Imagine what it would mean for us as a family, if he did grow to love her.

He was no fool. He knew that his attentions to a lady would bring about great honors to said lady's family. Why, Anne was the clearest example. At the height of his love for her, he had sought not only to raise her, but also her father and brother along with her. He had wanted his love and his future Queen to have relatives worth boasting about. Nobody would have cause to doubt that his interest in Anne had been sincere and pure and that he intended to wed her when he took the steps of ennobling her father, brother and herself. He had planned to do the same for the Seymours, but after hearing that they were actually expecting it…

I am certain there are some at court who would like to see the Queen replaced.

Their words were buzzing in his head like the insistent flies that would follow him when he had just mounted his horse and he closed his eyes to shut them out. His hands instinctively went to the side of his head as he tried to clear his troubled thoughts.

He knew it was true, of course. Anne had never been a popular figure; truly, she was not as beloved as Katherine. It was her own fault, really. She often spoke without thinking and she was never good at hiding her displeasure. He had told her many times that as the Queen of England, she had to shut her eyes and endure whatever came her way. It was not befitting for a lady of her rank to be prone to jealous fits and making a scene. It tarnished her sacred position, one which he had gone through so much trouble to secure for her.

Are you saying that I should be Queen instead of her?

As Jane had said that, sweet, pure, Jane, her voice had been full of disbelief and amazement. He had been relieved. His sweetheart truly was not ambitious and had no thought of taking Anne's place, no matter how easy it would have been. Given Anne's unpopularity and the steady increase of her enemies at court, he was sure that if he sought to put her aside, nobody would speak up for her. She would be utterly abandoned. Anne only had her bed today because he had chosen to give it to her. If he willed, if he found a more suitable lady to be called his Queen – someone gentle and demure and capable of bearing sons, he could simply take away what he had given her and nobody could stop him. Nobody would even try to stop him.

Would you like to be?

This nearly made him jump down from his hiding place and show himself. How dare that Seymour ask such a question? It was not for him to simply pose that question as if he knew the heart and mind of his Sovereign. It was not Seymour's place to assume so arrogantly that Anne would be put away. True, he had offered to serve Jane, but that was all it was – a simple offer, a flirtation, a part of courtly love. At this moment, he could not – he would not admit to himself that the Seymours were right. That he did want Jane to be Queen instead of Anne. All he felt was indignation that anyone would dare to think so lowly of him, as if the issue of who would be Queen was just something that depended on his whims and fancies and not a matter of state, something that affected the whole of England.

However, what Jane said next broke his heart. She had given her modest laugh that he had grown to love – so unlike Anne's full, seductive one – and she had said the one word that he wished for her to say to him when he had made a formal proposal but not now, not so soon, not when it proved to him that she did in fact have the crown in her sight.

Yes.