Skins fandom, Cassie
PG, 1500 words
Summary: Queen Cassie would like to present herself to her royal court
Notes: Written for mturtle in the 2007 Yuletide exchange.
Cassie's hand trails along the floor, knuckles pressed into the carpet, feeling the hard nubs of the pile, the way that the thick blue-green bristles don't move, impervious to her touch. With a soft, curling smile, she falls back on the couch, eyes looking upwards to the window behind her. She can hear the distant twitters of birds, and as she arches up, leaning her head back to get a better look, she sees a glint of early morning sunlight peeking over the horizon.
She lets out a long, relieved breath. A new day. The beginning of a day is magical, she believes, because who can say what it will bring, here with the dawn that no one has seen before. It's still cold in the living room, however; the heating won't turn on again for a few hours yet. She sits up a little, pulls her mother's yellow quilt from the chair next to her, and wraps it around herself, enjoying the sudden warmth against her bare arms.
The radio is still playing from the night before, a low murmur that suddenly seems to develop words, as if it has woken up with the morning. A woman's soft voice emanates out. Cassie isn't sure what she's saying, but she imagines it is something nice, something appropriate for the day. She's glad that everybody else is beginning to join her in the waking world - at night, when she can't sleep and presses her nose against the cold windowpanes, it's all too easy to imagine that she is the only person in the whole world.
She remains there, still, just breathing in the moment.
Then she hears a gurgle from Reuben's room, and decides that this morning would be a lovely time for a stroll outside. She slips off the sofa, curling her toes into the carpet, then pads over to the kitchen, where the cool tiles make slapping sounds against her feet. A glass of water, and she's ready. But the sunshine seems chilly, and so she decides that today she is going to be a noble queen. She picks up the yellow quilt and throws it around her shoulders, tossing her head back with regal pride.
Laughing with pleasure as she catches a reflection of herself in the oven door, she rattles through drawers, until she finds a whisk, which she holds aloft - this will do as her royal sceptre. She bends low, dipping into a graceful curtsey and waving the sceptre before her.
"I anoint you… Lady Jal," she says, giggling. Maybe she should go wake Jal, they could go and make their royal court together - the pigeons will be courtiers if you ask them nicely. But she doesn't think Jal will much like being woken at seven in the morning on a Sunday, and decides against it.
Maybe it's better this way, anyway - after all, it's lonely at the top. But her faithful advisor, Alan, will make sure that she's surrounded by those people that can be trusted, and he won't even have to taste her food for her, for she won't need food, not ever. Michelle and Tony will have a splendid wedding, and people will come from miles around just to marvel at the beauty of the bride, and Queen Cassie will look on, and smile, and bestow her royal blessing on the couple.
She softly opens the front door. There's a red carpet stretched out before her, of course, and it's leading her down to the harbour, for she's to christen a ship's maiden voyage today. There's no Sir Walter Raleigh to throw down his robes for her, so she makes do by hoisting up her gold-encrusted train and walking down the steps herself. There's a crowd waiting, as is to be expecting, and she smiles munificently at them all, though she shakes her head gently at the photographers, who bow their heads and respect her wishes, cameras staying at their side, though the reporters next to him are scribbling madly, and call out questions after her as she continues to walk.
She strolls down the royal promenade, which looks beautiful in springtime - the marigolds are especially fine. There's a horse and carriage behind her, but it keeps a respectful distance, and Cassie smiles to hear the neat clip-clop of the horse's hooves. At the crossroads, a policeman in traditional uniform, with a hat tall and shining, is holding out his white-gloved hands, getting the traffic to stop. She nods to him in gratitude, and he extends a hand, telling her it's perfectly safe to cross.
She can see her ladies-in-waiting on the other side, nestled amongst the bushes. They're holding parasols, all manner of colours - blue and green and bright, bright yellow. They titter amongst each other at some scandal or other, and Cassie wonders which of them will be bold enough to tell her about it.
She grips her skirts a little tighter and steps forward - always graceful, always perfectly poised, she's been practising her walk for years, naturally. And there they are, her beloved friends, smiling at her, waving to her…
A rush of harsh, screeching noise hits Cassie's ears, and the shock of it is so great that she finds herself falling. She reaches out desperately for someone to catch her, but she lands against the tarmac, hard, car tyres inches from her.
"Jesus Christ…" comes a panicked voice. "I thought you'd stopped in time!"
The car door opens, and Cassie winces at the sound of metal. A man leaps out of the car, and his face is pale, his eyes wide and worried. Cassie tries to smile at him, to reassure him that she's perfectly all right - after all, there are some friends of hers just over there who are bound to be along in just a moment.
But he's not listening to her, instead his hands are moving her knees and elbows, and she tries to move away out of reach, because he's a stranger and he shouldn't touch, but then she notices that he has kind eyes, and decides that maybe he could have caught her after all.
"It's ok, kid," he's saying. "You're safe now. Where does it hurt?"
There's an ache deep in her chest, and she can feel it tightening, but she doesn't think that's what he means. She smiles brightly at him. "Oh, I'm ok. Really. If you could just help me up…"
He holds her arms firmly, and she scrabbles around to find a grip on the ground, before getting to her feet, where she promptly falls forward again.
"Woah there!" The man holds her up by her shoulders. "Here, let me take you to the doctor's, someone ought to have a look at you. What were you doing out in the road, anyway? You look old enough to know better by now!"
"I'm sorry," Cassie says. "I thought it was clear. Listen, I'm fine, really I am - my dad's a GP, you know, and I only live just around the corner, so I think I'll just go home. I'm terribly sorry for running into your car like that."
"Dave?" A woman is getting out of the car now. "Is she ok?"
"Oh yes!" Cassie turns to the woman, nodding her head. "So sorry to delay you."
"I really think we should take her to a doctor," Dave says, uncertain.
"Look, you heard her - if she says she's fine, I'm sure she'll be ok. And we're running late enough as it is!"
He turns back to Cassie. "You're sure you don't want a lift anywhere."
"Oh yes, really. Thanks ever so much for the offer, though, it's very kind of you!"
Dave gives her one more look, then turns away. He gets into the car with the woman, who starts up the engine and slowly drives away. Cassie moves gingerly over to the pavement, then sits down, staring in bewilderment around her. Where had everybody gone?
She'd heard them, hadn't she, the girls just over the road? But aside from a couple of magpies hopping from bush to scrawny bush, there wasn’t a single living thing in sight. She curls up, resting her chin on her knees, breath shaky. She bites her lip suddenly, as she scrapes her feet back and they sting in pain. Examining one sole, there's a crooked line of blood running across the centre.
She turns to look back down her promenade. Stones and bits of rubbish and broken glass litter the suburban street, and she spies a rat's tail disappearing into a skip. Her royal robes are just a quilt again, and it's dirty and torn at the edges, so she's going to have to get this washed before her mum sees. She draws it around herself as she starts to shiver with cold.
The morning doesn't seem as bright any more, and there are clouds crowding around the sun that's still struggling just to be skybourne. The dawn's not magical, just astronomy playing out its part in nature, the way it has for millions of other mornings before and since. And below it all sits Cassie, not a queen any longer, just a girl in a tattered blanket, sitting on the side of the road with scratched and dirty feet.