She was curious about his pagan beliefs; far more curious than a woman of her position ought to be

A/N This was written for a ficathon over at mary_bash on livejournal!

He had told her not to go into the woods and distracted her when she asked why. There must be something he was keeping from her. Bash, he was a peculiar boy. The whole night had passed before he had returned with Stirling and even then he had been coy. 'I meant I want you to be well, Your Grace.' What did that mean? Mary had heard the rumors about Diane De Poitiers and her history with paganism. She had also heard that the woods were called 'The Blood Woods' and wondered if there was something more about those woods that Bash wasn't telling her. She tried to hide her curiosity but her mind kept drifting to the woods; her mind kept drifting back to Bash. If she was going to get on in French Court and continue into marriage with Francis she needed to crush this obsession with Bash and the obsession with Paganism.

Late that night she lit a candle and tip toed out of her quarters with a sheer robe wrapped around her nightgown. It had been an incredibly hot summer and by the time she reached Bash's quarters a sticky sweat was pulling her gown against her body. She knocked gently on his door until he answered. "Bash, may I come in?" she asked.

He pulled the door back revealing his naked chest. "Mary—I'm not sure that this is appropriate." But she slipped past him and into his room anyways.

She set the candle down on his dresser and pulled her robe against herself as a cool breeze drafted through the window. "That feels nice." She admitted moving closer towards the window.

"Mary, what is it?" he grabbed a shirt and pulled it around himself.

"I wanted to ask you something Bash and I want you to be honest with me." She turned towards him as his fingers deftly worked on the buttons of his shirt. "What's in The Blood Woods?" The question caught him off guard and the remaining buttons lay loose against his skin.

"How did you—no Mary, you should go. I can't talk to you about this." He moved towards her to escort her from the room.

Her hand wrapped around his arm bracing him, "I want to talk about Pagan beliefs." She paused before saying, "…Your beliefs."

"Mary that's heresy." He said quickly. "I am a Catholic. If anyone thought I were Pagan I'd be—"

She frowned and moved towards the door, "I know Bash. Does this lock?" She questioned turning back towards him.

"Yes but I—"

"Lock it." She said. He moved across the room unsure but did as she asked and locked the door. "I know you have your secrets Bash and I'd like to know more about them. In exchange you will have something that shall be kept a secret too." She faced him, "For every question you answer I will remove an article of clothing." She fingered the light fabric.

"Mary are you sure that—"

"Bash." Mary moved closer towards him closing the distance between them. "I can tell by the way you look at me that you like me. I can't quite get you out of my head either." She admitted, "I share nothing with Francis. I tried to be cordial but he doesn't seem very interested. You however, you seem very interested." She watched as his eyes glanced over her and she was still clothed; she could only imagine how he'd be looking at her when the clothing started coming off. "It's simple really Bash. We will each have secrets to share and this way we both know they'll be kept." She moved back across the room and waited.

Bash turned from her in a moment of thought, "Why are you so interested in Pagan beliefs?" he questioned, "And what about Francis?"

She sighed and pulled her robe tighter across her body, "I want to know because it's all I've thought about since you've stopped me from going into the woods… you are all I've thought about." She closed the distance between them in two strides, "I saw the way you looked at me at the wedding. Like I was the only person in the room. Ever since I was a girl I thought Francis would look at me like that but instead he looks at me like a duty. That life isn't for me, I might be a Queen but I love… and royal or not I will love—"

"Okay." He smiled softly before asking, "What is your first question then?"

"What happens in The Blood Woods?" Mary asked without missing a beat.

"Pagans offer blood sacrifices to the Gods. They will string someone from the trees and bleed them. Blood is the most vital offering a pagan can give; sacrifices in the blood woods are one in many. They mustn't be disturbed or the sacrifice is now in your hands." He looked at Mary as she slipped her finger under the robe at her shoulders and pulled it down her arms and finally off her back. His eyes flicked down her body as the silk of her nightgown hugged tightly against her chest.

She bit her lip playfully and glanced down at her body, "It seems I have just the one layer of clothing left." She said, "I better think of a good question then." She paused for a moment thinking until she finally asked, "What do you do in the woods?"

"I protect the castle grounds from the pagans. Pagan chants can keep away the blood cultists, and sometimes other sacrifices need to be made." He took the opportunity to stare in her eyes and let her take in the fact that he's taken a life. When she went to remove her gown he stopped her, "Mary are you sure?"

"I need this just as much if not more than you, Bash. How can I continue with you haunting me?" She lifted his hand and ran her finger along the palm, "At least for one night, let me feel loved. If I have to do my duty as a Queen, let me do something for myself before I might not ever have the chance again." She brought his hands to the straps of her gown and urged him to slip them along the curve of her shoulder.

As her gown fell leaving her naked just as the day she was born Bash looked at her. "And what if after this you are still haunted?"

She leaned forward brushing her body against his lifting his shirt and pressing her hands against his chest. "Then I guess we will be keeping more secrets then just tonight's." Her lips pressed against his sealing their secrets with a kiss that would only haunt Mary more with each night she didn't receive another one.