"So naturally," Amy says to Caspian as they walk to the long line of carriages waiting in front of the Palace, "we will spend the day in a cathedral and the throne room."
It really would be an excellent day for a ride. Or a picnic. Or a football game. Or really any of several dozen other events that wouldn't involve wearing two pounds of gold on one's head and a somewhat fixed smile on one's face for hours and hours on end.
Amy hands her dozing youngest son off to her brother as Perry helps her up into the Royal Carriage. Once she's settled, Caspian hands his nephew (and soon to be godson) back to his sister and, with one last slightly wistful look off toward the stables, heads for his own carriage.
It's a very long and very slow procession from the Palace to the cathedral -- in fact, it goes nearly a mile out of its way, in order to create enough space for all the crowds who want to cheer and throw flowers and feel a part of the day, as the King and Queen and their Family and Guests wave graciously from the windows of the ribbon-bedecked carriages. Though it must be said in certain carriages -- like the one X and Elle are riding in -- there is rather less gracious waving and rather more scanning the assembled throng for potential threats. (Other guests, like Thor, manage to do both simultaneously, quite handily.)
Royal Christenings in Ambergeldar are very grand affairs. Prince George has fifteen godfathers and five godmothers and while that is half the number his oldest brother has, it is still ten times the number of godparents of an ordinary infant. There are a great many prayers and invocations and hymns and chants and then the archbishop gives a very long and exceedingly tedious sermon. More than one of the grown-up guests spends a moment being rather jealous of the Lady Ingress, who is keeping a close watch on her brother, Portico, and the twin princes, Laurence and Caspian Malcolm, out in the cathedral garden. (It's the sort of close watch that involves a great deal of playing silly games and picking the last the of archbishop's blackberries, and rather more fun than listening to an overly long sermon.)
But the ceremony does finally wind down to an end, whes by the archbishop (whose holiness doesn't exclude just enough vanity to avoid wearing his spectacles for Grand Events) hands the newly christened and slightly fussy George William Humphrey Philip Algernon Scorpius Bruce over not to his father but to the closest dark-haired godfather, Bruce Wayne. Bruce doesn't quite mask his surprise, but he rolls with it, and Amy is fairly certain no one who doesn't know better has any idea that wasn't the plan.
She is also not entirely certain she and Perry are getting George back any time soon -- he promptly settled down once Bruce was holding him, and his godfather seems in no rush to hand him off.
To a wild clamor and clanging of bells (in the cathedral and every other church in Ambergeldar), the Royal Party and the other christening guests make their way back to their carriages and then along a different but still excessively circuitous route back to the Palace. And now the second part of the celebration begins -- a great reception in which dukes and dignitaries, lords and ladies, all file dutifully past Prince George's cradle and then offer their congratulations and gifts to the King and Queen. That done, they are free to find their friends and see what the Palace Kitchens have produced for the occasion.
(The Palace Kitchens have pulled out every stop, and it's a very impressive display, indeed. The only problem arises when an entire platter of apple pasties unaccountably goes missing. It is, surely, coincidence that X and Princess Susan disappeared briefly at the same time. And that it was just after the south-facing windows were darkened by the huge shadow created by Norman's landing in the garden.)
Thayet, by virtue of her rank, is able to jump to the head of the receiving line. She may have a harder time escaping Lord Aubrey, though, whom Amy has tasked with overseeing the founding of Ambergeldar's first university, and who has a thousand questions he'd love to get Thayet's opinion on. On the plus side, this is probably far more interesting than gossiping about court fashion.
Scorpius, too, will find someone waiting the moment he finishes his godfather duties -- Prince Merry wants to show him how well Millicent -- the mouse Scorpius Transfigured from a Quidditch magazine on a previous visit -- is enjoying her new life in the nursery. (She has her own little Mouse Palace in the nursery. Merry is very proud of it.)
It's easy enough to keep track of some of her guests from other worlds. Some she simply knows where they are likely to be found; Lord Terence the Court Magician never misses an opportunity to talk shop with Tom Riddle. And others are quite impossible to miss; Thor is tall, and is also being trailed by a somewhat giggly group of Court Ladies. (The Count Ladies are destined to be disappointed. Thor is, of course, perfectly charming to them, but he happily launches into conversations with the warriors of this land any moment an opportunity presents itself.)
There are others Amy cannot find easily, though, even from her vantage point on her throne. Meg Ford is decidedly not tall, after all, though she is less than successful at keeping to the edges of the room than she might be were it not for Parker Lee, who keeps dragging her back into conversations. And occasionally, Amy catches sight of Elle, hanging back and watching everything going on around her very intently.
The afternoon is just edging into evening when there's a great hubbub that starts near the doors and can only mean one thing: the Fairy Crustacea has made her customary appearance. There has been great speculation for weeks about just what sort of gift she might bestow upon George (her arrival is seen as a foregone conclusion by most of the court by now). His older brothers got Integrity and Fortitude and Perception. Intelligence has been a popular guess this past week (replacing last week's fashionable answer of Bravery), though there is a group quite convinced he'll get Generosity (much to the alarm of the Chancellor of the Exchequer -- Generous Princes can get very expensive).
The room falls almost unnaturally silent as the fairy studies the prince in his cradle and then announces, "My dear boy, I am going to give you something that will be far more useful to you than anything else I could bestow. You shall have an Excellent Sense of Humor."
It's quite clear that the Court is not sure what to make of this, but the King breaks into a wide smile. "A very useful and necessary quality in a prince," he says to his wife.
And either the seaweedy lady still looking into the cradle is very amusing, or her magic is just that powerful, because HRH George laughs. And that taken care of, Crustacea wanders off to see what's on the buffet table, where she runs into Captain Sir Malcolm Reynolds. And the fairy Crustacea, who is in charge of water, has always had a soft-spot in her heart for sailors, even when it's not water they sail on. (Or possibly it's just a soft spot for mild rogues. The two groups are far from mutually exclusive.) She says quite late by her standards, chatting with Mal.
All in all, it's one of those perfect October days.