Disclaimer: As per usual, I own nothing.
This is another fic that spawned while I was watching the first season near the end of last year. Like Does It Feel Like Nothing Changed at All, it is heavily inspired by Things We Lost In The Fire by Bastille, which is also where the title comes from. I'd love to hear what y'all think!
Loving Mary burns him out. It burns hot and fast and it is over with a few words. She is marrying his brother and there is nothing he can do about it. She loves Francis more. He always knew she did, but he had hoped that she might be happy with him.
Even though he knew better than to hope, he knows that a brief hope that he could have the one thing that he wanted – Mary's love – bloomed. Whatever it might have been is crushed upon his little brother's return. Mary chooses Francis and Bash cannot blame her one bit.
Bash was well aware that the state of his birth made him an unsuitable husband for a queen. He had grown up knowing that he was a bastard and Francis was the dauphin of France because of an accident of birth. If he is honest, he has always been grateful that the burden is on his little brother's shoulders instead of his.
Except for now. Now he is tired and he has nothing left to spend. Once upon a time he might have been grateful to Francis for taking back the mantle of dauphin but right now the only thing he can think about is Mary. Clever, beautiful, manipulative Mary.
He is back at the start now: he is nothing but a bastard once more. This time, however, he does not have his father's favor or even Mary's friendship. (If he could have had her friendship, he would have taken it without a thought. It is better than what he knows is coming.) He has nothing left.
The alcohol he drinks burns his throat. That is all he is capable of feeling – save for the ache where Francis hit him earlier. But even that is fading. The gravity of his situation is beginning to sink in even while his world is spinning out of control.
He is jealous of his brother. For the first time Bash can remember, he is actually jealous of Francis. (He will never admit to himself that he was jealous of Francis being engaged to Mary before.) It would be an unusual feeling if he was anything but numb.
His mother warned him of this. (He finds it ironic that she warned him not to desire a woman he could never have, but she was the one who wanted to legitimize him to start with.) He knows that he should have known better. He did know better. He just decided to do it anyway, regardless of the consequences.
He knows that his life is entirely in his father's hands. It always has been. Now it just seems so much more dire. He has always known that his father will not take anything that upsets his scheming well. This – especially the now unnecessary trip to Rome – most certainly interrupted his scheming.
He thinks that he should be grateful. He knows that he should be. He was never meant to be the dauphin. He was never meant to be king or consort of anything. He is just Sebastian de Poitiers. Never Sebastian Valois. And most certainly never Prince Sebastian. (Deep down he is grateful that he does not have to try to be king. Trying to be regent was more than enough. It does not help.) He does not know what he would have done if he had ever become king, but he thinks it would be a disaster.
What he is not grateful for in the least is that Mary used him. It is an uncharitable thought and he knows he will feel worse about it later. (He also knows that it is true. She is a queen. She was raised to rule and to manipulate everyone around her to get what she wants.) He will feel worse because he knowingly let her do it.
He did not want any of it. But he did it because he loved her. When he began he had some faith in that. He might not be the best future king of France, but he could manage so long as he had Mary at his side. He wanted none of it and now he had exactly what he wanted.
Bash never thought of himself as a gambling man, but he had gambled everything he had and lost it all. The word bastard rings in his head. That is all he has left.
He cannot stop loving Mary. He wishes he could. Loving her has cost him everything. He had not had much to start with – just a comfortable life, freedom, and his father's favor. He can see two of those slipping away before his eyes and the other will surely follow.
When the numbness begins to fade and Francis comes barging in, he can feel nothing but grief. Francis has everything he could ever want and now he hates Bash. Bash can see it in his eyes.
He knows that he has truly lost everything when he sees that look in his brother's eyes. He has lost his brother. He has lost the woman he loves. He has lost his father's favor. And as angry as he is at Francis and Mary, he knows that Francis is right. Leaving is the best thing he can possibly do.
Bash has never known a life besides the French king's bastard. Loving Mary has burned him out and the anger is still burning him up, but he thinks that perhaps he is at the edge of his father's shadow now. If he leaves he might be able to forget.
If he leaves, he has nothing. But if he stays he has even less. (He does not think he can face Francis and Mary after they are wed.)
He has no choice. He knows deep down that the price for being the bastard who reaches for the crown and cannot keep it is exile or death. (He may have started out with nothing, but he can taste everything he could have had now. He can taste her on his lips and he hates it.)
The fire burning in him has all but gone out. What is left consumes him.