Only Eternal Night
She was never supposed to fall in love with him. She had been ready to seduce him, manipulate him, persuade him – but she had not been ready for the way he had affected her. And now it had gone too far. There was no going back from here, no hiding.
She wonders what will happen. Henry wants to marry her. If he gets his divorce – and he will, because kings always get what they want – then she will become his wife. Anne knows at least part of the reason he wishes to wed her is that he needs an heir. If she cannot provide one, his love will not last – it will fade and fail, and she will be discarded just like Catherine, and replaced as she is replacing the queen.
All she can do is hope – that his love is true, that she will bear him an heir, that her love will not end in tragedy.
Catherine had not at first loved Henry. He was too different to his brother, whom she had known for such a short time. Henry had consummated their marriage with barely a word and no tenderness to speak of. At that time he had not been interested in a wife, and she had disliked him.
It took time for her to grow used to his ways, and for him to accept a marriage of convenience, and only then did their relationship develop into any more than a way of producing children. They had some things in common – they forged a friendship that was never really love on his side, and would not have been on hers if she had not fallen pregnant.
She had hoped for a boy. She got Mary, and loved her anyway, and through the child grew to love the father. He showed Mary more attention than he ever had Catherine, and she could observe in his behaviour with the child aspects of his personality she had never expected.
Her love for Henry grew as his for her waned. Now he wants to divorce her, and she cannot bear it. He is her life. He is all she has left.
Charles Brandon – part 1
Here in the country, he has too much time on his hands. Business and Margaret can occupy only so much of it. He misses the bustle and constant distractions of the court. He misses the King.
Hunting and riding can only remind him of Henry, and how they used to be. It has been long since things were that good between them, but he still remembers, and it aches. To be around the king is some consolation; to be the object of his anger is almost unbearable.
Thomas Boleyn had it right when he quoted the people.
"The King's presence is like the sun, and when you are away from it, there is only eternal night."
He struck a nerve with those words. Charles had carefully schooled his face not to show his emotions, but those words were too close to the truth. He hid his face in gazing at the fire, and allowed himself a moment of weakness.
Then Boleyn had made him that offer, and in his heart he knew he would take it. He knows Henry too well to expect his forgiveness to come easily, and yet he will still ask for it.
He has always done his best, and he can do no more. He serves the king, he wants the best for him, and he will get it if he is able. But Henry does not understand. He thinks he knows best, and acts against the cardinal's advice. Wolsey is left to clear up the mess, to patch over the cracks and try again to persuade the king onto the course he knows is right.
He wishes Henry would listen to him unconditionally. He has no desire to be king himself, but in dealings with the church if nowhere else he understands what is necessary better than Henry ever will.
Cardinal Wolsey is devoted to his king, but the king does not realise it. The cardinal fears what will become of him if he one day falls from Henry's favour. He fears the future, and does his best in the present. There is nothing else he can do.
Compton was once the king's favourite, set above even Anthony and Charles, above Catherine or the women of the court. It was a brief, blissful few months. Since then, the king has found other distractions, and so has he.
But even so, he thought Henry understood what he meant when he mentioned old times. To see him with Anne is doubly painful – because it means he cannot have Henry, and because it makes him think of Tallis. Henry was only to be a replacement, a substitute, an oblivion. He can hardly bear to think of the beautiful blue-eyed musician, his genius.
But the music of the lute player at the picnic – so far inferior to that of his love – brings the thoughts incessantly back to his mind. And all he can see is Henry and Anne, Henry's gaze flickering to him to see his expression. He cannot help but be a little jealous. The king sees it, and thinks he knows why, but Compton no longer loves him in that way. His heart belongs to Thomas Tallis, and only a few of his memories to the king.
He has all his life tried to stay pure. He works with higher matters. He has been accused of being naïve, out of touch with the world, insensitive to human feelings. But he knows the world too well, and withdraws from it. He does not want to be involved in politics or court intrigue. For him, life is simple – or should be. He knows clearly how he wishes to live his days, and tries to follow this path he has set himself.
He is still only human. No matter how he tries, he has one weakness – the king.
Henry fascinates him and worries him in equal amounts. He cannot ignore his concern, although he knows it is unfounded – Henry has councillors more experienced than he is. Sometimes he doesn't even know what he is concerned about. And the fascination simply will not go away.
Falling in love with the king was not a part of his plan, and is besides against the Bible. He keeps it to himself and tries not to let it affect his judgement. What else can he do?
It becomes increasingly hard with every day.
Charles Brandon – part 2
He returned to the court for his own sake, not Margaret's, as much as he led her to believe it was for her. He does not wish to admit even to himself that he is willing to beg on bended knee for the king's forgiveness, to abase himself for no reason other than love. His pride would not stand it.
He knows this is the only way Henry will consider forgiving him – he insulted the king's authority, and he needs this petty form of revenge. Charles still hates it, and hates that he allows it, hates his weakness. In the tumult of conflicting emotions that invade his mind in those minutes, fear is the next strongest to hatred. When Henry turns away, he can barely control himself.
In hindsight, he should have realised more than a simple submission would be necessary. The arm-wrestling contest is a way to prove himself worthy, to justify the king's forgiveness.
When it is over, he knows he has done everything he can. If Henry will not forgive him now, he never will. As the king goes to leave the room, Charles fears the worst.
As Henry smiles, he knows. He should have realised it would be like that. Henry did not want to forgive him, but he has, and he will hold to it.
Maybe the king has surprises yet to come.