Disclaimer: I neither own Reign, nor profit from this story.
Lola had been enjoying the celebration of Greer's wedding but needed to put to rest one final thing before she could fully allow herself to enjoy the evening.
Jean was tucked snugly in bed and she had asked the Nanny to stay with him all night so that she could have some time just to herself.
She spent about an hour just wandering around and thinking about her life and Jean's. What it was, what it could be. She had already known before talking to Catherine that should he be formerly claimed as Francis's child that his life would become immeasurably more complex. As it was they both had a good life here, just as it was.
Eventually wandering back to her rooms to prepare for the evening she finally made her decision regarding what to do not to tell Francis.
True she had been ordered by her Queen in one particular direction but she never did very well being ordered or forced. This was a different kind of settling than no command could ever provide.
Finding Francis in the crowd she walked up to him with the resolve of a peace filled soul. Putting on her best smile she paused next to him as he finished talking to Bash.
Once done he turned to give his full attention to her and she paused to just observe him. Curly boyish hair, a charmingly affectionate smile, and eyes that just drew you in. Yes she had made a mistake by being with him, but he certainly did not make it easy on her.
Taking a deep breath she began, "Francis, I just wanted to tell you that the Nannies have been very impressed by the way that you handle your Godson, and I very much appreciate the time you take to see him."
Smiling at her words Francis answered in his easy manner. "It is my pleasure and my honor to be in a position to do so. If you don't mind me saying so I thought I started to see more of Julian in him just the other day. I know they say that babies features are constantly changing, but I know what I saw. He is certainly a handsome Child."
Eyes glazing over at how easy Francis had just made this conversation she answered him. "Yes his features certainly become him, and Julian would be most apperceive of your compliment on his behalf."
"Not at all Lola. He is my Godson, and at least for now you and he are both well and stuck with me."
With him grinning from ear to ear, Lola was becoming more and more overwhelmed. Excusing herself she instead found a spot out on a balcony where she took just a moment to breathe.
She had done it. She had confirmed the assumption of Jean's parenthood without lying and firmly placed and kept Francis in his role as Godfather, nothing more.
"I would apologize for interrupting you, but as it happens I found this balcony of solitude first so as it happens it was in fact the other way around."
Jumping at the unexpected statement she turned to see Louis Conde leaning against the banister not five feet away. "Yes, well I apologize for the intrusion but I did not see you there."
"As I figured, such a burdened sigh could only have come from a burdened mind."
"Yes well, formerly burdened would be a more precise way of putting it, but you're observation skills are very astute." She answered his unasked question with enough annoyance in her tone that she hoped would send him scoring away.
"Then might I also be astutely assuming that perhaps a dance might be in order to release some of that energy you seem to have in such high quantities?" Offering his hand to her he otherwise rigid form he stood completely still. Awaiting her reply but giving her the chance to refuse.
Taking just a moment to consider his request she decided that he was right. She had done enough thinking for now and she remembered well that he was a perfectly capable dance partner.
Though their arranged courtship hadn't worked out, he was still quite companionable as well as uncomplicated.
As he lead her to the floor she felt the rest of the burden she had carried for so long finally begin to fall away. The secret of her Son and his parentage, the anger she felt towards Mary…gone.
The former was a weight, the later was a poison. As both were now firmly resting in the past she could begin to move on.
Perhaps a dance was indeed just what she needed.
Henry was thrilled for the Dauphin and Dauphine.
This announcement was good news for France, but better news for Scotland.
At least he and Catherine had provided more than enough heirs for a stable continuation of the Valois line should anything happen to both he and Francis. Mary was still in a reasonably precarious position between the religious conflict in her home country and the fact that England seemed constantly on the offensive.
The life of a Child was something to be celebrated, and even more so for the prospective parents.
He remembered the feeling well.
Catherine's reaction, however, to the Mary's pregnancy had certainly not been appreciated by the young couple by any means. Bursting in on them the morning after Mary had finally worked up the nerve to tell Francis? Honestly sometime he could not understand his wife's mind. If his Father or Step Mother had done such a thing she would have found a way to sneak something into their food and subtly express her displeasure.
Amusingly it would seem that her antics had not gone unrewarded as she ended up prostrated over her own chamber pot not long after. A new chef was what she claimed, but he didn't believe it in the least.
He had been the one to find her and help her as her body expressed its displeasure, all the while smirking without even trying to hide his amusement at the irony. He was sure neither Mary nor Francis had anything to do with it, but it amused him none the less.
Catherine pouted for a while but he managed to life her spirits before she had needed to get ready for the festivities. Greer's wedding had gone on without incident and the Royal heirs would be announcing their good news shortly. It would be the talk of Court for the near future, and for once he would be glad for the spreading gossip.
If the newlyweds were smart they would make their exit for the evening soon after as the attention would no longer be on them anyway.
He had noticed how happy their Heirs were. Mary quite literally glowed with pride and excitement, and Francis cold hardly keep his hands off of her.
Unfortunately the thought of Children brought forth the memory of the Twins for the French King. It really had only been a few years years, and even though he and Catherine's relationship was at that point still quite precarious it was something that he remembered with great fondness.
Catherine was amazing in all things that she did, but above all motherhood suited her the best.
From the moment she knew that she was with child she would love each of her little ones with a fondness and affection that was beyond description. Her care for them, concern and love for them was breathtaking.
The news almost made him hope for even just one more chance to experience that again, together this time instead of apart, but he knew that was not possible.
The physicians were very clear that if she ever conceived again it would carry with it the great potential of both the Child's death and hers. Henry neither wanted to put her through that again, nor did he want to risk losing her. They both mourned the three Children they had lost already. He had barely survived each of those and was not certain that she would survive another herself.
The death of the Twins it her very hard. It was really only Mary's coming back to Court that helped her to regain a sense of equilibrium, and that was an whole other to do altogether.
No, it was indeed better that he only share his wife with their current Brood.
Speaking of which, he hadn't gotten much more than a glance of his sweet wife all evening, where was she?
Scanning the crowd her finally spotted her entertaining some of the Ladies of the Court. She was in her element charming them all, even Lady Marguerite who had been in quite the huff over how her husband had put a limit her allowance for several weeks now. He knew this because Catherine had been going on and on about it for all the headaches the woman had caused her.
Watching her now he was once again reminded of how lucky he was.
Making his way over he continued to watch her, eyes sparkling, chin tilting, and the multitude of expressions that her mouth slid into throughout the conversation. Cheeky, bewitching, and utterly amazing these were all accurate depictions of his wife, these and more.
As the small circle parted to allow him entrance her smile was turned on him and he felt again like he was a young Prince, coming to claim his Bride.
Reaching for her hand he kissed it and address the other Ladies though his eyes never left hers.
"Pardon the interruption but I will need to steal my Wife away from you Ladies." Adding his most charming grin to ease the parting he finished. "If you will excuse us."
Catherine's smile became all the more dazzling as he pulled her away and onto the dance floor. Drawing her in close in step with the dance neither spoke for several moments as they simply enjoyed the relatively secluded closeness.
When the step permitted them to move especially close Henry nearly whispered into her ear. "You look beautiful this evening Catherine."
Grinning indulgently she responded, "And you my Husband are quite handsome."
Moving back and into a much safer distance Henry added, "I trust that you have recovered from this afternoon?"
Turning her attention to the smirk that her Husband had permitted to slide into his features Catherine pouted in response, her lips puckering into a very kissable shape. Although Henry knew he would be in hot water for acting on what he really wanted to do to those lips, he permitted his imagination to wander for just a moment while she decided on a comeback.
"Yes, a most unfortunate turn of event Henry. I may indeed be too ill tonight to do anything but fall asleep, possibly even turning in early so that I may fully recover before tomorrow."
Blinking innocently as he lifted her she broke from the step ever so slightly, trailing her hand down his chest before stepping back and out of reach.
Drawing her inward on a spin Henry also allowed his hands to wander slightly to return that favor before answering, "Such a pity Cara as I had something special planned to ensure an especially restful sleep this evening,"
Suddenly losing the strength in her voice she responded , "A pity indeed."
When he finally spun her back around their eyes were equally dilated, which was not conducive to finishing out as Hosts for the evening.
"Shall we take a moment out in the gardens?"
Despite his bravado, Henry words sounded strangled and definitely not in control.
"Henry that may not be the best…"
"Please Catherine, I won't do anything that might embarrass you, just come out with me."
Catching a curl with his finger he did his best to calm himself down, his eyes now pleading rather than consuming.
Placing a hand on his chest she nodded, which was all the consent he needed.
It had been a long road for them, but as he took her arm he realized that the journey had been worth it. They were not just a couple, a Husband and Wife. Not now and not ever. They were the King and Queen of France with all the baggage and the struggle that came with it.
Stopping at one of the Castle fountains he gazed at his Beloved through eyes that saw beyond what others saw, that saw behind her mask.
When she eventually turned her head and met his eyes he smiled at her.
"What is it Caro?" She inquired, searching his features for what was behind the smile.
His gaze was intense, almost uncomfortably so, but she knew her husband. She knew that intensity for him also meant sincerity.
He loved her, and she knew this.
He loved her and she loved him, more than anyone would ever know.
So when his answer came in the form of tracing the side of her face with a single finger and then tipping her chin upward before capturing her lips with his, she also didn't argue.
He wouldn't take it too far, she trusted him not to.
Happily responding in kind she braced her forearms on his chest as his arms gently circled her waist.
Here under the moonlight they began a dance that they had done many times before. It was one that they would be finishing much later but as they reacquainted themselves with the steps they knew so well, the give and take of two people in love, they also reacquainted on a different level, a deeper level.
Ending the embrace, both took a minute as they disengaged to remain caught in each other's gaze. Eventually Catherine put her head down on Henry's chest and he on the top of her head.
When they were married they promised 'till death do us part'.
That line had taken on a whole new meaning in the last year. A depth that they had never understood before. As man and woman, husband and wife.
They truly were one.