"I will never acknowledge any other woman as Queen but my mother." Those words had sentenced her to a life of hardship, but she refused to take them back.

She had been a Princess once, dressed in finery, with servants to wait on her hand and foot. Now she was a servant herself, forced to live in the humblest of quarters at Hatfield House in attendance to the whore's daughter, Elizabeth. She would never consider that child to be her sister.

She had seen him around court a few times, usually in the company of the whore. The first time she had laid eyes on him, her heart had skipped a beat. When she had asked around and found out who he was, she simply couldn't believe it. How could that whore, the woman who had bewitched her father and stolen her mother's rightful place at his side, have a brother who was so breathtakingly captivating?

Once he had caught her staring at him and smiled at her. Her heart had almost stopped. George Boleyn smiled at me. She had felt as if she were walking on clouds for the rest of the day.

He knew who she was, of course, although they had never actually spoken to one another. He felt deep pity for her; she was so young to have had her world torn apart as it had been. To him she was like a beautiful bird whose wings had been clipped. He had often wondered what it would be like to touch her hair, her face. He knew he didn't dare approach her or attempt to speak with her. She must really hate him, as she hated his sister, and who could blame her?

He wouldn't have visited Hatfield House that day, except that he had heard that his little niece, Elizabeth, was ill. He certainly didn't expect to run into Mary there, as she would normally be in her own quarters reading or praying. Yet when he entered, Elizabeth's regular nanny was nowhere to be seen, and Mary herself held the little girl, who was sniffling. Mary startled when she heard the door open, then seemed a bit relieved to see that it was him.

"She was crying, and there was no one else here to pick her up," she explained hesitantly.

"That's fine," he told her with a smile. "Hi, Bessie. Come to Uncle George," he urged the baby, who readily held her arms out to him. Mary glanced around nervously, expecting Anne to materialize any second. When she didn't, Mary quickly turned to go back to her quarters, leaving Elizabeth in George's care.

George chuckled. "It's all right, Mary. You don't have to leave just because I'm here." His voice sounded so friendly that she turned to look at him, her heart in her throat.

"I've been wanting to say hello to you forever but wasn't quite sure how to go about it. I'm Anne's brother, George."

"I know." They stood staring at one another awkwardly for a few seconds.

"She's beautiful, isn't she? Looks just like her father...your father. You favor him as well."

"I thought you hated me," she mumbled, looking at the floor.

"Of course I don't. Why should I?"

"Because I refuse to acknowledge your sister as Queen. She certainly hates me, and never lets an opportunity pass to show me that fact."

George sighed. "I'm so sorry, Mary. I know this whole situation has been so difficult for you, but I don't hate you, and neither does Anne. She'd love to be your friend, and so would I."

"I know exactly what I'd have to do to have her as a friend, and that's something I'll never do. I love my mother too much." Fighting back tears, she refused to let him see her cry.

"I know you do, Mary." His voice was soft with sympathy. "I love my mother, too."

An awkward silence prevailed once more. She chewed her bottom lip. He had to resist the urge to give her a reassuring hug. He certainly didn't want to frighten her away.

"Mary, I know how you feel about my sister. I just want to let you know that I understand and I'm not angry about that, and that my offer of friendship still stands." Mary finally smiled, a tiny smile. He smiled back at her and her heart just melted. Elizabeth's regular nanny appeared, interrupting the intimacy of the moment.

"I'm so glad I finally got the chance to talk to you, Mary. Maybe we can talk again soon."

"Maybe. That would be nice." Her smile was much broader this time. He patted her shoulder affectionately before he left. She went to bed with a smile on her face that night.