Author's Note: Okay, first of all, let me start off by issuing an apology. I have been so terribly remiss with this story. I blame college, and my major that requires me to read and write an obscene amount, leaving me no energy or time to do my own writing. This story is not dead! I promise. I still am very devoted to it, and I definitely need it as an outlet. So no worries. I just don't know how often updates will be coming, and I'm sorry about that, but there isn't much I can do. So please, enjoy this update, and I will be sure to get the next one out to you as speedily as I can. Thank you for your patience and for sticking with me for over two years now. I am very grateful for this fan base that seems to grow with each chapter I post- I cannot believe I have over 580 reviews!
Disclaimer: All historical liberties are taken with full knowledge of real events and are taken only for the purposes of the story. It's very AU. All recognizable characters are a property of Showtime and history. I don't write history, I just mess around with it ;]
Also, some credit goes to ReganX, who a long time ago helped me with this idea. Thanks girl :)
Without further ado, chapter forty-one of King Arthur II! Please enjoy and don't forget to review! :)
November 20, 1529
Hal's rooms were not what she expected, especially after seeing Lisbeth's.
Anne assumed that because Henry had given the children creative license and more than enough funds to decorate their rooms as they saw fit, that both of them would take full advantage of that fact. Anne would have if her father had provided her with that opportunity as a child, and she knew that Lisbeth had inherited her taste for finery. Even though Hal wasn't hers naturally, he was a child nonetheless, and children enjoyed being indulged. She was so thrilled that Henry had moved Hal out of the nursery, and though her daughter was younger, she knew that Lisbeth would flourish in her own household. She was giddy with anticipation to see what her children had done with their rooms.
Henry teased her for it, told her that she was probably more excited than the children were to see their own establishments. But she couldn't help herself. Being coped up waiting for William to be born had been difficult for her, and it wasn't just because Henry had taken a mistress. She missed her children and since she had been out of confinement she had felt closer to them. She often bothered Henry to come visit them with her and unlike before, he usually agreed. She wasn't sure if it was the guilt of hurting her and causing her problems while she was pregnant, or that he truly wanted to, but either way she wasn't complaining.
Even if they couldn't spend the night together, she fully intended on making most out of their days. But he declined to accompany her on this day; he was planning something or another. Anne didn't bother to question it; for her, he had done enough recently and she was more than content to inspect her children's new rooms for herself.
She had gone to Lisbeth's first, because the young girl was far more vocal than her stepson. Lisbeth had gone about planning her rooms with vigor and efficiency, something that Anne could hardly be surprised by. Her daughter had always been bright and able, surpassing all of the children her age and even those older, no matter their gender. Anne was proud, to say the least. Since she had married Henry, she had been mentored by two strong-willed and wise Queen Consorts, Elizabeth and Katherine, and she wanted her daughter to be resilient like the two women who had shown Anne the right, and wrong, ways to use her influence over her husband.
Lisbeth would never be the Queen of England, but Anne hoped that Henry would secure a marriage that would make her the Queen of something (France, preferably). Her daughter would leave her, and she wanted her to leave secure with the knowledge that she would rule her country and influence her husband well.
So she was naturally pleased that Lisbeth was already handling her household well. Henry had shown a slight amount of skepticism in letting Lisbeth mirror Hal by allowing Lisbeth to receive her own household; after all, Hal was a male and four years older than Lisbeth. But Anne knew that her daughter could do it. She was a Boleyn and a Tudor, and the best of Henry and Anne. Anne loved her boys more than words could describe, and in Edward she saw the future of England, but in Lisbeth she saw such potential for greatness. She would never voice these suspicions, not even to Henry or Elizabeth, but in her heart of hearts, she knew her daughter would do incredible things.
She felt silly for feeling so strongly about a four year old, but she just couldn't help herself. Henry would take her boys away, all three of them, and whisk them into a world of high-pressure princely education, but not her Lisbeth. Lisbeth was hers, and she intended to do right by her daughter.
So after spending a great deal of time in her daughter's room, who showered her with anecdotes from her lessons and her experiences being out of the nursery (Anne was touched that she had expressed missing her brothers) she had to head over to Hal's before it was supper time.
Hal's room was plain, to say the least. The walls were grey, the bed was smaller than she had expected, and there were no colors or fine tapestry. The only beauty and richness the room possessed was its size and the light that came in through the windows. She was pleased to see that he had put his desk by the window, so he could derive the benefits of the room she specifically picked because she knew how much he loved sunlight and the outdoors. His room even overlooked the garden. It had the potential to be one of the loveliest rooms in all of Hampton Court, but instead it hardly looked fit for the meekest of courtiers, let alone the son of the richest man in the kingdom and the son of the future King of England.
"Hal, darling, were your funds not properly allocated?" Anne asked, concerned. She knew that Henry had provided the same amount of money to both children and let them do what they saw fit with it, but she knew that there had been questions of Hal's status before, and she wanted to make sure that there had been no foul play amongst the servants of Hampton Court. She knew her son was sensitive about his status, and she would have been furious if he was in anyway reminded cruelly about his bastard status. He was to be treated as equal as possible to his siblings, at all times.
"No, I received all of them. Thank you, mother. I am very pleased to have my own rooms," Hal replied, monotone. It was as if he had practiced what he had to say, and that he wasn't truly happy to see her or to have his own rooms apart from the nursery.
"Leave us," Anne commanded. She didn't want to have this conversation with prying ears, she had been taught by Elizabeth not to trust the servants, regardless if they were handpicked or not. "Is there something wrong? This room doesn't look like it's used up the money your father gave to you."
"Nothing is wrong, but father was far too generous. Lisbeth is a princess, or will be. Her rooms should be finer than the bastard's," Hal calmly reasoned. While he did feel better after the conversation he had with his mother months ago in the garden, he knew the truth. He was loved by his parents, especially his mother, and they would do their best for him. But he knew how society worked now, he wasn't a dullard, his father had seen to that. A bastard would never be trueborn.
"But we gave you the same amount of money as your sister so there would be no question as to what you were allowed to do. Hal, these rooms are yours! You should do with them what you like," Anne explained. She loved it when she finally got her own rooms at Hampton and at Whitehall. They felt like home, for the first time in her life she was in charge of where she lived looked like. It was liberating. She only wanted that for her son, who had expressed impatience at still being in the nursery.
"What kind of message would that send? I didn't want to make Lisbeth look bad. So I didn't make them too lavish, and to me, this feels right." He knew that his mother would do this, and at least she cared enough to do so, but he had made up his mind. His rooms weren't as nice as Lisbeth's, but he was happy with them. His bed cloths were warm, his mattress comfortable and he was never fond of bright colors or extravagant tapestries. "Don't worry, mother, I plan on having a few more paintings brought in. Then, it will feel like home, at last."
"But I know for a fact that you will have plenty of funds left over, what will you do with them?" Anne asked, since he would clearly not be swayed by any other idea.
"Give them out as extra alms, I suppose. You do that often enough, why waste money on me? Trust me, it is better this way. I appreciate all that you have done for me, mother, but this is the way it's going to have to be," Hal explained. He had thought long and hard about what he was going to do with the money, and to him, this made the most sense.
Anne didn't know what else to do, clearly Hal had thought this through very well and nothing she could say or do would change his mind. So after spending a few more hours with Hal, discussing his assignments and his classroom companions (or anything else he was willing to share with her these days) she headed straight down to Henry's rooms so they could have dinner together, as usual.
Henry didn't spend the night in her room as often anymore. She took comfort in that fact, because if they spent too many nights together he would be tempted to resume his marital rights, something neither of them were advised to do for another five months. Yet she wished that they could at least sleep in the same bed, but if Henry couldn't manage to keep to himself then she had supposed it was better off this way, even if in the middle of the night she longed for his arms around her body and when he wasn't there she felt sick from the loneliness.
But they were not a normal husband and wife, and deep in her heart, she knew that.
Once she arrived, her thoughts were halted by a brief kiss on the lips. "Sweetheart, how are you?" he asked kindly.
"I am well, it's just that I am concerned about Hal, again," she confided right away. She figured that waiting for it to be brought up would only make her more anxious about what she was going to ask him. Even though they seemed to be on better footing now, she wasn't sure how well requesting something would go. Henry was still the Duke of York and she was still just his wife; she had overstepped before and didn't want to upset him again, not when things were going so well! Nevertheless, she wanted to do what was best for her child, and was willing to take that risk for Hal.
"Did something go wrong with his household?" Henry asked, his thoughts running similarly to Anne's originally. He had no idea how he was going to manage Hal once he became King, it would be much more difficult to hide his status once he became the recognized bastard of the King of England, as opposed to the Duke of York. How much longer could he and Anne shield him from the cruelty of this world? He would replace his household as many times as necessary, but he knew once Hal was older and on his own things would be very difficult for him. It was something that weighed on him.
"No, thank God." She took a pause, unsure of the way to broach this. She didn't want to make Hal appear ungrateful, because she knew it was much more than that. Her son craved stability and security, and she knew only Henry could give it to him. "He did not utilize his funds. His rooms are very plain; he maybe used a quarter of what was allotted for him, if that. When I asked him what had happened, he said he didn't want to outshine our legitimate children." Anne felt tears sting her eyes at the thought of Hal sacrificing what was given to him because he thought it was proper. She never wanted her children to lack anything they wanted. She had plenty to give out for alms, so she knew Hal's generosity was kind but not entirely necessary.
Henry took Anne's hand into his own and kissed her lips from across the table, still touched by her love towards his bastard son. He felt a pang of guilt to what he had been doing a few hours ago, while she was meeting with Hal and Lisbeth, but he quickly suppressed that. "You are such a wonderful mother, sweetheart, for bringing this to me. But there is nothing neither you nor I can do. It is Hal's decision so we must respect that."
Hal's household staff wasn't as large as Lisbeth's, Henry knew that. He was given enough to decorate his room with as much splendor as Lisbeth, but the fact was that Lisbeth would be a marriage prospect for foreign nations. Her rooms had to appear royal, because she would be the future Princess of England. No nations would be courting marriage prospects for Hal, and Henry had to acknowledge that fact. Hiding it from his clever children would be difficult, but that was his goal. He was upset that Hal was already sabotaging that, but he didn't see what he could do.
"Yes, I understand that, but is there not something that you can do that will show him that he is loved? That although he may not be equal in status but that he will always be treated with the respect his blood demands of him?" Anne fiercely questioned. She was frustrated by Henry's nonchalance at this. Hal needed his father to step up and prove that he meant what he said. She knew Henry meant well, but action needed to be taken. Clearly Hal wouldn't be sedated by just their words anymore.
Henry stared at his wife with a mixture of shock at the fierceness of her tone, and admiration for her dedication. "He can start eating in the great hall for supper, up on the dais, with us. Everybody will know, then, how much we love him and that he is not to be insulted."
"You think it will help him too?" Anne asked, Hal's feelings being her primary concern. She could quell gossip, soothe Hal's worries about what others were saying, but if he truly felt in his heart that his father and his mother did not care for him as much as their other children, due to his parentage, well that was something Anne couldn't fix. Only Henry could.
"I think so, my love. He is the only one of our children old enough to do so, it will make him special, at least for a little while. Perhaps, by then, he will have grown out of it," Henry soothed, rubbing his wife's hand with his thumb. "Now, let's eat before the food goes cold, shall we?"
Anne nodded and smiled, happy that her husband shared her concerns, and tried very hard not to doubt his competence. She vowed to speak to Elizabeth and Katherine about it later, knowing that they would understand her more than Henry did when it came to her children.
"Arthur, darling, wake up its morning. You have a Privy Council meeting very soon," Katherine shook her husband awake, when that did not work, she slide her hand up his chest and kissed him deeply. His eyes fluttered open.
"What a lovely way to wake up, good morning," he weakly greeted her. "Boy," he called to his groom, "please alert the Privy Council that the meeting will be pushed back, so I may break my fast with my lovely wife. And dismiss the others, so we may be alone."
"Is that wise?" Katherine asked, half-teasing.
Arthur didn't answer her, just kissed her again and stood up to dress himself, since he had dismissed his servants, as it was a rare treat for him to be alone with Katherine in the morning. "I feel lightheaded, actually." He confessed as he stood up, and immediately sat down.
"Arthur, cancel the meeting," Katherine warned as she rubbed his shoulders. "You cannot be ill, ever." The fear was palpable in her tone. If Arthur got sick, she knew that was it. He wouldn't survive the rest of the year, and she would spend Christmas as a widow, under the reign of King Henry the eight. The thought made her shudder; she had not trained Anne yet to be the type of consort that she knew needed to be in place in order for Henry's kingship to be successful. She needed more time.
The sentimental woman inside of her also mourned the idea of losing her husband anytime soon. To her, he still seemed like that young prince that she fell in love with all of those years ago. But time had not been kind to Arthur, being King was difficult for him. His body rebelled against the stress of running his country, and recently he had been sleeping in much later, even though he was only 35 and was always an early riser until just a few months ago. His health had always been cause for concern in their marriage, but she didn't think it would shorten his life so much and so rapidly.
"I am not ill, I am just tired. Your snoring kept me awake," Arthur teased, kissing her lightly again and making a move to stand up, only to sit back down. "You should go in my place, love. I will stay here and rest."
"I will send somebody up with food and to tend to you. I will be back soon," Katherine explained. She usually relished opportunities to attend Privy Council meetings, which had become rarer after Mary's death, when she drew more into herself so Arthur would not leave her. When it became clear that he wasn't going to, she had felt her considerable influence had already slipped away from Arthur's advisors (aside from dear Chancellor More). They had never been comfortable with the Queen of England having so much influence over the affairs of the kingdom, and were probably relieved that she had stopped coming, which put them in an awkward position. She used to enjoy having a say, but today, all she felt was concern and she didn't want to leave Arthur.
But she was still the Queen and her lord had commanded her to do something, so she would never shrink from her duties. It was what her mother taught her to do, all of those years back, and she would never forget.
The meeting was short and brief, nothing remarkable. Martin Luther's call for reformation scared her, but she and Arthur had maintained a firm grip on any reports of heresy arising in England. Besides, she knew Thomas More was more than capable with dealing with any religious dissent in the country. But Katherine had bigger concerns than Luther's rebellion against the Holy Father and her church. Her husband's illness distracted her from any sort of involvement that a few years ago, she may have relished. When Arthur died, she wouldn't have the luxury of attending Privy Council meetings.
He had to live. Katherine couldn't imagine a world without him, not when he was still too young. She thought, since God had taken so much from her, that He would give her the blessing of letting Arthur and her grow old together. One small gift after a lifetime of losing so much. She told herself that no matter what, it was God's will, though the words rang hollow when she thought about Arthur leaving her now.
When she returned, nobody would let her into her own chambers. "Forgive me, your majesty, the King is ill. He requests that your majesty go to his chambers, for fear of contamination," a groom politely requested, standing firmly over the door.
Katherine remembered that when Old King Henry fell ill, his mother wept for hours outside of his bedchamber when she was denied entrance, bemoaning her loss to the dynasty. Katherine had never felt much for Margaret Beaufort aside from disgust, so she was surprised when she suddenly related to her. She felt her influence slip away and the image of young Henry being crowned flashed through her mind. She could lose it all.
But there was one thing Margaret Beaufort didn't have that she did: actual power. People respected her, and didn't just few her as a shadowy figure. She had made her presence known. She was reminded of the time, long ago now, when she was still the Princess of Wales. She had commanded to be admitted into Arthur's chambers when he had the sweating sickness. She did not back down then, and she certainly wasn't going to now, after everything they had been through.
"No. I am the Queen of England. You cannot bar me from my own rooms, unless I am under arrest," Katherine forcefully commanded. "Let me through." Her tone was calm, but threatening. The groom picked up on it and let her through.
She felt like she was a teenager again, but it wasn't the good feeling. She ran to his bedside, her dignity forgone. She couldn't believe that they were there, again. She knew that this day would come, but she hated it. Her stomach felt heavy, as though there was a heavy fruit pit had landed in her gut. Her voice caught.
"Arthur," she whispered, her tears already flowing at the sight of him bedridden, again. "You can't ever leave me," she fiercely commanded, kissing his ringed hand furiously. "In soul, in reality, in my heart, I am nothing without you."
Arthur smiled back at her, and wiped her tears. "My love, I am not dying. The physician says I will be fine, just to take it easy for a few days. You have nothing to fear, I just need to get more sleep and start letting me advisors take over more," Arthur explained. He hated seeing her so distressed, so he embellished a bit for his wife's sake. He hadn't been a healthy man for a long time and he knew it was only getting worse as he grew older. Linacre did mention that if he allowed his advisors to do more of the work he usually took upon himself, then the strain on his health would be less.
"I will go in your place as many times as you want me to," Katherine promised. Anything to make him healthy.
"I know, my fierce warrior queen. And I trust you more than I trust them," Arthur assured her. Of course he did, he still remembered their plans from years ago. Even though she hadn't been as active of a part in his government as she was in the old days, especially after Mary's death and Henry's realization as heir, he knew what she was raised to be. She was raised to be in every way his equal, and a lesser man would have hated a wife like her. But it was one of the things he loved about her, as long as she did not meddle too heavily with his family. The affairs of the kingdom were just as much hers as they were his. It was THEIR vision.
Katherine smiled broadly at the compliment, confident once again in his immense love for her. She suppressed the idea of losing him anytime soon. She would be more prevalent and take over more of his duties if that's what he wanted, with the assurance that he would be healthy. "You promise me that we have many more years together? You must swear to me now, on the grave of our daughter, that you will thrive for me. You have to. You have to survive."
Arthur took his hand and swore to her, hoping that it would be true. Yet, he made sure to arrange a meeting with Thomas More and explained that Henry would be joining the Privy Council soon. His heir had to be ready.
Two Weeks Later
Hal was honored to sit on the dais with his father, he really was.
At first, he enjoyed it. He felt special, since all of the other children were too young to eat in the Grand Hall. He loved how richly designed it was, how delicious all of the food was, and there was so much of it! There were also a lot of pretty ladies, and he of course at eight years old just began to understand the differing types of women at court. None, of course, shone as bright as his adopted mama, the Duchess of York, when she was in attendance.
However, everybody at court knew that his mother had to take more rest recently. Her body had never quite recovered after Lord William's birth and the Duke encouraged her to take rest as often as she needed. Hal was glad for it, knowing that his mama had been sick during her pregnancy. He loved his new baby brother, and he was glad everything was okay, although dinner was far jollier when she was around.
Recently, she had been attending less and less, and Hal began to notice things that were REALLY different when she wasn't around.
A different lady was around his papa, one of his mama's ladies-in-waiting. He remembered her from times when he had visited. She was blonde, shorter than some of the other women, with a meek face. However, his papa clearly favored her, and didn't want his mama to know. When his mama was around, he didn't think he'd ever see this other lady, this 'Mistress Seymour' as the court called her. When she was taking a nap, however, Mistress Seymour was constantly by his father's side. Nobody had seemed to take issue with this, but to Hal, this was distressing. To him, his mama was supposed to be the only man around his father like that. He didn't understand, and he felt like his mama wouldn't like this if she were there.
So when he was summoned to see his mama, he was going to be quiet about it. He didn't think his mama would mention it anyway, since she wanted to talk about his lessons and if there were any boys who he would like to be in his schoolroom with him.
However, his aunt Katherine, the Queen, was there. To his horror, their topic of conversation was the exact thing he wanted to avoid.
"Did you have Henry remove Mistress Seymour from your ladies?" Katherine asked his mama, as soon as he was walking in. Hal didn't want to be announced, he want to hear his mama's response, so he snuck into his mama's outer chamber, hoping he wouldn't be noticed.
"No. He has assured me that he is not going to continue his affairs, at all. I still have not found her a suitable husband, although I have a few to consider. But Elizabeth made Henry promise to stay faithful to me, and you know both of our husbands are with their mother," Anne explained, glad that she and Katherine were finally so familiar with each other. She had always dreamed of having a close relationship with her sister-in-laws, so after Mary died, she panicked that she would be alone once Elizabeth left this earth. However, Elizabeth thrived and Katherine had become close to her, and had helped her so much.
Hal was noticed as soon as Anne had finished her sentence, and one of Anne's ladies-in-waiting ushered him into her private chamber. "Your majesty, your grace," Hal stumbled two clumsy bows towards his aunt and mother, knowing that when the Queen was in attendance he couldn't be so informal. His governess and tutors had taught him otherwise. He had overheard rumors that the Queen disapproved of his presence there, but that was a while ago. Every time she came to visit, she was polite enough, but Hal couldn't help but notice that there was something always sad about the lady, especially as of late. He had heard the King was ill, but nothing else had changed lately around Hampton, so he assumed that he had recovered.
"Hal, darling, I am so happy you have come. I fear it has been far too long," Anne smiled, setting down her needlework and rushing to greet her son. It was hard not having him in the nursery anymore, and he had been so busy with lessons, that she did not see him or Lisbeth everyday like she used to be accustomed to. It was hard, but her children were growing up and she knew that she was luckier than most royal mothers. She had four healthy children who were living in the same palace as her.
"Anne, I am must head back to Whitehall. I shall give you and Lord Hal some privacy. Good day, my lord," Katherine acknowledged the little boy, noting how much he favored his father. If they had sent him away like she had wanted all those years ago, nobody would be able to deny that he was Henry's bastard. She knew that it had all worked out for the best, and she was happy that Arthur had denied her hysterical request. Hal was content with Anne and his family, even starting to accept his bastard status more, considering how well his parents treated him. At the thought of what almost happened she knelt done and gave the boy a kiss on the check, before hugging Anne and promising that she would see her soon.
"What is it that you needed to talk to me about, mother?" Hal asked, smiling sweetly at his mama.
"I just wanted to know if you were enjoying eating dinner with your papa, since I haven't been able to attend the past few nights," Anne began.
Hal paused, the fear on his face clear. Before Anne could speak, his words just spilled out, without him stopping, "I don't know who she is mama! I am sure they are just friends! I am sure papa loves you very much you are so perfect," Hal spurted, slapping his chubby hand over his mouth once he realized what he had said. He felt like a fool. He knew she hadn't even mentioned anything related to what he had sputtered out, but he knew that it was on her mind, after the Queen had talked to her about it. It seemed like she was prying for information, but now that he had said it, he knew he was mistaken.
Anne's heart sunk, but she kept a pleasant façade for the sake of her son. She knew exactly what he was talking about. She had suspected it for a few weeks, once Henry stopped coming to her bed at all at night. She told herself it was simply because he didn't want to be tempted by her when he was feeling randy during the night, that he was doing it for her safety. She knew that when men wanted to stay faithful to their wife but they had urges that they satisfied themselves… she had heard her brother do it while they were still at Hever Castle. She was not so naïve to the ways of men. She had never thought that Henry would ever break his promise to his mother.
He had been so good! Their family had been so perfect. He visited the children so much more than he did while she was pregnant with William, and ate at least once meal with her daily. She had foolishly thought that because Elizabeth had spoken to Henry about it, that he would stop seeing Jane. That she wouldn't have to send her away. She didn't want to deal with the Seymour family being upset with her or Henry, since she was aware that they needed allies and people at their court. She would hate to be known as a cruel mistress to her ladies, she didn't want people to stop sending their daughters to her or for her to gain a negative reputation.
They still couldn't sleep together. She knew, that if they could, that Jane wouldn't be around. She didn't want to accept it, it hurt too much, but what else could she do? She felt trapped, and even while she was pregnant with William, she didn't feel this helpless. No matter what she did or said, it would upset Henry. He would say that he was doing it for her, not for himself.
She should be happy that it wasn't like it was before, that he was more committed to her than he was before. There was no emotional adultery, or she thought. She couldn't see Henry making promises to her in the middle of the night. Jane was just his whore, nothing else was going on. She was in no danger of being set aside. So why did it hurt so much?
She had to say something. She mustered the courage to speak, even though it came out weakly, "Hal, don't trouble yourself with these problems. You just focus on your studies and on pleasing your father. That is all I want from you, son," Anne explained, kissing his forehead. She carried on a conversation for a few more minutes with him, asking him the things she had intended to, and then ushered him away without seeming too overeager. Hal was a fragile boy and it would just make her feel worse than she already did if she caused him any further pain.
He seemed contented enough, and once he left, Anne had time to think. Katherine was gone. She felt bad waking Elizabeth. She couldn't confide in any of her ladies, they would never understand. It wasn't the first time that she missed her sister, but it was the worst kind of hole. The only person she could reasonably consult was her brother, and she felt so alone that she had to, or else she would storm into Henry's room and rage against him, making things far worse.
George's rooms were a short walk from her rooms, and she felt so overwhelmed that she nearly ran. She could hear her ladies footsteps pattering behind her, frantically. She didn't even bother knocking, but in hindsight, she wished she had. It could have made this unpleasant night a little less so.
Mark Smeaton was on his way out of her brother's chambers, and seemed thrown by seeing her there, as if he had a right to be baffled by her presence! "Your grace," the musician charmingly stated, bowing slightly and looking rightly abashed.
Anne just let him go. There was no point in stopping him, the real problem was with her brother. Why on earth would he have a musician playing for him privately, at night? It was not yet late night, but it was late enough where visitors stopped being so frequent. It looked bad for the brother-in-law of the Duke of York to be entertaining men at such an hour. Questions would be asked. Assumptions would be made. Anne didn't need to deal with this at the moment, but it had to be done. She stifled a sigh at the thought of more issues in her life.
"Anne! What are you doing here?" George asked, looking completely shocked. He had enough grace to give her a hug and kiss, but he looked flustered.
"I wanted to come talk to you about my marriage, but now I see we have other things to discuss." Anne wasted no time. The sooner this was over, the better. She wanted comfort, but it seemed like she wasn't going to get that tonight. She cursed herself for feeling weak enough to come here. She should have just gone to see her daughter and went to bed, that would have made her feel better than this.
"I know it looks bad, but I just need the company. Jane is in the country, I just wanted to hear a little bit of music before I went to bed," George lied with a smile. His sister adored him, she had no reason to distrust him. But Anne was smart enough to put the pieces together. She had lived in France, where behavior like his was more commonplace. He just prayed to God that she would never, ever, suspect anything.
"You can't have him over so late anymore, regardless of the reason. It reflects poorly on our family. Do you know how many people already think that I am unworthy of the title Duchess of York?" Anne couldn't help her anger. She loved her brother but after what Mary had done behind her back, she felt herself growing more and more frustrated with her siblings.
"Anne, I am so sorry if I did anything to offend you. I will behave with more dignity from now on, that befits my royal status," George half-joked, yet Anne's face clearly revealed that she was charmed and relieved by his statement. George would have to be more careful from now on, something he was willing to do to keep Mark.
"Good. I am sorry to be so serious, it's been so long and here I am, barking orders at you," Anne giggled, feeling lighter already. "I need your help. I didn't know who else to go to. Henry has started to see Jane Seymour again…" she was cut off.
"You must do nothing. Father will dislike any sort of meddling in Henry's affairs," George quickly stated before she could continue. His father had already briefed him about what he was supposed to say to her if she came to him with this problem. He felt far sorrier for his sister than his father clearly did, but there was nothing he could do. It was for the best interests of the whole Boleyn family if she didn't upset Henry in any way, and just focused on raising her children and grooming them on royal protocol.
"How can I do nothing?" It came out so fast, but she knew it was true. The idea of allowing her husband to carry on an affair seemed impossible. Her silence would be like her consent. Katherine would never have allowed Arthur to act this way, wasn't she supposed to be learning how to be the future Queen of England?
"Be a good mother to your children. Be a good wife to Henry. Your ban will be over soon and you can marry Jane away to a man with no ambition, but with some sort of title. Everybody wins. You must know this is how it works, Anne?" George tenderly stated, happy that he was the one to break this difficult advice to her. He rubbed her check and kissed her forehead. "Be of good cheer. You have given birth to a son, Edward, who will be the King of England. The future is yours. You just must endure this difficultly, and everything will be perfect."
Anne forced a smile, knowing she would never receive what she wanted to hear from her brother. She would tell him what he, and everybody else she knew, wanted to hear. "Of course. We are on the edge of a golden world," Anne happily crowed, almost believing herself.
On the walk back, she contained her tears. She sent somebody to summon Henry to her bed, so he may hold her. She wasn't going to even mention this whole sordid business with him. Her lady came back with regrets, saying that the grooms had turned her away because 'his grace was already asleep.' She spent the whole night crying. In the morning, she put on a smile and ate breakfast with her whole entire family, including her husband. She promptly vomited it as soon as everybody had left.
They were on the edge of an abyss, but it wasn't golden.
I literally feel like I have been writing this chapter forever. It is now 3:37 AM in Michigan and here it is. I hope everybody enjoyed it, and I do promise that the next one will not take ten months to get to you guys! In the meantime, please review :) Until next time…