This story is a one-off based on the characters of Mary Boleyn and William Stafford in the BBC version of The Other Boleyn Girl which featured Natasha McElhone and Philip Glenister.
This story does contain historical inaccuracies - but then so did the movie!
I hope you enjoy anyway
The Most Happy
"I forbid it Mary."
"Forbid! Who are you to forbid me to do anything?"
"I am your husband Mary," William finally shouted in exasperation. He breathed deeply and tried to banish, or at least control, the overpowering feeling of helplessness combined with fear. He turned to his wife, "You know that ordinarily I would deny you nothing? My whole life…my heart is yours to command. But I cannot condone this…this madness."
Mary looked at her husband, wishing that this confrontation would end, that she could be the dutiful wife and obey his wishes – but she could not. All of her life she had acquiesced to other people's wishes – her father's, her uncles, the King's and even her sister's. Now upon this fateful day she was determined. Her task was made all the more difficult by the fact that she loved William Stafford beyond life itself. Perhaps she did not tell him every day, although she thought that her actions surely conveyed her emotions. He had a deep understanding of her in a way that no other person had. Why then could he not understand that she had to go to London?
He had turned away from her, his long frame leaning into a dresser against the wall, his elegant fingers clutching at the frame as though he would rip it from its moorings. Her heart fluttered with longing and love and an overwhelming need to give comfort. She walked silently until she reached him, wrapped her arms around his body and rested her head against his broad back.
"Please William. Please try to understand. In everything else I would follow your lead but…
William straightened his spine and hardened his soul against her provocative touch; she was a beautiful woman, this wife of his and he had no defences against those wiles should she choose to deploy them.
"I think you do not love me," he said quietly.
"William! How can you…"
He turned to face her, eyes blazing with anger. "Yes Mary, that is the case, is it not? In fact, sometimes I think you have never loved me, that I was just a convenient way of avoiding another unwanted marriage – the lesser of two evils."
"How can you say that?
"Because it is true? Can you deny that your sister the Queen had mentioned possible suitors to you? That she was already negotiating your wedding portion?"
"That is true but…"
"And you thought that at least if you married me, you would be getting a young man, someone with his own teeth and hair? And maybe even someone who would please you in the marriage bed?"
"Please stop this." She turned and walked away from him.
He caught her arm, swinging her back towards him. He held her firmly within his grasp as she twisted her face away, unwilling to look him in the eye. He caught her chin in his fingers, forcing her face upwards to look at him.
"I offered you love and you used me to defy your family. Well madam, you will not defy me."
Without warning his lips descended upon hers, hungry and demanding as his arms tightened around her. Even as she half-heartedly pushed at his chest, a small moan escaped her lips as she surrendered to the feelings he aroused. His lips were soft and warm upon hers, he teased and tormented her, kissing the outline of her lips, nibbling her full lower lip until she opened her mouth. Immediately his tongue met hers, insistent and jousting, plundering the sweetness within, mating with her tongue in a questing, erotic dance.
For one moment Mary allowed herself to be carried away by the desire which swept through her body; her breasts tingled with anticipation, her breathing grew ever more erratic and finally an insistent, delicious ache spread from her belly down to her thighs. Even through the many layers of clothes between them, she could feel his arousal as he pressed his body against her and she felt herself succumbing to both of their needs.
A quiet giggle from the far side of the room suddenly alerted Mary to the presence of others.
"William," she whispered as she tried to alert him.
"But, I need you so…." He looked up at her, his eyes dazed with lust.
She looked pointedly at the doorway where two pairs of eyes were observing them. "What are you doing Mama?" the small boy said as he ran towards them.
"We were just kissing my darling." Mary replied as she tried to regain her composure.
"Why?" said the young girl.
"Because we love each other," Mary said, pointedly casting a look at her husband.
"That's enough now children. Henry? Catherine? Have you finished your chores yet?" William said.
"No Papa, but…" young Henry said.
"I'll take them," Mary said, "I have to pack a few things for my journey in any case."
William pursed his lips and turned away.
"I will be back William. As soon as…as soon as it is all over." She paused and then seeing that there would be no reply she turned to leave.
Supposedly deep in prayer, Mary's mind wandered as she knelt beside her sister. Her eyes glanced around the room, taking in every last detail of this wretched place. Oh, it was magnificently appointed to be sure; silk drapes, ladies-in waiting in attendance, a comfortable bed. But in the end it was still a cell, a prison from which there was no escape.
Anne looked sideways at Mary and smiled. "I fear your mind is not on the task in hand."
Mary blushed. "I'm sorry sister. I will try to concentrate more." She closed her eyes as her fingers worried the rosary beads.
Anne shook her head and rose to her feet. "No need. I have prayed more than enough for both of us these last few days. Come. Sit and talk with me. Tell me of your life. It has been such a long time since we last saw each other."
"Yes." Mary resolved not to remind her sister that it was in fact she who had banished her from court.
"But now you are here – in my final hours."
"Is there no hope?"
Anne shook her head. "None. You must not weep for me Mary – I have been resolved to my fate for some time now. It is inevitable. The King must have a son, and to accomplish that, he must have a new wife."
Mary could think of nothing to say. "I am so sorry."
"Sorry? Why should you be sorry? No sis, you had the right of it. I should have been more like you. I should have been content to be the King's whore and not the King's wife."
"But you loved him?"
Anne thought for a moment and closed her eyes, remembering her relationship with Henry. "Yes," she said finally. "Oh, perhaps not at first I admit. I was too busy plotting and intriguing, trying to make him love me." Her gaze grew wistful. "But then I forgot to guard my heart against him and somehow I fell in love." She looked to her sister and smiled. "But you must know how that feels?"
Mary nodded. "He can be very charming." Although not as charming as my Will.
"And you," Anne said, "you are happy now? You have the love of your husband?"
"I believe I do," she said shyly. "We should not talk of my happiness at this time your Grace."
"No Mary, no titles for me – we are just sisters now. And besides, hearing of your happiness will help me bear what is to come. To know that you at least are happy and content – that I did not manage to ruin your life also will make me happy."
And so they talked of Mary's life, far away from the dangers and intrigues of court. They talked of the hardships and tribulations of her life, but also of the joy and love that came, not only from her two children but also the true delight that came from her relationship with William. Seeing that Anne only wanted to hear about happy things, Mary refrained from telling her about her argument with William and the harsh words that had been exchanged. There would be time enough to worry about that – after.
"So you are content?" Anne said.
Mary nodded. "I just wish…"
"I hardly dare mention it. Compared to your troubles…"
"My troubles will soon be over. Tell me."
She smoothed a hand over her flat stomach. "I would love to give William a son – or a daughter," she added hastily. "A child of his own flesh."
"But you have two beautiful children!"
"Yes, but they are not William's. Oh, he is like a father to them in all ways and he does not reproach me, but…"
"It is a compulsion with men – to reproduce themselves I think." They both laughed, but then Anne became serious once more. "I will pray that you and William will be blessed."
They would not let her stay of course and Mary had wept uncontrollably as they had taken their leave of each other. Anne had comforted Mary, saying that she would not be alone in the dark night to come; her almoner and her lady-in-waiting would be with her. Mary thought that she could not be so calm, if she were facing her death on the morrow, but Anne seemed resigned, even joyful, to be taking her leave of this life.
Mary woke with a start early the next morning, William's name upon her lips as she reached for him. But of course he was not there. She rubbed her eyes and shivered in the damp early morning light. Her manservant had managed to find room at an inn not far from the Tower and Mary was grateful for it. At least she had managed to rest her weary body, even if sleep had not come easily. Today her sister was to die. Apparently the King, in his great mercy, had commuted the sentence from burning to beheading, and had arranged for a swordsman from France to come and behead his queen - not for Anne the common indignity of the axeman. Perhaps he had loved her after all?
Mary dressed plainly, all in black, and after a half-hearted breakfast made her way to the Tower where a small crowd had already gathered. Mary wished many things this dismal morning; she wished that this was but a dream and she would wake up, she wished both Anne and herself far away from kings and courts but most of all, if she had to be here, then she wished that William were by her side – for only then would she feel safe. Anne had bid her leave this place and go back to her husband, but she could not. Her brother had already met his fate alone – she would not let Anne die without the presence of a family member at her side.
The crowd was sombre and silent as she pushed her way towards the front of the scaffold. She had expected jeering or contempt, for Anne had never been popular with the common people. But instead there seemed to be a measure of sympathy for the young woman who was about to lose her life – simply because she could not bear the King a living son.
Finally Anne appeared, composed and calm and looking for all the world as if she were not about to die. She was dressed simply enough but Mary smiled when the breeze lifted and she saw a glimpse of red petticoat under the grey damask gown. That was her sister truly. Tears began to flow as Anne spoke to the assembly, fine, gracious words befitting a queen. Mary felt an almost uncontrollable urge to shout, to protest her sister's innocence to the world. But what good would it do in the end?
And then the moment was here. Tears streamed down Mary's face as Anne knelt, her hands clasped in prayer. "To Jesus Christ I commend my soul; Lord Jesus receive my soul." Mary pushed her way forward once more, determined to let her sister know that she was not alone. Hearing the disturbance, Anne's dark eyes flashed in her direction and for a moment all Mary saw was her little sister, playing at kings and queens, dressing up in their mother's gown and giggling as she was wont to.
I love you. Anne mouthed the words in her direction.
God keep you. Mary mouthed in return.
And then the light of those dark eyes was extinguished as a blindfold was tied securely but gently by one of her ladies. Still Mary stood and watched, determined to be there at the very end, even though Anne could not see her. Her own tears blinded her now, her fingernails digging into the soft flesh of her palms as she fought for composure. She felt nauseous and faint as she watched the swordsman draw back his arm and with one swift stroke of the sword, her beloved sister was dead.
Mary screamed and reeled backwards as her body reacted to the shocking events. People hemmed her in on all sides and she felt like she was drowning in a sea of humanity. "Please…please," she mumbled, "let me pass."
She vaguely heard a commotion at the back of the crowd as someone attempted to press forward, but in her mind's eye all she could see was the bloodied corpse, all she could hear was the sigh of the crowd and swing of the sword as it cut through the air. The air around her grew darker and she felt herself falling, slowly falling, as the ground seemed to rise up to meet her, finally giving herself up to the darkness as she slumped unconscious to the ground.
"Anne!" Mary shouted, as she jumped to startled awareness.
"Shhh love, lie back down," said a gruff familiar voice.
"William? Oh, William." The tears once again flowed as he took her into his arms and held her tightly.
"You're safe now sweetheart."
Mary sobbed in his arms as the tensions and horrors of the day were released. William was here and she was safe. She could feel his hands stroking her back, his arms holding her tightly as he soothed away her fear. "You came," she said finally.
William laid her back against the bed and brushed away her tears with his fingers. "And where else would I be?"
Mary struggled to sit up. "I had this strange dream. I was falling in the darkness and then I couldn't breath – I thought I was dead."
"You're not dead. Very much alive in fact." His fingers traced the soft contours of her cheek. "I wasn't going to come but…I just couldn't shake off this odd feeling. I had this feeling that you had need of me and I couldn't rest until I reached your side."
"I am glad William…so glad to see you." She looked around the sparsely furnished room. "Where are we?"
"Some godforsaken inn in the city. We cannot stay here Mary – London is no safe place for a Boleyn. Do you think you can travel?"
Mary nodded. "Yes. I will be safe with you and besides, I am not a Boleyn – I am a Stafford."
Many weary hours later they reached the sanctuary of their modest home and Mary rushed upstairs, eager to ensure that her children were safe. William watched her go and busied himself with the stabling of the horses before then securing his home for the night. While he had no real evidence of any plots or reprisals against Mary, he was glad to be back home, well away from the intrigues of court. She would always be a Boleyn – at least to some people.
As he slowly wended his way upstairs he gave thanks that she had emerged unscathed from the day's horrors – at least physically. Perhaps this would be the end of their troubles – at least as far as kings and courts were concerned. All he wanted was to live here in peaceful anonymity with Mary and her children – and if god willed it, children of their own. He smiled as he joined Mary in the children's bedroom – they were both fast asleep and unaware of the drama and politics surrounding their mother's family. And long may it remain so.
William kissed his wife on the cheek. "Come wife, it's very late." He led her slowly toward their own bedchamber, longing for the quiet solace and comfort he found there.
"Shhh," he touched her lips with his fingers, "time enough for talking on the morrow."
And with that he silently began the task of undressing his wife, as she stood acquiescent before him. Headdress and wimple were the first to go and he unpinned her hair, watching it flow across her back and shoulders in a glorious wave. His hands shook slightly as he tackled the laces of her gown, allowing the bodice to fall from her shoulders as the fabric parted under his hands. He placed a tender kiss upon her shoulder as his hands traced the outline of her shape, moving to rest on her waist as she leaned back against him.
Mary sat down on the bed and watched entranced as he knelt before her, gently removing her shoes and throwing them to one side, before returning to his task. His hands slowly traversed the whole of her leg from ankle to thigh as he stroked the soft material of her stocking, one finger expertly reaching underneath the garter as that too was unloosed and thrown to one side. She laughed softly as he bestowed the same treatment on her other leg, until all she was left wearing was a plain white shift.
She wondered briefly if they would make love. Did he expect it? Or was he just being considerate? She watched distractedly as he removed his own garments with the minimum of fuss, only the boots proving troublesome. She smiled as turned his back for a moment and she paused to admire his naked body in the flickering shadows cast by the firelight. He was a handsome man in many ways; tall, strong and well muscled from his time in the saddle and now his work on the land. She felt the first flickerings of desire as he turned to face her.
"You admire the scenery madam?" he said, as he made a mocking bow.
"It is very…beautiful," she finished lamely.
"Beautiful? I am not sure that is the done thing for a man. Beautiful?" He frowned as he approached the bed and sat next to her.
"You are Will, very much so." Her fingers explored the contours of his chest, traced the outline of his broad shoulders and smoothed the soft hairs on his arms until she reached the long elegant fingers of his hand, weaving her own fingers around them. "Come to bed," she whispered huskily.
She stood and he helped her divest herself of the final barrier between them, throwing the shift into the far reaches of the room, before climbing onto the bed next to her.
"This has been a long and terrible day," he whispered into her ear as he held her. "My needs can wait."
Unexpected tears once more threatened to overwhelm her. "No," she said firmly. She looked into his uncomprehending face. "I have needs too – today of all days." She stroked his cheek as she tried to explain. "I need to feel alive, to feel…something. Please Will – make me feel alive again."
There was a moment when she thought that he would refuse her, that his good-hearted nature would refuse to take advantage of her grief, but then she saw the light in his eyes change, the silver darkening until they were a deep un-knowable blue.
"You are my lady," he said, his voice husky with want, "I am yours to command." His lips grazed her brow as he went on to scatter butterfly kisses over her face and lips, nuzzling gently at her neck as his hands wandered possessively over her body.
Mary closed her eyes and gave herself up to the simple sensation of pleasure that his touch inspired. Her own fingers wandered over his pale flesh, touching wherever she could reach and exulting in his response. She opened her eyes in shock as he mouth fastened upon one nipple. Her eyes feasted upon the sight of him bent to his task and she ran her fingers through his short hair, pressing his head more firmly against her. She was glad that the fire was still bright, glad that the candles still burned beside their bed, gladder still that she could see everything that he was doing to her. No more hurried couplings in the dark of the night wearing nightshirts; William was a sensualist – he revelled in the naked body and its power to awaken desire.
She moaned as his lips traced a silken path down her stomach to her thighs, his hands following, touching, stroking and caressing her soft skin until she wanted to scream. Her thighs parted eagerly to his touch, her intimate folds already slick with wanton desire. He nudged her thighs even further apart and settled himself between them. She gasped as his magical fingers traced her most sensitive areas, taking up an insistent rhythm as first one, then two fingers delved into the moist heat.
"Yes…yes," she whimpered.
Even as his fingers kept up their exquisite movement, his tongue delicately whirled around the nub of her desire. Her hips bucked wildly in response but he simply laughed softly and moved his arm to hold her down while he continued with his sensuous torture. Mary writhed against his tongue but determined to lose herself in the pleasure he willingly bestowed. She had never known the like before, had never known such physical passion with any other man. She threw her head back and moaned as his tongue continued to flick and curl and tease her to the heights of desire. His tempo increased as she arched her hips against him, desperately searching – yearning for the ultimate physical release.
"Please, oh please," she begged.
He looked up for a moment, his eyes glazed with lust and love. "Soon," he said, and then bent his head to resume the task. She opened herself wider to him, throwing one leg over his shoulder and arching her back as the first ripples of pleasure began to take hold. The deep ache began to resolve into a flashing, tingling wave of sensation as his tongue lapped at her core, his fingers thrusting deeply and rhythmically inside her. "Yes, yes," she screamed, as the wave of desire crashed through her sending her senses reeling. Her hips bucked violently as she exploded with sensation, her body seeming to shatter into a million pieces.
William kissed his way back up her body until he reached her face. He smoothed the tangled hair away from her face and claimed her lips in a gentle but still hungry kiss. "I love you so much," he whispered, as her eyelids fluttered open once more.
"And I love you William. You must never doubt it. Never."
"You will forgive me then? For doubting you?" He said as he continued to drop light kisses over her nose and cheeks.
"You have already been forgiven a thousand times. Now husband, we have unfinished business?" She moved her hand sinuously down his torso until she came into contact with the hot, firm flesh of his arousal, her hands traversing its length and breadth to his obvious delight.
His breath quickened as he relaxed into her touch, her expert fingers quickly finding the pace and rhythm to please him. He sighed under her skilled ministrations, his hips flexing involuntarily as she quickened the pace. He grunted as he tried to impose his will upon his heated flesh – at this rate he was likely to spill into her hand like some green boy! "No more," he said as he gently took her hand away.
"Then love me William. Fill me up and make the darkness go away."
His eyes narrowed with desire as he knelt between her legs. She was so beautiful, his wife, his love. But never more lovely than at this moment, the gold of her hair and the soft alabaster skin highlighted by the flickering candle casting its magic upon them. He eased her forward onto his legs, until the tip of his shaft rested against the warm entrance to her body. He teased them both as he slowly, oh so slowly, eased forward until only the tip was enclosed.
She wriggled against him, tried to push herself forward to take more of him, whimpering in displeasure as he held her back. "Slowly my love, slowly." He eased himself further inside her silky warm depths, gritting his teeth as he fought for control.
But control was the last thing on Mary's mind as she clenched the sheets with her fingers, her body screaming in denied frustration. "More," she demanded, quickly wrapping her long legs around his waist and surging forward with a groan.
Amidst the haze of passion he suddenly realised what his normally gentle wife sought. Oblivion. She wanted no gentle love making, she wanted – no needed, overpowering and all encompassing passion. Raw, physical sensation is what she was demanding of him. He only hoped he were up to the task.
Gathering his resources to him, he wondered if he could do it. Of course he had had simple, uncomplicated sex in the past but he wondered if he could release those inhibitions that held him back; with Mary he had always loved her first and foremost and that reflected in the way he made love to her. Now she was asking for more.
He feasted his eyes upon her; large luminous eyes and long hair, full round breasts, nipples pert with desire. He growled as he pressed himself forward, sheathed himself completely in her and then withdrawing.
He thrust into her time and time again and she welcomed him, accepted all he could give her again and again. She clutched and grasped at him as he buried himself repeatedly, her breasts shaking with the effort of each thrust. He spread her wider, his hips now moving in an unstoppable rhythm which she matched every time, driving him on, desperately seeking the oblivion that came with orgasm.
Finally, sensing his own release was near, he pulled out. To the sound of her outraged curses, he quickly flipped her over onto her stomach and dragged her up onto all fours. Wordlessly he surged back into her, knowing that he couldn't possibly hold on much longer. She leaned forward and grabbed the end of the bed to steady herself as he continued to pound, his hips jerking and grinding against her bottom. Holding her hips steady, he watched as he slid in and out of her, the sight so erotic that he felt himself spinning out of control.
He quickly moved one hand and began to stroke the sweet warmth between her legs, finding the sensitive centre of her arousal. As his fingers stroked, he could feel her tightening around him, her hips bucking and losing control.
"Yes…christ yes…" he shouted, as his own hips bucked and twisted, driving him deeper into her and sending the world crashing around him in a kaleidoscope of brilliant colours, as his orgasm tipped him over the edge of the world.
Mary held onto the bedpost for dear life as her own orgasm burst upon her, starting deep in her soul, before rippling through her body in an unstoppable wave of pleasure, a dizzying explosion of bliss that coincided with his, crying out as they finally collapsed together on the bed.
Almost immediately she burst into hot, salty tears, tears that wracked her whole body as William moved to hold her. He did not tell her to stop, or that there was no need. He simply held her and soothed her and allowed the tears to come, torn as they were from her very soul.
When she awoke some time later, the fire was banked but a single candle still gleamed beside the bed, casting shadows around the room and across her husband's face. They were both under the bedclothes now and she wondered how much time had passed since they had coupled. It felt like a lifetime and she could not even remember falling asleep or having the covers put over her. She suddenly became aware of his gaze upon her.
His hand snaked up her leg and rested on her waist, blue eyes regarding her with worry. "Are you well?"
"Yes husband, very well. Thanks to you."
"This will pass Mary – this sorrow that you feel. I cannot promise it will ever go away completely but it will get better."
"With you by my side, I know that it will."
"I will always be here," he said as he kissed her cheek. "Now, we should sleep. There is much to do on the farm tomorrow."
She smiled and nodded as she turned her back and settled against his chest; the mundane reality of their life would certainly help restore normality. His hand snaked over her waist and came to rest on her belly as he settled for sleep. Mary placed her hand over his, wondering if new life had already sprung in her womb. Even without the passion of the last few hours, she had already wondered if she was with child. She had fainted only twice in her life before this morning, and each of those times she had been with child. A son for William would be a blessing – every man wanted a son after all, but another daughter would be welcome too.
"Hmmm," he mumbled sleepily.
"If…when we have a child, if we have a girl do you think we could call her Anne?"
There was no reply.
She wriggled around in his arms, only to come face to face with a man who was lost to all reason, fast asleep and content. She smiled indulgently and kissed his nose before settling into his arms again. "I would rather beg my bread with you than to be the greatest queen in Christendom."
Whilst I have played around with some of the dates and facts some things are true. The last sentence is taken from a letter written by Mary to Thomas Cromwell about her husband. She also admitted 'she might have chosen 'a greater man of birth and a higher', but never one that should have loved her so well, nor a more honest man.'
The title of this story is actually the motto of Anne Boleyn.