So here we meet again, my very fine friends! I apologize in advance for making you all wait so long. It's almost the end of the school year so I have a lot on my hands to deal with right now. Though with some careful time management and sheer perseverance, I was finally able to complete this brand new chapter for you! So go ahead, knock yourselves out with it. :)
Disclaimer: I do NOT own the Tudors, as you have probably figured out by now. I'm simply borrowing the characters.
Warning: Sexual content coming up ahead, just saying :P
Winter soon faded into spring and change was everywhere to be found. The golden sun once again rules supreme in the sky, sending it's brilliant rays all across the land. Trees bore fruits aplenty and flowers came into bloom, making the English landscape a colorful scene to behold. The air became filled with the sweetly melodious songs of birds.
It was a calm morning in April, when the first streams of daylight cast themselves upon Rochford castle. Mary, apparently, was snuggled under blanket and immersed in a deeply serene slumber. She remained undisturbed like that for a while, until somebody suddenly parted the window curtains. The entire room became shrouded with sunlight in no time.
With the light casting directly on her face, Mary found it difficult to continue sleeping. Little by little, she was eventually able to open her eyes and adjust to the harsh morning glare. Then turning to look at her right, she saw that George was not there, but had already gotten a head start on the day.
"Good morning your Majesty!"
Mary turned to the source of that voice, which turned out to be Bertha who was carrying a platter of food. She gave her a smile and drowsily replied, "Oh, good morning to you too, Bertha! Where is George?"
"Georgie? He's in the dining hall eating breakfast," answered Bertha as she approached the bed with platter of food in hand. The Irishwoman had the most cheerful smile Mary had ever seen."Well anyway,dear, Georgie wanted me to bring you breakfast. Do you like meat pie and lemon squares?"
Mary could feel her stomach grumble at the sound of that. "That sounds divine, thank you!"
"You're very much welcome, dear." Bertha hummed happily as she carefully placed the platter down before Mary. Following a short curtsy, she then left the room.
Mary was only starting to eat her breakfast when George walked into the room, fully dressed and wearing his usually quaint smile. By now, he had become used to Mary's unkempt morning appearance, but that didn't make her any less beautiful in his eyes.
"Well, it's about time that you woke up,"George spoke teasingly as he kissed her cheek. Then sitting down beside her, he asked,"Did you sleep well last night?"
With a mouthful of meat pie, Mary managed to reply with," Yes I did, although next time, a simple 'good morning' would be nice." She paused to swallow down her food. "George, how is that you are able to wake up so early in the morning? Don't you ever allow yourself to rest in bed longer?"
George tilted his head to think about it then replied, "Sometimes, but for the most part, I don't believe in wasting the day away by sleeping. There are just too many important things that needs to be done." With that, he gently lifted her chin up so that their eyes met. "Like spending time with my lovely wife, for example."
Mary smiled under George's loving gaze, something he saw as purely timeless. He then leaned forward so that their lips could meet in a chaste kiss. Unbeknownst to them, however, Sir Thomas was standing in the doorway. Slightly amused, he remained silent and watched the two for a moment before knocking loudly against the door. That startled George and Mary, who immediately separated themselves.
"Yes? What is it, Sir Thomas?" Asked George, now that he had his attention.
Sir Thomas bowed politely before answering with, "Please pardon the interruption, my lord, but your father the Earl has just arrived. He says he wants to speak with you... right now."
George was unprepared to hear that, but told Sir Thomas, " Very well then, just tell him I'll be down there in a minute."
With another bow, Sir Thomas then left to carry out George's orders.
"Why do you suppose he's here for?" Inquired Mary, who was equally suspicious.
"I'm not really sure, Mary. Still, he is my father and I must meet with him." He squeezed Mary's hands between his and added,"Have no fear, for I shall defend you from any insults he might have bring with him. I promise you that, Mary."
George then gave her a peck on the forehead before leaving the room to make his way toward the dining hall. Along the way, he encountered John Stark, donned in his signature leather arming garments and ready to go.
"Off to the stables again, I see?"
The dark-haired man flashed him a cool smile as he responded with,"What can I say? When my duty calls, I must answer to it. You never know when you might need a freshly groomed horse to go riding across the countryside."
Stopping in front of the door, George breathed in deeply before entering the room. There he found his father, the Earl, already seated and waiting patiently for him.
Wiltshire placed down his goblet of wine and greeted his son with, "George, my dear boy, I'm glad that you could join me! How have you been lately?"
"Good morning, father, I've been well actually," George responded likewise as he took a seat across from his father. "To be honest, I wasn't expecting for you to visit. Why are you here?"
Wiltshire's bushy eyebrows raised up in expectancy. "Why, I'm here to see my beloved son and heir of course, whom I have not seen for a whole month! You've been spending an awful lot of time in the countryside, George. Another reason for my visit today is to inform you about the upcoming royal wedding next Sunday. As Anne's brother, you are obliged to attend by the King's command. It would mean a lot to your sister if you come."
"I would hate to disappoint Anne and the King. Tell them that I promise to come back by Sunday and attend the wedding," George decided, earning him a nod of approval from the Earl.
"Good, I'm sure they'll both be happy to hear that. But enough about Anne for now, I want to talk about you. I hope your honeymoon here has been...fulfilling?"
"Yes, it has in fact. There were no problems between Mary and I."
"I see." Wiltshire spent a few moments silently stroking his short beard, before asking again, "So have you managed to get your wife pregnant yet?"
That question made George blush a little, for he was hesitant on discussing that topic with his father. "Well...um...no, I haven't yet. We have not even consummated our marriage yet, for personal reasons."
"Really? That's very interesting indeed. Then again, it's not like you would have found much pleasure in her," sneered Wiltshire assuming they were both of the same mindset. Alas, he couldn't be any more wrong.
George's smile immediately fell from his face. Though he wasn't entirely surprised by what his father said, George became aroused just the same.
"You know what I'm talking about George," continued Wiltshire, oblivious to George's change in demeanor. "A childish nun like Mary could never be able to please such an active young man as yourself. If she is anything like her Spanish mother, she probably won't even be able to bear you children, let alone sons. That is what I'm hoping for, as everything will be much easier for us if Mary ends up having no children or only daughters."
"Are you really saying that you'll be happy if I have no children with Mary?"
"Yes, am I not being clear enough? I know that you always wanted a son of your own, but we must all make certain sacrifices in order for our family to rise above the clouds. You have always been a good son, George, so I trust that you'll remain loyal to our cause. When Anne successfully deliver the King's son, all of England...no, all of Christendom...will come to realize that her marriage to the King is truly blessed by God! A daughter from Mary will only prove that inability to bear sons runs in the blood of those accursed Spaniards!"
George could hardly believe what he's hearing! How could his father be so callous as to forbid him the joys of having children, simply for the sake of the family's ambitions! Not just that, but he also managed to mercilessly deride Mary in the process! Every single word that his father uttered enraged him even more. The blood boiled in his veins as looked upon Wiltshire's unbearably smug face.
Then losing all self control, he released an impassioned outburst, "Enough! Tell me, father, do you really hate Mary that much that you would even wish ill-will upon your own son? For God's sake, I'm your own flesh and blood! I have every right as Anne to produce children of my own with Mary, no matter what you say!"
"What in God's name has gotten into you, George?" exclaimed a highly alarmed Wiltshire." I am merely stating the truth here! Why can't you see that everything I'm doing is for your own good and that of our family?"
The fact that the meeting had taken sudden turn for the worse was not lost to either of them.
George's face continued to contort even further as murderous impulses threatened to take over his very being. He was fighting to resist the urge to strike his father there and then. That ended up with him growling, "Leave. LEAVE NOW AND BEGONE FROM MY SIGHT!"
Knowing when he's not wanted, Wiltshire got up from his seat and hotly marched out of the room. A hard scowl took shape on his face, growing more prominent by the second. Wiltshire was highly disgusted at how the visited had turned out and at George's obscene behavior. Most of all, he was curious as to where all that hostility was coming from. He mentally planned to discuss that notion with Norfolk later at Hampton Court Palace.
Meanwhile upstairs, Mary had finally resolved to get herself out of bed. She was sitting by the window, brushing her hair, when she caught sight of Wiltshire departing in a hurry. Sensing that something was wrong, she quickly put on a robe and rushed downstairs. She ran straight to the dining hall and opened the doors, only to see a chair flying across her vision. It crashed against the wall before falling to the floor broken into multiple pieces. After recovering from her initial shock, Mary began to search for George, eventually finding him angrily pounding on the table-most likely imagining it to be Wiltshire's face- with his fists. He would have continued with his reckless rampage if Mary had not intervened.
George was unaware of Mary's presence until he felt a soft hand covering his fist. He immediately turned around to come face-to-face with her. "Mary! Forgive me if I have frightened you. I should not have lose my temper like that."
Mary, taking a seat, gently replied, "It's alright, George, I know it isn't your fault. So what did your father say that caused all of this?"
With a sigh of frustration, George began to tell her his account, "Well, the meeting started off well enough...until he began attacking your fertility. It only got worse from there; he even went so far as to openly express his desire for us to be childless!" Feeling himself getting restarted, George took in another deep breathe. "I have never been so close to killing someone as I was then, Mary."
Silence followed after that, as the two of them reflected on their individual thoughts.
Mary then squeezed George's hand as she said, "George, I think the time has come for us to prove him wrong once and for all."
"Do you really mean it?" Asked George excitedly.
Smiling, Mary swooped in to kiss him before replying, "Yes I do."
Back at Hampton Court Palace, the Duke of Norfolk was in the middle of eating his breakfast when Wiltshire stormed in unannounced, seeming to be in a fury.
"Why, the nerve of that wretched boy!" Cried the Earl loudly upon entering.
"What is the problem this time, Wiltshire?" Norfolk hissed in annoyance from where he had spilled wine over himself.
His fuming brother-in-law eagerly fell into a seat across from him. "It's George! Something about him has changed, and not in a good way! You should have seen how disrespectful he was toward me! The boy's gone mad, I tell you, mad!"
"Let me put this plainly first, you need to calm down. Here-"Norfolk poured some wine into a goblet before giving it to Wiltshire. "Now, slowly, tell me everything that happened."
The Earl drank a good amount of wine before he was composed enough to speak. "I honestly don't see any justification for his actions earlier. First, I greeted him warmly and we sat down to talk. I told him about the upcoming wedding, which he was excited to attend. Then when I told him that I was not expecting for him to produce a son from his marriage with the ugh...the Princess," it was almost as if he would die trying to say the word, "he got angry and raised his voice at me for no reason! By God, if only I knew what caused him to behave like that."
Norfolk stroke his wrinkled chin as he listened, trying to make sense of what Wiltshire was saying. He soon came to a conclusion and said, "I only see one real explanation for what George did."
"What? Tell me!"
"It's simple: George has fallen in love with Mary."
"WHAT?!" The Earl nearly jumped out of his skin! "Why are you telling me such nonsense, Norfolk? I swear on my very life, that there is absolutely no possibility that my son would do that!"
"Oh, but it certainly seems that way to me," insisted the Duke being undeterred. "Why else would he so defensive? You brashly insulted Mary, his wife. I must admit, though, that I never saw it coming before."
Wiltshire by then was not as irate as he was before, but simply numb with shock. "No, this cannot be happening! My son would never betray me like that..."His glance landed on Norfolk who went back to eating his breakfast. "How can you be so calm and eat at a time like this?! Don't you understand that our plan to keep that Spanish bastard under control as George's wife has been thwarted?!"
Norfolk, not pleased about being interrupted for the second time, shot him a sharp glare. "Do us all a favor and watch your tongue, Wiltshire! I know that you're upset because of George, as am I, but it's not the end of the world! Anne is due to go into labor in August and the wedding this Sunday will serve to make her future son legitimate in the eyes of God. However, if it turns out to be a girl, I still wouldn't worry as Mary should have inherited her mother's inability to have healthy sons. So this is not the time to be losing our heads." He paused for another bite of sausage before adding,"As for George, it will only be a matter of time before he realizes his folly in betraying us. Trust me on this."
"I just hope you're right," grumbled Wiltshire as he resumed to seeking comfort in even more wine.
The Privy Council was currently divided in a heated debate: Who should King Henry become allies with?
In the last three months, Henry had used Cromwell's wealth of information to evict monks and confiscate land from over 1,000 monasteries on charges of, "disorderly and unchristian conduct." Hoards of golden treasures and relics were taken away, in order to be melted down to make coins that filled the royal coffers to almost the point of overflowing. He then gave the lands away to his favorite nobles and courtiers as rewards for their steadfast loyalty. For the moment, it seemed as if nothing could go wrong with that.
Henry's success didn't last long, however, for just last week he had received a most scornful letter from the Pope in Rome. Another letter from Emperor Charles V followed suit, in which he threatened to invade England in the name of the Pope if Henry does not stop this outrageous practice.
In concern for the safety of England, Henry decided that the best thing to do was too seek out an alliance. So he called for a meeting of the Privy Council to help him in this matter. Leading the arguments were Cromwell and Norfolk, each with their own different opinions.
"Your Highness's best option would be to ally yourself with Cleves in Germany!"
"I've never even heard of Cleves! King Francis would make a much better ally than that!"
Henry, seated at the head of the table, raised his hand and commanded, "Silence! I cannot possibly listen to two different voices at once...it's giving me a headache. Cromwell, Norfolk, you will each get a chance to express your opinions so I bid you all to be patient."
Norfolk and Cromwell exchanged dirty looks between them, but both nodded in agreement with Henry.
"Good. Cromwell, you're up first."
"Gladly, your Majesty." He cleared his throat with a guttural cough before starting with, "As you know, I only want to do what is best for England, especially in these times where the safety of our great kingdom is threatened. Therefore, I cannot stress enough the benefits of an alliance with Cleves! Don't be fooled by it's small size, for Cleves is one of the most prosperous and wealthiest of the German dukedoms! They also have the finest troops that money can buy. As for religion, there is a good chance that Cleves will be sympathetic to your cause since you both share the sentiment of having broken away from the Pope. King Francis is not to be trusted because like the Emperor, he sees England as nothing but a land of heretics! It's most likely that he will join with the Emperor in order to see our entire kingdom put to the fire!" Cromwell paused to take a breath before concluding, "So for the sake of the realm, I do hope that your Highness will come to take my advice."
Henry formally acknowledged Cromwell with a nod, and then bid him to sit. Norfolk stood up next to take his turn.
"Cromwell's idea is insane, your Majesty!" Commenced the Duke with dissent."Cleves is merely an insignificant and obscure German dukedom, so what good could it possible do? Furthermore, it is devoutly Protestant, which I know your Majesty despise. From my experience as your former ambassador to France, I highly suggest allying yourself with France instead, as we can rely on them to provide the right amount of troops we need. Having a powerful Catholic country by your side will help England tremendously. Convincing King Francis shouldn't be too difficult, because our reliable sources tells us that relations between him and Emperor Charles are tightly strained. That's most likely due to King Francis' humiliation as the Emperor's former prisoner of war." Then in a touch of political savvy, he added, "Perhaps your fiance, my niece, can vouch with him on your behalf. She is considered as a patroness of France, after all. That said, I think your Majesty knows what is the best thing to do."
Now all that was left, was for Henry to make a choice based on the arguments they have presented. His eyebrows were furrowed in deep concentration. One could tell that this was not going to be an easy or quick decision for him. Cromwell sat proudly in his seat, confident that the king will take his side, and he made sure everyone knew it.
Norfolk, fearing that his speech wasn't enough, discretely whispered to Jean du Lys, "Psst! Please pardon my disruption, Monsieur, but would you be so kind as to do me a favor? Since you are in service to King Francis, I bid you to speak out in favor of my proposal. Cromwell is a blundering heretic and I will not let him drag England into destruction and eternal damnation! A formal alliance between King Henry and your King Francis will bring many benefits for both our nations, don't you think so?"
Joan raised an eyebrow in slight skepticism at his request. On one hand, she had never possessed much patience for old men who waste their time bickering among themselves, without taking any action whatsoever. Her eyes then wandered over to Cromwell; yet she was aware of Cromwell's desire to create ties for England with other Protestant kingdoms. That will only push England further away from the rest of Catholic Europe, thus making her task even more difficult. Besides that, she also could not bring herself to pass up an opportunity to wipe that villainous smirk from Cromwell's face.
Reverting her attention back to Norfolk, Joan nodded in compliance. Raising her hand up, she called out to Henry, "Your Highness, before you deliver your final judgement, I would like to give my input on the matter."
Seeing nothing wrong with that, Henry replied with, "Well then, be my guest, Monsieur!"
"Thank you, your Highness." Joan promptly rose from her seat and bowed to the group of prestigious nobles around her. "In my honorable position as King Francis's ambassador to England, it is my responsibility to maintain good relations between our two kingdoms. I can see no better way to do that than for us to join our two kingdoms together in a formal alliance! The Duke of Norfolk spoke the truth when he said that his Highness of France is willing to fight with you. My King Francis have written to me on several occasions, expressing his desire for a new alliance with England. He wants nothing less than revenge against the Emperor for how badly he suffered at his hands. The Emperor Charles is a ruthless man, even toward his allies. Perhaps this would be a good time to remind you of the time when the Emperor sent his army to assault Rome and kidnap the Pope. What I'm trying to say by that, is if you choose to work with the Emperor then you will risk having your own kingdom swallowed up by the monstrous Holy Roman Empire. However, if you ally yourself with France, then together we can maintain a safe balance of power between ourselves and the Emperor. I shall say no more and will now leave it to your Majesty to decide."
Murmurings of approval arose from the gathered councilors as Joan silently sat back down. Norfolk was immensely grateful for her efforts. Cromwell, meanwhile, began to panic to panic upon seeing Henry smile with interest at the Frenchman'swords. In spite of his best attempts to intervene, it was too late.
It was only a matter of minutes until Henry finally announced, "I have reached a decision! An alliance with France it shall be! That said, you are all officially dismissed!"
Just like that, the meeting was over. Everyone that was present bowed farewell to King Henry before filing out of the room. Cromwell was the last to leave, dazed as to how he had been so easily overturned by a mere Frenchman 30 years his junior!
I must seek out that villainous rat and give him a piece of my mind! He didn't have to look far and quickly caught up Joan, much to her exasperation.
"So, you think that you can just undermine my efforts and get away with it?" spoke the older man ruefully as he poked the lad's chest with a finger of accusation."Well you are wrong, monsieur, for I will not be so easily beaten! The Reformation shall still prevail yet in England! Although, I can't see why an ambassador of France like you would care about whether England remains Catholic or not. Unless, that is, you have some kind of ulterior motive?"
Joan pretended to take offence from that, defending herself with,"I have no idea of what you are accusing me off, Cromwell! I assure you that I'm only here to serve my King, and nothing more."
Then with a curt nod of her head, she brusquely shoved passed him and stalked away. Once she was out of his range, Joan briefly looked back over her shoulder at Cromwell as a sly smile appeared on her face.
By that time, Cromwell's face became the color of purple as he was left even more aggravated than before! Never had he encountered anyone who frustrated him as much as this particular French ambassador. If only there was some way for him to get back at the Frenchman for all the troubles he caused him. Cromwell's intense rage was soon forgotten upon catching sight of Anne Boleyn strolling down the hall, with her ladies-in-waiting following closely behind.
"Your Majesty,"he purred while bowing politely. "Might I say the radiance of your beauty never seems to fade away, not even in the slightest."
Pleased by his compliment, Anne simply smiled at Cromwell as she and her ladies made their way past him. His eyes eventually fell upon Jane Seymour, a fair girl with pale skin and golden hair. She was indeed a true English rose, whose blue eyes shone with purity and innocence. It was love at first sight for Cromwell as carnal desires swelled in his heart. He was unable to speak for a while, being struck speechless by her beauty.
Never have I seen a creature with such grace and beauty! Ah, her face is that of an angel and yet she is one of mankind! I must have her as my wife so that we may produce many beautiful children together!
After the meeting of the Privy Council, Joan decided to go out into the courtyard for some fresh air. There, she came upon Chapuys who was, with some difficulty, trying to mount a horse. The Spaniard was dressed for traveling, wearing a black hooded cloak and riding gloves.
Joan quickly approached him with curiosity, asking, "Where in God's name do you think you're going, Ambassador Chapuys?"
"Hello, Monsieur Du Lys! If you must know, I'm setting out for Lancaster to visit Catherine," Chapuys admitted rather shyly. His voice then fell to a hushed whisper as he beckoned Joan to lean in closer. "I won't lie to you, four months feels like an eternity when you're in love. So...you never saw me here, got it?"
"My lips are hereby sealed," Joan vowed with a wink.
Halfway into the day, the few puffy white clouds that floated in the sky suddenly multiplied into a dark blanket that stretched out for miles around. The seasonal April showers came not so long after that. Raindrops by the thousands struck against the roof and windows of Rochford castle.
Mary didn't seem to mind, for she actually considered the tap-tap sound the raindrops made to be music. Sitting in the castle's parlor, she sighed contentedly to herself as she flipped through the pages of a book. A crackling fire glowed in front of her, providing a warm light. There was also a cup of mead and a bowl of grapes on the small table beside her. The room was filled with a golden silence, apart from the rain, of which Mary took great pleasure in.
"Care if I join you, Princess?"
Mary looked up see John Stark walking up from behind her. She smiled at him and replied, "Of course, I can always use the company. Please sit."
John smiled broadly in return and did just that, dropping into another empty seat. He also brought his own lunch with him, a bowl of warm gravy and loaf of bread.
"So, I heard that George's father the Earl came by for a visit this morning," said John, tearing off a piece of bread. "From the look of the chair that is now nothing more than a pile of firewood, I reckon it didn't go so well?"
"Then you would be correct," Mary sighed wistfully while she closed her book. "You know, John, it feels different being here in Rochford castle compared to the royal Court. Everyone is so kind and trustworthy here, but Court is full of ambitious nobles and courtiers who are willing to do anything to get ahead in the deadly game of politics and intrigue. The Boleyns are no different and lately, they have been blessed with good fortune. I trust that by now you've heard of how George's sister, Anne, had replaced my mother as Queen beside the King?"
John nodded slowly, his eyes reflecting genuine sympathy for her. "Look, I might serve the Boleyns, but I do retain my sense of compassion. Queen Catherine was such a great saint...it's a shame how the King just abandoned her like that. That must have been hard for you, Princess."
"I really appreciate your condolences, John. Though things did finally got better for us when my mother, knowing that it was the best thing to do, willingly relinquished her title and position of Queen of England. My father, out of gratitude, made her the Duchess of Lancaster and even allowed me to keep my title as a princess of England. He did have one condition, which was for me to marry George. I knew right away that it was his father and uncle who arranged it. In case you haven't noticed, I'm not looked upon too kindly by George's family, especially the Earl and Anne. They see me only as a threat to their growing power, so they married me off to George in order to contain me or whatnot. So now you know the truth behind our marriage."
"Really? Well, then, you both are doing a fine job of pretending to be all happy and lovey-dovey," John replied with a hint of irony.
That made Mary laugh a little as she said, "Oh no, we are not pretending! To be honest, there was one good thing that I did not expect to come out of this marriage. That is love. It took some time, but I eventually came to realize that George was different from the rest of his family. He is not arrogant and ambitious like I first thought, but kind and noble." She gazed down fondly at the charm bracelet George gave her at Christmas. "He was the only person who treated me like a true princess when everyone else labeled me as a bastard. What started out as marriage of convenience invented by his father and uncle, turned out to be a love match after all. Anyway, I'm sorry if I bored you with my rambling. I kind of got caught up in the moment."
"Ah, not at all, dear Princess! I was kept quite entertained the whole time. It delights me to know that you were able to overcome your hardships, and find true love with George. I can see that being married to you has affected George tremendously as well. He is no longer the irresponsible bachelor that he used to be in his earlier years. God, I still can't believe that I was not there for his wedding!" Then with cheerful smile, John raised his cup of wine and proclaimed, "A toast to the lovely Princess and George! I wish you all the best in your blissful marriage!"
Mary happily raised her cup, and the two of them performed a toast with much laughter and revelry. Shortly after that, Sir Thomas Osbourne ran into the room, distress written all across his face.
He urgently called out, "John! You are needed in the stables! Sundance is going to into labor as we speak!"
John immediately sprung into action, but not before giving Mary a quick bow. Mary watched for a moment as he grabbed his cloak and rushed out of the room.
Walking over to Sir Thomas, she asked, "Who is Sundance?"
"One of of our most prized mares, your Majesty," was the Steward's reply. "She isn't supposed to go into labor until for another month but...nature can be rather surprising at times." Looking around the room, he caught sight of the wine and food on the table. "I see that you two were having some fun here, weren't you?"
"Indeed we were, Sir Thomas. Why do you ask?"
"Nothing, it's just that, John might appear to be joyful and carefree on the outside...but inside, he is a broken and wounded man."
Mary frowned in perplexity at his words. "What do you mean by 'broken and wounded'?
Sir Thomas's face became somber all of a sudden as he spoke, "You didn't hear this from me, but John had a wife once. Her name was Kate and they were deeply in love. Kate's father did not approve of their relationship, so they ran away together and eloped in secret. A year after that, Kate died in childbirth along with his unborn son. Poor John was never able to completely recover from that tragic blow, I'm afraid."
"Oh, how terrible!" gasped a crestfallen Mary. "I-I did not know that before!"
"Yes, John can hide his emotions very well. Whatever you do, Princess, please do not mention any of this him." The corners of his mouth lifted to form a gentle smile. "Now don't you fret, Princess! I know just the thing that can turn your frown upside down. How would you like to witness God perform the miracle of life in the stables, hmm?"
That did just the trick, for Mary quickly brightened up once again, nodding enthusiastically.
The sun was just starting its descent when there came a knock against the door of Catherine's chambers. She and her companion, Maria de Salinas, had been spending the afternoon working on their embroidery up until then. Catherine signaled for Maria to see who was at the door as another knock was delivered.
With that, Maria had to put aside her embroidery and walk over to the door. She then opened it to reveal a half weary, yet beaming Eustace Chapuys.
"Good day to you, Lady Maria," greeted the ambassador with a flourishing bow. "Is there any chance that I may come in?"
As soon as she heard his voice, Catherine suddenly felt her heart fluttering with excitement. Forgetting her embroidery, she immediately stood up as Maria stepped aside so that Chapuys may enter. Their eyes met with a deep-seated longing; it has been too long since they last seen each other.
Maria looked on silently for a moment, before ending the silence between them. "Should I leave to give you some privacy, my lady?"
A nod from the Duchess was all that she needed. Maria dipped into an elegant curtsy and quickly took her leave, closing the door behind her as she did so. Even after she had left, both Chapuys and Catherine continued to stare at each other with fixed smiles. They were apparently too absent-minded to say anything.
It was Chapuys who finally broke the ice, by extending out his arms and saying, "Mi amor! Ah, you have no idea how happy I am to see you here!"
"Oh, Chapuys, I feel the exact same way," responded Catherine, kissing him on the cheek as they embraced. "I was not, however, expecting for you to come today. Nevertheless, I do find this visit to be a rather wonderful surprise."
"I wish I could have visited you sooner, but my duties kept me at Court all this time."
Catherine nodded gently in understanding. Next, she took him by the hand and led him to a seat so that he may rest. Chapuys released a sigh of utter relief at finally being off his feet after his journey.
Sitting down herself, Catherine then asked him, "Would you like to refresh yourself with some mead, Chapuys?"
"It's kind of you to ask, but no thank you," was Chapuy's reply as he settled into his seat. Once he was comfortable, he turned to Catherine and asked, "So tell me, Catherine, how do you like it here in Lancaster? I hope that you've been of good health lately."
"Living here in Lancaster has been a most peaceful experience," replied the Duchess with a dreamy smile. "It's certainly a great improvement from my former residence at Kimbolten. I fear that my health would be in grave danger if I had stayed there any longer! Ever since I transferred here, I have felt much better. And you, Chapuys? How have you been?"
The Spaniard slightly cocked his head to the side in an endearing fashion. "Well physically, I've been in good health. However, I did find myself prone to depression every once awhile when you weren't there. It wasn't that bad because there was Jean du Lys to keep me company. Such a nice fellow he is." As he looked intently into Catherine's eyes, Chapuys suddenly grew more cheerful. "But now that I'm here in your company, I can consider myself cured once and for all!"
Catherine couldn't help but purr softly with laughter at his romantic antics. "Then I am hereby glad that I was able to heal you after all. I'll admit that I missed you also...and have been waiting every day for you to come along. Since that is now out of the way, let us move on to something else shall we. I am curious about the happenings at Court. Is there any news from there that I should know about?"
"There isn't much, really. The only thing I can think of is the um...the grand royal wedding that's bound to take place on Sunday," spoke Chapuys hesitantly, for he was uncertain of how Catherine was going to react.
"A wedding?" Upon hearing that, Catherine's smile just sort of faded away. "So Henry and Anne Boleyn are getting married then?"
The Spanish ambassador could only nod solemnly in response. Meanwhile, in her heart, Catherine felt something like a dull ache. She always knew that this day would come and thought that she will be prepared when it does, but now...she wasn't so sure anymore.
As if sensing her distress, Chapuys then took her hand into his and said soothingly, "I'm here for you, mi amor. Henry and Anne are getting married, so what? Everyone knows that you are still the one true Queen of England, if not in title, then in your spirit and soul! Even if Anne does succeeds in producing a male heir, she will never be half the Queen you were! Trust me, there is no reason that you should be threatened by their marriage. If Henry wants to marry his wicked harlot for the sake of lust, then let him do it! Just please don't be sad, Catherine, I would hate to see you feeling sad."
"Thank you so much for everything,"replied Catherine with gratitude, as she lovingly caressed his face. "What would I ever do without you, Chapuys? Really, though, I am actually happy for Henry and Anne... they truly deserve each other. We have both gotten what we wanted, and I couldn't be any more satisfied. Perhaps I should send them a wedding gift in order to express my congratulations." Her eyebrows curved as she contemplated over what she should give. "Obviously, sending them food is out of the question. Anne will just claim that I poisoned it or something."
"I know, Anne is well known for her fondness of jewelry made from pearls,"Chapuys helpfully suggested. "Or was it rubies? I simply can't remember for some reason."
"Is that so? In that case, I will have a pair of pearl and ruby earrings made as my gift to her. Will you mind coming back in a few days to pick them up? I'm guessing that Anne has banned me from attending the wedding."
Chapuys nodded and answered with, "Unfortunately, yes she did. As for the earrings, that sounds marvelous! I will happily deliver them for you, my lady."
"Excellent!" The Duchess gave him an appreciative smile as she brought her drinking cup to her lips.
The Spaniard felt his mouth go dry in that moment, and said, "You know what, I think I am thirsty after all. Is the offer of mead still available?"
"I wish you would have said that in the first place before I sent Maria out,"Catherine chastised him gently. Sighing, she then held out her own cup to him. "Here, have the rest of mine. You look like you need it more than I do after coming all the way here. Come on now, I insist."
"Ah, thank you very much for your generosity!" Chapuys graciously accepted her offer, and drank down the rest of the mead. After using the backside of his hand to wipe his mouth, he then asked, "So, have you been receiving letters from Mary by any chance? I wonder how life with George has been going for her so far."
Catherine's face lit up considerably when he mentioned her daughter. "Why, yes, Mary sends me letters every week and I always look forward to them. She said that Rochford castle is a beautiful place with friendly and devoted servants. From what I can tell, she is very content living with George in her position as Lady Rochford."
"I'm very pleased to hear that." A flash of concern flitted across Chapuy's face when he asked another question,"Though what I'm really interested in, is whether Mary is pregnant by now. Well, is she?"
The Duchess shook her head rather sadly while replying with, "No, she is not...not yet anyway. Oh, how I long to hold a precious grandchild in my arms one day! I pray that God will keep me on this earth until then." Her mood suddenly uplifted upon remembering something important. "Chapuys, there is something that I need to tell you about. Now that I am officially the Duchess of Lancaster, I've decided that I want to put the lands that is legally mine by right into good use. By that, I mean I would like to establish a convent right here in Lancaster in honor of the Virgin Mary. A project like this will cost quite a sum of coins, of course, so I'll need you to petition Henry for a donation. Can you do that for me?"
Chapuys smiled approvingly at her proposal. "I certainly will, mi amor! How can Henry deny you anything now that you have allowed him to wed Anne Boleyn?"
Then as if on a whim, he abruptly got up and made his way onto the small balcony outside of the room. He let out a low whistle at the scenic view before him. Nothing but vast open land and forests, stretching outward for miles around in the distance. He was unable to see much farther due to the lack of sunlight at that time. The air out there was so fresh and crisp that he just couldn't resist inhaling it in. A cool wind blew against his face, causing his longer strands of hair to shift along with it.
He soon began to speak again, "By God, look at all this land you have here at your disposal! Simply marvelous is it not? Just think about all of the possibilities that you can use it for. Frankly, Catherine, I think that signing that divorce document was the best decision you ever made! Not only did manage to ensure Mary's safety, but you also gained something else for yourself; a special gift that no queen would ever even dream of possessing."
"And what would that be, may I ask?" Inquired Catherine who appeared to stand beside him.
He turned his gaze to her, eyes shimmering, and answered with ease, "I'm talking about freedom, my dear. As the Duchess of Lancaster, you are no longer bound to the will of Henry, or any other man for that matter. You are now blessed with with the freedom to make your own choices, run your own affairs, and so much more! Indeed, you are a truly independent woman in your own right. Savor it, cherish it, while you still can and don't let it go to waste."
"Hmm...Freedom," Catherine whispered to herself, the word rolling smoothly off her tongue. She then placed her hand over Chapuy's in gesture of affection. "Well, I wouldn't consider myself entirely independent, because I have you to spend the rest of my life with. I would not have it any other way."
"Neither would I, mi amor," replied Chapuys in a heavily sentimental tone, while he planted a kiss upon her hand.
A few minutes later, Maria came back to check on them, only to pause in her tracks when she saw them staring out into the sunset together. She sighed softly at the heartwarming sight before quietly retreating out of the room yet again.
That night at Rochford castle, George and Mary were both preparing themselves for their consummation as husband and wife. George knew that getting Mary pregnant was the only way to make his jerk of a father and uncle to shut the hell up. That wasn't his only motive, though, because deep inside his heart he also wanted to take their relationship to the next level.
Yes, that was what he desired more than anything; for their two bodies to be joined together as one in a physical union of love.
A few tall candles flickered, as Mary was knelt in prayer before the foot of their bed. The old sheets were replaced by fresh, new ones and had been blessed by a priest. Everything was then officially ready for their consummation. Leaning against the doorway, George watched Mary say her prayers while a fond smile lingered on his face. He remained like that for a few minutes, until eventually he couldn't wait any longer.
Sneaking up on Mary, he managed to cover her eyes with his hands. "Guess who, my darling",he sang in a playful voice.
"Oh, George," laughed Mary who turned around to face him.
George's laughter was one of mirth as he pulled her in for a warm embrace. They separated after about a minute, with only their foreheads touching. Their eyes remained locked in a tenderly loving gaze shared between them.
Taking hold of Mary's hands, George then managed to ask, "This is it, I guess...are you sure that you're ready, Mary?"
"Yes...yes, I am ready for this," replied Mary with new-found confidence. "George, I love you."
"I love you too, Mary, with all my heart. Don't worry, for I promise to be gentle with you. Before we start, however, you should know that there is a bit of jam stuck to your bottom lip." Mary's hand instantly went to her mouth, but George stopped her by saying, "Here, allow me."
Mary's eyes flew shut as she allowed George to capture her lips in a searing kiss. A spark was ignited right at that moment. It was slow and sweet at first, but gradually escalated into full-blown passion. The both of them soon became drunk on the delicious taste of each others' lips. They simply couldn't get enough of it, nor could they keep their hands off one another. Mary let out a little squeal of surprise when George suddenly pressed her closer to him, making him smile against her mouth. In response to that, Mary instinctively threw her arms around George's neck, using her hands to ruffle through his short brown hair. Meanwhile, George was taking in the pleasant flowery scent that was emanating from her being. Their lips continued to mingle in perfect harmony with absolutely no sign of slowing down.
Pretty soon, Mary felt George's tongue licking along her bottom lip, just begging for entrance. Much to his delight, Mary then opened her mouth so that his tongue may come in and explore its new surroundings. Mary found the feeling to be rather bizarre, but a part of her enjoyed it for some reason. She moaned in pleasure as their tongues became engaged in an erratic dance of love and desire. It was now George's turn to be surprised, when Mary unexpectedly latched onto his tongue with her teeth.
It seemed like George was a kind of veteran when it came to such intimate affairs, yet he had never felt more alive with anybody else. For Mary, though, it was an entirely different and new experience; the blood rushed through her veins with heightened exhilaration, as her entire body trembled under the amazing sensation. George really knew how to get her heart beating, which continued to increase by the second from the immense joy that she felt. Nothing else seemed to matter as long as they were in each other's arms.
George then felt his manhood harden, and knew exactly what he needed to do next.
He had to withdraw from the kiss, much to both of their sorrows, in order to regain some breathe. He then whispered alluringly into her ear, "May I tuck you into bed now, my love?"
Without waiting for an answer, George picked Mary up with ease and carried her bridal style over to the bed. He gently laid her down upon the bed where they resumed to lock lips once again. It wasn't long before they began to undress, with George reaching out to unlace Mary's nightgown, as she tugged impatiently on the hem of his shirt. When George finally removed his shirt, Mary was left speechless by the god-like perfection of his muscular body even though she had seen him shirtless before. She couldn't help but blush as he proceeded pull off his trousers. George then positioned himself on top of Mary, using his elbows for support lest he should crush her under his weight. Looking down upon her with clear eyes, George took the time to savor every feature, from her shining auburn hair which was spread across the pillows and down to her soft pale skin. Never had he seen anything more divinely beautiful in his entire life; she was indeed his very own angel, who he will now have to deflower.
George, being prompted by a renewed burst of energy, leaned down to leave a trail of kisses starting from Mary's face, and all the way down to between her breasts. Mary moaned softly as her skin became heated every time his lips touched it. After that, it was finally time for him to insert his manhood, which he did with diligent care. Even so, Mary still cried out loud when George succeeded in penetrating her maidenhead. She was forced to dig her nails deeper into George's back as an indescribable pain ripped through her whole body. Her mother had already warned her about this a long time ago, yet nothing she had ever imagined came close to pain that she was feeling right now. The severity of it actually caused tears to amass in her eyes; all that she wanted was for it to be over quickly. Thankfully, George was there to kiss away her tears and comfort her with soothing words of encouragement.
"Shh, it's going to be alright," he told her. "You're going to be just fine, Mary. Trust me, it will be over real soon. You just need to stay strong."
With George's help, Mary was able to survive through that most agonizing ordeal. He then began to move harder and faster, as the pain gradually turned into sweet pleasure. That caused Mary's mind to fog over in a trance, making the rest of the night look like just one disoriented blur to her.
Well OK then, so that's all for this chapter! I hope you guys liked it because I personally had a blast writing it! It was totally worth the extra effort! Especially the last scene...yeah, that was really quite something. I honestly had no idea what I wrote. My mind just sort of lost control for a while there, I guess. I watch a lot of those romance movies, so this would be like all of my secret romantic fantasies manifesting themselves into my writing. That's pretty much the only way I can describe it. Now I can't even think about without getting all bashful and giddy. Hopefully, it wasn't too much for you guys to handle...then again, you might have already developed an immunity to these things after watching the show.
Also, I would like to give a special shout to my amazing mom, and all of your moms, heck all of the moms in the entire world! I wish you all a happy Mother's Day so make sure to show your moms the appreciation they deserve! What would we do without them, am I right? XD
Goodbye until next time! Please remember to leave a review! I can't wait to hear what you guys think about this.