“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.
Oh, Elizabeth, come soon.
You as well, Mary. You as well.