AN: This story uses actual events in history. I will be borrowing actual titles and places and giving them to the GG characters. Like my other historical GG fic, I will endeavor to keep to character as best as I can while I morph them into how they will be in the time and the situation that I place them in. Most other characters you see are real people from history.
This is set right after the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, the series of skirmishes and battles in England of the two rival Plantagenet royal houses—York and Lancaster—as they fought for the throne.
On the twenty second day of August in the year of our Lord fourteen hundred and eighty five, all of England mourned the death of thousands of brave fighters, noblemen and commoners, from both royal houses of the grand Plantagenet line. All of a sudden, in one fell battle on the otherwise peaceful field near Bosworth market, fifteen thousand men clashed from either side of the Channel.
One King charged with his army like a maniac, deprived of reason after losses so great he could barely think, down Albion hill onto the waiting line of the man who would afterwards be branded as the usurper. Amidst the battle, his own noblemen turned their backs, or watched in passive inaction, as his army was cut down by the Henry, Earl of Richmond, of the House of Tudor.
The King had screamed, when he first realized that his loyal subjects had abandoned him, "Treason!"
And it was betrayal of the highest measure. On the twenty second day of August in the year of our Lord fourteen hundred and eighty five, the Yorkist king fell, his body bared and trussed upon a horse and taken through the town of Leicester in a manner worse than that of a common criminal, paraded like meat down the market streets to be deposited in a humble church of the Greyfriar's.
The news reached Lord Charles as if a nightmare reaching for him underneath his blankets as a child. He had arrived in England from serving his King as an envoy to Italy, only to find that the battles that he had before thought were over had erupted into massive warfare in the far fields.
"And what of my father?" he asked quietly of the knight who stood in front of him, his head bowed low.
The knight fell to his knees as he bowed deeper. "My lord," Sir Daniel choked. "Your grace."
Chuck Bass straightened at the salutation, because it meant only one thing to him. His father, the first Duke of Norfolk, who gained his title and his fortune from Richard III as reward for loyalty in battle, had perished in the last battle, and thus the title had been bestowed on Chuck. "Sir Daniel, where is he?"
"One of his men has come injured, your grace." Chuck flinched at the name. "He brought news of the outcome."
"And the rest of the men?"
"Most perished in battle," Sir Daniel replied. "Dead on the field."
Chuck's expression darkened. He looked out the window into the night. "Gather my personal guard," Chuck instructed. "We will retrieve the bodies of our slain friends. They will not rot above ground unshriven and without honor."
And it was then that the trusted knight told the new duke of the fate of the Yorkist king. Chuck bared his teeth in disgust at the fate that the two-year king had suffered under the hands of the usurper. "Who led the charge? There is no Lancastrian prince strong enough to wipe out the Yorkist army."
"The Lancastrians have placed their faith on another."
Chuck bared his teeth. His childhood friend was the last Lancastrian who could claim the throne for his house, and Nathaniel Archibald had not once expressed a desire to rule the divided country. "Who?"
"The Lancastrian earls have called upon the Earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor, your grace."
Chuck glared at Sir Daniel. "And what flimsy claim does he have to the throne?"
"Twofold, lord. From his mother Margaret Beaufort."
"Beaufort," Chuck muttered. "Descended from two of Edward's sons."
Chuck nodded curtly. There was more from his house with a direct line to the throne than the Tudor bastard, who treated his king with such disrespect that Chuck shuddered at the thought of Richard in such disgrace. "My men, Sir Daniel. And quickly. We shall retrieve the bodies and give them a proper burial."
In the dead of the night, Chuck and his small troop performed the most wrenching of tasks that men had to do. They gathered their dead, those with standards of white banners and patches, selecting those from the Norfolk household if they could, and if not, picking the bodies of any Yorkist soldier who had died in the fray. Careful not to call the attention of the Tudor soldiers, and French mercenaries that Tudor had hired to fight his battle, his small troop took with them as many of the bodies that they could salvage.
Chuck happened upon the corpse of his father half-covered by the Norfolk banner. The new duke fell to his knees, his light mail and armor clattering on the ground. Chuck reached over and shut Bartholomew's sightless eyes, then swallowed. First, he unclasped what he could of the heavy armor that his father bore, that was not enough to protect him from the arrow that pierces his side. Chuck leaned over and with a grunt, carried his father's body in his arms and stumbled towards the large cart.
"I swear, father," he vowed as he looked at the old duke lying atop the bodies of his fallen men, "I will take down the usurper by any means necessary." And then, Chuck reached for his father's hand and took off the thick leather glove that the older man wore. He bared the ring that had the duke of Norfolk's seal. He met Sir Daniel's eyes over the bodies. The knight gave him a single nod. Chuck took a breath, then glanced at his father's bloodied face. He slid off the ring that Bartholomew had worn since being create duke. Chuck placed it on his finger.
"My lord duke," Sir Daniel addressed him, "shall we bury our dead?"
Chuck nodded. "We shall go to St Mary's abbey, two hours down this path. They will be blessed, and their rites read." He turned to his tired men, whose countenance was dark at the task they had undertaken. "Brighten up, men. Your brothers fell in an honorable battle for the kingdom. And what we have done today, risk our lives to retrieve our dead. It will be done for any one of us who fall. Dead or alive," Chuck told them, his voice firm, "no one from our house is left behind for the vultures or the enemy—English or French, Lancastrian or Tudor. We will take you home."
At Chuck's promise, the men straightened and nodded, relieved at the firm belief that their duke will always look after them.
Two days later, Blair Waldorf, fully veiled in black lace, her face and arms hidden from the world, stood at the ramp of the ship that had taken her from the safe haven of her French home, to the savage lands of England. She looked down at the lands in disgust, then looked down her nose at the full escort of twelve men who awaited her astride their horses. "Welcome to England, Lady Blair," called out one of the knights, with a slight bow of his head.
She turned to her uncle, who met her on the ramp. "Is this how Englishmen show courtesy?" she asked in her haughty voice.
Lord Jasper quickly turned to the men, and commanded them to get off their beasts. Blair nodded in satisfaction. "There is a mare for you. The king has sent the most beautiful beast in the royal stables." His voice dropped. "Only the best and purest bred white beast for a princess."
Blair walked down with her hand on her uncle's arm. It was not rare that she be referenced as a princess, but it had never been true until recently, when the pet name became a real appointment. It had been a gift, that title. Her half-brother had done so quietly, because even her existence was as closely guarded a secret to the Lancastrian family as any other. To the house, the Red Rose of Lancaster was a symbol of honor and family tradition. Only to the closest circle surrounding the newly crowned Henry VII was it known that there existed Blair Waldorf, Edmund Tudor's love child with his mistress Eleanor Waldorf and her half-brother's pride and joy. Even without the blood ties to the Lancastrian house that Henry was connected to through his mother Margaret Beaufort, she had been, at the tender age of twelve, been the epitome of the symbolic flower. Raised in secret, denied in public, whispered about in private, Lady Blair had the whole of her small world revolve around her from early on. She noticed the moist ground. "Jenny," she said softly, calling to her lady.
The young woman passed the cage housing Blair's cat Cat to the maid. She scurried towards Blair, and picked up the hem of the lady's gown, keeping it dry. When they stopped in front of the mare, Jenny gasped. "Lord Jasper, my lady only uses a sidesaddle."
The older man appeared surprised, as if he had not before thought of the possibility. He smacked his forehead and apologized, "Princess, I had not considered it. Forgive me. I am too much in the company of men."
She twisted her lips in displeasure, the expression hidden under the dark veil. She abhorred the thing, which prevented her from showing and seeing as much as she would like. But it was at the king's existence that she be so covered, to hide her identity from his enemies. Blair found it illogical given the secrecy surrounding her birth, but if there was one thing that brooked no argument to Henry Tudor, it was the matter of his sister's safety.
Before she spoke, Jenny already appeared beside her hefting a heavy bejeweled sidesaddle. Jasper motioned to one of the men to take the item from the young woman, and place it on the mare.
Finally satisfied, Blair allowed one of the men to cup his hands together so that she could place a foot on the footrest he created with his hands. She placed her hand tentatively on the man's shoulder and then allowed him to boost her upon the saddle. She sat atop the horse and looked up, through her veil, at the proud standard whipping in the wind. It was the red rose of Lancaster.
A week to the day that Chuck Bass buried forty of the finest soldiers loyal to Norfolk and the Yorkist line, the young duke set up camp in a sympathizer barony half way between his holding and London, his sole purpose, to gather the noblemen still loyal to the house of York. When they all met, their families disgraced, titles and fortunes stripped in one fell action by the king that they would not recognize, Chuck set his jaw. The Yorkist leaders represented now were young men, around his age. Gone was the assembly of the distinguished York nobles. Some, like his own father, fell in battle and some sent to exile or prison for the Tudor-defined 'treason.'
"This is how we stand now," he pronounced as the men surrounded him. "Fresh faces unprepared for another battle."
"Untrained in combat," added a young lord, whose father, one of Richard's standardbearers, had been sent to Spanish exile.
Chuck smirked. "Speak for yourself. Most of us here have trained on our father's side."
"Such grand claim to train by the side of one who fell in combat."
His face hardened at the insult. "Careful, Norton," Chuck warned. "Too much Yorkist blood has nourished our lands most recently. You do not want to be the next to fall."
"What is it you propose, Bass? We are fallen," stated the Salisbury earl.
Chuck turned to his cousin. "Look around you, Ned. There's Audley, and Clifford," Chuck said, nodding at the man who stood at the back. "Pembroke," Chuck called to the young Herbert. "Mowbray and Neville. Our fathers are gone, my friends, but we are all here."
"To do what?" Ned challenged.
"Assassinate the usurper," offered Herbert.
"Tudor will have the eyes of a hawk on us all. He thinks we cannot fight. We cannot come near him, even if we thought to," Ned spat.
"Allow me to sleep on it," Chuck told them.
"Of course," John Neville replied. He turned to his companions. "You know Bass, my lords. He will come upon a scheme so brilliant you will be ashamed to have doubted him."
Chuck smirked, then nodded once at John. "Shall we meet in the morning right here?"
When all agreed, Chuck retired to his chambers. He encountered his younger brother Eric outside his door. "Sir Eric," he greeted the newly knighted young man.
"Your grace," Eric returned, surprised. "Your men have a gift for you, waiting inside."
Chuck narrowed his eyes. His men, friendly and tight as the troop was, were not the type who gave presents or offerings. "A gift," he repeated.
"Aye, lord. Your men are very grateful and will forever be loyal to you, when you decided to take our dead from the battlefield."
He entered his room expecting to see a fine new sword. His men, for whatever reason, perhaps remembered the day of his birth, which Chuck had not celebrated since he turned seven and lost his mother. In fact, he doubted anyone still remembered the day of his birth. Sometimes even he forgot it, and remembered only months later that sometime during the past year, he had turned another year older.
His gaze flew to the rolled up blanket at his feet. Warily, he looked back towards the door. It was a large package, if this were it. And then he remembered the magnificent Persian carpets that he had once seen in Richard III's keep. There was no possible way that his men could purchase material as fine. He bent to roll the rolled up blanket, then blinked.
Did it move?
Chuck dropped to his knees and heard the unmistakable sound that came from the tightly bound blanket. Was that a groan? His hand flew to the dagger slid at the back of his belt, and drew it up to cut the ties loose. His hands peeled the blanket away and revealed a sight he would never forget.
It was a person, wrapped in black veil from her head to her waist. He pulled away the covering, then took in the image before him. On the floor, she lay sleeping. The mess of dark curly hair spilled over the woman's face. His eyes ran down her body. She wore nothing but a white shift. Her white feet were bare. He took her up in his arms and laid her on the narrow bed.
Tentatively, his hand reached out to touch her, telling himself he needed to see any marking on her body, to memorize the features of her face. If anyone had lost a daughter or a wife, one would describe the missing with characteristics he would not recognize if he did not look.
And look he did. Chuck swallowed at the teasing hint of full breasts underneath the lacy shift. Despite having been stripped of most possessions, the material of the shift told him all he needed to know of the station of his unwitting visitor. The shift ended halfway down her thighs, revealing creamy, shapely legs. Chuck reached out to part her hair.
Generous, pouty, red lips enthralled him. Thick dark lashes created moon shadows over her cheeks. Her eyes would be dark, he wagered.
The young woman on the bed groaned, and her eyes fluttered open. Chuck held his breath, waiting to see if he won the bet. Before he could drown in the color of her eyes, she sucked in a breath and screamed, rolled out of the bed and stumbled to the other side so that the pitiful furniture would stand between them. And then she clutched at her head in pain.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
Chuck stepped back in surprise. "Who are you?" he returned.
"I demand you return me to my party. I was abducted!" she claimed. "And I will have the criminal beheaded. Return me, cur!"
Chuck Bass grinned at the sheer arrogance that now radiated off the little girl. "I did not abduct you."
She stood there in anger, without realizing, he thought, her state of undress. He sat down on the bed to rested his back against the wall. He faced her and counted in his head. "Did I claim you did? I remember his face. A nasty little blonde boy dragged me away from my brother's men. He will die," Blair warned.
"Are you so mighty and powerful, lady?" Chuck drawled. And then he recognized the shimmer in her eyes had nothing to do with anger now. They were tears. She was afraid.
She thrust up her chin. "Take me to my brother, and you will be rewarded."
"You offer me fortune?" She nodded. "We all have need of fortune in this house," he said, remembering the other families represented in the mock assembly he had called.
"We can pay you all you require. Just take me back unharmed," she offered, her voice intriguingly certain. "We have recently come upon a fortune, an unexpected inheritance."
A bloody Lancastrian, Chuck thought. Perhaps from one of the houses that fell out of favor until the usurper arrived. "Maybe not," Chuck muttered. "I do not want your money. It's tainted with blood."
She gasped. "If you do not return me, you will suffer wrath like you have never seen," Blair cried out. Chuck shook his head, then turned around. He divested himself of his tunic, then started untying the belt of his trousers. The young woman ran towards him and pleaded, "My lord, take me home. I swear I shall make it worth your while."
"Is it true?" he said in humor, his lips curving. "You are a beautiful woman."
She pulled away. "Are you to take me against my will?"
Chuck smirked at her. "I like my women willing, preferably those who know what to do."
"Then take me home. You will be richly rewarded by the king."
"The king is dead," Chuck replied coldly.
"The new king, the king who will bring this wretched torn land some peace. Harry!"
Chuck regarded the girl in front of him with suspicious eyes. "Why would Henry Tudor pay handsomely for your return?" His eyes raked from the girl's head to her toes. The first time he had been attracted like this again, and it was to the usurper's castoff. "Are you his mistress?"
She made a face of disgust. "No!" she exclaimed. "How vile!" She shuddered.
Yet she had been so certain of Henry's devotion that he would pay ransom or reward for no matter what amount. Only one relation to a man could feel so secure. Serena was the same about him. "Princess?" he said softly.
Her eyes widened. "You know about me?" And Chuck suspected very few people within Lancaster's own circle was privy to an illegitimate daughter in the Tudor house. He tested his theory, and nodded. "Then you must be trusted," she deduced. "Oh!" She threw her arms around his neck. "I am glad to have found a friend in this wretched land."
Chuck returned the warm embrace, relishing the feel of the young supple body pressing against his, then leaned his lips close to the shell of her ear. "What is your name?"
"Blair," she answered.
And the plan had formed—a crisp, crystal, clear plan. "Princess Blair," he began, and he knew he would enjoy every moment of this exquisite torture, "do you know where you are?" The men had argued that there was no possible way to kill Henry, to even reach him. The answer was waiting in his bedroom all along. This was how Henry Tudor paid for his crime against York.
She shook her head. She tried to pull away, but he tightened his hold on her and kept her in his embrace. "You are right at the center of a Yorkist fortress." He felt her freeze in his arms. "In a chamber reserved for me, Chuck Bass, duke of Norfolk, son of a man who perished in the skirmish near Bosworth." Skirmish was too small a word, but he did not want to drag her kicking and screaming towards the fresh graves of his men. "Princess," he said like it were an insult, "you are in enemy territory."
Blair's eyes shut tightly. He could see her searching her brain. But he knew exactly what surrounded her, and had no doubt that even if she were just a woman, she would recognize her fate. "Please—"
Chuck released her from his arms, then shook his head at her. "You are coming back with me to my castle," he told her. "You are no longer in France, princess," he told her, assuming that, if she were Henry's half-sister, then she would have grown up in Calais where the Tudors had sought refuge during the Yorkist period. "You are not in Henry's England."
"You are in my England, Blair. Here, you are nothing but a commoner. Here, you have no money, no title, no lands," he enumerated. "You are lower than a peasant, because peasants have pledged fealty to me."
She turned her head away.
"Will you pledge yourself loyal to me? Perhaps I can allow you some luxuries." When he noted her pause, he chuckled. "I will not accept it. Your words have no meaning here, your vow useless. No one will believe a word coming from your mouth."
Blair spat at his feet. "I swear to you, Yorkist dog, that before Henry is done with you, you will pray for death!"
Chuck looked down at the bastard princess, and marveled how quickly regard changed. She had seemed to him an innocent angel, a victim of circumstance, when he had freed her from her cloth prison. And now here she was, afraid and angry at the same time, glaring up at her like the spoiled little princess she was, who understood nothing of consequence.
He could think of no other way to humiliate her. He clasped her nape with one hand, then firmly turned her to face him. He ravaged her mouth while she pushed against his chest in shock and fury. When he released her, her lips were red and sore, and she gasped for breath. "Think of that when you next insult me," he advised her. He laid his palm against her belly, and she sucked in her breath at the sensation of wild butterflies aching to escape.
"Sleep. You will wake tomorrow at crack of dawn and take me my breakfast," he instructed. "You are now my personal servant."
"Do not be overly dramatic."
"What is it you want? Money? Your lands? I swear you will have all of it back, if you will only free me."
He shook his head. He was one of the few who escaped with most of his possessions intact. "I want vengeance, princess. You are my only hope for it."
Test chapter. Let me know if this is interesting to you so I can decide to pick it up. : - )