Disclaimer: I own nothing
AN: My apologies on pulling a disappearing act. I can't say I'll be back writing often, but I have a couple of chapters in the works.
Warning: This chapter gets a bit nsfw.
Henry roused to find his arms and her bed empty. Before sleep had taken him, all the prince could do was marvel at the way she relaxed against him as she drifted off. The feel of her body molding into his own endeared her to him as no words ever could.
She was his. His to love. To protect. To carry to bed when she dozed off on the chaise.
To search for her when she disappeared from his side.
Brushing the sleep from his eyes, Henry squinted and searched the dimly lit room. He found her seated before the fireplace, something white draped across her lap. With a tug the bedclothes came loose from beneath the mattress and Henry tucked them around himself like a cloak.
"What is disturbing my wife's sleep this time?" Her head turned sharply at his teasing question.
As he approached she smiled for him, causing a giddy flutter in his chest. "It's nothing. Go back to bed."
Ignoring her order, he plopped down next to her to examine the bundle in her lap. Fine gold Hs were embroidered along the hems of what upon closer inspection were revealed to be a shirt. He looked up to find a bashful Catherine studying his reaction.
Her explanation came in a burst, her accent thickening, and his groggy mind struggled to keep up. "It was meant to be a surprise. I noticed a few of yours were worn. Not that I was snooping, I wasn't. I just saw them and thought- If you don't like it though I can-"
Her babbling broke off when he tossed the bedsheets at her and watched a smile threaten to form on her lips. Henry whipped his nightshirt off and slipped her handiwork over his head, deaf to her warnings about minding the needle. The fit was a bit loose and he thrust his chest out nervously, trying to fill the extra fabric.
With her hands smoothing and adjusting the fabric, Henry only caught half of what she said. "I made it a bit larger than your others. I thought… Well, you seem to grow taller every day and with all your sparring…"
He kissed her then, sudden and sure, but just as tender as before. "It's perfect." The words were hummed against her lips.
"Then you like the embroidery?"
"Catherine," his hands clasped her own, "it's perfect."
This earned him one of her rare smiles, one that was his alone. "Only… It's missing something." He laid her tiny hand right over his heart, pausing for her to feel the effect her nearness was having on him. "I'd like a C right here."
The moon was still high as Henry leaned into her, watching her graceful fingers guide the needle and trying not to watch the rise and fall of her chest.
All at once, a lighthearted smile curled his lips, catching his little wife's eye as she glanced up from her work. "What is it?"
"It's just that... I have a wife." Henry, who had been reared on neglect and rejection, was overwhelmed by her tender nurturing. His smile grew and he shook his head. "A wife. It's just so hard to believe."
Catherine did not share in his joy. Her lips pressed together, nervous fingers picked at her most recent stitches. "Perhaps…Perhaps it's hard to believe because we haven't been… together as husband and wife in some time."
Understanding coloured his cheeks. "I wanted to be sure you were ready before we were together again. Last time…"
"I'm ready. I'm always ready to perform my duty as your wife." Despite her detached tone, Henry could tell that she was sincere and that made it all the worse.
"But I don't want it to be a duty. I want you to enjoy it."
She looked up at him as though he spoke in riddles.
"Catherine, I know many say it's indecent, unnatural for women to like… it. That it's about heirs and not desire." Her silent fidgeting made him even more nervous. "But Diane says that many women find it pleasurable if it's done right."
Finally, she looked at him, but Catherine offered him no smile, rare or otherwise. "Diane?"
"Yes, Madame de Poitiers. She was my governess."
"Your governess?" There was a sharpness to her tone that he didn't understand. He was unaware that this was not the first his wife was hearing of Diane. That upon their betrothal, her uncle had informed her of the woman who already held her husband-to-be's heart. A woman, her uncle said, whose beauty she could not hope to rival. As the weeks since their union passed with no sign or word of the woman, seeds of doubt had lain dormant in Catherine's heart, but that one slip from Henry had them springing to life. "Your governess discusses such things with you?"
"I asked her. I wanted to-" Impress you. "To make you happy."
Catherine lowered her gaze. Her family had instructed her carefully on how she was to behave in the bedchamber. Greater emphasis had been devoted to ensuring she would not struggle or cry, but Pope Clement had also cautioned her against seeming too eager. Only whores, he said, moaned and keened at a man's touch and here her husband was insisting she behave like a whore, all because the other woman in his life suggested it.
"I believe that these women Madame de Poitiers spoke of are not wives."
"Catherine, I want very much to be with you as a husband, but I won't. Not like that. Not like it's joyless drudgery." His mouth was a firm line.
Catherine's heart sank, but she nodded. "Then we shall try it your way." Madame's way.
"You're sure?" He wanted to believe the smile she manufactured for him.
"I'm not sure how to… proceed, but," she took a cleansing breath, "I'm sure." Sure that I must.
Drawing on his earlier success, Henry kissed her slowly, gently, feeling his own body relax as her eyes slipped closed. Hesitant fingers fumbled to release her hair from its plait, but soon the warm strands of amber spill down over her shoulders. Her gown slipped easily over her shoulders, but when he laid her down, she was shivering again.
She was shaking, but her skin was warm to the touch. Henry's hands halted in concern. He looked up at her, half expecting to find that same vacant look in her eyes and was relieved when he met her gaze. "You're shivering. Should we stop?"
"No." She shook her head firmly, but there was a quiver in her voice.
"Catherine?" He meant to retrieve her nightgown, but she stopped him.
"This is new, that's all."
"I'm nervous, too." He gathered her hands and placed them over his heart once again, this time letting her feel the anticipation thundering through him. "But you can trust me."
AN: I hope you all enjoyed this chapter! I don't feel comfortable writing anything more nsfw than this considering they're 14, but I wanted to see how they might've overcome some of the obstacles to intimacy. One thing I love from season 1 is the way Catherine places her hand on his chest when speaking to him and I thought I would incorporate it here with him being the one to place her hand over his heart.