A/N: Welcome! I've had this one shot written for awhile and was planning on entering it in a one shot contest that sadly never happened but I still wanted to share it with you because I'm a history whore and I had so much fun writing something so different from my others.
This is a bit of a crack fic for me bc I wrote it when I was a history major and on a major Tudors kick, so it was partly inspired by that as well as a little Ever After. Main song inspiration: "Mummer's Dance" by Loreena McKennit.
Now go go, you musn't keep King Edward waiting ; )
"Lady Isabella, we're approaching the palace."
I forced my eyes open and stuck my head out of the carriage. The dark shadow of the towering castle stood in front of me.
"We're here," Alice said. She smiled and looked out the other window. "We're going to meet the King right?"
"He's married to my cousin so I would assume so."
"I've heard he's very handsome," she mused.
I tugged at my suffocating dress and sighed. "Amongst other things." I wouldn't say I was particularly pleased about being here. I'd only met my cousin Jane once before and she was a selfish girl. It seemed quite appropriate for her to be a Queen. My mother had arranged for a visit, as Alice had been invited to court as a lady in waiting.
My mother was quite ill at our home in the countryside, yet she insisted that I make this trip with Alice. My father had passed, God rest his soul, two years ago and left us nothing but a good family name. I believe my mother secretly was scheming to get me in good favor with the King and Jane so I might stay with them and leave our old life behind. I had no desire to be among these people. They were not my family and I was nothing like them.
The carriage stopped in front of the large doors. A man approached and opened the door before helping us both down.
"Our things Jacob." I nodded to the carriage and our driver quickly grabbed our baggage. He cleared his throat and came to stand behind us. We were led into the castle and through a grand foyer. Alice seemed to beam with excitement from the grandeuor of it all. They escorted us to our rooms and informed us of a ball being held to celebrate our arrival.
"I doubt our arrival is worth the effort sir," I told the man.
"King's orders my Lady. Will you be needing anything else?"
"No." He nodded and left Alice and I alone.
"A party. How exciting. Isn't it?" She began fingering through her gowns, deciding on the best one to wear.
Once Alice and I had finished dressing, we walked down to the grand dining room where the ball was to be held. I heard the music and chatter before we even stepped inside and it made my insides shake.
"Lady Isabella." A man standing by the door announced my arrival and I forced a smile as I walked into the room. I knew no one.
I spotted Jane right away and she came towards me to get our greeting out of the way. I could imagine she was just as upset about me being here as I.
"Cousin," she said.
"Your Majesty," I curtsied and bowed my head.
"I am glad to see you are well. How is my aunt faring out in the country on her own?"
"She is ill. However, we are doing well." I lied. I was not about to tell everything to her. As much as my mother wanted better things for me, I did not wish to be anywhere but my home. This cold castle was most assuredly not it.
She nodded to a tall man beside her. "Please tell his Majesty that I would like him to meet Lady Isabella." The attendant rushed away as soon as she finished speaking.
"May I introduce Lady Alice of Brandon?" I glanced at Alice. Jane nodded as Alice curtsied.
"My Lady," Alice said.
"You are one of my new attendants are you not?"
"I am madam."
"I like my tea right before I go to bed in the evening."
"Yes my Lady."
"The King, your Majesty." The man from before returned a moment before the King stepped beside Jane. I had seen many paintings of him before, but they clearly had not done him justice.
"My Lord, may I introduce Lady Alice and my cousin Lady Isabella?"
"Sire." Alice and I bowed to him.
"It is a pleasure to meet you both," he smiled. I did not miss his eyes wandering down both my and Alice's dresses. His reputation with women of the court had proceeded him and I cannot say I was surprised by this display. Jane must know, however I doubted that she readily admitted his adultery. It was a kind of unspoken truth that came with the territory of being Queen. Jane must have understood that this was more a marriage of circumstance than love, as many royal marriages had come to be.
"And you as well your Majesty," Alice said.
He nodded and started to leave. Jane pulled on his sleeve and narrowed her eyes at him. He sighed and kissed her cheek. "My Lady," he whispered. His eyes drifted to me for the slightest moment before he walked away.
"Come," Jane said. "Shall we eat?"
Alice and I picked at our food until we were interrupted by a blond man, dressed immaculately with a sword at his side.
"Excuse me ladies." He bowed and turned to Alice. "May I have this dance..."
"Alice," she squeaked.
"Alice. I'm Sir Jasper, a knight of the King." He held out his hand and she gladly accepted, throwing a smile my way as she left.
I took a few more bites of food before standing and ambling around the room. I passed through the dancers and the crowds of people singing and drinking wine. I did not notice his eyes following me right away, but I eventually felt the weight of their gaze. King Edward was watching me from his throne at the front of the hall as I traveled around the room. I looked down and blushed in embarrassment as I placed myself in the shadows of the curtains that fell across the stony walls.
I smiled as I watched Alice dance with Sir Jasper. She was genuinely happy to be here and I could easily tell that she fit in. She most certainly was not the conceited girl that many women of the court appeared to be, but she belonged here. I will be saddened by her departure from my life back in the country. She had always been my constant companion ever since we were girls and I knew I was bound to get lonely.
"Lost in your thoughts...Lady Isabella?" I felt his breath on my neck as he stepped behind me. I glanced up at the front of the room to confirm he was no longer seated at his throne.
"Your mMajesty." I turned around and stepped back.
"Are you enjoying your evening?"
"Very much Sire. Thank you for your gracious hospitality."
"Might you thank me with a dance?" He held out his hand.
"I believe the Queen might like that honor, my King." I looked at Jane, who had her eyes on us from across the room.
"That may be, but I'd prefer your company my Lady."
"As you wish." I allowed him to take my hand and lead me out onto the dance floor. King Edward was not familiar with being denied of anything and I did not want to vex him in front of the crowd. He was just as spoiled as my rotten cousin and I planned on giving him no other concessions beyond this dance. In fact, I would like to believe that I shall not grace his presence again on my visit here. He was busy enough doing his royal duties and I would not be included in those errands.
Our hands entwined above us as we stepped around each other to the music. I tried to avoid his eyes, but it was impossible. He commanded my attention and against my better judgement I gave it to him.
"You are very beautiful Lady Isabella..." He said.
"Thank you my Lord."
He smiled as we spun. He took my waist as we continued down the line of dancers.
"Will I be seeing much of you on your visit?"
"I highly doubt that majesty."
"And why is that?"
"I do not desire to be seen."
He stopped and laughed a little under his breath. "What if it is my desire?" He whispered.
"You have your pick of desirable...objects sire. Perhaps you should browse your collection."
He raised his eyebrows, surprised by my words.
"My King." Jane stepped beside us. "May I have this dance?"
I did not wait for his answer. I bowed to both of them and left the dance floor.
I retreated back to my room and undressed into a sleeping gown for the evening. While I was at the dance, someone had come and started a fire in my pit so my room was nice and warm. I expected Alice to come visit me when she left the dining hall, but I did not hear from her.
I sat at the fire, brushing my hair when someone knocked on my door. I assumed it was Alice and crossed the room to open my door.
"Excuse the intrusion my Lady. The king requests an audience with you." I recognized the man from earlier. He was the one who brought Edward to us in the dining hall.
"May I ask the reason?"
He cleared his throat. "He did not say madam."
I sighed in annoyance and grabbed my robe. I pulled it around my body and followed the attendant out of my room. He took me down the hallway, up several flights of stairs and down another long hallway. He stopped in front of one door and knocked lightly.
"Come," Edward answered.
"Lady Isabella your majesty..." He opened the door and I stepped hesitantly inside. I was surprised to find myself in a bedroom, the king's bedroom.
I shivered as the door closed behind me, leaving us completely alone.
"May I ask why I am here, my Lord?" I bowed. I kept my head down, embarrassed that I was in my nightgown and he appeared to be in his sleeping garments.
"You're here because I asked you to be here Isabella." He stepped forward and placed his finger under my chin, forcing up it. My eyes locked with his and I searched for some kind of answer other than the one he gave. He made me nervous.
"Where is her Majesty?" I asked, swallowing hard.
"She is in her quarters. I did not wish to lie with her tonight." He brushed his hand over my shoulder, catching my robe and dropping it to the floor. He ran his finger across the top of my nightgown, fingering the tie at the top. He circled slowly around me until he came to stand behind me. He pulled my hair over my shoulder and leaned down to kiss my neck. "Do you consent?"
"Consent my Lord?" I turned my face towards him. My nose brushed against his cheek and he hummed against my skin.
"I would like you to stay with me tonight."
I stood paralyzed as he swiped his tongue across my collarbone. His hand dipped into my nightgown and barely grazed over my bare breast. As soon as I realized what was happening I whipped around and took a step back.
"Will you not give yourself to me?" He asked.
His jaw dropped in shock at my defiance. "But I am the King."
"You may own the land my Lord but you do not own me." I picked my robe up off the ground and wrapped it around me again.
"Do I not?" He cocked his head to the side. He looked like a spoiled child who had been denied a treat. He reached out and ran his finger down my jaw. I trembled at his touch, but dare not let it show. "You are rejecting the love of a king?"
"Love? This is not love your mMajesty. It is something of a completely different nature which I have no intent of being a part of."
"And how do you know I do not love you my Lady?"
"We've only just met. You are married to my cousin."
"Who has committed more adultery than I." He took a step towards me. "If I loved her at all I could have her thrown in a cell for her crimes against the crown. You know as well as I that this marriage had nothing to do with love Isabella."
"I wish to leave," I said quickly.
His nostrils flared when he realized I was not going to give in to him. "Then get out. Get out!"
I bowed and immediately left. The attendant escorted me back to my room, where I found Alice waiting.
"Where have you been?" She asked.
I avoided her question and sat down on the bed. "Did you enjoy Jasper's company?" I asked.
"Isabella he is amazing. He even snuck a kiss behind the curtains. I hope I can see him again."
"I'm sure you will." I smiled.
"You never answered my question. Where were you? And in your nightgown?" She gestured to my attire.
"You musn't tell anyone. Especially the Queen."
She scooted closer. "Okay I promise."
"I was with the King," I said. She screamed. "It was not what you think."
"It was not?" She asked. "Why not? Did he not...?" She trailed off.
"No he did. And I rejected him."
"But he's the king."
"And because he is the king I should give into his every need as everyone else does? I refuse to act in that manner."
"You know you would not have been the first," she said softly.
"And I would not have been the last. I have no desire to be another one of the king's mistresses."
"But he desires you?"
"He desires everyone Alice. Go to bed."
I pulled my robe off and crawled into bed. She mumbled a soft goodnight and retreated to her quarters.
I managed to stay away from Edward for the next few days. Jane eventually invited us to go riding with her around the castle grounds. She appeared to be more cold than the last time I saw her and I wondered if she knew I visited her Lord's bed chambers that night.
"Are you alright my Queen?" I asked.
"The King has not visited me in a fortnight." She looked down at her hands. "It wanes on a woman when she realizes her husband does not want her Isabella." If what Edward had told me was true, this was nothing more than a hissy fit. She had a multitude of night companions at her disposal and I hardly thought this was about loving Edward.
Before I could speak another word, she turned her horse and galloped back towards the castle. Alice narrowed her eyes at me and we followed her back. My breath hitched in my throat when I saw Edward waiting for us at the stables.
"My Queen," he smiled at Jane and helped her off her horse. She brushed him off and started walking towards the castle. Edward helped Alice off and came to stand beside me. Alice gave us a quick nod and started after Jane.
"My Lady?" He offered his hand up to me.
"I do not require assistance, thank you Sire." I hopped down on my own accord and brushed my dress off. I was about to run after Jane and Alice, but he enveloped my wrist with his fingers and pulled me into one of the stables. "I must insist that you stop doing this your majesty. It is inappropriate."
"It is inappropriate to tease the king as well Isabella."
He took a step forward and trapped me against one of the stables. "You are making me want you so badly, yet refuse to give yourself to me. Tell me how that is fair?"
"I do no such thing."
"Oh but you do. You think I do not see you around the castle. Your hair, the way you carry yourself...even your smell. I can feel your presence without a single look." He leaned forward and nuzzled his nose against my hair. "It makes me come undone. One kiss my lady?" He whispered. He lingered for a moment before softly pressing his lips to mine. I surprised myself when I did not protest.
He pressed his body roughly against mine and I whimpered against his lips. My fingers glided over his chest and up to his hair, pulling and tugging him closer to me. I did not know what came over me, but as soon as he kissed me I lost all fight against him. I was lost to him now and I had no explanation as to why other than I had to have him. He bit down on my lip and started tugging at the shoulder of my dress.
I snapped and pushed him back. My hand lingered on his chest as I reached up and ran my finger across my lips, feeling the remnants of him. We both knew that I had given in and everything had changed in that instant.
"My Lord," I stuttered. I curtsied and started out of the stables.
"My Lady," he said, a smug smirk spreading across his face.
I avoided everyone for the rest the day, weighing the sin I'd committed in my head. I felt something when he kissed me, other than disgust or hate. It was something beyond anything I'd experienced before and it had no name. It was not love nor lust nor desire. It was incapable of being named, for I was certain nothing would do it justice.
I found myself pacing around the dark halls of the castle later that night, completely infatuated with the thoughts running through my head. None were coherent or made any sense to me. I'd been altered so completely by the kiss of a king that I had turned into a silent lunatic drowning in my own absurd feelings.
He was an adulterer, a corrupted, rotten man. Yet I wanted nothing more than to feel him against me again. My own body was betraying me in ways I never thought possible. I was about to round the corner to my chambers when someone pulled me into the darkness.
I gasped, only to have my mouth covered by his hand.
"Isabella..." Edward whispered.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
He stared intently into my eyes and held my face in his hands. "Do you consent?" He asked me for the second time. He kissed my cheek and trailed down to my neck. My eyes fluttered closed as a moan escaped my lips. He nibbled on my skin and allowed his hands to roam freely over my body. I unconsciously arched into him, willing him to continue. "Say it Isabella."
"Yes," I breathed. "Yes."
I felt him fumble with his bottoms and heard them drop with a soft thud to the floor. A moment later my dress was up at my hips, my undergarments pulled down. I stepped out of them as he pushed me roughly against the cold stone of the wall. He gripped my thighs and pulled them up around his waist as he thrust into me.
His screams echoed through the halls as he pounded me hard against the wall. He lifted his head and captured my lips in his, nipping and sucking as he took me. My jaw fell slack as he pushed deeper inside me, creating the perfect rhythm. I ignored the pain of the stones scraping against my back and clung to him with every fiber of my being.
My head shot towards the sound of footsteps echoing down the hall.
"Edward stop. Someone's coming..."
He ignored me and clasped his hand over my mouth as I moaned. He stopped only when the figure walked by us and I nearly fainted when I recognized Jane's blonde hair. She turned her head slightly towards where we were hidden in the shadows before continuing down the hallway. Edward slowly removed his hand from my mouth and started moving his hips against mine again, slower and more tender than before.
"Give me yourself Isabella..." He leaned forward and kissed me, dipping his tongue into my mouth.
"I already have my Lord," I breathed. A strangled groan escaped both of our lips as we crashed into our release together.
He kissed me deeply one last time before pulling away and dressing himself. I allowed my dress to fall down to my knees. As we stepped out of the shadows, I heard a voice that sent a shiver down my spine.
"My King?" Jane said. Edward and I both turned and I flushed with heat, thinking we had been caught.
"My Queen." Edward smiled. "I was just escorting Lady Isabella back to her chambers. She seemed to have gotten lost wandering around the castle so late at night."
"Is that so?" Jane asked.
"Indeed," I lied. I glanced at Edward before turning back to Jane. "I fear the hallways all look the same to me."
She stepped closer to Edward and took his hand possessively. "Will you come to me tonight?" She whispered, loud enough for me to hear.
"I'm tired my love," he said. He turned towards me. "Goodnight my Lady."
He nodded and disappeared down the hallway. Jane eyed me suspiciously. "Goodnight my Queen." I curtsied and immediately went to my room.
The following days became a flurry of passing touches or stolen kisses in the gardens. And the nights were filled with as much passion and fire as the first. Edward even began visiting my room on occasion and we actually held a decent conversation when we weren't otherwise occupied with each other. I began to see something else behind the arrogant king. He was merely a young man of twenty-three at the center of it all, accustomed to this life since childhood. He was simply victim of his circumstances, which was an odd thing to say of a King who had everything. I was beginning to learn he was much more than that, but I feared it would never show in this life he found himself trapped in.
The women of court began to talk. Where they used to brag about their trysts with him, they complained that he no longer visited them or called upon them in the night. I was not naive enough to dismiss their jealous glances or mumblings of "the king's favorite." I did not fear of them going to Jane, as they had once been in the same favor as I. They said that he'd never been with one girl for so long. They said he'd never acted like this. They said this was different.
I kept making up reasons to stay at court longer than I planned. Alice had easily become Jane's most prized lady in waiting and she was frequently busy attending to her needs. It was no matter. Edward frequently stole me away for picnics in the garden or out in the meadows beyond the woods.
"Good day my Lady," he murmured as I hopped from my horse. My escort from the castle nodded and returned through the trees.
"Good day my Lord." I smiled as he pulled me close and kissed me.
He pulled me down onto the soft blanket of grass and placed his lips everywhere my skin was exposed.
"I have to tell you something Isabella," he said.
"I'm in love with you."
I sat up and ran my fingers through my hair. "You do not love me Sire."
"But I do. I have loved you from the moment I laid eyes on you. I've never known this feeling before and I feel complete when I am with you."
"We can never be more than this Edward. Do you not understand that? You are the King of England and I am nothing."
"You are everything." He turned my face to his. "You are everything to me."
"How can I be anything to a man who has everything?" I wiped a tear from my eye and stood. I ran to my horse as Edward tried to protest. "You have my love my Lord. My entire heart." I knew the moment I uttered the words that they were true. I loved him. Not the version of him most saw, but the real him. And it broke my heart that we could never be together. We could never be married or have children together. He had obligations to his wife and his country and I would never be able to make them go away no matter how much I wanted him.
As I rode back to the castle, I imagined us living a normal life. Possibly up at my family's house, away from the pressure of the castle and all who dwelled within. We could be happy. Knowing that I would never know that happiness tore at my heart like a wretched dog clawing at the earth.
I retired my horse to the stable and ran back to my chambers. I was surprised to find Jane waiting for me.
"My Queen?" I mumbled, wiping the tears away from my face.
"Cousin." She stood and crossed the room. "I have grave news. Your mother has been called to Heaven. A courier arrived this morning with news from her caretaker."
I felt my knees wobble beneath me as I reached for the bed. My mother was gone. Alice was never coming home. And I could never have Edward. I was alone.
Jane patted me coldly on the back as I wept and started towards the door. "I'll have them prepare your carriage. I am sure you would like to leave immediately in the morning." She shut the door behind her.
I cried for hours, my body shaking uncontrollably. I did not even hear him come in or feel him lay beside me until he whispered my name.
"Isabella..." Edward murmured. He wrapped his arms around me and held me until I fell asleep, telling me how much he loved me and how sorry he was to hear of my mother's passing.
When I woke up in the middle of the night I was alone with the darkness. I laid back down and did not sleep again. When dawn broke through the window, I stood from my bed and got dressed. I had not thought to bring a black dress so I wore navy instead, along with a dark veil that covered my face. A few guards came and took my bags out to the carriage.
Alice kissed me on the cheek and said her goodbyes, making me promise to visit soon. I imagined I would, since I could not imagine never seeing her or Edward again.
As I walked out of the castle and towards my carriage, Jane and Edward stood waiting to see me off.
"My Lady." Edward took my hand and kissed it. "My sincere apologies for your loss and I wish you safe travels."
"Thank you your Majesty."
Jane took my hand from his and turned to Edward. "May I have a moment with my cousin?" She asked.
"Of course." He looked at me once more and disappeared inside.
I expected anything except for what she said. And when she said it, I felt like my whole world came crumbling down. "After he left you last night, he came to me you know." I held my breath and tried not to let my hurt show. He was with her. He left me for her. "Did you really think you were worthy of the love of a king?" She laughed. "You're nothing but his whore." She eyed me up and down before turning her nose up in victory and prancing away.
"He's not a prize to be won Jane!" I screamed. "If you really loved him you would know that! You could have all the riches and jewels in the country and have nothing without him. And it's not because he gives you those things. It's because of who he is." Despite how hurt I was that he had returned to her, I regret to say my feelings for him did not falter. A part of me expected this. I was waiting for him to snap back into his routine and it has finally happened.
She closed the door without another word and I climbed into my carriage. I peeked my head out and looked back at the castle where I left my heart behind.
When I got home, we buried my mother and finished up any business that needed to be taken care of. They were a little hesitant to give me the house since I was a woman and it was almost unheard of for women to own property, but there was no one else. I had no other family other than the devil Queen. This house was it.
Months passed and I heard nothing from the palace. Alice wrote me a few times, but never mentioned Edward. I would imagine Jane had her correspondence monitored and she did not want to fall in ill favor with her for bringing me news of him.
I had given away any dreams of returning to the palace. I did not want to interfere with his life anymore than I already had and he had clearly made his choice, which I did not fault him for despite my broken heart. I had since turned my attention to maintaining the house that my family lived in and it took up most of my time.
One evening in particular, I had been picking apples in the small orchard behind our house. As the sun started to fall over the horizon, I made my way back to the house anxious to eat some of the delicious fruit in my basket. As I rounded the front of the house, I squinted in the dying sunlight and thought I saw a figure before me. I blinked a few times and put my hand up to shield the blinding light. My breath hitched in my throat at the sight of him. I honestly believed I was hallucinating or had been hit in the head by apple and was lying back in the orchard unconscious.
"My Lord?" I asked, my voice shaky.
"You are even more beautiful than I remember." He slowly got off his horse and made his way to me.
"I don't understand," I said as he wrapped his arms around me. "Why are you here?"
"I came for you my Lady."
"That cannot be."
"It is so."
"You...went to Jane. You love Jane. You have obligations."
"I did go to Jane that night," he admitted. "And I told her I was in love with you. She was absolutely furious and I only learned recently what she said to you that day that you left."
"But how can you be here?"
"I found her lying with another man and threatened to expose her if she did not say that our marriage was never consummated. We announced our divorce the day before I left."
"Why?" I asked. I ran my fingers up and down his face, still trying to decide whether this was real or not.
"Because you stole the heart of a King..." He kissed me. "And when you left he had nothing left."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for checking it out : ) If you're a new reader, I'd like to invite you to check out my other stories. I have several one shots, some completed stories and two WIPs that come in all different sizes and categories : )