The former Lady of the clan Fleming slowly walked into the study that belonged to her King and the father of her child. She walked quietly, curtsying as was proper, as the King of France's page introduced her to the blonde King who sat at his desk working.
"Your Majesty." she murmured, rising when bidded to.
"Lola." Francis sighed out her name, the words full of exasperation and irritation as the former Lady Fleming met the icy gaze of the King of France. Behind the many papers on his desk, the young King looked tired, she noted, walking into the room properly.
"Your brother, Sebastian, informed me that you wanted to speak with me?" Lola asked, beginning the conversation almost awkwardly, threading her arms around her purple velvet covered abdomen. Ever since she had been disowned by her parents when Francis had been out looking for his wife when Mary and Catherine were kidnapped by the Englishman Gifford, Lola had been avoiding him.
"My brother tells me that you are accentuated with the Lord Narciesse." Francis asked plainly, pushing one black velvet tapestry covered arm onto the table. The elbow met the hard oak, hand holding a white feather quill. He spoke without pretence, plainly. "How close are the two of you?" he asks.
"Excuse me?" she asked, her brows raising in the air. At the mention of his surname, Lola felt the heat of the man's whisper as he warned her against Francis' attempts to use her.
"My mothers spies tell me that you visit his estate more than once since the last you and I spoke of matters such as this." he states plainly, irritated. He looks at her like she's a petulant child, she realises. Who knew? Perhaps to a man such as this, a King in his own right and through marriage, she was just that.
"We-" she paused. "We've reached an understanding between each other." Lola stated slowly, folding her hands around her skirts. There is a noticeable lack of rings upon her fingers, a lack of grandeur jewellery upon her neck or ears than there would have been just a few weeks previous, before the letter had came through of her parents cutting her off. Ever since, all the gifts she had been given from them had to be returned, and would be given to her brothers' wife. Was this what life was to be like now? Living off Francis' hospitalises and her sons' lands, which could just as easily be taken away with the sweep of a paintbrush?
"You must execute restraint, Lola." Francis warned. "Narciesse is dangerous and will stop at nothing to attain what he wants." he states plainly.
"I know." Lola says, a smile creeping up her cheeks at the memory of their tea sessions and the archery lesson he had treated her to. And then the memory of his body pressed firmly up against hers, stealing a deep kiss from her.
Francis glares at her as she comes back to reality.
"Tell me that you haven't been foolish enough to sleep with him?" he asks. He isn't horrified, he's angry.
"I do not see how that is any of your business, your highness!" she squeaks, her cheeks flushing in embarrassment.
"Of course it is, are you taking leave of your intelligence as well as your mind?" he shoots back. "In case you have forgotten, you are not only a friend, but you are the mother of my child, a lady in waiting to my wife's." he states.
"You expect me to stand docile and penitent in the corner until you have a use for me? Francis, in case you have forgotten, I am no tool that you can use when you want to!"
"Of course you are!" he snaps. "I'm a King! I can use whoever I want for whatever I want! And you are a woman, not just that, you are a woman living off my coin and my wife's mercy! You are nothing in the eyes of the world, the least you can do is follow whatever orders I have for you!" he yells. "In case you are that blinded by lust under the dillusion of love, there is always the possibility that Narciesse uses you for the connections that you have! And the man that you entertain threatens the safety of your Queen, a woman that you should beg upon your knees for forgiveness from! And you still play his game?" Francis scoffs.
"Every man at court is either afraid of me or wishes to use me, because they are fully aware of my connections to both you and Mary." she states weakly. Francis laughs angrily.
"Nobody fears you, Lola. Of all the people of court, you are the least feared of them all! My mother and my wife, they are feared! You are an unwedded woman with no virtue and a child out of wedlock, that is all! You have no power, you barely have authority over the nannies that tend to the baby! You aren't even titled anymore! And I give you an opportunity to raise in their eyes, and you fail at it willingly! What is the matter with you? Has Narciesse seduced you into submission?" he asks her angrily.
"All of them still believe me to be your mistress, Francis! Some of them blame me for the lack of a legitimate child!" she hisses. "I may be all of the things you've said-" she blinked back the tears. "but I am no mistress!"
"No, you're not." he agrees slowly, deeply, lowly. "It is Narciesse's. He has placed a wedge between myself and my wife, between myself and my people."
"Because he's your blackmailer?" Lola whispers. "You cannot blame him for each one of your misgivings, Francis." she states. Within only a few strides, Francis was in front of her, his blue eyes now dark. He resembled Catherine's husband, not her beloved golden child.
"What has he told you?" Francis growled loudly. Lola gasped, not used to this side of Francis. His depressed and happy sides, she was well accustomed. But this? Mary may be completley used to it, but Lola was no Queen. Lola was no Mary. This side of Francis scared Lola into silence, which only angered him more. "What has he told you?!" he yelled, taking a tight grip of the silly girl and shaking her hard.
"Stop it!" Lola begged. "Stop, please!"
Francis hissed and turned away, walking several strides away.
Any sane person may have left the King to his own anger, to calm. Perhaps Mary would have recognised when she had pushed too far and left it at that, but Lola did not. Lola walked over towards her King.
"He told me what you did. To Henry, to Mary. To everybody." Lola whispers.
Francis was silent. "And you believe him." he states quietly.
"I believes he thinks that I do." Lola states. "Believe me, I do not condone what he's doing. I believe he is so full of revenge and grief that he tries to benefit himself from it." The former Lady of the Fleming Clan, perhaps now a Lady of the night. The way the viper walked as if he's already won her, that it was just a matter of time before she even realised it. "As you have said, he is a powerful man who is used to getting what he wants."
Francis scoffed, turning around so quickly that Lola honestly thought that he was having spells of madness. "He will do anything, anything at all, including threatening the life of our child, to get it." he reveals to Lola. Lola freezes.
"What?" she whispers. "He's threatened our baby? Our son? Francis, pelase, speak. I know you think you're protecting me, but I'm like you. I do not care of my own safety if it means those I love and care for are safe. Tell me, please." she pleads.
"I was ready to die because of the secret, what I did. What he has against me." the King admits. "I was willing to let him reveal it to the world and allow my fathers' supporters to kill me for it. But then, he threatened my wife, my mother, my brothers, my son." he reveals to Lola's shocked, wide eyed gaze. "He told me you would all die if I didn't do what he said. I'm his puppet Lola. He's ruling France through me."
Lola protests weakly. "No, he wouldn't do that." she states. Although Narciesse was indeed dangerous, Lola did believe him when he said that he wanted nothing but her.
"Lola, please." Francis pleads. "I need you to promise me that you won't see him again. The only way to save Mary's life, my marriage, our child, is be getting rid of Narciesse. I will take his head." Francis swears.
"But-but Francis, whatever he's threatened, it has to be a ruse. He-he-" she trails. What she felt for Stephane was so complex that she didn't even understand it, how could she possibly explain it to Francis? "Don't you realise that his interest in me, finally being seen for me, not your whore, has done me such good after Julian died?" she lied, sounding so small and pitifully pathetic, even to her own ears. Past Lola -strong Lola- would have probably spat on this new, weak Lola. Going back to a life of anonymity and speculation was unfathomable. It couldn't happen.
"He's lying Lola, can't you see that? He's lying to you, trying to get you to do things for him, against me, against our son, all for him? For him to get you in his bed once, to get secrets about me, and then run like a thief in the night? What if you catch his child inside your womb? Didn't the scandal of Jean-Phillipe burn you enough?" he asks her, almost desperately.
"I am no pawn to Stephane, Francis." She had clung to this hope for such a long time, even if it was foolish. She couldn't survive it if Francis was right, that Narciesse had played her like a fiddle.
"Do you hear yourself?!" he snaps. "Do you hear how foolish and brainwashed you sound right now? You think a man like Narciesse, who would so willingly stoop so low as to threaten the life of a baby -bastard or not- would care for a woman? Come on, Lola! The man has had not one, not two, not three, but four wives! They're all dead! They always were nothing to him!"
"He wouldn't go to such lengths to gain my trust if I was nothing." Lola quietly argued. "He-he's threaten me-" seduce me. The words were both said and unsaid, flying like a ghost between them. Hadn't Kenna told her that? Perhaps both Kenna and Francis were right, that this thing with Stephane Narciesse was just some over the top game of seduction to get into her head and into her bed and pull her to his side. Had he already succeeded as she fought his cause?
"Promise me, Lola. You can't go back to him, he'll turn you against all of those you love, leading you to be alone and outcasted when the time comes. You cannot think that that's the life you want for yourself?" he asks, before going for the jugular. "Who knows, it may take years? And by then, our baby may be a child, and he may turn from you as you do him, he may turn to my wife as his mother." he stated plainly.
"No!" she cries out. "Even if all of this is right, he's the man who used me?" she shot back. "Ask me to indoctrinate an innocent?" she asks.
"Listen to yourself, girl!" Francis finally yells. "I have just revealed to you that your lover has threatened the life of your son and you take his side! You don't believe me, yet you believe him! You are willing to put your own child's life at risk because of some game of seduction? Are you mad, Lola?" Francis cried out, growing more exasperated by the second. "You have to promise me that you won't see him again."
"I cannot." she whispers, looking down.
"Very well, you've left me no choice." Lola was about to ask him what he meant by that, before he spoke again. "As your King, in both France and Scotland, I forbid you to see Narciesse, for the safety of yourself and your child." his voice gave no room for argument. "I cannot risk you warning him of what I've told you."
"No! You cannot do such a thing!" Lola cried.
"I am a King! I am your King! I can do whatever I like!" he yells back. "Stay away from Narciesse, Lola."
"No." she replies, readying herself for whatever Francis may throw back. "I will not do that, Francis. No."
"You disobey the King?" he asked, his voice low.
"Please," Lola whispers. Her voice begins to shake. If there was any moment that she wished to have Mary's spirit and fearless fire, it was now. Mary wasn't scared of Francis, but Lola damn well was. "If-if you tell me the truth, then I must hear it from him. That he threatened my child." she whispers, but both her and Francis knew that it was a last ditch attempt to save Narciesse's life.
"No." Francis grit his teeth. "You're having nothing more to do with that man."
"I will not!"
"This is treason, Lola. Do you understand that, you seem to not understand a lot of things. Disobeying the King is treason. You will not have any Queen to save you this time." he warns.
"Are you going to kill me?" but her voice cracked, giving way to the fear she felt. Lola cried out as he called for his guards, who immediately stormed the room and barrelled towards little Lola like bulls.
"Take Lola Fleming to the tower." Francis orders. "Keep her there until I say otherwise. No bed, no pot, no nothing." he states firmly.
"You cannot do this!" Lola cries as they grab her arms and begin to tear her away from the man who held her future in his hands. "Francis, please! No!"
But the door had already slammed closed.