First of all, I am so sorry about how long it has taken me to update, what with university, work and other things, time just got the better of me. Secondly, I know I promised a wedding, but I'm afraid that won't be happening till next chapter-please forgive me. Thirdly, I'm afraid this chapter is rather long.
Big thank you to everyone who reviewed and to everyone who is reading this story. Also a massive thank you to TudorGirl910489, for all your help, ideas and for being this stories biggest fan and a super massive thank you to Vain X Life Poetess- thank you so much for all your help, ideas and for reading through this chapter-I am eternally grateful for your help and support.
Quick note-the pageants used in this chapter are based on the ones, which greeted Henry VII on his Royal Progress in 1486.
Hope you enjoy.
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae,
ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
Henry's voice trembled as his lips hissed his prayer to the Holy Mother. His tightly clasped hands too, were shaking slightly as the King of England, asked the only woman, besides his mother, who had stood by him through all his troubles, for comfort.
He had first prayed to her when he was a little boy, frightened and alone as his beloved uncle in exile and his poor mother told once again that she could not keep him. But the Blessed Virgin had heard his young cries and she granted him a good life with the Herberts. She had listened to his whispers again, when he had been lying on that buck on a ship bound for Brittany, for several years later, she had guided him back to this country and to the loving arms of his mother and later to victory on the field of Bosworth. Once again he had felt her presence at Stoke, then again at Blackheath, but his pleas for the life of Elizabeth had gone unnoticed.
Outside he could hear the court getting ready to leave and soon they would be waiting for him, so they could be on the final stage of their journey, but they would have to wait. Wait for their King to finish prayers, to regain his thoughts, to regain his strength and to regain his conviction.
As he repeated his prayer, Henry thought, as he notice how unsteady his clasped hands were, that he had not been this terrified since that long ago August morning.
Perhaps it was his age. He was no longer the young King, on the eve of founding a great dynasty, for now he was almost battle weary, with family that had suffered many blows over the past few years-and soon they would lose another member. By the end of this progress, he would have lost his oldest daughter to Scotland and it would simply be him, Harry and Mary trying to hold the future of England together.
Only it would not simply be the three of them, or even four with the inclusion of his mother, but five, for soon Catalina de Aragon would be his wife...and this was the thing, which caused Henry's heart to almost collapse in fear.
He cursed himself for being so foolish, for he was no longer a lovesick boy, but a full grown man with children to protect, yet he could not stop himself from acting like one. Only a few months ago, he had thought his mind black and unable to be moved by anything or anyone again, but now, every time he laid eyes or even thought about his young bride, he felt his once black heart leap with joy. And yet he could not stop obsessing of all that could go wrong.
Since they had left London, every morning Henry had watched her as she paced the floor of their lodgings, faint lines knitted on her forehead as she was once again informed that there was no news of the dispensation from Rome. He enjoyed watching her as she scowled in annoyance and he liked to tease her, seeing her cheeks turn red in frustration, only for her to reminded him that he wished to marry her, just as much as she him . Then his mind would fear that the Pope had not agreed to the dispensation or that blasted woman in Spain had once again blocked the appeal, because she still deemed him unfit for a son-in-law.
Then another thought would strike him, that filled him with just as much dread. What if it went wrong once they married? What if Catalina got with child, only to die in the process of trying to give it life? And what if their child died too- where would he be then? Henry knew his heart and soul could not take another grief and he was sure that if God took her also, he could not find the strength to once again rebuild his life.
But what if she lived and they had many years together, only for her to grow frustrated with him once the age difference became too much. What then, if she went to another for love? Some young courtier, who could give her all the satisfaction in the marriage bed, that the King could no longer give her? Where would he be then?
Ave, maris stella,
Dei mater alma,
atque semper virgo,
felix cœli porta.
Sumens illud Ave
funda nos in pace,
mutans Evæ nomen.
Solve vincla reis,
profer lumen cæcis,
mala nostra pelle,
bona cuncta posce.
Monstra te esse matrem,
sumat per te precem
qui pro nobis natus
tulit esse tuus.
As Henry continued to prayer, he looked up at the statue of the Virgin, with her arms stretched out in the guise of Mary Misericordiae. He hoped she was listening to him, the way she had done, not just on lonely hours before a defining battle, but on those times, when he was boy unable to sleep for night terrors.
He did not want miracles, but he longed for protection and strength, for if they all found the strength, there was still a chance they would all find happiness.
'Doctor de Puebla,' shouted Henry, as he hurried from the small chapel down the hall of the manor house, 'unless you bring good news, I don't want you in my sight!'
'Your Highness,' replied the Spanish ambassador, trying desperately to fall into step with the English King, only his short legs made it near impossible and he found he had no choice but to run, 'I am glad to say that I bring very good tidings!'
Henry stopped, causing de Puebla to almost tumble into him. Despite his bluntness with him, Henry rather enjoyed his dealings with the representative of Isabella and Ferdinand. He was not like the others from royal courtiers, he was like Henry-an outsider, in a world that did not fully want them. And because of this, it was easy to contract deals as though they were business negotiations-which is what they truly were to Henry, as opposed to some sacred deal of majesty.
'Well,' said Henry, turning to face Doctor de Puebla, 'lets hear it,'
'Yes, Your Highness,' answered the Ambassador, clearing is throat, 'it seems our friend Dona Elvira has been dismissed from the Spanish court,'
'Really,' smiled Henry, crossing his arms as he lent against the wall panel-this was entertaining news, as well as good, 'so Their Majesties have finally seen sense over that sour face heifer,'
Doctor de Puebla laughed, as he too had had the same though over the Princess' former duenna, who he despised with a passion stronger than the King's.
'It seems her gracious Majesty, Queen Isabella became aware of certain untruths uttered to her by our friend Elvira, Your Highness and was so disguised, she instantly dismissed her,'
'As glad as I am to hear it,' interpreted Henry, knowing that de Puebla would not have travelled this far north of his cosy London home, just to share the news of this woman's downfall, 'I doubt you have travelled all this way to Yorkshire, just to gossip with me. Unless of course, your Queen has seen the error of her ways regarding the other matter,'
'Yes, the other matter,' answered the ambassador, 'both Their Majesties are the most kind and loving parents one could ever meet, always wanting what is best for their children. They are also two people, who full understand the importance of kingship, of destiny, of...'
'Do you have the dispensation?' sighed Henry with frustration. When Catalina spoke of destiny and God's plan, Henry felt a chill run down his spin, but with Doctor de Puebla, he just felt bored.
'Yes, Your Highness,' answered de Puebla, as he produced and then handed over the sealed document, which Henry snatched, like an impatient child during Christmastide, before breaking the wax with excitement in his eyes.
'You're right,' he laughed, as he eyes scanned every word, 'this is good news. Very good news indeed,'
Doctor de Puebla sighed heavily with relief as he saw the lights in the King's eyes. Out of all the marriages he had witnessed in his life and all the ones he would attend in the future, this would be the one he would be the most happy to see completed. For finally it meant no longer having to face the wrath of the King, nor the regal yet fiery temper of the Infanta. It was as though, God was wanting him to work that extra bit harder for his place in Heaven. Hopefully, once the union had been complete, the pair would find a way to cool each other's blood and de Puebla could go back to having some peace. With that though in mind, de Puebla started to laugh for the first time in many months.
'Now,' said Henry, continuing on his march towards the door, 'are you going to accompany me to York, Doctor de Puebla or are you just going to just stand there laughing at your own private joke!'
'What is York like?' whispered Catalina, as walls of the ancient city of the North came into sight. To the foreign Princess, the city caused her to feel it must contain much dread, as she had always heard its name spoken in conjunction with the evil hunchback.
'It is,' smiled Henry, pulling his horse into a trot beside her's, 'one of the most beautiful cities you will ever see,'
'But do they not…' started the Princess, jumping slightly as she felt the King lean over and take hold of her right hand. Despite everything that had passed between them, her and Henry had restricted all clear signs of intimacy between them, to when they were by themselves or around a certain few.
'You aren't frightened, are you Princess,' teased Henry, leaning in so he could whisper in her ear, 'for you have no need to fear, not any more. They like us here now and do you wish to know a secret?'
Catalina nodded her head as Henry leaned further in, causing her to shiver slightly as she felt his warm breath tickle her ear.
'The secret to winning the heart of the North is simply to subvert the Scots. Stop those from the Highlands raiding, raping and pilfering and you will make them loyal to you forever,' whispered Henry as he signalled for both their horses to come to a halt, 'besides, if they wanted to hurt anyone, it would be me, not you, for the English love their beautiful queens too much lay a finger on them,'
'Yes, but I am not queen yet,'
'But you soon will be,' the King replied, as he leant in and kissed her gently on the lips.
As the King publically acknowledge his love for the Spanish princess, those around them, looked away, trying to suppress their gasps as they did or in the cause of Harry, trying to stop the bile collecting his stomach from tumbling out of his mouth and onto his best doublet.
'Poor mother,' he hissed to himself, as his eyes glared at his father, who continued to kiss the much younger Princess. It made young Harry bitter to see his father with the woman, he considered himself to be in love with. It ate away at him as he thought on the sinful things his father wanted and would soon do to that innocent maiden. It also hurt him, that he was not of an age, where he could stop this nonsense. All he could do, was stand there and watch as his father did as he always did, taking what he wanted without a though for anyone else. He had already cause his mother great hurt and her death, by forcing her to once again get with child and he would probably do the same with Catalina, if not killing her in childbed, making her unhappy for entirety-something Harry would never do, 'poor Catalina'
'So it seems the rumours are true,' said Lord Strange, keeping a careful eye on his step-brother and the Infanta, as they exchange little smiles, before once again starting on their journey towards the city, 'our brother does have some warm blood running through his veins after all,'
'You leave them both be, George,' answered Thomas sharply, as he indicated for his horse to move on, 'I am warning you just to leave everything be,'
Henry was right, the people of York did lay on a welcome, with such a spectacle that Catalina thought she had step back in time to her wedding day to Arthur. Before they had even entered the city, they were met at the gates by a pageant, celebrating Ebraucus, the ancient King of the Britons and the founder of York, who welcomed another great king to his fair city.
After the first impressive welcome, it was followed by display of ships on the River Ouse, which echoed Henry's return for exile, when he and his followers had arrived at Milford Haven. Trying to stop her mouth from falling open, Catalina swore that she had never seen so many boats and ships at once, for despite this bright day, there was not an inch of blue river for the sun to shine off of.
'I don't remember being that well supported, when we landed,' whispered Henry, as both he and Catalina watched from the bridge, 'well, as long as they now see me as the bringer of light into the wretched darkness, what else matters,'
They moved on to street, which Henry informed her was named Quonyenx and there she could not help but laugh in happiness. All the buildings were draped in tapestries of such wealth and decorated with very beautiful design, that she found herself longing to return to this city as Queen, just so she could see the pomegranate displayed alongside the hundreds of embroided Tudor roses. However, it was not just this fine display of wealth that moved her, it was the ordinary people themselves.
They cheered them all, herself included along with Harry and the Princesses, as they showered the Royal procession with so many wafers and sweetmeats, that God might have mistook the confetti for rain as he looked down on them. But the biggest roars from the crowd came for the man, who had defeated this city's hero almost eighteen years ago that very day.
They all cried, 'long live King Henry!' especially as Henry nodded his approval with a wide smile at another pageant in which the Holy Mother beseeched her son to once again bless this city, despite their past foolishness.
'They seem to like you, Your Highness,' smiled Catalina, wondering if Henry would be able to hear her over the roar of the crowd.
'Not bad for someone who is rude and arrogant, is it Princess,' replied Henry, as they stopped by the final pageant, 'besides they know that if they are nice to me, I will be nice to them,'
Soon the mighty spectacle of York Minister came into sight and Catalina felt every inch of her skin become covered in goose bumps as she gazed at the building, which was more beautiful than St Pauls and Westminster Abbey combined. The ancient stone seemed to ooze the early faith of their forefathers, who were all willing to die, rather than return to the days of paganism, causing Catalina to find she had tears welling in her eyes.
'It is one of the most beautiful buildings in my kingdom,' said Henry, reading Catalina thoughts, hoping it covered his own, which entertained the notion, that the Minister was not as beautiful as the cathedral in Rennes.
Climbing down from his horse, Henry took a deep breath as he walked over to where the Princess' horse had come to halt and gave the signal that he would help the young woman down. Despite his earlier nerves, he brushed them from his mind, as after all she would soon be his wife and what better place for their betrothal to be official, than the city whose loyalty he needed the most, 'but perhaps not as beautiful as the Princess, who will be their new Queen on 1st September,'
Blushing slightly, Catalina slide off her horse and into Henry's arms, holding on to him for a few more seconds as he kissed her on the forehead to the roar of the crowd.
'We have the dispensation,' whispered Henry, before he lead her to the steps of the cathedral-ignoring the looks of distain, which passed between the waiting clergy.
Inside the Minister, those with the Royal party and the influential members of city, watched as the King and his family gave thanks at the shrine of St William, before the Archbishop showed them around the most beautiful cathedral in England's possession. Henry had been there several times before, but it did not stop him joining the others as they walked around the most holy of buildings, especially as he noticed how enthralled Catalina was.
'Do you remember King Richard?' said Lord Strange, coming to stand beside Thomas, 'oh sorry, I mean the Evil Pretender?'
With a grim expression , Thomas turned to look at his older brother, trying to suppress the urge to raise to his bait. They had never got on, even as children they were always fighting, George taunting his brother with the fact that he was the oldest, therefore the most important, whilst Thomas was just the spare. And it always worked, for Thomas would then launch himself at his brother, causing their nurse to come charging into the nursery, punishing Thomas with a red backside and comforting George with bread and jam. Nothing had changed as they had grown into men, expect Thomas realised that he must fight the urge to use his fists on George.
'And you must know that to speak thus, could have you ending up the same way as Uncle,' replied Thomas with a curled lip, 'with your head on the executioner's block!'
'Oh my dear brother, you mistake my meaning,' laughed George, merrily as he slapped his brother on the back, 'I mean no harm to our dear brother, I am just remarking that the last time I saw looks like that was back in the days of the hunchback, when our departed Queen came to his court as a sweet and beautiful, young woman,'
Thomas said nothing, but looked away from his brother to Henry , who had an arm around the Infanta's shoulders, as they both listened to the Archbishop tell them the story of St William and the miracle of the bridge of York. There was no denying that they both seemed interested in the holy man's words, especially Catalina, but Thomas just looked at step-brother's face as he pointed out the image in the stained glass to his bride. The King's face was brighter than it had been in a long time, though there was more to it then Henry learning to smile again.
He seemed calmer now when around others and his moods were lighter-well as light as they could be with Henry-as was the paranoia and nightmares. Those black eyes were lighter too, as were the lines on his forehead, which Thomas had at one point though permanent, when Henry was with the Princess. Elizabeth had had the same effect, but with her it had been different. It had always taken sweet words from Elizabeth to rid Henry's face of torment, however all the young Princess had to do was walk into the room and smile.
'Perhaps,' smiled Thomas, as he watched Catalina says something to Henry, causing him to laugh, 'she is truly is his reward for winning Bosworth,'
Thomas Savage, Archbishop of York was a troubled man, who seemed to have aged ten years since he received the King and his family into his home at Bishopthrope; and in between the period of welcoming them and being asked to meet the King in private, he swore that his hair had started to tumble out.
It was not as if Savage disliked the King or the King him for that matter. In fact, Savage, like many others, had prospered under this new dynasty, serving as Bishop of Rochester and London, before being transferred to York. He had even wed the King's poor, oldest son to the beautiful daughter of Spain on that glorious day, which seemed now to belong to another lifetime. But that day, which had been the most glorious of Savage's life, was now the source of his pain.
News was slow to meet them in the North sometimes, but he had heard many rumours from the merchants arriving back from London, which stated that the King wished to marry his former daughter-in-law. He had not believed them at first, for it seemed almost incomprehensible that the King would entertain such impure thoughts, especially given the little time between them both losing their respected partners and now. But as the rumours continued, he found he could no longer put them down to Yorkist mischief and believed that even the most scandalous whispers must have some truth behind them, which had caused him great trouble- trouble which had only increased in recent days. For he had received letters from various members of England's clergy, begging with him to speak with the King on this matter, thought Savage had thought at first he could ignore their pleas. After all, why did they not appeal to the King themselves? But after what he had witnessed, along with most of York, pass between the King and his former daughter-in-law, he knew he could no longer hold his tongue.
'Your Grace,' smiled Henry, as Savage entered the chamber in almost a shuffle, before giving a quick bow, during which he cursed himself for shaking so much, 'I trust you are well,'
'Yes, very Your Highness,' replied Savage, his voice trembling slightly as he sat down in the chair the King indicated for him to take, 'I am in the best of health,'
'Then you might try and look like it!,' Henry laughed, as he too took a seat, 'for God sake man, you look like you have the plague!'
Savage tried to muster a smile, but he found it extremely difficult and instead let his discomfort, revealed itself all to clearly on his face-causing his monarch's laughs to alter back to his usual sober mood.
'Unless there is something else which troubles you,' said Henry gravelly, leaning forward and pursing his thin lips into a whisper, 'for if something else is troubling you, then I think I have every right to know, don't you?'
'Yes!' squeaked the Archbishop of York, almost jumping out of seat with fear before composing himself, 'sorry, yes Your Highness, but you have nothing to fear, for it is my belief that there is not a man, woman or child in this great realm, let alone this great city, who would wish you any harm, Your Highness,'
'Good,' returned Henry, sitting back in his chair and allowing his trouble free state to once again enter his mind, 'good. Now Your Grace, I have a task for you,'
'Yes, Your Highness,' answered Savage, as he prayed that it was not the one thing he was dreading- for a friend had told him that he had heard rumours that the dispensation had arrived from Rome, declaring the King free to marry his son's wife.
'On the 1st September, I want you to perform a marriage…'
'Of Princess Margaret to the King of Scotland,' he gasped, breaking all rules of decorum, 'but I thought that the marriage was to take place in Edinburgh?'
'It is,' replied Henry slowly, trying to get Savage to follow his words, 'but I want you to perform at different one. One for me and the Dowager Princess of Wales,'
'To each other?'
'That is what marriage usually means,' said Henry, his voice going cold as he was no fool, he knew what others had been saying and he knew his spies had evidence that many were not so supportive of this marriage as Pope Alexander VI had been, before God called the descent of St Peter to him, 'unless of course you can find a reason not to,'
'I…I…I,' stuttered Savage, shifting uncomfortably in his seat and longing for the good Lord to take him as he felt the weight of Henry's cold eyes on him, 'I…I…I…'
'I…I…I, isn't really an argument,' interrupted Henry, in a voice that showed no emotion, 'tell me what troubles you, Your Grace. I have let you rise, which means I trust you and I trust you to always tell me the truth,'
'Incest!' croaked Savage, unable to take any more of Henry's penetrating gaze, 'sorry, You Highness, what I mean is, is that you are asking me to perform the impossible,'
'Yes,' continued Savage, knowing there was no going back now he had let the words slip from his mouth, even though he was aware that all he had worked for, could soon be taken away from him, 'the Dowager Princess is your daughter-in-law, her affinity with Your Highness is very strong-maybe too strong,'
'Don't you think I know that,' muttered Henry, getting to his feet. Despite the weakness this Princess brought to him and his determination to make her his, he was not immune to the doubles of others, for secretly they had plagued his mind too, 'yet the Pope doesn't share your belief,'
Savage watched as the King walked away from where they had been sat, the heels of his riding boots clicking on the wooden floor, before he came to rest by the window. For a moment, the Archbishop reflected about how the King always seemed dressed as if he would have to leave at a moment's notice. Perhaps he was, after all he had not held the throne for almost twenty years without a certain amount of fight, but Savage also thought that the King had not reacted the way he had feared. He had expected to be torn to shreds, yet the King seems to be more disheartened than angry.
'But surely Your Highness can see that it places me in rather difficult position,' continued Savage, shifting in his chair, so that he could face the King, only Henry remained with his back to him, 'I married your son to the Dowager Princess, you must see, that regardless of what the Holy Father says, Your Highness is still asking me to perform something which is extremely difficult,'
'Don't you think I know that,' Henry said, still in a low mutter as he let his eyes stare out of the window, 'don't you remember I was there,'
It had been a glorious day and stood there, Henry could still hear the roar of the crowds as Arthur and Catalina became man and wife. He remembered smiling at Elizabeth, as they both watched with pride, whilst thinking that the English loved a wedding-and that was all that had happened. He had had no thought of wanting the bride for himself, but now she was all he wanted.
By the gates of the house, he watched as Catalina and Mary helped some of the Archbishop's servants distribute alms and food to the poor. Despite the distance between them, Henry could hear the warm voice of his young bride, as she comforted the poor of this great city with coins, food and reassurances that they would one day find eternal salvation. Letting his eyes focus more intently on her, forgetting briefly that he was in the middle of a conversation, he reflected upon not her beauty, but things that were hidden from the outside world. Perhaps if it had been a case of simply lusting after her young body, he would listen to those who criticized, for he too had suffered doubts about marrying the woman, he had first brought to his kingdom for the sole purpose of giving him a grandson.
'Da garout a ran, Harri,'
Henry heard a voice echo through the years and take possession of his mind. Suddenly, he was no longer in Bishopthrope, York but sat on a tree stump on the rugged coast of Brittany, looking out at the deep, blue sea. He no longer saw the Infanta either, but another young woman, with a different appearance of dark eyes and hair, which were both as dark as the night and a stomach that was starting to grow with their child.
'Katarin, I love you too,' he said, leaning forward to place a hand on her belly, 'but...'
'But you have to leave,' she whispered, trying not to cry as she moved away from his clasp, 'leave me and leave our baby. Leave us and marry someone else and get children off of her, forgetting that you already have a family here!'
Harri...Henry had felt his heart almost collapse with grief as he heard her words. He did not want to leave her or their unborn child, in fact, if he had the strength and conviction, he would have argued that the cause of Lancaster had died at Tewkesbury and that his place was here with Katarin and the family they wanted. But no matter how much he loved her, he knew he could not abandoned the destiny that he had been born to follow. His mother and uncle had dedicated every moment of their life to protecting him, to making sure nothing prevented them from delivering their boy to the throne of England and he could not betray them. His mother had scarified any chance she had at happiness for him, whilst uncle Jasper looked constantly torn, when he saw his nephew with the kitchen girl, who he had encouraged him to purse, he knew, he could not give his nephew what his heart wanted.
'Come with me!' Henry pleaded, throwing his arms around her and pulling her gently to him, 'come to England,'
'To have your mother put me straight back on a ship bound for home,' Katarin laughed sadly as she ran a figure down Henry's cold cheek, 'no, I can't have that. Besides Harri, what would your new wife say, if you brought with you a kitchen girl and the child you have together,'
Henry did not know how to reply, for he could not fault her logic. He could only imagine the pain and strain it would cause his poor mother, if he forsook the crown of England, for a life in nice house in Brittany. It would destroy her and he could not face inflicting that on her, but nor could he impose that suffering on Katarin.
'It won't be forever,' he whispered to her, as he placed a hand on top of the tightening fabric of Katarin's plain dress, 'then I swear as soon as the day comes when it is over and I am free, I'll come back to you and we'll be a family,'
But he had not comeback for them. In fact, Henry had no idea where his first love and child now where. Maybe he should try to find them, after all he possessed the power and money to do so, but maybe it was best to simply leave them be? After all, what good would it do, to bring the long lost past to the present, especially as Jasper had found Katarin a good husband-it would be unfair to ruin the family she now had, not to mention Henry's.
Leaving Katarin back on the cliffs of Brittany, Henry came back to the present and turned his attention back to the man, who he wanted to perform his wedding ceremony. He had already lost one love and he was not about to lose another, especially as he could sense that Catalina and England's destiny was intertwined with what his heart wanted.
'Casting aside whatever rumours you have heard,' said Henry, once again pacing the room, but his eyes did not leave the nervous archbishop, 'do you not think it would be practical for me to remarry?'
'Well,' replied Savage carefully as he recognised the calculating tone in his King's voice, 'of course, but I just think that it would be better if you married a foreign princess, who was not so closely related...'
'Of course there are plenty of princesses out there,' continued Henry, the heels of his boots clicking on the floor, hiding his thoughts that there was only one princess he truly wanted, 'but you know how long drawn out those blasted negotiations can be. It could take us almost two years just to arrange a day, which might not even be in that year. If I was young, maybe that would be alright, but time isn't on my side and I need a wife. I need more heirs,'
Savage closed his eyes, crunching the lids together as he heard the King's heavy footsteps come up to his chair. He knew the warning signs that the King was about to pounce and after eighteen years of holding on to power, sometimes by the skin of his teeth, Savage knew that Henry was now adapt to achieving his own aims.
'And one dreads to think what could happen if God forbid something was to happen to me and with the Prince of Wales not yet at an age or ready enough to take the crown. I mean, anything could happen,' Henry hissed as he came to rest beside Savage's chair and leaning forward he placed a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back so he could whisper in his, 'I mean not just what could happen to my family if my enemies triumphed, but all those who have risen with me. I doubt those who wear white roses will be so forgiving to those who kept their enemies in power. After all, remember what they did at Tewkesbury. Poor Prince Edward slain as he pleaded for his life and the other poor souls, dragged out sanctuary and butchered before they had a chance make their last confession. It would be such a horrible waste of life and my hard work, don't you think, if it happened again?'
Savage could not fault Henry's logic, it made perfect sense. The new Tudor dynasty was hanging by a thread since tragedy had first visited them that terrible April last year, but it did not stop the nagging doubts that what the King was proposing was wrong.
'I hear you are building a chantry chapel,' said Henry, moving causally away and coming to sit back in his chair, 'it would be shame for it to remain unfinished. A great shame indeed,'
'So,' sighed Savage, realising he had been beaten, 'You Highness would like the 1st?'
'Yes. The Dowager Princess of Wales has her heart set on it,' replied Henry, waving his hand to dismiss his Archbishop, 'now you may go, as you have wedding to plan,'
Regardless of what people thought of him, Henry did not particularly like being so manipulative and cruel, but life had taught him, that sometimes one had to be that way to survive. He would not have kept the throne for so long, if he had carried on the Lancastrian tradition of weak and ineffective government-he would now be as dead as Henry VI, if he had and not planning his wedding day. But it was his wedding day that slightly unnerved him.
He knew what the people thought, for it was reflected back in the uneasy looks of Savage. Even with the Papal dispensation, there were those who would still see it as wrong and possibly that Catalina had no say in the matter. After all, she was a foreign princess, widowed and alone on these unfamiliar shores, looking to her former father-in-law for protection…a father-in-law, who in turn had used her weakness to his political and lustful advantage.
It should not bother him, for he did enjoy being thought of as a powerful King, but it troubled his heart that the people would think he abused the memory of his son, for the sake of some nights spent between warm, young thighs. Had God not taken both his son and wife, he would never have let his eyes fall on the exotic foreign Princess and instead he would have continued to see her as his new daughter, celebrating with the rest of the family, every time she gave him another grandchild.
'Your Highness,' called Catalina gently, as she tiptoed into the quiet chamber, 'Henry?'
'Mmmm,' answered Henry, coming out of his thoughts and smiling as he saw her hovering around the door, 'sorry,'
'You are not worrying about things you have no need too,' said Catalina, walking over to where Henry sat by the window and perching beside him, 'I have never seen so many happy people,'
'They put on a good show,' replied Henry, putting an arm around her shoulder, pulling her to him slightly, 'I was just thinking about Margaret,'
It was a lie but only slightly, Henry reflected to himself. After all he was a father, sending his daughter to a foreign country, where he was trusting others to care for her. He knew that King James had mistresses and bastards, therefore he was unlikely to make the most loyal of husbands. All Henry could do was hope and prayer, that she would find someone who would care and protect her once she crossed the border-but not someone who would take advantage and abuse her trust.
'God will protect her,' smiled Catalina, leaning back onto Henry and putting an arm across him, 'we are both exiles but we survive and she will too. Shall we go for a walk?'
'I thought that today was a success,' said Catalina, taking a few steps ahead of Henry as she tread light across the grass. The sky was starting to darken and the sun was starting to set, with bright reds and oranges lighting the Yorkshire landscape for one last show of colour before blackness of night, but whilst, Catalina's ladies hated the English evenings, she herself was growing to love them. She had always believed that the further north you went, the worse the weather, but approaching the great northern city of York, Catalina had found the air surprisingly hot. As the days turned into night, the air around her seemed to carry a warm wave, which caused her body to tingle and her mind to drift to Granada, 'they were all so kind and you are right, there was no need to fear,'
'They know how to put on a good show,' sighed Henry heavily, as he scuffed the ground with the hard leather of his ridding boots, 'but good shows are just appearances, behind closed...'
'Don't,' interrupted Catalina, in her rich Spanish accent, as she turned round to face the King, her skirts flowing around her as the soon-to-be Queen, pointed a finger at her future husband, 'don't say...'
'Don't say what, Princess?' grinned Henry as he caught hold of her hand and pulled her to him, 'that behind closed doors, things are very different? You know it to be true,'
'As long as the whole of Christendom see who is King, then what does a few disgruntled minds matter,' continued the daughter of Isabella, still with a fiery passion in her voice as she felt Henry's thumb stroke her knuckles, 'you are King!'
Breaking his grin into a laugh, Henry pulled her closer to him, so that only their linked hands were all that stood between them. In the reds of the sky, he could see the passion behind the cold blue of her eyes, whilst her long auburn hair seemed to be ablaze with every colour of red as her erotic words dripped from her mouth. She looked even more alluring now, than what she had done this morning when he had lifted her off of her horse. Then she had seemed a mere sweet woman, relieved that her marriage was now blessed by his Holiness, but now, in the evening, she was alive with zeal that caused Henry to suppress his almost boiling desire.
'Yes, Princess,' he sighed, biting on his lip as he let his hand rest near her breasts, his knuckles stroking on the dragon broach, pinned as it always was, just below the gold trimming on her neckline, 'I suppose you are right,'
'I am,' she replied, briefly looking up at Henry with confidence, before shyly looking away, though a smile crept on to her face as she felt Henry's other arm around her waist, 'when I am your wife, you will have to cease calling me Princess,'
'Will I? But you suit the title so well, Princess,' Henry whispered, as he inched his lips closer to hers, wanting to do something, which he had been longing to do since this morning, though as he caught hold of those red lips, Catalina pulled away, 'Princess?'
'No, Queen!' she cried, pushing herself forward, almost crushing her's and Henry's hands between their bodies, but as she did, Henry's thumb, which had been stroking her valuable broach, caught the curve of her left breast. It was the lightest of touches, yet it caused something in her to become alive, 'and I will be a great Queen of England. I will make sure, this realm is safe for all times and I will give you a son. No, I will give you a whole nursery full of heirs!'
'Oh, I have no doubt you will,' grinned Henry, as he leaned forward and kissed her on cheek, 'Princess,'
'I'm King,' continued Henry, letting go of Catalina's hand, before walking away, laughing a little at the frustration on her pretty face as he did, 'I decide on who is what around here and I think you are rather charming as a Dowager Princess of Wales. The people seem to love you as her and I seem to love you as her,'
'And when I am Queen, they will love me more and they will love you, especially when I give you the heirs to secure your crown and when they see that I am a Queen who will fight for them,'
'And you can't do that as Princess?'
'I cannot be your wife, if I am but a Princess!' Catalina continued with her bottom lip stuck out in determination, as she stormed after Henry, grabbing hold of his hand and using all her strength to force him to turn. She was certain it was her strength, that got Henry to return to her, for she could feel the fever in her blood. Perhaps it was the late evening heat, which caused her to forget the lessons her mother taught her, for she found herself pushing her body up on to tiptoes, giving her the height needed to whisper in the King's ear, 'and if I am not your wife, then I cannot produce a nursery full of heirs,'
As Henry heard the exotic whisper trickle words into his ear, he allowed himself a brief moment to let the fantasies, which he had been trying to suppress, dance before those supposedly dead eyes. She was not like the other women he had met on the many journeys his life had sent him on, for she had no idea how alluring she really was. Whereas other women would use their sex to advance their cause, this young woman had no notion, that what was to her, simply the strong behaviour that God had given her, could awaken every desire in him. For a brief moment, he pictured their wedding night, with Catalina's firm body lying beneath and then top of him, his hands caressing her warm curves as she red lips moaned in that mysterious accent of hers, as he entered her.
'Well then,' he muttered, his eyes on her lips as he scooped her up around the waist, pulling her against a tree. For a moment, he just continued to study Catalina's bright red lips, until he heard her breathing become heavy and fast, then he placed his lips on top of hers as he felt her arms around his neck, 'Queen it is,'
'Eh!' moaned Harry, as he spied his father kissing his soon be his stepmother, 'how can she bear to have him touch her? '
'She does not seem to mind,' replied Margaret, in a voice, which showed little emotions as she came to stand by her brother's side. She had been warned by both her father and grandmother to behave herself on what could well be her last Royal Progress in England. Her grandmother in particular, had been most vocal in her laying down of the rules of decorum to Margaret, even threatening to abandon her, in the land of the thistles without a coin or stitch of clothing to her name, if she showed any hint of disrespect to the Infanta or more importantly to her father. Her father had echoed his own mother's words, but whilst Lady Margaret's words had caused her namesake to feel rage, her father's had made her almost cry inside. Not because they were hard or because of they were words of hate, but because they were so few and they were spoken in such a way that was so dismissive, they left Margaret wondering if her father even cared for his oldest children anymore. After all did not he need too. He would be rid of her and maybe he would then simply leave Harry under stricter control in Ludlow, whilst he remained in England doting on the new Royal family that the Princess of Spain would give him; and there would certainly be a new occupant of the Royal cradle by this time next year. Her father had spent the entire journey doting on his young bride to be, with much more warm affection than he ever looked at their mother. Perhaps Uncle Thomas was right, maybe the Spanish Princess was truly his prize for winning Bosworth; a wife he had picked because of human emotions and not duty-and it seemed, that the young woman felt the same...or at least she gave that impression, 'in fact, I think she enjoys it,'
'Now, but once father is old and she see him for his true self,' Harry muttered, wrinkling his nose in disgust as he crept closer towards his father and the Infanta, who were still engrossed in their embrace, 'then she will weep for having married him,'
'Harry! Margaret!' cried Lady Margaret, as she marched up behind them and slamming her small hands down on the shoulders of her grandchildrens, 'what are you two doing out here? Do you not know that dinner is about to be served? Do you not realise that its important that we present a show of unity to this ungodly city?'
'I trust, madam,' said Harry, with a small bow towards his grandmother as he tried to disguise the sarcastic tone of his voice, 'that you will be having the same words with the King, for he too is not at dinner, having found more important things to occupy his time, then uniting his kingdom,'
Harry was very proud of his answer, finding it surprisingly witty, but as he grinned at his grandmother, he saw she by no means shared his mirth. As he saw that familiar scowl, Harry felt his heartbeat quicken, as he tapped Margaret on shoulder, hinting that they should do, as the most powerful woman in the kingdom commanded and withdraw from the garden to the great hall. Only month ago, Margaret would have protested and cried that her father was betraying his family, with a concubine who clearly only wanted the ancient crown of England on her pretty head, but now, she just left quietly, giving her grandmother a gracious bow, before following Harry inside.
'Well done, Margaret,' remarked the Queen Mother, causing her granddaughter to turn and give her namesake another respectful bow, 'I was slightly worried about how you would behave on this journey, but it seems you have proven me wrong. Now, please follow your brother and make sure that his behaviour tonight is as impeccable as yours,'
Margaret nodded in response, before once again turning away and carrying on with her journey to the banqueting hall. She had no notion of fighting with her grandmother-what was the point anyway? She could never win a battle, let alone a war against Lady Margaret and besides, what differences did it make now? Soon she would be in Scotland and probably destined to never see he family again. She would have to learn the art of surviving by herself and if this meant isolating herself from those she loved, then she must. After all, that love would soon be gone anyway, for with her in Scotland and her father in England with his young, sultry wife, he would soon have another daughter to spoil and dot on, replacing the one, he had lost in the name of foreign policy. There was no point, also, in raging against her father's determination to marry his young mistress, for it would be a sign of love and that was something, which was useless in a life in solitude.
A life of solitude, was something that Lady Margaret knew only too well, but unlike her oldest granddaughter, she had known from the moment she was old enough to appreciate the beauty of the Cross, that it was her path. For she had known from that point in time, that God had singled her out for something special. That unlike the ladies around her, her life would not be driven by love and passion, but be destiny and God's will. The Almighty had called her to a life free of such distractive emotions, so that she could lead her son to greatness. Henry had been her life from the moment he was born and she had dedicate every ounce of her being to him, making sure no other man was allowed a place in her heart-God had created it for Henry and Henry alone. And Lady Margaret had and was still willing to let this be the case, (for the only other man to ever mattered to her, was dead now anyway), but it did not stop, the hurt her heart felt, when she realised that Henry was willing to share his heart.
'Henry!' she called, in a shrill tone, causing her son and Catalina to jump apart with a start, 'Henry!'
'Mother,' gasped Henry as she revealed herself from the shadows and in the reds of the setting sun, he saw her face wore an even more serious expression than usual, the light highlighting the disapproving lines knitted on her forehead. He should feel guilty, as if he was still the boy caught with the kitchen girl rolling around in the Breton hay, yet he felt only a giddy sense of embarrassment, 'mother, I thought you were at prayer,'
'So it would seem, Henry,' replied his mother, in a voice that reminded him of the few times, when she had scowled him as a child, 'but everyone is ready for supper and are waiting on their King's presence and the Princess Mary would like you to help her finish dressing, Infanta,'
'Of course,' whispered Catalina, her eyes cast down at the ground in a demur fashion, as she tried to hide her small smile, brought on by Henry murmuring in her ear-
'I think we have been well and truly caught,'
Still with her eyes on the dry ground, Catalina made her way back to the palace, trying desperately to suppress her giggles as she navigated her way around Lady Margaret, whose eyes bore deep into the pretty head of the younger woman. But as Catalina disappeared from view, Lady Margaret turned those beady eyes on to her son, whose own gaze were still thinking on the silky movement of the Princess' young body, whilst his hands seemed to recall her curves and his lips, her hot mouth.
'Henry,' said Lady Margaret firmly, as she indicated with a small, boney finger, for her son to come closer to her, 'come here, my son,'
'Mother,' answered Henry, shaking himself out of the world of forbidden dreams and regaining his normal sense of self control, as he approached his mother. In the way he had done since he was a little boy, Henry kneeled to ask for her blessing. Only Lady Margaret did not place a hand on top of her boy's copper mass of hair, but instead, as if he was still the boy of five, in the care of the Herberts, caught stealing sweetmeats from the kitchens, she clipped him around the ear, 'ouch! Mother?'
'You are King, Henry! Not some lusty stable boy!,' she cried, as she watched her son rub the side of his face. She felt her heart tug, the way it done all those years ago, but it was nothing compared to the thought that she could lose her boy's heart, 'and I did not raise my son to have a mind plagued with such filth!'