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.
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 .
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.
History is not as black and white as many would wish it to be. We only ever see one side, one set of stories, we see the stories and tales as those who won wanted them to look. What would happen if love and passion could still triumph over injury and dynasty? Things could get complicated…
“Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.” The people witnessing my murder let out a roar of short cheer, a few yelling here or there to bless my soul, hail Queen Anne, peace be with you, my lady . But I drowned it all out.
How could Henry be doing this to me? Just to marry that milky faced girl? Yes, I usurped Katherine’s position, but she left with her life. Yes, she left in some degree of shame and was forced to remain in obscurity . But she also left with her dignity , and pride, insisting she was still Queen of England. But she also left with her life! Why am I to be killed? I put everything at risk and ruined my good name just to be with him, to love him with all my heart and soul and I am being killed for loving him. What has that harlot put at risk beside my favor and good treatment of her? I recall now that Henry had once asked me if I were happy , the most happy . I had told him that the only way I would ever be unhappy were if he were to stop loving me. He’d replied by saying he’d die first. It now looks as though it’s the other way around; I am the one who’s dying. I refocused in on the crowd, now aware that my speech and calming was done. It was time to die. I took off my jewelry , handing it to my more loyal ladies. I tied my hair, securely in its bun, in a cap. Untying it from my waist I took the pouch of a generous amount of pounds and handed it to the executioner. I forgave him before he could even ask, and thanked him for his kindness of coming all this way . I knelt upright, managing to keep erect as I said my final prayers, in the French way of executions. I came into this whirlwind, quick paced; backstabbing life with style and by no means shall I leave without the same amount of flare. I looked out to the people, softening my face. If it should be frozen in time after this, I don’t want it to look distraught. I wish to look as peaceful as possible. The people began to drop gracefully to the ground in deep bows and curtsies, which puzzled me. Technically I am not the true queen anymore; they don’t owe me this respect. I might still be the Marques of Pembroke but they don’t need to bow at all, much less so low. I scan the crowd and my tired eyes fall on Henry , haughty as ever. His chest is puffed with pride and importance as he strides up to the scaffold.
“Lady Anne Boleyn, Marques of Pembroke. Upon further inspections of the crimes Mark Smeaton, your brother, and yourself have been accused of, they’ve been proven false. But there is still no proof of your being pure before we were wed. Our marriage is going to be annulled when I find solid grounds for it and you are not to return to Court. You are to return to Pembroke and remain in obscurity there. Come, a carriage is waiting to take you and your trunks are all packed.” I tried to hide my shock and utter surprise. George was alive! George was to live! And I as well! I am being allowed my life! I am not to die for the lies of overly ambitious courtiers and families! I gather myself, removing the cap upon my head in doing so. I stand and take a few short breaths.
“I cannot thank Your Majesty enough. You are indeed a most gracious king and sovereign lord. What of my family , they are not to return to Court either I trust?” the small crowd had already been dismissed and my Ladies, the executioner, Henry and I were the only ones left as we descended from the scaffold.
“We shall talk in a minute, Marques Anne.” I nod shortly before turning to thank my ladies for all they have done. I am almost sure they shall not be coming with me to Pembroke.
“My Lady! Your pouch.” The executioner tries to hand me back the money , but I gently push it towards him.
“Keep it, sir. Please, consider it a gift from me as a show of thanks. You did travel out of your way .” He looks confused before nodding and backing away .
“Why do you look so gay , Lady Anne?”
“I had intended to die in a certain degree of style and grace. Now, please, if you will, I am still slightly disoriented and confused as to what has happened in my absence. What new information had come forward? What is to become of my family? And…what of Elizabeth? My beautiful baby girl…” thinking of my little Elizabeth was enough to keep me calm and quiet. I felt horrible for my little girl. What if Henry hadn’t come? She’d be without a mother or mother figure. No doubt that harlot would treat her terribly , for she was in favor of the Spanish princess. And she’d become just like Mary , ignored and unloved by her male-hungry father. The last time my beautiful princess had seen me I was a wreck, yelling and screaming and begging for Henry’s love and favor.
“The accuser’s only proof of your witchery was a sixth finger and body marks on your back. I have never seen either in the many times we had lain together. Katherine’s heart had not been blackened by foul practices but by some unhealthy air from where she was sent, she’d been sick for far too long. On the charges of adultery I found Mark Smeaton battered. He signed an oath stating that he’d never known you carnally . He’d only been tortured and done anything to make it stop. On the charges of incest, Cranmer had overheard your brother’s wife telling another Lady about her guilt because she’d never truly known George to be with you. Nan had supported this by saying that you two were never out of her own eye and only shared as much as a kiss on the cheek. Your father is being allowed to stay , but George left immediately for Hever. He’d mentioned something about your mother being sickly . And for all I am told Mary is still living happily with her lowly husband.”
“Your Majesty , if I may interject,” I looked to him for his approval to continue, he dipped his head low for a short second before I continued. “I don’t think it’d be wise to keep my father at Court.”
“And why not?”
“He’s quite the ambitious man. He and my uncle were always putting me under various degrees of stress and pressure warning me of your power over me, telling me it was too much at times, telling me to exile certain people. They gained me a few enemies that would’ve smiled at the thought of seeing my head roll.” I looked down as he stayed quiet.
“Maybe you wouldn’t’ve lost my boy if it weren’t for them then? Absolutely not. They shall be dismissed. I thank you for being straightforward with me, Marques.”
“You never answered my last question, Henry . What is to become of my daughter?” I was tired of calling him by his formal title. I had known him as Henry through seven years of companionship and three years of marriage. I am far too accustomed to it now.
“Our daughter, Anne! Elizabeth is mine too!” he was upset now. At least I am assured that he loves Elizabeth. “She is to remain at Hatfield as a royal child. However she is a bastard as well. She hasn’t been told much except that she is to no longer to call you by certain names.” I nod.
“When shall I be allowed to see her? I’ve missed her terribly .”
“I know you have, Anne. But you are not yet allowed to see her. You coddle her so. She needs some form of separation and isolation from such strong feeling so she may grow into a respectable young lady . Once Jane bears my son, I plan on marrying her off to a dauphin.”
I smile wryly to myself. He knew how much I favored the French. “Yet she is declared a bastard. Yet she’d still be under the children you have with Mistress Seymour.”
“Anne, remember your place. You are forever beneath her from this point on. We are to be married as soon as our marriage is formally over. She’ll not be crowned Queen formally until after she bears me my son, which won’t take very long considering she’s already two months along. But she is to be my legal wife and fulfill the position and title of Queen informally .”
I tried to swallow my temper. He’s being generous, Anne. Control your temper. If you had before maybe he would still love you, and not the milky faced girl. Control your temper, Anne. Think of Elizabeth. She may be subject to Henry’s wrath and consequence if I make use of my sharp tongue with Henry . The thoughts of my baby girl made me feel better already . “Yes, Your Majest-” I passed out.
I suppose Father was wrong, and Mother had always been right. Keeping your highly volatile emotions in like this isn’t entirely healthy . I must still be quite drained and distressed from coming within an inch to my death. The last thing I remember were so many footsteps, all running toward me. “Lady Anne!” rang through my ears as the world went black. When I woke up I was in my old chambers.
True to Henry’s word all my things had been moved out. But none on Mistress Seymour’s were moved in yet. I suppose the milky faced girl prefers lighter colors than Katherine and I did. How frivolous. I enjoy light colors also, for certain occasions I even prefer them, but not for all the time. Darker, deeper colors bring about a sense of solemnity , of regality . Bright colors are nice but they do nothing for me. A few of my old Ladies stood around me, looking fearful. Among them were Nan and Madge. They were so loyal. Out of all I think I should miss them the most.
They heaved a sigh of what I was assuming was relief before Nan shooed them away to go do as they had been told, sending Madge for the physician and Henry . She sat by me on the bed feeling my forehead and stroking my hair a bit. “Thank god you’re finally awake. The doctors were afraid you might stay in a sleeplike trance for weeks, maybe even forever. His Majesty was not at all pleased, he’s been in a terrible temper for as long as you’ve been ill. The only person he’ll see is the Duke of Suffolk.” Her tone was of reproach and she was shaking her head and clicking her tongue.