The Last Rose

Summary: Lady Rachel Pole is the last surviving member of the Plantagenet blood line. As King Henry looks for a fourth wife, he nullifies the last York threat by marrying Rachel. Yet, as she steps into the shoes of her ancestors and walks the path of three dead Queens before her, Rachel wonders, will she live or face the shadow of the axe?

November 1537. Tudor England.

England mourned the death of their beloved Queen Jane. Lady Rachel Pole, only 20 years old stood besides her cousin, the Lady Mary at the funeral. Rachel only knew the Queen from fragmented conversations and meetings, but mourned her as any subject would their Queen.

As her mother's youngest child, Rachel had been invited to court as a lady-in-waiting to Her Majesty just a few days before the birth of Prince Edward. It was His Majesty's way of keeping the Pole family close. Her older brothers Henry and Arthur were dead. Reginald was in Rome as an assumed traitor to the England.

Rachel remained. As a 'guest' of the King.

One morning, Rachel walked through the courtyard, as the King passed by. He finally had come out of his chambers and tending to matter of state more frequently. Rachel immediately dropped to the ground in a curtsy, waiting for the King to pass. "Lady Rachel." He walked back, peering down at the young beauty on the ground. 'Rise." The young girl straightened up, with long brown hair and blue eyes. York eyes. "Are you out walking?" He asked.

"Yes, Your Majesty." She said. "It is too beautiful of a day to waste it inside."

"It is." He chuckled. "Walk with me." He offered his hand, and Rachel didn't hesitant to take it. To refuse a King, much less this King was dangerous. They began to walk the paths of the courtyard when until Rachel gathered the courage to speak. "May I ask how Your Majesty fares?"

"As can be expected." He said. Henry turned back around, waving his guards off. They took several steps back and walked a distance away to give the illusion of privacy. "Recent events have weighed on my mind considerable."

Rachel knew he was talking about the Queens death and the Prince's wellfare. It was imperative that the Prince live, for the sake of England. "May I give your Majesty some advice?"

He nodded as they turned into the royal gardens. The cold air and autumn leaves swirled at their feet. "Spend some time with Your Majesty's children. It ease's the pain of such a deep loss when your have loved ones near." Rachel knew about loss. Her mother pasted away several months ago to old age. She had no loved ones to turn to.

"Perhaps you are right." He held onto her hand tighter. "How is your brother Reginald Pole? I haven't heard of him lately." Rachel could hear the tension in his voice. Rachel had to choose her words wisely.

"To be honest Your Majesty, I haven't heard from him since my Lady Mother past on. Since branded a traitor to England, I have cut off all ties. I serve England and Your Majesty as a true loyal subject."

"So, you have no one?"

"All of my immediate family has past on to God's house. I am but a poor woman in this world."

Henry nodded. They came closer to the entrance of the palace and Henry took her hand, kissing it. "We are family my dear cousin. Let the bad blood between our two families be at peace. I would hope that if you need anything at all, be free to ask."

Rachel could feel the breath escape her lungs as she swept onto the ground, kneeling before the King. "I am at Your Majesty's will. And if you need anything as well, ask and receive." He lifted her up, kissing her hand again before walking back into the palace.

Rachel breathed in, letting the cold air fill her deflated lungs. Never had the King spoke one word to her, but now, after one conversation. It felt different. She walked back inside as she felt the eyes of the courtiers. She could practically hear the whispers already.

The King had taken to a new mistress. And it was with a woman with royal blood in her veins, who upstarted a gracious Queen not cold in her grave. Rachel closed the door to her small chamber and crossed herself.

She prayed to God that the King would forget this day. She hoped he would forget the poor Pole woman kneeling on the ground before him.