Title: Common Ground
Author: C. Rosevere (chrisrose)
Written: Nov. 20-21, 2013
Rating: G/PG for dark topics of discussion?
Spoilers: Reign episodes 1x01-1x05. Set soon after 1x05 "A Chill In The Air". AU, written before 1x06 aired. I took a few liberties, imagining Aylee's feelings about canon events, since the show hasn't explored her point of view yet.
Summary: Aylee and Bash find they have a few things in common. Aylee/Bash friendship, mentions Mary/Bash.
Aylee sat in a secluded corner of the Palace gardens, trying to lose herself in a book - a thrilling romance novel. If only she could escape into a fictional world of dramatic plots and perils - to take her mind off the dramatic plots and perils of life at French Court. Reading usually calmed her nerves, but not this time. Maybe a dull old history book would be more soothing?
Hearing someone approaching, she looked up in surprise. The young man was instantly recognizable by his shaggy dark hair and shockingly blue eyes - visible even at some distance. It could only be Sebastian, or Bash, as he preferred to be called - the charming bastard son of King Henry was not one to stand on formality.
Aylee stared, unblinking, as Bash gracelessly dropped down on the lawn beside her. How odd. They had never really spoken before.
They still weren't speaking, five minutes later. Or was it half an hour? The silence felt interminable.
Aylee was capable of existing silently, of blending in and observing others, unnoticed. It was a skill most useful in matters of Court intrigue. Nobody would suspect a girl so unassuming and timid in demeanor, of being currently engaged in counterespionage.
At least, Aylee hoped not.
Catherine de Medici would be displeased, to put it mildly, if she learned Aylee had been double-crossing her. Mary wouldn't be able to protect her lady-in-waiting - certainly not from an arranged "accident". Mary had very little power here. She wasn't Queen of France yet. Never would be, if Catherine had her way and succeeded in breaking the engagement between her son Francis, Dauphin of France, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
Yes, Aylee could handle silence - even though not speaking made the thoughts she didn't want to be thinking, that much louder. It was just... awkward, being silent with someone. She should probably make an effort to be sociable and well-mannered. She was a trained lady-in-waiting, after all. She could do this.
"So... I hear you've been angering the pagan cult in the woods by rescuing their sacrificial victims?" Aylee blurted. Oh, smoothly done, she thought, feeling her face grow warm. "Very nice of you, to be sure," she added hurriedly.
Bash laughed. "The pagans don't think so. They're rather annoyed with me, actually." His voice took on a bitter edge. "I've done nothing but place a target on the backs of those I love."
Aylee nervously twisted her blonde braid, unsure how to respond. "No one could blame you for trying to do the right thing," she offered. "It was risky. But brave."
"From what Mary tells me, you're taking some risks yourself, Aylee." Bash was obviously uncomfortable and changing the subject.
"W-what do you mean?"
"Oh, you know. Pretending to spy on your Queen for Catherine, all the while feeding her false information provided by Mary. A dangerous game." His tone was somehow both admiring and admonishing.
"Mary told you this?" Aylee was stunned. "She must really trust you."
"Well, she was slightly inebriated at the time," Bash chuckled, but seemed pleased at her assertion.
Aylee remembered an exchange, recently overheard - Lola warning their Queen to take care with Sebastian's heart. Perhaps these feelings Bash had for Mary were not entirely one-sided?
"If Mary trusts you, then I will too," Aylee announced. "May I ask you something?"
"You may." Bash waved his hand with mock hauteur.
"Do you trust Nostradamus? You are often in his company. You must have an opinion of him."
"He is the healer, and I tend to need patching up these days," Bash seemed taken aback by her question. "I guess he's a decent fellow. A bit strange with those prophecies of his. But it's all in good fun, I suppose."
"Yes, that's what I was wondering about," Aylee replied eagerly. "You see, he made a prediction...about me."
"Ahh," Bash smiled, "and you're afraid it won't come true?"
"I'm afraid it will come true," she sighed. "It wasn't a fortune teller's usual harmless lie about meeting a tall, dark, handsome stranger or anything nice like that. I wonder if I'll ever have a romance like the other girls do," Aylee blushed. "But that's not the point!"
"What is the point then, please?" He said with exaggerated patience.
"Nostradamus said I'd never go home. Never return to Scotland."
Bash twirled a blade of grass between his fingers and looked thoughtful.
"You know, that may not be a terrible thing," he said slowly. "Merely his overly theatrical, roundabout way of saying you'll meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger after all, and settle down here in France. Far too busy having babies every year to think of travelling," Bash added with a cheeky grin.
Aylee laughed a little, but sobered quickly. She might as well share all her fears, having gone this far.
"No, listen. The simplest, most obvious interpretation is likely correct." She took a deep breath, "If I never return home, never leave France, I think it must mean...I'm going to die here. This is where I shall be buried."
"That's obvious to you, is it?" His incredulous retort almost made her feel foolish and hopeful.
"You might stay here by choice, for reasons you can't yet imagine," Bash went on. "Hell! You may very well die in France, but who's to say it won't happen years from now, after a long, fulfilling life?"
"You did say yourself that my current occupation is dangerous," she reminded wryly.
"Oh. Yes. I did, didn't I?" He looked a bit sheepish.
"And if Catherine doesn't get me..." Aylee began ominously.
"...we're surrounded by bloodthirsty pagans," Bash concluded.
"You see? I'm doomed."
"Ha! I'll rescue you! Might as well. No point in my avoiding the woods now. Pagans want me dead anyway."
"Great. We're both doomed."
They started laughing, a little hysterically. Aylee felt as if a huge knot of tension inside her had uncoiled, and her morbid fears were... still there, but less frightening now that she could make morbid jokes with someone. But there was an important point she had to clarify.
"Bash, I hope you know I'd do anything for Mary. Even if it's dangerous."
"I assumed you would, Aylee. You're already doing it, aren't you?" Bash threw a blade of grass at her.
"Well, I just didn't want to sound like I was complaining. I mean, I want to help Mary. Not only because it's my duty and she's my Queen, and a good Queen who always puts her country first. Mary's my friend. She's kind. She treats us like..."
"...equals, not inferiors," Bash finished her thought again. He averted his eyes.
Aylee remembered his illegitimacy and winced. Poor Bash had no real chance even if Mary loved him. She was duty-bound to form a strong alliance for Scotland. It was true she always put her country's needs ahead of her own wishes. Mary simply couldn't wed a man who wouldn't inherit a throne. Aylee felt like an insensitive clod.
"You have many fine qualities, Bash, and I'm sure Mary appreciates..." she trailed off. "I'm sorry." Words were inadequate.
"Thanks," he said shortly.
Aylee expected him to make an excuse to leave - or just get up and go, as quietly as he'd arrived. She was somewhat relieved when Bash looked up again, eyes fierce, daring her to mock his intensity.
"I'd do anything for her too. I'd die for Mary."
"I know you would, Bash," she said gently, "You already nearly did."
She threw the blade of grass back at him. He smiled.
They sat in the garden for five more minutes, or maybe half an hour, in companionable silence.