A/N: A little background here. In 1664, there was a small scandal involving the Queen's Master of the Horse. He was dismissed for showing "affection of to ardent a nature" towards the Queen Consort, Catherine of Braganza. He, Edward Montagu, joined the navy and died in a battle with the Dutch in 1665. The same battle in which Rochester fought and his best friend died (The Earl lost his faith in God as a result). Catherine had been opposed to the dismissal of one of her few English friends and refused to appoint anyone else to his position. It was finally filled after his death, by his brother Ralph Montagu.

The title of the Fic is a reference to a poem written by Locke, in honour of Queen Catherine of Braganza. It's a beautiful poem, but unfortunately a bit hard to find.

Hampton Court, 1665

The letter in his pocket seemed to weight him down like a ton of bricks. Like it was dragging him down while he walked, trying to prevent him from reaching his destination: The Queen's Quarters, separated from the halls by a thick wooden door and a very surly faced herald.

"I am here to see the Queen." The herald raised an eyebrow at his statement but stepped aside to open the heavy door.

"The Earl of Rochester!" Unexpectedly for someone with his practice, his voice was as unpleasant as his face. He neatly side stepped him just as the music and laughter faded away.

A somewhat uncomfortable silence followed the realisation of just who was standing in the Queen's Quarters, looking perfectly at ease. It gave him a faint, almost sadistic, sense of accomplishment.

"Ah, Lord Rochester! What brings you here?" The Queen's accented voice rang out. A very attractive one, as a matter of fact[1]. Said voice's owner hadn't bothered to rise from her bench, at the virginals, whilst he bowed.

"An errand, Your Majesty." He replied whilst she pressed a key, absently.

"For one of my ladies?" The warning tone was easily identifiable in her voice, as those young and pretty ladies were in her care.

"No, Your Majesty. It is a letter for you, sent by Sir Edward Montagu." If his mere presence had caused an impression, it was nothing compared to what those few words had done. It seemed as though all the air had suddenly been sucked from the room and even the random notes escaping the virginals had been muted.

The Queen blinked and her head shot up before signalling her maids to leave. The small entourage quietly left and when the door closed with a muffled thud, she turned her eyes to him. Rising from her place, she walked past him, her yellow dress leaving a path of light behind her. Reaching a small table, she picked up a blue and white glazed tea pot[2].

"Tea?" The inquiry made him start, but she just stood there looking infinitely patient, the tea pot still in her hand.

"No, thank you."

"Well, then, sit." She gestured to a chair and poured herself a cup of tea, before sitting down with a relieved sigh. She turned to him and in a flash all humour was gone from her face, leaving behind just the Queen. "Now, talk. I am understandably curious as dead men don't commonly write letters."

"He requested that, in the case of his death, I deliver this letter to its destination." He held out said object, sealed with the red wax glinting in the sunlight that streamed through the windows. She took it, without a single expression crossing her swarthy skin.

It hit him suddenly, just how bizarre the moment was. Two people who couldn't be more different, sitting civilly across from each other, their only real connection dead and rotting away under the carcass of some ship.

And if the image of death brought with it sacrilege, he had to wonder. In just what language did she scream out?

She turned to him, coal black eyes as hard as steel. "Did you read it?" She hadn't opened it yet, and he didn't expect her to open it until she was completely alone. In her large, cold bed, with no one to keep her company, the King off somewhere, probably with his face up Barbara Palmer's dress. If he didn't like his head so much, he'd offer to keep her company.

"No, Madam. I take other people's mail very seriously."

"I'm sure." She replied to his sarcastic comment even more sarcastically. Turning to him, with her eyebrows raised, she question. "Then what, pray tell, do you know?"

"I know he was madly in love with your Majesty. I know he was your spy in Rome. [3]" Her eyes were the coldest he'd ever seen in a woman, by this point. Except his mother. Her Majesty still had a long way to go until she became a harpy, like the good old Countess. "I also know he wondered every night about your Majesty's... assets." He wondered if she'd fluster at what would say next. "As a matter of fact, so do I."

She didn't fluster. But the hand that had seductively come in contact with her slender wrist would never be the same again. Quick as lightening, his hand had been grabbed, twisted and dug into by her nails.

"Bugger..." His pained moan brought out a smug smile from the Queen. Sadist.

"Most people wouldn't speak in such manner to a Queen." He stood corrected. A harpy, just like his mother.

"I can't see why not, seeing as a Queen's greatest duty is performed on her back." He spat, wincing and grabbing his stinging hand. She tsked.

"Such coarse language, Lord Rochester. I'm sure you were raised better than that." She replied with absolute calm.

"And your Majesty? I expected you'd be all..." Pain turns into rage, and rage does not make for eloquence.

"All what? Just stand here and take the abuse you were, quite rudely, throwing in my face? I was raised with three brothers, you know. There's little you can attempt without a response from me" Now she was patronising him. Bloody wonderful.

"No, but..."

"But nothing! You are going to stand up, apologise, leave, and never speak a word of this to anyone, are we understood, Lord Rochester?"

"Yes, madam." He replied while standing up, his hand throbbing like a big fat... "I apologise." He still couldn't believe he was accepting to be treated like a five year old who had broken his mother's vase. It was demeaning.

But coming from her, oddly arousing.

"Madam?" He called, almost hesitantly. Almost.

"Yes, Lord Rochester?" Her patience was running out.

"If it means anything, Edward really did love you." Her head shot up and surprised eyes met his. "It was you he was thinking of when..." She nodded slowly and then turned to him, this time with a hint of respect in her eyes.

"Thank you, Lord Rochester." He bowed without a single ounce of mockery in his stance, before turning and marching towards the door.

He glanced back just in time to see the Queen bringing the letter up to her lips and kissing the seal.

He smiled and absently muttered, completely ignoring the eyes of those who rested on him.

"Our Health to Kate

Our Sovereign's Mate..." [4]

[1] It was said that the thing Charles II found the most attractive about Catherine was her accent.

[2] Catherine of Braganza was responsible for making porcelain fashionable in England, and the glazed white and blue porcelain, imported from Asia, remains a staple of Portuguese culture.

[3] There was a well-founded rumour that Edward Montagu, a secret Catholic, had been carrying out missions in Rome, on behalf of the Queen.

[4] This epigraph is an actual poem by the Earl of Rochester, which contains a few snarky comments directed at the Chancellor Hyde, the man responsible for the Catherine and Charles match.

Regarding the letter, legend has it that Sir Edward Montagu really did write Catherine a letter, supposedly in his own blood, after being wounded and on the verge of death.