My hair was tied up in a tight bun at the nape of my neck. Slowly allowing my eyes to flutter shut in bliss, I took in a deep breath. Letting it out slowly , my eyes drifted open and I let a small smile grace my lips before staring back down at the parchment on one of my father’s old desks.
Thankfully , my father is hiding out somewhere in one of his estates with my uncle. They refuse to show their faces. They are aware that George and I are alive, but not of much else besides that. They won’t come out of hiding until the King allows them to and, until then, they’re in shame and out of favor.
My mother, Mary , and George, however, are in the King’s good graces. My mother simply because she’s loyal, Mary because she’s a former mistress and a longstanding friend, and George because he’s my favorite, henceforth Henry’s. I let my eyes go out of focus from the letter I was supposed to be finishing, and lowered my eyes to my stomach, eight months pregnant and in the red zone. I’ve already started my lying in since this pregnancy is said to be of higher risk than my last. In my worst moments since coming here last month (month 7) I think bitterly about what may be going on at Court in my absence. Jane, now six months along has to be showing and glowing with whorish pride.
The harlot. Mary , who stayed long after Lizzie left, must be charming everyone with her Spanish ways, hoping I never come back. And Henry . Henry must be reveling in the fact that he’s at least halfway rid of me. Out of sight out of mind. What your wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Lies. Lies that Henry actively chooses to live his life by . Everyone must be simply delighted that I’ve come to Hever. I do have actual business here, but pleasure wouldn’t hurt to come first. I’ve been so…frustrated lately . Pursing my lips I threw down my quill and struggle to stand up. Damned stomach, why do you have to be so rotund? Calmly gliding from out of my old rooms, I found the servant nearest to me. “Excuse me, do happen to know where my brother is?”
“Why?” My face turned into a scowl and I cursed at her several times before maintaining my poise once more. “What right do you have to be questioning my motives! And at my own family’s residence as well! Be gone, you disgust me. Don’t be too surprised if your already destitute pay is docked a pence or two.” I told her before she nodded and went on her way .
I swear, these servants grow more and more insolent by the second. I made my way down a random hallway before finding George’s hunting lackey . He holds all the weaponry while George hunts. I stopped him short by grabbing him by the arm. “Where is George, young one? Please tell me you know.”
“I’m truly sorry Your Majesty , but he has asked not to be disturbed. Though, I’m sure you are exempt from his orders, and that he be delighted to see you, I cannot disobey a direct command.”
“Please?” I poked out my lower lip, a trick that always works on Henry . Even in his worst moods, when he wants to spit fire at my head, the pout works.
“Alright. He was in your father’s old office, but afterwards he said something about going to the gardens, so you may check there as well.” Smiling I thank the poor servant. He looked scared out of his mind. I searched for my brother fruitlessly , turning up with nothing but loneliness and loss of hope. Maybe he’s just tending to something on the estate is all… I sighed, scowling at my reflection as I passed a stained glass window. I hated what I saw now. I hated it, loathed it, and I abhorred it to my very core.
I was a fresh, full, round face. A radiant face, glowing with what my family had taken to referring as ‘the pride in pregnancy ,’ but only used in context to me. My eyes shone, standing out to contrast with the color of my skin, olive. And my lips were vibrantly pink. My hair, silkier and shinier than it’s ever been, flowed down my back in loose curls that I never bother to pin up while I’m here. I saw beauty . Maybe it was in truth, maybe what I saw was simply my vanity and pomp showing itself, making itself known, I don’t really know. All I do know is that I saw devastating beauty than made my blood boil and my stomach churn uneasily . I saw worthiness. I was worthy of any man, even if above most. But why , then, did Henry not seem to see this in me anymore?
Why was I no longer enough? He was a wild card that man, yes. It’d take a lot to tame him, control him, and tie him down, that beast within him. And for a while, a long while, I had satiated that monster inside him. I had been enough. I fulfilled everything he hoped, wished, dreamed, prayed, and lived for. I was the air that filled his lungs, and he mine. I was the water that kept him hydrated, and he mine. I was his sustenance to keep him going through the days, and he mine. I was his. And he was mine. And suddenly , like the snap of a finger, we were no longer each others. His love, fickle as ever, transferred to another.
His eye wandered and he loved me no more. I was no longer enough. He grew bored of me. I had been the only one, thus far, to understand him. To be so similar in personality to him, and it wasn’t enough for him. He hadnt been used to his fire being met with a fire equally as strong, if not more so, and that just added to my allure in his mind, but he grew bored with being met like that. Annoyed with me. Frustrated with my flare and outrageousness. I missed him more than anything in the world, but I knew he couldn’t care less. He had moved on from me. Left me behind like a ball that’s gone too far out of bounds to have been bothered to retrieve. I laughed at the small last minute simile. Henry had often felt like he had something to prove. He’d always swing his hardest and best and then play it off as an accident.
“Anne, several servants said you had been searching for me. What was it that you needed? Is the baby alright? Are you?” I turned abruptly to face my brother. “I was. It is. We are. I…just needed company . Francis replied to my letter and said he’d try to visit me first, but that his duties with Henry regarded his country . And as a former Queen myself I understand wholly that it should come first.”
“Then what’s that on the table over there? Right by your candles, which smell lovely by the way?” I turned to where he’d gestured and searched for the spot he had pointed to, my eyes landing on nothing but the parchment.
“A…letter. For Mary . It’s been such a long while since we’ve spoken and…I’d like to know how she fares.” “Then why will you not ask me yourself, sister…Queen Anne?”
I heard an amused feminine voice from far behind George and craned my neck and moved in my seat until I could see her. He’d stepped aside anyway . Mary looked nice. Frumpy . Frizzy . Nervous. Unkempt. But nice. Her dress was horribly ugly and severely outdated, but it suited her. Her once golden honey locks had now lightened to a beauteous corn silk color, though her hair itself was in tatters, a tangled mess. “Hello…er…sister.” I reply uneasily , guilt somehow seeping its way into my stomach and twisting itself into a knot there. “How are you and your husband?”
“Well, thank you. He had some loose ends to tie up back at our home, so he could not accompany on this visit, but he sends you his good will. Our daughter, Anne, she’s a real gem, you know. A replica of you, almost.”
“You named your daughter after me. Despite how I treated you? Despite everything?”
“Yes Anne. We’re sisters a few petty misdeeds, that mean nothing to me, aren’t going to tear us apart. I’ll be damned if I let anything ruin my friendship…and animosity through competition, with my little sister.” I smiled gratefully at my sister. We caught up and it felt…nice. I received a warm feeling in my chest that buzzed throughout me. My sister held nothing against me and forgave me without strive. She had forgiven me long before I had even asked for it. Why couldn’t everyone be as caring and gentle as Mary? She’s really the Boleyn girl, my milk and honey sister. She’s the epitome of perfection in our world, almost everything I’d strive to be if it weren’t for her few flaws. For one she was meek as a mouse. She’s never been the one to chase after what she desired. Not unless pushed to the very edge of the cliff. She lacks ambition, which can be good at times, fatal at others. Mary bore Henry a son. If she had played her powerful cards right up until that point she could’ve been in my position now, if not different because her son would be future king, not an unrecognized bastard in the name of her dead husband but in the blood of mine.
But that thought only made me feel guiltier than before. It was undoubtedly the most selfish thing I had ever bothered to think of anyone or anything, to put Mary in my shoes. To want her to suffer instead of me when I so clearly deserve it. I’m not quite sure how I deserve it, but I know that nothing happens without cause. I figure I had made a terrible mistake somewhere, to have God punish me like this. To force me into living in constant turmoil and live in an unbearably constant state of unrest had to be a punishment for something I may have done. Mary left almost as quickly as she’d come, she took a short rest, wished me her very best of wishes and left, claiming something about chickens and Henry running amuck with the horses. Don’t misunderstand that I adore the countryside, but I’d never be that country . I sent everyone away from me, even the servants, who, against my wishes, left me the wine and one attendant anyway . They said a heavily pregnant woman such as myself should never be left alone for extended amounts of time, for anything could happen to me. And none of them would ever want that, now would they?
I discarded my letter, it had sloppy scratches from unintentional words anyway , and crawled into bed.
I woke up screaming. The pain, although vaguely familiar, was horrific. I wanted to cry , I wanted to kick and scream and beg and plead. I wanted to do anything to make it stop. I’d had a dream that Henry had given me the same shove off speech that he’d given Catherine before me. That as far as he’s concerned, our marriage was over. But this time, unlike he had with her, he hadnt been on the verge of tears.
He’d given me a malicious smile before unsheathing his sword and drawing it almost airily down the middle of my body , splitting me in half. I felt the warm, wet scarlet tears pool up before spilling from me and falling to the floor. Henry laughed cruelly and left me there for dead. I woke up sweaty and in pain, as though I really was being torn apart from my insides to my out. My eyes, which had previously been squeezed shut tight as I grit my teeth, opened and I saw George and several attendants standing around me, panicked.
“Do not worry , sister. I already sent for Dr. Linacre and Henry . They’re all on their way . They’re bringing a small party as well. Just breathe. Don’t worry , Anne, breathe.”
I begrudgingly listened to my brother, knowing he was right. Panicking would help with nothing but to distress myself and the baby , which could result in either of our deaths. I was at high risk because of my previous, and present health, not to mention that I hadnt exactly followed the pregnancy guidelines this time around. By the time Dr. Linacre arrived with Henry and his party in tow, I was fed up and irate. I was ready for my damned child, my gift from fucking heaven to come to me already .
Dr. Linacre shooed everyone away but Nan and Henry , allowing them to stay under extenuating circumstances. He had been surprised to see that I was indeed right, the baby was almost here. He said he could see the crown. I passed out just after I heard loud, upsetting shrieks from a small child. And Henry’s less than enthusiastic grunt. “A girl.” Henry had deadpanned. I was smug, finally , we’d both get what we wanted most. Freedom. I love my baby girls. I woke up not more than four minutes later with more pain in my abdomen. I clutched at my stomach, desperate to make the pain stop, praying that this wasn’t what I thought it was.
“Anne, are you al-oh…oh God, clear the room. All of you out. Nan get the cloth, Henry hold your daughter. She’s having another child. I pushed and heaved and coughed. I was in tremendous anguish. I choked any time I even attempted at remaining calm. It took forever. That’s a wild exaggeration, it only lasted an hour, but it felt like more. This time I stayed awake, tired and drained as ever. Birthing that second child took everything I had from me. I felt hollow and empty . Cold. My eyes sagged, feeling heavier than lead.
“Your Majesties, may I present the future king of England!” Linacre announced, to my dismay . A boy . Everything I had promised, I accomplished. All I had wished for this past decade had finally been granted. My greatest hope fulfilled. I had given Henry a son. I had a healthy baby boy , I had a secure position. My lifetime goal…I had finally done it. I had finally fulfilled my purpose in life. As far as I’m concerned, I have nothing left to live for at this point. Nothing after I’ve completed everything.
My life, short although it may be, is complete.