Francis stared longingly at the boys in the field, riding and shouting what they thought were war cries. His father never let him ride with them. He was explained that as the dauphin of France, his life was too important to risk on trivial games. He pushed his Latin textbook aside angrily and glared at it.
"Books are not to be mistreated!" the shrill voice of the most annoying girl in France pierced his ears. "Books are a source knowledge, culture and refinement and should be treated as thus!" she continued while approaching Francis' desk. The boy sighed and turned to her.
"Do you have to share your thoughts all the time?"
"I thought my firm opinion would benefit you!"
"Well it doesn't! Get out!"
"I beg your pardon! I am a Queen! You cannot address me in such a fashion!"
"Well I just did! I've grown weary of you and your firm opinions and your silly little braids! Get out and leave me be!"
Mary stared at him for a long moment, frozen at his outburst. Francis was always calm and patient. Now he was mad at her and being mean to her. What had she said to make him angry?
Oh no, Francis thought as he saw her little chin trembling. Not the crying again. Why were girls so sensitive? He would much rather she had kicked him. At least he wouldn't feel so guilty if she had.
"Mary, I'm sorry, please don't cry. I just wanted to play with my friends and I am not allowed."
"Why can't you play with me?"
"Because you never finish a game! You get bored and start playing with my hair!"
That was another thing he couldn't stand about the little Scott. She was so touchy feely, always hugging him or kissing his cheeks, and mainly playing with what she liked to call "pretty blond hair". He had explained time and time again that he was not like one of her girl friends, that boys were not pretty and that Francis was not a girl's name. She would just giggle and distract herself with another short lived game.
Their father seemed very keen on them being friends and so Francis was forced to spend all of his free time with her, teach her and play with her, and converse about contemporary topics. Meanwhile, Bash had learned to ride and spent all his free time in the fields surrounding the lake with the other noble boys. God forbid someone saw Francis on a horse!
And little Mary wasn't making things easy. He was used to Court girls, who were shy and timid and proper, even at this age. Mary was like a hurricane, crashing down on everything, sucking him up in a whirlwind of words and games and mostly trouble. He sighed and looked at her.
"We can read, I guess.."
Mary silently, for a change, grabbed the big book of stories and brought it to him. Then she sat down on the floor and looked at him expectantly. Sometimes her gaze made him uncomfortable. Her eyes would kind of get shinier and widen, and a small smile would appear on her face.
It was always Francis who read aloud because, much to his dismay he used to stutter, and he still did though rarely and when he was under a lot of stress.
"In a kingdom far, far away, lived a young boy whose parents were the King and Queen, making him the little Prince."
"Like you!" Mary exclaimed and then shut up after Francis shot her an annoyed look.
"The little Prince was promised to another girl across the sea, whose parents were also King and Queen. But the girls parents died unexpectedly and the little girl went to live with her betrothed in his castle."
Mary was about to exclaim again, but managed to contain herself.
"The little Prince loved the little Princess and she loved him back, until one day, when they were playing in the garden, some thieves stole the Princess and escaped."
Francis' voice shook. He remembered a conversation his parents were having, which he eavesdropped one day.
"They found him in the gardens. This is the third attempt they've made on her life. How many more should we prevent, before we send her away?"
Instinctively he knew they were talking about Mary. There were people who wanted to hurt her. Who wanted her crown. He realized he had stopped reading.
"Do you think they're going to get me? Sometimes I wake at night and I hear noises and I stay unmoving, hoping not to die. I am so happy when I see you the next day, because it means I'm safe again."
"You're always safe!" Francis shocked himself by the tone of his words. "Nothing will ever happen to you."
Nothing could happen to Mary. He wouldn't let it. It might suck to be the Dauphin when it came to having fun, but he had guards and strong castles and the best tutors in swordsmanship. He would protect Mary. She was his friend.
"How can you be sure?"
"You're always with me."
"Not at night!"
"Well you have guards at night. And when we turn fifteen, we will marry and sleep in one bed just like married couples do."
He didn't know exactly why, but his maid had told him it was because couples loved each other very much, and slept hugging.
The thought of sleeping cuddled next to a girl, revolted him. It was not manly. But it would be easier to protect Mary if she slept in his room. Yeah, with her, he didn't mind so much.
"Your parents are married but they don't sleep in the same bed."
"Well we're going to. And that is that!" he used the same tone Henry used when addressing his councilmen.
Mary stared up at him for a long time and then… oh no… she was hugging him again!