The Queen is Dead!: Katherine of Aragon dies in 1518

This little prince is worse than his brother in the Tudors... poor Mary (but I am sure who she know how defend herself if her bethroted would be not nice to her when they will meet)
Section LXXXII - September 1521
Greenwich, September 1521
“Joanna, fetch Mistress Blount to me, would you?”

Joanna looked up in slight surprise, but curtsied, nevertheless, “Yes, Madam.”

She left the room, gracious as ever, and Marie watched her go. Anne came up behind her.

“Are you sure about this, sister? You haven’t spoken to Lady Tailboys since you became Queen. What if she resents you for taking her place at the King's side, especially given she gave him a boy too?”

“It’s a risk I have to take. She has a right to be near her son.”

No one else could have heard the tension in Marie’s voice, but Anne did.

“You’re not happy about how this whole matter is being handled, though, are you?”

At her younger sister’s forthright question, Marie sighed and shook her head.

“No, Annie. I’m not. But Henry is both my husband and my King. For those reasons, I will do as he asks of me.”

“But...” Anne was cut off by footsteps in the passage outside. Joanna re-entered, Bessie Blount close behind..

Bessie was clothed in emerald green velvet and, unlike the last time she and Marie had actually come face to face, she swept to the floor, her golden head bent low in submission and acknowledgement of the other woman’s superior rank.

“Madam,” she breathed.

Knowing this was going to be awkward enough as it was, Marie hastened to flick her hand and send all her ladies but the chosen three – Anne, Sarah and Joanna – running from the room. At the same time, she extended her other hand to raise Bessie from her curtsy.

The two women looked steadily at one another for a few seconds, sizing each other up, before Marie spoke quietly.

“Let’s not beat about the bush, Lady Tailboys. I know it must be difficult for you, seeing me at the King’s side like this.”

Marie knew her voice was scarcely very confident, was little more than a whisper. Yet it seemed Lady Tailboys didn’t trust hers at all, or at least, that she didn’t know what to say, for she said nothing at all, instead leaving Marie to at last go on, “He does care for you, you know. His Majesty. More importantly, he cares for your son. His son. He knows how hard it is on a child to lose their mother at far too young an age. He would not make Lord Richmond go through that pain. Not for the world. Thus, he has asked me to offer your husband the position of Steward to the Duke of Richmond when the latter moves to a new household at Eltham and also sees fit to ask you to accompany Lord Tailboys to the Duke’s new household. Do you accept, Lady Tailboys?”

Had Marie known what trouble would come from her having twisted the truth to make it sound as though Henry had actually wanted to be kind when he asked Bessie and Gilbert to run Hal’s household, she would never have stretched the truth in such a manner. However, she did not, and besides, she was desperate to do anything she could to make these orders more palatable for the other woman to swallow.

Bessie, meanwhile, was struggling to contain her resentment.

None of this was truly Marie’s fault, she reminded herself. Marie had just been a pawn in her father’s dynastic games. Just as Bessie herself had been. She too, had fallen head over heels for the King. And, Bessie reminded herself, given how capricious the King could be, surely it was just Marie’s good fortune that Henry had not only married her, but also stood by their marriage when it came under pressure. Bessie couldn’t begrudge Marie that. Not when she was genuinely so kind, truly meant well for everybody.

But having to take the privilege of raising her son as a gift from her one-time rival still rankled. Especially since, with how capricious the King was, it could so easily have been Bessie in her place as Queen of England. It could so easily have been her Hal as Prince of Wales rather than Lionel. She could so easily have been supervising her son’s household as Queen, rather than as just his steward’s wife. And Henry hadn’t even had the courage to tell her himself. He’d made Marie do it. After everything she’d done for him, that was what rankled most of all, that he didn’t even care enough to tell her himself how their son’s household was to be arranged, but rather left it to his new paramour to do so.

“Lady Tailboys?”

To her horror, Bessie suddenly realised that the Queen was still waiting for her answer. Flushing beetroot red, she stuttered out, “I – I - Thank-Thank you, Your Majesty. You are – are – most – most gracious.”

Oh Lord. Her voice was thickening, cracking on the words. Tears were starting to pool from her eyes.

Protocol forgotten, Bessie ducked into a rushed, graceless curtsy and sprinted from the room, choking on her desperately suppressed sobs.

“She shouldn’t treat you like that. You’re the Queen. She should have waited for you to dismiss her.”

Marie, who had been watching Bessie dash from the room, started as Anne spoke from behind her. She appreciated her little sister’s ferocity in her defence, but this wasn’t the time for it. Things were hard enough for Bessie without Marie rigidly insisting on protocol too. Glancing to Sarah over her sister’s shoulder, she could see her old friend understood, even if, personally, she agreed with Annie.

“Leave it, Lady Anne,” Sarah interjected, “Lady Tailboys will come round in time. I hope.”

The very tone of her voice betrayed Sarah’s uncertainly about how this might happen, but Anne chose to ignore that, instead choosing to direct another question at her sister. “Does she know she’s going to have a share a Palace with Lionel and Maria, not to mention Lady Bryan, Lady Willoughby and Lady Salisbury?”

The grimace that crossed Marie’s face answered before her words could, “No. I can’t bear telling her. I only hope she doesn’t mind too much.”

Anne said nothing, only rolled her eyes behind her sister’s back. If she had any idea of what Bessie was like, there was no way the latter wouldn’t mind. Yet how could she shatter her sister’s good-hearted illusions?
No way that is not going to go wrong- let's hope the children are not hurt.

Henry may indeed not be pleased with Marie... adjusting... the wording on his orders, but I doubt he will do more than be angry at her.
No way that is not going to go wrong- let's hope the children are not hurt.

Henry may indeed not be pleased with Marie... adjusting... the wording on his orders, but I doubt he will do more than be angry at her.

Oh, I think we're all agreed this is a disaster waiting to happen. It's just a matter of how badly it goes wrong. I did warn you to enjoy the fluff while it lasted, did I not?
Section LXXXIV - September 1521
Eltham, September 1521
Bessie had just begun to get things in order in her son’s new rooms, or at least, as settled as she could with a stubbornly rambunctious not quite two-year-old playing about her feet. The rooms were lavish – not quite lavish enough for a King’s son, in her eyes – but for a Duke twice over, they would do very nicely, at least until he was older.

She was trying to persuade Hal to go down for a nap when muffled hoof beats broke her concentration.

“Give Mama a moment, my Prince,” she murmured, as she rose and went to the window.

Two litters with the royal emblem embroidered on the curtains were just pulling up in the yard.

At first, Bessie’s heart leaped. She should have known Henry would miss his son. He loved him! Here was the proof of it. They’d not even been at Eltham a week and he was already coming to visit.

In her happy daydreams, she’d failed to bear in mind the fact that Henry never used a litter, but rode everywhere instead. So seeing the Princess Mary being helped out of one litter, her little companions clustering around her like a flock of vari-coloured starlings, was a rude awakening.

As Bessie watched, frozen with horror, Lady Bryan alighted from the other litter. She looked wan and harassed and it was easy to guess why. She held Prince Lionel in her arms and though the child was too far away for his cries to reach her ears, the plum colour of his face and the rigid set of his head and back suggested he was howling his head off.

“Ellen! Ellen!” Bessie turned from the window, shouting for her son’s nursemaid, “Put His Grace down. I need to go outside.”

She didn’t even wait for Ellen’s murmur of obedience before she was out of the door and running; running full tilt towards the courtyard.

“What is the meaning of this?! I was told my son, the Duke of Richmond and Somerset, was to have his household at Eltham.”

“And so he is, Lady Tailboys,” Lady Salisbury said coolly, placing a hand on the Princess’s shoulder as she shrank back from Bessie’s fury, “You are to have one wing of the Palace and we are to have the other. Did Their Majesties not make that clear to you? If so, I apologise for their oversight.”

Bessie opened her mouth to protest, but, before she could, Lady Bryan cut her off.

“Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a very hungry and tired Prince in my charge. I need to ensure His Highness is fed and goes down for his morning nap as quickly as possible.”

She swept past Bessie, Lionel in her arms. The latter was roaring with hunger and exhaustion. Lady Salisbury said nothing, simply gathered the Princess and her companions and guided them past Bessie firmly.

Bessie had no choice but to follow them in, gaping in outrage and shock. Why in God’s Name had she not been told this would happen? More, did her boy not deserve a Palace of his own? He was the King’s eldest son, did he not deserve his own house?

She stalked back into her son’s rooms, gritting her teeth on her anger.

*** *** ***
Greenwich, September 1521
George and Kathy were sitting having supper and were talking lightly when George suddenly looked over at Kathy’s plate.

“Salmon in berry sauce again, Kathy? Didn’t you have that yesterday?”

“Yes, George. I appear to have a craving for salmon at the moment.”

Kathy peered steadily at her husband, waiting for his eyes to light in recognition. However, they failed to do so, so eventually, she merely stood and went over to him.

Taking his hand, she placed it on her stomach. He felt the unfamiliar bulge instantly, and his eyes snapped up to hers.

“Are you...?”

She nodded delightedly. Laughter bubbled up inside her and she let it spill forth as she answered his unfinished question.

“Congratulations, Lord Pembroke. You’re going to be a father.”
I still think Henry VIII could have handled things better with Bessie...

In truth, he was less horrible than he could have been. He could easily allowed himself to forget her and their son, if it wasn't for Marie. And technically, for a bastard son, Henry was more than generous respect to other rulers of the time. And besides, is not one day the boy won't have his titles and properties - English royals usually were fair with their illegitimate children.

Unfortunately, Bessie is all but a patient woman.
In truth, he was less horrible than he could have been. He could easily allowed himself to forget her and their son, if it wasn't for Marie. And technically, for a bastard son, Henry was more than generous respect to other rulers of the time. And besides, is not one day the boy won't have his titles and properties - English royals usually were fair with their illegitimate children.

Unfortunately, Bessie is all but a patient woman.

There's that and there's also the fact that she is suffering from undiagnosed PPD, at least that's what teenage me used as a headcanon when I was first drafting this story, so that doesn't help her rational thinking either...
I still think Henry VIII could have handled things better with Bessie...

Yeah, he could have done, but this is Henry VIII we're talking about. I don't think it is likely that he would care enough about the impact his actions have on others to do anything other than what he's done TTL. What would you have had him do??
Yeah, he could have done, but this is Henry VIII we're talking about. I don't think it is likely that he would care enough about the impact his actions have on others to do anything other than what he's done TTL. What would you have had him do??

I wasn't complaining about your handling of Henry. You were spot on as far as I'm concerned. Henry wasn't really all that diplomatic, was he? :winkytongue:
Section LXXXV: February 1522
We've got a couple of bridge chapters coming up, I'm afraid, but if I don't do some time jumps, we'll be here forever...

Woodstock, February 1522
Henry sat in his private study, perusing the latest tome to come off the printing presses at Oxford, a lavishly-illustrated version of the Pentateuch, eyeing it with a view to gifting a copy to his little Maria for her birthday. She would be six, after all; surely it was time she started learning some Latin. And Cata would be pleased if she knew he was encouraging their daughter’s piety. He wouldn’t overdo it, of course. There was no need for her to be able to debate theology with her husband or anything, but a good education like the one her Aunt Anne had had...there was nothing wrong with that. If nothing else, the amount of pleasure he took in his witty younger sister’s company proved that.

As though she knew she had crossed his mind, Anne sent a message through his herald to say that she was outside.

“Send her in,” he instructed, rising and pushing aside the book that lay before him.

In seconds, Anne was sweeping low before him, “Sire,” she breathed, her ebony hair rippling as she moved.

“Rise, Annie,” he laughed, lifting her out of her curtsy, “How many times do I have to tell you? I would not have you be so formal with your older brother.”

“You’re not just my brother; you’re my King,” she flashed, “My King, who is being asked by my sister, his wife, if he would be so kind as to visit her, as she has some news for him.”

She laid ever so slight an emphasis on the words, ‘my sister, his wife’; not enough for most to notice, but enough to warn Henry that she was very much aware of how her dark looks had blossomed in the last year or so, how they now shone like polished Whitby jet.

“Peace, Annie,” he soothed, holding up his hands, “I need your sister as the earth needs the sun. I’d not displease her for the world. Nor would I take you from Harry Percy. I know how precious young love is.”

“Will you let us marry, then?”

“When the time is right.”

“When will that be? I’m almost fifteen. I’m a woman grown. Harry is nearly seventeen. You were seventeen when you married Queen Katherine!”

Henry watched in shock as his little sister’s voice rose in anger. He’d seen her spirited; seen her passionate; had even entered into one or two heated debates with her himself, but he had never yet seen her this angry.

All of a sudden, however, she caught herself.

“I apologise. I should not have spoken so. It is just that seeing both my sisters so happy with their children or so content in the expectation of one is making me impatient to be a bride myself.”

“And you shall be,” Henry promised, relieved at her obvious effort to control herself, “I gave you my word that you would be and I still stand by that. Mark my words, you will be wife to Harry Percy and mother to the future Lord Percy yet.”

He patted her cheek gently, “Do you trust me?”

She ducked her head, flushing, “Yes. I am sorry for my harsh words, brother.”

“No. You spoke from the heart. I would never have you hide what you feel is the truth from me. Now, run back to Marie and tell her I’ll join her for lunch. Perhaps you and Harry Percy and George would ride with me this afternoon? We could make a family hunt of it.”

That, if nothing else, elicited a genuine smile from Anne, “With pleasure!”

She impulsively leaned up to kiss his cheek, then turned and ran out of the room, suddenly looking quite a bit younger than her fourteen years. Henry watched her go, chuckling. Oh yes, she'd make a fine Countess of Northumberland when the time came. The North would be in safe hands with her.
Section LXXXVI: February 1521
Woodstock, February 1522
“How are you?” Marie leaned down and kissed Kathy on the brow. The latter sighed, “Exhausted. The child gives me no rest. Tosses and turns constantly. They’re a real fidget.”

“Oh dear,” Marie made a moue of sympathy, “Let’s hope Mama’s prediction is wrong, then.”


“She believes a baby’s nature inside the womb is it’s nature outside the womb. She always used to say I was her only easy pregnancy and that George and Annie were just as you describe. I was too young to know whether it held true for George – I don’t remember his babyhood – but I do remember Annie’s and she was certainly a fussy little thing.”

“Really?” Kathy had difficulty imagining the ever-poised younger Boleyn girl as a difficult baby.

Marie nodded, “’Capricious as a raincloud’ our governess used to say of her in the schoolroom, and it held true for her as a baby. I remember my nurse often despairing of her because she refused a routine and apparently hated whatever she had loved the day before, and vice versa. That’s right, isn’t it, Mother?”

This last was directed at Lady Ormonde, who had walked in at that moment. The older woman paused, “Annie? Yes. I remember her nurses telling me there were days when she seemed to want to feed every hour on the hour, day or night; when nothing but her wet nurse’s breast would quieten her. Yet, other days, she wouldn’t feed at all. She’d just howl to be picked up and paced through Hever’s halls so she could see what was going on. And then still other days -”

“Stop! Stop!” Kathy begged, clamping her hands over her ears. “You’ll give me nightmares, Lady Mother!”

“I don’t want to give you nightmares, Katherine. I’m simply trying to warn you that no baby is always easy. But you’re a Countess, it’ll be much easier for you to ensure your maids look after the baby, if that’s what you’d rather, than it was for me. Everyone thought I was putting on airs; playing the high and mighty Howard when that no longer suited my position in life.”

Kathy nodded, biting her lip to try to hide her rising sense of panic.

Seeing it, Marie laughed, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. And anyway, if you want it, your child shall grow up in the royal nursery with their cousin. I’ll make sure of it. You won’t have to worry about a thing.”

Kathy was about to thank her and murmur some platitudes about hoping her child would be a boy, not just to please her husband, but so that there wouldn’t be so much of a gap between the Lady and her cousin Princess Maria, when something in Marie’s face stopped her. Her mouth fell open.


“Yes.” Marie placed a hand on her still-flat stomach, “Due in August. I told the King this morning.”

“How did he take it?”

“How do you think? He’s ecstatic. He’s wrapping me in swaddling cloths, or as good as, anyway. I’m to be waited on hand and foot; I’m barely allowed to stir without his permission, never mind ride out with him and my siblings as I was supposed to do this afternoon.”

At the look of exasperation on Marie’s face, Kathy couldn’t help it. She laughed.

“You are the Queen and this is the future Duke of York. He has every right to want to be careful of you, you know.”

“Yes, but really! I’m not in confinement yet, am I?”

“No, but you won’t be far behind,” Kathy pointed out, “Will you be sponsor to this one?”

“Gladly, if you’ll return the favour in August. You are my sister now, after all,” Marie smiled, before rising, “I’d better go. I’ll get into trouble with the midwives if I stay too long and excite you too much.”

“You’re the Queen!” Kathy protested, but at that moment, the child turned again and all she could do was wave Marie off as she bit back a groan.
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