Don't Shoot the Messenger

Chapter One

"I've got it!"

Daisy took a dive into the pavement, feeling the burn gnaw away at her knees and shins, but she didn't feel it as much as she used to. Her racket extended as far as she could possibly reach. She could see the tennis ball, and she knew exactly where it would land. Everything slowed down as she saw it slipping away. At the last moment, her elbow hit the cement, causing her to bend it just enough to let the ball pass by.

Her head had been down for the last few moments, but she looked up, having a feeling she missed.

"30 love," the announcer read. Yep.

"Or maybe, I don't got it," she said.

"Are you okay?" Princess Peach ran over to Daisy, seeing her scraped up knees and elbows. "Maybe we should be done for the day..."

"I'm fine," Daisy replied, now feeling the after effects of her careless dive. "I promise."

"It's okay, you know. It's just a game," Peach said. "We can play again some other time."

"Let's finish this one out," Daisy said, taking Peach's hand and standing back up.

"Are you sure you don't need any bandages? I can have Toadsworth run it and get-"

"I'm fine," Daisy repeated, grabbing her racket and smiling. "Come on. We can't let them take the last set, can we?"

Peach nodded, but she always thought Daisy played a bit too rough sometimes. Mario and Luigi had come to play a round of tennis this afternoon. The sun was high, though it was a bit cloudy, and everything was calm in the Mushroom Kingdom.

A few Toads came out with water bottles and four refreshing ice teas, raspberry flavor of course. That was Peach's favorite. By the end of their game, Daisy and Peach snatched the win by one set. Toadsworth had gone inside, leaving them to pick up their game and hang out together.

"My goodness it's hot," Peach said, fanning herself.

"It won't be like that for long," Luigi said. "They say a huge storm is supposed to hit."

"What?" Peach said. "I've heard nothing of the sort!"

"Luigi!" Mario snapped. "We weren't supposed to say anything!"

"Oh...oops. I thought he said to tell her!" Luigi replied. Mario sighed, turning to the girls.

"We weren't supposed to, but I guess you should know now. There's a flood watch in store for your kingdom tomorrow evening," Mario said.

"So that's why Toadsworth drained the pool," Daisy pondered. "I was wondering about that. What will we do?"

"We prep the basement for the villagers, that's what we do," Peach stated. "Come on, Let's pick this up."

This was why Toadsworth didn't want to tell Peach. Mario knew that if Peach found out, this is exactly what she would do. It was very nice of her, but just last year, the kingdom had a flood gate built outside the city and a shelter on high ground, enough to fit everyone in the kingdom. Of course, the expense was pocket change for the kingdom's royal family, but he wanted the public services to be of some use. Peach was always kindhearted, and she opened her palace to anyone who would need it.

But that was the problem. Peach's monarchy was becoming a little too friendly with the people. Toadsworth wanted to see that people had enough resources to keep them away from the palace and from taking advantage of the princess's hospitality. Mario sighed again as they brought in their equipment.

The moment Peach walked into the castle, she instructed the guards and servants to prepare the basement for a lot of visitors. She even had the suites opened for leaders of any surrounding villages. The advantage to Peach's castle was the high ground it stood upon. The moat was drained as well, so the castle was well prepared, but Peach hadn't noticed those slight preparations Toadsworth was attending to in her stead.

"Sorry Bro," Luigi apologized. They were living with the consequences though, as the old toad emerged from his study later that evening while dinner was being served. Of course, Peach brought up the storm right away. He looked at the Mario Brothers.

"Luigi blabbed," Daisy said. "It's not his fault. He thought he was supposed to tell us."

The old toad sighed, trying to explain to his princess that they didn't need to open the castle since the flood gate was built and the shelter was opened to anyone who needed to escape to higher ground.

Peach wouldn't hear it, and Daisy wondered to herself as they ate dinner and thereafter, she met with Toadsworth herself.

"Princess Daisy, my goodness!" he exclaimed when he caught eye of her physical stature. "Come with me." He was going to grab some bandages for her. As they walked into a bathroom and Toadsworth reached for the medical equipment, she just had to ask.

"If you're so confident about the flood gate and the shelter, why would you have the moat and the pool drained?" she asked. Toadsworth stopped for a moment, clearing his throat.

"You are very cunning, Princess," he said, putting the disinfectant cream on her elbows and knees. "I want to see the shelter and flood gate work for the kingdom, but I can't do that if Peach knows every disaster that strikes. This was supposed to be the test run."

"So, if it failed?" Daisy asked. Toadsworth bandaged her knees first.

"I drained the moat to make it easier on the floodgates. Our water runs off into the same area as the town's you know. If the gate failed, as least the castle wouldn't be an additional problem," he explained. "But, I'll never know if the shelter works if I can't offer it to people, though can I?"

"I'd like to know if it would stand first," Daisy said.

"Again, Princess, most cunningness you have there," Toadsworth said. "But that wasn't the problem. I know it will hold. I made sure it was built from the same material as the castle walls. It was quite expensive. No party cruise this summer, I'm afraid. What I needed to know was if the shelter had enough supplies and could run efficiently on its own. Without royal intervention."

"Oh." That was all Daisy said as he finished with her elbows.

"How many times did you dive for that tennis ball?" the toad asked.

"Enough," she replied, smirking. "It doesn't hurt."

The toad left her for the night, saying Peach had a good heart, but the kingdom needs to act like a kingdom sometimes. She needed to let the people organize. Daisy understood, but she also knew that Peach was only trying to look out for everyone.

That night, when she was settling in to sleep, she saw a note on her nightstand in the guest bedroom she was staying in for the week. She too would be trapped at the castle, but Toadsworth had already seen to those arrangements. Perhaps Mario and Luigi would too if they'd known about it ahead of time. Toadsworth was letting them have a leg up from the villagers for all they'd done for the royal family.

Picking up the note, she thought it was an invitation from Peach to sneak into the kitchen after Toadsworth went to sleep to pop some popcorn and return to her bedroom so they could stay up and watch Disney movies. That was always her cue, but the note wasn't from Peach...

Word around the mansion. Waluigi likes you. Like, a lot a lot. You should meet up sometime.

"What the heck?" Daisy put the note down. "Who put that here?" She shoved it away into the drawer, reasoning that perhaps it was just a joke someone was playing on her. Before she let herself fall asleep, a note slipped under the door, along with five knocks in a special pattern. One she knew all too well. This note read:

Do you wanna build a snowman?

She smiled, opening the door to see Peach across the hallway, smiling back. Daisy darted into the kitchen and popped her bag of popcorn.

"Now what?" Daisy asked, closing the door to Peach's room as they laughed quietly to each other. "We watch Frozen for like, the millionth time?" Peach smiled. "It's summer for Pete's sake!"

"Who cares!" Peach put in the movie. So far nor Toadsworth, or anyone else for that matter, had caught the princesses having spontaneous slumber parties of the like, and this was going on five years in a row.

Yes, they had everything. Peach's room was decked out beyond anything she could ever want for herself. Daisy could say the same, but she didn't spend much time at home. It was more fun to have her own personal guest room at Peach's castle and share the space anyway.

They fell asleep after staying up passed four in the morning on Peach's king sized bed, one crown on each bedside nightstand.