AN: Hello everyone! This is a prologue-ish start to this story just to set up some plot for now. I'm excited about this sequel to "Dreams Of You" and hope everyone who reads this enjoys. I love Cathry and promise chapter one will be our lovely French Court once more! Let's see if Cathry can actually rule and parent together! If anyone has any requests just email me or comment and I'll try my best! Lots more fun and involvement of other characters in this story as well!
Disclaimer : I don't own Reign or any characters associated with the show.
Footsteps echoed off the stonewalls of the hall as Lord Narcisse hastened toward the throne room. Presenting himself unbidden to the King of Navarre was a risk to his head if the King of France found out, but he hoped his gamble would pay off. France was currently in a very tedious position, and the recent plot against the crown had put those closest to the royal family under intense scrutiny. If he could arrange a peace treaty with one of France's enemies he felt certain King Henry would count his actions as loyalty to France. His King would appreciate his proactive aid, and any future rumours of his involvement in the overthrow of the Valois line would be ignored by his old friend. The only worry that the French Lord had was Catherine de Medici. The newfound devotion of Henry to his wife had caused an upset in all of those at French Court. The Medici family certainly couldn't be trusted, and ever since the woman had arrived she had tried unsuccessfully to become her husband's chief advisor. Diane De Poitier had been a clever plant to keep the Italian away from influencing her husband's political moves. Now with Diane dead and King Henry only having an interest of being in his wife's bed the advisors had lost the advantage that they had created when the Medici girl had arrived. Any power and influence that could now be grasped from the Queen had to be held securely until this obsession of the King passed. How long could it last anyway? Granted this had been going on for almost a year, but the royal couple had never been known for pleasantries for very long. If a betrayal by the Queen didn't happen on its own, one would just have to be created.
Reaching the throne room, his name was announced immediately as he was presented to the tall, curly haired King of Navarre. Bowing straightaway, the anxious Lord put on his most reverent smile before standing with a flourish of his hand as his hood fell back around his shoulders.
"Your Majesty's hospitality is unrivaled, King Antoine. I am in your debt for seeing me without any delay."
Regarding the man in front of him under an intense stare, King Antoine waved the untimely visiter forward. He had heard many disgraceful tales of the man that stood before him, and he was cautiously intrigued about his visiter's presence in his country.
"Lord Narcisse, your gratitude is appreciated, but I must admit that I am bewildered at your arrival here. I would think a man in your position would be careful to whom he indebted himself to, yet here you stand. Does France's crumbling faith in their monarchy bring you here, or does the Crown's inability to buy your loyalty any longer have you in search of a new master? Someone you think easily manipulated? If the latter is your goal I can assure you that I am neither ignorant nor uninformed of anyone who steps into my home."
The King observed carefully for his words to reach their full affect on his guest. Throughout his experience in life, Antoine had witnessed that a batting of the eyes or a straightening of the shoulders could tell more of an opponent then all of the words in the dictionaries of the world. Said opponent was seemingly unaffected as no reaction came from Lord Narcisse at being debased to the status of traitor. Antoine's brow furrowed in confusion at the lack of response from the Frenchman. Did this nobleman only become offended when the threat of his coin and power were involved? Someone without a moral compass would be a threat to his enemies and friends alike, and quite dangerous to venture into any agreement with.
Taking a moment to calculate his words, Stephane recognized the wary look in the young King's eyes. The Ruler didn't trust his visiter's presence of a certainty. This proposition that Stephane needed to present must be done tactfully if it were to work.
"I never obligate myself before knowing I can please my debtor, Majesty. As to my reason for being here, the matter does concern France. I would have my country strong and flourishing under her Monarchy once more, and I think that Navarre can be of great help in my dream for a brighter, stronger France."
King Antoine rolled his eyes at the mention of a better France under its current leaders. He hated the Valois with every drop of his Bourbon blood, and he had every right to. King Henry had sent mercenaries to kill his father and elder brother for daring to rise against the Valois demon seated upon the French throne. The invasion had been unsatisfactory for Navarre and the mercenaries had regrettably succeeded. Antoine had been a young boy of barely twelve years of age, but he would never forget the butchery of that horrid day. He had only survived by hiding within an old chest in the corner of the room, yet he still bore the mental scars of that day. He had heard and seen everything from his corner through a small hole in the wooden box. His father had died instantly as an assasin had slit his throat, but his older brother had been hacked away on from behind. Antoine still had nightmares of his brother screaming in pain as he was unable to move or see until he finally died weeks later. His brother's death had been the cruelest of the cruel, and Antoine still sought the man who had committed the act. Perhaps Narcisse could be of help if given the right incentive? If Antoine could keep this French dog on a leash for long enough to have his revenge then maybe the ghosts of his dead family would let him rest at night.
"Pardon my misunderstanding, but why would you come to me on behalf of the Valois? King Henry can't have sent you to ask for help from the house of Bourbon. They despise us for having a differing opinion of who should be the true King of France. My father and brother's untimely death, which I'm sure you have heard mention of, is proof enough of the blood feud between our two house and countries. Even if King Henry has softened his resolve in his old age towards us as he has reportedly done as well with his wife, why would Catherine de Medici ever allow an order such as this? It is said she holds her husband's attention with her dark Medici magic now that his mistress is no longer in the land of the living. The Queen's reputation is fierce, and her web of spies impenetrable. If the rumors are true and the King had happened to go against her advice one could wager that both King and messenger would be singing with the angels compliments of her poisonous maneuverings. So I can only assume that with all of the evidence clearly known to me that this venture that you are here to present is of your own design."
A smirk appeared on Narcisse's face at the Bourbon King's deduction methods. It was refreshing to deal with a monarch who could figure out a move as it was being played, if not a bit disconcerting. Stephane would have to be careful of this King's hold on him.
"You are correct in your reasoning, your Grace. I haven't come at the behest of my King."
Stephane felt sure he saw the King's head swell from having his suspicions confirmed. Such a typical act by royals.
"Don't you fear returning to your beloved France if they find out you are now consorting with Bourbons? After the last few months I wouldn't think they'd take kindly to another betrayal."
Antoine leaned forward a bit in his throne, clearly interested in where the conversation with the French Noble was leading.
"I only fear returning to my homeland if you were to reject my offer. I do, however, have faith that you will see the error of others who have tried to conquer France through war instead of more...approachable ways."
Rolling back in his throne and stroking his chin, Antoine considered Stephane's words. What other way was the Frenchman speaking of?
"More approachable ways such as?"
Narcisse tried not to look too confidant at the King's interest. There was still a lot to explain.
"Your Majesty, the best way to conquer your enemy is to hold him close, make him trust you, and then slowly gain more power over time."
Antoine's eyes slanted slightly at his visiter. The King was a bit skeptical of this particular advance. How was this supposed to even work in his country's favour?
"You want Navarre to make peace with France, gain their trust, and then take their power away? Do you really think that both the King and Queen of France will ever trust Navarre as long as a Bourbon sits on the throne?"
Narcisse's brow furrowed now at the King in front of him that seemed so sure that his plan would fail. Kings were so wearisome at times.
"France is weak and in need of friends. They might not trust your offer now, but over time they can be made to accept."
Motioning for the servant to bring him wine, Antoine offered Stephane some as well.
"My offer of friendship? I won't offer friendship for free. They would think us weak and plotting against them most likely. They would never accept it, nor would I give it freely after that Valois had my family murdered."
Narcisse accepted his glass and watched the dark liquid before answering.
"You wouldn't be offering it freely. There would be a steep price for them, and a guaranteed way for France to belong to a Prince of the Blood someday. You could finally get the revenge you have wanted for years."
Standing from his throne, Antoine motioned the servant out of the throne room, leaving he and Stephane alone.
"And just what, Lord Stephane, would my price be?"
Narcisse waited a beat before revealing his proposal.
"Bargain for a position at their Court for your brother, Conde. Once he is placed there, have him court their princess, Claude."
Antoine almost laughed out loud at such an outlandish idea. A Bourbon and a Valois united in marriage?
"Her parents would never allow such a match."
Tilting the wine glass to his lips, Narcisse choked down the snide remark that had entered into his mind. Did monarchs have no imagination at all?
"If her reputation is ruined they would have to accept your offer, or have her face shame the rest of her life and lose the only political match she will ever be receive. She'll be useless to them otherwise."
"France will want financial assurance for Condé's appointment at Court."
Narcisse pondered the shape of the French economy. Navarre, although small, was a rich country.
"Can Navarre not afford to help the French out? They will need money to rebuild and feed their people. One man's presence for the preservation of the people of France is hardly an extravagant offer."
Antoine thought on the idea a moment before settling his own cup to his lips. This would take a lot of maneuvering and patience, but if they could make the political wheel turn in their favour it old work.
"I will take this to my advisers for their advice before I give you an answer, and I will consult my brother. You will stay until you have your answer."
Narcisse despised the ordering of Kings, but one did have to pet the one who wore the crown every once in a while.
"I will, Majesty."