Fan art image from Deviantart
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 .