Author's Note: To accelerate things, this chapter spans about one and a half years. In order to avoid confusion, there's a date at the beginning of each scene so you'll know where we are. This chapter ends in September 1533, so some might guess where we are headed.
Be Fruitful and Multiply (Genesis 1:28)
During the darkest hours of the night, the Baron of Montfort, William Stafford, was awaiting the birth of his first child. He had seen many battlefields and faced murderous foes, thus believing that there was barely anything left for him to fear. How mistaken he had been! Back then, he had been a bachelor, so all he had to lose was his own life. It was much easier to risk your life than to know that those of your loved ones were at stake. Anxiously, he bit his lip. He was past his thirstiest year now, old by the standards of his time to finally be a father. But Will had always known that there was one woman for him, so he had waited.
Mary was that woman. He had known instantly when he'd first laid eyes on her. Nothing, neither her high status nor her dubitable past, had been able to deter him. Will loved her, knowing that it could not be anything else but God's will. But could it be God's will now that she would die giving birth to their child? If she died, he did not know what to do. And how would he tell her sister?
A long cry broke through all his fears: the first scream of a new-born child. Will jumped off his seat as if he had been stung by a bee and rushed to his wife's chambers. The air was almost not breathable. His eyes flickered. Where was she? Where was his child? He noticed the midwives rushing to and fro.
"Mary? Where is my wife?"
"We are cleaning her up, my Lord," a young maidservant replied.
"And my child?"
"She's here," a dark voice said.
Will rushed around to see the first midwife, an elder woman with an impressive figure, holding a small, linen bundle. A noble and maternal smile graced her face as she approached him.
"Please, my Lord, meet your daughter."
Unbelieving, Will took the bundle from her arms and made his first eye contact with his daughter. The feeling was overwhelming. This small rosy being, this little piece of new life, was his child! He had made this! And it was nothing but perfect. The babe's icy blue eyes locked with his and hooked up his heart… forever. Will knew he had lost, but it was the sweetest defeat ever.
"My sweet Annie," he whispered. "I'm yours."
"… and so Aristotle concludes that there are four kinds of love: agápe, philia, éros, and storge," Sir Thomas Wyatt explained. "Now, Ladies, can you tell me which of these is which?"
Liz straightened her neck. "Agápe is what we know as true love: that between a man and a woman, as well as that between any man and God."
"Good," Wyatt nodded.
"Philia is dispassionate and virtuous," Princess Mary took over. "It involves respect and equality. The best English equivalent would perhaps be true friendship." Her voice left no doubt that her last words were aimed at Frances and Liz. All three of them smiled.
"Very good. Lady Brandon, would you mind finishing the answer?" Wyatt asked.
Frances's eyes sparkled as she nodded. "Storge is a mother's love for her child, or a father's, that is. And éros… is sensual longing, is passion and desire."
The girls chuckled. Wyatt raised an eyebrow, but said nothing. Instead, he rose from his chair.
"I see you have read your Aristotle, my dear ladies. But can you answer me a final question: Which of these four is the most important?"
Silence followed. The girls looked at each other enquiring, but none of them seemed to know it by heart. Mary began to blush, having always hated not to know an answer and to seem lazy. She had read the book, but she could not think of an answer. The love for God, perhaps?
"Your question is most wily, Master Wyatt," a smiling male voice broke through the silence. "You are asking these poor ladies about matters that they are not experienced in."
Everyone turned to the door to see Ned Stanley having entered the room.
"Lord Stanley," Wyatt nodded. "Do you know the answer, then?"
"I suppose I do," Ned replied and winked at the girls. "It must be: none. None of those can be more important than the other; since all of them are God's work and marvellous in our eyes. A fulfilled life must contain each of these to a certain amount."
Wyatt smiled. "Spoken like a true philosopher. And indeed, you are right. Do not let the adversities of life ever make you forget about this, my ladies: you will need all four to find happiness, for without love, life is a barren field."
"Spoken like a true poet," Ned dryly commented. "And a perfect ending for today's lesson, I dare say. I apologise for interrupting you, Master Wyatt, but I need to speak to Her Highness in private."
"Very well," Wyatt sighed.
The girls took their books and began to disperse, Mary following Ned Stanley out of the room. Frances, too, left rather quickly, but Liz remained. Frowning, Wyatt looked at her.
"Is something troubling you, Mistress Clansey?"
"As a man of wisdom and poetry alike, I should like to ask your advice on a… philosophical matter," she said matter-of-factly. "Our current topic has made me thinking, Master Wyatt. You say that we need all four of them to find happiness, but clearly we cannot find them all in one person. A mother's love and marital love are clearly incompatible."
"But what if a person was divided not between storge and agápe, but between philia and éros?"
Wyatt surrounded the table, pondering her question. "You are asking about someone who is torn between virtuous and desirous love for two different people?"
"If you should say it this bluntly, yes."
"History is full of stories like this," Wyatt said smiling, already sensing that her interest wasn't purely philosophical. "A sweet damsel, torn between a gallant nobleman and a daring knight…"
"How do you… I mean, there are stories like this?" Liz blurted out.
"Many of them, Mistress Clansey. It is one of the many trials our Lord puts us through."
"And these stories, do they speak of a solution? Of decisions?"
Wyatt nodded. "Indeed they do. And of the results of such decisions. For, as you will one day discover, éros is a strong force, a power of nature than can lead man to the strangest things. But thousands of years of human history have taught us one thing: éros will wane just as beauty vanishes, but true philia can outlast even death."
A long silence followed, filled only with Liz's unspoken thoughts. Is he right? Is it wise to suppress the feelings of the present for future happiness? Is this the right choice?
As if Wyatt had heard her thoughts, he quietly began to recite one of his latest poems.
"Patience! Though I have not
The thing that I require;
I must, of force, God wot,
Forbear my most desire."
Liz looked at him with large, curious eyes. Was he really right? She sighed.
"Thank you, Master Wyatt, for sharing your wisdom with me."
Wyatt watched her leaving the room and smiled. The troubles of youth, he thought. Perfect subject for poems. Still, I wish not to return to these days just for the sake of poetic inspiration. Thank you, Lord, for blessing me with Elizabeth. I would rather be a bad poet than be without her.
Ned Stanley offered the Princess a seat. He searched her face for any signs of distrust, but she seemed to be guileless. He sighed. Now he felt like a heartless hunter aiming for the doe's heart. Of course, there was no way around it, she had to be informed, and it had better be coming from him.
"Madam, I have come here as soon as I've heard," he said in his usual, stern manner.
Mary frowned. "What is it, Lord Stanley? What has happened? Is the King unwell?"
"No, Your Highness, he is as well as can be expected. He sends you his best wishes and hopes to see you next month for the celebrations of Prince William's first birthday."
"I could not imagine an obstacle large enough to keep me from it," Mary replied smiling. "But you do not seem joyous, Lord Stanley?"
"No," he said hesitating. "I have come to tell you that Senor Esteban has left court permanently."
Mary's heart began beating like a drum, blood rushed to her cheeks. She dug her fingers into the armchair. "Why?"
"Alas, I do not know that, Your Highness. The rumours, however, speak of familial reasons that called him back to Spain. I have heard…" His words died.
Mary swallowed her sadness. "What have you heard, Lord Stanley?"
Ned sighed again, this time ever more deeply than before. He was well aware that he was the only one who knew of the special friendship between the Princess and her Spanish tutor. Not even her closest friends, Frances and Elizabeth, were aware of it. He himself had only been let in on the secret when he had discovered them together one day; and he had sworn never to tell anyone. He saw no flaw in their love, knowing that Mary was too virtuous to do anything that might tarnish her reputation. It was an innocent love that he had sworn to protect. Now he was forced to tell her that it was over.
"I have heard that his family has arranged a beneficial marriage for him," he finally brought himself to say.
Mary's chest rose quickly under her heavy breath.
"Your Highness, I am so…"
"No. Don't trouble yourself for me," Mary said composedly. "For all we know, there would have never been anything more between us. He may be a noble and kind man, but not of royal birth… and I am a princess."
It hurt Ned deeply to hear her reacting calmly and forced. He stretched out his hand to her, but Mary refused him harshly.
"No. I am the Princess Royal of England, Lord Stanley. My marriage is a political matter, not one of love. I am not subject to contrary illusions," Mary replied sternly and rose from her seat.
"Princess Mary…" Ned tried to stop her, but she passed him by.
Mary left the room, her hands regally entwined, her attitude composed. She pressed her lips together to avoid screaming, but she could not control her face. The corners of her mouth slipped from her control. Her eyes filled with tears. Why are you doing this to me, God?
A heavy blanket of glistening firn had wrapped itself around the ample gardens of Hampton Court. The lakes were frozen with a layer of glassy ice and the air was so crispy cold that people's breath turned into small clouds. Despite this freezing wintriness, the King of England was wandering through the gardens of his palace. He protected himself with many layers of heavy woollen cloth and fine fur against the low temperature. Nobody accompanied him, as was his explicit wish. On this icy day, he needed to be alone in order to think, and, hoping that the iciness would sharpen his mind, he had taken to the gardens.
A young woman today had caught his eye today. Not in the way they had used to catch his eye, but because her manners and looks resembled her.
"Margaret," Henry whispered his dead sister's name.
To see her ghost in the likeness of a living girl had disturbed him greatly. Why was she haunting him? Was she still angry with him over his bad treatment of her? Had he not done everything within his power to make amends? He had fostered her children as well as he could, ensuring that her eldest daughter was treated as if she was a princess herself. But could he not do more for her?
The thoughts of Margaret haunted him, bringing with them the memories of other people long lost. Wolsey's gentle yet cunning smile appeared before his inner eye. The most diligent servant I have ever had. But he, too, had no reason to complain in the afterlife. His mistress and children had been taken good care of. He knew for once that Joan was now happily married and close friends with Thomas Cromwell, Wolsey's former protégé. And the daughter, Elizabeth, was one of Princess Mary's close friends despite her low status. What about the boy? A voice in his head asked. What have you done for him?
And he saw Compton, young and healthy. His voice still echoed inside Henry's head.
"Your Majesty knows we're only letting you win."
They had been so guileless back then, so young and virile! Then it had all gone awry. But why do I remember you, old friend? Your legacy is preserved. A prince was named in your honour, and behold, he's a fine prince! God knows he will be England's pride one day. Perhaps, there is even something of you reborn into him?
Small clouds of breath ascended in front of Henry as his mind wandered towards Katherine. A sad smile graced his lips. Ever since he had dreamt of her, his thoughts had changed. He had pitied the fact that before her death, there had been so much anger and discord between them. They had never had a chance to make peace with each other, but that dream had given him some comfort. It must have been more than a dream. It must have been God's work, rewarding him for keeping his great promise. And in her kindness, Katherine had forgiven him and accepted his new marriage. Henry smiled, knowing that Katherine – of all – had the least reason to be angry with him. He treated her daughter with the utmost love and respect, and so did his new wife, in fact.
Then, a dark shadow entered his face as someone else crossed his mind.
"Tom," he whispered.
More wasn't even dead, but he too was a ghost of Henry's past. They had gone from tutor and student to best friends to bitter enemies. It still hurt the King's soul to remember how their relationship had broken and shattered into pieces. Something so splendid, forced by fate to end with the stroke of an axe, even if God had decided to spare More's life. Where was he now? Europe? Italy? Kissing the feet of the Bishop of Rome, perhaps? Was he still alive? And what was he doing? Was he finally keeping his promise of silence or was he already plotting against Henry? Would they ever meet again?
Henry sighed. So many ghosts had come to haunt him, weighing down his mind heavily. His eyes turned to the palace, searching for a very special window. There was one person who could scare away all these ghosts, one person whose warm arms would embrace him and lift the weight of his heart. He smiled gently as he whispered her name in the cold.
His dark cloak made from heavy velvet pulled him back like a piece of lead as he rushed through the hallways of Hampton Court. The Lord Chancellor of England was no slow walker; he was a busy man who could never afford to lose time. He was also a very learned and well-informed man, always knowing what the next step was. Today, he didn't know so much.
"The Lord Chancellor," a meek girl announced him.
Cromwell entered the room and bowed courteously. "Majesty,"
The maids quickly left the room as Queen Anne ordered them out with a single gesture of her hand. She still owned this impressive presence and power over people's minds that sometimes made Cromwell think she was a witch indeed. Her icy eyes were frightening and fascinating at the same time; her posture was nothing but regal. With the birth of her two sons, she had become even more proud, a development that was bound to continue judging her satisfied look and the soft curve of her swelling belly.
"Mister Secretary," she said. "You wished to speak to me?"
"With Your Majesty's permission," Cromwell nodded. "I have come to settle the differences that have befallen our relationship. Surely Your Majesty has not forgotten that we are both reformers and bound to serve the true faith with all our might."
Anne smiled gently, but there was some distrust in her expression, too. "Of course not, Master Cromwell. I remember well that you once gave me a splendid copy of The Obedience of the Christian Man. About as well as you must remember that it was the care and fostering of my family that allowed your rise at court."
Cromwell returned the smile and drew a little closer. "Then Your Majesty is surely inclined to discuss a most important matter of religion in this country?"
"With the utmost eagerness," she asserted him.
He stepped next to her and spread some sheets of paper on the table in front of them. Anne leant forward to get a better sight of what he was presenting her with.
"These are plans for the use of the wealth and assets of the former monasteries and parish churches. As you can well see, the English crown benefits greatly from this dissolution; and it will empower our most noble King- as it should be," Cromwell went on to explain. "Most of it will be transferred to a safe reserve for war times, but perhaps Your Majesty has some other suggestions that might increase England's glory?"
Anne's slender eyebrow rose as he spoke. "I see that you have dissolved quite an impressive number of religious houses. Every second one in England, it seems."
"They were but a gathering for lies, deception, and dissolute behaviour, Your Majesty, I can assure you it was all well done."
"How likely does it seem to you, Master Cromwell, that such abuse could have gone unnoticed for centuries?" She turned to him. "Or do you perhaps consider the possibility that some of your clerks, in a firm believe that it would please the King, overstated some forgivable human sins as inexcusable abominations?"
Cromwell frowned. "Majesty, I can only assure you that…"
"I see where you are headed," she cut him short. "You might believe that you are doing a service to our course, but you don't. This harsh pressing ahead will harden people's hearts, and God forbid, they might one day use force to vindicate their old traditions."
"With respect, Majesty, such a thing is unthinkable. The people love their King."
Anne's ice cold eyes hooked with his. "But they do not love you," she said cold. "And your proceedings will make them despise our great course of reformation, too."
There was a moment of awkward silence. The two of them looked at each other, unable to turn their gaze away. Cromwell's eyes flickered.
"Majesty, do you really think that your progress in Maidenhead is the only solution for our needs?" He asked somewhat ironically. "For, if His Majesty thought so, too, why are there not more of your projects?"
Anne squinted her eyes. "It appears that we are not to reach a satisfying compromise after all, Master Cromwell. And it is only for the friendship we once shared that I shall not speak to my husband, the King, about my doubts concerning your proceedings. I know that he loves and trusts you," she said like a true, obedient English wife. But then, a spark ignited her eyes. "But if I should find that you abuse this trust and lead our good course down the path of destruction, I promise you that I will oppose you with every power I have."
Cromwell's face turned sallow. "Your Majesty, surely you do not mean that."
"Do you suppose I don't have the power to crush you?" She asked half-cold, half-laughing. "Go and mind your business, Mister Secretary, but if I should find that your doings tarnish the reputation of the King or of our reformation, rest assured that I will thwart you."
He withdrew like a beaten dog.
"Oh, and Cromwell," she added when he had almost left her room.
"Majesty?" He turned to her again.
"If I ever hear you doubting or slandering my progress at Maidenhead again, I will make sure that you lose this libellous tongue of yours."
Her cold tone made him shiver as he bowed before her and turned to go. This certainly hadn't gone as he'd planned it. His most powerful ally had become his enemy.
Charles Brandon searched the face of his eldest daughter for answers. She was fifteen now, almost sixteen, and well on her way to becoming a woman. There was much of Margaret in her, from her brown hair to the fierceness of her behaviour. She always knew what she wanted. A true princess indeed.
"Do you not agree, father?" She repeated her question.
Brandon winced and feigned a smile. "Certainly, sweetheart. For a lady of your pedigree and age, a suitable betrothal is only proper and reasonable."
She leant forward, her sweet fingers touching upon his large hands. "I understand that the notion of giving away your children and perhaps being a grandfather soon troubles you, Father, even more so since I and Hal and Nell are all you have."
Brandon nodded. "And I love all three of you."
"Who could doubt it? Yet still, as a lady of royal blood, I consider it a duty of my weak sex to submit to a good husband before I am old enough to have my reputation endangered at court. Surely you can understand that as well, Father."
He looked out of the window sighing. She had always known what she wanted, it was true, and now that she obviously wanted to get married, how could he stop her from it? And in a way, she was right as well. Many men at court would soon start to flatter her and try to win her favour in order to rise in the King's graces. For her own safety, a marriage was the best solution.
"We must ask the King about this beforehand," he told her calmly. "As you are his dearest niece, he will want to have a say in your marital issues."
"Naturally," Frances agreed. "And I am certain that His Majesty will see no reason to object, since he too must be concerned for my reputation and the continuation of the Tudor blood line."
"Certainly, yes," Brandon sighed again. "Sweetheart, I know that you have given this much thought and would not choose your path lightly… so tell me, do you have some acceptable suitors in mind?"
Frances put down her cup. "Henry Grey," she said matter-of-factly.
"The Marquess of Dorset?" Brandon raised an eyebrow.
"A peer in his own right, a man of good reputation, someone who has the King's favour and that of his good friends…"
"You might find tens or hundreds like that in England," Brandon interrupted her.
"But I want this one," Frances insisted.
She looked her father into the eyes. "When the eyes of destiny look at you, how can you look away? It is God's will, Father, and what God has joined together, let no man tear asunder."
Brandon rose from his chair, still sighing and pondering her words. He could see in her face that she was determined to fight even him to get her will if need be. Just like Margaret.
"Very well," he finally said. "I will put it to the King's judgement that you wish to be married to the Marquess of Dorset, and if it is God's will as you say, surely the King will agree to it happily."
"It's an advantageous union. I see no reason why the King should object," Frances agreed.
Brandon smiled wryly. "My dear Frances, you can be so convincing at times that I pity the fact you will never be one of the King's councillors," he said. "Fine, I will ask the King for his permission and give you away. But for me, you will always be my little girl, no matter what the future holds."
"I would not want it any other way," Frances smiled back warmly. "Thank you, Father."
Brandon nodded and left the room. So now the children ask their fathers to be married off, not the other way around? O tempora, o mores!
King Henry sat in his parlour drinking wine with his oldest friend Charles Brandon. His eyes often wandered away from his conversational partner towards the young boy of four sitting on the floor. The child was playing war with some miniature soldiers that Brandon had given him and seemed not to notice anything else. It was an adorable sight. Henry smiled as his fingers slid through the fine, dark hair of the younger boy sitting on his lap. Five years ago, he would not have believed that a scene like this could be true. He had been so desperate and hopeless, but now he felt that he was finally at peace. His two little boys were the fire that kept his heart warm, and his daughter Mary was the pearl of his world.
"Brandon!" Little William laughed and stretched out his hands towards his godfather.
"So you prefer a duke over your King? Not a wise choice, I'd say," Henry scolded him laughing. "But if you love him so much, go. My legs need some relief."
He handed the child to Brandon who readily took the boy and placed him on his own lap. There was so much pride in his face.
"What can I say, Majesty? Your son is a strong-willed lad and knows what he wants," he joked at patted the boy's head. "You must be very proud of him. Of both your sons."
"I am. Sometimes I wonder if England is even ready for two fine princes like that."
Brandon laughed. "She had better be, for soon there might be a third hoyden around."
"Yes. I cannot decide whether to name him Charles or Edward," Henry said. Then, his face suddenly darkened. "God, I pray that everything will be alright."
Both men were silent for a moment, asking the Almighty to be good to Queen Anne and the unborn child that she was right now labouring to bring into the world.
"Everything will be alright," Brandon finally assured his friend. "She has three Marys at her side: the Princess, the Baroness, and the Holy Virgin."
Henry smiled for a moment. "Yes, I know. She begged me to call Mary to court weeks ago. She said she needed her with her now, and that she had already missed the births of her brothers."
"Your Majesty should feel blessed to have such a loving and peaceful family."
As if he wanted to spite Brandon, Prince Harry threw around his miniatures that very same moment, making a loud noise that resembled the sound of canons. The King laughed heartily.
"He will make a fine warrior king," Henry said.
"Yes. Who knows, your sons might one day repeat the glory of victories such as Azincourt."
The two old friends smiled at each other and raised their cups. Before they could say anything, the door was opened. A groom announced Lady Sheldon to them. Henry immediately rose from his chair.
"Madge, what is it?"
The plump girl sank into a curtsey before saying in her usual trembling voice: "M-Majesty, the Queen… has given birth."
Now, there was no holding him back. He rushed out the room, completely forgetting about Brandon and his boys and the entire court that was staring at him as he dashed through the hallways. His chest heavy with his breath, Henry arrived at the Queen's reception room. The air was humid and smelled of incense materials. Four of Her Majesty's maids sank into a deep curtsey as soon as they noticed his presence. He passed them by and grabbed the hands of his daughter Mary waiting in front of a curtain.
"Mary," he said breathlessly and kissed her hands. "Tell me the Queen is well."
"She is," Mary smiled.
They exchanged glances for a few moments. Then, Henry let go off her and pushed aside the curtain to enter the Queen's bedchambers. Maids and midwives were still scurrying around, but he could only see the woman sitting in the bed. Anne. She was pale and visibly exhausted, but still she looked much better than the last two times. Her cheeks and lips were red as rubies, but the most beautiful thing about her was the look she gave the new-born child in her arms.
"Anne," he sighed.
She looked at him, her pale complexion darkening somewhat. In her arms, the babe chortled quietly.
"I am so sorry," she whispered.
Alarmed by her words, Henry drew closer. Why would she apologize to him? Fearing the worst, he looked closely at the child in her arms. It couldn't be dead, could it? He had heard it breathing! After a few moments, he suddenly found what she was feeling sorry for.
"No," he exhaled. "No."
It was a girl. Anne had given birth to a daughter, thus feeling the need to apologize for the inferiority of the child's sex. It took Henry another few moments to swallow his thoughts about the name of his next son.
"No," he repeated, this time more gently and less surprised, and sat down next to his wife. He took the babe into his arms. "Don't be sorry, my own darling. We have two fine princes already. I thank God that he chose to bless us with a second daughter now."
Now, Anne's face lit up.
"She's beautiful," Henry looked at the child at kissed its forehead. The fine red hair and the light blue eyes warmed his heart, and for a second, he felt as happy and secure as he had not felt since the death of his beloved mother. "My Elizabeth." Then he touched Anne's hand. "Thank you, my Queen, for this wonderful gift."
Anne smiled, but was too exhausted to say more. She held his hand tight and enjoyed seeing his love for his youngest child. Then she noticed a rush of joy and eagerness to his face.
"I have already prepared for Archbishop Cranmer to perform the christening and be her godfather," he said.
"A noble choice. Elizabeth is blessed," Anne agreed in a low voice. "May I suggest a godmother, however?"
Henry pulled his gaze away from his charming little daughter and turned to his wife. "Yes?"
"I could think of no one better to receive this honour but Mary," Anne said.
"My daughter?" Henry was astonished.
"She has helped bring her sister into the world; and she will be Elizabeth's natural role model," Anne nodded. And, after a moment of silence, she added: "And perhaps it might be a good way for Mary to prepare for her own future children."
Henry gave it a moment of thought before finally nodding. "You are right, it is a choice well done." He placed a kiss on her hand. "You are a genius, my beautiful Queen. Now rest and sleep, I will see to it that our Elizabeth has the best of care."
"Thank you," she whispered drowsily.
The King took his new-born daughter out the bedchamber and into the reception room to find that Brandon had obviously followed him and was now talking to his eldest daughter.
"Suffolk," Henry said sternly. "Go and tell them to ring the bells. Let all England know that Her Majesty, Queen Anne, has given them a new princess: Elizabeth, a perfect Tudor rose."
"Yes, Your Majesty," Brandon nodded gladly and rushed out the room.
A gentle smile on her lips, Mary drew closer to her father and sister. She could not resist taking a closer look at the babe.
"Please meet your sister," Henry said bursting with pride. Then, in a smiling voice, he added: "Mary, the Queen has asked me to announce you as Princess Elizabeth's godmother. I told her I would put it to you."
Mary's eyes widened, her heart stopped for a moment. "Me? Her… No. Why?"
"Anne told me she could think of no one better. We would love for Elizabeth to take after you and be an admirable princess," Henry explained. "So, will you say yes?"
"I… how…" Mary desperately searched for words as her eyes filled up with tears. She looked at the small, pink being in front of her and felt that every pain her heart had ever experienced was vanishing from it. "Yes, Father. If you deem me worthy, how could I say no?"
The King smiled magnanimously and handed Mary the child. "Very well, then. Promise me that you will always take good care of her."
"I will, Father, I will," Mary eagerly responded and cuddled the babe. "I will always be good to her."
"So be it. With your tutelage, she has a bright future ahead of her," the King patted Mary's shoulder. "And who knows, my pearl? One day, this little girl might preside over empires."
Author's Note: Joy to the world, Gloriana is here! And with a strange twist of fate, the woman who (in another world) would send her to the tower and almost sign her death warrant is now her godmother. God really works in mysterious ways, doesn't he? But don't feel to secure about the peaceful nature of the English royal family- a dark storm is brewing on the horizon as Anne's fears about Cromwell's actions will come true. The Pilgrimage of Grace will soon be a crucial test for England… and the royal marriage. Stay tuned and please continue reviewing, I was very happy about the long reviews last time!