He'd found her when she was told her time at court was up, when she was nine.
The girl stared out the window, her arms wrapped around her own waist as she watched her things get packed into the carriage bellow.
Her time at court was over for now. And she wasn't sure, as selfish as it was,, that she was ready to leave her home.
"You can't leave," Francis said from her door his eyes sad.
"I have to," Mary replied holding her head up high, though all she wanted to do was burst into tears.
"What am I going to do without you," he said moving into her room.
The girl smiled weakly. They both knew he'd never needed her.
The sound of someone hurrying up the stairs turned Mary's attention from Francis and when Bash burst in, his eyes blood shot, the blond boy sighed angrily. He was about to be put to the side again.
Bash strode across the floor quickly, meeting Mary half way, their arm going around each other quickly.
"I'm going to miss you so much," he whispered his voice catching.
"I'll miss you too," she replied her own voice tight.
"I have something for you, so you never forget me," he said pulling back and whistling sharply.
A puppy came running at the whistle, skidding to a stop in front of the two.
"This, Mary, is your new dog," Bash said smiling as her face lit up.
"So now you won't be so dreadfully alone," Francis guessed, not realising the affect his words would have.
The young Queens face shut down again.
"No. So she has a friend to keep her company, when she's thinking about me," Bash said pushing out his chest.
Mary let her laughter bubble up and out as she pulled him into another hug.
"What are you going to name him," Francis asked, not liking that he was being ignored.
"He is a boy isn't he?" Mary asked Bash quickly.
Her face lit up.
"Stirling," she decided, not seeing the way Bash smiled at her.
"I've always wanted a male dog named Stirling," Mary told her companion randomly one afternoon as they sat across from each other in one of the many halls in the Castle.
"Really, why?" Bash asked looking at the girl across from him.
"I do not know. But I've always thought that Stirling would be a wonderful name. Don't you agree?"
"Of course," Bash said, his mind already working.
"You remembered," Mary said.
"Of course I remembered Mary," Bash said, in time for a knock on the door to destroy their moment.
"Come in," Mary called.
"Come on dear, it's time for you to go," Diane said holding back tears.
Mary rushed to the older woman and wrapped her arms around Diane's neck.
"You're the closest thing I have to a Mother," Mary sobbed, her emotions finally getting the better of her.
"You will always be my other child, my daughter," Diane replied placing a kiss on the girls forehead lovingly, much the same as she does to Bash.
"I love you Mother," Mary cried into Diane's shoulder, unable to see the way the woman's heart both lightened and broke at the same time.
"I love you too my darling daughter."
Mary looked up to see Bash standing there tears running down his face.
"Come here," Mary commanded softly reaching a hand out to him.
He quickly found himself wrapping an arm around Mary so that the young girl was in the centre of the hug.
"I love you Mary," Bash told his best friend.
"I love you too Bash," Mary replied.
By this time Francis had already walked away, annoyed and hurt at having been pushed to the side. He didn't realise that he had been doing the same thing to Mary for years now.
"Now, dry those tears and let's get you down there so you can say your goodbyes," Diane said finally, pulling back from her two children.
"Write me won't you," Mary said to them both as they walked down the stairs to the main door.
"Of course," Bash replied, his eyes never leaving her face. He was trying to make her face stay in his mind, though he needn't bother. He knew he would never forget a thing about her.
The way her voice got when she was excited, the way her hair fell in her eyes as they rode, the way her smile would light up the whole room, the way her laugh made his young heart all but skip a beat.
He knew she was going to be beautiful, even if she didn't.
"Remember to have fun," Diane said patting Stirling on the head before pulling Mary into a long hug.
"We will see you before you know it," she added before pulling back, though not before leaving a lingering kiss on Marys forehead.
"I love you. And I hope to find that when you come back you will once again call me Mother."
"Of course I will. I love you," Mary said before she found herself in Bash's arms.
"What am I going to do without my best friend."
"Annoy Francis?" Mary asked with a small smile.
Bash let out a little laugh before looking at Mary.
He leaned down and gave her a friendly peck on the mouth. They were still much too young to be doing anything more.
"There you are," Francis said, running up the stairs.
He'd gotten there in time for Mary and Bash to let go of each other.
"It's time," he said grabbing her hand.
"Bye dear," Diane said.
"Goodbye," Mary said choking back tears.
She turned scoping Stirling up with her spare hand, pausing only for Bash to run a hand down the puppy's back, before together her and Francis moved off, so the young Queen could say goodbye to everyone else.