May 21, 1546
It would be two days before Henry would see Anne again. He was beginning to think he had only dreamed her; that he had never seen her, but he knew differently. He was a lot of things, but crazy was not one of them.
"Lazing about in bed? Whatever happened to the early riser in you My King?" Her melodic voice filled his ears with laughter and internally, he groaned. Even in death, he would never want Anne to see him like this.
"My leg is bothering me today; I shall be staying abed today to allow it time to heal." He was dismissive, not wanting to talk any more of his ailments. A King ought to be healthy and virile, not injured and weak.
"Of course of Your Majesty, there is nothing more important than your health." She knew more than anyone that her former husband could be very stubborn when he wanted to. She couldn't help but think back to the jousting accident that had been the beginning to her end. They had told her he would die and the fear that coursed through her, the absolute shock and panic, caused her to lose her child later that night. Whilst she worried about him, his mind occupied with Mistress Jane.
"Anne, can I ask you a question?" The words spoken from him felt foreign on his lips. As King of England, he rarely had to ask permission for anything, but Anne was different. She was not of this world and thus, he could no longer just demand anything.
"Of course Henry, you may ask me anything." Her eyebrow rose in curiosity, thinking the same thing the King had just been thinking.
"Have you seen her? Jane?" He was hesitant and she was mentally sighing. He would ask her the one thing she did not want to answer, but knew she would anyways.
"I have seen her." Her former husband looked disappointed that she did not willingly offer more. He needed details on the woman he missed more than the Earth missed the Sun at night.
"Please Anne. Tell me about her. How is she? Is she happy?" The words were hard for him. He could not imagine her being happy without him, but hoped she was not miserable.
"How do you expect Henry? She's dead! She died giving you the heir you so wanted. Tell me Majesty, was it worth it?" Her words came out much harsher than she intended them to, and she saw Henry's face turn white.
"I never meant for her to die." He spoke softly and truthfully, reliving the pain he felt as he stood over her dead body, torn between mourning his wife and celebrating his son.
"She knows that Henry. She watches over her son daily. I wish I could tell you more but I can't. Even in eternal life, Jane and I are not friends nor do we care to be. The same goes for Katherine. I know she's there, but we do not communicate at all. She spends all her time watching over Mary." She explained delicately. She wondered idly why Henry would have the idea she'd know how Jane was faring. It was an absurd notion that death would make them equals, or friends.
"Thank you. I suppose you spend all your time watching over Elizabeth." Henry looked away from the eyes that captivated him so vividly for ten years,
"No. I could not bear for the longest time watching how you treated our daughter. An innocent girl, your perfect Tudor Rose, neglected by her father because you thought something that was not. I did watch her one day and saw her cry for her mother, her uncle George and most of all, for her father. She asked God why she was not enough for you. Why you could not love her. If I hadn't already been dead, surely I would have died from heartbreak for my darling Elizabeth." She sighed as she walked closer to Henry, wishing she had the power to see inside his head, to know what he was thinking.
"I never thought about what I was doing to her. I never knew how it affected her. But Jane was kind to her, reconciled her with me. I do love her Anne, just not as I should. Sometimes I look at her, and all I can see is you. And I remember how you betrayed me." His words were quiet, hanging between the two of them thickly. Neither of them spoke again for a few minutes, and then Anne finally cleared her throat.
"Alright. I think we should change subjects. As I told you, you are dying. I'm here to show you anything about your past you wish to relive, anything about the future you want to know, anything about anyone you want to know. The only thing I cannot show you is how things could have been. Each decision made in life is set in stone, so I cannot show you how something would have turned out had you not made that decision." She explained. She wasn't being entirely truthful. She could show him the 'could have been' but she was choosing not to. There was no sense in dwelling on the things one cannot change. She herself had made the mistake of following down that path. She had seen how glorious and full of love her life would have been had her son not fled her womb. She could not remember crying more; even watching her brother lose his head had not given her such a reaction.
"I'd like to see my death." She almost missed the words, so lost was she in her thoughts. She should have known, the vanity and pride of the man she loved so deeply once upon a time would choose to see his own fate before seeing that of his children.
"Take my hand." She held out her slender fingers and grasped his chubby ones, closing her eyes. Following her lead, Henry closed his eyes as well, a darkness overcoming him.
January 28, 1547
When Henry opened his eyes, he was in a room unbearably hot. The room filled with the stench of something foul, as if a corpse were in the room rotting. Several figures surrounded someone lying in bed, most of them his doctors, one of them the Archbishop Cranmer, the one man who still remained in his life that he trusted completely. With a start, he realized the man they were surrounding was him.
"Someone should tell the King he is dying." One man whispered to a dark haired man next to him. The man fervently shook his head.
"We cannot! He may be weak but he can still have us arrested for treason! It is punishable by death to predict the death of a King." The other man whispered back before falling silent. It was Archbishop Cranmer who finally broke the news to the man lying in bed.
"My King. You must know the time the Lord calls you home is drawing very near. Is there anything I can do for you?" He spoke gently, his love for the once great man filling his eyes with tears. The old King shook his head weakly, his eyes closed.
"Where are my daughters? My son? Where is Catherine Parr, my wife?" King Henry was bewildered by the scene in front of him. He was going to die shortly and yet, it seemed like nobody was there.
"You've been in bed eight days Henry. You cannot feed yourself; you cannot give yourself anything to drink. That stench you smell? That is coming from your legs. Your ulcers have burst open and your feet are already rotting. Once you realized your time was drawing close, you sent your wife and children away. Nobody should have to watch their father die like this." Anne spoke softly though nobody could hear them. She knew from personal experience it was shocking to watch yourself die, she had done it a multitude of times already. She had watched Henry die as well, so she was prepared for what came next.
"Anne." The old King in bed whispered her name, looking straight at her. She smiled at him and drew closer, holding her hand out.
"It's ok my darling. Don't be afraid. Once you take my hand, you'll be out of pain forever." It happened quickly. Once his physical hand shakily touched her ghostly one, his spirit was gone.
"The King is dead. Ring the bells." Archbishop Cranmer pulled his cap off his head and touched it to his chest, reciting a prayer for the traveling soul of King Henry Tudor VIII, long may he rest in peace.
"So that's it? That's my death?" He was astounded. He had expected weeping, screaming, something other than this. Cranmer was the only one who seemed to feel anything.
"That is your death my King. Come, we've something else to see." She took his hand again and closed her eyes. The scene changed to St. George's Cathedral at Windsor Castle. The smell of death greeted them once again. The scene in front of him filled him with dread.
His coffin lay on the stone table, open. Dogs prowled around the table, some of the bold enough to draw close enough to the body of the dead King, licking his dead flesh, drinking the fluids leaking from his ulcers. The scene reminded him of something once said.
"And dogs will lick his bones as they did Ahab's." Anne spoke from his side, also remembering the speech John Fisher gave right before his imprisonment. Henry felt a blackness fading in on him, and then saw nothing.