By: dharmamonkey & Lesera128
Disclaimer: So, we're still here, and by now, we know as well as you do that we don't own anything. However, we are looking into ways to take control of this sandbox via adverse possession. ::blinks:: Okay, not really. But, you get the gist.
Summary: England. 1558. Father Seeley Booth, a Black Friar of the Dominican Order, is appointed local inquisitor during the reign of Mary I in her attempt to purge heretics from her realm. The midwife Temperance Brennan, the daughter of a London apothecary, is arrested and brought before the local tribunal. What happens when Booth interrogates Brennan in an attempt to get her to confess? Very, very AU and, eventually, very M.
A/N: This is a bit of an experimental piece for the writing cooperative called Dharmasera, Inc. We write lots of AU pieces, some of them more AU than others, but this time, we went where neither of us really expected we'd go: with a historical AU piece. We wanted to take B&B, as people, with their core personalities, and lift them out of the early 21st century United States law enforcement context and plunk them down in another century, in other occupations, in another social milieu, and see what happens.
There are loyal Dharmasera readers among you who won't like this piece for various reasons. We know that, and honestly, we're so okay with it that we've come to expect it.
There are people who may find the concept—a liaison between a priest and a woman accused of witchcraft—unduly lurid, offensive or anti-Catholic (which is how some people felt when the 1980s miniseries The Thorn Birds came out), and we honestly say that is absolutely not the intent at all (and, like that miniseries, we hope more people dig this than hate it). We accept that this piece, perhaps more than any other piece we've written to date, won't be for everyone.
We promise you this: it will be well-written, carefully researched, as true to the characters' core personalities as we can make them (stripping away the elements that are contingent on them living in the 20th and 21st century), and very steamy.
If you're still with us, read on. If not, no worries. We'll catch up with you next time.
A Short Note on Diction/Syntax: We the authors would like to toss out a small note on the style/diction/syntax choices we made in crafting this story. While we were well aware that by setting this story in 16th century England, how people talked to one another would change as compared with our normal Bones dialogue lexicon. However, we didn't want to make the narrative so ponderous and inaccessible to modern readers that they wouldn't be able to 'hear' the Booth and Brennan that we've all come to know and love in their counterparts in this story. Thus, we've tried to keep the British vernacular and Tudor-era parlance to a minimum, which is why our characters aren't swearing up a bloody storm left and right (although a few 'impertinent wenches' did sneak in here and there—we just couldn't help ourselves, so sorry!). Wherever we could, we've removed the ultra modern word choice and slang from the story. So, while our choices may not be 100% historically accurate, we do hope they make the story more easy for you, the reader, to understand and enjoy.
Unf Alert: This piece will eventually contain some serious unfness. The kind that makes you blush and sweat a little. If you don't care for that sort of thing, stop reading now. If you're okay with it, buckle up, set the time circuits for May 1558, make sure the flux capacitor is fluxing, and hold on!
Chapter 1: The Appointment
Cardinal Reginald de la Pole, the Archbishop of Canterbury, sat staring out the window as the early summer breeze swished through the trees outside of his large, luxuriously-furnished office in Lambeth Palace. He heard the massive wooden door unseal from its jamb, held open by a black-robed arm as his expected visitor walked through the doorway, but Pole did not turn his eyes from the window until he heard the door close behind with a loud clank. Pole turned around and a smile spread across his lips as a young man clad in the white robes and black hooded overcloak of a Dominican friar walked towards his desk.
"My son," he said as he rose to his feet and walking around to the front of his well-worn, time-burnished desk of solid English oak.
"Your Eminence," Father Seeley Booth said, bowing his head as Pole approached him. He held out his right hand in standard anticipation, and Booth closed his eyes and kissed the faceted sapphire of his signet ring.
"Oh, come, now," Pole said, touching the top of Booth's head with the open palm of his hand as if giving him a silent benediction once Booth had paid homage to him in the typical fashion through which princes of the church had been greeted for more than a millenium. He pulled his hand away and looked at the young priest with a smile, then pulled him into an embrace. "It's been a long time, my boy."
"It has, Your Eminence," Booth replied, wincing a bit as Pole's bushy brown beard tickled his neck. Pole released his embrace and stepped back to look at the young priest, scanning his form from head to toe. "Though I'm no longer quite the same boy that you may remember," he noted with a grin.
"You have grown," Pole conceded. "You're much taller than I remember you being at the first time I gazed up a gangly overeager youth with a mop of brown hair and a smile that shone how eager he was to please his masters in Latin and Greek, but I'm certain that's just my old man's memory playing tricks on me." He stopped and then said, "Or, perhaps it's just that you've grown into yourself."
"Perhaps," Booth told the cardinal with a nod. "Although, to be fair, it's just as possible that I may have grown a bit considering the fact that I wasn't much more than a boy the first time we met in Padua."
Pole chuckled, then walked back around to take his seat behind his desk. "That seems like an exceedingly long time ago, doesn't it, Father?" he asked, gesturing with his open hand for Booth to take a seat in the light brown Cordovan leather chair that sat in front of the desk. "You were, what—seventeen?"
Booth blushed slightly and grinned. "Just turned eighteen, Your Eminence," he replied. "I took my vows at seventeen, and within a year was sent by my home diocese to Padua to read canon law."
"The rest," Pole said with an appreciative nod, "is history, isn't it?"
"Indeed, Your Eminence," Booth agreed, glancing over the Archbishop's shoulder as he looked out the window and saw the swaying branches dancing in the breeze outside.
Pole narrowed his eyes and looked at his young protégé for several long moments. At thirty years of age, he had matured into a sensitive, discerning man, well-spoken and clever, fluent in Italian and French—no doubt helped by all the time he'd spent reading law at the universities in Padua and Paris and practicing before the curiae in Rome—plus enough rudimentary German to get by in the cantons on the north side of the Pennine Alps, as well as New Testament Greek, the Latin of the Holy Church and, of course, his native tongue. He had a natural charm, and was the kind of man that most people liked almost instantly upon meeting him. And, while Pole knew it shouldn't matter, it certainly did not hurt that Father Seeley Booth was a handsome man, tall and well-built, with broad shoulders, a strong, square jaw, high cheekbones and warm, expressive, deeply-set brown eyes.
At last, he nodded as if in silent assent to something he had said to himself, then raised his head and spoke once more.
"You've been back in England for what now—nine months?" the older man asked, looking at Booth with a critical eye.
"Ten, actually," Booth replied. "I arrived at Ramsgate in July last."
"And you're happy to be back home?" Pole asked with a smile.
Booth pondered the question for a few moments. "To be honest, Your Eminence," he said quietly, "I'm not sure I have a place I can truly call home. I left my father's house at the age of twelve to study at one of the monastic schools in Kent, and at eighteen went to Italy. I am only now back in England for the first time in many years after over a decade spent abroad. So, I think it's fair to say that the only home I know, Your Eminence, is God's Holy Church."
Pole narrowed his eyes and considered the remark, then nodded thoughtfully. "Indeed," he murmured. "This is in part, I suppose, why I have asked you here today. Because your loyalty lies with the Church, and not with..." The archbishop paused, shrugged silently, then continued. "Not with the shifting sands of politics or dynasties or...even with family ties. You've always been a man who served faithfully the Holy Mother Church above all else, and that's something I've always respected about you, especially considering that we both are Englishmen who've come of age in a time when family allegiances and the bonds of kinship have seen the rise and fall of a great many people in this realm, both high and low."
"Yes, Your Eminence," Booth replied quietly with a slight nod of his head.
"I'm told you are doing excellent work in support of the recent efforts here in England," Pole said. "Though to say so I do not mean to imply that such a thing comes as any sort of surprise to me. I sent for you last summer because I consider you one of the finest canon lawyers this side of the Alps...and I don't only say that since we both hail from England, although I did take pride in the fact that your record of performance in the curia unsettled a great many obnoxious Italians and Germans alike."
Booth blushed a bit at the compliment but was unable to suppress a grin. "Thank you, Your Eminence."
A smirk danced across Pole's lips as he saw his young protégé's natural confidence emerge again as Booth began to relax. "No thanks are necessary, my son. It's just a simple statement of fact—and a fact that I think that tells us that it's time for you to assume a greater responsibility, my son." Booth's eyebrows flew up in surprise as he watched the archbishop reach across his desk for a sealed scroll. Pole handed him the scroll. Booth stared at it for a moment as he held the sealed scroll in his hands. "Go ahead, Father. It won't bite. Open it."
Booth blinked, then peeled away the wax seal with his thumb as he unrolled the document. His forehead creased as he read the letter. "I'm...I...I don't know what to say, Your Eminence," he finally answered, his voice more hushed than normal and immediately betraying how much the contents of the scroll had affected him.
"I told you," Pole said simply. "I consider you the one of the finest doctores legum outside of Italy. And, you know in this time since Queen Mary returned England to the bosom of the Holy Mother Church from which her father and half-brother ripped it so viciously, it's taken some efforts to root out heresy that's so clearly blatant in this kingdom—it's almost as bad as it's been on the continent in the realm of the Emperor. We've made some progress here, but there's still more work to be done. And, since you've supported this Holy Inquisition from—well, shall we say, the second chair, as the analogy goes, I believe it's time you moved up and took a more active role by moving to the first chair, as it were. I asked the Holy Father for dispensation to appoint you as an Inquisitor, despite your relative youth. My request was granted by His Holiness without any hesitation...which, I like to think, was just because the Pope likes me, but in truth might have something to do with him respecting the fact that I trained you myself."
As Pole stared at him expectantly, Booth couldn't do more than let his mouth drop open partially as he considered the older man's words. At last, he said, "My deepest gratitude, Your Eminence. I hope that I won't disappoint you. I give you my word that I'll do the best to honor this supreme mark of confidence you've given me in your judgement of my abilities."
"A bit surprised, there, are you?" Pole asked, obviously enjoying the disbelief clearly writ on Booth's face.
Slowly, he nodded mutely.
At this, Pole chuckled. "For one who's as talented as you are with the spoken word, particularly given your extensive rhetorical and argumentative training, I think I'm quite pleased to have rendered you speechless."
Booth tilted his head as he considered Pole's words. "Aside from my thanks...I'm not quite sure what else to say—"
Pole shook his head. "Perhaps, 'When may I start?'" he said with a wry smile. "And, in case you were wondering, the answer to which question would be, 'immediately.' There is a particular case that has caused some difficulty here in London that I was hoping you would be able to begin work on forthwith."
With a jerk of his chin, the archbishop gestured towards a stack of folios and vellum documents on the corner of his desk. "A midwife in Marylebone has been identified by multiple affiants as a heretic and as a witch, and the testimony of the witnesses was confirmed by way of detailed depositions. However, the accused has thus far resisted all attempts to obtain her confession. In fact, she's already burned through two other inquisitors who, despite having the full complement of inquisitorial tools at their disposal, managed to obtain nothing in the way of useful information from this woman, never mind a confession. So, I'm left with little choice in this matter. She must either confess and repent or face punishment for her transgressions."
"It sounds simple enough," Booth remarked casually with a slight shrug of his shoulders. "I'll leave within the hour."
"Good," Pole said with a firm nod. "Good. Proceed with caution...and a word of advice, Father."
"Yes, Your Eminence?" Booth replied.
"This one is clever, Father," Pole said thoughtfully. "She's very clever, and very stubborn. None of the other inquisitors in London have proven up to task of handling her thus far, but I'm sure you'll do whatever you have to do to get a desirable outcome—that's why I want you to take over the case."
"Yes, Your Eminence," Booth said, a cocky grin tugging at the corners of his mouth as he struggled to contain his excitement at receiving such a promotion. "I think that I've heard one of the others speaking of this case while at supper the other day. Hmmm..." He narrowed his eyes and snapped his fingers as he tried to remember. "What's that midwife's name again?" he asked.
Pole answered, "Mistress Temperance Brennan."
A/N: So that's how it begins.
Have we piqued your interest?
This piece will have ten or so chapters, and will be followed by a sequel. You'll see Booth and Brennan like you've never quite seen them before (though they should be recognizable, even in these unusual alter egos), as well as a number of your other favorite Bones characters. All of it set in the summer of 1558.
But, before we zing that one up, tell us what you think so far, so we know whether we should bother with posting the other nine chapters of this piece (and whether we should finish writing the sequel or just quit while we're ahead). The next chapter ("The Accused") is written and ready to go. This piece, more than any other piece we've ever written, is one where we need to know what you folks think, seeing how far off the beaten path we've journeyed to bring it to you.
So, do take the time to leave us a review. Go ahead and click that wee review button down there. Oh, please. Don't be coy. You know the one. Yes, darlings, that one right there.