I went home for the weekend, planning to study for midterms, and my evil best friend got me hooked on a new show. I haven't written in ages but I guess I really don't want to write these essays!
Disclaimer: I do not own Reign, or anything that is recognizable
He doesn't want me
It was a hard thought to hold. After all, Mary had often thought of her childhood friend while she was hidden away at the convent, remembering the pillow fights and races they'd had through the echoing stone halls of the castle. Those thoughts had sustained her, made her long for the day when she would become Francis' bride, when she could bring an army and a husband back to her beloved Scotland.
And then of course she arrived to discover not only was Francis clearly tupping someone on the side, the engagement, which she thought iron clad, was little more than a place holder. This engagement that she had so looked forward to, that she viewed as not only personal protection but protection for her country was indefinitely delayed while the king and queen of France searched for a more beneficial match for Francis.
Francis. The golden hair boy of her childhood day dreams had grown into a man, but oh not the kind of man she would wish on anybody. To look at her with those eyes and then to bed someone else! She hated him, she did, it's just that she also loved him.
Mary sighed, rolled over, and punched her overly fluffed pillow. The sound echoed in the richly adorned chamber that had been given to her. As usual, she quickly turned back to look at the secret passage way door, unsure whether she feared someone coming through or hoped someone would. Her mysterious benefactor had been silent since her warning about the queen. There had not been an assassination attempt in nearly a month. A seemingly empty consolation, but one that allowed her to sigh in relief nonetheless. Francis came through for her. She would hold onto that thought.
Francis could not sleep. Mary had sat next to him at dinner that night, sparkled really, and then they had danced together, and now thoughts of her swam in his head. His commitment to France was resolute, but he certainly had a soft spot for the beautiful, unpredictable childhood friend. Francis spent the night alone, a rare occurrence for him, and probably one he will have to make up to Lady Lorraine later, but the idea of laying next to another woman after spending the evening holding Mary was unpalatable. He cursed himself for his weakness. If Lady Lorraine went with him to bed tonight, he'd be asleep already.
The passage way on the far end of his bedroom beckoned to him. Chances are it connected to Mary's room. He was almost positive of it actually. Many of the passage ways had been blocked off, but not the one's between bedchambers. It was a helpful feature for the French Court, well known for it's liaisons.
Not that he would have a liaison with Mary. Not that he wanted to. She was only his fiancee for God's sake. Francis laughed at himself. No other man would use that as a reason to talk him out of seducing such a beautiful woman. She had looked at him sadly at the end of their dance tonight, a change from the bright smile she had given him at the beginning of it. Perhaps she had seen Lady Lorraine beckoning to him.
"damn it." He swore, and got out of bed. Quickly he tucked his loose linen shirt into his breeches and grabbed his knife holster. Francis looked at the holster for a second, then grinned to himself and tucked it into his bed. Mary had a temper. He might have to defend himself. Anyway, one never knew what was lurking in those passage ways.
A torch from the wall lit his way through the echoing passage way. He knew the castle like the back of his hand, and that alone allowed him to maintain a mental map of where he was. When he reached the door he thought must be Mary's, he held his breath to ease it open. There she was, hair spread out on her pillow, so dark against the white sheet. She looked peaceful for once, not angry or frightened. He would like to keep that expression on her face for always.
There was a sound at the door that had him drawing back and dousing his light. Probably a guard checking on the lady's safety, but it certainly wouldn't do to be seen sneaking into his betrothed's bedchambers, especially with a date not yet set.
When the door closed, but soft footsteps still sounded on the floor, Francis peered out through the slightest crack. A man, not one he recognized, was creeping towards Mary, a sword glinting in the moonlight. The stranger raised it over her sleeping form, and with a yell, Francis launched himself at him, throwing up his knife to deflect the sword.
Mary awoke with a start, for a moment utterly confused about what was going on. A man with a sword was grappling with her fiancé who was yelling for the guards.
"Mary, go!" Francis ordered her, ducking around the stranger's attack.
She fled the bed chamber, screaming for help. Her personal guard was slumped on the floor, dead or asleep, she couldn't tell. More guards rushed down the hallway, overtaking her and going to assist Francis. Mary turned to go back, and by the time she ran back in, the stranger was detained by the captain of the guards, and Francis was shouting at him, demanding who he worked for and how he got in. The man was refusing to speak, and finally a frustrated and furious Francis ordered him to the dungeon. Only then did he turn to her.
"Are you alright?" He demanded, touching first her cheek, then resting his hands on her shoulders.
A wide eyed Mary stared up at his bruised cheek. "I should be asking you that, Francis. You saved me."
Clenching his jaw, the dauphin nodded sharply. "Where was your guard?"
From the doorway, a guard spoke up, "My lord, he was drugged. There is an empty goblet next him-some sort of potion remains at the bottom."
She shivered. Her enemies were back apparently, with full access to her, her guards, and perhaps most frightening-the food. She'd seen all too clearly at the convent what could be done when food was compromised.
"Francis" she whispered, desperately seeking some sort of reassurance.
For the first time since they were children, the Dauphin of France folded her into his arms and held her close. Mary closed her eyes, and tried to find solace in the firm strength that surrounded her. For a moment, with her head pressed into his chest and his strong arms locked securely around her, she could pretend things were the way they were supposed to be-she was happily married with a non-murderous mother in law and not even England could touch her.
Eventually her shaking stopped, and Mary pulled back just a fraction to look into Francis's eyes. They were exceptionally blue in the moonlight, and the day's worth of stubble on his jaw gave him a rugged edge that made her feel protected.
"Thank you for stopping him." She said softly.
"I've sworn to protect you." He reminded her. "That's exactly what I will do, for now and always."
She dropped her eyes before they could give away the state of her heart. "How did you know?"
Francis hesitated for a moment. "I couldn't sleep. I was walking the hallways, and I happened to see the attacker enter your room."
That didn't seem quite right to her, not with the way they were positioned as they grappled, with Francis's back to her bed, facing the door, but she didn't say anything, content for the moment to just be safe.
Sighing, Mary leaned her head against his shoulder, and he stroked her hair gently.
"If we were married," she murmured. "If we were living as husband and wife as we were mean to be, you wouldn't have had to be strolling the halls. You could have been in here. You could have been in my bed with me."
She felt the tension in his muscles before he exhaled and tried to make light of it. "well if that were to happen I suppose we would have to hope any attacker picks a night you welcome me to your bed."
Biting her lip, she met his gaze shyly, but with more courage than she thought she possessed. "You would always be welcome in my bed." Her voice was soft, both in volume and tone.
His eyes darted to her lips, her breath caught, and suddenly his lips were on hers, teasing and tantalizing until she could focus on nothing but him.
Francis made a low noise in the back of his throat, and eager to coax that noise out of him again, she pressed forward and held the back of his head firmly. His hands were tangled in her hair. Nothing she'd experienced up until then, not even watching the bedding of Francis's sister, prepared her for the feelings that swept over her. She burned for him, wanted to crawl into his skin until they were one being. His lips moved over hers, and she could feel him clutching the back of her nightgown.
"Mary" he gasped out, and when he released her lips, she was grateful he kept a hold on her body or she surely would have fallen.
"You do want me." She whispered.
The expression on his face was tortured, and she was loathe to admit she felt a perverse pang of pride for shaking the unshakeable royal. He stepped away slowly, and edged toward the door. "I will confer with the guards. You should get some rest, you will be safe tonight. We will get to the bottom of this attack tomorrow."
Rest was the last thing she felt like doing, but he was gone and the door was shut before she could tell him so. Still catching her breath, she whirled around in a quick circle, overcome with euphoria for a moment. How much of it was due to the kiss, and how much was due to the relief of still being alive, she didn't know, but Mary did know she was more alive at this moment than she ever had been again, and she would do anything to continue to feel this way.
Something amiss at the other wall caught her attention. The passageway was slightly ajar, as though someone had come through. It couldn't have been her attacker-why would he have gone through all the trouble of drugging her guard when he could have used the passage? So it must have been Francis. But why would he be in her passage so late at night? Or at all for that matter?
Once again overcome with questions, she sank onto her bed, but this time, despite her internal musings, when she lay down she went right to sleep.
Francis did not get much sleep that night. After securing a wide awake guard for Mary's room, and determining the attacker was in fact English, sent by the English queen to murder her Scottish rival, he retreated to his bedroom, but failed to banish the memory of Mary's lips beneath his. Who could have suspected the girl-child with skinny legs he played with as a boy would grow up so...well? He'd always known how kind, and clever, and exciting she was, but now there was an element of maturity, of womanliness that was not present before she left for the convent. It was this element that differentiated the sadness he had felt when he missed his childhood friend from the pain he felt now when he imagined her being sent back to Scotland alone.
The next morning dawned too early and too bright for Mary, and she removed herself to her favorite spot overlooking the hills to sort her thoughts. Footsteps behind her startled but didn't surprise her.
"I had nothing to do with the attack last night." The queen's voice did surprise her.
"Your highness?" Mary queried, turning to face her.
The old queen looked straight at her. "I do not want you to marry my son. It has been prophesied that if he marries you, he will be lost to me forever. However, he has told me that if anything happens to you, he will be lost to me anyway."
So that was why Francis was so certain his mother would not hurt her. "I mean your son no harm," she said earnestly. "Please believe that. I have only the best interests of both France and Scotland in my heart."
The Queen smiled grimly. "I have no doubt, my dear, that you mean that. But these are dark and dangerous times we live in. I will never support your marriage. You, however, have my word that your life is never in danger from me."
Mary nodded, deciding that may be the best she could hope for. Only once Catherine left did she turn back to the horizon, contemplating the situation she found herself in.
"You were speaking to my mother?"
She whirled around, heart pounding in her chest, though not out of shock. "Francis. Yes, she came to assure me she does not plan to have me killed."
His beautiful lips twisted with some derision. "Always reassuring."
Hesitantly, he moved forward until he was right next to her. Mary squared her body to his, looking him straight in the eye. "She did express her determination to end this engagement."
Very seriously, he said, "We certainly have powerful forces against us."
Her heart pounded even harder than before. "Us?"
He took her hand gently, stroking it with his thumb, and gave her a small smile. "Mary, I cannot guarantee what will happen. You know as well as I that we are not free agents. What we want does not necessarily matter. But I find myself invested in such a way that prevents me from simply waiting to see how it all unfolds. I want the Scottish alliance-I want you as my wife. I will do what I can to make that happen."
She reached with her free hand to stroke his jawline. "I can accept that."
He covered her hand with his, and connected at those two points, they stood bathed in the early morning sun.
I hope you all enjoyed! Let's get some good Reign fanfiction up-there are so many dynamics to explore!