In the open hallway, with imposing walls that caved in till they touched, Mary and Francis, Mary's ladies, Bash, the nobles and servants alike were glued to the scene before them. Diane's hand danced delicately over her face, her mouth open in disbelief, her cheek was rose red, so much so you might think she was blushing or drunk but that was not the case. Claude stood before her with raging eyes yet the rest of her face bore a Catherine-like stoic expression. The felt colder due to the tension, that you could believe a draft blew in, "She is Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, future Queen Mother, mother to the Queen of Spain, a patron of the arts like all in her family, the famous and infamous Medici, whose wealth and power are far and wide around Europe, the only power you have comes from your place in my father's bed", Claude stated boldly as she thought it a fact. She had enough of Diane but like Francis she loved and had respect for her elder half-brother Bash, so she always tried not to let the famous Medici temper bubble, she also knew that as a princess there were expectations of her actions and that she was always told to not interfere in grown-up affairs as she was still too young. However, Diane had crossed the line when she verbally attacked her mother.

Catherine was inches behind Claude and after a momentary awe at the fact someone was coming to her defense after Henry's insult when she saw him a few days ago, she was brought back to the reality, her daughter Claude was a princess, and could at times be a incredibly graceful one, that's how she needed to be seen not as princess who is violent, attacking mistresses. Diane may deserve it but as a princess, Claude must be above such things. 'Curse the Medici temper', Catherine thought, generation after generation has had to learn to control it. She also noticed the people around knowing the scene would become the week's gossip, so she decided it was time to stop it, starting to reach her hand to pull Claude away, "You rotten spoiled brat, how dare you slap me, everyone knows that Catherine is queen in name only and if you vermin weren't born she would have been beheaded and Bash would be Dauphin", Diane blurted out before she could correct herself. Catherine moved quickly, her hand no longer reaching for Claude but back at her side as she gild in front of her daughter, "What did you just say about my daughter... and my children, Diane"? Catherine voice was now unrecognizable, it wasn't completely different but there was something frightening in it.

" Ca...therine ...Cath...erine", Diane muttered, she looked around the room, now remembering the watchers, they were people, gossipers and now dangerous, as they were witnesses. Her voice was now mute out of fear, her eyes now sending a silent plea, not to continue, not to tell Henry, not to charge her with treason for what could be consider a threat against the Volais line, the future of France. She had to beg, if Henry ever thought she was a threat to any of his children she would not have a head and Catherine would be there to 'console' him, whether out of love or a long lasting vengeance, as no Medici was ever truly finish tormenting their enemies, she heard. "Diane out of respect for Bash I will let this go but if you ever threaten my children, France's pride and joy, heirs to the throne again you will suffer my vengeance", Catherine emphasized the 'my' letting her know she would deal with her personally. "Diane, be careful", a strong male voice was heard, "Being my mistress won't save you from Catherine or me for that matter ". "How did it come to this" ? "Claude slapping Diane in a hallway".


It was early morning when Claude woke, her language, advanced music lesson and European history lesson were starting in a few hours and she need to prepare, so she shrieked for her servants to hurry with her bathe and clothes. Diane was in her chambers (a chamber made up for her as she still hadn't been invited to Henry's), plotting or trying to anyway, she was determined to regain Henry's affection before he went further into this guilt trip of missing Catherine. 'What does Catherine value most, her pride' , 'I could go naked and wait in Henry's room' , 'Catherine is a dangerous opponent' , ' A little seduction and Henry would be mine' , Diane's thoughts raced. Claude walked in on an 'interesting' scene in her mother's room, little Henry, Charles and Margot on Catherine's bed in a confused pile of little legs, hands and heads while Catherine was sleeping upright on her couch near the fire place. " They came running into the Queen's room begging to sleep on her bed, she thought they meant with her but they pushed her off and Charles, and I quote, banished her to the outskirts of 'the land', the couch " , Lady Charlotte appeared almost scaring Claude.

"Your, highness", Charlotte called, " Yes, Charlotte", the princess answered, " Good Morning, don't you have your lessons soon", Charlotte asked wondering why Claude wasn't on her way. " Yes, I should be going, when mother wakes tell her I say good morning and I love you", Claude turned and made her leave. " Your Highness, what can you tell me about the de Medici " , the governess asked, 'Too easy' , thought Claude. " They are a proud and wealthy family, well known around Europe, they have advanced the arts, two Popes and hold high standing in Italian politics, they have also became rulers through marriage such as Catherine de Medici, my mother, making me and my siblings Medici by blood ". The governess' lessons continued for three hours, as soon as it was over Claude rushed away to find Catherine and her siblings, she happened upon Catherine signing documents in her office. "Come in, Claude dear, I'm finishing up some work" , Catherine called when she looked up and saw her dear girl. Catherine rose and guided Claude to a seat, when her hand when to Claude's lower back she flinched, startled.

"Claude is everything all right " , this past week since Claude was found crying, Catherine had waited patiently for her to reveal what troubled her on the trip to her now ex fiancé's estate. " Mother I know you want to know what had me so distraught that night, but I need more time " , Claude could tell what Catherine was thinking, with her flinching and what not. " Okay, lets go to the ladies lounge then see Margot, little Henry and Charles " , Claude quickly changed the subject and Catherine decided to drop it. The ladies lounge was like the female version of the cigar room, a place where noble women sat, had tea, gossiped and more, it was also the only place where people weren't formal around her, sure they knew she was Queen but it became irrelevant. Unfortunately they had to pass through the main hallway in the east wing which was frequently used by all, including Diane and her entourage.

Diane was in thought all morning deciding seduction the best way to keep Henry. She had waited in his rooms for him to return from the morning ride, naked under his sheets, 'This is it, Henry can't resist me and he never will' , Diane thought as she watched for the door. The doors started to open and in came Henry looking rugged and wild after his ride yet still Kingly, strong. "Henrrrrrrrry, I have something for you ", Diane purred.