Sorry for the long wait, I stopped being inspired and getting preggers didn't help lol. Basically, my main focus for Lola isn't going to be the rape so I wouldn't worry about that, it is a sub-plot that simply adds layers. This was just a way to get some bits established, I have my next chapter written, just gonna wait for some lovely reviews and then it will be up. Not giving up on this story or my others for that matter! The writing bug is back!

Mary had suffered, of that they were certain. Her ladies had been called to her chamber, her old chamber rather than the one she had once shared with her husband. Lola had feared for her friend the moment the attack had begun but when she saw Mary, saw the pain deep in her eyes she knew what had transpired. She knew it all too well. Mary had been raped by the protestant pigs that dare invade the castle, her sense of safety had been stolen and a part of her was broken. Lola could see it and it broke her heart to know that somehow, she was to blame for this. Narcisse should have been stopped before this had gotten out of hand…

They had to be there for their Queen and friend, help her through this however possible. As Mary said, she was still in pain and didn't wish to be touched but they would be there for her in other ways. Lola would help in any way she could. "I'm not ashamed of what happened to me." Mary said, trying to remain strong and Lola wanted to believe it.

All but Lola and Mary remained within the chamber as servants brought in her various things, allowing her to resettle in the room where she felt at least some semblance of safety. "Mary…" Lola took a step forward but was unsure what exactly she could say to her friend who was in such pain. Lola shared the pain and yet was it truly right to say? Lola had felt the disgraceful touch of a bad man's intent, she knew that particular fear but she couldn't break down. Now more than ever, she had to be the strong one. She had to be Mary's rock and thus she couldn't allow her own inner turmoil to surface.

"Please Lola, I don't wish to speak of it." Mary found herself unable to meet Lola's eye, her hands wringing nervously even as she spoke. Of course she didn't want to talk about it, she didn't want it to exist outside the horror of her own mind. Every time she closed her eyes, she would see that man, hear his voice and feel…

"Of course.." What more could Lola do? She couldn't approach Mary nor could she speak to her of what had transpired? A distraction, perhaps? "I will send for some food. I am sure that you have yet to eat." She offered Mary a small smile before she went to find a servant. Mary would take some time to heal, right now everything was raw and nothing would make it better. Lola would deal with her own pain when she had the time but she was a mother and a lady first and foremost and deep down she blamed herself. She had allowed affection to get in the way of her duty to France and her Queen and now people she loved were paying for it. She was paying for it…

Perhaps that was her God-given punishment.

She needed to atone, not just to let loose the weight from her soul but to somehow make things right. She left Mary to see Francis, she didn't wish for Narcisse to die but he needed to pay for his sins just as she needed to. He needed to be caught.

Francis stood with his guards, a wreck beneath a layer of a sovereign. He knew what happened to Mary, of that she had no doubt and how it had to torture him. How he likely blamed himself…

"May I have a word?" She asked and he looked at her before sending his guards away. Once they were gone, she said what she likely knew he both did and didn't want to hear. "I know what happened to Mary." His eyes widened and Lola continued. "Francis, I'm so sorry."

Francis' pain was evident as he took a moment to speak. "As am I."

"I can't help but think if I had done what I could to weaken Narcisse earlier, things would have turned out differently. The Vatican, the edict." Francis was the only one she could speak to of this guilt and yet he did not blame her. She wanted to speak to him of what else had transpired but he felt guilty enough with Mary's rape, her own would only add to his guilt and she would not burden him with that. Once more, she swallowed her own sadness and focused on the matters at hand.

His thoughts were on vengeance and once again she hesitated for only a moment, catching him before he left the throne room. "I heard Narcisse fled." This halted his steps. "I might have an idea where to." Perhaps this was wrong of her to betray Narcisse once more as she had urged him to flee but given what Mary had gone through and what Francis was feeling, something had to give.

She gave Francis the location of where Narcisse would likely be hiding, knowing that this could very well mean his death but that didn't stop her. Instead she did what she had always done with Francis, she was honest with him and advised him. "Ask yourself whether Narcisse is more valuable to you alive or dead." She left it in Francis' hands, just as it should be.

With that done, Lola stole away to her chambers. The sun shone brightly on the winter day and yet all she felt was the cold all around her. Everything seemed to be toppling down around her and she couldn't stop it. She had to be strong and yet…she felt so weak. Sitting on her bed, she allowed the tears to fall at least. No one there to be strong for, no infant seeking his mother's love and protection nor Queen to support, no King to advise. She was on her own and in that moment, she allowed her pain to surface.

It was during this moment of weakness that she discovered a letter on her bedside. One of the servants must have delivered it when she had been out and it remained sealed. Slightly wary, she reached over and broke the seal and felt her heart stop.