Tuesday, January 22nd
An exhibition at the Victoria & Albert of photographs of the king goes up before his funeral
The type of living Max gave Annette in England practically infuriated her. She hated staying at a place so over indulgent it was ridiculous. Not to mention whenever she went somewhere with him she had to look somewhat presentable -- presentable in English royalty terms. She absolutely hated it. Why did she just react? Well for a few reasons. 1. Max knew nothing of her revolutionary feelings and she knew that now wasn’t the time let him in on it. 2. Freddie would be furious with her if he found out what exactly she was doing and if she tried to start anything. 3. Max was her friend and as much as she hated monarchies she knew the value of a friendship. She mulled over these thoughts as she laid straight in the suite’s king size bed. However a sudden knock on the door pulled her out of her thoughts and out of bed.
“For Christ’s sake,” she said throwing her rob over her shoulders, “Can’t Max function on his own?” she stormed to the door and flew the door open with an aggravated look on her face. “Max, you’re going to have to-“ she stopped suddenly and looked at the figure in the doorway. It wasn’t Max, but her brother Henri. “Henri!” she exclaimed with a pale face, “What are you doing here?”
“Qu’est-ce que c’est passé?” Henri asked looking around his sister and into the suite, “Qui est Max?”
“Uh, the friend who I came to see, of course,” Annette said ushering her brother into the suite, “Did you tell me you were coming? You should have told me you were coming.”
Henri was silent for a moment as he examined the suite. He looked confused yet amazed. He knew Annette couldn’t afford a place like this and even if she could she’d never want to be in a place like this. Then his eyes grew wide as he realized what could very well be possible.
“es-tu une prostituée?” Henri asked wide eyed.
Annette couldn’t help but laugh and replied, “god, no! my friend is just very… rich. Anyway, why are you here? You shouldn’t be here.”
“Annette, you’re not my mother you can’t tell me what to do,” Henri said becoming frustrated.
“But I am your older sister and I have a duty to protect you,” Annette said confidently smiling at Henri.
“That’s the thing; I don’t need you to protect me anymore. I’m 20 years old and well over 6 feet tall. I can take care of myself, Annette,” Henri said flopping on the couch.
Annette sighed and said, “Now, why are you here?”
“I was worried about you. You’ve been acting extremely strange and even more secretive than usual. I had to find out what was going on,” Henri said bluntly.
“Mon cher, how sweet, but I am fine, I insist you go back to France,” Annette said firmly.
“Absolutely not,” Henri scoffed, “I’m not going anywhere until I figure out what’s really going on and in the mean time you can show me around London.”
“Fine,” Annette said. She thought anything was better than sitting with her brother where he might be able to get more information out of her, “I know of an exhibit that’s starting today. Let me get dressed.”
“The Victoria and Albert,” Henri said with a questioning look on his face, “This is not at all your kind of place. An exhibit on a deceased king?! Unless you personally beheaded him I know you hate this stuff. What is going on?”
“Henri, just enjoy the exhibit,” Annette sighed but internally she was very nervous. She desperately hoped that no one she had met over the past week or so would be in the hall, especially not Max.
Photos and relics of the former king’s life were plastered throughout a great room. Annette strolled the room half-heartedly not paying any attention to anything in particular. Well, except for the pictures of a younger Max. She couldn’t help but smile at the wide-eyed, smiling child and her heart twinged when she thought of how empty those eyes were now.
“Annette, do you have a soft spot for one of the princes? Which one?” Henri asked teasingly.
“Oh shut up,” Annette said turning red and turning sharply away.
“Oh I’m only joking,” Henri rolled his eyes, “you know, revolutionaries can have hearts. You can feel bad for the poor kids.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Annette shrugged.
“Excuse me ma’am,” a faintly familiar voice said from behind her. When she turned around she recognized the man who picked her up from the airport and she became immediately worried. “He wants you,” he quietly said.
“I’m sorry,” Annette managed to get out, “I think you have the wrong person.”
“Not at all,” he said standing his ground.
“Listen, sir, my sister thinks you have the wrong person and therefore you have the wrong person,” Henri said stepping in.
Annette contemplated what to do. If she continued to refuse it would only cause a scene but if she went with him Henri had to go too. She thought for a moment, composed herself and then said, “Fine, but I’m only going if my brother comes.”
The man hesitated for a moment but finally conceded. Henri looked at Annette in shock and followed after her as they went through some back, hidden corridors to a lonely door. The man opened it and Henri followed Annette into the room. Thereon a chair was His Royal Highness Maximillian.
“Annette, what is going on?” Henri asked in a low voice, grabbing his sister’s arm.
“This is the friend I’m visiting, the one from the airport, now you know why I wasn’t telling you anything. Can’t you see how this would make me look in front of the others?” Annette said glaring at her brother as if this situation was in some way his fault.
“Annette,” max said coming forward, “who’s this?”
“Oh, yeah, this is my brother Henri. Sorry, he just showed up today, I hope you don’t mind,” Annette said hoping he’d send her away forever.
Max looked a bit disappointed but quickly regained his composure and said, “Not at all. Nice to meet you Henri, I’m Max.”
“So I figured,” Henri said still dumbfounded.
“I just knew you’d come here,” Max said with joy in his voice, “It means a lot.”
“This is a bit creepy, Max,” Annette said avoiding his statement, “are you just sitting back here all day and having him go out and grab random people for you?”
“Annette, you’re not a random person. You’re a dear friend and I needed to talk to you. I’ve been having a rough time,” Max said with a sad sigh.
“What’s up,” Annette said sitting in the chair opposite him.
“The funeral’s coming soon and I just don’t think I can handle it. My family is driving me crazy. I don’t think I can handle walking in front of all those people,” he said nervously running his hand through his hair.
Annette smiled compassionately and said, “Look, you’ll be fine. That’s what they breed you for, for big events like this. Your life is a public life and you’ll just have to get used to it.” Her words weren’t as compassionate as her face but they were true.
“Come with me to his funeral,” Max pleaded.
“Absolutely not!” Annette exclaimed shocked, “I can’t even begin to tell you how many things are wrong with that statement.”
“a lot of help you are,” Max grumbled as he fell back into his chair and crossed his arms with a pouty expression on his face.
“I am, very much helpful Max, but I cannot be there to hold your hand every step of the way. You have to learn to deal without me. I’m going back to France very soon,” Annette said matter-o-factly. “now,” she said standing up, “don’t pout, I’m sure you have somewhere important to be latter. When you’ve stopped acting like a child you can call me and we can get together. Bye Max.”
Still in awe Henri followed Annette out of the room and down the corridors back to the civilized world.
“Annette, what the h-ll,” Henri exclaimed with a smile on his face, “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“It’s a conflict of interest for me,” Annette said pulling out a cigarette, “Plus, you see how he is, he acts like a big baby when he’s around me. It’s ridiculous.”
“You’re kind of like his emotional putain,” Henri snickered.
Annette stopped in her tracks, turned to her brother and slapped him. “Don’t you ever say that to me again! You have no idea.” And with that she briskly walked off to the suite to make plans for a flight home leaving henri in the dust, a bit angry and a bit mystified.