I wrote most of this for an assignment dealing with historical fiction in my writer's craft class, but it could be classified as a fanfic, as I was inspired greatly by Mel Gibson's "Braveheart". This story however, does have a lot of true historical facts in it. It's basically complete, and just needs to be loaded up to but I'd appreciate some suggestions as I think a few things could be changed or elaborated upon. Please drop me a line or two in a review :)
Today will be remembered. A hundred years from now, and for centuries after, this day will be remembered. Men will speak of it over their ale and women will tell their children. Bards will sing of the great William Wallace - a barbarian, a commoner, a strategist - a hero. Edward, King of England, has triumphed today over the most daring and audacious Scottish rebel the Kingdom has ever seen. This day, 23rd August, in the year of our Lord 1305, England rejoices at the execution of William Wallace, but I weep with Scotland.
- - -
"Milady?" The princess' maid entered a small, sparsely furnished room and addressed the figure kneeling quietly at a preire dieu. The figure's cloak and richly embroidered gown presented her as the wife of Edward II, Princess of Wales, and future Queen of England. She inclined her head to show she was listening.
"He is dead, milady." The maid laid a consolatory hand on the woman's shoulder, speaking words of comfort when she felt the princess' tears fall onto her fingers.
The princess Isabella sniffed quietly, placing her hands over her eyes. "And the King?"
"He has already planned a banquet and - and he expects that you will attend." The maid's expression clearly showed her distaste for the King. "But," she added, "some say that he should not leave his bed, as his health declines. They think that he may not live for very long." The maid's voice trembled slightly, betraying her hope that the King would indeed die, and soon.
"Nicolette," the princess reprimanded her maid softly. "You must not look for anyone's death, regardless of how they have lived their life."
Nicolette's eyes widened, and she stared at her mistress with disbelief etched into her face. How could the princess say this when the King's order to execute the rebel Scot had just been carried out? He had murdered the princess' only love, and still she looked for the good in him.
"Milady, I do no underst -"
The princess sighed heavily, wiping at her tears as she turned to face her maid. "If you rejoice in the king's illness, you will - that will make you no less barbaric than him. He - he should not have k-killed Wallace..." Isabella's voice trailed away as she realized what her words meant. As if saying that William was dead made it final, irreversible. Unbidden, an image came to her mind depicting the head of the only man who had loved her being paraded on a spike through the streets of London, as the King had done with every traitor. A strangled cry escaped her lips and she sank to her knees on the stone floor. Nicolette quickly knelt and held her mistress, speaking softly in their native French tongue, while Isabella sobbed in anguish.
- - -
It is not proper that I write of Scotland's hero - indeed, it is not proper that I write at all. And yet, I know of no other way to tell his - and my - story to those who will care to read it. I write in French so that my husband, the Prince of Wales, will not be able to understand my writings. He believes that I translate the Bible. Let him - it has been long since I have felt any regard for his feelings, just as he has never considered my own. From the day we met, he has disdained me, and not even attempted to create a facade of affection. The only love shown to me was from a rebel and an enemy. And so I write.
- - -
"'Isabella the Fair'" whispered the King to his handsome young son. "The name is apt, is it not?"
The younger Edward, standing at his father's side, regarded his future wife as she entered the cathedral of Boulogne with her entourage. Her father, King Philip of France, had certainly made sure that his daughter's entrance would be dramatic and splendid. Her hair was braided and entwined artfully around a silver headpiece, and a sheer white veil draped from the crown of her head to cover her face and bare throat. The gown of blue and gold she wore was nothing short of dazzling.
Edward looked back to his father, frowning slightly. "How old is she, then?"
"Thirteen, and ripe for marriage. I will not hear complaints, boy. You know the importance of this wedding." The king smiled appreciatively toward the French party, covering the carefully contained anger of his words to his son.
Edward fumed inwardly. He did not want this marriage. He wanted none of the alliances and securities his father had attained, and none of the damned women that came along with them. Glancing over his shoulder to the back of the church, he caught the gaze of a young man who stood with the English company. The young man winked and smiled encouragingly, but before Edward could return a similar gesture, he was conscious of his father's elbow digging into his ribs.
"This is your wedding boy! Act like a bloody groom!" Shoving his son forward, the King watched as Edward joined his young bride at the altar on a raised dias. The boy intoned the Latin words required of a groom, and listened as the French princess responded. Edward looked forlornly over his shoulder once, and then again during the Bishop's matrimonial speech, seeking the eyes of the young man in the back. The King glared at his son. The boy didn't appreciate the alliance this would tie between England and France! In time, the King would set his sights on ruling all of Gascony, and expanding his empire throughout Normandy. "But this will not be possible if my imbecile of a son cannot maintain this marriage!" he thought sourly, watching his son's eyes seek those of the young man again.
The night of the marriage saw much celebration, and the wine flowed so freely that none seemed to notice the absence of the bride - or the fact that Edward did not seem at all inclined to leave the rowdy group of Englishmen he had stationed himself with. The only unusual moment was a brief and irritated conversation Edward had with his wife's maid, before snapping at her to leave him.
- - -
"My lady, he bids me to tell you that he cannot see you tonight." Nicolette bit her lip and watched the newly wed Princess Isabella receive her news. The princess' face twisted into a frown of confusion, and she ducked her head.
Isabella regarded her maid calmly, fighting back tears that her husband could be this inconsiderate.
"Did he say why? Is he - is he upset, perhaps?"
Nicolette knelt at the princess' knee and took her hand.
"No milady, not upset. He is, I think...there are rumours, you see..." The young woman's voice trailed off and she looked unhappily up at her mistress.
"Nicolette, you are my closest friend," Isabella said quietly. "Do not think that youspare my feelings by not telling me of these rumours."
"Yes milady, but -"
"No, Nicolette. Tell me. I must know more of this man that I am to spend my life with." The princess choked on her words, realizing the horrible finality of them.
Nicolette patted her hand reassuringly and began. "There have been whisperings among the King's entourage - I know, because Genevieve was flirting with some of their soldiers last night - that they had never seen Prince Edward with a woman. They...they say that he will be too occupied warming the bed of his companions then to see to his own wife."
Nicolette glanced at Isabella, but looked away when her mistress tried to hide her tears.
"Has he not -" Nicolette bit her lip again, afraid that her question might upset the princess more. However, Isabella squeezed her hand gently, whispering for her maid to go on.
"Has your husband not spoken to you of this? Has he said nothing?"
Isabella gave a tiny, humourless laugh. "No, Nicolette. I have barely spent time with him, and we have not had the chance to speak alone." She paused, sniffing into her handkerchief. "And it seems we shall not ever speak alone now!" She let her tears fall this time, leaning into Nicolette's consoling embrace. The two sat on the royal marriage bed in this manner, maid comforting mistress. Finally, Isabella looked up into her friend's face.
"Nicolette - what am I to do?"