As soon as she saw him, she knew that he was a newcomer. He had that look of confusion mixed with wonder that she had come to recognize in more than two hundred years. He was of average height and slender, with longish dark brown hair and dark brown eyes, and he had an olive complexion. She would have guessed his nationality to be French, and from his demeanor, she would have guessed him to be a member of royalty or at least the upper class.
He saw her and smiled shyly, hesitantly. She smiled back at him warmly, reassuringly.
"Hello. I'm Anne," she said, extending her hand.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Anne. My name is Louis." He took the hand she offered him and kissed it, which completely charmed her.
"Am I correct in assuming that you're a new arrival?" she asked him.
"Yes, madame. I only just got here today."
"If you don't mind my asking, how did you die?"
"I was executed by guillotine. It was a really horrible death. My head was at an awkward angle and they had to release the blade three times before it was finally completely off."
Anne gasped, shocked. Whatever a guillotine was, it was certainly less efficient at decapitation than was the sword which had taken her own head.
"You?" he asked her.
"I was beheaded also, in my case, by sword. My husband, the King, grew tired of me because of my inability to give him a male heir, so he fabricated stories of adultery, incest and witchcraft and condemned me to die."
It was Louis' turn to be shocked. "You were a Queen, then?"
"I was the Queen of England for a thousand days, from 1533 until 1536."
"Oh, Anne, I am so sorry." Louis did indeed look devastated. "You are much too beautiful to die as you did."
Anne felt a pleasant warmth come over her as she looked into Louis' oh-so-dark eyes, which were so very different from Henry's blue ones.
"And you seem entirely too much of a gentleman to die as you did," Anne replied. "For what were you executed?"
"I was convicted of high treason. My countrymen became frustrated at my country's dire economic situation and overthrew me." So she had been correct about his being a member of royalty; not only that, but a King, no less.
"And what country was that?"
"France." She had been correct about that as well.
"It seems we have a bit in common." She smiled pleasantly as he took her arm and they began to walk together.
"Indeed it does." He smiled back, looking more confident this time.
"Were you married?"
"My wife was Marie Antoinette of Austria. It was an arranged marriage. I first met her the day of our wedding in 1770."
"Was it happy?"
One look at his face and she had her answer.
"Marie was very extravagant, given to excessive spending. She held a lot of parties and liked to gamble. I was more of an introvert and preferred a quiet card game with friends. She was unfaithful to me as well. She had an affair with the Swedish count Axel von Fersen. I knew about it but said nothing, as a conviction of adultery would have probably meant execution for her. Our daughter was still very young then, and I couldn't bear the thought of little Marie Therese growing up without her mother."
"My daughter Elizabeth was only three years old when I was put to death," Anne said quietly. "I was able to watch her grow up from here, of course, but it wasn't the same as if I could have actually been there for her physically. It really hurt me to watch her go through rough spots and not be able to help her as I wished that I could."
"That's terrible," Louis said softly. "I'm so sorry." He looked as if he wanted to give her a hug but was afraid to.
"It's all right. I think it's the reason I have such an affinity for helping newcomers to become adjusted to life here. It gives me the chance to act maternal in a way that I never had much of a chance to in life."
"You do seem very kind," Louis said.
"As do you," Anne replied. Her eyes held a far-away look. "I do so wonder..."
"What?" His eyes sparkled with curiousity.
"I wonder what it would have been like if we had both lived on earth during the same time period and had met one another during our lifetimes. Oh, well, no point in thinking about that now." She sighed heavily, and her eyes filled with tears.
He gave her a look that couldn't have been more tender and smiled. "It doesn't matter, dear Anne. This place is more beautiful than anywhere on earth, and we're here, together, safe and whole. And there's nothing I look forward to more than getting to know you better."
Suddenly she felt as if her heart had wings. She looked at Louis and thought that she had never seen a man with a more beautiful soul. "We can take all the time we want," she said.
"Can I give you a hug?"
"I would love that."
He did, and to her it felt better than anything else had in over two hundred years.