An Heir's Duty

Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Hanna-Barbara except Caroline of Angouleme who's mine.

Chapter one

Prince John road into London feeling like he hadn't a care in the world. It had been quite an eventful few months. With six months to go til his seventeenth birthday, John was wondering whether or not it was time he grew up a little. For some reason, watching peasants suffer wasn't as fun as it used to be, he'd even helped one of them! John shook himself in horror, perhaps he was coming down with something. He'd left the Sherriff in charge as usual. To tell the truth, it was a relief to get out of Nottingham. The sheriff's bundling was getting on his nerves somewhat and he needed to get out of Sherwood and into civilisation again. Upon reaching the castle, Prince John was immediately met by the stable lad,

'Good afternoon your highness!'

John smiled, 'Afternoon Baynes, I don't suppose you know if the queen is available?'

He bowed, 'Yes Sire.'

The prince left his horse and went inside, feeling warm as he entered his mother's quarters. His mother; the legendary Eleanor of Aquitaine really was an inspiration. Having in her life survived an annulment from the French king Louis, imprisonment by his father Henry II for having rebelled against him and now, she was a free woman, joint regent with himself. Quite an achievement. Upone entering, he saw his mother, sitting calmly, doing needle-work. He smiled, at fifty-nine, she was still beautiful and quite a catch for any man, he was proud of her. Suddenly she looked at him and smiled, getting up she greeted him cordially, and in French of course, within his family nothing but French was spoken apart from his father and himself, no-one else spoke English, for Richard, it was a gesture of defiance and a demonstration of how much he hated England and for his mother, well, she hadn't really any need to speak it.

'Ah! My darling!' The queen kissed her son and hugged him.

He smiled, 'Mother! I trust you are well?'

'Well enough I thank you my son! I received a letter from Richard, it seems that he is making progress with Saladin.'

'Oh good!' Replied John, who really couldn't care less about his brother's crusade. To him, it was a waste of time and something the king felt he had to do. Still, it left him in charge so who was he to grumble?

'My darling! I have news!' His mother added.

'Indeed maman? I thought, you seemed cheery!'

His mother called for tea then smiled at her son, 'Do you know who we have the pleasure of playing host to this evening?'

'Ummm…My Uncle Petro and Cousin Carlos?' The prince shuddered, his cousin's visit last year was still fresh in his mind.

His mother smiled, 'No dear! Have you ever heard of a certain Aymer?'

That got John's attention, 'The count of Angouleme? One of the richest men in Europe?'

'Indeed! Well, your brother has thought in a good stratedgy to forge an alliance with Angouleme. He has a daughter and a niece, about your age, possible a little younger..'

John put down his cup, he knew where this was going, 'Maman! PLEASE!'

'What?' She asked, innocently, 'My darling, you are heir to the throne, you have to think of these things! Your brother is constantly abroad, he could die at any time!'

'Yes but MARRIAGE? Maman! I'm only seventeen!'

She shrugged, 'I was three years younger than you when I first got married!'

John was speechless, he'd only been away for a few weeks, then he returned to discover that his mother had been planning his future!'

'Look, you don't have to like them, all you have to do is meet them! Please darling! I never ask you to do anything! You can surely do this for your old mother?'

John narrowed his eyes at the queen, she could be as devious as he could be and indeed the rest of the family put together . Finally, he sighed 'Fine! But, no guarantees!'