THE MOST HAPPY
NOTE: This is a fanfiction about the historical figure, Anne Boleyn, who was briefly the Queen Consort of King Henry VIII. She is quite an elusive figure. Much of what we know about her is gleaned through the eyes of biased parties. She is often painted as a devious villain, and equally, she is depicted as a faultless saint. Neither can be wholly true of course. While I love the true history of Anne Boleyn, (what is known anyway), this fanfiction is not, I repeat NOT historically accurate. I took a lot of inspiration from Philippa Gregory, and any history enthusiast knows her novels are severely lacking in the accuracy department (sorry PG, but it's true). This is the story that I wanted to write. In reality, Anne Boleyn was executed on May 19th, the very day I am uploading this. But what would it have been like if she had truly gotten to be "the most happy"?
CHAPTER 1: SCHEMES & SECRETS
Anne arose from the floor wearily. She had been kneeling in front of her prie dieu praying all morning. Not but three days before, she had lost the child she had been carrying. More importantly, the baby was born terribly deformed; its spine flayed open like a hunted animal, and its head larger than it should have been. The midwives were called by her own sister, Mary, but she knew that they were also in the pay of the King. Ominously, the King had allowed the court to go ahead with the move to Greenwich Palace, although she had specifically requested that he wait so that she had time to recover from her miscarriage. Most likely mooning around that white faced little chit Jane Seymour, she thought in irritation. Anne sighed and righted her hood on her head before she left her bedchamber, and headed through her privy chamber into her presence chamber.
Her presence chamber, usually filled with her ladies, and musicians, and flirtatious young men from the King's rooms, was now hauntingly empty. There was her older sister Mary Stafford, Nan Bray Baroness Cobham, Margaery Horsman, Meg Wyatt, and her sister-in-law, Jane Parker. All of the other ladies, even her favorites, had already gone ahead when the court left. Her cousin Madge Shelton, who was one of her favorite ladies, was ordered ahead to Greenwich Palace by their uncle, Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk. The King's interest had been alighting on that Seymour bitch for so long, it was important that her family stick someone loyal to Anne's cause in his way while she was apart from him. When Anne entered the room, her ladies stood and curtsied. She inclined her head in acknowledgement, and took in the scene with one glance. Jane, Meg, and Margaery had been working on the altar cloth they started a week before, Nan had been reading a book of Psalms, and Mary had been sitting in the window seat, idly strumming a lute.
"Have your things put together", Anne said, in as confident, and commanding a voice as she could muster. Dressed in a beautiful gown of deep blue damask, trimmed in sables and a jeweled hood with her signature "B" pearl drop choker, she looked like a Queen, but she did not feel like one just now. "We will depart for Greenwich at midday". The ladies shifted in their seats. "Are you recovered already, Your Majesty?", Nan Cobham asked tentatively. No, Anne thought. My back hurts, my privates hurt, and I believe I may be utterly lost. "Quite recovered", said Anne with her brightest smile. Mary looked up at her and frowned. She could see through her façade. Anne wished with all of her being that Mary would have the good sense to keep her mouth shut. Being questioned was the last thing she needed just then. "Well, I will go and send for my maid to begin packing my things", said Margaery, getting to her feet. Meg Wyatt gave Anne a searching look, which she ignored. Instead, she just nodded at Margaery. She would not drop her guard and show the slightest glimmer of uncertainty, not even for dear Meg. "You can do the same, Nan, Meg. And have a messenger go ahead to Greenwich to tell His Majesty we will arrive later today". Meg bowed her head and followed Margaery and Nan who had both already begun heading to the door.
"Mary, come and help me oversee my maid packing my jewels", Anne ordered. Mary set her lute aside and stood to follow Anne to her Wardrobe. Uninvited, Jane followed behind them. Anne had never liked Jane. She was spiteful, underhanded, and nosy. Still, as irritating as it was, Jane was her sister-in-law and so their interests aligned. Anne sighed inwardly. She was in no position to be picky over her supporters just now. Once they were alone inside the Wardrobe, Mary grabbed Anne's arm. "Anne, you know you are in no condition to be traveling. You have just lost a child in the most horrible way! You will need at least a few weeks to rest". Anne's irritation, which began with Jane, was heightened by her sister. "Do you not see it Mary?", she asked in annoyance. "I cannot wait for recovery; I must go to the King at once. God only knows what influence the Seymours are gaining with him because of that milk sop Jane! Already Henry has made her brother Edward, Viscount Beauchamp! You were with me Mary; you know that the midwives went straight to Henry with that...with the baby". She had almost made the mistake of calling it a monster. That would be to incriminate herself.
"What did you do to give birth to a thing like that?", Jane asked, in an odd sort of tone which seemed both horrified and excited at the same time. "I did nothing Jane", said Anne, rounding on her. "And I have told you that before. George told you too. I've done nothing and so you had better not ask me again. You had better not even breathe the slightest hint of the suggestion that I have done something. I am innocent, and this is just a misfortune". Jane inclined her head and flashed her queer, sly smile. Anne rolled her eyes and turned away from her, back to Mary, who was still frowning. "Stop looking like that Mary", Anne commanded. "You know I have to go". "Fine, but you will have to go in a litter". Anne shook her head. "I can't". Mary made a little cry of outrage. "What do you mean? You will have to! Surely you cannot think that you can ride?!". "I have to be seen to be perfectly well. I have to be as charming, as beautiful, and as healthy as I have ever been. How else will I get the King to come to my bed?". Mary looked aghast. "He should not come to your bed at all! You may have torn something! You're still in pain!".
Jane laughed bitterly. "My dear sister, you know as well as I that none of that matters to the King. He's like a spoiled child". Mary nodded unwillingly. "You're right, I suppose", she sighed. "Well, what is it you want to talk about Anne? I know your maid Agnes oversaw your jewels being packed earlier this morning". Anne sank onto one of the stools the seamstresses usually used when they were hemming a gown. "I don't know what I should do. I have to win the King back, but you know how he is. He believes in curses and magic spells; he will think that the baby is proof that we are doomed, or that I am a witch as many already say". "They should have their tongues slit for slander", said Mary disapprovingly. "Aye", said Anne. "But I doubt it would help. I have many enemies as it is". "Most of your own making", Jane pointed out unhelpfully. Mary scowled at her. "Jane if you are going to act like a sour old cat, you may as well go". Jane shrugged. "I have said nothing that was untrue".
"It doesn't matter", said Anne. "What is done, is done. But I need to figure out how I can proceed once I am reunited with the King". "He cannot think you are a witch, in any case", said Jane, making up for her previous comment. "He is the King", said Mary flatly. "He can think what he likes. And he may like to think that Anne is a witch, so he can rid himself of her". Anne noticed how Jane's gaze quickly lighted on her, as if to see how she would take the blunt comment. Anne knew it was true. "The King can think what he likes", she agreed. "Uncle Howard is not too keen on helping me if the King is against me, and mother and father are as unhelpful as if I were an uninvited pensioner". "And you are not like Katherine", said Jane, in a voice as sweet as poison. The name of Henry's first Queen hung in the air like a ghost. Anne shivered. Of course, it had been the King's own idea, but Anne still had been somewhat instrumental in coaxing Henry into the realization that he could rid himself of a Queen, and now it was coming back on her. "You don't have powerful family ruling empires overseas", Jane continued. Mary grimaced, but nodded. "The problem is not so much the miscarriage as it is the…condition the babe was in", said Anne carefully. "The King will never accept that it could be him that is to blame, although he has not even been able to manage the act of late. He would never even consider it, and even if he did, he would not thank me for it. But, equally, that still just leaves me to blame. What I need to do is find a reason for him to utterly absolve me of blame". "And how will you do that?", asked Mary.
Anne grit her teeth in irritation. Sometimes Mary was extremely dull witted. "Well Mary, that is what I said I must figure out". "What if you could get him to blame someone else?", Jane mused. Anne turned to her. "Who else could it be? It can take only two to make a child". Jane shook her head. "…Yes", she began slowly, her voice like the hissing of a snake, "…But, that is not what he is concerned with. He thinks that the baby was gotten by ill means, as in witchcraft or something of the sort". Anne nodded. "And?". "And that means that it does not have to be two people; it can be you, the King, and a witch". Mary crossed herself. "Good God Jane! Anne would never consult a witch!". "That is not what I am saying, Mary", said Jane, obviously irritated with her lackluster wit as Anne had been. "We can blame someone else. We can say a witch was preventing you from having a son with him".
Anne was intrigued. "So, you propose that I tell the King I have been ill-wished by some hedgerow witch?". Jane nodded. "Exactly that". Anne gave her a skeptical look. "And how will I tell him I came upon such information? Shall I say I have consulted with another witch?". Jane shrugged. "We can come up with something. Perhaps we will hire a soothsayer or a wise woman to come to court…you know the sort; they come and peddle good luck charms and love potions, and tell a fortune for three pence- all within the law". Anne nodded slowly. "And…I have them tell my fortune, and they say that we have been ill-wished by someone seeking to ruin the country by ruining my marriage". Jane nodded her head. Anne ruminated on that for a moment and smiled, her first real smile in days. "Well Jane, that may just work. But I will have to use this to my advantage. If I accuse someone of witchcraft, they will be strangled to death by a Smithfield blacksmith, or burned at the stake; no light matter. I must use it to get rid of my greatest threat".
"Well, I can tell you who that is right now", said Mary with a toss of her head. "Jane Seymour. She really has to go!". Anne was about to laugh, but then she thought about it. She had been thinking of advisors and powerful families that were opposed to her, but Jane Seymour was probably her biggest adversary. To control the King's affections was to control the King; who would know better than Anne? Fortunately for her, Jane Seymour was either too stupid to realize it, or too disgustingly sugary sweet to do it. "You are right Mary. Quite right. She has to go". "Will His Majesty not find it odd that you will accuse his favorite of witchcraft when you yourself are so far from his favor?", Jane asked spitefully. Anne ignored the spite and waved the idea away. "I have a plan already". "Oh?", said Jane, arching an eyebrow. "Once you told me, my mind started working", said Anne dismissively. "I have a plan. I know what I will do, and you will help". Jane curtsied. "Your Majesty has only to command me".