Possession (Wars of the Roses)

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Queen Margaret of Anjou

Dappled silver light permeated the flickering darkness if the queens chamber, the hour was late and the sun long gone from the horizon. The chill night air blowing through the open casement disturbed the languidly swaying flames that remained in the grate, the last remnants of a once roaring fire. It cast an eerie glow around the room that glistened in the unbound hair of the woman pacing distractedly about. Margaret was restless, the finely embroidered velvet of the robe of velvet gracing her shoulders rusting softly over the floor as her silent distraction and impatience deepened.

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It was dangerous to have arranged a meeting thus, at this hour, but she had needed to ensure that they were not overheard, that no little birds would get wind of what was to be spoken, and had long since dismissed her ladies pleading an aching head in preparation. Jaquetta remained in the outer chamber, her ever watchful eyes alert to things that none other would see, and thus she knew she was safe.

Now completely recovered from the prince’s birth, her strength full returned, she turned her mind to deal with the impending crisis at hand. Henry’s refusal…no…inability to recognise her son had left her position precarious, and forced her hand far more quickly to do what she must than she had wished. But little choice remained. Her enemies would clamour to revile her, voice their doubts more loudly than before. The witnesses present in the chamber that day will by now have spread their tales of what had happened, and the only person in the room she could rely on completely was perhaps even more distrusted than she, Jaquetta’s testimony would be of little value here.

As such, Margaret reasoned, it was time to reveal the kings ailment to the world, for a mad king cannot be capable of acknowledging anything, and nobody could claim it was the queen at fault. She would announce her intention to take full control of the realm and rule in her sons stead until he came of age. However she must first persuade the council…not an easy task. Many regarded her as a foreigner who was not to be trusted, least of all because she was a woman. And so she needed advice, she needed that of the only other person she trusted completely, the one person who would not be afraid to tell her what the council would truly think of her plans and advise her best how to sway them to her will. The matter of the ever increasing rumours about her fidelity to the ailing king was another issue that must be discussed away from all other eager ears, particularly due to whom it is she must discuss them with.

Thus, as the closed panel of the opposite wall slid softly open, a tall and handsome figure stepping quietly thorough and into the dimly lit chamber, her lips curved into the first genuine smile she had been able to muster all afternoon, her lilting French accent sounding the words almost to a purr: ” Good evening…or should I say morning Lord Somerset”

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Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset

Finally… nervous as deer in chase, the Duke of Somerset has waited — waited to be called by his beloved Queen. They must confer… decide how they must move forward, one closely guarded secret no longer just between the trusted. With the Duke’s mentoring and support, can Margaret reign as regent? Or will the Council force their hand in favor of a Lord Protector? Whichever way this goes, Her Grace and the Duke must be as one, rule as one. ’Tis their only hope to insure the throne for the babe, to insure the realm’s security.

The Duke rests his ear upon the panel. Tonight he and the queen risk all, but the situation unavoidable, there is no choice but to gamble this once. Hearing nothing, the Duke slides the panel open slowly… so very slowly, and steps inside the Queen’s most private chamber, their most secret refuge with the maids frequent not.

Upon entry, he looks upon the Queen of England, in his mind exquisite in her night clothes. The Duke smiles broadly, drinking her in as she greets him. The Duke bends a knee to her, deferring to Queen Margaret’s higher station. He looks into her eyes and locks his gaze, the Duke’s love and respect unspoken but overflowing. Waiting for her to motion he rise, he speaks softly. ”Good morning, my Queen. I am relieved you bid for me. There be much to discuss.”

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Queen Margaret of Anjou

Margaret’s smile matches the Duke’s broad grin as he enters the chamber on feet as light as air, quickly bidding him to rise as he sinks to his knee as soon as he comes to her. She had longed for this moment, to have him here, alone. There were precious few she trusted, and only two in this world that she could reveal her true self to. At this time, honesty is what was required, and she knew she would get that from the handsome Duke of Somerset.

She offers her hand, her voice low and soft as velvet, the lilting French accent shining through as she speaks:

”Good morning Edmund, I thank you for coming to me thus, I know it is a dangerous task. But there is much of which we must speak. Our desires are I believe as one. The King has now descended so far into his own mind that he cannot acknowledge the boy. We must press the council to elect me as regent until Edward is old enough and wise enough to take the reins of government in hand.”

The sparkling depths of Margaret’s eyes glittered with purpose in the grey light of the chamber. Unfathomable depths to most, but to the Duke, her disquiet would be evident, as was her every sentiment to a man who paid such close attention. Her slender fingers close around his strong hand as he climbs to his feet, her gaze not leaving his. A look of naked desperation within them, for she knew that at this moment her position was a precarious as ever it was:

”If they do not, we both know whom they will elect as Lord Protector Edmund…neither of us wish to see York with any more power than he already has. He will destroy us both and claim the kingdom for his own. Do you think that the coucil will accept me? Could they stomach a woman at the head of their government?”

She steps away, resuming her restless pacing of the floor, her path of the evening clearly shown by the disturbed, sweet smelling rushes that were strew about the floor. A sleder hand sweeps through her long dark hair, sending a ripple through its lengths falling to her waist as she stops and looks back at the Duke over her shoulder:

”I need your counsel Edmund, more than ever…for I know not what to do.”

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Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset

Queen Margaret of Anjou, she is exquisite. As the Queen paces restlessly, the Duke of Somerset can’t take his eyes off her, the silhouette of her breasts and her beautiful round bottom peeking through the finely sewn lace of her night shift. The Duke takes a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself. ‘Tis no use. He grows hard within his loins just the same. Does this woman know what she does to him? Does the Queen know when she runs her hand through her flowing locks he peaks hard? The Duke thinks likely so. He thinks ’tis her aim to tease him, to drag him to his knees in yearning, knowing there be not one thing he can to to release what flows within him.

Though he loves this woman more than life itself, he decides she deserves honesty. After all, Margaret of Anjou is an anointed Queen, and he is but her subject, her servant . “I must speak frankly, Your Grace. I doubt the council will support a woman as regent. This be England. ‘Tis unheard of for a woman to rule unless her husband be at war. BUT, yes… we must find a way. You rule this realm in truth now. We need find a way for the council to see the truth of it.”

The Duke walks behind the Queen and adjusts her hair over her shoulders gently and kisses her long soft neck. “Please do me the honor of wearing a robe, Your Grace. You are unsettling my humors.”

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Queen Margaret of Anjou

Margaret’s pacing barely ceases as the Duke speaks, her disquiet is so deep. The naked want glittering in his eyes as he watches her, an almost feral look of lust is a look she is well accustomed to and therefore, almost immune…Almost. But what she needed from him now was honesty and sound council, not the longing looks of a love-lorn adolescent.

As his strong arms come up and move a long tendril of auburn hair away from her slender neck, followed swiftly by his gentle lips, she closes her eyes a moment, a shiver running through her entire frame before she comes to her senses and clicks her tongue impatiently and waves away his attentions. Turning to face him, her hand raises to her forehead which burns with the effects of too many sleepless nights, the lingering twinges of pain from the birth of her son, and the mental turmoil her mind succumbs to, every time she dared stop to draw breath.

As handsome and charming as the Duke was, if she were to lose her grip on the kingdom completely, they would both likely be far less attractive once shorter by the head, a fate she did not intend for either of them. However…perhaps for once, using her womanly wiles would work in her favour, for what creature was more steadfast and devoted to it’s cause than a handsome knight desperately in love with a beautiful damsel in distress.

She turns her body into his, her eyes dancing a brilliant emerald in the reflected light of the candles and lays her hands on his broad chest, gazing up at him with an almost desperate look of hopelessness he would find perfectly alien and therefore all the more poignant. Just a frightened woman and mother in need of a knight in shining armour.

“My lord…Edmund, I need you now more than ever. We simply must ensure that I am the person the council choses to safeguard this realm and her people, for who knows what will become of me and…my son if others were to do so”

Her look of desperation at the thought if only partially exaggerated. She was despised by many, that much she knew, and, royal blood or not, she did not doubt that if needs be, they would find a way to have her removed for good…even if it meant her death. Her slender fingers move to wrap around his hands, squeezing them gently as she makes her plea, inwardly cursing herself for resorting to such measures.

“Help me Edmund, help me protect my baby.”

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Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset

This woman… so much a hold the queen has over the duke, she could command he jump into a raging inferno, and Lord Somerset would do it with no question. Never before has Queen Margaret admitted she needed the Duke. Until now she simply possessed him.

As Queen Margaret lays she soft petite hands upon Lord Somerset’s chest, shivers run through him. Still, he holds firm, as she has made her message clear. Now is not the time, and he thinks sadly mayhaps never.

He gently places his hands upon hers, lifting one to his lips. A whisper of a kiss is all he dares. “Your Grace, I will do all in my power to insure this realm’s beloved Prince reigns as King. I will lay down my life if need be,”.Lord Somerset says with truthful sincerity and love.

“You shall be Regent of this blessed realm, my queen — or God strike me dead!”

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Queen Margaret of Anjou

A broader smile claims Margaret’s crimson lips at the Duke’s protestation. His earnest look, the thundering tempo of his heart, so clearly felt beneath her soft hands lain so deliberately upon his broad chest, and his eyes…the burning, almost fanatical devotion smouldering there amongst his look of naked lust, they all scream to her of the power she holds over this man. How could any woman of warm blood not revel in the thrall they hold over such a strong and handsome one as he? She refused to pay any heed to the voice that whispers at the back of her mind to her that to take advantage of such would be wrong. She needed to utilise those assets that she possessed to achieve her goals, any amount of immorality in the acquiring of such could be justified fully in the eyes of God, of that she was certain.

He will help her, she knows that well. He is her knight, her protector, her sworn sword to hold in the darkness when fear and hopelessness threaten to overwhelm her. Not that she would admit that, nor tell him so, she would not cede the point and risk handing him any sort of hold that he could use against her to get what he wished. For what he wished she would give him as when and if she chose to do so. To him, she must be his Queen, the object of his every devotion and the woman he would die for if needs be, an unobtainable deity that stood just at the very periphery of his grasp. Close enough to let him feel that persistence may grant him leave to close that gap, but far enough away to ensure his ardour does not wane. It was a game she knew well, and would play to all it’s advantage. He would have his reward in time, for she was no more made of stone than he, and too many cold and lonely nights had been spent in the darkness since she came to England. She was a red blooded Frenchwoman, one possessing the same needs and desires as any other, Lord knows her husband had never been capable of satisfying them, but first and foremost she was a Queen, and until such a time that she was secure in her place, then her own desires must wait.

She must never lose sight of who she is or what she is fighting for. All else must take a side-line to securing both her and her son’s power. While she may need the strong arm of men like Somerset to aid her to this, she would share the power she craved with none. England would be hers, and hers alone, until such a time that the boy was old enough to take the reins of government in his own hand, of course assisted by his loving mother. And this man…She looked up at the duke as her mind processed the thought…this beautiful man, would help her achieve it all. His voice would cry the loudest to damned tradition and support her right to be regent, to put the council and the government into her hands, and they would listen, he would make certain of that. The thought almost amused her. Oh the power that a woman can wield with a few longing looks and well placed curves.

Her eyes glitter, full of promise and seduction in the fading light as his lips brush the back of her hand, relaxed and soothed by his touch, her words deliberately placed to speak one meaning and thinly veil another:

“Now now Edmund, do not speak to me of death…not when we have so very much to live for.”

— Fade To Black —

Written by: Queen Margaret of Anjou and Edmund Beaufort, Wars of the Roses Writer’s Group

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