Disclaimer: I own absolutely nothing. Showtime and history take all the credit. I'm simply borrowing.
A/N: So I had this crazy idea for a story and even though I told myself I would not start a new story, I couldn't help myself. So here it is. I hope you like it. Please don't hold it against me if any of the characters say a word that wasn't used back then or if the dialogue isn't totally consistent with how people used to talk. Also, the timeline may be a little messed up but just go with it.
*I've edited the prologue since originally posting it. Nothing plot-wise changed, but there's more angst now.*
May 1, 1536
As Anne climbed the last stair and saw Henry hope blossomed in her chest. "Henry!"
He immediately turned away from her and started off in the opposite direction.
"Please. Henry!" She chased after him knowing this was her only chance. Elizabeth weighed heavy in her arms as she called out, "Please! For the love you bare our child. For the love of Elizabeth. Have mercy!" Anne barely finished pleading before Henry's anger got the best of him.
He yelled over his shoulder, "You lied to me! You've always lied to me."
Henry whipped around to point an accusing finger at Anne, forcing himself to ignore the child in her arms. "You were not a virgin when you married me! You are not what you seemed," He looked her up and down, loathing apparent in every crease of his face. "Your father and your brother arranged everything." Unable to stomach the sight of her he continued walking away from both her and their daughter.
"No! I loved you." Anne followed after him until she was able to run ahead and halt his steps. She gripped his shirt. "I loved you! And I love you still. Please, after everything we've been to each other."
Furious, Henry attempted to push past her.
"After everything we were. Please!" He made another attempt to push past her, but she shoved him back. Holding Elizabeth more tightly, she climbed the stairs and turned to face him at the top. "One more chance. One more," Anne pleaded despite Henry's steel glare.
Refusing to listen to any more lies, Henry quickly climbed the few stairs separating them.
"Henry!" She pleaded stepping in front of him once more, but he roughly shook her off. She stumbled, grabbing Elizabeth more securely to make sure she didn't slip.
Henry continued to walk away. She screamed, "Your Majesty!" She clutched Elizabeth closer to her as her heart beat erratically. "Your Majesty, I beseech you!" Anne hugged Elizabeth closer as Henry ignored her pleas. Giving up, she sunk to the ground with her dear Elizabeth in her arms; all hope extinguished.
Henry had been postponed his audience with Jane. He wouldn't be able to focus on her with Anne's words floating through his head.
For the love you bare our child. For the love of Elizabeth.
It was cruel of Anne to use their daughter to try to save herself. If Elizabeth was even his. Despite the resentment he felt towards Anne, he still couldn't bring him to look at the evidence being compiled against her. The thought that she could betray him by giving herself to another when he had waited so long to have her himself, made him feel as though someone had ripped his heart from his chest.
No! I loved you. I loved you. And I love you still.
She was lying. Brandon had told him everything. He had known that Anne's family had not only tolerated their relationship but were pleased by it. At the time, he was glad that her family's ambition would clear his path of making her his mistress, and then his wife. But he had never guessed the extent to which their relationship had been orchestrated. She had never loved him. And perhaps he had never loved her for how could he love a woman he knew nothing about?
One more chance. One more.
Did she honestly believe a son could fix everything? She had lied to him. She had let other men share her bed. Jealousy surged through him once again at the thought of Anne with others. He had once loved her to the point of obsession, but not anymore. The reality of having her as his wife and Queen did not live up to the fantasy they had painted for themselves and he resented her for it.
He was moving on with his sweet Jane. He needed to rid himself of all thought and influence of Anne. She couldn't concern him anymore. And yet something about the way she'd looked and sounded as she yelled after him, Elizabeth held tight to her chest, wouldn't leave him. A part of him ached when he recalled her dress, already ruined with dirt, dragging on the ground and her usually perfect hair falling out of its bun. It was so unlike Anne. She'd always taken pride in her appearance. She'd been determined to look the part of Queen, even before she was. A great deal of money was spent on her dresses and jewels. Money he'd been more than willing to let her spend as long as it made her happy. But today she hadn't looked like a Queen of England. In the place of a Queen, stood a terrified woman.
May 4, 1536
Henry stood by the window waiting for Cromwell. Below him, he could see the pond in the garden where Anne played with Elizabeth. She'd been spending a lot of time with their daughter lately. More time than was fit for a Queen. He knew why though. She knew what was to happen and she wanted to spend as much time with Elizabeth. It was difficult to see Anne with her though. When he saw them together, when Anne thought they were alone, she reminded him so much of the woman he had fallen in love with so many years ago. Whatever could be said about Anne, whatever the verdict of her trial, no one could deny she truly loved Elizabeth.
"Your Majesty, Master Cromwell." Henry looked to the door at the announcement.
"Master Cromwell. I trust the investigation is moving along well."
"Yes, Your Majesty. Mark Smeaton has confessed along with William Brereton." Henry nodded so Cromwell would know to continue. "Lady Jane Rochford has also come forward," Cromwell paused.
"Continue," Henry ordered. He was not interested in prolonging this torture.
"She says Queen Anne and her husband, George Boleyn, have had carnal relations." Cromwell stayed silent waiting for the King's reaction. Adultery and incest were two very different crimes.
"George Boleyn? Anne's brother?" Henry questioned.
"Yes, Your Majesty."
"He has carnal knowledge of the Queen?" It wasn't possible. Anne may have lied to him about her maidenhood and her feelings for him, but she would never lay with her brother.
"That's what she says, Your Majesty."
Henry nodded warily. "He's being held then."
"Yes. He's been restricted to his apartments."
"Good." Henry looked to the window again. He was disappointed to find the pond now deserted. "What evidence does she have?"
"Your Majesty?" Never had Cromwell expected the King to question any of the charges laid against the Queen.
Henry turned his attention back to Cromwell. "Well?" Cromwell's mouth opened and closed as he tried to find his words. "She must have some proof. Or there is another witness to confirm her claims. Surely we have not detained a prominent noble and accused the Queen of England of incest without some proof."
"We believe Lady Jane to be a credible source, Your Majesty. She is the best person to know if her husband has strayed."
Henry mulled over Cromwell's words. Yes, his wife would know. However, many men strayed from the marriage bed and not every one of them was accused of incest."I wish to speak to the accused." Cromwell froze. Up until this point, Henry had not only rebuffed any attempts to bring him further into the investigation, he had refused to see any of the evidence. "Now, Master Cromwell."
"O-of course, Your Majesty." Cromwell quickly weighed his options. "I will send word to the Constable that Your Majesty wishes to visit and he will prepare-"
"We can inform him of my presence once I am at the Tower." Henry walked past Cromwell and ordered his guards to ready his horse.
Little over an hour later the King made his way towards Mark Smeaton's cell. Cromwell walking not far behind him. By the time they had reached the Tower, Cromwell had warned him that Mark had been tortured before confessing. Doubtful of such methods, Henry slammed the cell door in Cromwell's face before he could follow Henry into the cell.
Mark looked up from his corner. He could barely see through his swollen eyes but he thought he had heard the King's voice."Your Majesty?"
"I have come to ask you some questions about the Queen."
"Ask away." Mark coughed and fresh blood coated his lips.
"Did you have carnal relations with the Queen?"
Mark laughed and shook his head. "No."
"You have already confessed," Henry reminded him.
Mark slowly raised his eyes to meet the King's. Slowly raising his hands to give the King a view of his missing fingernails and motioning to the rest of his injuries he answered, "Wouldn't you have?"
Henry knew that torture could make a man admit to anything, even an innocent man. If Mark had to confess to carnal knowledge of the Queen in order to make them stop, then he would have. No matter how great his friendship with Anne or how innocent he may be.
"Is it not true that the Queen summoned you to her rooms late at night?"
"She did." Mark admitted but he quickly continued, "She needed a friend. Someone she could trust. She confides in Lord Rochford, but anything told to Lord Rochford would reach the ears of the Earl."
"She confided in you?" Mark nodded. "Did she tell you she was having an affair?"
Mark chuckled lowly. "She told me that she missed you," he coughed. He hadn't talked this much in days. "She told me that wished to return to the days of your courtship. She told me the flaws of every mistress you took." Mark paused as he considered broaching this sensitive subject, but he was already fated to die. "She cried over the sons she lost. To the point of making herself sick."
Henry tried to push away the anger and guilt the man's words provoked. "You haven't answered my question."
"The Queen never spoke of having any lover except yourself."
Henry eyed the man warily. He believed Mark, but that didn't mean Anne was innocent. Another man had confessed and he hadn't been tortured as Mark had.
This time as he entered the cell Henry didn't close the door behind him but left it open so Cromwell could follow. After all, Cromwell could not intimidate Brereton for he had confessed before Cromwell had even asked.
"Did you have carnal relations with my wife, the-" Henry didn't even finish the question before Brereton enthusiastically nodded his head.
"Yes. I was the Queen's lover."
"How many times did you know the Queen that way?"
"Many times." Brereton was far too enthusiastic about his answers. He seemed almost happy to confess.
"Can you prove it?"
"Prove it?" Cromwell stood behind the King shaking his head. This was going terribly.
"Yes. Do you have some sort of proof?" Henry asked again.
"Of course." Brereton paused to think. "The Queen has a sixth finger. And moles all over her body!" Brereton exclaimed. Surely because the Queen was a witch she would bear the traits of one.
Cromwell muttered, "Fool."
Henry sighed, not having heard Cromwell. "You're lying." Did this man honestly believe he would have gone through everything he did to marry Anne if she had borne the hideous marks of a witch? That he would have broken with the Pope and abandoned Mary and Katherine to embrace a religion brought to him by the devil's agent?
"No. I would never." Brereton immediately denied.
"I am the Queen's husband and I have spent many nights in her bed. She bares no such marks, anywhere."
Brereton didn't say anything else. He was caught in a lie and he knew better than to continue talking and get himself caught in a bigger one.
Disgusted by Brereton the King stormed out of the cell without waiting for Cromwell. All the way back to the palace Cromwell tried to reason with Henry. To convince him that the Queen was guilty and it would be best if the trial were to continue as planned. Henry wasn't listening to any of it. Anne was innocent. She hadn't betrayed him.
As soon as Henry reached the palace he handed his horse to the stablemen and went in search Anne.
Walking into the Queen's rooms Henry looked around expecting to find Anne there. He was frustrated to see that she was nowhere in sight and neither were her ladies in waiting.
Henry wandered the halls and rooms of the palace hoping to find Anne. His first thought had been that she would be in the nursery with Elizabeth, but he was informed by the servants packing up the nursery that Elizabeth left court this morning to return to Hatfield.
He'd checked all of her usual spots, but he couldn't find her. He spotted Edward Seymour and Jane as he turned the corner. He was tempted to ask someone else where Anne was, but Edward seemed to make it his duty to know everything involving the King's personal affairs. At first, Henry had found it intrusive and had it in mind to banish Edward from Court for a time, but soon realized he was only looking out for his sister.
Walking up to Edward and Jane they bowed and curtsied in kind. He told them to rise and barely glancing at Jane he led Edward off to the side.
Quietly, the King asked, "Do you know where the Queen is?" He didn't want to upset Jane with this.
Edward sent a suspicious glance to the King and then to his sister a few feet behind them. He wanted to tell the King he didn't but that wouldn't tell him of the King's intentions.
Cautiously Edward nodded and kept his voice low. "The Queen left with her daughter to return to Hatfield."
"How long ago did she set out?"
"Not an hour ago, Your Majesty." Nodding Henry thanked him and started walking back to the stables. He would ride to Hatfield immediately.
Edward slowly closed the few feet between Jane and himself.
"So?" Jane asked. "What did he want?" Jane hadn't heard from the King all day and she was slightly worried. It was unlike the King to go so long without requesting her presence.
"To know where the Queen was."
As soon as Henry was close enough to Hatfield to see Anne and Elizabeth in the gardens he slowed his horse and jumped down. Tying his horse up temporally Henry made his way towards his wife and daughter.
Elizabeth spotted him first. She started running towards him as fast as her little legs would allow. When Elizabeth was close enough Henry swooped down to give her a big hug but surprisingly Elizabeth stopped short. She turned around to face Anne, conflicted.
"Elizabeth?" Henry questioned drawing her attention away from Anne and back to him.
Elizabeth spent a minute looking between the two, tears bubbling in her eyes. Anne seeing her dilemma covered the short distance between herself and Henry. When she finally reached him she curtsied and said, "Your Majesty." Anne looked over at her daughter with an encouraging smile.
Seeing that her Mama wouldn't be upset if she went to Papa she ran the rest of the distance into Henry's waiting embrace. He gave her a big hug before spinning her around. "Papa!" Elizabeth giggled.
"My sweet Elizabeth. I trust you are doing very well." Henry stopped spinning her. He was content to hold her in his arms while they talked. Henry was disheartened to see Elizabeth obviously remembered the last time she'd seen her parents together. He'd never meant to frighten her. However, he was pleased to see Anne wasn't trying to turn their daughter against him as Katherine had done with Mary.
"I am, Papa."
"I am very glad to hear it." Henry glanced up from his daughter to see Anne looking at them. When he met her eyes he saw nothing but ice.
Henry glanced once more at Elizabeth as she was guided inside by one of her ladies. She was still young and benefitted greatly from a midday nap.
Anne was about to excuse herself when Henry asked, "Would you like to take a walk in the gardens?" Seeing that Anne was going to make some excuse, he held out his hand to her. "For our daughter."
Anne glanced at his hand. "If that is what Your Majesty wishes."
They walked in silence for a few minutes. Henry was unsure where to start. "I believe you are innocent of all charges against you."
Anne looked up in surprise. That was the last thing she'd expected Henry to say. Hadn't she just been begging him a week ago to give her one more chance?
Henry continued, "I have personally questioned the accused and have found them all to be innocent of any crimes." Henry rushed through the rest, not wanting to give Anne the opportunity to mistake his meaning. "This does not change that God will not grant us a living male heir. I wish to get an annulment and I am hoping you will not be as stubborn and stupid as Katherine was."
Anne took a moment as she considered his words. He wanted to leave her for that mouse. He wanted to declare Elizabeth a bastard. "And if I agree?"
"Then you'll be allowed to keep your title of Marquess of Pembroke." Henry waited anxiously as Anne considered his proposal. Thinking about how he had come to love left a bitter taste in his mouth. It didn't matter though. He would be rid of her soon enough.
"And Elizabeth? What shall her fate be?" Anne couldn't help the loathing that entered her tone when she thought of her clever daughter being declared a bastard.
"Our daughter shall become Lady Elizabeth, but I will acknowledge and honor her as my daughter and she will be well provided for," Henry assured her.
Anne continued walking as she considered his terms. "And if I don't agree?" Henry stopped short and she could feel his glare burning into the back of her head. Her daughter was not a bastard and she did not deserve to be called one. "Will you send me to the chopping block despite my innocence?"
"I am your King," Henry snarled.
Anne turned around to meet his eyes and calmly responded, "And I am your Queen."
Silence consumed them both as they refused to look away. Finally, the silence was broken. "Do you remember when Elizabeth was born?"
Henry narrowed his eyes at her question. "Of course I do."
Despite his anger, Anne continued, "Do you remember how disappointed we were that she was not a boy?" Henry could remember his disappointment well, however, Anne's disappointment was another matter. They had not grieved together.
He didn't answer her, but she went on anyway, "I felt like a failure. All the years we spent waiting for a boy and all we had was a girl. And you were so angry with me. As if I had intentionally stolen your boy, our boy." Anne looked into his eyes. "I resented you it." Henry opened his mouth to allow the angry retort he had been withholding slip from his lips, but Anne didn't give him a chance, "But I moved on. I found my love for you again and I found my love for our daughter. But you found your pleasure elsewhere, and then you found love elsewhere. All the years we spent waiting for each other, you stayed true, but one disappointment and you closed yourself to me."
Henry wanted to yell, to shout at her until his head and heart didn't hurt. But he didn't know what to say. He couldn't even think to scold her, to remind her of her place in his life and his kingdom.
"I will agree to an annulment on one condition."
"You are not in a position to make demands, Madam," Henry spit at her. He wanted to say something more. Something that would make her hurt the way her words had hurt him, but no words came to him.
Anne ignored his words. "Elizabeth shall live with me at Pembroke and I shall have complete control of our daughter's education."
"I am her King and father."
"You're not interested in educating a bastard," Anne hissed.
"Watch your tongue!" Anne never failed to ignite emotion in him, from anger to affection. Anne raised her eyebrow but waited.
Henry tore his eyes from her and forced himself to focus on their surroundings. He needed a clear head. What Anne was asking of him was not unreasonable. He might even have offered it himself had she given him a chance. But instead, she had wielded her words like a sword meant to butcher him. He wanted to refuse. He wanted to go back to Cromwell and demand he find another way to annul their marriage. He wanted to leave her with nothing, not her title or their daughter. But Jane had to be his priority now. He looked back to her, annoyed to see the defiant expression still on her face. "When we return to Court we will sign the annulment papers. You will take only the most necessary of your items and you will leave my court. I don't wish to see you again."
Anne swept into a low curtsey, certainly lower than required as Queen but even low for a marquess. Despite her technical show of respect, Henry felt as though she was mocking him. When she did not rise, Henry rolled his eyes. Why did she have to infuriate him so much? "Rise," he growled.
Anne nodded her head towards him before making her way back to the house. Henry walked further into the garden. He couldn't go back inside while he was this angry, not unless he wanted to further scare Elizabeth.
Anne looked over her shoulder towards the gardens she had just sealed her fate in. There was an anger and hurt clawing at her heart, but she tried to push them down. She had Elizabeth and that was all she needed.