Born in the Tundra of Minnesota, I have since become a bit of a Gypsy. Currently calling home base the hot sands of Arizona, I do still travel often. Whether the journey is a physical one, or one taken by reading a fantastic book it doesn't matter, the fun is always in the adventure. As always I am an eclectic person that likes a wide array of things and has many passions. Creating, advocating for animals and Mothering just to name a few.
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.
This weeks Saturday Sanctuary is sticking a toe in the naughty pond again if you are feeling like that any rate. A new theme is on the way and I hope you will all like it too. This weeks inspirational photo can be enlarged if you want to see it in full lovely HD pixels.
I want to be your companion
and walk hand in hand,
your strength enveloping mine.
Autumn leaves falling,
scuffing feet and laughter,
sharing nights, not finished by the dark.
I want to be your confidant
as you pen your deepest
thoughts, as your heartaches
bleed and finally break free.
Your dreams, I keep as if my own.
I want to smile as you smile
and giggle with you
at nothing at all.
I want to be your lover
and find the passions
that move you to action.
I want to be the softness
that induces you to trust.
I want to be the naughty
that makes you come back for more.
I want to please you.
I want to share your breakfast
and your dinner,
I want you in the shower
and in your bed and
with soft steps to bring you coffee
(I take mine black)
Your strong arms, the legs
that power your thrust,
your lips of pleasure,
these are the fuel of my desire
no it is no secret, my love,
and to put it very simply,
I want you.
It is Saturday once more and time to find inspiration to write. It has been a difficult week in that respect for me. I have barely even done creative work that must be done. I suppose we all have these times, eh? I can admit my mood has been melancholy but I hope for it to improve soon. They say time heals all wounds of course, but sometimes the scar still reminds us of the pain endured to get it.
Oft, in the stilly night, Ere slumber’s chain has bound me, Fond Memory brings the light Of other days around me: The smiles, the tears Of boyhood’s years, The words of love then spoken; The eyes that shone, Now dimm’d and gone, The cheerful hearts now broken! Thus, in the stilly night, Ere slumber’s chain has bound me, Sad Memory brings the light Of other days around me.
When I remember all The friends, so link’d together, I’ve seen around me fall Like leaves in wintry weather, I feel like one Who treads alone Some banquet-hall deserted, Whose lights are fled, Whose garlands dead, And all but he departed! Thus, in the stilly night, Ere slumber’s chain has bound me. Sad Memory brings the light Of other days around me.
Sad to say this week again my creativity has left me. I have parts of story finished that I was going to share with last weeks teaser, but things happen. I don’t want to leave those who contacted me about wanting to participate down though. So even though I am not feeling very prompted this week, here is your Saturday Sanctuary picture for the week. What does this black and white inspire you to write?
I had a big plan this week to write some big sweeping chapter of the last inspirations. Then I got distracted and I was going to write a big sweeping epic on my other idea. Then I felt sick. So I am still inspired but just didn’t get a damn thing done. this week. Sorry.
On the bright side I will tease what I got distracted by…not that anyone who’s talked to me in the last few days will be surprised.
I walked along the long ornately decorate hallways of Whitehall, Nan at my side, searching for Mary . But with my luck, it wasn’t her who I ran into. It was Cromwell. True, he’s not my enemy , but he isn’t exactly my ally either. He bowed to me as was still required at the moment, even though he knew he specifically didn’t have to unless Henry was present. How gentlemanly . “Marquis Boleyn. How are you and the little…prince in your stomach faring?”
“Prince? My baby isn’t guaranteed to be a boy , even if it is he’ll inherit Pembroke, not the English crown. Henry’s slaving away at the annulment.”
“No, my lady . Forgive me for being the one to have to tell you, for Henry already should have by now. If you give birth to a boy , seeing as your marriage to the king isn’t annulled, he’d be legitimate.
You would once again be Queen, to protect the bid your son would have to become king.”
I gave a rich, hearty laugh. This was ridiculous! “And what of the Lady Jane Seymour? Does he not still love her? Who am I to trap him into a marriage with me? Who am I to keep him from his true love?” I raged at the poor man. I shouldn’t be taking my sorrows out on him. Then again, there is that phrase ‘Shoot the messenger.’ That’s how I heard it anyway .
“With all due respect, Henry always spoke of you as his one true love. But yes he is quite smitten with that blonde vision. We were supposed to be discussing the fine details of that. The outlining really depends on the gender of her baby . If a boy it’d be a recognized royal bastard, and either Jane will be sent away or she’ll become maîtresse en titre. If she has a girl, well, we don’t quite know yet.”
“I see. Well, thank you for keeping me in the loop and giving me something to pray for.”
“And what more would a pious woman such as yourself have to pray for?”
I smirk as I walk a few steps ahead of him before turning my head to reply . “A girl.” I smirked again as I once more began to walk down the halls, continuing my search for Mary . Eventually I found her in the main library . She was at a desk with a little girl. She looked so kind and normal it made me feel even guiltier. If this is how Lady Mary truly is, how much could I have made her hate me that she acts so bitter and hostile and cruel? I crept slowly behind the pair, not wanting to disturb whatever it is that Mary was trying to do with the little girl. But I suppose I wasn’t quiet enough because I made one step and was met with the clear green eyes of my baby girl.
“Mama! Mama! Mary’s learning me language. We spoke Spanish, and English, and German, and Russian, and French too mama! You like French!” her eyes were lit up enormously and I couldn’t help but tear up and smile. I peeked around Elizabeth and fixed my gaze on Mary .
“I’ll see you later, Little Lizzie. Have fun spending time with your mommy! Your daughter’s persistence is quite inspirational, Marquis.” I bowed my head in gratitude but her glare became harder and more pointed. “I wish I could say the same for yours.” And she walked away . I turned to Elizabeth, who was smiling blissfully oblivious, and envied her. I wish I could see the good in everyone. But right at this moment all I could see was a vividly vibrant red.
Grinding my teeth I pick up Elizabeth and spin uncomfortably on my heels. Fine, I’ll simply let her be for the time being! I’ll allow her some time to mull over my sincerity in my offerings. And she expresses my persistence with a negative connotation? HAH! Elizabeth is shaking her head violently and doesn’t stop until I do.
“Mama, I wanna see the roses!”
“No baby girl, we’re going to go see Daddy!” I force myself to brighten my voice up as I hoist her up, as she was slowly sliding down (curse you silk), and carry on walking to Henry’s offices in the South wing of the palace. I walk in unannounced and without invitation, as has been my right to for over ten years now. I walk in to see Henry sitting at the desk, with Mistress Seymour massaging his back while looking over his shoulders at whatever it was he was working on.
“How sweet. Mistress Seymour, do not strain to push yourself beyond your obvious limitations with Henry’s political jargon, you’ll get the worst migraines.” She looked like a deer caught between two hunters. Her eyes flit for the briefest second to Elizabeth before resting on Henry . She leaned down to whisper in his ear.
“Yes, she has always called me Henry and often helped me sort out the kingdom, Jane. Please, give us a moment.”
“Mama! Mama there goes that lady again! Why’s that lady so close to my papa? Isn’t she s’posed to serve you?” I ignored my baby girl and glared at Mistress Seymour as she lowered her head, training her eyes on the floor as she left.
“Why are you here, Anne? You should be resting.”
“Because we still have a lot to discuss, and with my progressing pregnancy , our time is running out. Tell me, have you seen or spoken to your daughter since our last discussion concerning her?” Elizabeth was perched on Henry’s lap by now. He was bouncing her gently up and down while she drew on an extra piece or parchment she found.
“That’s exactly what I’m working on now. But Jane’s and your pregnancy complicate everything. All that I am doing rests on the probability of whatever gender your children are. Jane’s children may or may not be added to the line of
succession, but where would that place Mary . And your child definitely will be in the line of succession, as you are still queen at the moment, but where in the line would all of them go? Yours, Jane’s, and Mary’s. That’s three children to consider, along with Elizabeth.”
“It doesn’t seem that difficult to me. Here, you can always change things around. Put Mary under Elizabeth and just leave the open space for my child. Then, whatever Jane’s bastard becomes depends on the gender, so leave it out for now.”
“Fine, I’ll just put Mary under Lizzie for now and whatever comes after her is listed as pending. You were right, you know Anne.”
I was hoping he’d tell me I was right all along and that he was wrong in seeking his entertainment elsewhere. That he truly doesn’t know the meaning of devotion and will try to change. But I know Henry , I know him inside and out. And unfortunately his pride gives him extreme limitations to the point where he’ll never admit to anything of the sort, and will live behind his mask of delusion for the rest of his days. Unless he has a change of heart while knocking at death’s door.
“About what this time, Henry?”
“You know what, Anne.” he threw down his quill and ran a hand through his hair.
“I haven’t the slightest clue, Henry .” I tilted my head to the side. Considering his affiliation with Jane, he must find idiocy simply entertaining.
“Restoring Mary to royal succession brings us great political power. It gives us the upper hand in several situations. She would be a princess four times over, her education is impeccable, her persistent support and faith concerning the Roman Catholic Church pleases nearly every prince in Europe, and her dancing and singing is wonderful. She has all this at her disposal with beauty beyond belief. She’ll be so happy .”
“Actually , I think not. Which is why I asked if you had spoken to her, not if you sorted out the matter concerning her. She doesn’t seek wealth and titles for her happiness. I think all that would make her happy is your love, my death, and returning to Spain.”
“Well the way I see it, two out of three of those can be arranged happily .”
“I see…did you throw out my death warrant yet? Which two of her three happiness’s will you be willing to grant?”
“Come now, Anne. Forgive and forget! I know you’ve always been the type to hold strong grudges, but I think letting this matter go would be acceptable. It’s best if we both forget it.”
“Henry , you know me better. Our Lord frequently preaches forgiveness. I have long forgiven you, but I will never forget. The bible says nothing about having us forget.”
Henry rolled his eyes and looked towards Elizabeth. She was finished drawing and was now adding detail to whatever it was she drew. I craned my heck to get a glimpse of what she drew, as Henry had stopped bouncing her at the sight of it and was now frowning. In the picture she depicted three people. One man. One woman. And one female child. The two adults looked severely irate and the small girl was crying quietly , holding her skirts in her hand, showing that she was twirling around. Mama and Papa never stop fighting. Was written in Latin just underneath the drawing.
“Am I the one who makes you two fight, daddy?”
“No. No, no, never my pearl. What would ever give you such an idea?”
Lizzie started to cry and hopped off of Henry’s lap and moved to the other side of the room. She pointed out the window at the gardens before wrapping her arms around herself. “You and mommy fight. Lately , you always fight. I always see you fight. Or if I don’t, I hear you fight. And sometimes at Hatfield, the older Ladies talk about you and mama fighting until Lady Bryan or May tell them to shut their large mouths. Mama I want to go with May .”
“Who’s May , Anne? Did you charge someone with the care of my daughter without my knowing?”
“Actually no, even if I had you wouldn’t have cared. Remember what you always told me? ‘You must do as you will, Anne.’ May is Mary . She wants her sister.” My tone remained harsh even though I tried to make it calmer for Elizabeth’s sake. It isnt healthy for her to see Henry and I argue so much. To be the cause of her emotional damage, withdrawal, or shortcomings is the last thing I want.
“Come with me Lizzie, we’ll find her together and if she’s busy you can always see her later.”
“No, Anne. We still have a lot to discuss.”
“Keep working on that annulment. Then we won’t.” his eyes, clear as day , hardened and I knew he was serious.
Letting out a large sigh of annoyance I called for Elizabeth to be sent with a maid to find Mary , who she apparently affectionately called May .
“There, Elizabeth is gone, and now she thinks that we fight because she makes us unhappy . Is that the image you enjoy projecting to my daughter, Henry? Is it?”
“Our daughter, Anne. Just…just sit. Cromwell told me he already informed you on the current situation of our marriage. We’ve already discussed Mary’s political standing and that of all my other children. All we have left to discuss is Elizabeth’s schooling, King Francis’ upcoming visit, and how your pregnancy has been going.”
“The last ‘issue’ sounds more sociable than businesslike. How long is Francis staying?” I smiled faintly at the thought of my old friend coming for a visit. Between everything I have been through since the last time I saw him and some more recent developments, I could really use his company .
“Stop smiling like that, you look like an idiot.”
“Like Mistress Seymour?”
“Watch your tongue.”
“Forget this. I will not sit here while you treat me as anything less than the person closest to being your equal. I will pick out Elizabeth’s new tutors on my own, based on my own schooling. And I will write to Francis on my own. Can your precious little fool do that Henry? I don’t believe she can, the only thing she knows of proper schooling or foreign language is that she never had it and she can’t speak any .”
I stood promptly , spitting my words at Henry like fire. I walked with purpose out of Henry’s office and back to my own chambers. How do people expect me to change and apologize to all of them if they all remain imbeciles! Its complete and total hypocrisy .
Over the years I have been accused of being cold, unfeeling, someone who doesn’t care and a variety of other things. The irony behind such comments is that more often than not the same person who called me those would then later go on to call me strong and brave and such an example of how people should be. So which is it? Am I an Ice Queen or am I some pillar of womanly strength? Personally, I don’t think I am either one. Not at all. Although I am observant enough to understand why some might see it differently.
For as long as I can remember I have had to be a strong person. This is not something that is bad per say, but over time it can become problematic. The problem arises when those around you, see you as the Strong person. The oh you’re always so strong or Oh, she’ll get through this because she is strong. While it might not be meant in a bad way, it is most often meant in a good way or with the best of intention anyways, it can become a very bad thing. It gives the thought that because someone is strong they don’t need help. That’s because someone is always showing you a strong face they aren’t falling apart. This is where it becomes a problem. Those who are the strongest often end up falling apart completely alone.
My parents divorced when I was 12, now I am not going to sit here and carry on about how it ruined my childhood and all of that. Yes, my parents getting divorced was traumatic, and yes, it was hard and some of the other things that went with it were hard. Chances are it is the moment in my life where I made a firm choice to be a strong person, but things happen right? I didn’t ever make a choice to be someone who doesn’t feel or who doesn’t care. In fact, I get in more trouble because of how much I DO care instead of not caring enough.
The trouble really starts when as time goes by because I am strong and independent and tend to be yank on my bootstraps kinda girl that’s all many see me as. I have become the person everyone says is so strong and can handle everything and anything. A few times I asked for some help or support and those times I was told, “oh but you are so strong you don’t need anyone to help.” so over time I stopped asking. I got very good at wearing a mask that appeared strong and calm as a cup of water even as everything inside of me was screaming because it was all falling apart.
I got too good at wearing that mask.
I got so good at wearing that “I am fine” mask that for a while, I even managed to fool myself. I managed to pack it all away in boxes and not look at it. Not a healthy way to deal with things and I know that, but I couldn’t let people down now could I? They saw me as the strong one, the one who would always be there sturdy and strong for them to lean on. So I had to be that and while I will always do my level best to support someone I love and care about, I am a human too. I need to lean in and cry sometimes too, but I got very good at pretending like I didn’t. That was my fault as much as any other situation and I own that fact.
I got so good at that mask, I mean really good I didn’t tell anyone about the years of emotional and mental abuse I was suffering from thanks to my ex. Everyone thought I was fine and of course all I ever said is I am fine. However, I was not fine. I was anything but fine.
When my ex was cheating on me, I was fairly sure it was happening long before I said anything about it to him. I didn’t want to think about it. I didn’t want to poke it, if I did the mask might slip and fall off. Slowly, however, the mask started to crack. The more he tried to make me feel like I was paranoid, or deluded or I was the one lying and scheming and doing all sorts of things, the more the mask cracked. See mental abusers and cheaters use that tactic A LOT, they can delude themselves (and others) into thinking you are the bad guy and they are totally justified in every single action they take.
To this day I am fairly sure my ex has many people snowed into believing his version of events. Problem being when you are on marriage number 4 and the only common denominator each time has been you, might be time to think about that. He won’t of course people like him never do, they have to be in the right and the victim. He’s a peach enough to even blame his poor fathering on the children. One of which he tries to still do this day say isn’t his, despite a DNA test that says otherwise. Not to mention the fact that the child is the spitting image. I digress however, this is what they do and many women don’t manage to ever break away from it.
I am lucky that I did. My mask cracked and shattered all over the floor. Yet even in those moments when I walked away from that relationship after so many years everyone told me how strong I was. I know they meant well and I know it was meant as encouraging for me it started to feel like an expectation. So I put up a paper mask, it was not nearly as good as the other but it made do.
It took some time reflecting on things and life, I am sure many women who are cheated on and walk away look back as I did. I started unpacking all of those boxes that I had put away in my mind. Sorting through things and finally coming to terms with admitting I needed to ask for help again. I had become someone who has crippling social anxiety and a myriad of other anxiety issues along with physical ones that weren’t being addressed. Now you can’t expect other people to fix you, but you hope that when you reach out a hand and ask for help to those who have been in your life for a long time that they will take your hand without malice and help.
That is not always the case of what happens sadly. Now I would be lying if I said I was completely and utterly alone in this world. I am not. I do have people and I love and thank them from the bottom of my heart for what they do as they can do it. Sometimes , though, you need someone else to help you. Or at the very least you need them to understand that you can’t be the sturdy oak right now. That you love them, but you need to work on yourself for a little while. You would hope that would be understood and they would support you as best they could. At the very least you hope they won’t add to your burden.
I can’t explain for me how much it hurts to see that is not always the case. Not always the case at all. When I started being more honest, admitting I had limitations that I could not actually carry the weight of all of my problems and everyone else on my shoulders. I was in for a surprise.
I was being cold. I had a frozen heart. I don’t care enough about them. I don’t understand them. I am strong I should be able to handle anything. I am making big deals out of nothing.
All things I was told when I started admitting I could simply not handle everything. Those barbs hurt more than I can ever express in simple words. Perhaps I should have walked away, then, said well okay if that is how a person feels. It isn’t always that easy when you care about someone. It really isn’t that easy when you have already changed so much of your life around. It feels as if it would be more than selfish. I am sure there are some codependency issues going on there, but once I truly love a person and take them into my heart, I will fight for them even if maybe sometimes I shouldn’t.
So to try and refute the comments of coldness and everything else I made conscious effort to be more open, more vulnerable to let them see behind the paper mask. You see I feel just as deeply as you do, I am hurting just like you can hurt. I need help too.
This ends up being a mistake as well you see. Those moments end up being used against me. Like a weapon each one slung like a hard iron barb at the moment when I could least afford to have it happen. I can’t even think of putting up a copy of the words that have happened with me over the last week and one particular friend. I don’t claim to be a perfect saint I truly don’t. But three times in less than 1 week a cycle of attacks, apologies and promises has occurred each one getting worse than the other. The second attack was less than 48 hours after the first, while the third was less then 18 hours after the second. A very clear and very bad pattern and everything I had ever allowed this person to see behind the mask was used against me like a weapon to beat me down.
It worked. I am down and I am in the mud and I have not felt this way ever in my life before. The pain that those who you love most in the world can inflict is worse than any random person could ever do. I once said I don’t fear enemies I sometimes fear my friends in a moment of cold sorrow. I really hate that it seems that this comment has found a way to be true in my life.
I feel like an open wound an open nerve ending that if you breathe on it wrong it will hurt. I don’t like feeling that way. I really hate it. Alas, I am strong, right? I should be able to fix myself and be just fine. Perhaps over time I will. I do manage, generally to put the pieces back into place. I just wish they wouldn’t keep getting knocked out so often.
The worst part about it? I am supposed to accept and be okay with what happened. Why you ask? Because this person has mental health issues. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the seriousness of them and I let SO many things slide because of it, but it doesn’t give anyone the right to purposely cause another person so much pain. It doesn’t give anyone the right to maliciously seek out the soft spots and attack them. I will have to accept it though, because in this persons world that is how it is to be.
The battlefield is bloody and strewn, both sides did draw blood. I am not a passive person by any means I will defend myself every single time. But I avoid hitting things like the nuclear choice. Words that would be so devastating they could never be taken back. I wish I could say the same for others. The other party walked off the battlefield after attacking and will not return for some days at least, maybe longer. This other party is in a space where they will be able to process and not have to worry about anything beyond that. No responsibility.
It isn’t club med by any means, but there is something to be said for being able to focus only on your mental and emotional health for a while. I won’t get to do that. I have responsibilities and things that must be handled. As much as I would like to shout and say STOP, LET ME OFF THE WORLD for a little while that is not how it works. The world keeps turning and I go with it. Beyond my own responsibilities I will now also be in charge of things the other party left behind undone or intended to. Like making sure their dog is fed every night, among other things.
This is a long ramble, but alas, it is what the inspiration lead to and well I won’t be sorry about it today. Sometimes we must find a vent for our pain in order to try and move forward. If there is a way.
Just remember, Ice may seem cold and dangerous. But it is also brittle, breaks under too much pressure and can melt away to nothing.
Henry, Jane, and myself all stood outside the castle some six yards away from the gates. My daughter and step-daughter are arriving today, any minute now. I stood solitary as Mistress Seymour snuggled close into Henry’s arms. Henry was the only thing standing in between Lady Seymour and I. Just Henry and a thick wall of bitterness and hatred, mostly on my part.
Every so often Henry would glance in my direction and flicker his eyes from my growing stomach to my eyes, seeking a signal that my baby and I were alright. I would give him a subtle nod before turning my attention back to the road. The milky faced girl was only four months along and barely beginning to show, so Henry didn’t worry about her stomach so much yet.
Eventually the large clop of the horse’s feet and the noisy wheels of the carriage met our ears. I held my stomach in a vain attempt to calm myself. I was simply too excited! The last time my baby girl saw me I was a wreck. And then I was about to die without a single goodbye to her. I didn’t even begin to make preparations for her for when I eventually do die. I had wanted to leave her something special of mine and a few letters for her to read as she got older. But now I don’t have to worry about that for a little while. God-willing I won’t fall ill giving birth to this baby. I believe the last time I saw the Lady Mary, she was adamant on remaining loyal to her mother’s long gone regency in England and I had been harsh and cruel about getting her to sign the oath.
Oh how I wish I could take that all back. I feel her pain now. I know why she is the way she is. I’m in the same exact position her mother was in all those years ago. In all honesty I would’ve had Elizabeth do the same. If I were to look down upon my darling Elizabeth and see her bend her will to that of the whore that is Jane Seymour, I don’t know what I would do other than sob out the rest of my existence. My heart and soul and livelihood would simply…crumble. I know now. I know. I know how they both felt at my intrusion on their seemingly perfectly happy family. I know the constant fear the held, painfully, in their hearts. I know the sadness, betrayal, and anger at a harlot trying to break apart your only family.
I am determined to make it up to her. Every wrong I have done her, I shall recompense to the best of my ability. I will talk with Henry about getting her married, getting her more ladies, getting her more dresses and jewels. Anything she wants, I shall try to arrange according to my power. But deep down I will always know, and she will too, that I can never fully make it up to her. She can’t ever regain all those lost years. Those lonely years in the cold damp and isolated places she was moved to, simply to be as far away from her mother as possible. I can never help her regain those years without her mom while I danced and frolicked about in Court life. She won’t ever be able to say goodbye to her mother, not even on her deathbed. I simply can’t, and shallow possessions won’t make up for that.
“The Princess Elizabeth, Lady Bryan, and the Lady Mary!” the pageboy announced with every ounce of respect due to the ladies titles. I turned to look at the happy couple and search for their reactions. Henry’s was that of deep anticipation, and Lady Seymour’s was of childlike joy. What else would I expect from a child? I swear to the heavens, Elizabeth is more mature than this harlot.
“Mama!” Elizabeth flew out the carriage in a flurry, her skirts flying everywhere. Lady Bryan frowned deeply until I shot her a look. I don’t care if she’s misbehaving at the moment. She’s my little girl. I heaved her up into my arms and smiled. She turned her attention to Henry and wrinkled her cute little nose in distaste. “Papa, who’s that lady? Mama, is she one of the maids of honor?” Mistress Seymour was frowning at my daughter, her brow wrinkled. How dare she! Has she no shame! The audacity of this woman is unspeakable!
“Mistress Seymour, if you’ve got something on your mind, please, speak up.” The meek little mouse’s eyes darted to me before looking back at her feet. Good. Learn your place, mouse. I was so caught up in my baby I forgot to even look for Mary. I’m surely not off to a good start.
“Father, Marquis, Lady Jane, I’m pleased to have been invited to come.” Her voice was strained and it was plain in her features that it took all her strength to force out the formalities. And considering she’s Catherine’s daughter, that’s a lot of strength. She curtseyed as a Lady always should. I gently placed Elizabeth on the ground and moved her in the direction of her father, who welcomed her genially. I held out my elbow to the Kings first living child.
“Lady Mary, please, join me in the gardens?” She glared at me before shooting a pleading look at her father. Henry’s expression was stony as he motioned for her to come along. “We have matters to catch up on.”
*** The next Chapter ***
Our arms were interlaced platonically as we walked at quite a leisurely pace to what used to be my gardens, which I now suspect Henry will either obliterate of generalize it to make it a ‘public’ garden. Yet as soon as we were out of Henry’s line of vision and hearing range she fiercely tore her arm away from mine and sent me a glare that could freeze the deepest depths of Hell. I smiled sadly albeit shuddering at first. I had expected nothing less.
“Hello, Lady Mary.” She held her glare and lifted her chin to me.
“Mistress Anne. I expect you have called me here as one final stab at getting me to sign that godforsaken oath? I won’t. I won’t ever be an ally to you in any sort. I’ll never comply with your will so long as I live. You’d have to find a way to execute me before that’d ever happen. Or maybe considering your newfound title as a ‘witch’ perhaps you’d just blacken my heart as you did my mother’s, you harlot. Whatever your purposes are for calling me here will prove futile, so I don’t suggest you try.” She began to walk away, so I pulled her back. All the lessons and tutors in the world couldn’t help me in this situation. I haven’t the slightest clue how to mend this, neither with words nor actions.
“Lady Mary.” I bowed my head deep and curtsied my lowest. This should be a good start. This is my first sign of respect. Right? “I realize this is long overdue. I also realize that it’s too little too late. Please, consider this and listen to what I have to say. After this, I understand if you still feel large disposition considering me, but I’ll learn to accept it and hope and pray that one day you’ll come to forgive me. Think of me as the confessor and you the Priestess.” Her eyes narrowed and I knew her curiosity would get the best of her; I’m still practically on my knees in front of her.
“Rise then, and speak.” She looked down her nose at me, her expression still as stone.
“I, myself, am suffering in the same way your mother was all those years ago. I’m ashamed and appalled with this feeling and even more so appalled that this is what I put you both through. Let me begin by offering my most sincere apologies.” She gave a slight nod of her head and I could tell by her expression that she wasn’t moved in the slightest.
“Well, what should I be saying at this point? That an apology from your heart is all I desired all these years in my desolate isolation? That a few words will make me forgive you for all that you have done to me, my family, and my beloved country? Think twice, three times, and then once more.”
“I know. But my suffering at this point in time should be your smallest comfort. I was going to be executed, as you very well know, I suppose that might have comforted you as well. But I’m round as ever, and your father is excited.”
“My father died a long time ago. The first time he ever indulged you, he died. The King Henry Tudor somewhere about this palace with Jane, bless her heart, isn’t my father.” Her tone was sharp. Her resolve wasn’t weakening one bit.
“I know. Back at Hever, news would come every so often about the Royal Family. It was like a bed time story, a fairytale life that everyone wanted to live.”
“Was it now? So that’s what you do in your spare time. Crush dreams. Destroy fairytales. Blacken the beauty of the magic? Wonderful.”
“Lady Mary, I truly am sorry. Why do you have to be as stubborn a mule as your mother? If Catherine had complied-all in the past, forget I mentioned that. That is why I have called you here; I wish to make it up to you. To make your life better. To build and grow the stepmother-stepdaughter relationship we should have. If it is your wish, I will ask Henry to bring you back to court. I don’t know if you have been told, but you have already been removed from Elizabeth’s charge. You’re free to come and go as you please. I hope you’ll stay at court, though. Your continued presence will help me in deteriorating your fathers resolve and soften his feelings towards you. Given a small piece of time, I might be able to restore your position as a rightful princess. Afterwards, you’d be able to freely go to Spain, if you wish. Or even better, if I manage to restore you, we’d have to begin building up a marriage prospect for you. You’d be a queen.”
“You mean like you’ll never be again? Such a lovely title it is, isnt it? Queen. To be a queen is to have power, although less than your husbands, it is still power. Unless said husband doesn’t love you, and I’m sure mine won’t if I choose to marry a prince of Europe. Political marriages rarely ever have love. What I am hearing from you is that you believe making me a princess again will soften my feelings towards you. It won’t. what I’m hearing is that you’d have me made a princess again, thinking it’d make me happy, and then trap me into a loveless marriage, in which my husband will be continually unfaithful, like yours is. No thank you Mistress Anne. We’re done here.” she smirked cruelly and pitifully at me as she skillfully plucked a rose from one of my bushes and gracefully walked away. No, this will not happen. I am not done trying. This is just the beginning.
“Have you even visited your mother’s gravesite?” I yelled after her, forcing her to stop dead in her tracks. She flew back toward me a fiery rage in her eyes that’d put Henry’s to shame. She rose her hand with purpose and cracked it down on my face. The sound reverberated around the gardens and tensity lingered in the air afterward. Ignoring the cool sting that felt worse than needles pricking at my face, I reached down into the satchel that I had hidden behind my skirt folds. Digging for a second, I produce a solid gold tiara emblazoned with the finest and purest rubies, emeralds, pearls, diamonds and silver. Every expensive metal you could think of was made into this tiara. It’s fit for an Empress who rules over not one or two countries, but the whole of Europe and the ‘new world’ Spain is involved in. This tiara has been the most sought out trinket in the world since I had had Henry order it to be made for me. “We’re done here; I will respect your wishes on that. But, here, this crown was fit exactly for a person like your mother, whom I loved before she became my competition. She had always been kind to me. Serving her had been nice. She was an amazing Queen and a princess, three times over.” Cradling my still throbbing cheek I left Mary in the gardens and went to begin my work. While I’m still in power, I have a lot more retributions to make.
I enjoy knowing I have left Mary speechless, Anne Boleyn always gets the last word. Always.
I woke up from my nap blissfully happy. My sources told me I had left Mary in a trance like state of deep thought, and that after trying on the tiara and crying, she immediately made arrangements for Chapuys to take it and place it safely with her mother. Mary very well could have thrown the tiara at the ground or at my head for that matter. But she didn’t.
Henry hadn’t asked many questions about the red mark on my cheek. I told him I just fell asleep the wrong way and some odd material had left its imprint on my face. He simply shrugged and held me closely, or attempted to, while we spoke. He kept trying to pull me to him, but between my resistance and my grotesquely large stomach, it was a futile effort on his part. After dancing lightly around the edges of the matter, testing the waters, I finally let him know that something was on my mind and that we would need to discuss these matters as quickly and professionally as possible. In fact he should be here in a few minutes.
“Anne, what’s so important that I had to put a hold on discussing affairs of state with Cromwell. He was less than pleased. Whatever he had to say was important.”
“And what I have to say isn’t?” I gesture for him to sit as I call upon Madge for some tea.
“Look, Anne, as refreshingly wonderful as it is to get to discuss political matters with a mind so scholarly it may rival mine, I’m busier than ever. Couldn’t this have waited until my daily visit?”
“A few years ago, you would’ve held up a treaty with Kings, simply to hear my thoughts on the matter. But what we have to discuss is more important than anything you could be arranging. The matter at hand is very close to both our hearts, mine only recently, but has been with yours for a lifetime. Mary.”
“I had been missing her as of late. It was a wonderful idea of yours to bring her to Court; I wouldn’t have had the guts to. I feel…happy. My loved ones are all surrounding me, except Charles of course, he’s busy.”
“She is twenty years old, Henry. It’s high time she be married.” He waved his hands dismissively.
“No one respectable will want her as a known bastard. What would you have me do? Marry off my firstborn baby girl to a lord or a duke, even though she’s a bastard?”
“And you don’t think I’ve already thought of some barrier like that?” I replied sharply, my tone more than a little terse. I was absolutely and indefinitely offended. How dare he? He’s belittling my intelligence to think that if I had to discuss political matters with him I wouldn’t think it through. “You’ve been spending far too much time with the likes of that wench, Jane Seymour. It’s almost unthinkable to me that her influence on you has made you so accustomed to the thought that women are permitted to be so idiotic-
“That’s enough, Anne. I’ve permitted your bitterness towards my Jane up until now, but it’s beginning to get old. Grow up Anne; you’re acting like a five year old. Get to your point.”
“I wish to restore the title of Princess to Mary, as it should never have been taken away. Why punish your innocent daughter simply because the Pope and Catherine made a few silly mistakes in letting you be wed? If Mary is a Princess once more that brings us great political advantage. Think of how great it was for your brother to marry Catherine, a princess three times over in her own right. Just think of what that Princesses daughter could bring for England. Another advantage is your daughter’s happiness, Henry. When was the last time you saw the somber look on your very first jewels face brighten into a smile? Making her a princess and marrying her off will benefit the political stance of England, Mary’s happiness, and Spain will be quite well pleased to see her become all this. In addition to Mary’s husband’s country, we might possibly gain Spain as an ally once more. Just think about it Henry. Think.” By now I was practically on his lap and whispering in his ear. His lips were taut as he thought over every…single…word I’d just said. The possibilities were running very quickly through his head. I could practically see what was going through his head at the moment.
I removed myself from his presence, moving to one of my outer chambers to pour myself a glass of water. I sat with my glass and began to munch on an apple. Soon enough Henry came out of my bedchamber and I could tell he’d already made his mind up about attempting to rearrange things for his eldest daughter; he tried to play it off as though he had even better things to do. But I’ve known him closely for too long now. I can read him like a book, but I played along and pretended to believe that he’d not finished thinking on it.
Another point for me.
“My Lady, you have been in that trance of yours for four days time now.”
“Why was Henry in such a foul mood? You’ve heard the news! I’m lucky to have my head. Everyone has heard the news. He no longer loves me like I do him. I am not going to be his wife for much longer.”
“His Majesty caught you before you had hit the ground. He had thought you had died in his arms. He’d run into here as I was packing, yelling for us to fetch the physician who assured the king you were living. He and the doctors will tell you everything else. Right now I just have to make sure Mistress Jane’s ladies don’t screw up their tasks.”
“You are not of her household, Nan? But you were born to be at Court.”
“I refused. Being at Court wasn’t worth sacrificing my own mistress whom I feel such allegiance to. I refused to be in her household and His Majesty allowed me to remain in yours, if that should please you.”
“Oh Nan of course it does!” she smiled before leaving my bedchamber.
What could be so wrong with me that Henry would care now? Am I truly dying? I doubt it. He’d already signed a death warrant for me; I don’t suppose actually burying me would’ve been of much consequence to him. I just wish to be out of this hellish nightmare and to get to my new home for some peace. If only I could go back in time, I would’ve mourned shortly for the loss of Henry Percy and simply moved on to marry another. I would’ve never opened myself to Henry. However much I love him now, all it causes is hurt. Henry’s love is so fickle and I’m only seeing it again now that it has happened to me. Love truly does blind a person at times. I suppose it’s so you only see the good in the one you love, so that you’re protected from their obvious faults because you just want to be able to love them to no objection. I wonder what faults of mine Henry was blinded of. My temper, maybe? I did often have fits of anger and stubbornness. I’d often a time yell at him, and by the time he’d calmed me down from my yelling, I’d forgotten what I’d been so angry about. He used to love all my opinions and temper fits so much until he began to lust after that pale-faced whore. She’s simply so bland. Katherine at least had fiery Spanish blood in her, making her all the more irksome to me because they, too, were known for being stubborn as mules. But at least she looked somewhat exotic. I am by no means bland. In fact Lady Seymour is the complete opposite of me. Maybe that’s what attracted Henry so. A total of ten years we spent together and he’d gotten bored with me? When I was a girl I was often given little poppet’s to keep me occupied while George and Mary were at their lessons. I would get bored with one, and demand another. I’d tuck the old one in a trunk, neatly, and only look back when I was refused a new one. I didn’t tear them apart, like Henry has done with my heart and soul, or pop their little heads off. I set them aside.
“Anne! Lady Anne! Are you feeling alright?”
“Yes, Your Highness. I feel perfectly well. I thank you for showing such concern. Dr. Linacre I assure you I don’t need to be inspected, I was simply under severe emotional stress.” I turned to look at Dr. Linacre who simply dug through his bag looking for something.
“I realize this Lady Boleyn, but you still need to be examined. When I saw you the first time and you were unconscious I noticed some slight abnormalities and wish to have a further inspection of them. Your Majesty, are you staying?”
“Yes, yes I wish to stay with the Lady Anne. I shall be her emotional support for whatever is happening with her.” He stated solemnly, grasping my hand in his. I felt utterly tempted to pull it away. If he thinks to toss me aside he’d better stop showing compassion and expect a certain degree of coldness from me. After what seemed like a lifetime of poking and prodding and unintelligible noises on the doctor’s part, he finally began to pack up his things, smiling like a fool. He grabbed a sheet of parchment and began scribbling away at it before handing it to Henry. It seemed to be a list of instructions for something.
“Lady Anne Boleyn, Marques of Pembroke, I am proud to announce you are approximately four months pregnant. ‘Tis a very good thing you didn’t die or the baby would’ve went right along with you. Considering your prior physical health, the plague, Lady Elizabeth, and several miscarriages, this pregnancy is expected to be difficult and you’ll be suspended to your bed for most of it. Nothing is to put you under stress as per usual, and this time that is a strict order and not simply regularity. I’ve given the instructions all to His Majesty. Good day to you and congratulations.” He left smiling to himself still and I wondered what made him so happy. Why is he so happy for me? I am going to be unwed and pregnant! It’s undoubtedly Henry’s, but if Elizabeth, whom he adores, is declared a bastard, what’s to keep him from not even recognizing the unborn child in me?
“Henry, I wish to go home now. I wish to begin my journey to Pembroke. I don’t need anyone to know of my…pregnancy.” He looked dazed. Dazed and confused but also a bit guilty. He’d better be. If I had been killed so would this baby.
“No, Anne. You’re to remain here in your old apartments. I want you to be in comfort and travelling won’t do that for you. For the remainder of this month and part of the next, you are free to roam around as you like but after that you’d be in your third month and just beginning to show. You’ll stay here the entire duration of your pregnancy…I shan’t make any formal announcement. I’ll have to simply make Cromwell aware of what’s going on. And Jane as well. This will be difficult.”
I sighed and looked up from my embroidery. Henry was pretending to read a book in his lap as he snuck looks at me every five minutes. He has hardly left my side since Dr. Linacre delivered the news that I was four months along. I felt like such an idiot to not have noticing the symptoms. But in my defense, I had been distressed and preoccupied. Preoccupied with fighting for the love of my husband, fighting for my life and reputation, fighting for the safety of the position of my daughter, Elizabeth. How was I supposed to keep track of me eating or bleeding habits when such pressing matters are on my mind. I was only two months ahead of Jane. She was not showing an inch and I was only sporting a small bump. Henry had barely left my company. Whether I was eating, reading, taking a walk, or dancing, he always managed to be there. It was beginning to grow tiresome. Why does he have to pretend like he’s my shadow when he could be doing something more important? Like finding a different loophole in our marriage. Of course I am the last one to want a divorce for us; I love Henry with all my being. My heart was sold to him. But I had also promised myself very young that I would never allow myself to be trapped in a loveless marriage. And whether I like to admit it or not, I am. Henry always could read my mind.
“The annulment is going to take quite a while.” He settles his eyes on mine and heaves a sigh. “Legally you are still my wife, the annulment was supposed to be finalized by your death, seeing as I can’t have been married to a dead woman. But seeing as you are still my wife and now you’re pregnant we can’t finalize or solidify anything until we make sure that you aren’t carrying my son.”
“Why? It couldn’t be that hard to divorce a pregnant woman. You are head of church and state, Henry, you can find a way.” He used to take my suggestions and opinions to heart. Let us pray that he still does.
“Oh so now you’re so eager to get rid of me, Anne! Why is it that when I was the one who wanted to get out of our barren and accursed marriage you were so adamant on keeping it?” I closed my eyes and took a few calming breaths. Father and Uncle are already gone from court, I don’t need anyone else stressing me out and wearing me down. I placed a hand on my bump and was finally calm.
“Because I love you so much. It’s hard having to watch as your heart and soul falls out of love with you and moves on to love another. You were adamant on tearing our small family apart. It’s all in the past now though. I have to ask you something.”
“What.” His tone was harsh, unforgiving, terse, and I hate to admit it but I’m already used to it. It has become so easy for me to ignore.
“I wish to have Elizabeth and the Lady Mary brought to me. If I am to be confined to these dismal apartments, I may as well have company. Let the Lady Bryan stay, I just wish for your daughters.”
“Fine. I shall make the arrangements while you are having your dinner. But I do not see any reason to bring the Lady Mary. She refuses to sign the oath when you were my legitimate wife and queen, I don’t see why she should sign it when you aren’t for much longer.”
I don’t want her to sign the damned oath anymore. I don’t need her to. I need her company. Mary’s condition was one of the few things I had made a mistake in when I was rising to the top. She was his first daughter, first everything. He had loved her more than anything in the world. The flame his Henry’s heart for his little girl may not be as bright anymore, but it is definitely not smoked out. Henry loves all his children. He puts them above all else in his kingdom. Where I saw Mary as an enemy, I should’ve seen an ally. I should’ve comforted her, held her dear, and consoled her after her mother’s death. I should’ve worked with my power over Henry to be more compassionate to her. I want her forgiveness. I pray to God regularly for repentance, it’s about time I seek repentance out from the people I had wronged in my quest to be loved by Henry. Starting with his eldest daughter and ending with the deceased Wolsey. I will do better given this second chance.
*** One month passes ***
True to his word, Henry was late for dinner the night he wrote the letter regarding his daughters. By the time I had finished and was about to start getting ready for bed, he strode in. I hardly ever attend the cultural entertainment court has to offer anymore. Things in England were nothing like France in the first place, and recently court life has become dull for me. My daily routine consists of nothing but educational enrichment, small meaningless conversations about one thing or another with Nan or Madge, cards and other games, mass, and the occasional break or two to enjoy the gardens. I fit my meals in between all this with frequent snacking. I’m always so hungry nowadays.
I don’t even bother to hope or pray for a son. Henry doesn’t love me anymore, simple and true. Come to think of it, I don’t believe he ever truly did. If you look up Matthew: 5, the verse varies, it speaks about adultery, briefly mentioning lust. Henry lusted after me. He wanted what he couldn’t have. I played his game and I played it well, driving him to the brink of sanity with lust. Love is truly knowing, understanding, and caring for a person’s heart, mind, body, and soul. That’s what love amounts to. But lust, lust is simply caring for a person’s physical attributes, and maybe their mind or soul or heart. Henry lusted after me frantically, and when he finally caught me he grew bored and felt his mission was completed, he’d finally won his conquest. He thought of me as I think of deer. You chase it, and enjoy that chase, but once it’s caught and dead, do you continue to beat it? No.
“I received a letter back from each of my daughters today. Elizabeth sent about a paragraph in English and I have to say, for her age I was impressed. Mary’s was a little more…angry, though. It was written entirely in Spanish as well.”
“What did she say?”
“She thoroughly expressed her displeasure with you and with coming to court. She stated that the only reason she would come is because I commanded her to. She called you a various slew of profanities and then said she’d never in her life sign the oath.”
“That’s alright. I suppose I would’ve expected worse. What did my baby girl say?” he scowled briefly at me before going quiet and I saw that he was making the face he always does when he’s shifting through his memories.
“She said she’d love to come to Court to visit her parents, the King and Marques. And then she stated how much she missed her mama and papa, and that she loves the dresses and poppets you give her, and the jewels and books I send her. It was mostly four large run-one sentences, but I saw where she could’ve placed her punctuation. She’s a bright one, my pearl Elizabeth.”
“Do you usually cast off things as precious as pearls and declare them illegitimate? If so, then no one must have taught you the true value of beauty, or the value of such things.”
“Yes, and what would the value be?”
“Losing both of our respect, trust, and ultimately our love. A parent’s love for their child is boundless and unconditional, but a child’s love for their parent varies depending on how they’re raised, it’s fickle. Ask Mary.”
“This is why we’ve grown apart so much, Anne!” his retort was weak; he couldn’t even deny the thought of what I’d said. “You’re vengeful. You’re bitter and filled with hatred. You are a forever angry person, Anne. You find the weakest point within a person, and pick at it. You resemble a leech in that way. You find it and prey upon it until nothing is left, and that person will forever thereafter remain dead, lifeless, soulless, because you have sucked it all dry. If you had simply learned your place and held your tongue, we’d still be the envied couple of the court. They’d look to us in our supposedly discreet embraces and turn green with jealousy of our passion and devotion to one another.” By now he had grabbed me by my forearms and was shaking me lightly. My heart strings were tugging violently, aching to just melt into submission. But my mind had the power over me right now. And it told me but one thing: no. a montage of unhappy images of the two of us floated through my thoughts, and it was enough to give me the strength to jerk myself away from him.
“What do you know of devotion, Henry? I have learned my place, now. It is to be the Marques of Pembroke. I had thought my place was to be your wife and Queen, but I see I was wrong. If you had stayed faithful to me, we wouldn’t have grown apart. I remember a time, Henry, when you never asked for me to hold my tongue. You were delighted in my thoughts and opinions. You valued my wit. Whatever happened to you? I may never know, but I care little to pry. As long as you’re positive my daughter and step-daughter are coming, you may leave my apartments now. It would probably do Your Majesty some good to visit the Lady Jane Seymour. Isn’t she the opposite of what you say you hate about me so? Is she docile enough for you Henry Tudor? Tell her I wish her well.” I stare pointedly at the door before turning my back to him. He doesn’t leave though; I don’t hear any movement from him at all until he comes to me and grabs me by the shoulders.
“Insolent woman! I am the king! I’m the fucking King of England! You don’t turn your back to me. You don’t hold your chin up high as though you are mightier than me, more righteous than me.” his teeth were grit tight and every word sounded forced. He jammed his lips painfully against mine and moved them quickly and angrily. I struggled in his grasp; I squirmed and moved about to no avail. When I finally managed to wrestle one of my arms free, I slapped him with a force I wasn’t even aware I possessed. His head jerked in the direction I slapped him and he held his cheek.
“Perchance the only thing driving us apart was that you probably have more fire inside of you than I can bear to handle anymore, Anne.”
“I apologize for striking you, Henry. It was purely on impulse, I did not mean it.”
“Any of it?” his eyes were grievous and sad as he looked down at me.
“No. I meant every word I dared to utter. The only thing I regret was hitting you. I know for a fact that you’re attracted to Jane because she’s my polar opposite. I am the fire and she is the ice. I am the sun and she, the moon. I am dark and she is light. She is the water that cools you after a hot day; I am the most potent wine that warms you in the dead of winter. I am outspoken. She is soft-spoken. We are everything the other is not. I really do hope you come to enjoy your life with her, Henry.” My tone was pitiful and had a certain inclination in it. It was like I was giving him one final chance to take it all back. But I don’t necessarily want him to take it. I’ve given him too many chances. I shouldn’t have been with him at all, and now here we are several chances and times later, he still hasn’t learned a thing.
“Anne…” I shook my head and placed a hand on my stomach. I can’t allow him to wear me down any more than he already has tonight. I’ll be entering my sixth month by the time Elizabeth arrives. By then I’ll have a prominent bulge on my stomach and have to cut my freedom hours short. My pregnancy is getting more and more dangerous as the seconds tick by. I’m determined to have this baby. I want this child. Regardless of gender, it’s mine. I cannot lose it, I simply can’t bear it. The pain for a mother to lose her child is unimaginable. I can finally sympathize with Catherine, no wondering as to why she was always so dismal. To lose several children and lose Henry’s seemingly undying love? I shudder at the horrid thoughts of the past. Happy thoughts, Anne. “Fine, I’ll go and visit Jane then.” He mumbled before slinking out my chambers.