|A Stroke of Fate
Author: Diary PM
AU. Edward VI miraculously recovers from his illness, and Frances Grey works to dissolve her daughter's marriage to Guildford Dudley, determined Jane will be the king's bride. WIP. Edited slightly.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama - Prince Edward - Chapters: 17 - Words: 43,410 - Reviews: 50 - Favs: 15 - Follows: 30 - Updated: 01-31-13 - Published: 08-29-12 - id: 8479487
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Tears filling her eyes, the serving maid sighs and crosses herself.
On Bishop Gardiner's bed, he and Archbishop Cranmer lie, the archbishop's hand around Bishop Gardiner's wrist, thumb over the wrist veins. Looking closely at the unmoving chest, she knows waking the archbishop up will mean bringing him into a reality of having missed his friend's death despite being so close when it happened.
"Well, this is most inconvenient," Anne Marie grouses. "Everything must be put on hold. For all I disliked the man due to his movements against my mistress, it's not right to plot against someone during a period of death."
"I'd say plotting is fine, so long as the plot isn't fully carried out until afterward," Barnaby opines. "This might prove a golden opportunity. Doctor Shelton, the physician who was summoned for Lady Frances, will be performing the autopsy. If we can find out what soothing potion the marchioness had in her system the night of the attack, the King could receive an anonymous tip telling him he ought to have Dudley's quarters inspected, again. I could find the potion in there. It won't condemn him by any means, but with so many already suspecting him, it'll certainly help further turn the court against him."
Looking out the window, Adrian comments, "People die all the time. I don't see why this should in anyway halt our plans."
Putting a sympathetic hand on Adrian's shoulder, Barnaby promises, "He'll be gone soon enough."
"I'm sorry," Jane says, softly.
"Thank you, Majesty," Cranmer answers.
"Will you perform the funeral?"
"No, Madam," he answers. "I think it best a Catholic priest do so. And with you and your husband's permission, I know he'd want Princess Mary to give his eulogy."
"I'll talk to Edward," she promises.
"This is most inconvenient," Kat says, startling Anne Marie.
"Others will use this against my sister Queen," Kat says. "Oh, how I wish our lady mother would regain her senses. How am I supposed to protect Jane from acts of God? Anne Marie, my lady, have you heard rumours?"
"Not about her majesty, no," Anne Marie says, carefully. "I have heard rumours about the causes behind Marchioness Grey's current circumstances."
"The Duke of Northumberland," Kat says, almost dismissively. "He's a cruel man, I have no doubt, but he hasn't gotten to where he is by not choosing his battles."
"Far be it for me to speak of things I know not of, but as you say, your mother is her majesty's greatest defence."
Kat sighs. "Well, Jane is on top of the world, now. Soon, she'll give our cousin a healthy heir; it need not even be a boy. And then, she'll do as our lady mother has done and destroy all those who are a threat to her children. Has my sister shown signs?"
"Not to my knowledge," Anne Marie answers, standing and curtseying as Mary slips in. "Lady Grey."
"Hello, Lady Anne Marie," Mary answers. "Kat, Nurse won't let me go riding with Mister Keyes without your permission. We'll have servants, of course, and be back before night."
Kat simply looks at her for a long moment. "You and Mister Keyes are getting awfully close."
"Kat, he's a kind man, and a good friend," Mary says, frowning.
"Very well, sweetling," Kat says. "Provided Adrian agrees to go, as well."
"Thank you, sister," Mary says, curtseying. "I'll go ask him. Good day to you, Lady Anne Marie."
"You as well," Anne Marie answers as she returns the curtsey.
Once Mary's gone, Anne Marie notes, "It'd be a good match."
"For him, I'm sure marrying a Tudor princess would be," Kat answers. "And if it turns out he's not as gentle-souled as he appears, it'll either be sending her off to show expensive nunnery or for people to be after Jane and the King for his suspicious imprisonment or death."
Sighing, she stretches her neck, trying to remove the tension. "I'm going to see my sister Queen; make sure to periodically check on my mother."
"Yes, my lady."
"What a ghastly dress," Elizabeth declares. "Are you not the daughter of Catalina of Aragon, the Spanish princess so fond of her heritage? Why are you not wearing yellow, sister?"
"Your mother wore yellow when my mother died," Mary retorts. "And Catherine of Aragon was Queen of England, loyal to it and her rightful husband, who may have been a King but was also an Englishman."
"As you say," Elizabeth answers. "Mary, please, I don't wish to fight. Whatever my personal feelings towards Gardiner, he was loyal and loving towards you, and I think he'd prefer you vibrant and healthy in beautiful yellow than pale and pasty in dreary black."
"I'm sure you'd much prefer anything that makes me look the outcast. Yellow in a sea of black, just as your mother was."
"I sometimes wonder why I even bother," Elizabeth answers with a sigh. "When I was a child, you were so affectionate; sometimes, too affectionate for my tastes. Now, you pouring salt in my wounds are the return to every effort I make. I loved my mother, Mary, and I won't deny it. I wasn't there when she was taking up with our father, and I was very young when she was called Queen. I never met nor spoke ill of your mother. Some call me bastard, and some call you one, and some label us both as such. Yet, I don't let labels dictate whom is deserving of love. Whether you wish to accept it, King Hal was my father as much as yours, and I forever call you my sister."
"Prettied words," Mary answers, "but the truth of the matter is, my paternity has never been in question. My legitimacy, yes, but not my paternity. My mother was a chaste, honourable woman who never gave cause for anyone to suspect adultery, and any accusations could even now be easily disproven. If you denounce me as you as your sister, you denounce King Henry the Eight as your father, label your mother a fornicator, and declare yourself a bastard."
"Very well," Elizabeth answers, calmly. "I shall try no more. I'd rather be accused of all that than of being so insincere I'd pretend to love in order to safeguard my own interests. Good day, your grace."
With that she leaves as Mary protests, "Elizabeth."
"She and Mister Stokes are riding with Mister Keyes."
Jane nods, watching as Elizabeth, dressed in a simple yellow dress, her Tudor hair uncovered, greets Edward. "Make sure someone is properly watching Mother."
As Kat leaves, Princess Mary, dressed in a black dress with teardrop pearls, approaches, her hair hidden beneath a solid black snood. Jane hopes the outfit rather than sickness is responsible for the Princess's pallid skin and bony appearance. "Majesty," Mary says, curtseying and kissing her hand. "I thank you and our dear brother most humbly and gratefully for allowing me to deliver Bishop Gardiner's eulogy."
"Of course," Jane answers. "I'm very sorry for your loss, your grace."
"I thank you; if you'll excuse me."
Nodding, Jane watches as the Princess goes to talk to a big, burly man with auburn-blond hair.
"My lady," Barnaby says after the funeral, kissing Princess Mary's hand. "Are you well?"
"Yes, thank you," Mary answers. "How are you, sir?"
"Ever happy, even in sad times such as these," he answers, sitting down. As Cranmer passes by, causing her to tense, he gives her a sad smile. "You do have friends here, my lady. I don't just mean politically, though I'm sure you do have that sort. In all honesty, I'd never willing let anyone but Edward or his appointed heirs sit on the throne. But you do have people who care about you."
She scoffs, though not angrily. "I must have been absent when we got to know one another, Mister Barnaby."
Shrugging, Barnaby gives her an easy grin. "You're a passionate, intelligent woman, Madam, full of beauty and grace, and from what I've seen you have a kind heart. I don't need to know someone to see such qualities."
"I'm not sure whether this is intentional flattery or if you truly don't stop to think how what you say sounds," Mary comments, a smile appearing despite her efforts to the contrary.
"Oh, I never stop to consider such things," Barnaby answers. "It's a waste of time, if you ask me. If I die young due to my words, at least, I'll die under no cloak of pretence."
"Really," Mary says, looking at him in consideration. "From what I've heard, you wear such a cloak around the Duke of Northumberland."
"I don't make it a secret of my distrust for him, Madam," he answers, eyes scanning the room. "I have my doubts he was behind Marchioness Grey's predicament. However, if there were evidence, no matter how credulous, that he was, I would certainly try to get the King and Queen to neutralise him."
"Talk to Master Cecil," she orders. "When I was trying to figure out if my brother was still alive or not, he came and warned me of a plot to place my sister-in-law on the throne by illegally imprisoning me. As far as I can tell, her majesty was truly ignorant of what was being attempted on her behalf. The heretic's objection was that my brother was mentally incompetent due to the illness to make such decisions, and as such, King Henry's will must be honoured above his."
Awestruck, Barnaby breathes out, "Thank you, my lady."
"I must excuse myself," Mary informs him, standing. "But I shall look forward to your letters from France."
"Yes, Madam," Barnaby answers as he jumps up and kisses her hand.
"Hello, my love," Edward says, kissing Jane.
"Hello, Edward," she says, smiling and moving closer to him. "What next?"
"Thomas Wynter has come," he answers, "and Archbishop Cranmer wishes to introduce him."
They excuse themselves from the feast and go to the throne room.
When Cranmer and Wynter arrive, Jane sees he's the man who talked to Princess Mary earlier.
Silently, he sinks to the floor.
"Rise, Mister Wynter," Edward says, taking Jane's hand as they stand. "You are most welcome at our court. I was most pleased by your pamphlet regarding my new Queen."
"Majesties," he says, rising and bowing. He kisses their hands. "I'm beyond honoured to be invited, though obviously sorry it was under such circumstances."
"Walk with us, Mister Wynter," Edward says. "My wife is very interested in debating you."
"Yes," Jane says. "I've read your treatise on different forms of baptism, and I was curious about what you meant when you wrote that…"