A/N; Sorry for taking so long to get this out! I officially suck!
A huge thank you to; LeftWriter224, ggghhhaaarrr67, codedotty, blondcmc, Melody Anne Tudor, rhiannon-shaxington, madkin, TudorGirl910489, QueenBee10. THIS IS FOR YOU PEOPLE!
Really hope you enjoy.
5th May 1536
"Wine!" John Seymour bellowed; "Bring wine! Where are my children… and my wife?" He sang out joyfully and watched in triumph as his servants scurried like about like ants to bring both wine and his family to him.
"What is it father?" Jane asked curiously as she placed down her book and he jumped rather giddily on the spot.
"What's going on?" Thomas asked interestedly.
"He won't say… all he's doing is dancing like a fool." Jane remarked coldly and Thomas grinned.
"Who's dancing like a fool?" Jane's mother asked quietly as she slipped into the room closely followed by Edward who already seemed to be calculating the mood of the room.
"Father." Thomas explained; "Apparently he's received some good news." He observed and John nodded happily and before he opened his mouth to explain.
"We've been recalled to court." Edward announced and John frowned slightly at not being the one to impart the good news.
"Is it true?" Jane asked hopefully and John nodded.
"Well… that is good news!" Thomas cried out happily.
"What else did the king say?" Edward asked in a soft voice and John handed over the letter, the room quietened as they waited his verdict on the letter; "It is only a pardon."
"But that's good is it not?" Thomas asked and Edward paused thoughtfully and once again John was startled at the resemblance between him and a snake.
"A pardon means we can attend court once more but things are not as they were."
"Meaning?" Jane asked worriedly.
"Meaning when we return we will likely be the bottom of the pile again. We'll have to work very hard to secure our old titles and positions again. And do not forget that the Boleyn's are back on top and have been unchallenged for weeks. Henry will not be disposed to hearing any slanderous thoughts."
"Like we'd dare after last time." Thomas snorted with laughter as the room silenced as they all thought back to the day when they had been humiliated and fleeced of their dignity and titles by the king himself.
"I cannot believe that those snakes are back in favour." Jane mumbled and John nodded in agreement.
"It is vexing…" Edward agreed; "The king seems to have forgotten all of his anger towards them; that whore is back to being his queen and that sodomite George and his poisonous father back in his council… And we are about as popular as the sweat at this time; it is vital that we use what little leverage we have left to regain our old positions." Edward concluded and John turned his eyes to Jane who looked back at him as innocent as a baby.
"I think we must raise the stakes." John murmured and Edward sighed.
"It is a tough one. We all know that until sex of the unborn babies is unknown the Boleyn's are untouchable so I wouldn't be too hasty in bartering Jane's maidenhead. Because if the Queen carries daughters we would be able to push Jane forward as a possible Queen."
"But I cannot hold the kings attention much longer without giving him more than… Whorish tricks. He is already tiring of them. After all what good is a mistress if she refuses to lay with him." she pointed out and Edward sighed.
"What say you father?" Thomas asked and John sighed heavily knowing that their family's future rested on this.
Jane was right when she said that she wouldn't be able to keep Henry for much longer by offering him so little. He would tire from her and move on and then they would be nowhere unless the Queen failed… in which case they could push her forwards as a perfect virginal candidate as his new Queen… However, if they refused to bargain with her maidenhead and the Queen delivered sons then Henry would have moved on leaving them worse off than if he had had Jane as a mistress for a time.
"I say we watch this matter with great mind, and if the king does solicit you in that way then we shall have to think incredibly carefully." He conceded and they all nodded; "In the mean time we must build ourselves up once more to the great family we are."
"Does that mean we'll gain our lands and titles back?" Thomas asked with bright excited eyes and John nodded gravely.
"We'll be getting it all back… you just watch."
"What are you thinking sweetheart?" Henry asked as he traced idle patterns on Anne's stomach. She was sure the last time they had been in such a loving embrace with her husband had been when she was expecting Elizabeth.
He used to spend hours with her, speaking to their unborn daughter, planning everything out and spoiling Anne rotten and it would seem that he was now back into that habit. Not that Anne was complaining, she adored the company and she had to admit that things seemed to be back where she wanted them. And happily it appeared to be something that he wished to see also; why else would he be working so hard to make things right with her… It couldn't just be for the babies could it?
No… of course not, he loved her… well as much as a husband loves his wife in these times… but she didn't know if that love was going to be enough to save her if things went sour once more.
She supposed only time would tell. A cold thought which offered little to no comfort to her at all.
"Anne?" he whispered to gain her attention and she blinked dazedly at him.
"I asked what you were thinking."
"Just that when the babies are born I think I shall spend all day outside."
"Would you eat outside?" he asked in an amused voice and she paused thoughtfully as she stared longingly out at the surprisingly sunny weather outside before shaking her head.
"Perhaps I would come in for meals."
"You would sleep outside?" he asked in awe and she nodded; "You would?" he asked incredulously and she smiled.
"Imagine sleeping under a blanket of stars. Could anything be more perfect?" she asked wistfully and he pressed a kiss onto the side of her head affectionately.
"You have the wildest of ideas sweetheart." He stated with a chuckle and she smiled.
"I need to have to have radical thoughts." She stated simply and felt him shift round to look at her in confusion.
"And why would you be in need of radical thoughts my wife?"
"Because after all I am married to a king, I need to be completely insane to survive." She pointed out jokingly and he laughed before bringing her lips up to his and kissing her gently.
"I love you." He murmured softly against her lips and she smiled as a tingle ran through her like it always did when he whispered those words and stared at her like she was the most precious being on this entire earth.
Anne rested her head against his shoulder once again and tucked the curve of her belly into the perfect flat shape of his own. She closed her eyes and prayed to god for this perfect moment of quiet solitude in her husband's arms to continue forever, the idea that it would ever end seemed almost cruel. She had hoped and dreamt of his loving attentions to return to her for so long and now that they had she hated that she was still on edge. Still doubting him… but she couldn't stop herself and that was because even though she loved him deeply in her heart she was still a realist.
And as a realist she knew that Henry's intemperate nature would never remain for too long, he was as inconsistent as the wind, always changing, never settling…
This must have been how Catherine had felt for all those years, never safe, never fully loved and appreciated and always on guard.
"There is something I need to tell you." Henry mumbled breaking the peaceful moment and jogging her trail of thought and she looked up at him expectantly.
"What is it?"
"The Seymour's. I have decided to show them mercy and have invited them back to court. Their titles and lands however, remain revoked." He told her in a firm voice that made it perfectly clear that his mind was already made up and this was simply him telling her out of formality than anything. She wasn't foolish enough to believe that he would actually take her opinion into account, no, he just wanted to spare her the drama of finding out through someone else.
Anne was amazed at how well she managed to hide her shock, anger and heartbreak at his decision but she knew that throwing a tantrum would do her no good at all. She needed to appear Queenly, wise and calm… if she wished to remain in good favour she would just have to tolerate the injustice of their return and pray that they destroyed themselves quickly and badly enough to end up on the scaffold.
"What do you think about that?" Henry prompted impatiently and she marveled at how swiftly his manner seemed to have changed from the joking and caring side he had sported mere moments ago to this hard bravado he is currently sporting.
"I think that is your choice. But if it my approval you seek you shall never gain it." She told him honestly and frowned.
"And why not madam?" he demanded in a voice that reminded her to a spoilt child furious for not getting his own way.
"Should I support something that threatens to undo me? She quizzed lightly before sighing and staring at Henry seriously; "I shall neither approve nor support it… but I shall not speak out against it either." She stated in a diplomatic tone that told him she would offer no further explanation for her decision. She didn't think her complete hatred for his current favourites would be something she should brag about. She watched as surprise flickered across his face at her words.
She wasn't sure what reaction he had been anticipating from her. But clearly that hadn't been it.
"I just hope that my name will be torn down again." She told him softly and he shook his head instantly suddenly he was back in the mood to play the supportive husband once more.
"They wouldn't dare." He declared passionately and she sighed gently before shrugging.
"And if they do?" she questioned quietly in hopes of hearing that he had given them betraying him further some thought but he instantly silenced her by placing his hand over her mouth.
"They have given me their word. They have also apologized sincerely for causing you any distress." He added on sweetly and she nodded curtly knowing full well he would be disappointed with her response but she couldn't find it in herself to act as though an apology from them meant anything to her.
"Then you should look forwards to their return." She supplied in a tone that gave no emotion away and watched as he sighed somewhat awkwardly; "And Henry?" she asked and he nodded; "If you do decide to take that wretched girl as your mistress;" she held her hand up to silence him as he went to protest at Jane being called wretched; "Then at least show me some respect and do not parade it around court." She ordered and he nodded his head.
She knew she would deal with some serious backlash from her family for telling Henry to take Jane as a mistress but there was logic to it, it was something she had seen Catherine do when Henry had been head over heels in love with Anne's sister Mary. Catherine had suggested that he was allowed to take her as a mistress because she knew it would happen anyway and to rail against it would just cause friction in their already tense marriage. So instead she had almost granted him permission and by doing that she had taken out the defiance that would have ensued had she forbidden him to take Mary as a mistress.
At the time Anne could remember wondering what on earth could possess someone to act so stupidly but now she could see it was something her mind had decided on not her heart. And Anne was sure that once Henry had Jane he would lose interest… and when that happened his relationship with Anne would still be the same, he wouldn't feel bitter towards him and she wouldn't feel betrayed by him…
Well, in theory anyway. Though deep down she knew the second he bedded Jane her heart would break.
"I love you." He told Anne who nodded absently as her already shaky safety net was ripped out from under her once again. She didn't know what it was about the Seymour's that seemed to lure Henry back in but somehow they were here again… and she couldn't help but wonder if they were ever going to leave.
Mary stared down at the letter from Charles of Spain, she must have read over it at least a hundred times and still it failed to make any of this any less painful. She knew deep down that she had no choice left. For her own safety she would have to sign the oath which her mother had fought so desperately against… and now Mary was going to undermine all of her beloved mother's hard work.
Clasping her crucifix to her breast she closed her eyes and prayed intently to God and her blessed mother that she be forgiven for what she was about to do. All these long years she had waited to make an answer, wishing that her father would change his mind… and now she finally had the path on which she was about to embark on sorted she didn't feel any better, any more secure or hopeful. In fact she felt worse. She felt like she was letting people down.
But reason kicked in before she allowed her guilt to run away with itself. She couldn't continue to fight this battle alone and everyone else seemed to have given up on her cause leaving her with the sole responsibility for an old way of life on her shoulders. And in doing so it had left her alone, open and vulnerable to threats.
Already her name has been linked to several plots to overthrow not only Anne but the king as well in favour of restoring the old religion. She simply couldn't have her name attached to anything like that… so she was going to sign the oath of succession and pray that people didn't judge her too harshly for accepting the title of bastard. But she was no fool, she knew that there would be people out there ready to denounce her as a heretic for making this decision… but she would just have to learn to deal with the repercussions of her choice.
A knock at the door startled Mary from such somber thoughts and she eased herself upwards and made her way towards it. She opened the door and instantly smiled as she saw her little sister waiting alongside her governess.
"Princess Elizabeth wished to bid you a goodnight." Lady Bryan explained and Mary's heart instantly felt lighter as she lifted her baby sister into her arms and held her tightly in her arms.
"Hello my darling sister." She whispered and the small girl grinned up at her.
"Have you said your prayers?" she asked gently as she carried Elizabeth further into the room and the young girl nodded with a scowl on her face.
"Yes." Mary smiled and hugged her sister tightly to her and brushed her hand through the main of unruly red hair.
"Good girl." She muttered before looking over Elizabeth's shoulder to Lady Bryan for a moment; "You may leave her, I will put her to bed tonight." She stated firmly and Elizabeth's governess nodded before turning away leaving the two sisters alone in content comfortable quiet.
"Today is a day I think I will remember always." Mary told her little sister and Elizabeth stared up at her wide eyed as they settled in front of the fire.
"Why? What did you do?"
"I made a choice that will change everything." She whispered as fear crept into her heart and she held onto Elizabeth tightly; "I just hope that I won't be hated for it."
"What was the choice?"
"I chose to finally do as father asked."
"Well that's good. Why would people hate you?" Elizabeth asked in an outraged voice and Mary sighed.
"I'm a sign of hope to many people Elizabeth."
"Really?" she breathed out in astonishment not realizing that she too was a great symbol to the people of England.
"Hope for what?"
"For the return of the catholic regime in England."
"What's that?" she asked in confusion and Mary could remember a time when children would know what it was since birth, now it was becoming a forgotten way of life in England.
"It was a way we used pray and live when my mother was alive." She explained in dumbed down terms knowing Elizabeth wouldn't understand more than that.
"Was praying funner when you was caflick?" she asked gravely and Mary had to stifle a gasp at her little sister's mouth. She was definitely the daughter of Anne Boleyn no doubt!
"Elizabeth! You should never say that about your prayers. And besides praying isn't about fun it's about being connected with god." She explained in a soft voice and Elizabeth nodded.
"I know." She huffed boredly; "But that doesn't make it fun... not like chasing the puppies!"
"No... But many people wish for the old religion to return, and I am someone they hope will bring about that change. And by choosing to side with father I will be letting a lot of my people down." She told her sister sadly.
"But if those people are against papa then they aren't good men!" she exclaimed feverously and Mary longed for the days when everything could be seen through the eyes of a child, so straightforward, it was either black or white, in between didn't exist yet.
"It is! Lady Bryan says that anyone who is against the king is bad people… and if those bad people don't like you then that's good and if they wants to hurt you then don't worry because papa will save you from the bad ones." Elizabeth rambled assuredly and Mary sighed.
"You have a lot of faith in our father Bess." She whispered solemnly and Elizabeth curled up against Mary in a cat like manner.
"Of course I do, he's our father and he loves us." The young girl said confidently in a way that only a child who has received nothing but love and attention could believe. And for her sake Mary prayed that Henry never turned against Anne because it would ultimately be Elizabeth that paid for it. Just like she and her own mother had suffered.
Mary pulled her tiny sister closer into her arms and stared at the fireplace willing herself to believe that she was doing the right thing… because like it or not she didn't have a choice any longer. She would soon officially bear the title of bastard, an unpleasant uncomfortable thought that inspired a cold shiver to run down her spine. She closed her eyes and tightened her grip on Elizabeth before letting her weary thoughts melt away and darkness claim her.
So I know that this chapter was pretty much a solidation/filler chapter but hopefully it was alright.
The Seymour's are going to be back at court... anything anyone want to see happen to them? As for Annes reaction to their return I know it might seem like she barely responded but it was more of a political move on her part, what did people think? Good, bad, ugly? Let me know. Now onto Mary, the next chapter will be of her back at court and signing the oath - a subject I know next to nothing about so if anyone knows anything please let me know! Also any interactions people want to see, and how do you think Mary should react to everyone? Please tell me and I'll be sure to try and fit it in...