Chapter 140, December 1524
Richmond Palace, Kingdom of England, December 1524

The King of England looked down at her with a sparkle in his eye, clearly in a merry mood,“Happy Christmas Eleanor.”

They were feasting that night, to celebrate Christmas, and all were happy, for the wine flowed freely and the tables groaned under the weight of all the sumptuous dishes. Sitting under the candlelight, Eleanor smiled back,”Happy Christmas Henry, this is all so splendid.”

There was ample reason for the Queen to feel happy too, beyond just the food and drink.

Their three children were all there from Eltham, eight-year-old Mary, little Henry, the Prince of Wales, who was nearly four, and Edward, their Duke of York, almost two. Mary sat next to Eleanor, being considered old enough to have a pleasant dinner with her parents. The boys were mostly well-behaved, though Edward had his moments, as toddlers often did. In the end, it was mostly a matter of seniority, a special treat to Mary for being the eldest. It must be said that the girl reveled in it, giggling softly at one of her father’s jokes, her ginger hair cascading freely down her shoulders. Mary daintily scooped up a bit of apricot jam with her spoon and put it to her lips.

“It’s her favorite, just as it is mine.” Henry remarked with pride.

Eleanor of Austria looked on with interest,”Indeed it is, has she told you of her French lessons?”

The King of England shook his head before turning back to his daughter,”No she has not, tell me Mary, have they been going well?The Princess turned to her father with the faintest hint of a smirk on her lips,”Ça va bien papa. Madame Laisné dit que ma lecture et mon expression orale sont magnifiques.”

Henry put down the drumstick he held down and said,” C'est parfait ma fille, tu me rends très fière!

Eleanor observed her daughter’s graceful reply, in French of course with pride. Mary was going to make for a lovely Queen of Scotland, even if the thought of her daughter leaving when she turned fifteen was a bittersweet one.

She instead endeavored to take stock of what she had, her husband and children loved her, and her loyal friends were all healthy, she felt better about her life than she had in months. Even if Lord Somerset was there with his wife, the two could safely be ignored. They were nothing, sure Anne would inherit Wiltshire from her father, but Charles didn’t have the pedigree to ever challenge her sons. They would be safe, and she hoped that Bridget could be as loyal to her sons as her mother was to her.

Caroljin herself wasn’t there for the celebrations, for she had entered her confinement, with the baby due by the end of January. Martijna, however, was back in court, having fully recovered from the birth of her son Lawrence in June, along with the rest of her sisters. Caroljin’s little daughter, Bridget, sat with her half-brothers to eat, an honor that had been extended to Henry’s other bastards, even if Eleanor had resented the fact that Jasper, the Duke of Clarence, had managed to attend, she would not make a fuss over it.

The festivities continued until Henry stood up from his seat and all the courtiers, even the children, hushed before him. His booming voice filled the hall,”My loyal subjects. I am thankful to all of you who could attend, a King is strongest when he has his noble subjects supporting him. It is my sincere hope, that when we meet here again next Christmas, we will be enjoying the spoils of victory over France, that we shall be at peace.”

All of those gathered in the hall clapped their hands together enthusiastically, and the Queen of England joined them, she too, had hoped that they would defeat the French, and finally enjoy some years of peace, so that she and her children could consistently see Henry, not just whenever he wasn’t busy on campaign.



The festivities were over, but the fun of the night was not. For now, there was the gift-giving. Eleanor had already given Henry her gift to him, a finely crafted dagger forged in Antwerp, and had already received a silver necklace with

Her husband held the puppy in his hands, presenting the animal to her new owner,”She’s from Gascony, her name is Suzette.”

The Prince of Wales struggled to pronounce the name correctly, and stroked the dog’s forehead,” Suzit? Suzetta? I think I’ll call you Suzie instead. Thank you, father, I love her already!”

The puppy whined excitedly and licked young Henry on the face, and his father set Suzie down so that she could play with the boy while gifts were given to the other children. Eleanor for her part would be the one to present Mary’s gift to her, turned around and took the silk, purple, dress out of the chest, and held it out for Mary to see.

Her daughter beamed as she saw it, though her response was a bit more dignified than her brother’s,”It is very pretty mama, thank you very much!”

Passing the dress to a servant who would bring it to the Princess’s wardrobe, Eleanor gently pinched her daughter’s cheek,”Very pretty like you my girl, it will look very good on you.”

“Thank you, mama.” Mary replied, before moving back to go pet her brother’s puppy.

Edward, their Duke of York, who had previously been distracted as he watched Suzie, turned around when he heard his father clear his throat.

“Yes papa?”

Henry chuckled,“I have a present for you Edward.”

“You do?!” Edward asked, his eyes wide with anticipation.

“Yes, come and see.”

“What is it?! What is it?!” Edward demanded, running forward.

The King of England set a small stick horse in front of the child and murmured,”It’s a toy horse, so that you can practice before you are big enough to use one of your own.”

The toddler felt the horse hair on the toy, grinning as it was apparently to his satisfaction before he rushed forward to hug his father’s leg,”Thank you, papa, thank you!”

Henry let out a jolly laugh, ruffling the boy’s flaming red hair,”Of course, I hold you all, my children and my wife, above all others. These gifts are just a show of my love for you all.”

Eleanor, having sat back down, watched on happily, her little family felt just perfect at that moment, just perfect.
 
Grand Bleu de Gascogne in a blue dogcollar.jpg

This is the breed of dog that the Prince of Wales receives, a Grand Bleu de Gascogne
 
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