Chapter 3

Sorry I haven't updated in a while, haven't been happy with a lot of things I wrote so I had to take a break. Anyways, here's the next part of the Royal Plan, a look into the behind the scenes of Star and Marco's fated relationship. Fuzzah!

Star Butterfly, future Queen of the Butterfly Kingdom, the most powerful wielder of the royal wand since Eclipsa and wife to the Great Warrior Marco Diaz (currently Marco Diaz-Butterfly) was facing a threat so great, it was driving her up the wall in ways no other evil had ever done. She had faced hordes of monsters, threats from countless worlds, taken down a few dark lords and successfully gotten through the hell that was the Diaz family hot sauce contest, but this… this was something she had no idea how to handle.

Her perfect pearly white teeth began to grind against each other in frustration as she let her head drop face first onto the table. She needed help, but her most trusted ally, her hero, her best friend and future king was similarly incapacitated as he just sat there beside her, eyes glazed over and wearing a polite, but perturbing smile on his severely reddened face.

She could only groan and bemoan her fate that was the Butterfly Diaz Family Reunion. Don't get her wrong, she loved both sides of her family, from the Johansens and Butterflies to the Ublado's and the Diaz's. But things changed when you were newly married. Things changed a lot.

No matter how she covered her ears, she could not drown out the voices of both her mothers chatting quite tactlessly for everyone to hear.

"Yes… and yet here we are Angie, still grandchildren-less after all that effort to bring them together." Moon commented, cleaning her mouth with her napkin. "Honestly, I had my hopes up ever since they started dating. I thought they'd save some of that excess energy and recklessness for the bedroom instead of hopping around dimensions all the time." Moon voiced out, complaining quite a bit as she began to dig into her gelato, exacting some of her frustration on the frozen desert.

Angie sighed in agreement. "I thought so too. I mean who would've thought they'd be so responsible about sex when they get into so much riskier situations all the time? I mean, I understand Marco, but Star?" Angie exclaimed, raising her spoon in the air to exaggerate her point. "I was honestly expecting a child from these two before they even got married."

"Yes… that would've saved us all that trouble regarding their marriage." Moon commented, referring to the whole fiasco surrounding the legitimacy of their marriage and rule.

Star could only drop her head on the dining room table repeatedly and groan. Being a grown woman and future Queen did not help in any way when both of your mothers were talking about your sex life. This was the worst. Even after all the effort she put into preparing a nice formal dinner to avoid this kind of discussion.

"Star are you listening?" Moon called, very much aware and enjoying her daughter's utter embarrassment. It wasn't every day you could see Star acting so meek.

"Ugh… please kill me now…" Star grumbled in reply.

Moon, Angie and every other relative in the reach of the conversation couldn't help but laugh at the young couple. Marco had long shut his brain off after being teased about the nightly sounds of their passion ringing through the castle walls and his supposedly impressive manhood. Star on the other hand did not have the luxury of zoning out like her husband. She had to suffer through the talk of not using protection and it feeling much better without such from her mothers, which wasn't exactly a very comfortable topic or image to see in her mind. The thought of her parents doing the nasty brought shivers down her spine.

"No need to be so embarrassed Star, you're a grown woman. Sex isn't really something you should be ashamed of. It's the ultimate expression of love between soulmates" Moon quipped, teasing her daughter, who raised her head and glared daggers at her.

"Well it is when your birth mother and mother-in-law are telling everyone about it! Can't we just go back to playing flags or something less harmful like paintball?!" She exclaimed, her cheeks red with warmth and her eyes wide in panic like a cornered animal.

Moon couldn't help but laugh at her daughter's behaviour. In Mewni they were Queen and Future Queen, but here on earth, they were just mother and daughter. And her mother couldn't help but recall the first family reunion the two love birds had attended. Although, at the time, they weren't lovebirds, but Moon was no fool, she knew something other than a fated bond was between them even back then.

It was a cool day in Mewni. A light mist had built upon the fields and the forests, leaving droplets upon the leaves and blades of grass. Moon's eyes gently fluttered open to the morning light filtered through their tinted windows. She had a rather restful sleep, despite all the preparations and trouble of preparing for today. Of course, it would've been a lot less stressful if a certain husband wasn't over excited for the celebration and began making plans that would no doubt make things awkward for their two very special guests.

A sudden clatter from the corner of their room, disrupted the Queen's peaceful waking. She could only sigh and get up, careful to not let her nightgown touch the floor.

She was not at all surprised by the sight in front of her. There was her husband, River, rummaging through his closet and throwing out every object he deemed useless.

"Aha!" He exclaimed, pulling out two outfits from the depths of his wardrobe, one red and another white.

"River, what is that?" Moon asked, her voice very much controlled.

"Oh Moon darling! Good morning!" He greeted cheerily. "Which do you think will fit Marco better, the red uniform or the white one?" He asked, presenting each princely attire to his wife for choosing.

Moon could only sigh and place her hands on River's, earning a rather confused look from the king.

"River, I know you're excited to have Marco join us today, but you cannot give him any special treatment." Moon explained for the hundredth time since yesterday.

"But Moon, I had these specially made for him, can't I at least give them to him as a gift afterwards?" River pleaded, his eyes brimming with emotion.

"For the last time River no. Bringing him to family events is one thing, but making him stand out is another. Star would be suspicious." Moon stated with finality as she began going through her wardrobe as well.

River began to walk away, body hunched and expression dejected. He took out a small heart shaped locket from his shirt pocket and opened it, letting a small smile tease his face. He looked at the picture the Diaz's had managed to take of Star and Marco laughing as they embraced each other and the word Starco, elegantly scribbled in red at the corner.

"Someday soon my dears. Someday soon…" He whispered with utmost care as he waited for his wife to get dressed.

After a quick breakfast and a couple of last minute checks, the royal couple waited at the castle gardens, taking seats on the old stone benches in front of the garden square. River began to tap his fingers on his knees impatiently, as if they would make time go faster. Apparently, Star's predisposition to burst from boredom was inherited from her father, who was likewise ready to explode into irrational actions.

Suddenly, the sound of tearing fabric broke the serenity of the place as a pair of scissors appeared in midair and cut their way down to the ground, revealing a large portal. River and Moon watched in anticipation as their manticore drawn carriage rolled its way into Mewni.

River immediately got off his seat and ran towards the royal vehicle while Moon walked ever so calmly. It wasn't like she wasn't just as excited, she just hid it better.

As the doors slowly opened, Moon watched River crush the two in an enthusiastic embrace, depriving them of the ability to breathe.

"Star! Marco my boy! It's so good to see you!" He greeted, shaking them around like ragdolls.

"Dad! It's so good to see you too! Right Marco?" Star exclaimed, hugging her father back while Marco gasped for air.

"Can't… breathe..." Marco gasped out, feeling his lungs collapsing.

"River, put them down. They're turning blue." Moon commented calmly, noting the lack of color in her daughter and future son-in-law. River hurriedly released them from his grip, apologizing and giving Marco a playful slap on the arm. Moon smiled inwardly as she saw them conversing together, this was her future family.

"Good morning you two." Moon greeted as she approached them, stepping every so gracefully. "Marco, it's nice of you to finally join us. Star's been telling us all about you and how you've been taking care of her. We do hope she hasn't been that much trouble." Moon mentioned with a slightly troubled expression on her face. She had known from Angie and Rafael that Star had a tendency to turn the house upside down, once even literally when she had misunderstood something on the internet.

Marco seemed surprised to by the Queen's undivided attention and looked quite nervous about what to do next. He ended up bowing to Moon, before answering back.

"Well, Queen Butterfly, it hasn't been that bad. I mean, we get little surprises here and there, but everything's fine." Marco replied, his tone very polite and rather shy. Moon knew they had never really talked before and that she came across as rather firm, so it was understandable he was acting the way he did. Still, she couldn't help but wish Marco would relax around her like he did with River.

Luckily, Star came to his rescue and pulled him aside.

"See mom, everything's fine. No explosions or magic glitter sprinkling everywhere!" Star exclaimed, waving her arms around to prove her point.

"I never said there were dear…" Moon replied with a knowing look, causing Star's eyes to jitter back and forth in nervousness.

"Uhhhh…" Star stammered, not knowing what to say as her nails began to dig into her wand.

Moon decided to let it go. She had known more about Star's activities than she let on and she allowed it. After all, how was she to learn the consequences of her actions if she wasn't free to own them? So instead, she decided to direct her attention to getting to know the young man in red, who was now busy chatting with River about monster hunting.

"Come on everyone, we'll walk to the picnic site." Moon called, beginning to walk through the gardens. They began with a little tour along the path to their destination, side by side. River beside Moon and Marco beside Star. They passed through the main hall and walked their way upon a rainbow bridge that Moon had conjured up, leading straight to the picnic site.

As they paced, Moon couldn't help but take a few glances towards the pair behind them. They were chatting and joking around without a care in the world. Even nudging and horseplaying to the point that Star jumped on Marco's back and forced him to carry her the rest of the way. It was quite comical actually, save for the part they almost fell to their deaths. Normally, Moon would've scolded Star for her behaviour, but right now, Moon couldn't be happier that the two trusted each other so and had built such a unique friendship despite their differences.

Moon slowed her pace to walk beside her daughter's best friend.

"So Marco, what has Star told you about today?" Moon asked the boy who was carrying his daughter.

Marco's posture tensed again, surprised to have the ruler talking to him."Well Queen Butterfly, she told me it was a family reunion and that there would be Mewnian corn… That's basically it." Marco replied, adjusting his grip on Star's legs so that she wouldn't fall over.

Moon smiled back, hoping to make Marco ease up.

"Well then, allow me to explain further… You'll be meeting both sides of our family today. Our relatives from the Johansen kingdom next door and those from here, the Butterfly Kingdom." Moon explained, watching how the young man carried her daughter without much effort. "I understand Earth has reunions too. How do those go?" Moon asked.

"Well, in my family there's eating, some ballroom dancing and then sometimes we have games too. Like in our last reunion, we played paintball as an entire family." Marco explained, his voice becoming more relaxed, much to Moon's delight.

"Paintball?" Moon asked, her eyebrows raised in curiosity.

"Paintball!" Star screamed, battle lust growing in her eyes.

Marco grinned painfully as he worried about the princess on his shoulders. "How to explain this… Well on earth we have these weapons called guns, that are sort of like bows and they fire these very small arrows so fast it could go straight through armor." Marco tried his best to explain.

Moon's eyes widened. It appeared her knowledge on earth needed updating.

"So on your reunions, you play a game where you try and maim each other?" Moon asked, feeling aghast and horrified. Mewni had barbaric practices, but violence was never the goal, just the by-product.

"No, no Queen Moon." Marco immediately corrected, shaking his hands to prevent any misunderstanding. "You have to have a permit to carry those things, we don't just let anyone handle them because they're so dangerous. What we use in reunions are toys, replicas of the real thing that just fire off little balls of paint." Marco explained, wishing he had a wand to at least help him depict what he was saying. Instead he had a princess on his shoulders re-enacting a paintball fight animatedly.

Moon's expression returned to normal upon hearing those words. Apparently earth wasn't as harmless as she thought.

"So these paintballs don't hurt?" Moon asked, becoming quite intrigued by the concept because they had similar practices here on Mewni.

"Well, they do… it feels kind of like being hit by Star's Narwhal blast, only smaller and faster than the eye can see." Marco replied, trying his best to smile at the monarch.

"Oh it can definitely hurt more if you aim it right..." Star added, her voice deepening menacingly.

"That sounds very painful Marco." Moon concluded, feeling very sorry that the young man had been put through such a thing against her daughter.

"It's okay Queen Moon. The pain makes it real and worthwhile." Marco explained with an odd smile.

"You make believe you're actually shooting someone and trying your best to do so, but without the consequences of an actual war on a person's being. So all you're left with is thrill and battle madness." Marco finished, leaving Queen Moon quite concerned with his statement and the way he said it.

She wanted to inquire a bit more; especially with how a mature and slightly disturbing statement could roll of the young man's tongue so easily, but they were nearing the end of the magic bridge.

Moon gazed straight ahead where she could already see the Butterflies and Johansens gathered around the long dining table. They were already bickering about as usual and soon trouble would begin, but this would be educational, if not enjoyable for Marco. After all, if his family had some sort of war games, then he could probably handle this as well… probably… hopefully…

He kind of had no choice in the matter.

As they reached the end of the rainbow bridge, Moon watched as her relatives bickered and argued about until they noticed her arrival. Upon spying the royal couple, both sides of the family stood up in acknowledgment. On one side of the table were the Butterflies, all dressed formally and accompanied by their own manservants and on the other stood the Johansens, proud warriors dressed in their latest kill and battle vestments.

Manfred then marched in front of the family and blew on his trumpet.

"Presenting the monarchs of the Butterfly Kingdom, Queen Moon and King River Butterfly as well as their daughter Princess Star Butterfly!" Manfred shouted aloud as everyone bowed to show respect.

Moon curtsied in reply and was about to direct Star and Marco to their seats when voices from the table interrupted her.

"Who's the dashing young man in red?" Asked one of Star's cousins, her eyes growing wide in wonder and her mouth spreading into a grin.

"Must be Star's manservant, seems rather well-built though." Concluded one of Star's uncles from the Johansens, who was scanning Marco from head to toe.

"Well, can I trade you for him Star?" Shouted another female voice, making Star and Marco share a worried look.

The family began to chatter once again, this time about what should be done with Marco and it seemed it would end up as another feud or with Marco in the hands of another royal for whatever reason. So Moon decided to put a stop to it.

"Everyone stop!" She shouted, with much authority, causing everyone to quiet down again as she grabbed Marco by the shoulder. "This young man is Marco Diaz. He's Star's best friend, protector and guide on earth. And no Lucretia, he is not a manservant nor is he for sale. He is important to your cousin so you cannot take him." Moon finished, making the girl known as Lucretia drop back in her seat pouting.

Moon sighed to relieve her worries, but not so deeply that she would miss the princess attempting to sneak past her. She grabbed Star by her shoulder before she got out of arm's length.

"Star…" Moon said, her voice sounding like she was about to scold her.

"What? I'm just taking Marco to our seats." Star explained innocently, trying to escape Moon's iron grip.

"You and Marco are sitting at the children's table." Moon stated.

"What?! But I'm fourteen! I have the wand! I'm too old to sit at the kid's table!" Star protested, stomping her foot. "Marco doesn't want to sit with babies too! Tell her Marco!" Star dragged the poor boy in front of the Queen, making him sweat.

"Uhhhh… I kinda just wanna stay as far away from your girl cousins as much as possible." Marco answered, avoiding the batting eyelashes of Star's cousins, especially Lucretia.

Moon smiled while Star glared daggers. "See Star, Marco just wants to have an enjoyable picnic. Now go to the kid's table and keep him away from your cousins." Moon walked away, knowing full well that Star was probably pouting and complaining behind her back. And besides, the adults table wasn't as exciting as she thought.

A few moments later, after Star's poorly attempted infiltration of the grown up's table, Moon continued to listen into the conversations at the table, politely negating aunt Etheria's comments about her husband, who was busy lollygagging with his own side of the family. Really, being on this table wasn't any fun at all, unless you counted nagging and petty arguments as fun. So when aunt Etheria finally decided to comment on someone else's life, Moon directed her attention to another Butterfly.

With a barely noticeable tilt of her head, she looked towards the children's table where Star and Marco sat along with several toddlers. She watched as Star waved her arms around, obviously still fuming about being forced to sit there and running her mouth off at Marco, who was just patiently listening and enjoying himself despite her rant. It amazed her how Marco could stay so calm with Star, given the kind of chaos and trouble she could bring to an entire kingdom.

She watched as he merely put a hand to her shoulder, calming her down in an instant. Moon's eyes opened as wide as they could go. It took someone who really appreciated Star to stick with her no matter what, but to calm her down with but a touch? Neither she nor River had ever achieved such a feat. Marco truly was Star's perfect partner in life.

Moon felt her lips curl into a smile and a strange sense of peace washing over her as she watched the two joke about and try to enjoy themselves despite the very small chairs, the baby goblets and the toddlers making a mess.

As far as she could tell, they were at the very least, good friends, the best even. Maybe they didn't feel anything for each other now, but once the day came that they did, they would come to love each other in ways they didn't even know possible. Then again, Star did drag him here to their family reunion despite him being a literal and figurative alien. As a mother, Moon hoped that meant something was finally beginning to blossom in her daughter. After all, Star could've brought any of her other friends like Ponyhead or that mischievous Ordonia girl from school.

But at the moment something else was beginning to grow right in front of her. Moon's attention was brought back to their table when Aunt Etheria slammed her fist down and began shouting at the Johansens for eating like barbarians. Not that it wasn't expected, but Moon had hoped that this picnic would be more pleasant than all the rest.

"Now, now, there's no need for any of this." Moon tried to reason, but her plea fell on deaf ears as the bickering only grew louder.

"You Johansens spoiled my appetite like you spoiled the Butterfly family tree!" Aunt Etheria accused from across the table as the Butteflies joined her, enraged.

Moon however as Queen tried diplomacy once again. "Okay now, let's put a stop to this! Tut tut!" She raised her voice, trying to get everyone to calm down again however a certain Johansen only made things worse.

"Your neck ruffles are choking off the oxygen to your brain!" Her most admirable King cried out.

"RIVER!" Moon immediately shouted, with a threatening glare. If she didn't love this man, she would have strangled him by now.

River quickly regained his senses, cringing in fear. "Yes, yes of course, of course." He muttered before clearing his throat loudly and gaining everyone's attention. As they say, all it takes to get a man to do anything, is a very mean, very angry female.

"Now now, there's no need for all this back and forth about who's better than who." He started, getting up on the table to address everyone equally. "We're all royalty. As you know, there is a way we can settle this dispute like the civilized people we are."

Moon smiled at her husband, proud of his actions, despite them being driven by fear.

"With flags!" He shouted, making everyone cheer and raise the flags that they had been hiding all this time.

Moon brought her palm to her face, mourning her moment of pride as their entire family marched away to start their yearly game. She should have known better than to hope they wouldn't play this year.

Now every year, the families played Flags. One could say it's what they looked forward to and why they would try and pick a fight with each other actively. Moon couldn't care less, she found the whole thing childish and quite stupid to put it simply. She never joined in since she became Queen. Anyway, she had another important job to do every year. That was to keep Star Butterfly from joining in.

She immediately slipped from the crowd and scanned the area for her daughter. Upon seeing Star, she already raised her own flag and was dragging Marco off to join her, but Moon was always a few steps ahead of her daughter. Once Star turned around to look ahead, Moon pulled her flag from her hands.

"No way." Moon said with a deadpan expression, as she began walking to her spectator's seat.

"Hey! That's my flag!" Star complained as she chased after her.

Moon sighed. "You can have it back after the match, but you won't be playing flags today." She replied sternly.

"Why not!? You played flags when you were my age!" Star reasoned out, agitation filling her eyes.

"I did a lot of things you won't be doing…" Moon replied, ending the argument and causing her daughter to grunt in disagreement. She knew it wasn't much fun for Star to sit with toddlers, but she had to make Star understand, some things adults did and talked about required a little more sensibility and integrity that only came with experience. And she wasn't sure Star had either.

"Now I know it's boring to be the oldest at the kid's table, but you aren't ready to be the youngest at the adult's table." Moon explained, satisfied with how Star's expression softened. "Now go and help your little cousins chew their corn." She finished, heading off again to relax from her spectator's seat where she would day dream for the rest of the game. Hopefully she had done her job right.

Upon sitting down, Moon untied her boots, letting her feet breathe since no one was in sight to judge her. This was one of the few times she could rest in public, so with the sound of gunpowder exploding, Moon let her body fall further into her seat. She could care less about the game of flags. All she hoped was that no injuries too serious would happen this year. It was another reason why she had insisted Star sit at the kids table, because only adults were supposed to play this game. After all, there was real danger. Not that she doubted Star or Marco's skill in battle or survival ability, but this game was another ugly part of Mewnian tradition that lived on. If either of them got hurt, the one left unharmed would probably blame themselves harshly for it. This was Moon's way of taking care of the future king and queen.

"Speaking of which, I should check on them, just one last time." She told herself, feeling like she was missing something. She pulled back the drapes behind her seat and saw her daughter and her future son-in-law sitting quite still at the kid's table.

"That's my girl." She smiled, letting the drapes back down and relaxing once again.

As Moon let her feet touch the bare earth, feeling its warmth tickle her toes, she could not help but think about the future. As of now, there was no real threat in the known universe, Star's training was moving along, River had grown fond of their future son-in-law and the said boy was growing stronger and more confident by the day. If things went on like this, the only things they'd have to worry about were Star and Marco's eventual wedding, educating Marco on Mewni, and maybe a few episodes of heartbreak or two in the process.

Moon let out a deep breathe to relax as her thoughts flowed freely. Though they knew that Star and Marco were destined, they did not know the events in between. For all they knew, either of them could end up in a relationship along the way. After all, they were both quite attractive on their own. In addition, they both seemed to have someone they fancied at the moment. Star had this Oskar boy, a musician, whom she hadn't mentioned at all recently. Marco on the other hand had always admired this Jackie Lynn Thomas from afar, making very little progress and prompting Star to push him onwards. On the surface, it would seem things were platonic between the future monarchs, but Moon had other thoughts on the matter.

She did not know Marco, but she did know Star and Star had a tendency to hide or run away from things that made her uncomfortable. And Moon had noticed she had been doing so for the past few months. From the short looks she gave Marco to the tiny moments her mind would wander off when thinking about him, only to excitedly change the topic. Something had changed within her.

Moon had known for some time that Star held Marco in very high regard. It didn't take a genius to figure that out. After all, much of her stories were about him and even if she tried her best to hide it, as a mother, Moon knew the way she looked at the young man was changing. Star may not have accepted it yet, but it showed in how she acted. She tailed him all the time and popping up out of nowhere to be with him. She was satisfied doing normal boring everyday things as long as it was by his side. She brought him around everywhere and when she couldn't such as with some royal responsibilities, she grumbled, wishing he was there with her. She listened to him well most of the time and respected his opinion on matters, which was rare for the rebel princess. She did her utmost to help him reach his goals and was happy to see his successes, no matter how little. She had a tendency to get very upset over problems that involved him because she had already let him so far into her heart. And finally, she was ready to sacrifice everything, even the fate of the entire universe, just to see him safe.

Now, maybe she hadn't accepted it yet or even considered the form of that new stirring deep inside her, but Star loved Marco, much more than she had originally planned and to the wise Queen, this was plain to see. Though it pained her to admit it, Moon also knew that Star wouldn't dare face this new fondness with open arms. Instead she would run from it or hide it, forever if she had to.

"Come to think of it…" Moon muttered to herself as her memories rushed back to a certain moment a few weeks ago. Star hadn't mentioned Oskar, the musician recently. Instead, she had been regaling her parents with stories about Marco. Just like when she dipped down for the first time. She excitedly retold how Marco was looking through her closet because Glossaryk had instructed him to and that drove her to finally dip down, mustering her entire being into getting Marco out of a simple closet.

But really? Was the thought of freeing Marco from a mere closet enough for Star to dip down? Or for anyone for that matter? To put her entire self into achieving one thing? Given that she could hardly focus on one thing at a time? It was doubtful. Highly doubtful.

After all, if Glossaryk was involved, there was more to this story than it seemed; much, much more.

That was when it clicked. Glossaryk was cryptic, but he was no liar. If Glossaryk had instructed Marco to search Star's closet, saying it would get him free, then it was the truth. And in a way, that was exactly what happened. SOMETHING in that closet had driven Star to the edge, until she had no more choice but to give her all, lest Marco come across it.

It was pure conjecture at this point, but Moon knew her daughter well. Star was no simple girl. She had thoughts and feelings that she tried to hide from the world and would do so with such conviction. What if Star had already articulated these thoughts and feelings about Marco, her best friend, who she told almost everything to? What if Glossaryk had intentionally led Marco to this secret, forcing Star to dip down lest her secret be revealed? What if Star had given her everything, in order to hide this one secret from this one person who shouldn't know about it?

What if… Star had begun to fall in love with Marco?

Moon shifted in her seat. She wanted to turn around and watch the two teens again; to see the little glimmer in her daughter's eyes when she talked to him or the slight raising of her pitch that showed her excitement to be with him. She wanted to see if anything in the way they acted or talked would support her theory, but as she began to do so, her attention was called elsewhere.

"Lord Etheria and Lord Grunt lead the pack… with a late appearance from… Oh my, the Princess Star Butterfly?" Manfred announced in surprise from his announcer's seat.

"What?" Moon exclaimed, very confused.

Without a second to lose, the Queen got off her seat and began to approach her daughter, who was still seated at the kid's table.

"Star?" She called out, suspiciously, placing a hand on her shoulder, only to have her crumble into corn kernels.

Moon stared in shock. If Star wasn't here, then that could only mean one thing. Manfred was right. Star and probably Marco were up on that dangerous hill, facing the unforgiving tradition of flags.

"Oh no…" Moon muttered as she stared up the mountain. She had to get up there now and there was only one way. She unfurled her wings from her back, gracefully taking to the air and flying towards the peak, where she hoped to spy the two teens before it was too late.

It took Moon only minutes to fly from the picnic area to the hill of flags. After all, she did have magical wings. High above anyone's vision, she scanned the battlefield below her for her daughter and her future son-in-law. Following the trail of commotion and destruction, she finally caught a glimpse of them because of Marco's particular choice of clothing, which stood out brightly against the ground.

Amazingly, the pair had made it this far without being hurt, but they were approaching the volcano portion of the hill and that's where things got even more competitive. It worried Moon, but instead of diving down to put an end to Star's recklessness, she remained where she was, watching the two conversing atop the small isles floating in lava.

Being too high in the air, she couldn't make out what they were talking about, but seeing as Marco had just saved someone from a gruesome death in molten rock, she more or less understood what was going on. Marco was voicing his concerns about the ruthlessness of the game and how pointless it all was. And Star, her beloved daughter was stuck in place, listening to his words despite knowing everyone was probably rushing for the top as she did so.

Rule number one of flags was… you don't waste your time on anybody. And yet, here was Star, waiting for Marco who had probably been holding her back due to his reluctance to be as ruthless. Moon continued to flap her giant wings, watching as Star heeded the words of this young man she cared for so much.

For a moment, Moon thought she would listen to his wisdom.

But instead of coming back down the hill with him, the princess continued to run. She ran, faster than her legs could take her, using the element of surprise to pull every flag free from her family's hands. In an instant, every competitor stopped their brawling and chased after Star like a pack of hungry wolves.

Moon folded her wings, going into a nose dive and preparing her magic. She had to if she was going to save Star in time. Her mind raced, going through all the spells she knew, analysing which would be the most effective. But she did not have time to think. Etheria had grabbed Star's leg, causing her to fall over as the rest of their family approached her as well. Jumping in to wrest their flags free from the princess who could only shield herself with her hands.

Moon concentrated and used one of the first spells she was ever taught. "Levitato!" She cried out in her mind. In an instant, a blinding pillar of light surrounded Star, lifting every person around her into the air, unable to harm anyone else. It was then that Moon, allowed herself to be seen, floating down gently in front of her daughter.

"Mom?" Star muttered, half questioningly as Moon released her magic, dropping everyone to the ground painfully.

"Are you alright?" The Queen asked worriedly, looking Star over for any injuries, but she seemed fine.

"Oh man, mom those are some sweet magic moves with your big ol' wings and stuff!" Star replied with a huff as she lifted the flags laying on the ground, seemingly still attempting to win and not even slightly fazed by her Moon's presence.

Moon wasn't amused. She wasn't amused at all.

"Star, you're never going to believe this, but I just met your twin sister…" She exclaimed quite stoically. "She was made out of corn." Moon finished, staring her daughter down intensely, making her swallow the lump in her throat.

"I don't even remember giving birth to her…" Moon commented sarcastically as Star's expression turned nervous. "River, did I ever give birth to a corn baby?" She asked her husband, who had finally made it to the top at the cost of several injuries.

The king tried his best to stand upright, despite his black eye and obviously severe concussion. "No, I'm afraid we have just the one child my dear." River answered, obviously in quite a stupor until recently.

"Thank you River." Moon replied to her currently mentally incapacitated husband.

"Her name is Star." He added, eyes still looking far off into the distance and holding no focus.

Moon put her arms around her injured spouse and lay him down on the ground gently, hoping he would remain there and recover. "Okay, why don't you just lay back down. Thank you" She told him, face still holding the same stoic expression she always had.

Moon turned back to her daughter, hoping to make a point she would remember. "You see what flags does to your brain?" Moon asked rhetorically, gesturing to her husband.

Star's face turn apologetic as her eyes turned down to the ground. "I'm sorry I tried to trick you with my corn twin…" Star replied, sounding very sincere. "Maybe you're right… maybe I'm not ready for flags." Star added, making Moon nod a bit in agreement.

But it seemed Star wasn't finished as her mouth turned upward into a smile. "But maybe the real problem is that flags is dumb!" Star exclaimed, making Moon wonder for a moment, but River had crawled his way up to Star exclaiming, "There she is! I found her! Star Butterfly, our only child… my dear!"

Moon's expression turned back to being unamused as she narrowed her eyes at her daughter and husband. "…Okay…" She replied, allowing Star to explain herself further as her father ran off wherever his damaged mind took him.

"I was trying to bring all of these flags to the top of the hill." Star explained, looking her mother in the eye. "Not so that I could win the hill for myself, but to claim the hill for all of us!" Star shouted proudly as she raised her fist in the air, making everyone cheer loudly for her.

Moon's stoic expression turned into a smile. Maybe Marco had indeed given her a bit of a nudge in the right direction, but still, it was her decision to make and Moon couldn't be more proud of her. She had chosen to show everyone what really mattered through action. She was growing up to be a wonderful young woman and an amazing Queen.

Moon bent down so that she could face Star at eye level. "That's the most adult thing I've heard all day. I've misjudged you Star." Moon said to her daughter. "You've earned a rightful seat at the grownup table." The Queen proclaimed proudly, knowing that her daughter had the strength and resolve to stand up for what was right. Maybe it was a bit premature, but she was sure Star could handle herself.

"Hugssss!" Star exclaimed and she wrapped her arms around her uncomfortable mother.

"Star… public displays of affections aren't a Butterfly value." Moon commented, her tone deceivingly warning. "…The Johansens on the other hand are amazing at it." The Queen added appreciatively.

"You are the perfect blend of both sides of the family. I'm proud of you." Moon told her daughter, feeling some tears teasing her eyes. Star was growing into her own and doing so magnificently. She couldn't ask for anything more from her.

"Thanks mom." Star replied. "Only an idiot would want to win this game." She commented, feeling quite proud of herself at the moment. But her moment would not last as a certain earth teen began running up the hill with his hoody attached to a pole.

"Woohoohoohoo!" Marco shouted wildly, making Moon's expression sour and Star's slightly embarrassed as her own idiot claimed the hill for himself.

"I'm the winner! King of the Hill! Marco shouted to the sky, unashamed. "In your face!" He exclaimed addressing everyone as him pumped his arms in victory.

"That's my boy! Marco Diaz! King of the Hill!" River shouted out with all the brain he could muster, running towards Marco to strangle him in a fatherly hug.

At this point, Moon didn't know what to think anymore, but she supposed every woman had their own idiot. She had River to deal with and Star had Marco, who was busy cheering with his future father-in-law.

"Uhhhh… I didn't tell him to do that." Star explained, finally looking towards her friend who had told her this game was ridiculous just minutes ago.

"I know Star…" Moon replied as she watched the two idiots having a victory dance. "I suppose loving idiots comes from my part of the family." Moon added without thinking.

"M-Mom!" Star screamed, her cheeks glowing bright red. "Marco and I aren't like that!" She exclaimed in a hurry, hoping that Marco was still too busy with her father to hear.

"I-I meant as a friend!" Moon correctly hastily, forcing herself to keep her Queenly composure as she too stared at the two men dancing at the top of the hill. She wanted to slap herself. After all the talk she gave River about not exposing anything, who knew that the one to slip up would actually be her.

"Yeah, yeah… just friends." Star muttered with her hearts still bright red. "As long as that's clear." Star nervously dug her heel into the ground, focusing on her feet. She didn't say another word until her family lifted her and Marco up, carrying them down the hill, proud of the two young ones.

At the end of the day, as the sun began to set over Mewni, Moon and River once again sat in the castle gardens, letting the events of the day sink in. All their guests had left with full stomachs and happy hearts. All were proud of their future Queen, for her brash but well-intentioned actions during the game. Just as all were equally envious of Marco, who had won the game, by putting on the most convincing poker face and taking advantage of them all. They swore they would beat the young man next year as they left. Meaning, he was invited to next year's family reunion as well.

Finally, it was time to send the last two guests home. Star and Marco walked into the garden, all cleaned up and ready to leave. Moon got up to meet them, leaving her husband who was now wearing several casts around his body and unable to walk properly.

"Did you two enjoy yourselves today?" Moon asked, wearing a pleasant smile on her face.

"Yeah mom." Star replied.

"We did." Marco answered as well.

"That's wonderful. I hope today wasn't too much of a culture shock to you Marco. Then again, you did win the game, so I'm sure you fit in just fine." Moon joked, feeling very glad that Marco was able to interact with their family without any troubles.

"Yeah… I'm still not over that Diaz…" Star muttered, annoyed that Marco had won the game behind her back, by manipulating everyone including her.

"Look Star, I already said I'm sorry, but I thought flags was about winning no matter what?" Marco exclaimed.

"Yeah… but you tricked me! ME!" Star retorted back, as if it was a good argument. "After I waited for you and helped you all the way up!"

"But I thought that was the point?" Marco asked rhetorically, making Star's mood worse.

"The point is, we're mess up twins! Partners in crime!" Star shouted in his face. "How could you use me so you could win?!" Star demanded to know, grabbing Marco by his hood and bringing his face close.

"W-well… the things is…" Marco stuttered, not knowing what to say.

"It's going to take a lot of your nachos to make me feel better! So spit it out Diaz!" Star screamed, tightening her grip on his clothes.

Marco swallowed the lump in his throat and decided he had nothing more to lose by saying the truth. "It's just that, I knew you had the best chance of winning among your entire family. So I thought if I just overtook you at the last moment, I could take the hill…" Marco explained, feeling Star's grip loosen.

"…you thought… I'd win from the start?" Star muttered as she nervously tucked her blonde hair behind ear.

Moon watched as Star turned around marching away from Marco to hide her blushing face from the one person she didn't want to see right now. Moon smiled at the sight of her daughter embarrassedly trying to cool her head from Marco's unexpected compliment.

"Well, I suppose you two better head back to earth now." Moon commented, saving her daughter from further embarrassment as she opened the portal with her own scissors. Moon was quite satisfied with what she had just witnessed.

Star went first, marching through the portal till on her head was left floating in the air. "Bye mom! Bye dad!" She shouted before turning to her best friend and narrowing her eyes. "I still want those nachos Diaz!" She exclaimed before disappearing through the portal.

Next, was Marco. He walked up to the portal, turning to Moon and River before stepping through.

"Thank you both for today Queen Moon and King River." Marco said with a respectful bow.

"No, thank you Marco..." Moon replied, giving Marco a very sincere smile. "Thank you for always taking care of our daughter and being someone she can always count on."

"Well, she does the same for me." Marco replied with a grin. "I can't ever thank her enough."

"Well, we just hope you'll always be there for her, now and forever. She looks up to you, you know?" Moon asked of the young man, curtsying to him and making him scratch his head in nervousness.

"Well, I don't know about that… but I'll do my best." He replied before waving goodbye.

"Marco what's taking so long?!" Star's voice rang through the portal, making Moon chuckle.

"Well, it's not polite to keep a young woman waiting Marco. We hope to see more of you soon." Moon said as she waved goodbye as well, watching as the young man finally stepped through the portal.

Moon sighed in satisfaction as she closed the portal and sat back down beside her king.

"They're positively adorable together aren't they?" River commented through his neck brace.

"Yes, yes they are." Moon replied, still looking at the space where the two had left from.

"And our Star will make a great Queen, no doubt about it!" River attempted to shout, only to feel pain rush down his back, making Moon caress him gently until it abated.

Moon looked at her king for a moment, wondering if she should tell him what she had noticed today, but married people had a way of reading each other.

"Moon darling, you look like you have something to say?" River asked, turning his entire body towards his wife to avoid pain.

Moon supposed it wouldn't hurt too much to tell him.

"River… I think… Star's beginning to truly fall for Marco." Moon said rather quietly, waiting for the words to sink into her husband's mind.

River didn't need to question it. If Moon thought so, then it must be true. The King tried his best to jump up onto the stone seats and cheered as loudly as he could.

"STAAAAARCOOOO LIIIIIIIIIIVVVEEESSSSS!" The great warrior king bellowed out, before falling over in intense pain.

"I'm okay!" He cried out, obviously lying.

Moon pulled her hand down her face again. Maybe explaining her thoughts on today to her husband could wait.

"And that is how the future King and Queen had their first family reunion." Moon finished with a happy note, as the little children seated in front of her listened with their full attention as they munched on their corn and nachos.

One of the Diaz children raised her hand to ask a question.

"Yes Maria, what is it?" Moon called, happy to entertain the child.

"If Princess Star liked cousin Marco so much, why didn't she just say anything?" The little girl named Maria asked as she held her princess Marco doll.

"Well, that's a very complicated question…" Moon replied. "But to put it simply, it would be a combination of a fear of making things awkward if she did admit it, thus possibly ruining their wonderful friendship and that she thought Marco would never like her that way." Moon finished, waiting to see if there were any other questions.

Another little hand shot up as soon right away, calling Moon's attention.

"Yes Cornelia?" Moon asked the little Butterfly, who was also holding her Princess Marco doll close to her.

"Why didn't Prince Marco like Princess Star back then?" Cornelia asked in a sweet voice.

Moon smiled as she replied. "Well there are many answers to that as well… mainly it would be because he had his eyes on the earthly maiden Jackie Lynn Thomas. But others would argue it was because Marco never thought that he was worthy of Princess Star or that it was because Star had told him she needed him to be just his friend, not her hero early in their friendship.

"Doesn't that mean she dug her own grave because she put him in the friendzone?" Maria asked with eyes full of wonder.

"Very good Maria! That is exactly what it means!" Moon congratulated the child, clapping her hands gently for the child's astute observation.

"Now who wants to hear the story of when Prince Marco crushed his fated one's heart into a million tiny pieces, leading into a cascade of devastating events?" Moon asked the children gathered around her. She had taken a liking to storytelling since Star and Marco's current lack of children robbed her of the joy of being a grandparent.

The children's cheers were interrupted by the heavy stomping of boots that entered the living room.

"Mom!" Star shouted as she made her way across the room, her eyes filled with angst. "Don't brainwash the children with your one sided analysis of our love life!" Star exclaimed. "And just to be fair, NO, I did not put Marco into the friendzone. I just didn't like the idea of him playing hero and getting hurt for my sake!" Star harrumphed as she folded her arms in annoyance, eyeing all the children carefully.

"Also, I'd just like to point out that in the next story, Prince Marco was a royal jerk for not noticing that I had feelings for him!" Star announced to the children listening intently to her. "I mean, when you get older, girls will usually hang out with girls and guys will hang out with guys! If a girl hangs out with a guy more than she hangs out with her girl friends, that usually means she likes him!" Star shouted aloud to the children who were munching their corn as they sat.

"Now what do you call someone who doesn't notice that?" Star asked the kids, in the same manner a teacher would ask a class.

A young latino child raised his hand to answer.

"Yes Manny?" Star called as she pointed to him.

"Dense?" Manny answered.

"Good, but I'm looking for something more intense!" Star replied as she entertained another child.

"How abouuuut… Natalie!" Star pointed, to the little red haired Mewnian girl.

"An idiot?" She suggested.

"Yes! He was a cute, but dense idiot!" Star affirmed with a smile.

"An imbecile!" Yelled another child.

"Great!" Star cheered, encouraging them further.

"An asshole who leads girls on!" Shouted another.

"Uhhhh… not necessarily wrong, but where did you learn that?" Star raised an eyebrow, worried for the child.

"A playboy!" answered another a girl from the middle.

"Okay, I think we're getting a little too excited here…" Star commented nervously as she looked to her mother for help.

"A cheater and a douchebag!" Yelled a child from the back.

"Okaaaay! What kind of God forsaken shows do they let you kids watch these days?!" Star exclaimed, feeling rather shocked with their answers and at a loss with what to do to settle the kids down.

"AN UNGRATEFUL BASTARD!" Shouted a deep and familiar voice with a heavy Mewnian accent.

"Dad! You're not helping here!" Star shouted in panic, as the situation escalated beyond her control.

"A pendejo!" Mr and Mrs Diaz happily chimed in together as they entered the living room.

Star gasped, utterly shocked. "Mr and Mrs Diaz! Language! We're talking about Marco here!"

Suddenly, a tall well-muscled figure made its way into the living room, making Star shrink just a bit from seeing him and his somewhat annoyed expression.

"STAAAAAAAAR…" The man in the red hoodie called out as if warning her.

Star stood up, opening her arms wide for a hug.

"Well if it isn't my husband, the man I absolutely love most in the whole multiverse since he's so handsome, well-muscled, brave, caring, compassionate, smart, a neat freak, adventurous, a great cook, a mind blowing lover, a total sweetheart and someone who totally wouldn't get mad at me for making little kids call him mean names!" Star greeted in one single breath as she waited for her husband to react to her affection.

"Did I mention your deep chocolate eyes and candy lips?" Star added with a chuckle, making Marco sigh deeply as the noises and chatter of their entire extended family continued around them.

Well at least, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Almost everyone…

And that is that... next chapter will probably be post bonbon the birthday clown. Leading into the downward spiral of despair that Star, as too nice for her own good, throws herself into. Seriously, hanging out with the person you like and their significant other? How would that not hurt? She cares far too much about Marco over herself. Fools like that, who are willing to not just sacrifice, but subject themselves to pain for their loved ones aren't born everyday, and that is a compliment. I hope things get better for her in season 3. I really truly do.