|The Height Of Her Power
Author: Dan Sickles PM
A great queen's pride collides with her passion. Is this the beginning of Anne Boleyn's downfall? A new chapter is now up - rated T for wicked scheming and steamy royal sex!Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Humor - Anne Boleyn & Jane Seymour - Chapters: 21 - Words: 17,940 - Reviews: 69 - Favs: 14 - Follows: 22 - Updated: 02-09-13 - Published: 07-22-11 - id: 7206439
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter Nineteen: The Stolen Seal
The Tower of London
Two weeks later
"That's it, love." Anne Boleyn's hand guided Jane Seymour's slowly across the paper. "The straight line first, across the top, and then make the fishhook shape down to the bottom. That's the letter J!"
"J for Jane!" The beautiful blonde beamed at her companion. "Before long I'll be able to write whole sentences, not just sign my name." Jane grew thoughtful. "Learning to read and write is easy. I wonder why no one ever taught me before!"
"Men never think it's wise to give us an education, love. That's why we have to educate each other!" Anne pinched her companion's cheek, her green eyes twinkling. "Later on, the two of us can carve our names into the stone wall of our cell. Five hundred years from now, I want everyone to know that good Queen Anne taught gentle Lady Jane how to read. After I'm gone, I want people to remember the good I did as well as . . . as well as all the other stuff."
"There are many good deeds still ahead of you," Jane told her softly. "Your Majesty will have a long life full of kindness."
"Liar." Anne's smile was cynical and slightly crooked, but her emerald eyes shimmered with tears. Jane smiled back at her, sweetly and sincerely. They kissed with trembling lips.
Just then the two ladies heard the jailer's key turning in the rusty lock. They jumped apart just in time. The cell door opened with a ghastly screech, and the handsome Duke of Suffolk came strolling into their chamber.
"Well, good morning, ladies!" Charles Brandon was cheerful. "I see you've been practicing your writing? That should come in very handy. It might even help you gain your freedom!"
"What do you mean, Your Grace?" Anne sat up straight on the hard bench she'd been sharing with her friend, as if she were still Queen of England and not a powerless prisoner. "You may bring our guest a chair, Lady Jane."
"Very good, Your Majesty." Jane curtseyed. There were no chairs, but Anne was far too grand to surrender to poverty.
"Please don't bother," Charles said smoothly. "To tell the truth, Mistress Boleyn, you might as well stay where you are and keep your ink pot ready. I need your signature on this important official document."
"I am not Mistress Boleyn, I am . . . I mean, I was Queen of England, till some idiot drove a lance through my dear Harry's eye. Now my daughter Elizabeth is queen, even if her place has been stolen by that mousy little Mary."
"Mary is queen now," the duke said sternly. "She is the rightful ruler of England, and she wants to show mercy to you and your daughter. If you will but sign the papers . . ."
"This is a confession!" Anne shrieked. Her green eyes flashed lightning, and for a moment Jane feared she would actually leap from her seat and attack the duke, who was twice her size. But then she laughed, looking proud and scornful and thrillingly brave.
Jane shivered with admiration.
"You expect me to sign this?" Anne asked. "You are even a bigger fool than Harry always said you were, Charles. You expect me to say that my marriage was never valid, that my daughter Elizabeth is a bastard, and that I used witchcraft to entice the poor dead king to my bed!"
Jane was shocked. "But those are all lies. Horrible lies!"
"Well, better horrible lies than the horrible truth," Anne smirked. "Harry was a fool who died in a horrible accident because his best friend couldn't hold his lance steady."
"Enough of that!" Charles knew he was a fool to let the wretched woman get to him. But he couldn't help it. Anne looked so cool and calm, not frightened at all. Her lovely blonde lady-in-waiting was gazing at her with devotion. It burned Charles to see that the two women loved each other.
If he had been thrown in the Tower, would his pretty little wife have stuck by him like Lady Jane?
"You're a clever woman, Anne Boleyn. But you don't always listen. So let me make this very clear to you. Queen Mary wants you dead. She wants to burn you as a heretic whore. She has the power to do it. And if you die, your father, your brother, and all your friends will burn as well."
Anne didn't flinch. But her exquisite face turned deadly pale. "I will not betray my daughter. Elizabeth will be England's queen. If I have to lay down my life to save her, so be it!"
"Damn it, woman! Why must you reject the queen's mercy?"
"She's not a queen," Anne snarled. But then, much to her astonishment, her gentle lady-in-waiting interrupted her.
"Mary's mercy is really your mercy, Your Grace," Jane told him gently. "Anne and I both know that you are behind this offer. And we are very grateful! But for your sake, Your Grace, we beg you to go to the young woman and tell her plainly that murder is a terrible sin. You must save her!"
"Save her?" Anne exclaimed. "That makes no sense!"
Charles just stared at Jane. Her soft words confused him too. "Lady Jane, you are not included in the list of traitors. Queen Mary wishes you no harm. You may leave the Tower at any time and return to your family in the North."
"But I won't." Jane's mild blue eyes gleamed with pride. "No Seymour abandons a friend. No Seymour tells lies. I will abide with my fair queen until she is free once more."
Charles felt like shaking the stunning blonde back and forth. "There's nothing to stop me from having you dragged out of here in chains," he growled.
"Nothing but your conscience," Jane replied, very softly.
The Duke of Suffolk ignored the sting of those gentle words. "I'll have you sent back to your family in disgrace. Anne will die alone. And when she's gone you can raise her nameless bastard as a Seymour."
"No!" Hot-tempered Anne finally snapped, flinging herself at the tall, strong duke. Yet instead of fighting she fell at his feet, throwing her slender arms around his thick trunk. "Don't take Jane away, Your Grace! Please! You can do anything to me, but don't take Jane away. Please, please . . ."
Charles was confused. He was excited by having haughty Anne Boleyn grovel at his feet, but he was also ashamed. He didn't want to hurt these two women. He didn't want to hurt anyone. Everything was spinning out of control! It took a moment for him to gather his wits and shove her away.
"You have just three days to make a full confession," he snarled, while a prostrate Anne wept face-down on the floor. "After that I will obey the lawful orders of good Queen Mary and have you all put to death!"
The cell door slammed. The two unhappy ladies heard the rusty key turn stiffly in the lock.
"There, there," Jane soothed, patting her companion on the shoulder. "We'll stay together whatever happens, I promise!"
"Sweet Jane," Anne sighed, rolling over and springing lightly to her feet. "How I do admire that honeyed tongue of yours!" With a triumphant laugh, the wily woman who had once bewitched King Henry VIII tossed a heavy, cylindrical object to her lady-in-waiting.
"Why, it's the Duke of Suffolk's official seal!" Jane's blue eyes went wide with astonishment. "Anne! Did you just steal the duke's seal on purpose?"
Anne grinned. "My father always said I had the makings of a champion cutpurse. Come on, we've got a lot of work to do. We need to start writing letters right away!"
A/N: Sorry it's been so long between chapters! Now that Anne and Jane are back in action, please review and tell me what you'd like to see next!