The ground beneath the northern French monastery seemed to shake with the echoes of men's yells and rapid hoovesteps. There was a thunderous boom that suddenly shook the monastery, and the monks and nuns let out shrieks as the walls crumbled like sand. The Lord Haine let out a furious curse as the next cannot shot rang out from beyond the monastery's thin, sandstone walls. It crumbled like a castle of paper, the stones shattering and collapsing in on themselves with horrid efficiency.

Roughly, Lord Haine reached over and grasped the Queen of France's thin wrist, yanking her to safety before the walls could crumble even more and take the King of France's wife down with them. She didn't even try and move herself from what would be obvious death. More than anyone, Haine knew he had to preserve the Queen's life, or, even if he himself managed to survive this siege, he would most certainly be dead by the end of it. The Queen's life was his bargaining chip to attain his own.

The Queen of France didn't even protest as Haine roughly yanked her down to the dusty flooring, though there was a look on her face, one Haine hadn't seen in a long time. It wasn't exactly relief, nor was it surprise, but something that bordered on illness and a mix of exhaustion and depression. Then the walls hiding them came crumbling down, and an army made up of almost five thousand men descended upon the small monastery that had once housed the Queen of Scotland for a few short weeks as a child.

The determined army broke down the sacred walls as if it was sanctuary for an enemy, not the religious sanctuary it was designed to be. Never in his life did Haine see such an abominable thing happen in his life. A King or anybody for that matter, desecrate a monastery in such a final way. He couldn't help but feel the shudder that run up his spine as he saw what was to come for his life. If their enemy sank to such a level for something that only housed their own enemy, then he anticipated what they would do when they actually found he and his prize. He had bet his life, his head and his prize on them leaving such a sacred place in peace. Apparently, the King of France and Scotland was not adverse to such depths.

"This-this-" the head monk stuttered, soldiers swarming the rooms that the entire monastery had gathered upon. The soldiers ruthlessly lashed out at any monk or priest that stood in their way. Even a few that did not, just to prove a point, Haine thought. "You will not shed even a drop of blood in such a sacred house!" he cried out. "Or you will risk eternal damnation!"

"Father," a cool voice said, from the impromptu monastery's entrance. "I do believe that the souls that hide like vile cowards are at such a deeper risk of damnation than I or my men's will ever be, don't you agree?" the coll voice continued from behind his soldiers. Haine stiffened into one of those stones that damn near took his head off, for he would have quite comfortably bet his life and his dwindling fortune on not hearing that voice ever again. The monks and the residents and the nuns fell to their knees in almost unison, neither having the gaul to wince as they no doubt bloodied their knees and shins on the rough debris of the King of France's attack. Haine was too stunned to bother with such an empty act. He knew that it would be a wasted effort.

The French King of Scotland and France was changed a tenfold from what Haine could remember the then Dauphin being. For the few times he had glanced and caught sight of him at court, the son of Henri II of Valois-Angouleme had been famed for his handsomeness, beautiful spun of golden curls and eyes so blue that they bewitched the hearts of women -and some men- although after the Dauphin was wed, he took none other than his Queen and Dauphine to his bed.

But this man Haine had not seen in almost three years. Not since the now King impulsively run into plague at the height of it, for whatever reason. But to Lord Haine, it seemed the King of France had aged over a decade. Hair a dull yellowish grey that spoke of ill health and impressive years, although Haine was certain that the King hadn't even reached his second decade of life. His stance upon white horseback was stiffer, as if an aged wound plagued him.

He was taller than Haine remembered, even though he couldn't see his true height because of the grand, white stallion that he had mounted. He was thin, now. As if the man hadn't had a proper meal -let alone a feast as a King should- in months. Who knew, perhaps he had?

Despite these changes, it was none of them that really caught the Lord's attention. No, it was the cold, empty, deadliness in the King of France's eyes as they scanned the room, from crumbled walls and dead monks to the left to terrified, cowering children and old paintings to the middle, before landing upon Haine himself, and Haine's prisoner. He took in each and ever person, dead or alive, monk to nun, children to Queen, his own men with an empty, cold gaze that missed no detail. It was the way that that horrid coldness slowly seeped down King Francis' body that chilled Haine's own, enveloping the King in an anger that was both as fiery as an inferno ready to set ablaze poor, unsuspecting victims and as icy as a cavern in the dead of the harshest winter. That surely meant that death was imminent in Haine's future. It had to be.

The second King Francis of the house of Valois certainly wasn't the heartthrob Dauphin that Haine remembered him to be, a reckless romantic who had at one point been a man-whore of the French Court. Where he was unberdoned of his station and his future position, yet fully indulging in the benefits that legitimate blood of the Valois and the Medici provided for him. Haine wasn't even sure that this physical being upon horseback, like a fairy tale Prince with glinting armour on an impressive steed, was even a man anymore.

Rather, the King of France took the place of an avenging angel, ready and willing to do whatever it took to take back what was his. And, although Haine's actions with the abandoned Queen in the horrid plague that started off the King's reign in France had started the ball rolling on three years of running, making sure that the King would never find this divine, little Scottish diamond, he couldn't felt but lose sight of the King, now, for he had no doubt that the King would do whatever he wished with him. There was nowhere to run anymore.

In one word, one very, very accurate word, the King of France had hardened. Somewhere in the back of Haine's mind, he wondered if the King of France's own wife could recognise her King as he was now. He couldn't see Mary's face, for he held a large fist of raven locks in his hand, and he didn't feel her tense with surprise, fear or hope.

Then again, she didn't do much of anything, nowadays. Even still, even on the off chance that the Queen of France didn't recognise the King, the King was sure to recognise his Sapphire Scottish Jewel, that he had no doubt come to rescue, like the reckless, romantic hero Haine knew him to be. First, he runs into the plague -for, what? A whore? A thrill?- and now he abandons ruling his country to find the wife that he had abandoned almost three years ago.

"Father," Francis gruffed, to the head monk that trembled closest to him, still on his knees, his brown robes hanging upon his body. "I can assure you that neither you, or your flock will be harmed. I have no quarrel with you, nor with the Almighty Lord. However, your walls will not hide from me something that is rightfully mine, and what I must bring to justice. I do believe, Father, that God might just forgive me and my men for what we must do." Then, he slipped down the horse with one jerk of an ankle, landing safely on his feet, giving sight to his impressive stature.

The monk stuttered, but he quickly realised that he would not be able to dissuade the King from the path he would be taking. He told his flock to not get in the men's way, and then he fell silent. So, Haine did the one thing he could think to do, to save himself and his life from this very, very, determined French King that was intently prowling over towards where he and the Queen of France were collapsed onto the floor.

He yanked Mary closer to him, then, getting them both up to their feet. Mary hung limply from his hand, as if he had bound her arms above her head and left her to hang from a hook. Nor did her arms do anything to stop him, for they hung limply at her sides. Her knees seemed to be buckling, too. Haine reached for his silver dagger, lined with black cast iron, his only means of defence against his enemy that had him outnumbered five thousand to just one.

Before King Francis could stop him, or one of the man's soldiers that no doubt had this place surrounded from inside to outside, he roughly jammed the blade against the Queen of France's that he was safe from a well aimed arrow or throwing blade, the Lord brought her closer to him again, jerking her head back, watching out of the corner of his eye a long sliver of blood start to seep down from Mary's porcelain, thin throat. It fell down to the bodice of her dark blue gown, creating a sick royal purple at her breast. She did nothing to stop him. She didn't scream for her King, she didn't gasp in pain, she didn't try and pry the blade from her throat, nor the hand from her hair. She simply hung there limply.

"Let her go." King Francis all but hissed at the Lord who had taken his most precious possession from him. And from the looks of it, had hurt her and broken her spirit. That spirit, a Scottish fire that once shone so bright, now dimmed into a nothingness simmer. His words were punctuated, his blue eyes like icy flames. Haine damn near lost his resolve then and there, the stern, pointed face of the King of France who had at one point been famed for his diplomacy and fairness. That was long done now. He disobeyed him, however. He knew that letting Mary Stuart from his grasp would be the last thing he ever did in his life.

"I swear, I'll slit this bitch's throat if you don't let me pass with safe passage." he hissed to the King of France. Haine was surprised at how well his voice did not tremble at the mere sight of such a man, but he really did hope that such a man would not call him out upon his bluff.

"If you touch her," Francis hissed. "I will let you out into the open, long enough for me to tear you into a thousand pieces for everything you've done to her." he hissed. "This monastery will bathe in your blood if you lay even another finger upon my wife." he growled. So much so that the King's body trembled with rage. Haine's, on the other hand, trembled with fear. The Queen of France, however, did nothing but remain indifferent to this threat.

Haine stiffened, it showed. The blade in his hand no longer trembled, Mary's hair no longer moved. "You wouldn't dare risk your wife's life just for the mere satisfaction of watching my death," he stated, oh, how he hated how weak his voice was at this moment! It did seem that he had misjudged the young King of France. Perhaps this King was more like the mad King after all, more than anybody had ever thought.

Francis snickered. But it was more like an imagined sound of a dragon's snare. He smirked at the man who held his wife.

"Try me." he growled. Damn it all, Haine's resolve broke right then and there. It he thought about it rationally, he knew that Francis wouldn't let three years of searching for the mystery Queen of France and Scotland all over Europe amount to naught, to consent to her murder in front of him. He wouldn't let all the French and Scottish resources, and a great deal of English, go to waste just to see him die. Rumour had it that the King of France destroyed any who stood in his way on his mission to find the Queen of Scotland and France, not when she stood -or rather, hung- before him now. But he couldn't be rational at the moment. Not when he was surrounded by a well trained army, but feared none more than the Dragon King who stood in front of him.

Haine knew he was to become nothing but ash for this, and he would have done it himself should the impact of Francis' threat hit him. Really, really, hit him. He blinked in confusion, weakening his grip upon Francis' wife's hair and the blade to her throat.

"If I do not?" he asked, despising how hopeful his voice was. "If I let her go?" he asked, but lord knew that his survival and his fate now rested in the King of France and Scotlands' hands. "What becomes of me?" He knew that if this had happened perhaps two years ago, when the King's desperation hadn't fuelled this fire, perhaps he would live. After all, the man's grandfather had been known for their mercy. However, this man, here and now, obviously could not be relied upon for such a was no doubt the fire of his father and the machiavellian blood of the Medici flowed through him.

How had it came to such a hilt? He had never, not once, thought that the King of France would find him. Him and his wife, the wife he obviously cared nill about since she had been abandoned and vulnerable upon their first day as King and Queen of France. Besides, even if the King did, he wouldn't care about the woman of whom he had abandoned in such a way.

Francis answered him not, but the look in his blue eyes was answer enough. Haine shuddered at the thought of what the King would do to him, and of what he now must to. He sent one more look to the Queen of whom he still handled, before shoving her away as if she was nothing to him. When in reality, she had been everything.

Mary didn't know what happened. One point, she was staring death in the face of that monastery that she had been sent to for safety, the one that he had developed such a sick, twisted obsession with her. The one that they had returned to for years upon years of pain, blood and bruises. The other, she was falling. Falling and falling and falling for what seemed like ever and ever. Then, she was caught. Caught by arms that were both so familiar and completley unfamiliar. She rested there for no longer than a moment, before she was pushed forewarns and to the side, being caught by yet another set of arms.

These ones should be firmilar, but they were completley not at the same time. She rested there for just long enough to hear the oh, so familiar sound of a blade being sheathed through skin and blood. She was layen on the floor then. No, it was not the floor. But rather the soft firmiliarness of a fine cloak. Her eyes slid shut and didn't open again, but she heard the firmilar gait of a man she both knew and didn't know.

His hands, his hands in her hair, and his voice, now so gentle, whispering to her. There was no need to whisper, but he still did. He told her that he loved her, that he loved her and that she was safe now. That he'd never let anybody hurt her again.

The Queen of France and Scotland really wished she could believe him.