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

Section CXVI - December 1522
Double upload today because this snippet was too short to be a chapter, but didn't seem to fit anywhere else...the next chapter will follow shortly.

Eltham, December 1522
Marie had been at Eltham a full six weeks before she heard anything from her husband, and even then, it was nothing more than a terse, clipped note, worlds away from the effusive love letters he had written her in the early days of their marriage, when he had gone to war for the sake of her hand and her honour.

Wife,
My ministers tell me that, for the sake of decorum, you must appear at my side during the upcoming festive season, or else too many questions will be asked. You will find me at Bridewell and I expect you back at Court within the week.”


Upon receiving the message, Marie’s heart sank. She sighed and then went to find Maria and Lionel. She hated being the bearer of bad news, yet somehow, she was going to have to inform her children that, not only had Papa not seen fit to invite them to Court for the Christmas season, but Mama wouldn’t be able to celebrate it with them either.
 
Section CXVII - December 1522
Bridewell, December 1522
George had pages posted at every window of the Palace, watching for Marie’s entourage. The moment he was told there were signs of her approach, he flung a thick cloak around his shoulders and hurried out into the courtyard to meet her.

The cobbled expanse was suspiciously empty as she descended from her horse. In fact, considering her rank, she and George were shamefully alone as they crossed the yard.

That didn’t, however, stop Marie from lowering her voice as she asked, “How is it? How is he?”

“Bad,” George replied, copying her, “He fawns over Honour. He calls her his own little piece of Irish luck; says she’s been sent by God to warm his heart during this cold winter season. He even claims she must have been kissed by the Holy Spirit’s tongues of fire because of her red hair.”

He was open about how things stood, despite who he was talking to. Marie had been his sister for far longer than she had been his Queen. He knew she’d never forgive him if he tried to sugar-coat the truth now.

“There’s more,” he warned her, as he spun her around and led her, not to her own rooms, but to the rooms of their uncle, the Duke of Norfolk. “He’s been treating with the Portuguese Ambassador. He’s trying to betroth Lionel to their youngest Princess, Beatrice.”

“Without consulting me?”

George nodded, “He claims that a simple country girl like you can know nothing of political alliances, so he alone has the right to decide on your children’s futures. To be honest, I think you have the Portuguese to thank for your return to Court. They insist on speaking to the woman who has tried to orchestrate the newfound friendship between our countries.”

Marie gulped, momentarily biting the inside of her cheek to try to hide her mental turmoil as George swept her into the Norfolk rooms and seated her in the place of honour at the head of the table, “What do I do?”

She murmured the words as if to herself, but it was her uncle who answered.

“You provide him with exactly what he’s been missing since Katherine of Aragon died. A partner who can support him in everything he does. He claims you don’t know politics. Learn. If he wants to go to war, you stitch his banners, canvass his troops, muster foreign support if necessary. Show him he needs a woman at his side, not a silver-tongued child.”

“Prove yourself another Isabella of Castile if need be. But don’t ever forget that he is your sovereign lord. When he tires of that simpering chit of his, as he’s bound to someday, don’t rail against him. Welcome him back with open arms. Remember, the fruits he will find in the girls here at Court will only be all the sweeter if they seem to be forbidden,” their mother warned.

Their uncle nodded, “Whether he likes it or not, he’ll have to seek your bed eventually for duty’s sake, don’t make the experience any more unpleasant than it has to be by railing at him like a jealous fishwife. Shut your eyes and endure, as your betters have done before you. As Katherine did before you.”

Marie nodded silently, but George could read the insecurity in her body, so he leaned over to put a hand on her arm, “It’s not all bad news,” he said bracingly. You’ve given him a son. He’s been waiting over a decade for a son. He’s not going to forget that in a hurry. Nor are the common people. You’ve got them on your side, Marie. You’ve made this country safe, that’s no small thing. And you’ve got powerful friends. Me, Kathy, the Howards, the Percys, most likely the Portuguese as well. I wouldn’t despair just yet.”

“You’re right, of course you’re right,” Marie assured him, but her words rang hollow, as well they might. Every person in the room knew that, if she couldn’t win the King back to her, then there were bleak days ahead for her.
 
Nor are the common people. You’ve got them on your side, Marie. You’ve made this country safe, that’s no small thing. And you’ve got powerful friends. Me, Kathy, the Howards, the Percys, most likely the Portuguese as well.
A regency under Marie, with George, the Howard’s and the Percys would be interesting.
 
That's not the way this story ended up going in the end, but if you'd like to write it and post it as an outtake, etc, I'd be more than happy to accept it!
I wouldn’t know how to attempt to fanfic this story. Just a thought on an alternative line based on this alternative line.
 
Section CXVIII - December 1522
Bridewell, December 1522

Bleak days that only got bleaker when the King found out about Anne and Harry Percy.

They were sitting on the dais together, dining in public, as the season required of them, when Marie decided to chance telling him. She hoped that, in public, he might spare her the lash of his temper, if only for appearances’ sake. Unfortunately, she was wrong.

They were halfway through the meat course when Henry suddenly barked, “I’ve arranged to have Lionel betrothed to the Princess Beatrice of Portugal. She’s his age and comes from fertile enough stock. She ought to make him a good match.”

Having delivered this announcement with the force of a cannon, Henry took a gulp of wine, the rings on his fingers flashing in the candlelight as he raised his hand.

Had George not forewarned her, Marie would have handled the news far worse than she did. As it was, however, although the stewed venison lost its flavour, she merely put down her fork and summoned a smile.

“I’m glad to see you nurturing our new alliance with Portugal, Sire.”

“Are you? Wouldn’t you rather Lionel married a French Princess? After all, you always thought yourself a Frenchwoman, didn’t you, Marie?” he challenged through gritted teeth, masked behind a solicitous smile for the benefit of the watching public.

Marie felt her heart sink as she realised that he was in the kind of irritable mood that finds fault with everything; that searches for a reason for an argument.

Nonetheless, she refused to rise to his bait. Even if he was too soured by grief to care what image he gave to the public, she was a Boleyn, a Howard and a Queen of England to boot. She, at least, had been raised to have more dignity than that.

“It is true I have many fond memories of my years in France, Sire,” she responded calmly, “But if you think I ever considered myself a Frenchwoman, then you are mistaken. It was my sister who thought that. I always knew my first loyalty rightfully belonged to the King my father served, the King who sent me to France to serve his sister, the most glorious King in Christendom. The King who has now become my husband. I also know that England needs as many alliances as possible. Our daughter Mary is to become the French Queen. That is enough. By all means, let us balance our ties with the French with Portuguese ones. Let our future daughter – your heir’s future bride - be the Princess Beatrice of Portugal.”

Henry only grunted at her words, but he did appear pacified by them, enough to let her rest her hand over his, anyway.

“Perhaps we should have a double celebration, then,” she murmured, “Lionel’s betrothal to the Princess of Portugal and my sister’s marriage to young Lord Percy.”

“What? I thought we were going to marry them on her sixteenth birthday?”

“We were, but now things have changed. She’ll have to marry him sooner than March.”

Suspicion flared in Henry’s cobalt eyes, “Why?”

“Well.., Marie hesitated, then gathered her courage and blurted, “She and Lord Percy have already made their betrothal unbreakable. My sister’s almost four months gone with child.”

“Anne! With child! And I wasn’t told!”

“It hardly seemed the sort of news one could put in a letter, Sire,” Marie defended weakly, wishing wholeheartedly that she had put it in a letter after all, rather than deal with his direct wrath. He whipped his head round to her, pounding the table.

“You knew!” he accused, “You knew what they were up to and yet you didn’t stop them!”

“My Lord, I knew naught more than you until Anne confided to me that she was two months gone with child!” Marie exclaimed. Henry, however, was too deep into his fury to pay any attention to her.

“If you hadn’t given me a son, Madam, I’d wonder whether you deserved that crown of yours after all! If you can’t even control your own younger sister, how in God’s name do you expect to rule a country?!” he roared before thrusting his chair back with such force he gouged marks in the floor and striding to the door.

At the threshold, he turned. “Marry them if you must. But don’t expect me to welcome them at Court.”

Then he stalked out, leaving Marie stranded on the dais.
 
And again can not understand who that is partly own fault... or he know that in his subconscious but refuse to admit it so become angrier...
Also true. He will get there... eventually. But we've a way to go yet, unfortunately for poor Marie. But I will say this: she gets more support from her sister-in-law than earlier chapters might have you believe. :)
 
At least better than otl. It would be challenging to go worse than otl. I hope FalconHonour doesn't try to reach that challenge.
x'Dx'D

No, I have no intention of that. I can safely assure you that, with a son in the cradle, Henry will not be reaching anywhere near his marital heights of OTL. 2 wives is quite sufficient for this one.
 
x'Dx'D

No, I have no intention of that. I can safely assure you that, with a son in the cradle, Henry will not be reaching anywhere near his marital heights of OTL. 2 wives is quite sufficient for this one.
Just remember that there are wives... and then there are mistresses. I could see Henry keeping Mary around but burning through a string of 'secret' lovers like candy.
 
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