The Angel at Westhorpe, UK Court

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After getting his wife and their guest settled, Charles Brandon writes a missive to his friend and king, telling him the details of his sister’s accident and how he brought her back home safely. He explains to his Majesty that he wants to end the rift between brother and sister and wants to invite Henry to visit them for hunting and hawking. The forest is filled with dear, wild boar, partridges and pheasants. He also tells his king about a new bird of prey that he just acquired and wanted to show him his abilities. Brandon seals the missive and tells his messenger to ride with haste to deliver this to the king.

 

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Charles Brandon

I watch my groomsmen take off on his steed till I can no longer see him. I need to unite Mary with Henry again, this rift has torn our family apart. Never could I believe that Henry would threaten Mary with the execution of her own children. Could her fall have made her have false memories? I must discuss this with Henry, friend to friend. Will that woman cause all whom he has loved to perish? Anne would love nothing better then to destroy my friendship with Henry as much as she wants his own sister gone.  No one is safe, unless Mary knows her brother well enough and sweet Jane cam soothe his tortured soul again. I can only hope that Henry will accept my invitation.

I enter quickly into the house to check on my beloved Mary. My heart pounds with the thought that I could of lost her. I will always be in debt to the Seymours and shall do all I can to promote their favor in court. I gaze at my beautiful princess. She sleeps soundly but Jane is by her side again.

 

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I slowly approach Jane and whisper ”Jane, you are here as our guest, not as Mary’s nurse. Let her ladies attend to her.” I hand Jane a goblet of claret and lead her out of Mary’s room. Jane, my princess will be very unhappy if she awakens to find you not enjoying yourself. Come in to the library with me and I will tell you a secret.” I escort Jane and show her to a comfortable chair. ”Please make use of our library if it would please you.” I look into her blue eyes and speak my mind. ”The princess and the king had a nasty quarrel when Mary was leaving court. I fear she was thinking of her brother instead of watching the road and therefore fell. I have invited the king here in hopes of repairing the love between a brother and sister. If he accepts my offer, would you help me entertain his Majesty? We must also not say a word to Mary. She is Tudor through and through and she will not react as I hope if she knows in advance. What say you fair Jane, will you help me with this difficult task?”

 

 

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Jane Seymour

I take the claret reluctantly, as I am led out the door, turning back once last time to ensure the princess is still sleeping. Westhorpe slightly overwhelms me, Wulf Hall is considered a modest seat for a family at Henry’s court. As we enter the ornate library I sit before the duke, a composed demeanour across my features, as if I am at home in one of the finest estates in the land.

I nod as the situation is explained to me, confirming the gossip amongst the ladies at court. With the mention of a visit from the king, my heart skips a beat.”Your Grace, I am not sure I can keep such a secret from the princess. Will she be very angry with me once she knows? I do not wish to cause her more pain. You both have been very kind to me.” I look up at the duke’s handsome face, and some of my apprehensions melt away. Surely no one knows both these Tudors better than Charles Brandon.

 

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Charles Brandon

I pat Jane’s slender arm, ”Please do not worry yourself, Jane. If she becomes angry, it will only be at me and the king, her brother. Trust me, it will be better this way. You are doing another good deed, we are reuniting brother and sister. They have always had such love for each other. He loved her enough to let her marry me. He could have married her off to the Emperor Charles and instead, he kept his word and let her marry me, a mere knight with no royal blood. I love my princess and will not rest untill I see her smiling and happy again. I just want to remind the king and my princess of the love they still have for each other. How can I not put this wrong to right?” I see the troubled expression on her face clear and hope she see’s that this is what is best for Mary without letting her know that our objective is for Henry to take notice of Jane. I pray that Mary knows what she is doing and that this goes as she plans. Only a wicked woman would like to see brother and sister pulled apart, Anne is blight on this realm.

 

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”Would you let me show you some of the grounds while the princess sleeps? I’d like to be with her when she wakes up. But she would be most pleased to know that I am doing a good job as your host and that you enjoy yourself. Why don’t you have your ladies attend to you and we can all get some fresh air. I will show you the Tudor roses that planted myself. Their fragrance envelopes the air. Will you do me the honor of letting me take you and your ladies on a walk?”

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Jane Seymour

My fears are allayed at the duke’s words.”If it meant a reconciliation between brother and sister, I would be happy to assist. My own brothers and sisters mean so much to me.” Anne Boleyn has not a kind bone in her body and I wonder what bewitched the king in the first place. The image of the handsome king creeps into my thoughts whilst contemplating the restoration of familial harmony between brother and sister. I push this aside to consider later. I must write to my brother to inform him of these developments.

I stand and smile brightly at his Grace. “I would gladly accept your invitation. Your roses are much talked of and I do long to see their beauty myself. I hope that I do not distract you from more pressing concerns?”

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Charles Brandon

”My only concern now is to follow my wife’s wishes as well as my own. I shall have the kitchen help pack some refreshments and we can all enjoy a small picnic. When we return you can tell Mary all about it and then I will hopefully have made you and her happy. You can also tell me any ideas you may have so we can entertain the king if he accepts my invitation. Now go get your ladies and I will be delighted to meet you all in the first courtyard.” I smile at Jane as she takes her leave and tell my orders to be relayed to the cooks and helpers in the kitchen as I make ready for our outing.

 

King Henry VIII

Charles,

I am grateful that you have informed me of the recent events hitherto unknown to me and detailed them so thoroughly. It is apparent to me I must make the journey and shall do so forthwith with all possible haste. I do so hope Mary is doing well and in good spirits. Though I had planned on getting together for some time that we may have some good sport, I had wished it would be under more fortunate circumstances. Nevertheless, if Mary is willing to set aside her feelings of hostility against Anne and I for good, I shall gladly play my part and acquiesce.

I shall see you both very soon. Prepare well, for I expect to bag some formidable game indeed! ….HR

 

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Mary Tudor Brandon

It has been over a week that Jane has been here and I have been enjoying her company feeling stronger every day. I smile as I think of Charles escorting her and her women everywhere. It has been amusing watchimg him deal with what are usually my responsibilities. I shiver a little and warm my hands by the fire when I hear his footsteps and I look up.

”How is my knight? Instead of slaying dragons you have been occupying the ladies as their hostess.” he kisses me tenderly and shows me the smile that I love so much. ”Tell me, I can see you are bursting to tell me something. Did you hear from Henry?” My heart pounds at the thought of my brother but I try to block all the ugly memories of our last encounter. I can hide my true feelings if their is hope that he takes another mistress and becomes more distant from Anne. Unless he has turned Charles down.

 

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Charles Brandon

I look into the grey eyes of my beautiful princess, she shivers so I lay a quilt on her and move her silky hair behind her ear as I tenderly kiss her sweet lips. She smells of roses, and something exotic too, almost oriental. It is intoxicating. I would love nothing more then to carry her to our chambers and make love to her all day and night but she must rest and get stronger. She knows me so well, a simple smile reveals all to her. I pour her a goblet of claret and make sure she drinks the ruby wine that will give her warmth.

”You laugh at your husband, the great warrior and master of the joust?” I reply with amusement. “I have learned all the latest styles from France and which male courtiers are the most desirable for looks and peerage. How can I live without knowing thus information. Jane is a delight, the polar opposite of the Boleyn woman. She has many pleasing ways and would be more like Katherine in disposition but it is hard to gauge Henry’s passion for Anne at the moment. She always manages to relight a fire in him.” I cannot help but smile looking at her beautiful face and caress her cheek and rub her hands to warm her.

I try to sound more somber, ”I have received a missive from the king and he has accepted my invitation. But Mary, keep your temper in check for you must accept and be gracious about Anne Boleyn. If you start another quarrel then he will leave without having met Mistress Seymour. Remember this is your idea, I feel you might be correct that seeing the virtues in a woman such as Jane Seymour that Anne may look more the shrew and undignified. But this shall only work if you are loving and gracious. Can you do that my love? I do not want you to suffer but it is the only way.” Mary gives me her assurances that she can do anything if it will help to bring Anne down.

”That’s my princess, I do not want you to stress but I must leave your side to get the staff and estate ready for the king’s visit. We must show him a good time and his main reason for coming is to hunt, so I will plan hunting parties and entertainments that will put Henry in a good mood.” I kiss her brow and Cupid lips as I leave my wife to make all preparations for his Majesty’s visit.

 

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Mary Tudor Brandon

I cannot help but laugh at my husband, “Next you will be looking through bolts of fabrics while you help style all the ladies’ gowns.” I sip on the wine and listen as Charles speaks of my brother. I bite my lip to try and hold back my tears. Maybe this was a bad mistake, seeing him will bring back the look on his face when Cromwell threatened my children. How could he! His own nieces and nephew, who are no threat to him. Yet he bestows many honors on Margaret’s daughter, Margaret. Lucky for my sister not having to be a part of this. Though she and Arthur were the one’s who shared a special bond. What kind of king and man would Arthur have been? Twas him who our father loved best and prepared to rule after him. It was Henry and myself who were close, we loved so many similar things, he was my hero and now our relationship has turned to this. If Mistress Seymour does not catch his eye then I think it would be best for our family to move to France and live under Françoise’s protection.

 

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I smile wanly at Charles ”Trust me Charles, I need no lessons in learning the consequences of the king’s displeasure. He will bring anyone down, look how he has treated his own daughter? I believe she would be in danger of being executed. Mother would never believe that happy Harry could have become such a man. I will hold my tongue and pretend that I am overjoyed by his visit and his forgiveness. Do not think me foolish enough to risk neither yours or our children’s well being. I will pray that Lady Jane keeps the king entertained since I must still recover from my fall. You can let him beat you at everything and that will make him in the best of moods.”

I shiver as Charles kisses me to take his leave and prepare for his Majesty’s arrival. This talk has made me weary and I feel the need for the oblivion of sleep. ”Do not concern yourself with me Charles, I have an army of staff to attend to my needs. I think I might even try to sleep. Do what you must my love. I will see you when you are finished.”

 

 

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Jane Seymour

The days fly by at Westhorpe. I spend the mornings with the duchess, ensuring she improves and my prayers are daily answered. The duke is attentive, ensuring that I am well entertained as Mary rests. We walk, we ride, we hunt. I feel so happy here and dread the day when I must return to serve the Boleyn queen.

Then His Grace informs me that the king has accepted his invitation. I write to my brothers Edward and Thomas about the impending visit. I know they will be pleased and can speculate their replies to be enchanting and do my all to capture the Kings attention, nay, his imagination. I have butterflies in my stomach. There being but a small party, he cannot help but to acknowledge my presence. But further than that? I am not a Boleyn girl. I do not have the sparkle to enchant. I will but be myself. I am not disliked here, Both the duke and his duchess are so attentive! How I wish for my sister Elizabeth and her wisdom. I prepare best I can, focusing on assisting the Duchess, who I know I can help and forget for the moment the wishes of my beloved brothers.

 

King Henry VIII

The sound of clicking hoofs grew louder as the king and his hunting entourage approached Westhorpe Hall, the Brandon home. Eager for his arrival, Henry sent a messenger ahead to notify its duke, While he sat at the head of his group. It was nice to get away from the hassles of court life and a good hunt with his best friend and newly tamed sister would do wonders for his mood. Yes, Finally, he could have a decent conversation with his sister that did not end up with a blow up of Tudor tempers. Anne was his queen now, nothing and no one would change that. It was to be accepted by all. Those who refused would suffer the dire consequences without remorse.

 

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Charles Brandon

I look across the Courtyard, anxious to spot the arrival of Henry, despite being an honour for Henry to visit my home, I have the seeds of certain plans that I wish to plant in my friends mind.
A lone rider enters our courtyard, on spying the Royal Crest, I realise what is taking place….Henry is close! I shout to Harold to assemble six of my men and as I shout for the groom to tack Hermes, my black palfrey, the messenger canters towards me – before he finishes his first word I raise my hand, ”The king is close, I understand,” I frown, ”Where exactly is he?”. The messenger is a little taken aback and I feel an irrational knit my brow, ”I will escort him myself with my own men”. I snarl, waving my hand to the border reivers and hobelars who serve me without question. The messenger blanches at the ferocious and unruly sight of the horse soldiers, who manouver their horses behind me glaring at the royal messenger.  The messenger stammers the directions to Henry’s last location as he keeps glancing nervously at the six silent soldiers bristling with blades and bows. I turn to Marcus, my steward, ”Tell the ladies that Henry is close and I am going to meet him”, Marcus nods and walks to the house. The groom leads the gleaming black palfrey to my side, leaping onto his saddle I check the ground is soft and go straight into canter. Two of my men ride beside me, the other four riding in pairs behind me, as we begin to gallop. I lean into forward seat and relish the air blowing onto my face, the smooth beauty and rhythm of the muscular animal beneath me, always causes a grin to spread across my face and exhilaration as blood speeds through my body. Gently shortening the left reign and the slightest pressure with my right leg, Hermes wheels to the right, my grin spreads further as I glance at my riders next to me, who have manoeuvred in perfect formation. Looking ahead, I view the royal party, slowly pulling back on the reins, Bess reluctantly slows, her natural desire for speed only tempered by her faithful devotion to me. Several of Henry’s men begin to move their mounts, believing we will smash into them due to our speed, I steal a look at my flanking riders, they both have sly smiles across their unshaven faces, they enjoy this more than I – especially intimidating royal troops!

 

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Coming to a halt a short distance from Henry, some of his troops fearfully ride a short distance away, Hermes jogs and prances on the spot, his nostrils flaring, steam bellowing from his snorts. Reaching down I stroke his neck, which is damp with sweat, whispering and shushing as he settles. I look to Henry, bowing my head, on looking up I grin, ”Majesty” and lean forward to take his hand. Seeing his dark expression I turn to my riders and frown, thick accents sound ”My Liege”,”My King” and ”Majesty”. ”Six of my best, Majesty, the finest horse soldiers from the far corners of your realms” I smile to my friend, ”We have everything prepared for you, food, wine, entertainment and some activities both indoors and outside” I turn Hermes and Henry joins me at my side, we slowly progress to Westhorpe, deep in conversation, but glancing around me I notice the wary glances the troops are giving my chosen men.

 

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Mary Tudor Brandon

I have been sitting quietly with my ladies and Mistress Seymour sewing, I have been making a shirt for Charles and now was embroidering it with gold thread. The chambermaid places some more logs on the fire to make the room more comfortable. New rushes of straw, mint, lavender, and roses have been spread out everywhere in Westhorpe and every room has been filled with colorful, fragrant flowers, in ornate silver vessels. I made sure Henry’s chambers have been furnished and filled with his favorite tapestries,and laid out luxurious furs. As I tackled the emblem on Charles’s shirt, his steward bowed, to speak to me “Your Grace, his Grace has asked me to inform you that he can see the king’s party and that they shall shortly be here.” I stand up and smile ”Thank you Marcus, you may inform his Grace that all shall be ready.” My ladies startled whispering in excitement and I asked my chambermaid to tell the kitchen to lay out the food and best claret on gold platters as soon as his Majesty arrives. the mistrals were playing their lutes in anticipation. I look to my ladies, ”Let us all prepare for his Majesty.” I walk up to Mistress Seymour and whisper in her ear ”Jane, there is a new gown waiting for you in your room. It is my way of thanking you for all the care you have given me. Please go and put it on for the king’s arrival, I will have one of the mistresses do your hair. We all want to look our best”. With that I followed the ladies to my chambers to wash up and change so that perhaps Henry would recall the love we had shared as brother and sister before the Boleyn woman influenced all his actions. But if I am right in my knowledge of my brother, things may be changing for his so called queen. Mistress Jane is everything that Anne is not and he will be pleased with her soothing ways. Time will only tell if the Boleyn spell will be broken.

 

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Jane Seymour

I nod with a smile and thank her Grace and rush to my rooms to change. I find a beautiful gown of pale green velvet accentuated with fine embroidery worked across the gown and finished with pearls sewn into the bodice. It is a beautiful gown, the most sumptuous creation I have ever worn. I allow the chatter of the ladies to wash over me as they tightly lace the bodice and compose myself. I will not allow my shyness to overcome me, I have been in the presence of the king before. I direct the girl styling my hair to use the English gable hood – not the hood favoured by the French and the Boleyn’s.

The ladies gush as my preparations are completed. I thank them for their kind attentions as they show me my reflection in her Grace’s precious looking glass before they make haste to their own chambers to prepare. I take a deep breath and join the duchess of Suffolk in front of the manor, with the thunder of hooves marking the arrival of the king.

 

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King Henry VIII

Henry nods as Charles and his party ride up to meet him. ”Ah, thank you, Charles. I have been looking for an escape for weeks.”, The king chuckles as he continues, ”I look forward to seeing what you have in store for me. How is your family doing and the word on my sister’s condition?” Henry directs his palfrey into a light trot as they continued towards Westhorpe Hall.

 

Charles Brandon

My friend’s mention of Mary’s injury reminds me of the animosity I held for him at the time, despite my affection for my friend and my loyalty to my king, I feel the anger rise within me again.
Looking away from Henry, I let my eyes settle on two rabbits scurrying around the crops nearby, I muse what sport we could have had if the dogs hand come with us. That light thought has vented the little anger that had started to bubble within me and I turn to look at my friend. ”Your sister is made from tough material, Sire” I glance at him, my eyebrows raising, ”She may be an elegant and beautiful lady, but she has the heart and the spirit of the Tudors, no trifling injury would defeat her! The injury would be too scared to harm her!” My lighthearted manner conceals my true emotions when I learnt of my darling’s trauma. ”Quite by chance”, I say in an off hand manner, ”we have the lady who cared for her staying at Westhorpe as a guest, it was our small way of showing gratitude for her help” I lean to Henry, looking conspiratorial and lowering my voice, ”In fact Sire, I think you will find her presence will only add to the enjoyment we shall have over these next few days, even if it is only by the brightness of her smile” I grin at Henry as we wheel into Westhorpe, stable boys and grooms swarm around under the expert directions of Marcus, my soldiers trot off to their stables and combined quarters. Waiting for Henry as he dismounts I extend my arm gesturing to Westhorpe, and walk with Henry into the spacious entrance hall. Mary and Jane stand ahead of our staff to greet our king, Mary catches my eye and her glance has a mischievous gleam, after her formal welcome she greets her brother with fondness and presents Jane.

 

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Jane Seymour

I drop into a curtsey as I am presented to the king. I colour slightly as the duchess speaks warmly of my good deeds in caring for her. As I rise my eyes meet the king’s. I am momentarily startled as the king’s quizzical gaze is focused on me. I unconsciously hold my breath and quickly look down at the hem of my skirt. I do not take in what the king is saying as he takes my hand in his and kisses it. I feel his fingers linger on my palm, and I venture a glance from beneath my lashes and I find myself once again meeting his gaze. I quickly come to my senses as his lips stop moving and it is my turn to speak. I smile and thank him majesty for his kind words and praise my hosts warmly. The duchess speaks again and I inwardly admonish myself for not holding on to my senses. I have been in the presence of the king on many occasions and do not know why this time is different. Perhaps it was having is attention trained solely on myself, and his touch upon my palm.

 

Mary Rose Tudor

I look at my brother and try to forget Cromwell’s words about executing my family if I did not sign the oath. My head starts to pound with the memory. He did not threaten More’s family yet he threatened mine. Why not just threaten me alone? I remove all thoughts and paste a smile on my face. Westhorpe looks wonderful, all the wood has been polished and glows. The fires are lit and the warmth from the embers holds off the slight chill in the air. New rushes have been laid which fragrance the rooms with the scents of mint, lavender, roses and rosemary. The candles flicker off the silver vessels filled with Tudor roses and the stained glass has been cleaned so that shards of beautiful colors dance off the walls when the light outside hits it. I saw to Henry’s chambers myself. The tapestries are all made with the finest gold and silver threads. The sumptious fabrics all imported from Italy, silks, velvets and brocades. He would not find better accommodations at any of his palaces. I paste a smile on my face and go to kiss Henry on each cheek.

 

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”Welcome dearest brother” I nod for the servants to fill the silver chalices with our best claret and to bring out the gold platters of wild boar, venison, game pies, pungent cheeses, warm, crispy bread, cherries, wild strawberries, and juicy red apples. My cooks have made custards, marchpane, and assorted cakes.” I hope your journey fared well Henry, Charles and I are delighted to have you. Please have a seat and partake in some refreshments. I know you must be parched and famished from your journey. As you can see I am mended thanks to the careful healing hands of Mistress Seymour.” I take her hand, and smile admiring her beautiful gown. She looks like an angel sent from the heavens. ”Please join us Mistress Seymour, I am sure his Majesty would love to hear of the good care I received from you and your family. Charles and I have planned many diversions for you and wish nothing more for you to relax and enjoy yourself away from the stress of court. ”

King Henry VIII

As Henry strides into Westhorpe with the duke chuckling by his side, a most charming creature is brought before him. Not by her looks or deeds, as his sister goes on to describe, makes her so curious to him. It is the genuine modesty in her curtsey, the way she lowers her eyes and her adorable blush as he kisses her hand. Mistress Seymour… ah, she cannot be kin to the wild and stern Seymour brothers. Even those two were as different as night and day but still they had that Seymour charm… just like this one even if she wasn’t aware of it. What a surprise. Henry genuinely smiled as he bent low to kiss the girl’s hand. ”Mistress Seymour. I am ever grateful for your services to my dear sister, who I am glad to see is most recovered in body and temperament. I must think of some way to repay your great kindness.” Henry walks over to his sister, kissing her cheeks and smiling at her words. A twinkle in his eye, giving a hint of amusement. ”Very well, dearest Mary. I am most sure that with you and Charles combine I will not fail to be entertained. Alas, court drives me weary and the presence of family and a newcomer will surely give me good cheer. I look forward to hearing the tale of your need of saving and Mistress Seymour’s heroics indeed.” The king seemed to be quite pleased at these turn of events as he entered the dining hall on the arm of his sister.

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Mary Tudor Brandon

Mary listens to her brother act as if nothing had ever transpired between them. He threatens his own daughter, why would he not threaten Mary’s children? She had been acting her entire life except when she was home with Charles and her beloved children. She preferred her life at Westhorpe then any court. Mary took Henry’s arm and led him into the dining hall where the feast was laid out. Mary took a long sip of the ruby, fruity wine. She would need a lot of wine to get through his visit.” Mistress Seymour, you must sit with us. The king will know of the angel that rescued his sister. Henry, I was thrown from my mare into rocks. My head was hit hard but Jane and her family took such care of me that I was able to quickly recuperate. There are no jewels that can repay the kindness that was shown to me. Is that not correct Charles?” Charles has planned many activities for you. You must tell Henry just a little of what you planned.” She smiled as she looked at Charles. Her entire face expressed her love for her husband.

 

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Charles Brandon

The frisson that softly charged the air between Henry and Jane had not only amused me, but gave me a warm feeling of satisfaction. The knowledge that my Mary and I had distracted my friends thoughts away from the Boleyn whore, gave me a contented glow, that outshone the comforting warmth of the candles and fire in our dining room. As we sat at the dining table my mouth was already eager to taste the succulent meats that lay before us, hare with it’s ears crisped ready to crackle in our mouths, succulent peacock from our estate, that had been hung for twenty one days, beckoned me with it’s mouthwatering aromas. Another aroma of sliced and matured venison competed with the lightly spiced aromas of tender mouthwatering roasted beef and a roast chicken, the chicken sat tempting our mouths with it’s crispy texture, which hid tasty white meat. Warm fragrant breads added to the orchestra of delights and on sipping the wine, I drank deeply as I realised Mary had ordered the staff to uncork the best ruby red from France. I had steered my mind to a marvellous evening which I would hope to continue in our bed chamber after the evening had concluded, my eyes scanned across Mary’s beauty, my eyes locking with hers and thought how that part of the evening would be the most pleasurable.

Without warning, the air chilled, a million insects crawled along my spine and my knuckles turned white as I unconsciously gripped my goblet. ”Thrown… mare…. head… rocks” the words came from her own beautiful mouth and crashed into my mind with sickening agony. My thoughts replayed the torment of the desperate ride to be with her, having heard the news, the silence of my troops as we rode at speeds that were driven by the black demons of fear and despair. The empty cavern in my stomach as I raced to her room, forcing the smile on my face as I saw her dark circled eyes, matted hair and sickly pallor. I must have made a movement or sound, for Mary admonished me with her eyes and used them to gesture to Henry. I lessened my grip on the goblet and took a long drink, as my mouth had dried. Swallowing, I felt the friendly warming glow as the liquid caressed my tongue.”It’s true Majesty” I smiled, ”For all that we love you as our family, friend and king, this great feast and the merriment of the next days, are in honour to the angelic thoughts and deeds of Lady Jane” my eyes twinkled as I turn to her and raised my goblet, ”However, I hope the pursuits of the next few days are enjoyable to both of you”, I sip some more wine, ”To name but a few events, as I know I will forget some, we have hunting, hawking, archery, riding, tennis and racing on our estate. All these will be accompanied with food, wine and ale. Whether these are brought to us or we return to Westhorpe, you can decide on the day. I pause, trying to collect my thoughts, ”If the weather keeps us indoors we have two minstrels and a bard to entertain us, whether it be day or evening. What els…?” I pause, stroking the stubble that had grown on my face throughout the day, If wind, rain or even snow become inclement, the cockpit is covered to protect us from the elements. Our games room has many activities, chess, draughts, cards even skittles, we also have a small library. I turn to Jane smiling, ”So our days will be as full or empty as you wish, however m’lady, my spies have informed me that you can sing like an angel, which is not surprising given your angelic ministrations, I hope you will offer us your voice on at least one occasion. But I am prattling too much and I can see”, I turn to look at Henry, ”our sovereign lord is eyeing the venison!” The smile that creases my face shows my happiness at the gathering, but I know Mary can feel my thoughts, dark and torturous images, thoughts, feelings and memories have re-emerged at her own mention of her accident. Not my treacherous hatred and treasonous thoughts concerning Henry, but the utter despair of loosing my princess, all I wanted to do was throw the table aside, carry her in my arms and never let her go!

 

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Jane Seymour

The feast was nothing I had ever seen outside of court – certainly nothing this grand had ever sat on a Seymour table. I was encouraged to taste each delicious morsel until I could feel the boning of my corset dig into my skin. The king pressed me for details of how I cared for his sister and was effusive of his praise until my cheeks burned.

”Your Majesty is too kind with your praise – I have done nothing extraordinary, merely what any good Christian would do in the same circumstances.” I smile warmly in Mary’s direction. She is talking animatedly to her beloved husband, I turn back to the king, who holds my gaze intently before I drop my eyes toward my cup and reach for it. ”Her Grace was an exemplary patient and has mended quickly, it was an honour to care for her.” I peek up at the king who’s gaze has not wavered. The attention is not something I am accustomed to. One of the serving staff attends to my plate and refreshes my wine.

The duke of Suffolk exclaims that tomorrow will be a fine day to hunt, I murmur my asset along with the rest of the party and the conversation turns to stories of previous hunting parties. I take this opportunity to sit back and watch the old friends relieve great hunting moments and take stock of the evening. King Henry has been attentive, but I remain unconvinced it is anything more than appreciation for caring for his sister. He looks my way during a rendition of a stag hunt and I smile prettily and lean forward attentively.

 

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King Henry VIII

Henry deeply satisfied with the outcome of his visit, nods approvingly at attentions of his sister and most loyal friend. Cutting into the vension after Charles’ jest, he smiles lightly, ”Indeed, You have provided a most pleasing table, Your Graces. I definitely look forward to the further activities that you have planned. I hope we may get an early start on Hunt on the morrow.”
He almost immediately turns his attentions back to the intriguing Mistress Seymour, his ear hanging on every word of her heroic account. How wide the comparison between her and his temptseous wife was. At first, Anne’s vivacity and boldness was amusing and refreshing. It was something new and something he couldn’t control for once that excited him. Enflamed his own passions. Now… of late, they only served to enflame his annoyance and embarrassment. Especially since she had yet to fufill her promise of many sons. Two miscarriages and a daughter. Hmph. Everyday she reminded him of a harping version of Katherine without the piety. And he did not want to imagine the possibility of her failing again. This Seymour girl was a breath of fresh air and it was something he desired greatly as he did this trip, how lucky he should come to find it in his sister’s predicament. ”Indeed such a Christian heart would be most welcomed at court. Many there could use your example, Mistress Seymour. If you should like to attend your brothers one day, I would gladly welcome your visit personally.” Henry chuckled softly at the rise of her blush. He then raises his goblet to a toast. ”I propose a toast to… second chances. It seems we’ve all been lucky enough to experience the gift for the better and I am most exceedingly glad for it!”. They all raise their goblets and cry out, ”To second chances!” Oh, how the straight road leads to the unexpected.

 

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By: King Henry VIII UK, Charles Brandon UK Z, Jane Seymour UK Z, Mary Rose Brandon UK Z

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