Chapter 85, November 1516
Pamplona, Kingdom of Navarre, November 1516

She made her way into the castle with her head held high, supremely confident. Men in the Castilian and Aragonese livery were at her side, well-armed, but with their weapons sheathed. This was to be a display of power, not necessarily with the goal of starting a war, but rather, in preventing one. Catalina strode inside the throne room, and did not lower her head an inch as she came face to face with the Queen of Navarre.

The woman that sat across from her certainly did not look as one would expect. Haggard and greyed by the stress of her life, Queen Catherine of Navarre could certainly be pitied. Yet there was still a hint of steel to her voice as she leaned forward,”You enter my home, and with soldiers? I always thought you to be your father’s daughter, but to do this with my husband barely cold in his tomb…”

“I would advise you not to speak ill of my late father Catherine of Foix. I do not wish for war between our kingdoms but if you continue to be obstinate and not agree to my terms there will be one. One that you will lose.”

“And what would you have me do?” She scoffed,”Give you the keys to Pamplona and be grateful that you do not have me killed?”

Catalina wagged her head,”Not quite. Your son Henry should be engaged to my half-sister Blanca of Aragon.”
“Ah, so you mean to force my son to wed the Infanta and drive us away from the French? Well, that will not happen.”

The Regent gave the Queen of Navarre a cool glance,”Let me put it to you this way. For every man you arm, I could raise a thousand. Accept my generous alternative to war, and there will be no need for bloodshed.”
“Perhaps…” The other woman hesitated before she continued, placing a wary hand to her forehead,”This will be preferable to a battle that my family will lose, it pains me but I have no other choice.”
 
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Ah the 16thc equivalent of gunboat diplomacy…

Take the deal or your people will curse your name forever!
Hahha exactly. It certainly went well though, and furthermore it prevents Catherine of Navarre from marrying her son to a French princess... Thank you so much for your insights!
 
Chapter 86, March 1517 New
Richmond Palace, Kingdom of England, March 1517

A gust of freezing air hit her face, and Eleanor huffed in annoyance Yes Henry, this was the perfect day for a joust. She was so irritated, in fact, that the Queen of England had half a mind to beat her husband over the head with his own helm. Despite this, she fixed a pointed smile on her face as she sat upon her throne in the royal stands. Eleanor turned her head as she noticed a flash of red cloth out of the corner of her eye. Her mood almost immediately improved as she realized who it was, and she dipped her head,”My Lord Cardinal.”

The cardinal showed equal respect, before clearing his throat, looking on the scene before them. The King had just unhorsed his opponent, one George Talbot, though the Earl had performed valiantly. Henry had stopped his horse shortly after, not riding off until he was sure that Talbot was unhurt.
The stout clergyman murmured disapprovingly,”He wears her colors, that scarf of hers still flutters on his lance.”

“I am aware Wolsey. Mary Boleyn will not trouble me for much longer…”

“Surely you will not do as you have done before in regard to her?”
Eleanor of Austria sighed,”No, I would no longer have the element of surprise, but I have other methods.”

“Go on…”
The Queen wetted her lips for a brief moment, considering what she was about to say carefully,”I would have another supplant her in his bed. A woman that I can trust, and that I can control.”

Wolsey nodded, and added,“Surely not Lady Johanne, she may be beautiful for a woman of her age, but I am not sure if she would attract his interest.”

“Agree with you I may, but I suspect you have other motives…
“I do not know what you speak of majesty…”
Eleanor chuckled at this,”Of course you would not say so. I do not condemn you, she is a good woman, and priests such as you are still flesh and blood. There is another that I propose though, a lady that I can trust…”



The girl’s face was the very image of shock when Eleanor asked her. Her face even paler than ever, Carolijn stammered,”But… Milady, what you propose would be a betrayal, a sin against you. And what will people think of my mother, to have one of her daughters as the King’s mistress?”

Queen Eleanor paced around the nursery, careful not to be too loud, for little Mary had just fallen asleep. Oh, my little girl, I hope that you never have to break your own heart in this way.

She looked to Caroljin, and cried some silent tears,”Do this for me. Please… I am with child again, and I cannot bear to see Henry with the Boleyn girl any longer. Help me save my marriage, and I vow that I shall not resent you for doing what you must.”

The teen trembled, but nodded,”I had promised to serve you in whatever capacity you wish of me my Queen, and so I will.”

Eleanor hugged her lady in gratitude, whispering,”Thank you... Thank you so much Caroljin!”
 
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