The Midnight Queen
Summary: In 1464, the War of the Roses have ravaged England for 9 years. Mary Woodville, a Lancastrian noblewoman, can hear the magic of her ancestors' whisper of an upcoming storm between the royal Houses of Lancaster and York. The whole of England will be divided for one final battle and Mary finds herself a central player as she falls in love and marries Richard, Duke of Gloucester. [Richard/OC]
Note: Edited as of 5/4/18
Chapter I: March-April 1464
Grafton Manor, Home of the Woodvilles
Mary Woodville knelt near the river bank only a few yards from her family's home. Soft music echoed through the air making Mary tense up in fear. "Something is coming…" She whispered. A strange mist surrounded the Woodville girl giving off a mask of mystery and Mary knew that it was magic. For centuries, the river only sang to a few select woman in her family tree, full of tales of wonder and secrets.
The song began a few years ago on the day of her sixteenth birthday. Her Lady Mother had been so pleased once she found out that her second eldest daughter was part of her line. Jacquetta started her education about the magic that flowed through her veins.
Mary gripped her basket, collecting things from the bank for her mother's supplies. The morning air blew through the trees as Mary moved her long red hair out of her face. Something was coming, and she knew that it would change the lives of her family forever, for better or for worse. Suddenly, Mary could hear three voices coming from the field ahead. Thinking it could be enemy York soldiers, panic filled her, and Mary quickly hid behind a tree, glancing to find out who it was.
To her relief, it was only her sister older Elizabeth with her two nephews Richard and Thomas Grey. They were walking towards the main road where the false King was rumored to be traveling with his army. "Elizabeth…" Mary called out to her sister, which startled her.
Elizabeth saw her younger sister sprinting towards them from the river bed. "Mary, what are you doing out here so early?" Elizabeth noticed her sister's morning attire, her nightgown with a long cloak to cover her immodesty. "Mother will not be happy with you."
Mary ignored her sister before greeting each of the boys with a small hug. The two boys had recently lost their father and needed the strength of family to make it through the troubling times. "It was only for a few minutes, I was about to go back anyway." She came towards Elizabeth and reached inside the basket taking out an acorn. "Take this, for protection." Elizabeth nodded setting the acorn inside her own basket. "Be careful Elizabeth, the Yorks are unforgiving creatures."
"I know." Elizabeth nodded, taking in the warning. She knew Mary followed mother in the magical arts, so if a warning came from her, Elizabeth would take it to heart.
Mary looked up towards the sky, noticing the time of day. It was time to get back inside before her mother found out that she was outside this early again. She would be confined to the house this time for sure. "I will see you all later, be careful." She watched her sister and nephews depart down the main road before quickly running towards the house.
"Mary!" Her mother stood right next to the entrance of the dining hall with her hands folded across her chest. "Where have you been?"
Mary quickly hid the basket behind her, "I was out by the river."
Jacquetta Woodville moved closer and tenderly moved her child's windblown hair out of her face. She knew that Mary was linked to the call of the river like her ancestors before her. "I heard the song too my sweet, but we need to be more careful. England is in the middle of a war right now. If anything were to happen to you." Her Lady Mother quickly hugged her before taking the basket from her hands. "We will look through this," She looked up at Mary. "Next time I will go with you and get proper ingredients."
Mary nodded, her lips forming a small smile before she started to walk upstairs to her own chambers that she shared with her various little sisters. On the way up, both mother and daughter pasted a large mirror on the right side of the staircase. Mary glanced upon it and her eyes widened.
Jacquetta quickly noticed her daughter's expression placing her hand on Mary's cheek. "Mary, you're as cold as ice, Mary…" Her daughter could not hear her though because Mary was in the middle of a seeing; a vision of the future or past. All around her, the room was covered with mists, with no walls, it seemed to go on forever. Mary stood there in her nightgown focusing on the shadowy type figure standing a few feet before her.
It was a man, about the height of her brother Anthony with broad shoulders, a warrior's stature and long black midnight hair. Something within Mary caused her to reach out in some sort of trance. Before she could place her hand on his shoulder, the man quickly turned around causing Mary to catch her breath. Intense blue eyes were staring right into her soul, straight into her heart.
"Mary!" The mist retreated as fast as it came, and Mary was pulled back into reality. She blinked quickly before glancing around, she saw her mother, worried. "Mother, what happened?" Her hands felt so cold and her body shook from the sensation of the vision.
Jacquetta wrapped her into a hug, holding her daughter's trembling body. "It was your first real seeing, now tell me what you saw?"
Mary almost trembled at the thought of the man in her vision, "Blue eyes and midnight black hair." Mary withdrew from her mother's embrace, looking into her eyes, "I saw a man staring at me."
Jacquetta herself was speechless feeling proud of her daughter. Mary was one of her beautiful daughters with bright red hair, blue eyes and white porcelain skin. Their Lady Mother obviously sent Mary a vision of her future husband, someone of great importance in England. "You saw a vision of your future husband, you are truly blessed my dear Mary."
Mary nodded to her mother continuing her path upstairs to begin getting ready for the day. It was too late in the morning to go back to bed and she knew for certain that she wouldn't get any sleep with the vision playing over and over in her mind. She quietly changed into a light blue dress her mother had gifted her on her last name day. Mary braided her long red hair into a simple braid before joining her brothers in the hall.
Mary came to the first-floor landing and saw her mother coming out of the great hall, freshly changed for the day with a cup in her hand. "Mother? Who is here?" Mary peeked into the dining room and saw Elizabeth standing with a soldier. "Mother?"
This was not King Henry. This meant he was…. all the blood drained out of Mary's face. She immediately understood what her morning vision by the river meant. The King was making a house call to look upon her sister Elizabeth, a widow whose husband fought against his army and a commoner at that. This Edward of York was known as a womanizer and slept with almost all the wives of London. There was only one way this situation would turn out. If this King won and called Elizabeth to court, she would most likely become his mistress.
Mary quickly moved towards the kitchens and out the main gate when she spotted another man upon a great horse. His arrogance overflowed her senses and Mary knew that this man was very dangerous. "Well what do we have here? Another Woodville girl?" He said, with a sarcastic tone and eyes that swept over her body. Mary knew who this was, Lord Warwick, the Kingmaker.
Mary wanted to curse at him for being rude in front of a Lady but was determined to remain one as her mother had taught her to become. "My Lord, welcome to Grafton Manor." She curtsied.
"It is no welcome, my Lady." He sneered back at her.
"It is no pleasure on this end either my lord." She quickly bit her tongue before Mary heard another man laughing behind her. Mary quickly sank into a curtsey when she saw the York King behind her. "Your Grace," She just insulted the King's own cousin! It was going to be her head for sure!
"It seems you have lost your charm cousin." Edward joked before reaching his arm out to the young Lady. He smiled at the red-haired beauty that rose from the dirt with bright blue eyes. "I am sorry my Lady, my dear cousin doesn't know how to treat a lady."
Mary couldn't help but smile back at this King, relieved that he was not offended at her loose tongue. 'It is quite alright Your Grace, I was merely reminded Lord Warwick about manners, hopefully he can keep better track of them this time."
Warwick held his tongue. This child, no, a woman was just as much of a temptress as her sister. Edward was just as interested in this pretty creature as he was with Elizabeth. "He has a good teacher my Lady. Now you must know my name, what may I call you?"
"Lady Mary Woodville, Your Grace, it is an honor to meet you."
He kissed her hand, "It was a pleasure Lady Mary, but we must be off, and perhaps we will see each other again.'" Mary curtsied again, as the King mounted his horse, galloping away. Once he was out of sight, Mary quickly turned around going towards the river bank, worried at what just happened.
The King had come to their small family home and left with his eyes on Elizabeth. Something big was going to happen, and little did Mary though, she would become a central player in the War of the Roses.
Dusk crept upon the house as Mother led Elizabeth and herself out into the manor grounds towards the river's end. Elizabeth was looking all around, watching for any intruders that might see them. "Mother, where are you taking us?"
"You'll see." Mother answered setting the lantern down in the dirt. "Both of you, choose a thread."
"Magic? Do you want to be drowned on a ducking stool? It's forbidden, and you promised."
"No-one knows but you, Mary and me. We are descended from the river goddess Melusina. Magic is in our blood, Elizabeth. Now choose a thread."
Mother had two sets of thread for them both. As Elizabeth grasped a thread, Mary grabbed one from the other set, unsure of what to do next. Mother cut the other threads away, and the river swallowed them whole. "What were they?" Mary asked.
"Things that you will never know. Children who will not be born, chances you will not take. They are lost to you both." Mother asked.
"And what will I catch at the end of this fishing line of yours, Mother?" Elizabeth asked.
"The future. Reel it in. A foot every day."
Mother left them both alone and Mary drew her thread in a foot. Elizabeth did the same and as both sisters looked at each other, they both were filled with a sense of urgency. "Elizabeth,"
Mary gulped. "In the years to come, we must keep trust in each other."
Elizabeth nodded. "Yes, we must." Both put their arms around each other and walked back to the house, the sound of the river echoing behind them.
The next day, Mary kept away when King Edward visited her humble family home, opting to stay upstairs, listening from above. He had eyes for Elizabeth and Mary knew nothing good came from that look. They were from the House of Lancaster and an enemy to this King, yet he still desired Elizabeth.
Her sweet father railed to the King and her idiot brothers followed suit. They had no respect to play pretend. If this King won, he would control all their fortunes and he needed to know they didn't mean any trouble to him.
She walked towards her mirror, sat down and looked at herself in the mirror. Red hair and blue eyes. A trait not found recurring in her family. Her hand traveled across her neck as her mind wandered back to her vision. Those eyes just startled her so much.
Her indeed wandered and wandered until one of her sisters came to fetch her for dinner. Mary quickly came into the hall and greeted her father with a kiss on the cheek. Richard smiled at his second eldest daughter, such a radiant soul. "Perhaps we should go and wave them off, I am sure the girls would love to see the army." Her mother began the conversation, earning a smug answer from her father.
Mary tuned out the rest of the conversation and focused on her meal. Ever since that morning in the mirror, she felt different and strange. "Are we Yorkist now?" Her father's booming voice interrupted her thoughts and Mary glanced from the other side of the table at her parents. Rarely did they fight and when they did, it was over something very important.
"Yes, if he wins and he is likely to, then he will control all our fortunes, and all of the marriages, and there are many girls in this family Richard." Her mother said before raising a cup to her lips, causing her father to falter.
"Sometimes, woman, you even scare me. Very well. We'll do it your way. And we'll wear white roses too, if you wish, if you can find some this early." Her father announced as the siblings rushed to get ready for the army's arrival.
Her little sisters were running around like chickens in farm, begging to wear each other gowns and colorful ribbons. Mary laughed before finishing her simple braid. Mary saw that her sister Elizabeth was looking outside the window, out to the directions of the fields. Her mind was on the King. "Elizabeth, be careful, he had that look upon him."
Elizabeth nodded before putting her own dress over her head. Soon enough her family walked towards the spot where Elizabeth personally met the King, Mary stayed towards the back of the group, with her mother's old green cloak covering her red hair. She wanted to get away from the King's army as fast as possible without being disrespectful.
After a few minutes the King's army came around the corner and everyone swept into a quick bow or curtsy. Her father began talking to the King until Warwick made a crude comment about the flowers they were wearing, which signaled their support for the House of York. Mary wanted nothing more than to show Warwick some more manners, but she held her tongue. Soon enough, the army began to leave but not before she saw Edward and Elizabeth talking alone not far from anyone else. There was a surprise look upon Elizabeth's face and it almost made Mary smile. Elizabeth was falling in love with the King, and from the look of it, he was too.
As soon as they returned home, Mary quickly took off to the rover and breathed in the mists coming from the waters. It relaxed her, sending a message that everything would be alright in the end.
Later that night, Mary rolled the thread in land, repeatedly until she heard a lite metal sound. She bent down to pick up the end of the thread, smoothing the piece of metal in her hand.
"Mary a letter!" Elizabeth ran into the room causing Mary to jump up in fright. She quickly took it from Elizabeth's hands, reading it. "My love…not wife." Mary said, causing Elizabeth to become even more upset. A few days ago, Elizabeth had done the unthinkable and married Edward.
Mary found out about it after the ceremony, only after mother spilled the beans to her that morning. Mary swore on her immortal soul not to tell anyone until Edward sent for Elizabeth to come to court as his wife. Times were changing, and her family was in the middle of it! "Why does he not write about our marriage?" Elizabeth asked, pacing the room.
"Lizzie, it's going to be alright, Edward loves you." She put the letter back on the bed, moving towards Elizabeth. "Dear sister, all will be well." She circled her arms around her, and Elizabeth hugged her back, overcome with sadness.
A few days later, a letter came from Edward, stating Elizabeth as his Queen. It was a joyous time in the household as the family prepared to leave for court. Mary packed her gowns with her other little sisters tweeting like birds all around her. Elizabeth asked Mary to be her Chief Lady-in-Waiting, so Mary would join them in court.
Mary rode next to her sister The Queen of England with a smile on her face. She was happy for her sister that she married her true love, although she was worried about the Court and this war that was still fresh in their minds. As the party came to a stop, Anthony quickly helped Mary off her horse. "Sister,"
Mary kissed her brother's cheek. "Brother."
Mary turned around with a smile on her face until she stopped cold. Anthony noticed as her skin went as cold as ice and her eyes widened in shock. "Mary?" Her mother asked with concern, but Mary didn't hear her. She couldn't hear anyone. Up at the top of the stairs, next to the King was the man from her vision! Her heart hammered faster and faster, stunned at this new development, shocked. This man was Richard, Duke of Gloucester!
Her hand tightened around the small metal boar in her hand. How could she have not known this? It was in front of her all along. Richard's personal symbol was a boar!
Her heart stopped all together as he peered down at her and for an instant, the world stopped all around them, and it all became clear. A thread attached them to each other and now there was no turning back!