Hello everyone! I wrote a Cathry story with a little of Frary (supposed to be a one shot but who knows?)
Context: 1x09 Bash is wounded and Henri says "Francis will never trust his heart again, that is the only way to rule"
When Henri says that to Catherine, they share a look...cant't explain why but I instantly imagined that there was a story behind it.
And I also like the idea of Catherine trying to prevent her son of repeating his father's mistakes...so here we are.
(Sorry if my english is not very good, it isn't my native language)
Henri looked at his wife. He was aware that she knew what he was referring to, saying that a king can't lead with his heart. Never.
It was a lesson that his own father had taught him, many years ago.
—(twenty years ago)—
The door of the king's office opened and Catherine came in. She still didn't know why her father-in-law had required a meeting with her.
Will he reprimand her again for not being pregnant yet?
-Catherine, here you are!
Henri was already sat inside. Looking preoccupied.
What was going on?
"The king sat up and invited Catherine to take a sit, with a hand gesture:
-I wanted to talk to you.
-I am listening, your majesty.
Catherine looked around her. The table was covered with a map of Europe, on which wood figurines represented ennemies' armies, and the French's ones.
The war in Italy was taking all the king's time.
« Our soldiers are progressing to the south, and thanks to God, the Milanese armies seem weaker day after day » The king smiled «One only big offensive should be enough to defeat the Milanese troops and take the city. »
Catherine nodded with enthusiasm. That was a pretty good new!
So why did the king and Henri looked so...weird and unhappy?
And since when were women invited to take part into policital discussions?
The king François looked at Catherine and explained, with an unexpected touch of compassion in his voice «My child...We have to take Florence. »
-Florence is neutral is this war!
It's Henri who answered her, putting his hand on his wife's arm.
-We know that well. Unfortunately, if we let the Milanese having access to Florence, they could take many arms and buy one of the mercenaries armies that actually are in Florence.
Catherine couldn't believe it. She raised her voice «You are going to let the people of Florence be killed, the women and children violated, the city burned and destroyed...for what? suppositions?! »
She was practically yelling at the king of France.
«Florence didn't asked for this! The Florentines hate the Milanese, they are not going to provide them any arms or soldiers! This is the most stupid thing I have ever heard and, believe me, I have meet a lot of stupid persons in my life! »
The king raised an eyebrow. He really loved his daughter-in-law but he didn't like being called stupid, especially by a women, inexperimented, foreigner and apparently sterile on the top of it.
-Catherine! This is enough. We have spies there, and they report that messengers were going back and forth between Florence and the Milanese's camps during all the week.
-It doesn't prove anything! Messengers go back and forth everywhere!
The king frowned looking at his too impertinent daughter-in-law.
-Anyway, I am not asking you political advices. I'm only telling you, out of affection for you and your family, to give you the chance to warn them so they could secretly leave the city.
Catherine was desperately trying not to break down crying.
-You can't do this!
The king raised his hand, stopping her. «The subject is closed. Warn your family if you want, but hurry up, the time is running. »
That night, when Henri joined Catherine in their bedchambers, she was sat cross-legged on the bed. Looking at her, he could guess that she had cried a lot.
He was felling horrible. He knew he was going to break her heart again, with the news he was bringing.
She slowly looked up at him.
-Please, tell me your father has changed his mind...
Henri looked down, and gently sat on the bed with his wife.
-I am sorry. The ennemy forces are progressing faster than we expected. We need to take Florence tomorrow, at dawn. You won't have the time to warn your family…but do not worry Catherine, our soldiers won't attack the Medicis' palace, on my father's order. If your family stay at home, they should be safe.
Catherine closed her eyes for a second.
«Henri, I beg you, talk to your father.» She couldn't believe she was actually begging. « You just have to siege Florence! To prevent the Milanese from entering the city! »
-I thought about it, but if the Florentines mercenaries already have an alliance with the Milanese, it would be a massacre. We would be able to hold the siege being attacked by the Florentines from the inside, and the Milanese from the outside.
Catherine stood up:
-You are not even sure that there is mercenaries at Florence!
-But it is a risk!
She was in front the window now . «You know, during my childhood, I lived a sacking of Florence. Everything was burning, people were slained on every street corner, violated on the ground, tortured in their homes. I remember the smoke swirling into the sky, repanding a foul smell…a mixture of blood and burnt. »
Henri took her hand, while she was putting herself together. «I was eight years old. There was no usual song anymore. Just the cracking of the flames, the sound of the soldiers' boots on the cobblestones and their disgusting laughings interspersed by screams. So much screams! Of dying people, of burnt or wounded children, and of those who were finding the lifeless bodies of their wives, brothers, fathers or sons…I can still hear them»
Catherine hands were shaking now.
She broke free from the comforting embrace of her husband
-This is what is going to happen tomorrow Henri! I think that, sometimes, we have to accept to take a risk if it can save thousands of lives.
A few minutes later, Henri knocked on his father's door.
The king was in his nightrobe. The moon was high into the sky but François 1st was not in bed yet.
-My wife is right. We can't take Florence, I think a siege is sufficient.
The king stared at his son, skeptical.
-And if there is already troops in Florence? We are not strong enough to fight two armies at the same time.
Henri remembered his wife's words.
-Father, the risk is not that high…it do not justify to sack an entire city!
The king put his hand on the left shoulder of his son.
-You want to take the risk? Well, do it! I let you decide.
Henri smiled and run to the door. He was so proud to be trusted by his father and couldn't wait for Catherine to learn the good new...
He was going to close the door when his father called his name.
-If tomorrow, it turns out that you took the wrong decision, you'll have to assume the responsibility for it. This is what kings do.
Henri ran into the castle, to his wife's bedchambers.
She was looking outside, probably remembering her childhood. When she looked at him, her eyes were full of hope.
-My father listened to me! I am the one taking the decision on that one! The soldiers will siege Florence, without breaking into it!
Catherine smiled, then hugged and kissed her husband. She was so relieved.
Seeing Catherine happy thanks to him was definitely Henri's favorite feeling.
-I don't know how to thank you… I am really...
-I have a little idea...
Catherine laughed against his cheek, and he carried her into their bed.
-I love you Henri. Thank you.
He kissed her hand, then her lips, with passion and devotion.
-I love you Caterina, more than everyone and everything. Everything will be okay tomorrow morning, we will win this war and our life and reign will be wonderful. I promess you.
The next morning, when Henri opened his eyes, he immediately looked at his beautiful sleeping wife next to him. She was so pretty…
The sun was already high into the sky…He thought about Florence. The siege had certainly begun hours ago!
He quickly got out of the chambers, looking for informations.
-Any news for me?
The servant at the door stammered:
-Yes your royal highness, the king wants to see you in his office, with your wife.
-My wife needs to sleep, she will join us later.
Henri ran up the stairs to the king's office. There, a noisy crowd of nobles and war advisors were already waiting at the door. What was going on?
Henri came in.
-What is going on, Father?
Lord Delacroix, Richard's father was already inside, talking to the king. The old man answered Henri, with bitterness:
-What is going on? It is going on that while you were cooing in your Italian wife's bedchambers, our army had been massacred!
Henri turned to his father. What? How? When? Why?
-How is it possible? What happened exactly?!
Again, it's Lord Delacroix who talked.
-A mercenary army was hidden in Florence. They were 10 000. Trapped between the Milanese forces on one side and the mercenaries on the other, our army was destroyed!
-10 000 mercenaries? It is impossible…how..how could we not know about such a huge army?!
The noble chugged his glass of wine in one gulp.
-Ask that question to my son Richard who is in Italy, between life and death because of your recklessness!
Henri couldn't do anything but stay silent while Lord Delacroix left the room, slamming the door.
God..what did he do?
Most of his friends were part of that army…he knew so much of the soldiers who had been sent to fight in Italy…
-Father...I..how could I know that..
The king stood up, throwing a warning glance at his son.
-Don't you dare take that way. You have no excuses.
You wanted to play king, take unnecessary risks for the sake of a woman? This is on you! Deal with the consequences.
A valet quietly opened the door, looking a little scared.
-Your majesty, I wouldn't want to bother you but several nobles and war counsellors are waiting outside, as the Queen and your sons' wife.
The king sat in his chair.
-Tell my wife to wait for me in my bedchambers. Bring in the duke of Toulouse and Lord Durand. As for Catherine of Medici, my son is going to join her immediately, we are done here.
Without being able to say a word, Henri was escorted to the exit.
Catherine stood up seeing him coming.
-Henri! What is going on?
Henri began to walk down the hallway in a heavy silence. Catherine followed him.
-Talk to me, Henri!
After a few steps, he suddenly stopped. «There was 10 000 mercenaries in Florence. So because of my decision not to take the city, we have been attacked by two armies at the same time so… » His voice fell an octave «..our army was massacred »
Catherine opened her mouth, horrified.
-10 000? Hidden in Florence? How could your father not know it?
Henri remembered perfectly the expression on his father's face, the evening before, when he told him to take the decision.
-I think that he knew. I think that he wanted to teach me a lesson: when a king get distracted by his feeling, the consequences are tragic.
She couldn't believe it. The king had sacrificed thousands of lives, only to teach his son a lesson?
-Henry, if it is true, this is absolutely not your fault...
He stared at her
-I should not have listened to you! My father was right. You are my wife, not my political counselor!
-I…the risks were tiny Henri!
-Whatever! My friends, my soldiers trusted me with their lives and I put them in danger! To protect you bloody city and your bloody family!
Henri started to walk again. His face was contorted in anger and sadness.
-Where are you going? Henri! Answer to me!
He answered without even turning back.
-Where I can try to repair the damages caused by my weakness!
Catherine ran after him to be able to catch his arm.
-Henri! Don't go in Italy, please, don't leave me! You could die there!
He stopped walking again, furious.
« ENOUGH! » She gasped. Her husband had never shouted at her like that. «Stick to your duties as a wife, which are smiling, organizing parties and getting me a child!
For the rest, I decide and you listen! »
He left but Catherine stayed a few minutes alone in the middle of the hallway. In silence. Tears rolling down her cheek.
Because her husband had just thrown at her face her infertility. Because Henri was leaving for Italy where he could die. Because she was going to be left alone at the court, surrounded by people who hated her.
And above all, because Catherine had the painful feeling that her sweet Henri would never be the same again.
When Catherine ended her story, Francis seemed surprise. His mother never talked about her relationship with his father (neither did he to be honest).
-If I tell you that, it's because I want you to understand that your father was wrong to tell you that you needed to lock you heart to be a better king.
Francis almost seemed surprised:
-You don't really like Mary...
-Whatever. I love you and I don't want you to live a marriage as catastrophic as mine. Ruling France with her is better than ruling against her.
You must not be blinded by your feeling, this is true. You always need to consider the pros and cons, and contradict Mary if you judge it necessary. But you must not silence her. This will not make you, her or your reign happier, believe me on that.
Francis wanted the marriage his parents never had: full of trust and partnership, in private as in public.
He wanted that for Mary and him. He wanted that with all his heart. He looked at his mother. She was a good person, even if some of her actions were questionnable.
-You are running this kingdom, at least as much as my father is. He is conscious of that, as the court. You are a political animal and you are fighting for the Valois and for France, my father knows it and considers you as his most precious counselor! You are far from being weak!
Catherine smiled. Her son was right. If there was one thing everybody was aware of, Henri included, it was that she was a great queen and an excellent politician. It wasn't arrogance, it was a fact.
-You are right my dear. But it took me years, pain and fight to obtain this status. For so many years I was despised, because I am a women and an Italian but also because I was nothing but a silenced queen, left out by her king. Believe me when I say I had to go through hell to be powerful as I am today.
Francis nodded. He knew that his mother's first years at the court had been very rough. He also knew that, as a foreigner and a Medici, she had trouble to be liked and respected. But he never knew she had been a powerless queen. His mother has always been the incarnation of power to him!
-I don't want this for Mary. I don't want her having to fight, against the court and against me, her own husband.
Catherine stroked her son's cheek. He was in love, she could see it in his eyes.
-Then be her partner. You love her, don't you?
There was a short silence, then Francis admitted:
-She has not been here for so long but…I can't explain it… I can't picture me on the throne without her by my side. Sometimes I look at her and I try to imagine what our children would look like…I feel insane. You know, every time someone makes a joke, I can't help me looking at her to see if it made her laugh. Most of the time I even..
Francis stopped. The question of his mother had one and an only true answer:
-I do love her.
-I am sure that everything is going to be okay for you and for Mary, because you are the sweetest boy never created by god. You will be a great king and a good husband.
Francis thanked his mother with a smile while she stood up to let him think about it all.
Catherine was standing in the doorway.
-Your reign isn't over mother, you should have a discussion with my father about it…
Catherine gave him a smile. A tender smile, a little sad, or maybe just resigned?
-I think this is too late for me, but, for you and Mary, the story remains to be written.
Catherine left the room, slowly shutting the door behind her.