"Well do you like him?" Greer questioned running a brush through Mary's hair.
Lola handed Mary a bracelet and a ring to wear, "She must; she kissed him."
Mary wrapped the bracelet around her wrist as Aylee helped clasp it. "I shouldn't have."
"But you did." Greer added, "You do like him then."
Mary sighed looking at herself in the mirror as Kenna came to place her crown on top of her head. "He's kind." She admitted, "He doesn't talk to me like Francis does. Francis acts like I'm a duty to try and love but Bash—it seems—oh I don't know."
"It seems like it's easy." Lola finished.
"No." Mary looked down and then back up towards her friends. "Not easy—it feels right."
Kenna grinned devilishly at Mary in the mirror. "If Kings can have mistresses why couldn't Queens? Maybe Bash wouldn't mind being your paramour."
"Don't give her any ideas Kenna." Greer chastised. "It isn't the same for Queens as it is for Kings. Even woman royals face gender equality as much as the rest of us and for them it would be extremely detrimental to have a paramour." She gave Kenna a very disapproving look. "Besides Mary, maybe things can be good between you and Francis. Give it time."
"I'm beginning to wonder if the love I feel for Francis is even true." Mary said, "I created these stories in my head that I would come here and it would be blissfully romantic." She laughed lightly, "It has been everything but that with Francis and everything and more with Bash."
Aylee smiled at Mary bringing over the jar of rouge. "I think it's sweet."
Mary looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was done up gorgeously, her crown gleamed, her dress was fitting around her neck; she looked a Queen now more than she ever had in France. "I'm sorry," she apologized to her ladies, "I'm not sure I can go to court today with all of this on my mind. Please help me out of this and into something more comfortable. I'd much rather take Stirling for a walk today."
"Are you feeling alright Mary?" Greer asked.
Mary gave a small smirk. "I just need some fresh air is all, I think Stirling could use it too."
After her ladies helped her out of the gown and into a simpler dress Mary walked along the fields outside of the castle with her dog. Mary didn't mind the fresh air and she was sure that Stirling didn't either, but there was no way she was going to court today. Not when she would see Francis, not when all she could think about was Bash. She didn't mind her friends gossiping about the kiss between her and Bash but she couldn't hear about it any longer. It was hard to be faced with your inevitable future and the future you always had in mind, it was even harder hearing your friends talk about it.
"Mary." Bash smiled approaching her and petting Stirling who returned the greeting by licking his hand. "I'm surprised to see you out here. Francis said he was attending court today."
She smiled, this was one of the reasons why she loved being around Bash. Even after sharing their first kiss, stolen in a meadow with the sting of liquor on their lips; it wasn't awkward between them in the slightest. "I was meant to attend as well but I thought I'd rather take my dog for a walk."
"It sounds to me like you chose the better option." He laughed. "How about I join you then. Thankfully bastards are hardly invited to court."
"That'd be nice." They continued to walk towards the pathway but before they could continue Mary just had to know. She stopped and placed her hand on his arm, "Why does this feel right?"
Bash looked down at her and smirked, "Because when two people have such a strong connection Mary, it just is right."
She didn't want to smile even though one embraced her face. By what means could you smile when the person you could see yourself with tells you that the connection you both are feeling is true and the reality of it is that no matter how right it felt, she couldn't do anything about it. "And what happens when no matter how strong the connection is you will never be together?"
He frowned, "Well Mary, I believe that all falls down to life. I couldn't control that I'd be born a bastard, nor you could control being Queen. Maybe in another life, we could've been everything." He paused and smiled at her before he added. "Though it seems those weren't the cards we were dealt."
"How… tragic." Mary said, "It's just I'm not sure that I'm ready to accept all this."
"How do you mean?"
"Francis does not love me, nor I him. Is it worth it? A marriage pact made years ago, but King Henry hasn't made one move to wed Francis and I. If he is willing to wait so long it must not matter as much as he said." She stood up a little taller, "I won't let my fate be tragic. What is the point of life if not for love? I'm just not ready to give up on it yet."
Bash smiled down at her. "I think Henry is in for quite a shock."
They smiled at each other and continued to walk until suddenly Mary stopped, "Actually I think I will go to court, would you join me?"
"Are you sure Mary?" Bash asked.
She nodded, "I just can't be what I am expected to be. I need to do good for my country but I need to do it for myself as well."
He looped his arm to escort her, "Then I will go to court with you Mary." She set her hand on his arm and whistled for Stirling to follow.
When Mary and Bash arrived at court Henry was sending away a Shepard whose sheep had been slaughtered by an unknown person. "Ah Mary I see you decided to join us, and you brought my bastard son Bash with you how pleasant." Henry said standing from his chair to move closer to them. "What has brought you here today?"
Mary looked across the room at Francis who shifted his eyes once hers met his. If that didn't solidify her feeling she didn't know what would, what kind of a future King couldn't even look at his future Queen. "Even though this marriage pact was agreed upon a little over a decade ago you are taking your sweet time in arranging anything further."
"Catherine doesn't seem willing to let her son go just yet." Henry admitted.
"Well it seems you have two sons King Henry and one I do not want to marry." Mary looked again at Francis who finally could muster the courage to look at her. He was hurt, angry, ashamed, but Mary didn't care. He was Dauphin where she was already Queen. "Give me the choice to marry Bash instead, legitimize him and we will marry as soon as the Pope says 'yes'. Queen Catherine will no longer put a delay on the agreement made between France and Scotland."
Henry almost smiled, "You sure have a fire lit under you Mary." He turned to look at Francis, "And what do you say about this my son?"
"I think the choice is wrong Father. Bash has never been trained to be King." Francis argued.
"If that is the only argument from you Francis I can already see the choice I will make. Bash, is this what you want?"
He looked at Mary and then back to King Henry, "It is Father."
"Draw the papers!" King Henry exclaimed, "Write the Pope! Bash will be legitimized by the next span and I can finally see the union between France and Scotland. Court is done for the day, it's time to plan a wedding." Henry left the room.
The tension between Francis and the new couple heightened with every step he took towards them. "What exactly do you two think you're doing?"
"It seems it's already been done Francis." Mary said, "I won't be fiddled around with. A marriage for a Queen might be more about a country then it is for love but my marriage will be about both."
"You're going to regret this." He threatened.
"The only thing I would've regretted is if I married you like the obedient Queen your mother wants me to be. If she thought holding back the marriage would only strengthen my bond with you or her, she is wrong. I came to France to save my country and to marry someone I could love and that's exactly what I'm doing. I'm sorry that in doing so it takes something from you that you've been expecting since the day you were born. But sometimes Francis what we expect can never live up to reality, I learned that when I came back to France and met you." Mary put her hand on Bash's arm. "I'll be in the hall when you're ready." She turned and left the two brothers alone.
"Was this your idea?" Francis asked, "You kiss her in the meadow and whisper sweet nothings about becoming a King?"
Bash laughed lightly, "You've got that all wrong brother. This was her idea."
"Then it seems your future wife is already taking more responsibility for your life then our father ever did." Francis spat before leaving.
Bash found Mary out in the hall watching Francis storm off. "Was it that bad?" Mary asked.
"Oh just the usual Francis likes to compare the relationships we have with our father. He always thought of me a bastard and now he won't get to anymore."
"Did I overstep my bounds Bash?" She asked.
He shook his head no placing his hands on her arms, "No Mary. You're right to not settle for the marriage pact made for you since you were a child. You are right to want more." He smiled at her, "I've thought for years that I would always just be the King's bastard. Now because of you, I get to be more than that."
"You were never just a King's bastard. You are brave, honorable, loyal. These people will be lucky to have you as their King. Just as I will be lucky to be your wife."
He pulled her towards him and kissed her. "The only lucky one here is me. I never could've imagined that this would be my life one day."
She leaned into his kiss and pressed her hand gently to his chest, "I know you never expected this, I know it happened so fast but I am so glad you have agreed to take this journey with me."
"Love is fast, love is unexpected and certainly love is a journey, Mary. I am delighted to take this journey with you." He kissed her once more, but it certainly wasn't the last.