Title: Three People In A Marriage

Author: ReganX

Rating: PG-13/T

Summary: What if Pope Clement had agreed to allow Henry to take a second wife if he didn't annul his marriage with Katherine... and Henry accepted? AU fic.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to 'The Tudors' and am not responsible for the creation of any of the characters that appeared on the show.

Author's Note I: This story is, first and foremost, a work of fan fiction, by which I mean that it is based primarily on the characters and events in the show rather than on the historical personages and events that inspired it so, with regard to things like the characters' ages and appearances, the sequence of events, etc, I'll be going with the show's canon rather than real life, although it's only fair that I warn you that I will be taking a lot of liberties with some things to suit my twisted, demented purposes. :-)

Author's Note II: This story begins between the end of episode 1.06 and the beginning of episode 1.07, which I'm setting in the spring of 1528.

In life, every decision we make will have an impact on our lives. Some of these decisions have a small impact but others have the potential to have an enormous impact on our own lives and sometimes on the lives of countless others. Sometimes, that change is for the better. Other times, that change is for the worse. Sometimes, the choices we make can have consequences that we could never have foreseen.

Giulio di Giuliano de Medici, better known as Pope Clement VII, is about to make a decision that will change the world…


14th April 1528

The request was an absurd one. There was no other way to describe it.

Clement didn't need to read the bulls to know that their content was objectionable. One look at Dr Knight's face told him that.

The man charged with delivering the missives to His Holiness Pope Clement VII, head of the Catholic Church, descendant of St Peter and God's holy representative on Earth, was clearly aware of the contents of the two bulls he presented to him and it was plain that he was uncomfortable with the idea of handing such documents over to the pope. Had it not been for his duty to his King and his oath to deliver the bulls to their intended recipient, Clement wondered if the other man would have preferred to hold on to the documents, or even to destroy them and pretend that bandits had waylaid him on his journey and robbed him of the bulls left in his charge.

Clement certainly wished that he had.

He spoke kindly to Dr Knight as he dismissed him, holding out his hand to allow the other man to kiss his ring and laying a hand on his head to give him his blessing as he knelt before him before instructing one of the few attendants left to in the tiny papal court in exile to find suitable lodgings for him and for the other members of his party for the night.

It was no fault of his that his royal master had charged him with such a difficult and uncomfortable task, after all.

The first document was straightforward enough, although its recipient didn't care for the almost demanding, barely respectful tone in which it was written. It was a request from King Henry of England, asking Clement to give him permission, once he was granted his annulment – which he seemed to be certain would be the case, Clement noted, not without a measure of amusement – for him to marry any woman he chose, even one who would normally be forbidden to him on the grounds of his prior relationship with one of her relatives.

This was not particularly surprising. Like many people in Europe, Clement had heard rumours about the King of England's infatuation with one of Queen Katherine's ladies-in-waiting, the daughter of one of his ambassadors and the younger sister of a woman who had been his mistress for a brief time. If gossip was to be trusted, Mistress Anne Boleyn refused to follow in her sister's footsteps and become the King's mistress, even when she was offered the title of maitresse en titre, and, as he could not bear the thought of losing her, could not leave the girl be and look elsewhere for his pleasures as any other man would, he must therefore make her his bride, even if he was required to set aside his loving wife of many years and the mother of his beloved child to do this.

Clement had enough of a sense of humour to be amused by the fact that King Henry requested a papal dispensation that would allow him to marry his former mistress' sister, despite the fact that he was arguing that his marriage to his brother's widow was prohibited by God's law and therefore invalid, even though he was given a dispensation to cover his affinity with Queen Katherine before their marriage. Like many men, he was able to shut his eyes to the unpleasant fact, to ignore the idea that the woman he desired was forbidden to him on the same grounds as the woman he was trying to rid himself of, willing to reject the power of one dispensation to remove the stain of sin from his union while requesting another.

The dispensation he wanted could be granted with little difficulty, though it was one that King Henry would not be able to take advantage of without permission to marry his beloved.

However, despite his seeming confidence that the annulment he requested would be granted to him, it seemed as though King Henry was prepared for the fact that it might not be, perhaps aware that, as a virtual prisoner in the Emperor's power, Clement could not risk offending Charles by granting an annulment that would make his aunt's marriage of many years invalid, bringing shame and dishonour on his family by declaring that she had conceived many children outside of wedlock and that Princess Mary, Queen Katherine's only living child and the Emperor's first cousin, was a bastard, but he had a solution for that.

He wanted to be allowed to take a second wife.

He made his request as though it was a simple, reasonable compromise, in the event that Clement could not allow him the annulment he desired, as though he was proposing a logical solution to his problem rather than asking God's representative to sanction bigamy.

King Henry must truly have been infatuated with this woman, Anne Boleyn, to even consider making such a request, Clement decided, remembering a time, not long ago, when the King of England had seized the opportunity to defend the papacy against Martin Luther's slanders, for which he was rewarded with the title of Fidei Defensor, Defender of the Faith, a title he took great pride in.

If he was prepared to take such a step in order to marry Anne Boleyn, Clement knew that he would not be willing to allow his desire to be thwarted, no matter what the cost was.

If he couldn't obtain permission to take her as his second wife, then he would continue to push for an annulment in order to have her as his only spouse, refusing to take 'no' for an answer until he was free of Queen Katherine and could marry Anne. The annulment could not be granted, not under the present circumstances, for fear of offending the Emperor but, at the same time, if he found in favour of Queen Katherine, Clement knew that he would lose the love and loyalty of King Henry, who could prove to be a dangerous enemy if he so chose.

Worse still, there were whispers that if the King of England couldn't get satisfaction in this matter from the papal courts, he might be prepared to take the drastic step of abandoning his allegiance to the pope, following in the footsteps of the Lutheran heretics and separating from the Church in Rome, taking England with him.

That could not be allowed, especially now, at a time when the Church needed to stand strong and united against the threat of heresy, and against those who would sow seeds of discord among the faithful in the hopes of luring them away from the true Church.

Clement was also not unaware of King Henry's genuine concerns about his lack of a healthy male heir. He had just one living child but that child was a daughter and, while there were precedents for a woman to rule in her own right, Clement believed that this was unnatural and this was an opinion he shared with many others. England had never been ruled by a Queen and the country's history was littered with the tragedies that had inevitably followed when a sonless King tried to pass on his throne to his daughter.

If King Henry died leaving Princess Mary as his only heir, there would be a real risk that civil war would follow, tearing the country apart and taking countless lives.

If this could be prevented, it should be done but although the civil war would be averted if this Anne was able to give King Henry a legitimate son, Clement still couldn't feel comfortable with the idea of allowing bigamy.

But did he have a choice in the matter?

If King Henry was so determined to marry Anne, he would find a way to do so.

It would solve many problems if Queen Katherine was prepared to retire to a convent, as Jeanne, wife of Louis of France had before her; she could enjoy all the comforts she wanted at a religious house of her choice and Clement would be able to release her from her earthly marriage in order to allow her to become a Bride of Christ and to allow King Henry to remarry and father a son and heir but he doubted that she would be willing to accept this. Cardinal Wolsey was a shrewd man. If he thought that this might work, he would already have proposed the idea. Queen Katherine was the daughter of Isabella of Castile, so she would surely see no reason why her own daughter could not be as strong a ruler as her mother was.

Another option was to allow the trial to proceed but to delay it as much as possible, sending a legate to help try the case in England, giving him strict orders to allow the English court to find in favour of the marriage by all means but, if it looked as though they might declare it invalid, to stop the trial before it could declare a verdict and refer it to the papal court for judgement, in the hopes that the delay would give King Henry time to tire of Mistress Boleyn. That too was a risky strategy; if he felt that he was being toyed with, King Henry would become angry and impatient. Not only that, even if he did tire of Mistress Boleyn and decide against making her his wife, he might still want to pursue the annulment in order to free himself of Queen Katherine and marry another woman, especially if he truly had succeeded in convincing himself that their union was accursed.

As distasteful as it was, granting a dispensation that would allow King Henry to commit bigamy might be the only hope for a solution. While it would not please all concerned – in fact, Clement doubted that any of them would be especially happy about it – it was the closest he could come to satisfying everybody.

King Henry would be able to marry his Anne, who would, with God's help, produce the heir who would keep the country safe from civil war. They would both have cause to be grateful to Clement for allowing them to marry. Queen Katherine would not be pleased to have to share her husband with a second wife but she would surely be sensible enough to know that it was far better this way than that she should be repudiated, put through the humiliation of a trial to test the validity of her marriage, and that this solution would also mean that Princess Mary would retain her position as the King's legitimate daughter. The Emperor Charles might grumble at the treatment of his relatives but he would also know that things could easily be much worse.

It was the only way.

With a heavy heart, he picked up a quill and parchment from the plain, unvarnished table that served as his desk, dipping the quill in the inkwell before he began to write.

21st April 1528

The pope was a coward.

That was Wolsey's first thought when he opened the letter he was sent from Orvieto, a letter explaining that the pope had decided, after long hours of prayer and deliberation, to grant King Henry's requested dispensations, allowing him to take a second wife if he so chose and for that wife to be a close relative of somebody with whom he had once had intimate relations.

Clement might see this as diplomacy; a way of balancing the interests of the King of England and those of the Holy Roman Emperor but Wolsey considered it cowardice.

If he had been elected pope, as he ought to have been, he would never have consented to agree to such an unthinkable proposal. He would have considered Henry's request for an annulment carefully, weighing the pros and the cons and the competing interests in play and he would have made a decision, instead of procrastinating over it.

If he believed that it was best for Henry to be granted his annulment, he would grant it – and Wolsey was honest enough to admit to himself that he would not have been displeased to be able to displease Katherine of Aragon, whom he had never liked and who had never liked or respected him, by granting an annulment that would declare that she had been an unwitting harlot these many years, living with a man who had never been her husband in the eyes of God and naming her beloved daughter a bastard – and if it was not possible for the annulment to be granted, he would say so outright, instead of allowing the matter to drag on for so long that all concerned became angry, thinking that he was toying with them and that he had no intention of declaring a proper verdict.

But it didn't matter what Wolsey would have done as pope.

Clement was the pope and he had made his decision.

He had sanctioned bigamy.

Dr Knight would be back in England by now, with the papal bulls granting the dispensations in his possession. Once they were presented to Henry, he would soon summon Wolsey to him, asking his advice on what he ought to do, and he would hopefully do this before he had a chance to see Anne Boleyn and to find out how she felt about the situation.

Learning that Henry was in love with Anne Boleyn was a shock for Wolsey, and a very unpleasant one.

When he first heard rumours that his King had embarked on a love affair with Mary Boleyn, he was mildly concerned. He knew that her father, for all his pretence of courtesy and respect, disliked him and that he, together with his brother-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk, would love nothing more than to be able to drive a wedge between him and Henry so he was aware that there was a possibility that the two men might use Mary to sow seeds of distrust towards him in Henry's mind and he was thankful when the affair palled, with Mary quickly forgotten about.

He was a fool not to anticipate that Boleyn and Norfolk might try to repeat the situation with the younger sister, in the hopes that she might be able to hold Henry longer and that they could use her to hurt him. He could kick himself at the memory of how little attention he had paid to the girl when he saw her outside Henry's study, awaiting an audience. The only reason he had noticed her at all was that she was the only woman present. As a rule, the Queen's ladies-in-waiting brought any problems or requests to their mistress and if they did need the King's input into a matter, it was brought to his notice through one of their male relatives.

"What would a silly girl like you have to say to a King?"

He hadn't even stayed long enough to hear her answer or looked back to see how she reacted to his words. Had she been angry at being dismissed thus or merely amused that she had been able to escape the notice of Cardinal Wolsey, at the idea that the King's love for her had not yet been marked by him or by his network of spies?

At the time, he hadn't cared how she might react – why would he? – but now he couldn't help but be concerned, worried that a few careless words might have earned him the enmity of somebody who was now wielding a great deal of influence.

That 'silly girl' was now in a position where she could do him a great deal of harm if she wished, or if her relatives pushed her to do so, as they were certain to.

She was back at her family's home, Hever Castle, at the moment but if Henry went there to see her, if he spoke to her first, if she insisted that she couldn't be his second wife and urged him to continue to push for the annulment, if she was able to convince him not to accept a compromise, then Wolsey would be the one Henry would expect to obtain the annulment for him.

The pope would never grant an annulment.

The fact that he was willing to take the drastic step of sanctioning a bigamous union was proof that this was as far as he would be prepared to go. He wasn't going to offend the Emperor by annulling his aunt's marriage and even if he was forced to try, Wolsey wouldn't succeed.

If Henry didn't accept this deal, no further concessions would be made.

Much as he hated the idea of helping to elevate Anne Boleyn, knowing that a secure position of power would make her even more of a threat to him than she was at present, he had no alternative.

She was going to be the King's wife.