June 20, 1810
Louis and Anne noticed that Marie Antoinette was watching earth. Katherine Howard was with her, as was, of course, Francis Dereham. While working together in heaven's bakery, Marie and Katherine had become very good friends. They seemed to have a great deal in common and enjoyed talking together. Katherine didn't even seem to mind that Marie was now involved with her former lover.
"Axel arrives today," Marie said in response to Louis' questioning glance.
"We don't have to stay and watch if it's too painful for you," Anne told him.
"That's all right," he said.
On earth, a funeral procession was going on. It was led by a man who was very well dressed and riding in an elaborately decorated carriage. The crowd watching the procession began to shout and throw rocks at the man. He ran into a nearby house to escape them, but they ran after him, tearing at his clothing.
Two men wearing uniforms grabbed the man by his arms and led him to a different building, but the mob rushed in after them, grabbed the man, and dragged him back outside, where they began to manhandle him. He was shoved to the ground, and a man jumped onto his chest hard enough to break all his ribs. Instantly the victim appeared in heaven, looking lost and befuddled.
A glimmer of recognition appeared in the man's eyes as they fell on Marie Antoinette. "Marie?"
"Hello, Axel," she said. Francis put his arm around Marie, and Axel glanced dispassionately at him.
"What happened?" asked Axel.
"You just died," Marie told him.
"The people of Sweden hated me and wanted me dead," Axel said. "Well, I guess they're happy now."
"Why did the people of Sweden hate you and want you dead?" asked Katherine Howard. The others all looked at her in astonishment, having quite forgotten that she was there.
"They accused me of murdering Prince Carl August, but I'm innocent!"
"Oh, you poor thing!" Katherine walked over to Axel and gave him a hug.
"Who are you?" asked Axel.
"Katherine Howard of England, the fifth wife of King Henry VIII," she told him.
"Well, it's very nice to meet you." Axel suddenly looked quite happy. "I'm Lieutenant General Count Hans Axel Von Fersen of Sweden."
"It's lovely to meet you as well, Count Von Fersen," said Katherine.
"Please, just call me Axel." By now he was grinning ear to ear. "So, what happened between you and Henry?"
"He had me beheaded for adultery," Katherine pouted.
"Who would do that to someone as beautiful as you?" Axel was shocked.
"Henry would," Katherine said dourly.
"Where is he? Is he here? I'd like to give him a piece of my mind!"
Katherine laughed. "Oh, he's here, all right. He's in heaven's stables, shoveling horse manure for all of eternity."
"Serves him right." Axel turned to Marie. "So, who's your new love interest, Marie?"
"This is Francis Dereham of England, executed in 1541 by King Henry VIII."
"That doesn't surprise me in the least," Axel said dryly.
"Francis was an old boyfriend of mine," Katherine put in.
"So I see." Axel looked amused.
"Come on, let me show you around heaven," Katherine said, eagerly taking Axel's hand.
"Well, there go two truly beautiful people," Louis said sardonically as he and Anne watched Axel and Katherine walk away.
"Physical beauty didn't save either one of them from a gruesome death," Anne reminded him.
Francis looked longingly after the departing couple.
"What are you looking at?" demanded Marie Antoinette.
"Oh, nothing," Francis mumbled with a heavy sigh.