Hello everyone! As always, I love you all. 280 reviews! It's truly amazing for the Black Legend prince. Anyway, here I am with a new chapter, hope you enjoy it and give me your usual and awesome feedback.
Si n'eren tres ninetes, mes ai !
vora un torrent.
L'una en renta bugada, mes ai!
l'altra l'estén, que mes ai!
L'altra en cull violetes pel fill del rei.
El fill der rei passava amb un pom d'or;
tira una pedra enlaire, toca l'amor;
toca-la ben tocada
al mig del cor.
Si t'he fet mal, 'moreta?
Un xic i poc, un xiquet i no gaire al mig del cor.
El fill del rei, Cançons de la Catalunya mil·lenària (the son of the King, songs from Catalonia)
Carlos loved few people in his life. He loved his aunt dearly for instance. She was the closest thing to a mother he had. He was also very fond of some of his former nannies and of D. Leonor de Mascaranhas who had been his father's nanny when he was a child, though Carlos could hardly imagine Philip as an infant. Apart from these, he wasn't much fond of people in general. He rarely trusted them. The relationship with his father, the King, was something the boy didn't like to think about because it brought him feelings he didn't understand. He couldn't decide whether he liked him or not.
But of one thing Carlos was sure: in the moment he saw Isabel of France, (Isabella as he called her in his head) he loved her immediately. She was beautiful, not in an obvious sort of way. She was small and petite and he wanted to hold her close to his chest and never let her go. To put her in his pocket so she would accompany him all the time.
Suddenly, as he faced her for the first time, he felt very self conscious. Awkward and ugly. She looked slightly frightened and she stared at him but eventually diverted her eyes. He was disappointed but soon enough it seemed she had gathered courage to face him again and offered him a kind smile.
Carlos felt butterflies in his belly. When he talked he made an effort not to stutter. Thankfully Ruy Gomes was by his side and helped him uttering some words in French. Carlos wished with all his heart he had listened to his masters and learned it better. She however, seemed to understand this and ignored his inability and his weird voice. His voice was changing and it had assumed a high pitch tone like a woman's.
They would be marrying in a few days he told her and urged her not to be scared. He had made sure everything would be as perfect as a Princess of France deserved. Ruy couldn't help but snort a little inside. Up until this moment Carlos took little (or none) interest in the wedding arrangements. Now he was acting as if he built the altar himself.
Ruy of course kept these thoughts to himself. The Prince was obviously enchanted with his bride. He couldn't really tell if that was a good or a bad thing. She was pretty, he thought to himself but looked so scared that he pitied her and found himself comparing her to Elizabeth. She had been proud and haughty. Isabel was nothing but. This girl was after all the oldest daughter of the King of France.
It wasn't easy for her, he knew it. Perhaps, he reasoned, he was used to strong women. Isabel de Valois was still a child. What kind of woman she would become?
The wedding was quite beautiful. They married in the Palace of the Infantado at midday. It was a hot, unpleasant day and for the first time Philip missed the English weather. Sometimes, the heat of Castile was too much even for him born and raised in the place. They had already been married by proxy in Paris but of course they had to have the ceremony in Spain. She could be after all, the mother of the future King of these Kingdoms.
Therefore, dressed in a beautiful light green dress with white golden laces, Isabel de Valois walked down the aisle, enchanting everyone around. Even the Duke of Alba, the strict Duke, looked moved at this display. Carlos was agape when he saw his future wife. They had done a wonderful job, Ruy thought grimly. The boy even looked handsome. Immediately, the secretary regretted these thoughts and wondered idly when he had become so cynic.
Ana, at his side, stared quietly at the Princess. She was quite pretty, in her opinion though she had still much to learn. Her inexperience was screaming through her every action. She wouldn't learn it with Carlos, Ana considered. Carlos…Carlos was a strange little boy. She hoped he would never become King. God knows what would happen to these Kingdoms. No, no one wanted a King like Carlos. But how would Philip solve that problem?
And where was the King anyway? She searched for him and eventually found him: Philip was standing in the front pew, on the right side, with Alba and the Duke of Infantado by his side. The English Ambassador was a little behind. Strange little man that one. Couldn't they have found someone more handsome to represent the interests of the English? She doubted the insignificant man would be ever taken serious.
Philip looked stunning in his dark blue jacket, his perfectly trimmed beard and with the golden fleece fallen in his chest. His hands were joined in front of his pelvis and he had his eyes closed. Ana smiled a little. Indeed there was no point in comparing father and son. Philip, though not much tall, was a gorgeous man who emanated power. Carlos was everything but this.
She was obviously not the only one who thought so. When Carlos and Isabel stood and faced each other to put the respective rings on their fingers, the Prince stared anxiously into his wife's eyes. But Ana noticed that even though Isabel made an effort to look back at him, her eyes darted furtively to another man standing behind Carlos.
She raised her eyebrows as she realized that the man was the King himself. Ana felt that she was seeing a chronicle of a foretold death. With bewilderment she saw that the Princess was infatuated. With her father in law. Who happened to be the King of Spain.
And though she fully realized the possible implications of these facts, Ana couldn't help but stifle a snigger. But at the same time, she felt a certain amount of pity for the girl. Perhaps if Philip hadn't married Elizabeth he would be marrying Isabel. And wouldn't that suit him much more? She had a feeling this girl would be much more suited to the King's life, to his character. To his demeanor. And he could love her. Who wouldn't love her?
Philip didn't feel well that evening. The day had been too hot, he had been feeling slightly unwell since morning, he had a headache. There was a pain deep buried in his chest that had prevailed ever since the beginning of the ceremony. He had been working late the previous night and had had only a couple of hours of sleep. Sitting in the throne the King watched the couples dance. Juan of Austria was presently dancing with Ana de Mendoza. They made a beautiful pairing, he considered though he was well aware that Ana was passionately in love with his friend.
After several moments he stood up and walked over to Ruy who was talking to the English Ambassador, Sir Thomas Chamberlain recently arrived from London. The previous one, Anthony Browne had been deposed due to his Catholicism. Philip hadn't been too happy but chose not to make any comments or raise problems. He had more to think about. Chamberlain bowed deeply at him and he returned the nod. Then he leaned closer to Ruy and the ambassadors finally got the drift and reluctantly left them alone.
Ruy wasn't able to hide a smile "Subtle."
Philip emitted a sound between a snort and a smirk. He moved towards one of the darkest corners, badly illuminated and Ruy followed him standing between him and the light covering the King further. He sensed there was something he wanted to talk about but Philip merely leaned back and took a deep breath drinking his wine.
Ruy crossed his arms in front of his chest looking absentmindedly at Ana. "She" Philip started and Ruy jolted. He had been so distracted, his mind flowing with the music that he had momentarily forgotten about the King
When he looked back at Philip he saw that the King was watching Prince Carlos and his newly wedded wife, dancing. Carlos was as clumsy as ever but Isabel made up for her hulking husband, moving around with a natural grace. They had now exchange pairs and she stood in front of Juan of Austria who smiled at her. They sympathized with each other immediately.
Ruy gazed at the King with a raised eyebrow. "Yes?"
Philip wet his lips with his tongue first before voicing his thoughts. Then started, slowly. "Doesn't she remind you of something?"
"Who? The Princess?" Ruy furrowed his brow "I…I'm not sure what you mean"
Philip took an even longer time to answer. "There's something awfully familiar about her. The brown eyes and dark hair." Ruy was now looking at her. She was smiling now and seemed even more beautiful
After a minute, he heard the King whispering "Menina estás à janela com o teu cabelo à lua, não me vou daqui embora sem levar uma prenda tua…(1)"
Ruy was hit by a ray of light and completed with an equally huskily whisper "Sem levar…uma prenda dela…com o teu cabelo à lua menina estás à janela"
They stared at each other and neither of them added something up to the moment Philip continued, now again staring at her, forgetting almost about Ruy's presence. "It's a song from your Alentejo."
"Yes" The Portuguese confirmed "It is. The men sang it to the girls they loved…who stood up in windows or balconies. And if she loved him back she would give him something to remember her by"
Philip nodded "My lady mother used to sing it to me. When I was little"
Ruy was surprised with this. Philip hardly ever spoke of his mother. "I am concerned." The King confessed "Worried about this marriage. But I don't quite know why"
The Portuguese made an effort not to speak his mind and pressed his lips tightly against each other. And Philip pressed on "Since the beginning, since I've started to negotiate this marriage…I have felt…a deep pain in my chest every time I mentioned it. It was as if God was telling me not to go ahead with this"
"No" Ruy whispered sharply "Don't go there" Philip and his friend exchanged an intense gaze and the King was forced to divert: his eyes and his thoughts.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the King stepped out of the shadows and joined the dancing group. Soon enough, he was dancing with his daughter in law. "Oh God in Heavens." Ruy whispered to himself "Please, please prevent this disaster from happening"
November, 1559. England.
Elizabeth was now six months pregnant which meant that she was quite evidently with child. Fortunately for her and for everyone around everything seemed to go well. She was healthy and beautiful. She had not even started to feel the usual discomfort that women with children usually did.
Contrary to tradition, she had refused to go into seclusion during the last months. Some warned against it but she was never fond of the idea. It seemed to her that it would do her much better if she were outside, breathing fresh air rather than secluded inside one stuffy, stifling room. Furthermore, she had to keep up. She was a Queen and a future mother but one couldn't be ahead of the other. And she couldn't afford leaving the affairs of the state to others, especially in such a delicate moment.
But sometimes she felt tired. And it was raining. She felt thankful that summer had ended. The hot months were unbearable to her and she heard that Spain was much hotter than England. How would Philip live there for God's sake? In that particular day she had felt a little lazy and sent Cecil and her secretaries away and ordered her ladies to place a comfy chair in her balcony. Wrapped in blankets up to her chin she made an effort to read a book but quickly gave it up and focused on the falling rain in front of her, her thoughts drifting away.
The on course reformation was lately taking all her time. She wanted her son or daughter to be born in a Reformed England in the way her father had planned. Elizabeth dreamt with the day that the Reform would be a part of the English people, of who they were. That was her main propose.
Sometimes however, she found time to think about her husband. By now, Carlos and Isabel de Valois had already been married and there was a chance, a thin chance of peace in Europe. There were of course the problems with the Turks in the Mediterranean but not in the mainland. There was a certain relief. Even in her Council.
It had become obvious that Philip would not interfere in the matters concerning religion.
A rose suddenly appeared in front of her. "Hello" Said a jovial voice.
It was Robert. She smiled and took the flower. "How are you feeling today?" He asked sitting in the parapet.
"Be careful Robert!" She exclaimed fearing he might fall back but just like a child he threw her a mischievously smile and assured her that he was quite safe, wrapping his legs around the smaller columns that supported the balcony.
She observed him. He was as handsome as ever. Elizabeth knew he had been heartbroken because of her marriage and he could have backed off then. It would have been preferably if he did. But Robert chose to remain by her side. He was as excited as Blanche or Lettice with the baby. Sometimes she feared that somewhere in his mind he fancied himself to be the father. But she was equally quick to shake these feelings off.
Amy, his wife, hadn't had children yet and Robert loved children. He was probably just excited by the idea of having a baby around. Even if it was her and Philip's.
"I'm well" Elizabeth answered. "I haven't got much done, however. Sir William must be slightly angry with me"
Robert rolled his eyes "You're with child. You're entitled to rest. The country will survive, I fear" He joked with a mocking twinkle.
Elizabeth smiled in spite of herself. Robert ran his eyes over her "Has the King said anything yet?"
He knew it was one of her greatest concerns, though she barely confessed it. "He wrote a week ago. He has moved to Toledo, I gather with his son and daughter in law"
Robert looked thoughtful. "Has he talked about his daughter in law? How is she?"
He sounded a little too eager but she attributed it to his curiosity. "He didn't say much. She is very young apparently. And she and Carlos, the Prince, are getting along though the marriage hasn't yet been consummated due to the girl's age"
Robert nodded. "I see. And when will he be back?"
This talk of Philip made Elizabeth uncomfortable. She did not like it. Robert rarely spoke of Philip but when he did it sounded as if he was constantly trying to undermine her husband's position. "I don't know" She answered coolly hoping he would drop the subject.
He got the hint. "Have…have you thought about names?"
Elizabeth was glad and smiled "I have thought of them. But I have not reached a conclusion"
"The choice of a name is an important issue"
"Of course it is" She agreed "If it's a boy…well if it's a boy he will go to Spain so it should be Philip to decide. He would probably call him Fernando."
"We're not…" He stopped himself "What about you? If you could chose the name of the boy"
She thought hard. "I don't know really. I like…William. Thomas. Luke. However I don't think those are proper names for a King of England. Or Spain"
She brightened up at this "Well there is a long list. Elizabeth such as myself. Margaret. Joanna."
Elizabeth looked up stopping her chattiness, her expression became serious and Robert regretted mentioning. Immediately he lowered his head but the softness of her voice surprised him "I don't think that would be proper. Philip would not like it and it's already enough that his daughter will be raised as a protestant and kept away from him"
Robert approached her, knelling in front of her "You shouldn't see it like that. You will be deprived of your sons as well. He's not the only one to suffer"
She withdrew her hand from his. "You don't understand"
"And you do?" He asked defiantly "This is not about him. Not only about him"
She looked away "This marriage is much harder for him than for me. I asked things from him that in normal circumstances he wouldn't give anyone"
Robert rubbed his eyes "And you feel guilty because of that?"
"It's not that simple!" She cried and he recoiled. Elizabeth sighed "I don't feel guilty. It's about being or not guilty. But I know that Philip is not like me. Or like you. He can't be dealt in the same manner"
He was about to open his mouth to retort but she didn't let him "Robert I have the greatest esteem and affection for you. But I won't be explaining my marriage to you. And I ask you as a friend to stop speaking about my husband who happens to be the King"
He looked ashamed and she caressed his hair in a reconciliatory gesture "Please, let us be friends"
"You're right. I wish you all the happiness, always"
Toledo, Spain December 1559
Philip had spent the last weeks since he arrived to Toledo, working. There was so much work to get done. So much papers, so many meetings, so many people he had to see and talk to. And so many decisions. Too many decisions. And he had started to feel that he was losing his grip on it all.
He couldn't let it happen. Absolutely not. It was the worst thing that could happen.
So he worked. He had fallen into a routine that implicated that most hours of his day were spent inside his office. Sometimes he would go hunting and he allowed hours to eat and take a nap. He didn't have time for much more.
He did however have time to learn about his son. Carlos's behaviour was starting to worry him again. He had been angry and frustrated when he realized that he wouldn't been able to consummate the marriage with his wife. Isabel was too young and still hadn't had her menses. And so, Carlos began looking for other ways to satisfy his bodily needs.
Philip had been his age and he remembered what it was like. But Carlos was too young for such things. And he was too disobedient and too rebellious. Often leaving at late hours of night, returning in the morning, no one knew where he went or what he was doing. To be honest, Philip preferred not to know.
He was quickly realizing that Juan was more responsible than his uncle albeit being a bastard.
Philip was then racking his brains off as to how to solve Carlos's problem. He was totally unfit for government. He couldn't put him working closer to the King. He was too whimsy and proud. In many ways, he was still a child. And certainly his education wasn't as excellent as was due to a Prince of Spain.
It was still hard to believe that Carlos would one day become heir to his Empire.
Philip eventually came up with a solution that he presented to Carlos and Isabel a few days before Christmas. His son and his daughter in law had been given their own Household but because the Palace in Toledo wasn't all that great they ended up living in very close quarters.
As he entered the room he could see that Carlos was sitting close to Isabel. She was talking quietly about something and he seemed to be listening. Philip had little doubt that his son was fond of his wife. That was good. But on the other hand, Philip thought, there was something…wrong about them.
He felt guilty for thinking like this. Surely there could be nothing wrong about two young people loving each other. And there couldn't be anything wrong with his son.
But Carlos wasn't used to love people. It was such a terrible thing to say but still it was the true. And he feared that Isabel wouldn't really love him. Not at least in the way he did. And once again he couldn't decide whether it was a good or a bad thing.
Philip coughed a little to make himself known. Carlos and Isabel stopped talking and looked at him. The Prince merely looked angry at the interruption but she looked happy and smiled. Philip found himself returning the smile. "Yes, Your Majesty?"
It was Carlos's voice and the King entered the room decidedly, sitting closer to them. "I wish to speak with you. There is someone I would like you to meet"
The Prince puckered his eyebrows. Philip turned to the door and made a sign for two figures to enter. One of them was known to Isabel and Carlos, it was Juan. The other however they had never seen. It was a boy, close to Carlos's age. He had a beautiful and long wavy dark hair and clear green eyes. He approached the King cautiously who told them to sit.
"This is Alessandro Farnese. He is the son of the Duke of Parma and of your aunt, Margaret of Parma"
Carlos stared at Alessandro, who was probably his age and once again felt a tinge of inferiority. Why had everyone to be more handsome than him? And by the corner of his eye, he saw Isabella smiling at him. He felt the need to launch at him and strangle him right there. But the fear of his father kept him in place.
Philip started "This is your cousin." Alessandro smiled and bowed at him.
"He has recently arrived from Flanders, from the court of your aunt the present governess." Philip leaned back in the chair "And I have taken a decision regarding your future." Carlos was alert now "Since you and the Princess are…" Philip searched his mind to make it less embarrassing to the girl "not yet living as a husband and wife it seems to me that you can live some time apart"
"What?" Carlos's eyes widened and he was now staring madly at his father
Philip ignored him "I have decided that you, Juan and Alessandro will go to the University of Alcala"
"What? You can't!"
Philip shot Carlos a cold look. "Let me speak" His tone was imposing and icy and Carlos recoiled though he was trembling with anger
"You are young. There is still much for you to learn. And you cannot learn it here in Court, there are too many distractions that affect your humours. You are most unprepared to govern. All your masters say so."
"I have just married!" Carlos cried. Juan and Alessandro looked down, ashamed
"Yes but you have time to get together in the future. You are both young. Too young, perhaps. The Princess must get used to our ways and you must get used to study and think like a ruler. You are both unprepared for the tasks that lay ahead of you" He then added more practically "And furthermore, I am not taking you away from your wife. You will see her all the time. Alcala is close to Toledo"
"No it isn't" Carlos whispered but the King pretended he didn't listen
"And I am sure the Princess of France will not mind to abdicate your presence for a little while if she knows it suits your future"
Isabel de Valois blushed a little but held Philip's gaze. She was faintly aware that her own husband was waiting for her answer and staring at her but she avoided his eyes. She grasped Carlos's hand "If the King thinks you should go, then you ought to obey his wishes. And make the best of it" Philip hide a smile pleased that she had agreed with him but also that she was trying to speak Spanish.
"But we would be apart!" Carlos bellowed "Is that what you wish?"
She pressed her lips together. It was evident that bothered her when he spoke to her in that tone. Philip gritted his teeth and he was about to intervene when the Princess said clearly "Of course not. But your father is the King and we must obey him. And you are the future King. You must be prepared to rule"
Carlos calmed a little after this intervention. Philip turned to Juan and asked him politely to leave him alone with his son and daughter in law. He felt he should have asked this before. They had been forced to witness the scene the Prince had caused. But then again, Philip considered wryly, if they were all living together in University they would have to get used to him.
Carlos was still angry however. Philip ended up saying more softly "You will have much time to be together in the future. And in years to come you will relinquish the memories of this time. Distance only makes love grow fonder"
His son shot him a look of pure hatred.
It was the first.
England, 1 February, 1560
It was the first day of February and Elizabeth been feeling a great discomfort since the last week of January. Even so she insisted in getting out of her chamber and attend the meetings of the Privy Council. Afterwards she read and signed some documents and listened to Sir Thomas Smith's ramblings and the Duke of Norfolk's ill advice. It was when she was about to go outside in order to catch a little fresh air (She was sure that a bit of fresh air and a small stroll was the solution for almost everything) when she felt a deep pain in her abdomen.
William Cecil was close to her and felt his heart stop beating. He rushed over to her side. "Madam?"
As they looked down, a pool of water had been formed on the floor.
Spain, Toledo, 5 days before, 26 of January
Philip was still half asleep when an urgent hand knocked on his door and without waiting for an answer, Ruy Gomes de Silva entered. Philip sat up alarmed and rubbed his eyes making an effort to regain his conscience. It was too early to rise. What on Earth had happened? Ruy usually didn't do this. Once the blur vanished from his sight he was able to see the look on friend's face. He wasn't there as a secretary. He was there a friend and that was what scared the King the most.
Ruy moved slowly towards the bed and handed Philip a note. He stared into Ruy's eyes knowing immediately that there was something wrong. Was it Elizabeth? Carlos? Juana? Isabel?
As he opened the letter he read the five lines it contained. After reading he just sat there immobile, not even trembling and for a moment Ruy feared, not breathing. He wanted to speak up but chose to wait a little longer. When Philip spoke was before disguising a heartened sigh. "We need to go to Burgos"
Ruy was surprised. He wasn't expecting Philip to take such an emotional approach to this. He berated himself for thinking like this, it was his flesh and blood after all. "I will prepare everything. I think she will be waiting for you."
"I know she will"
1 of February, 1560
"No!" Elizabeth bellowed and Sir William could swear that her cry was heard in the whole Palace. "It's too soon!" They had managed to maneuver her into her bedchamber but the Queen had stopped stubbornly badly disguising her fear, refusing to lie down.
"It really isn't madam" He whispered somehow desperately. Kat Ashley seemed to have lost the will to act and he was forced to practically yell at her. "Get Dudley!"
"No!" Elizabeth said again grasping Sir William's arm with such strength that he cringed "I want Philip" Kat stood there in the meanwhile white as granite.
Cecil pressed his lips together. As he looked up he saw the Earl of Arundel standing there. What was he doing there? The two men hated each other but Arundel had a calming presence and cold blood in crisis and this sure was a crisis. "I want Philip, Sir William!"
The Earl of Arundel approached the Queen decidedly, "Your Majesty" His voice was firm but cold. "The King is not here. The baby was only due to the end of the month. But it's coming and he is not here. But Sir William is and Parry and Ashley. For the love of God, ma'am"
She looked ready to scream at him but took a deep breath and eventually nodded obviously calmer.
1 day before, 31 of January of 1560
Philip, Ruy and a small retinue composed by other five men, including the Count of Feria, rode through day and night light to reach Burgos In time. It had rained and even snowed in some places but they barely stopped. Philip who they thought was never much resistant, was the first to refuse to sleep and the first to finish their meals. Luckily no one recognized them in the taverns they spent the night on.
When they were approaching Burgos the others decided they had to rest but Philip refused to do so and since they were close to their destination the King and his secretary rode alone to Saldañuela. The pressure and their rush didn't give Philip the opportunity to be nervous. The thought never even crossed his mind.
And so they arrived a little after sunrise, catching the first hours of day light. Even though had rained during the night, it had now stopped as they approached the mansion and the clouds vanished from the sky. Philip rounded the house and headed to the garden. Not because he had been told so but his instinct told him that it would be there.
It would be the place she had chosen to bury their son. And so, close the tree he had taught his sons to climb, the King saw them. Three figures, a priest, a woman and a boy. He and Ruy stopped. "Just in time" the Portuguese whispered sadly.
Philip took a deep breath. The air smelled of cold rain and wet earth and drops of water fell from the green leaves. He dismounted and made a sign for Ruy to stay behind. He moved towards them slowly stepping over the grass cautiously as if he was afraid to been seen.
He only walked more decidedly when he saw his son leaning into his mother, his arm around her waist, hiding his tears. Only then Philip stood so close that he was amazed they hadn't noticed him. The priest did though, and he stopped talking when he saw him. Obviously he didn't recognize him but knew he was some kind of nobleman due to his clothes.
Isabel turned to see who it was. Her eyes were red but she was presently not crying. He was thankful for that. They merely looked at each other and neither of them spoke. Before her was a smaller coffin inside a pit that contained the body of his son, Bernardino. She broke the contact by diverting her eyes to it and Philip took the sudden decision of wrapping his arm around her and placing a comforting hand on Pedro's neck.
Ruy watched them from a distance and made the sign of the cross. "This year starts off well" He muttered with a sigh.
1 of February
Another scream. And then another.
Robert Dudley paced from one side to another outside the Queen's bedchamber to the great annoyance of Sir William Cecil. Cecil was the kind of man who preferred a quiet environment and calm in times of distress. Lord Dudley was obviously having none of that. Personally, Sir William frowned upon the proximity between Dudley and the Queen. He hadn't liked the marriage between Elizabeth and Philip but it was done and consummated and she must be faithful to him.
"If something happens to her…" Dudley had finally stopped pacing around and was leaning towards the window and Cecil was close by. "If something happens to her it will be his fault" He whispered dangerously
Cecil found this sentimentalism ridiculous. At least Philip wasn't prone to such things. "Don't be absurd" He murmured and Dudley whirled with a speed that left him dizzy
"Are you not worried?"
"Of course I am. But making a fuss won't help Her Majesty"
"And what will?"
"Well certainly not blaming her husband"
Dudley shot him a look full of hatred and despite. It was better to blame Philip than having nothing or anyone to blame. And if something were to happen to Elizabeth then there would be no one's fault. "He did this!"
Cecil was forced to laugh. "For the love of God." And he made no further comments. Only when his wife arrived approximately an hour afterwards he had sent her a note. Mildred Cecil entered and scanned the room looking for her husband. William relaxed a little when he saw her albeit their common worry. Their hands enlaced and she kissed his cheek.
"How is the Queen?" She asked
He sighed "We don't know yet. She screams a lot though"
"The first child is always hard" Mildred said confidently but still Sir William cringed as another scream was heard. He hated this as well though he wasn't ready to show it off to the world. His wife was able to see it. "Have you written to the King?"
"Not yet. I don't see a point" He muttered "Before we know the outcome"
She nodded probably thinking it was a sensible attitude and tightened her grip on his hand as the Queen's screams got louder and louder.
Suddenly, a totally different cry was heard. Smaller, shrinking.
31 of January, 1560, Spain
Suddenly, it had started to rain. Philip, Isabel and Pedro retreated to the house after having buried the nine year old Bernardino. The King had time then to observe his youngest son. Again he was forced to face the fact that every product of his flesh was more perfect than Carlos. And Pedro was beautiful. He was even more beautiful than Juan.
His face was triangular with a well defined jaw and perfect lips, a combination of his and Isabel's: not too thick but not too thin. His hair was more like Isabel's a dirty light blonde shade. But his eyes…his eyes were blue, very light. Just like his. Pedro was…light. All of him. There was not a touch of darkness in the boy.
Pedro however stared at his father a great lot. He obviously knew who he was but Philip could not disclose whether he felt hurt for having been abandoned during all those years or merely curious about this man whom he hadn't seen since he was 3. Or if he simply was quiet because of the death of his brother.
Isabel on the other hand was obviously devastated and he felt somehow guilty. She was forced to deal with it all alone and he hadn't even written. He had thought, naively and selfishness, that it would be better to leave her alone. He had kept informed about his sons. But apart from that he hadn't done much more.
So it amazed him when, after putting Pedro to rest, she invited him to warm up by the fire. They sat up in the cushions in front of the fireplace, hearing the rain thundering against the windows and Philip was reminded of the first time they had made love.
But what amazed him the most was the familiarity. They were just old parents mourning the loss of a son. There was complicity between them and something Philip seldom felt around people: at ease. He could say whatever he wanted or thought that she wouldn't judge him or misunderstood his words. A servant brought them something to eat and she picked at her food.
"Where is Ruy?"
"I'm sure he is being well taken care of"
"I d'like to see him. Later"
"He will like to see you too"
She smiled. Philip sighed. And Isabel waited "I'm sorry."
"You don't need to apologize"
"I do. I left you alone and now…"
"Now our son is dead. And if he wasn't you wouldn't have come here."
He knew it was true. "Lipe," She said using his nickname. He hadn't heard it in years, many years. He didn't know someone even remembered it. "I'm not mad. I understand. I always did. It made me very sad in the beginning but I grew used to it. We were not meant to be. In another life…if we were different people. I have no hope…when I sent you that note it was because I wanted you to know what happened to Berna…."
"I don't doubt that"
"I wish…you could see me as a friend"
"You are my friend. I'm sorry I forgot that"
"You did what you had to do. You married. And then the Queen died and you married a third time. They were very busy years"
Philip felt she was diverting the issue. From Bernardino's death. He understood the pain but it must have been unbearable for her. "Yes"
"And you married the woman you loved"
Philip bowed his head. "Isn't it good?" She asked
"She is with child. You must be very happy"
"You don't look like it" Philip smirked. The old Isabel was revealing herself.
"As you, I have little hopes for this marriage"
"What?" She was confused "You always loved her"
"I loved you" He said frankly. She smiled mockingly. "I did"
"But you love her now. Of course you do. Why would you marry a protestant if you didn't love her? You can't fool me." Isabel said cunningly, happy with her reasoning. "It's because it's her. It's not because it's the Queen of England. I know…how much of a sacrifice it must have been for you. To marry a heretic? You have had to have a strong motive."
"It was necessary"
"For the sake of Spain?"
Isabel snorted. "You don't believe me?" He asked
"No. But it matters not. You are convincing yourself of something. I have no right to interfere, I've learned that we all are entitled to our illusions" He wondered if she was talking about herself. Isabel leaned back to the cushions, closing her eyes. "Your son…the Prince. How is he?"
Philip rubbed his eyes, not happy with the turn of subject "Still worried about him?"
"You know too much" He grumbled but eventually added "He is married"
"And the Princess? How is she?"
"She's…she is very lovely"
Isabel raised her eyebrows. "You don't use that adjective very often." Philip looked away. "She is…"
"She's lovely, I can't put it any other way. She's charming and beautiful and innocent, like the virgin herself"
Isabel was now frowning deeply, there was something in his tone she wasn't able to disclose "And she's…"
"And she's married to Carlos. And I can't help but fear for her"
She reached to take his hand "Nothing will happen to her. You'll protect her. I see you're dead keen on that"
"If I don't then who will?"
Isabel wondered about the girl but Philip added "She reminds me of…my mother. Not physically and certainly not even physiologically speaking. They are so different, in everything. My lady mother was strong and decided…and well you remember her."
"Isabel is different than all that. She's very innocent, very young. Too young. But there is something about her…something in the way I feel around her that reminds me the peace…the utter peace I felt when the Empress was alive" And with me, he thought, but that went unspoken.
There was a moment of silence between them. Isabel didn't want to speak about his mother. They both knew how sensitive that matter. And finally Philip asked "What about Pedro? Is he being taught?"
"Yes, he has his tutors"
"Do they know?"
"No one knows…but they all suspect. That's probably the reason people like him but despise me" Isabel said with a smirk but he was worried
"I'm so sorry"
"Oh for the love of God and all His Saints Philip, stop apologizing. I am happy. And…honestly, I'm glad you're here. I'm glad you got to see your son"
Philip stared at her not doubting the sincerity behind her words "Why?"
"Because Pedro is smart. Bernardino was too but…but Berna would be happy living here throughout all his life, taking care of the estate, marrying, having children. Pedro is different. He is…he is very like you. So curious, so avid of knowledge. Not now but I know that in the future he will grow tired and became resentful and bitter as it always happens when one's dreams are shattered"
Philip measured on these words. "I will talk to him"
2 of February, 1560
It was dawn already but for Elizabeth it felt an eternity had passed since the moment she had entered her bedchamber to the moment the child had been born. Her child. His child. Their child. And she felt another eternity passed until they placed her baby in her arms.
She was placed in her arms as the first lights of sun invaded the room. They cleared the way for Elizabeth to get a good hold of her daughter's face. It was a baby, not very different from any other newborn, pink and wrinkled. It was not obvious whom she resembled, it was too soon to tell. But none of that mattered.
Elizabeth loved her immediately, instantly, though she had little idea of what that child was going to turn out to be. Kat and Thomas Parry were by her side. She looked up smiling, tiredly, exhausted, but smiling and not faintly. They almost sighed in relief "She is beautiful" Kat was only saying it to be nice but it felt nice, nonetheless.
Elizabeth smiled down at her baby girl. Parry looked both emotional and proud. "Do you know the name already Your Majesty?"
She looked deeply at the baby girl who still looked like she was wondering where she was why she was there. She tried to figure out a name. Elizabeth wasn't really expecting a girl and there was something in the back of her mind that was slightly disappointed or that thought that Philip would end up disappointed. Would he be disappointed?
She pushed these thoughts away from her mind and reflected again on the name, knowing they were waiting for an answer. And she remembered one of her first conversations with Philip. And remembered something from her History regarding the wife of Edward I.
"Eleanor. Her name is to be Eleanor. Like Eleanor of Castile, who was the first Princess of Castile to marry an English King"
1 of February, 1560
Philip chose to spend the night in the mansion he had offered to Isabel. If he were to be honest, he had thought that it would be in the least awkward to reencounter Isabel again. But he had been wrong. It was just like old times, like old friends, meeting after what it seemed a lifetime of memoirs.
That morning after waking and freshing up, Philip headed to Pedro's room. He hadn't been able to speak with him the previous day since Pedro chose to mourn silently and quietly the death of his brother. In that aspect, Philip had admired the little boy for he was sure he had been very close to his twin brother.
He knocked lightly before stepping in. Pedro was finished dressing and was presently seeing himself in the mirror. Philip smiled inwardly, watching the boy trying to fix his too messy hair. The King glanced around the room and saw quite a few books. It fitted Isabel's description about the boy's curiosity. Silently he approached the bedside table and leaning down he saw the book his son was reading. It was a History of Aragon.
Pedro had finally realized his presence. "Señor!" He exclaimed and bowed deeply.
Philip took the book and smiled benevolently. "Hello Pedro" The boy was hesitant whether to approach him or not but Philip solved the situation by sitting on the bed and inviting Pedro to join him by his side. "So you're reading this?"
"You read Latin then"
Philip was impressed "That's very good."
Pedro didn't know what to say, so he said nothing. Philip flipped through the book and finally put it down. "I…I am sorry. For your brother"
The little boy bowed his head, not facing the King, his father. Philip wanted to offer some comfort but once again felt inadequate to do so. What an idiot, he thought to himself. Eventually, Philip knelled in front of the child and said "You must forgive me for having been away for so long. Would you forgive me?"
Pedro raised his eyes to his, surprised "You are King, my lord. You have a duty to the people. Mother explained it all to me."
"And you are very brave, my son" Philip whispered with a smile. "And intelligent I see. Would you like…one day, to come to Court?"
"To be away from mother?" Pedro asked almost in panic
"You can visit her whenever you wish. And it won't be now. One day…when you're older. Would you like that? You could serve the King…"
Pedro thought hard. "I…I would like to go to Valladolid…and Toledo. I read about those cities. Especially Toledo. Mother said it was beautiful. And now because of this" He picked the book he had been reading "I think Barcelona must be an amazing place. It's close to the sea. You have seen the sea, haven't you sir? I think it must be beautiful and…truly great. And Pedro el Grande who fought against the French was born there, in Barcelona."
Philip made an effort not to laugh. There were hundreds of thoughts running through the boy's mind and he wanted to speak them all. The King felt a great rush of affection towards the child and pressed his lips together trying to restrict himself. He placed a hand on Pedro's face, caressing his cheek "Perhaps, if you work hard and are bright enough, you may become Vice King of Catalonia …"
"Really?" He asked excitedly
"But…you must work hard. And obey your mother and your tutors"
"I will, I promise"
Philip smiled and took him by the hand. They were going to take breakfast. When they were however about to leave the room, Pedro stopped. "Señor?"
"You…but…after you leave, will I see you again?"
Philip should have said no. But the boy was his son and after all everyone knew about him or suspected. He could visit once or twice. And soon the boy would go to Court. "You will see me, Pedro. Many times. I promise you"
Philip was forced to leave the next day, on the third of February after having said that he would return soon. Ruy asked him afterwards if he had truly meant it. Philip said yes. He liked Isabel, he argued. They were friends and the relationship was now totally innocent. They both knew it could be nothing more; it would be too dangerous especially for themselves. And besides, the King argued, Pedro was his son and they were both alone in the world. Someone had to take care of them.
When they arrived to Toledo six days afterwards everyone questioned his absence. He told them that he had gone to Toro in a hunting trip with some of his closest associates and everyone had accepted. But the problem wasn't exactly the absence of the King but what happened during it.
The Queen of England had given birth to a child: a baby daughter whose name was Eleanor.
(1) My lady, you are at the window with your hair flowing in the moon, I won't leave without taking a gift from you.
Your gift, without taking your gift, my lady with your hair flowing in the moon you are at the window…
This chapter is dedicated to my football team. Barcelona. And to Pep Guardiola who announced he's leaving to great sorrow of all the fans. If Pedro physical aspect is Ian Somerhalder, then his character is Pep's. Oh and Alessandro de Parma is Eion Bailey in my mind, if you wish a physical reference.
So what are your thoughts? This chapter was already too big so Philip didn't make it to England, but he will next chapter.
So, since there were a lot of reviews from people who don't have accounts I will try to answer them as succinctly as I can. However, I would ask those people who review more frequently if they would please consider signing up for an account? It's just that it's so much easier for me to answer the reviews and you write such great reviews.
Michelle: Thank you for your review! I didn't know Elizabeth feared Catherine of Medicis. But if she did, she was right. Catherine was one hell of a woman. Let us just say that Philip had the…usual fear of mother in laws that son in laws usually have…
Maria Jose: Thank you as always for your review! Always awesome. Well Philip will have lovers. It would be most out of character if he didn't. There are plenty of studies about the sensuality of the Hapsburg Family and I'm not the one who's going to contradict that.
Nathalie: Thank you so much for your review!
Marcelo: You are too kind and you all overreact a lot my capacities. But it feels good nonetheless.
Aitana: I'm glad your friend introduced you to this story. The more the merrier! Thank you a lot for reviewing and for praising its realism.
Lulu de La Falaise: I'm glad you enjoy the chapters, your reviews are great and long and I love your insights. Thank you. And yeah Isabel and Philip will be another big, complex story.
Nicole, Anne, Georgina: Thank you all for the reviews! I'm happy that so many people are reading this story!
Louise Chantal: You have your answer this chapter :D Thank you!
Anonym: Thank you for the review. I always thought they had some kind of tension as well and that even the war that happened between England and Spain had a lot to do with their own personalities and their personal relationship and its ups and downs. Proof of that is that after they both died it was rather easy to sign the peace treaty.
Chibi Chibi: You flatter me :D Thank you a lot it means a great deal.