So does anyone want to bet on how Catherine of Aragon will react to her daughter's death on top of already loosing two daughters in law?
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Oh shit, I wonder who the Infante Juan will remarry to?
That is the question isn't it? Portugal has no age appropriate infantas for him, neither does France and I don't think he will wed one of Elizabeth's sisters either. Scotland, Scandinavia and Brittany are out or running as they aren't interesting partners for Spain. So that leaves Brabant, Lorraine, the HRE, Savoy or Italy for him.
Chapter 53 – England in September of 1528
Chapter 53 – England in September of 1528

Catherine of Aragon found out about her eldest daughter’s death five days before the Princess of Wales gave birth to her first child. Anne of Brittany had been married to Prince Richard for over a year in that late summer and the marriage had been one of exceptional joy from the first days. The news came from Castile in the middle of September, with the Spanish ambassador bringing a letter from her brother, Juan III himself. Anne had taken up residence in the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich before the birth, as the king had given it to the prince before his second marriage to Charlotte of France and it had been expanded and renovated during his reign. The prince and princess hosted their own little court near the Thames, with dances, masques and card game aplenty, as well as pleasant boat rides on the river on sunny days. Anne and Richard both enjoyed hunting, her with falcons and him with hounds and they spent many hours riding in the green woodlands.

“The Princess is the very light of the sun at court. She delights all with her joyful manners, she smiles upon all whether high or low and all who meets her are quickly charmed.”
Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England in 1528

The joyful days were cut short on the 19th of September. Queen Catherine collapsed in grief upon finding out about her daughter’s death and spent several days bedridden in her chambers. Only a handful of her ladies were allowed to enter her presence, including Maria de Salinas, who took it upon herself to ensure that her mistress did not perish of despair. For a long while the court feared that the queen would die from grief, including her youngest daughter, Katherine. The fourteen-year-old princess was the only daughter of Richard and Catherine that still remained in England, as her two older sisters had both married since a few years back, to Spain and Denmark respectively and had become her mother’s near constant companion since then. Her brother, the ten-year-old Edward, called Ned by his family, was also bewildered by the sudden change. It would be their elder brother that stepped into caring for his younger siblings. While John of York had the disposition of a raincloud in general, his love for his family was unshaken. The twenty-one-year-old duke of Richmond was a man of great practicality and he took Katherine and Ned into his own household in Bayard’s Castle in the city, while his parents consoled each other. The death of Elizabeth meant that the Anglo-Spanish alliance had weakened, but it was not dead yet. The queen maintained strong bonds with her Trastamara family still, especially with her extended family residing in the various realms in Europe. While there was some initial consideration of whether of not to propose a new marriage for the Infante Juan with Katherine, nothing came of it. Her mother was infuriated by the idea, as Elizabeth would be replaced like that in her sister’s stead. Her youngest girl would wed in proper state, just like her sisters, even if it was not Spain. Both the king and queen thus began to look for matches in that autumn, but it would be halted by other events later in the year.

Elizabeth of England would be named for her late aunt when she arrived into the world on the 24th of September. The birth of another daughter was a disappointment for the king, as the prince only had one legitimate child at this time, Princess Katherine from his second marriage. Prince Richard also had three illegitimate daughters from various mistresses, including Anne Fitzroy from Bessie Blount and Joan and Jane by Anne de Parthenay, a court lady whom whom had come from France with Charlotte. But Anne and Richard were delighted by their daughter, as he wrote to his father that she was “a pretty babe with fair skin and downy dark hair”. Catherine managed to recover somewhat from her grief upon meeting little Bess, as she would be called. The York siblings all came together at her christening in Greenwich and the small feast that would follow in Westminster palace. Dancing and merriment would be subdued due to the mourning, but the music was good and the cooks had prepared sumptuous meals of roasted pheasants, venison, rabbits; while stewed vegetables and ripe apples and pears had been cooked with spice and honey or stuffed in the various assortment of pies that had been baked. The queen wore a gown of dark purple and Spanish blackwork, while many of her ladies dressed in a similar style. Catherine was still easily fatigued from mourning and she retired early before the evening was over. It would be the duchess of Gloucester that presided afterwards, as Anne of Brittany had not been christened yet. The duke and duchess of Bedford danced together during the feast, much to the delight of their nieces and nephews. Katherine FitzAlan had given birth to three children since her marriage four years ago and while their son had not survived the cradle, little Margaret and Beatrice was thriving in the same nursery as their royal cousins. John of York partook as well, much to the court’s surprise as the grouchy duke generally avoided feasts of these sorts. It was perhaps no surprise however that he spent considerable time with his uncle, as both York sons had a similar temperament, even if Bedford had lightened considerably since his second marriage.

John’s eye was caught by one particular lady during the evening. A delicate young woman in green velvet and pearls with shining chestnut hair in abundance. She seemed light on her feet, almost wispy in comparison to some of the beauties in court, and her skin was creamy with a sprinkling of freckles on her nose and decolletage. John could not help to be captivated by her movements; they seemed as quick as a bird in flight as she moved between courtiers. Perhaps his stare had alerted her in some way, but her head suddenly whipped towards him after a while. Her eyes seemed as brown as her hair, almost amber in hue and just as bright. During the next dance, the girl joined the dancers and just out of curiosity, John did the same. Perhaps the fae creature would grant him a dance with luck? He seemed drawn towards her in some inexplicable way, almost like a moth to a dancing flame. Being a royal prince had it’s benefits sometimes, as her current dance partner was easily shooed away when he got to her and the wispy girl granted him her hand as the music began again. Her fingers are clad in several rings, with delicate gems and pearls on them. Whoever she was, the girl was an excellent dancer and while John had never been overtly fond of the galliard that was popular in every court of Europe, he knew it very well. Evidently so did she. He was far taller than her and the advantage of his solid frame was that he could easily lift her during the spins of the lavolta and the salto del fiocco kicks, while her green skirts whirled around her legs. Her slight frame was evidently stronger than it seemed and her small hands grasped him firmly. John was to tongue-tied to even speak to her during the dance, but she did not seem bothered by it, not talking in turn. She did not need to either, the coquettish glances was enough and his fingers found themselves caressing her pale throat and the freckled plane of creamy skin above the hem of her neckline in turn. Her perfume draws him in as well, citrusy and herby with a pang of brandy, he thinks.

“My lord of Richmond, you are a fine dancer.” John blinked at her sudden words. He had expected a far lighter voice from the slight girl, but the one he heard was fairly deep, melodious and rich all at the same time. “So are you. May I have the honour of knowing whom I am dancing with? I can’t seem to recall if I have seen you before at court.” She smiles at him. It is a very distracting smile; all white pearly teeth and rosy lips that he gets a feverish desire to claim for his own and her eyes gleam even brighter. “If my lord can guess it on his own, then I shall tell him gladly.”

John begins to speak, to try to tell her that this is not fair of her, but little Ned interrupts him, suddenly appears out of nowhere and asks if he can take him back to Bayard’s castle as the evening has run to long for him. When he turns back towards his mysterious dance partner, she is gone. John spins on the spot, eyes searching for a flash of green in the crowds, but none is to be found. For a moment he is considering if he simply imagined the fae girl. Perhaps the fairies of the stories entered the court as the summer ended? But Ned tugs on his sleeve and John turns his attention towards him and agrees to return back home.

“Leaving so soon, John?” Prince Richard asks and John startles as his sudden appearance. Do all of his brothers have the ability to sneak upon him now? He finds his haziness being replaced by his usual surliness at every passing second. “It is getting late and Ned is too small to be up all night.” They both ignore his protest that he is not small at all, even if the effect is ruined by the boy suddenly yawning and the tired rubbing of his eyes. “You know I am not one for parties either.” Richard raises his eyebrow. “That seems strange. You seemed to find the party very pleasant a moment ago. Did lightning strike you when I was not looking? Tell me brother, did your dance partner steal away with your heart?” John goes all still. Had he been that obvious, had they noticed them dancing. But as his mind whirled, he could only manage to say one thing. “So, she was real?” The look on Richard’s face is priceless and he nearly doubles over while almost choking on his laughter. John nearly slugs him for that alone, but Ned clings to his arm, so the prince is spared a fist to the face. “Was she real? Oh brother, I know you are not one to charm the ladies, but if you can not tell if a girl is real when she is in your arms, then I fear for your future wife! Yes, she was indeed real, I promise you that! Did she not tell you herself?”

Normally John would rather have endured all manners of torture than to admit this embarrassing thing to his eldest brother, but if he knew the identity of the elusive maiden then this was a small price to pay. “She did not tell me her name. Pray tell, do you know who she was?” Richard looks at him with a mix of amusement and pity in his face, much to John’s rising annoyance. “Yes, I know her name indeed. Her name and her family. But I think I shall keep it to myself for the time being. It will not hurt you to put some effort into talking to women some more.” Richard ruffles their little brother’s hair and takes a sip of the spiced wine in his goblet. “Take Ned home now or he will fall asleep on his feet. Goodnight.” Richard is gone before John can reply and for a moment he contemplates the history of his ancestral Normandy king Henry Beauclerc, who most likely murdered his elder brother William Rufus, but it would be unseemly to kill the Prince of Wales during the celebrations of his daughter’s christening. Especially as the court is still mourning for their sister Elizabeth and his mother doesn’t deserve that sorrow. Plus, his royal father will most likely be rather mad at him. He is pretty sure of that. John stops to say goodbye to his uncle before he leaves and he is pretty sure Thomas knows exactly what transpired between him and the fae lady, but he gives him a firm hug and sends him on his way with Ned and his sister Katherine in tow. Just before John leaves the hall, he can see the duchess of Bedford coming back to her husband again and the look of love on his face as he gazes at his wife feels like an expression John himself had worn during some point in the evening. His uncle seemed to smile far more these days.

The barge takes them back to Bayard’s castle and as it glides on the Thames, John is once more lost in his thought. Ned is sleeping in his arms, tired from the excitements of the day, while Katherine is chatting about everything: from her new gown, to the young men at court who she danced with and the delicious food being served. John listens with her with one ear, nodding and humming at times, but his mind is on other things. The skies are turning dark, and the clouds are nowhere to be seen, thus the stars glister like a scattering of diamonds strewn on dark velvet above him. The moon hangs in the sky; full and ripe and the breeze brings various scents towards him. Cooked meats, city mud, freshly cut grass and the flowering wines that climbs and clings on houses. His fey maiden had smelled of rosemary. It must have been Hungary Water he realizes suddenly. The perfume made for the Saint-Queen of Hungary centuries past. It was popular at court, even if his mother preferred the scents of Castile, such as Castell Soap and her toilette table was cluttered with jars of rosewater, amber, musk and orange blossoms, a much-loved memento of her childhood in Granada. He frowns. If he remembers correctly the queen’s name was Elizabeth, like his sister’s had been.

Suddenly, he wonders if Elizabeth ever saw the city their grandparents conquered before her death and guilt cuts like a dagger. It is not fair that her life ended so soon. Her letters to England had been full of tales from the war at sea and the richness of Castile. The wars against the Ottomans had seemed like the stories of the crusades told in romances and his sister had been like the saints of old, that selflessly delivered charity and care to the sick and injured. It had seemed unreal to him in England. At least until the Spanish sun and the sickness had done his sister in in Cartagena. Their mother had told them about the cities of her family’s kingdom. Cartagena laid next to the Mediterranean shore; much fitting to Elizabeth. She had loved the ocean all her life, having taken the Holy Virgin in her aspect as the Stella Maris as her patron saint and lodestar in her childhood and he hoped that the lapping of waves would accompany the prayers read in the chapel where she rested besides the sunlight expanse of blue sea.

As John undresses in his chamber at Bayard's before going to bed, a clink catches his attention. He frowns. Perhaps he forgotten some trinket stashed inside his garment? A gleam of gold lays just under the bed and he gets even more confused. He is certain he had removed his own jewelry already, but he picks of the object regardless. He can tell the ring is not his own immediately. The size is too small and he does not wear pearls himself. For a moment he considers it might be Katherine’s ring, but why would it be inside his clothes? As he looks on the pearl mounted to the golden frame, lightning seems to strike again all of a sudden. His fairy maiden had been wearing rings with pearls when they danced. He had felt it on her delicate hands when she grasped his own. She must have sneaked it in his clothes before she vanished. John brings the ring up closer to his face and as it gets closer, he can detect a faint scent of rosemary, like that which Queen Elizabeth of Hungary had worn on her skin ages ago. And in the stillness of his chamber, he wonders once again what the name of the elusive girl was, as she remained on his mind during that long night.

Author's Note: I know this is a slightly different chapter as it's just spans a a week at the most, but I wanted a change before we head back into the various conflicts of Europe, and I wanted to explore the York court as they dealt with the death of Princess Elizabeth. And introduce my darling grumpy duke and the lady that caught his eye in a way no one ever have before. And she is not a OC, she is a real person. Have fun guessing who she is!
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Poor Catherine indeed! Losing your favorite daughter is never easy.

John does have his eyes on someone. And no, it's not Anne Boleyn. She was introduced some chapters ago and married the Earl of Ormonde and currently residing in Ireland.
Loving your a child never is.

And got it