Disclaimer: I don't think you can own long-dead historical figures… I don't own the show either, Michael Hirst and Co. does.
Chapter 1 – Welcome to the Family: The three children were all but alone in the carriage, but that didn't bother the young Seymours. Their nurse, Mrs. Sotheby, should have been here as well, but she had requested some time to visit her ill sister, so she would arrive at their new home in a few days.
The new home in question was Wiltshire House, the family home of their mother's new husband, Thomas Boleyn, Marquess of Wiltshire. The wedding had been held at court, so the children had not even heard about it until it was done, and almost immediately after, their bags had been packed for the short journey from Wolf Hall to Wiltshire House.
The oldest of them, Edward, hadn't been surprised; it made sense that their mother would marry again. A woman alone was at the mercy of the world, or so he'd heard people whisper after his father's funeral, and even though Edward had become head of the family as soon as his father had died, he was too young to help her when she needed it.
"Thomas, stop it," he said irritably, seeing that his brother was sticking his head out of the window like an idiot. Their adult companion, one of their mother's maids, was sound asleep against the wall of the carriage, so it fell to Edward to make sure his younger brother didn't tumble out of the window, or something. Thomas sat down, glaring at his older brother.
"Why should I listen to you?" the younger boy grumbled.
"Because you're acting like an idiot?"
"Please stop," Jane said in a quiet voice. Both boys glanced at their sister, who was watching them with wide blue-gray eyes. She hated when her brothers fought, and it was even worse now. They were going somewhere new, and their new stepfather had three children of his own. What if they were mean, or fought all the time like Ned and Tom did?
Thomas rolled his eyes, but kept quiet. They didn't need Jane to start crying or something, that was just annoying. Edward glared at his brother again but said nothing more. Jane relaxed a little, but not much. Being alone in a small space with her brothers was never relaxing. She wished they could just get along.
Turning her head, she looked out of the other window, clutching her favorite doll to her chest. The message from their mother had said that one of their new sisters was her age. She wasn't sure if the thought delighted or terrified her. Thomas didn't like playing with her, and Edward didn't play at all, so Jane was always left alone. But she was quiet, she wasn't used to people, so maybe her new sister wouldn't even like her.
Several miles away, three more children were in the nursery of Wiltshire House, and the youngest of them kept running over to the window. "Lady Anne, sit down," the children's governess, Mrs. Lovell, said sternly. The child had been overexcited by the prospect of three new siblings, especially a sister her own age, since the message from Lord Wiltshire had arrived a week ago. It was, in some ways, a good thing, especially with Lady Mary's indifference and Lord George's sulks over the news, but the child was enough of a handful already.
Anne walked back to her chair and picked up the embroidery she was supposed to be working on, not bothered by her governess' sharp tone. She knew Mrs. Lovell didn't really mean it, she was just doing her job. Besides, if she really got angry, Anne was sure she could get her to calm down. She usually could.
It was just so hard to sit still! She loved her brother and sister, and she never let them keep her out of games because she was too little, but George was eight and Mary was ten – Mary was almost old. Now she would have a sister who was her age, and two more brothers too. Anne thought this was the best news she'd ever heard, including having a new stepmother. She'd met her father's new wife and she was very nice, but Anne didn't have much time for adults. They were usually doing things that were very important to them, and they didn't have time to play. So they were boring.
Mary rolled her eyes at the younger Boleyn girl, who was practically bouncing in her seat. For her part, Mary didn't see what there was to be so giddy about. Two more boys and another sister who was practically a baby. Maybe if the older boy was a girl, she'd be happier; it would mean someone else who was too old for the nursery but stuck there anyway. But as it was… She slouched in her seat as she sighed, earning a quiet reprimand from Mrs. Lovell. Straightening her spine, Mary didn't bother to wipe the sulky look off of her face as her needle stabbed through the pillow she was embroidering.
But it was George who was truly upset by the coming arrivals. He didn't care about the sister – maybe she'd keep Anne busy. He could have more fun without a little girl tagging along. But the other two were boys, and one of them was older than he was! He hated that thought. What if they were better than he was? It was hard enough to get his father's attention as it was; he was always so busy. With two other boys to compete with, how could he manage it? It wasn't fair!
So when their stepmother came into the nursery with her children in tow, the three Boleyns stood to greet her and their new siblings in very different frames of mind. Margery Seymour smiled at the children who had become hers with this marriage, uncertain. It was a bit uncomfortable dealing with these young aristocrats, or at least with Mary and George. Mary was sulky, caught in that uncomfortable place between childhood and young womanhood, and her uncertainty showed itself in a sullen attitude. George was very well aware of his rank as an earl and future marquess, and he could be quite arrogant. Anne, thankfully, was too young for her upbringing to have had an effect on her attitude, so she was still a bright, sunny child.
And her children… With Thomas, she supposed her fears were normal. He was a typical seven-year-old boy, ready to dare anything, and she was terrified he'd kill himself one of these days. But Edward and Jane were different. Edward was much too serious for a boy his age, and she wondered if it was her fault, because she'd told him he was the head of the family with his father dead, he had to watch out for his younger siblings. She'd meant it well, but it might have been taken too seriously. And Jane was so quiet, almost afraid to talk. Margery herself had been a cheerful, outgoing child, much like her younger stepdaughter, so Jane's demeanor was a mystery to her. She didn't know how to handle her.
What worried Margery the most was how the children would get along. She hoped Anne might be good for Jane; they were of an age, so there was a chance they'd become friends. Mary wasn't going to be much trouble; to her the young Seymours would just be more children to ignore for most of the day. The trouble would be with the boys. She wasn't sure who would start the conflict, but she knew there would be a clash. Edward and Thomas squabbled almost constantly as it was, and she suspected George was less than thrilled to have gained a pair of brothers. But there was nothing she could do; she wouldn't even be here. Her husband had said that they would both be returning to court after a short visit to Wiltshire House to get everyone acquainted, and then he'd even sent her ahead while he finished things up.
She didn't like court, she would have much preferred to be at home with the children, but she had married a high-ranking, ambitious man, and she had expected this to be the price of security. He wasn't a cruel man, just distant, and she knew herself to be very lucky. Things could have been a lot worse. She just wished she could be here to smooth everything along, instead of having to trust the staff to do so.
All she could do, though, was meet her children when they arrived, answer their questions as best she could, and then lead them into the nursery where the three young Boleyns waited. Margery looked between her children and her stepchildren, seeing the way they watched each other. George was scowling, his gaze shifting between Edward and Thomas. Mary simply looked disinterested, an expression Edward shared. Anne was smiling brightly at Jane, who, subdued by the unfamiliar grandeur of the house, didn't seem to know how to react. Thomas wasn't looking at any of the others; his eyes were darting around the room.
"George, Mary, Anne, these are my children, Edward, Thomas, and Jane Seymour," she said, gesturing to each child as she said their names. Then to her three she said, "This is George, Mary, and Anne Boleyn," repeating the gestures. All six nodded, but she wasn't sure she trusted their calm behavior. Still, she saw the way the governess was looking at her, like someone encroaching on another's territory, and decided it would be best to leave the children to it. If nothing else, freed from parental supervision they would be free to act as they wished, and they needed to get to know each other so that was crucial.
The second Margery left, George jerked up his chin defiantly. "I'm the Earl of Ormonde," he said pompously, "and my sisters are Lady Mary and Lady Anne." Mary rolled her eyes at her brother's words before returning to her embroidery. Anne glared at George.
"Don't be so mean!" she told him as sternly as a five-year-old could. George ignored her, flatly pointing out which things in the playroom were his and forbidding any of the new arrivals to touch them. Even though he wasn't really speaking to her, Jane flinched back, more than a little scared of this boy who was being so nasty to her brothers.
Thomas scowled. "I don't need to play with your toys, I have my own." With that, he stormed off, dumping out the small bag he'd carried with him, revealing wooden soldiers that he proceeded to set up. Edward, meanwhile, gave George a steady look before letting his eyes travel round the room.
"That door, it leads to the schoolroom?"
"Yes," George said grudgingly, more than a bit confused.
"And the books in there aren't yours, are they?"
"Well, no trouble then," the older boy said unconcernedly before crossing to the door and slipping inside the schoolroom, presumably to find a book. George glared after him, but then returned to his own toys, deciding he'd just ignore these new brothers. Maybe they wouldn't go away, but it was all he could do.
Anne glared at George again – why did he have to be so mean? – before smiling again at Jane. Looking at the other girl's doll, which Jane still clung tightly to, Anne asked, "What's her name?"
"Ellie," Jane answered, her voice almost a whisper.
"She's pretty," Anne said, taking her new sister's hand and towing her to where she'd set up her three dolls this morning. "Can she join the party?" she asked Jane.
Jane smiled and nodded. "She'd like that." So Ellie joined the doll party, and two little girls became friends. It was much easier than Jane had thought, but Anne was so nice. Her brother was scary, and her older sister didn't seem to like them, but at least Anne was different.
Maybe things would be all right after all.