never grow old.
That was how Nick and Schanke found them some ten minutes later, when the two detectives arrived after interviewing the one witness to the wreck, the data on the victim from which was sitting unattended on Natalie's desk.
"Watching The Jerry Show on the city clock again, ladies?" Schanke joked as he came in the door. "What's the topic this time -- 'Stood up by alien kidnappers for my senior prom?'"
"But Jerry reformed, Schank," Nick bantered back as he crossed the room and positioned himself behind Natalie's chair. "He only does serious stuff, now -- like, 'Stood up by alien kidnappers for my speech to the UN.'" When that failed to garner more than a smile from either Natalie or Grace, Nick glanced at Schanke and shrugged.
"They haven't heard," Grace told Natalie.
"Heard what?" Schanke demanded. "Captain Cohen hasn't buckled under to Commissioner Vetter on the MacLemore case, has she? Oh man oh man, that's the last thing we need."
"Diana is dead, Schank," Natalie told him, standing up so he and Nick could see the tiny television screen.
"Diana?" Schanke repeated blankly. "As in, Princess Diana?"
"That's the one," Natalie wryly confirmed, gathering up the contents of the file she and Grace had ostensibly been working on. "I assume you guys came down for the prelims on the car crash victim? White male, age seventeen to twenty-one -- or so. We haven't sent in anything to the lab yet, but yes, he was shot once, and it looks like it followed the impact, finishing him off. You've got one Grade A homicide on your hands."
"Actually, Nat," Schanke said, his eyes suddenly glued to the television. "I, uh, need to call Myra. Do you mind if I use your phone?"
"Sure, Schank," she nodded. "It's under that folder behind the TV."
"Here, Detective," Grace said, standing up and gesturing to the chair, which Schanke eagerly took as he picked up the receiver and dialed home. "I have to run up to the main office to check on the MacLemore file. Do you need anything there, Nat?"
"Well," Natalie thought for a moment. "It's the end of the month today, so could you see if Whittier has the appraisal forms ready yet?"
"Thanks, Grace," Natalie said, crossing to the counter as the lab assistant left. The coroner rummaged in a cabinet over the sink for several minutes, tallying supplies, before she realized that Nick was not actually watching the television, but lost somewhere in his own mind. Quietly closing the cupboard, she leaned back against the counter and crossed her arms. "Earth to Nick," Natalie called softly. "Twentieth-century to Nick."
"Hnh?" he started.
"We have contact," Natalie smiled. "Where were you?"
Glancing briefly at Schanke -- who seemed absorbed in a debate over which channel would provide better coverage of the tragedy, and whether to tape it -- Nick moved across the room to Natalie and answered her in tones too low for his partner to hear. "I was remembering Princess Caroline."
"Of Monaco?" Natalie asked, puzzled.
"No," Nick smiled sadly. "No, I was thinking about the wife of George the Fourth."
"You knew Queen Caroline of England?" Natalie asked, curious but unimpressed. After all, since learning that he had met both Saint Joan and Hitler, anyone in the spectrum between was anti-climactic.
"I knew Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel when she was a child at the Grauer Hof," he said wistfully. "I knew a clever, energetic, talented girl -- qualities all wasted and perverted by a husband who didn't love her, and in-laws who refused to accept or help her."
"Like Diana?" Natalie prompted, as he seemed ready to drift away on his memories again.
"Like Diana? Not entirely," he admitted. "It was a long time ago, and things were different. But, yes, that's what brought her to mind. The situation is . . . similar."
Natalie nodded absently, dredging her memory for what her long-ago history books had said about the woman George IV had unsuccessfully tried to divorce on the grounds that she had committed adultery, never minding that he had married her without ever giving up his own mistress. Matching Nick's wistful tone, Natalie asked, "Who were you, when you knew Princess Caroline?"
"Monsieur Nicolas Fleischer," he bowed, sliding into an accent. "Harpsichord master."
Natalie laughed. "But how could you teach a princess music? They didn't let you give lessons at night, did they?"
"You guys don't have to whisper, you know," Schanke said amiably, hanging up the phone. "Myra can hear me just fine over the sound of Nick's nostalgia-mobile, so morgue-gossip shouldn't be any distraction at all. When are you going to get that muffler replaced?"
Nick shrugged. "When they can fit me in at the shop?"
"You and your car-surgeon," Schanke shook his head, and waved to Natalie as he headed for the door. "C'mon, partner. It's meal-time, and I want to raid my own refrigerator for a change." When the two detectives stepped outdoors, Schanke's tone turned serious. "Actually, Nick, would you mind if I dump you for our meal break and run home?"
"Is Myra okay, Schank?" Nick asked.
"Oh, sure, sure," the balding detective assured him. "She's fine. She's just taking Diana's death sort of hard, you know? Keeps thinking about the two boys, and what it's going to be like for them. God, can you imagine? Losing their mother like that? At their age? And can you imagine--" Schanke's voice failed him, and he swallowed hard. "Can you imagine what Charles has to say to them right now? God, Nick, I don't know how I'd manage to tell Jenny if. . . So I guess Myra and I are both sorta feeling protective right now. And Jenny herself is . . . is being thirteen about it."
Nick recognized that as Schanke-family code for "totally unsympathetic and uncooperative," something the fifteen-year-old Jenny had reverted to with a vengeance in the last year, as she began to chafe under her well-meaning parents' restraints. "No problem. Here," he pulled his keys out of his jacket pocket. "Take the caddy. I've got someone to visit, myself."
"Really?" Schanke asked. "You don't want to drop me off and then drive wherever?"
"Nah. I can get there faster without the car. If we get a call, I'll meet you on the scene." Staring after the caddy until it turned the far corner, Nick did some quick mental calculations. Jenny had just turned fifteen this spring, which would mean that she was born in the spring of '82, the same year as the oldest son of Diana and Charles. No doubt the mere months separating the arrivals of the heirs to the houses of Windsor and Schanke had made an impression on Don and Myra.
Nick smiled to himself, and jumped into flight as soon as Schanke was out of visual range. He wheeled through the Toronto sky, loving the feeling of freedom, and hating himself for loving it, given its source. He set down behind the Raven, running his fingers through his hair and tugging his jacket straight before entering.
Sitting in a black corner, in a black gown, with her black hair loose around her shoulders, Janette did nothing to acknowledge Nick's entrance but pour him blood she knew he would not drink. Pushing the goblet aside, Nick slid into the booth next to her and picked up the walkman to which she was apparently listening under the music pounding from the club's sound-system.
"They drove her to her death, did they not?" came the Nightcrawler's voice from the tiny speaker. "'They,' the eternal 'they' who are anyone and everyone . . . except you, of course. You had nothing to do with her death, did you, dear listener? You never intruded into a private life . . . never lived vicariously through what they would have kept behind closed doors . . . never indulged that hunger? Never. Never once." Lacroix's voice was sultry, smooth and insinuating, but still cold under the artificial warmth of his words. His voice made Nick think of a snake swaying hypnotically in front of its prey.
"For if all are guilty, then none are, is that it? Of course it is," the Nightcrawler continued soothingly. "'Save me, Lord, from evil men,' the poet begged. But no one is ever saved, my children; no one is ever spared. Exonerate yourself, listener, for as all are wicked, none are. And evil . . . there is no such thing, and never has been."
Nick turned the radio off.
"I was listening to that, Nicolas," Janette reprimanded him, but made no move to turn it on again. Having emptied her goblet, she picked up the one Nick had refused.
"How are you, Janette?" he asked carefully.
"Business is good," she replied calmly. "And none of the fledglings have accidentally killed a mortal in months. We might set a new record."
"I mean, about Diana."
"I know what you mean." Janette finished the goblet in her hand and poured another.
"Do you not want to talk about it?" Nick prompted.
"About what, Nicolas? You are the one who has been carrying around two sticks and a piece of string in a box for over five-hundred years. Can I not even have a paltry decade or so of amusement?"
Nick took her free hand and waited quietly. Looking out over the dance floor, Janette finally said, "He killed her."
"If he had been a decent husband, she would never have been in a runaway car with a Hollywood-producer playboy in the first place."
"That's not fair, Janette," Nick objected.
"Of course not. I am not in a mood to be 'fair,' Nicolas. I liked that mortal. Now she is dead, and I am in a mood for revenge."
Nick winced. In Janette, that mood was rarely left to subside on its own. On the other hand, Janette even more rarely allowed anything to draw attention to the vampire community, as action in this case surely would. "There'll be an investigation," he offered cautiously. "If someone is to blame, he'll be found."
"Ah, yes," Janette acknowledged. "You would know about that. Do you suppose there is a tormented Canadian vampire working as a detective for the French police in an attempt to become mortal, who will track down the ones responsible and refuse to mete out justice without a trial and evidence and all that other nonsense?"
Nick let go of her hand in order to settle his arm around her shoulders. Despite the harsh attitude of her words, Janette immediately softened against him, resting her head on his chest. "I am going to miss watching her, Nicolas," Janette sighed resignedly. "Certainly, watching someone is a ridiculous thing . . ."
"At least you get it honestly," Nick murmured into her hair, pointedly sending the radio skidding across the table with his free hand.
They rested in that familiar embrace for long minutes, each lost in his or her own memories. Nick, to whom Diana's life had seemed the length of a blink and depth of a sigh, found his thoughts reaching back to another scandalous, all-too-human princess. Not having seen Caroline for some thirty years before her unfortunate death, Nick recalled that even during her funeral, in the vault in Brunswick, he had been unable to imagine the small coffin as occupied by the pudgy matron of the caricaturists' pens; instead, his memory set before him the slender young girl he had known, with her powdered curls and unquenchable energy.
Her mother had, despite the ubiquitous governesses, conscientiously chaperoned her daughters through all their lessons. Nick suspected that this was the reason the music sessions had eventually expanded to three hours a day; the more time spent on music, the less time the Duchess had needed to monitor such dry studies as composition and history.
Whatever the reason, neither Nick nor Caroline had minded the time. He saw in her another prisoner, trapped between her birthright and her nature. The girl had gained his sympathy immediately -- when her governess had locked the one small window's shutters against the morally-questionable world outside before allowing her into the music room -- and his affection soon after -- as she poured all the energy and emotion of which her mother disapproved into the instrument.
Nick had won her affection, he knew, the evening he had caught her sneaking out her own window. Instead of immediately turning her in to her mother with horrified self-righteousness, as any of her other masters would have done, he had escorted her to a less conspicuous side of the building and listened to her explanation. It had been the Autumn Fair, and while Caroline had gone with the other ladies of the court to purchase coffee and chocolate from the merchants who flocked to Brunswick from all over northern Germany twice a year, she had not been allowed to see or do anything else -- most of all, she had not been allowed to dance. Caroline had been fifteen then, and innocently seething at the cloistered life her mother decreed she live in the very midst of the court.
Nick, inclined, on the one hand, to be sympathetic, and worried, on the other, about where she would next break out if thwarted in this, had weighed his options and taken her to the lamplit center of the Fair. Having helped her adjust her disguise -- rinsing the powder out of her hair, braiding it up like a peasant girl's, and appropriating a cheaper cloak -- he had proceeded, in the same detached and proper tones he used while her mother listened to their harpsichord lessons, to teach her to dance.
Caroline was unlikely ever to have associated with the sick or worried about the innocent victims of war like Diana, Nick acknowledged to himself as he drifted back to the present, but, as he had told Natalie, things were different then. Caroline had endowed a religious order in Jerusalem, and even-handedly employed Arabs, Africans, Greeks and Italians as well as Englishmen in her continental residence, daring enough for the early nineteenth-century. All that was mere history, however; to Nick, the life was that shining-eyed girl, counting paces and keeping time in a cobblestone square far below her station.
Pondering the way so many people could feel as close to someone they had never met as he felt to his long-dead student, a bizarre phenomenon of this bizarre century, Nick pulled himself the final steps back into the present, and returned his attention to Janette. She, at least, had a more traditional focus for whatever loss or annoyance she might feel. "Now, when did you first meet her?" he asked softly. "It was a charity ball, London, nineteen-eighty-three--"
"Eighty-four," she corrected absently.
"Eighty-four," Nick acknowledged. "And when you were introduced, she said--"
"Hush," Janette interrupted, laying her forefinger over his lips. "Listen to the children."
Even with his vampiric hearing, it took Nick a moment to sort through all the voices in the Raven to find the conversation she meant. When he did find it, though, there was no doubt it was correct. Among the three young vampires sitting at a table on the opposite side of the dance floor from Janette's booth, Urs was solemnly relating the news of the hour to Vachon and Screed. Her tone was light, Nick noted, but the pauses between her phrases were heavy; he thought the Spaniard looked almost expressionless, as usual, and the carouche surprisingly sympathetic.
"Urs," Vachon began carefully, after a long, still moment. "She was just a mortal, and they all die sooner or later. You know that. You can't let it get to you."
"I know, but--"
"And it isn't like you ever even met her," he continued earnestly. "She was a relic, the last gasp of an outworn, oppressive institution, and a petty, adulterous, bulimic, suici--" Vachon cut himself off, and Nick suppressed a growl; condemnation which was bare justice to Diana was unaccountably cruel to Urs, but he supposed Vachon had been too close to see the similarity until the word was out of his mouth.
"V-man," Screed admonished his friend in a whisper, shielding his words ineffectively with the back of his hand. "Yer hurting Ursie's feelings." Dropping his arm and reverting to normal volume, the carouche said firmly, "Now, I ain't much more o' a royalist than 'is Vachonness 'ere, an' we've all seen titled-types come an' go and go an' come an' never deign to our sort whether they walk in the day or the dark. It ain't one more or less that'll make any difference. But," he reached over and gently tipped up Urs's chin, which had been gradually sinking to her chest since Vachon had expressed his opinion and Screed had seemed to agree, "this one didn't just stay safe in 'er palace, did she? She held 'ands with disease and dandled amputation on 'er knee, and she fixed 'erself after they broke 'er."
"To strength," offered Urs decidedly, raising her goblet.
"To beauty," Vachon conceded, clinking his wine glass against hers.
"To class," pitched in Screed, enthusiastically raising a pint mug full of a slightly different red vintage.
Janette picked up her half-full goblet, sipped, and then solemnly raised it to Nick. "To Diana?"
"To Diana," he agreed, studiously ignoring the blood and kissing her on the forehead instead.
If Captain Cohen objected to the flock of portable televisions that somehow appeared around the precinct the morning of Diana's funeral, as Nick assumed she would, she never said so. In fact, as the day shift quietly got to work and the night shift clocked out without leaving, he joined those who were lingering around the flickering screen on Schanke's desk and noticed the captain remaining unobtrusively on the threshold between her office and the squad room, close enough to observe the coverage herself. Schanke occupied his own chair, of course, with Tracy Vetter and a few other stray officers having pulled theirs up close as well. Natalie stood across the aisle and watched over their heads.
"The princess last week," Tracy was saying. "And then Mother Teresa yesterday. I know it's a weird comparison, but it's eerie, like some sort of foreboding pattern."
"They're certainly strange times that we live in, Detective," Captain Cohen agreed.
"I was waiting for you," Natalie said quietly, as Nick settled himself on the corner of desk nearest her. "You've missed most of the service."
"I was working." Nick shrugged self-deprecatingly. In fact, while he had been out in the caddy and on the case, he had forgotten that this day was different from any other. Looking into Natalie's haunted eyes, he felt his obliviousness with remorse. "How has it been?"
"You missed the young princes walking behind the casket, which was just wrenching," Natalie said, crossing her arms and not meeting his eyes. Remembering that Natalie herself had lost both parents young, Nick gently pulled her in front of him so he could put his arms around her waist in an apologetic hug as they both watched Schanke's television. "Was it like this?" Natalie whispered to Nick "The procession and funeral for your princess?"
"The funeral was in Germany," Nick answered quietly. "It was a little like this. The procession in England, though, I only read about, in the press and then the history books. I wasn't there."
"Tell me about it, anyway."
As they watched Westminster Abbey in real time, Nick, reverting to normal volume so everyone could hear, recalled another time. "In 1821, two men died as crowds rioted in an attempt to divert Queen Caroline's casket through London. They thought that King George had never done her justice, and that it was up to the people to make sure she got the respect she deserved."
"You read that history-thing in the Star yesterday, too? Yeah," Schanke noted solemnly, reaching for his coffee mug. "Earl Spencer would sympathize with that."
"Shhh," Tracy hissed. "Elton John is going to sing."
Sing, he did. And as the song progressed, tears streamed openly down Tracy's face. Schanke, Cohen, and several other officers blinked rather more than dry eyes and dusty air could account for. Natalie turned and cried into Nick's shoulder. And, finally, Nick buried his face in Natalie's hair to hide the red tears that welled up for a woman he had never known, for a girl he had once known, for all who ever mourned them, and for himself -- for his lonely knowledge that even this cost of humanity was not too high.
As the song progressed, there were tears there, as there were tears around the world. Some cried for beauty of form or spirit; some cried for Britain or their generation; some cried for two more motherless children. But all cried for themselves, because if most were strangers to her, she was a stranger to none.
If she had not been so, she would not have been thus mourned. If she had not been so, she might not have been thus lost.
James Parriot and Barney Cohen created the fantasy television program Forever Knight. The Sony Corporation owns it. It periodically appears on the SciFi Channel. I intend no infringement. Please support Sony and SciFi in all their Forever Knight endeavors!
The "England's Rose" version of "Candle In The Wind," like the original, was written by Bernie Taupin and performed by Elton John, and belongs to them and to PolyGram Incorporated. I intend no infringement.
This is, of course, purely a work of fiction. Excepting the obvious public figures and historic events, all characters and situations in this fantasy-fiction piece are entirely fictional, and any resemblance to real people or events is entirely coincidental. The opinions attributed to the Forever Knight characters are not necessarily the opinions of the author, but attempt to span the range of public opinion at that time.
The quotation Lacroix abuses in Diana's honor is from Psalm 140, which continues, "Proud men have set a trap for me; they have laid their snares, and along the path they have set traps to catch me." This Psalm was read at the "thanksgiving" service after Queen Caroline's "acquittal."
As a girl, Caroline of Brunswick did indeed have a harpsichord instructor named Fleischer, and did study the instrument some sixteen hours a week, more than any other subject. Because her mother was notoriously protective of her daughters, keeping them as much as possible under lock and key, and even away from open windows, it is possible that a vampire could have been their music master without ever encountering the sun, though no such aspersions should be cast on the historical M. Fleischer. Similarly, though Caroline's own letters and the memoirs of those who knew her document her sneaking out of her window, attending the biannual Fairs in the daytime, and longing to dance, especially at the court balls her mother forbade her, the combination of events described here is completely fictitious. Caroline died suddenly after her husband's coronation; she was not crowned queen, and legend has it that she died of a broken heart over this refusal (it was more likely a combination of a broken heart, broken ambitions, indigestion, and careless self-medication).
For information on Queen Caroline, I primarily consulted Flora Fraser's The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline (Knopf, New York, 1996) and E.A. Smith's A Queen On Trial: The Affair of Queen Caroline (Sutton, Dover NH, 1993).
My thanks go to Bonnie and Elisabeth for their invaluable editorial suggestions.
Please do not archive, post or distribute this piece. Please feel free to link to it on my fansite instead. I wrote "England's Rose" and posted it to fkfic-l in September, 1997. I coded it in HTML and placed it on this website in March, 1999.
Thank you for reading. Comments and constructive criticism are appreciated. Please email me or comment on my LiveJournal or Dreamwidth.
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