Chapter 1: Prologue
The world itself didn't change.
Later, much later, when Lucy thinks back on those moments, she wonders why she ever thought it would. Of course, the world didn’t look any different, of course nothing had changed; they were different; they had changed. However, the world hadn’t. For the world itself, nothing had changed; no time had passed; for everyone in it. They, the four of them, were still the same children they had been before, except of course that they weren’t. But somehow, despite the evidence, it seemed like the world had changed, that somehow everything was different. Maybe, Lucy though many years later, it was just her perspective on the world that had changed.
The messenger came the day after.
He came the day after it all happened, after they entered and left the wardrobe (Narnia); somehow it still seemed strange that so much time could actually elapse – years and years that they had lived – and at the same time no time had actually passed at all. It almost seemed at times like the life they lived in Narnia had been some kind of dream, something other people lived. However, it had been real; she was sure of it; she had been queen of the most beautiful land imaginable, and although it had disappeared in the blink of an eye, she knew it had been there. At the moment, the messenger arrived Lucy had been sitting in the room with the wardrobe, just another little girl in the world (oh, how she sometimes wished she was); just the same as before.
There are moments, when the pain becomes too much, that she wishes she could turn back the clock. That somehow she could change everything back and turn back into that other Lucy, the one who didn’t know what she could have; she wanted to be her, the girl who lived in the before, the girl who’d seen Narnia, the girl who’d loved Aslan. That’s who, in her darkest moments, she wanted to be, the girl who didn’t know, the girl who hadn’t lost; the one who had never known there was something she could lose. Her life (their lives) might have been better if she (they) had never known; it would definitely be an easier world to live in.
Lucy had not seen the messenger nor had she heard the message.
She had been hiding in the room all day, just praying hoping that in some way Aslan would allow them to go back; however, nothing happened; the wardrobe stayed just a wardrobe. The back never vanished, there was no forest to walk through, no Mr. Tumnus to have tea with; it was all gone. It was Susan who came to find her; she was the one who told her what was going on: that their father was coming home, after many years of not visiting he had finally deemed them important again. Susan, to everyone around her, appeared to be happy about this news, grateful that their father was finally coming. However, Lucy had seen Susan when she was truly happy, and she could see the sadness that lingered in her eyes, the same one she could see when she looked in the mirror.
Lucy took Susan’s hand without thinking and followed her out, leaving the dream behind. It was Susan who closed the door.
It was Susan who locked it.
The servants were running around working so fast that Susan was completely amazed that they hadn’t hurt themselves yet. Or each other.
Truthfully she didn’t think that her father would truly care what the kitchens or the unused rooms looked like, but she dared not to say this out loud; after all what did she know (just a girl after all), she had not seen her father in years, he might care after all. Besides pointing this out to the servants, whom she liked, would do her no good, they would not stop long enough to listen to her; right now, they are all afraid, afraid to be dismissed if their Lord thought, even for just one second, that somehow his children were not cared for probably. Like that had anything to do with the unused rooms. Susan wanted to reach out and help them, like she would have helped the Narnians (she was the gentle after all); however, they would not let her help, despite her protest. It would be one thing, after all, if their Lord came home and found the house not probably cared for, another entirely if he found his oldest daughter doing chores. She would not be punished; it would be unbecoming (she would be but not severely), but others around her would be; perhaps the nurse who should have taught her better, perhaps the servant who had the bad luck of standing by her side, whoever it was would be immediately dismissed.
So Susan stood and watched in silence for she did not wish to be the reason that somebody lost their income.
It gave her time to think, think about the father she had not seen in years; the one she could only remember very vaguely, she had spent years building an image of him in her head, of the man, she wanted him to be. She’d slowly build the image of a loving and caring father (despite the evidence, to the contrary) a man to whom the sex of his children had never mattered, one that would walk into the room and hold out his hands, so they could hug him. It was wishful thinking; she knew this (a way of ignoring the way of the world).
The man who walked through the door was nothing like she had imagined him to be; he didn’t even look like the man in her memories.
It was Edmund who heard the horses, and then he was suddenly there, feeling the room with his presence. He was large, far larger than she could remember he was; he was in a way too large. He was also distant, proving he was a man of his time, one look into his cold eyes, and she knew this was not the man she dreamed he would be, not the kind of man she could ever hug. He did not care for them (perhaps he never had); he cared for what they could do, for the honors that would be bestowed on them (and him in extent).
He looked over the four young children standing in front of him, part of him amazed by how they carried themselves under his scrutiny; he was unaware where they had learned this, but he could only congratulate the person that had taught them, to him, they did not seem like children anymore, which would only help them when they entered the court of their king. He did not know that a day ago these four had been kings and queens themselves; he did not know that a whole nation had bowed for them; truly, he did not care about them at all. With a simple hand wave, he dismissed the servants in the room, making sure there was nobody left to ease drop on is conversation. He allowed his children’s nurse to stay behind, that was after all her jobs, to always be there to help and care for his children.
For a moment, before he spoke, he took in the appearance of his children and allowed himself to think about how grown up, they looked.
Then he spoke, business as usual, his voice cold and distant, his eyes sweeping over his children as if they were nothing more than any other person he met over the years, just there to advance his stand in the court.
‘Children, I have been searching a long time, and I have finally managed to find places, for the four of you at the court of our good and gracious King Henry. To be offered these places is a great honor, and you will act accordingly while at the court for I will not shrink away from dismissing you from court immediately and if I do, rest assured, you may never see each other again.’
His voice was strong and loud, caring across the room to the nurse in the corner, and it left no argument; not even to these four children, who had been kings and queens, and they shrank away from him, none of them moving, none of them saying a word. He turned towards his oldest son; Peter named after him and looked at him with a calculating stare. Peter himself had to fight the urge not to tell him he was king, not to speak as if he was the boss; here he was nothing, and he had to remember that. He could remember his father from before, he was not surprised by his harsh tone or distant stand, but he knew his siblings were; he had not thought to warn them what their father would be like.
Talking back would only make everything worse for the others, so he held his tongue.
‘Peter, for you I have found a place at court in the entourage of your king; you will accept your position as a great honor and make sure you serve our king to the best of your abilities. I’m sure you will do nothing to disappoint me.’
‘Of course Father, this is a great honor for me.’
Satisfied with his son’s response. he turned away, passing his oldest daughter without a second glance and instead focused on his youngest son. Like many others of his time, he believed that sons were the only ones that truly mattered, daughters were only good to be married off, and they would in the end still cost him money, and for this, he ignored her. But she, who had long since awaited her father’s return, was hurt; fighting the tears that threatened to escape, she turned away, determined that he would not notice that she was about to cry. Peter’s hand, strong and comforting, suddenly took a hold of her and squeezed softly, before letting go.
Suddenly, she could feel – as if he was standing right next to her – the calming love that always emerged from Aslan himself.
‘Edmund, son, for you I have managed to find a place in the household of his Eminence Cardinal Wolsey. It is not as important as a place with the king, but I assure you that to be the Cardinal’s good servant is to be the king’s good servant. So you will serve him to the best of your abilities, in the same way you will serve your king, and I will accept no less.’
For as long as he could remember Edmund had looked up at his father, idolizing the little he knew off him; and when he had left them so many years ago had angered him so much that it had turned him into the traitor of Narnia, though that – for him – was a long time ago. But still he had awaited the return of his father for so long, and now he was here and for the life of him, he could not find the man he had once idolized, the one he had loved for so long. Still he could hardly argue with him, hardly jump up to defend his gentle sister, he couldn’t say ‘I know so much more than the Cardinal and you father, I too, like Peter and our king, am a king in my own right. However, he knew anything he said would mean that his father might leave him behind and take his siblings, and if they were going to court he was going with them. No matter what.
‘Yes father, this is a great honor for me. Thank you.’
Then, and only then, did he, Lord Pevensie, turn towards Susan, his oldest daughter; the harshness never leaving his eyes. Susan wondered if this was the same man who once, she could remember it so well, had carried her in his arms because she had hurt her foot back when she had been just a small child. She could find nothing of that man in this one and for the first time she wondered if that other man had even existed. Still, there was nothing she could do, and she was grateful that despite his dismissive attitude towards her because of her sex, at least he had found her a place in court, so she could be near her siblings. She looked up and smiled softly, not giving away anything of her inner turmoil; she was high Queen of Narnia and she would not act like anything less even if this world never recognized her.
‘For you, Susan, I have a place as maid-in-waiting in the household of Queen Catherine. You will serve her with great modesty that a lady of your standing must always show. She will teach you everything you need to know and in time she will help in finding you a good husband, who will be in good standing to both the queen and the king. If you even think about acting like anything less than honorable, I will immediately send you home, and you will not return to court.’
Susan looked at the floor and made a small courtesy, knowing this was what her father expected, and clearly said the words he needed to hear.
‘I will do as you wish father.’
Lucy, young and almost insignificant in her father’s eyes, watched the entire exchange in a way, almost fearing her father would forget she was even there and thus not taker her with him. She had never met him before, or if she had she could not remember it, and she had never been able to imagine it clearly. However, the way he acted, the way her older siblings – who had stood tall against enemies and allies alike – just took in his words and did not argue, scared her. They, who had for fifteen years led a country away from a hundred-year war towards a Golden age, were afraid of this man; and if they, older than her, were afraid than so was she, and if they did as they were told than so would she.
‘For you Lucy I have found you a grand place at court, though normally you are far too young to go to court. The king has decided that his daughter, the Princess Mary, is in need of a companion. And he has decided to honor you and me with that appointment. You will help her and stand by her, treat her with respect and courtesy and never forget your place. You will learn everything you need to learn. Do you understand?’
‘Of course I understand, father.’
She mimicked her sister’s actions, making a small courtesy and that seemed to satisfy him. He then turned away from them, as if that was all they were good for, and ordered the servants to start packing the stuff of their masters for they were leaving early the next morning.
And so it was that after a sleepless night, the four kings and queens of old rode away from their childhood home (and from the wardrobe that had brought them such happiness) towards a very uncertain future.
But it would be okay, for as long as they were together they would be strong.
Chapter 2: Chapter 1
At first glance, the court wasn’t that much different from the Narnian court.
There were the obvious differences of course: there was no magic in England, no centaurs, no talking animals. But when you forgot about that, Susan thought; it wasn’t that different. The entire court seemed to evolve around their king and queen, to live for them and just then; they loved them; the only real difference was of course that it wasn’t them. And she had to remember that. Here she was nothing but another maid-in-waiting to the queen, one that nobody would pay attention to for she was far too young to be of real interest to anyone. She wasn’t important here and while part of her resented that, having been queen herself, another part was strangely grateful for it, for it, there were no such differences she might end up giving herself away.
The blue dress she was wearing was simple, far simpler than anything she wore in Narnia, but beautiful.
She was grateful, that although he did not think they (her and Lucy, his daughters) were important he at least did not want them to arrive in court in ugly or old dresses. He’d presented them this morning before leaving, two almost identical blue dresses, simple but elegant (Lucy had been delighted with the gift from her father, still believing he might someday truly love her), and she wore them gladly. The court was just as big as Cair Paraval, making it extremely possible to get lost in; especially if one did not know where to go. She knew she had to go to the queen’s chambers (and they could not be hard to find ) but it did not know she knew where they were. Still despite the grandness she, unlike Lucy, is not surprised when their father leaves them behind, choosing to accompany his sons as opposed to making sure his daughters are alright.
She supposes she should be grateful he asked someone to show them the way.
Still as she walks behind the courtier – she was sure she’d learn his name later – holding Lucy’s hand (she can almost feel her fear) she makes sure that Lucy cannot tell what she is feeling. She must make sure that her little sister does not know how scared or angry she is, or how much she wishes this was Narnia and not England; but she must accept; she must be strong, for her little sister if nothing else. And so they walk through the halls, two queens in their own right, ignored by almost everyone until they finally reach the right rooms. The door opens to reveal a nice-looking woman who smiles kindly at the two girls in front of her but does not allow them to just enter.
‘You’re the two Pevensie girls?’
‘Yes my lady. I’m Susan Pevensie and this is my younger sister, Lucy.’
‘Very well, come right in. The queen is expecting you.’
She ushered them in very quickly closing the door behind them; Lucy hid half behind her as she followed the lady. She tried to listen to everything the Lady – whose name she had already forgotten – was telling her about the queen, but she was too mesmerized by the room itself. It was huge and beautiful, filled with beautiful tapestries; what amazed her. However, was that if one just imaged nymphs and narnian creatures instead of ladies, the room was an exact replica of her own room in Cair Paravel. Lucy too stopped walking and looked around, the lady (having realized that they stopped) stopped too, for a moment Susan was afraid she would reprimand them, but she just told them to keep going. One could not keep the queen waiting after all.
She was old (of course she was old Susan thought; she was much older than her after all), but she looked ‘kind.
She smiled at them motherly when she saw them, putting aside her embroidery. She looked them over quickly; they were pretty but young (too young Catherine thought to catch the attention of her husband). They made a small courtesy, not deep enough, but she did not allow Maria to reprimand them; they were young and new to court; they did not know better.
‘Welcome to court, I’m Queen Catherine. You may address me as ‘your grace’. What is your name?’
‘I’m Susan Pevensie, your grace. This is my sister Lucy, your grace.’
‘Ah yes, Lord Pevensie’s children, I was told you were coming. And you Lucy, must be my daughter’s new companion.’
She beckoned one of the guards giving them instructions to take Lucy to the Princess Mary’s chambers; Lucy looked at her once before she followed the guard and Susan could not help but want to ask the queen if she too could go. However, she couldn't; she had to be strong; strong so that her younger sister too would be strong. The Queen reached out a hand to her and let her sit down at her knees, for the next three hours Susan listened to everything she told her. She was told what she had to do and what she would learn, the queen talked about the different functions that were coming up. And Susan listened; she listened, and she forgot all about the place she had called home for years; she forgot about the Narnian court and what she had lost.
The Queen was so nice and so motherly that Susan felt happy and safe.
Lucy had hidden behind Susan when the queen was introduced to them.
She could not understand why she was so afraid, in Narnia, she had met dozens of new people, and she’d danced with monarchs from other countries and exchanged stories with them. She fought the white witch, but she could not meet the Queen of England without cowering behind her older sister. Perhaps it was just that it was a different world, or perhaps it was just that she was different in this world. In Narnia, everyone loved her; everyone was nice to her (other monarchs because she was the Queen, she liked to believe that the Narnians actually cared), and she knew that there if someone wasn’t nice to her or hurt her, her brothers would immediately jump up and defend her. However, they could not defend her here in England, not if it was the king or queen who disrespected her; not if it was they who made her feel bad.
But the Queen, in her beautiful grant dress, smiled so nicely that her fear disappeared like snow in the sun.
Only to reappear moments later when the Queen asked a guard to take her to the Princess Mary; she’d known it would come, of course she had her father had told her after all, but she did not think it would be this fast. She thought that maybe, just maybe; Susan could come with her, so she would not be alone. But she could not ask, and so she followed the guard through the complicated hallways. At first, she tried to remember the way, so she could get to Susan later, but there were so many turns she couldn’t even remember so she stopped trying. Then they were there, and the guard knocked on the door and then just left her there; she was ushered in by an older looking lady, just as old as the queen but not so nice-looking, at least not to her.
‘You must be Miss Pevensie. I am the Lady Salissbury, the princess governess. Her lessons have ended for the day, and she will go to visit he mother shortly. You will be her companion from now on; you will treat the princess with the respect she deserves. You will not address her, unless she asks you a question.’
‘Yes Lady Salisbury.’
Mary was smaller than her, but not by much; she was sitting at the window looking outside. She was pale, Lucy thought, much paler then her; but then she lived in the country where she played outside all the time, Mary probably had to spend most of her time inside, missing the sun completely. She turned when the Lady Salisbury called her name and looked Lucy over with an uninterested look, Lucy curtsied and while she wanted to reach out to the obviously lonely girl, she could do nothing but wait. She did not have to wait long, Mary told her she could sit down beside her, and then she sends the Lady Salisbury away.
So they talked and talked, Mary hung on her every word.
Obviously, Mary had never had any friends, at least no friends her age; Lucy was the first one she truly talked to. Lucy liked her; she hadn’t been alone in all her years (not in England and not in Narnia), and she’d had an older sister who would tell her stories and brothers who would play with her. However, she too, in all her years, lacked a friend; a friend her own age. One she could study with and laugh with, one that would listen to her stories; and so they connected, because of their loneliness, and when her governess returned a few hours later she found them sitting on the ground talking and laughing, and she smiled; her princess had needed a friend her own age; she'd always known it would do her good.
‘Princess, the Queen is expecting you.’
‘Of course, you will come too Lucy. You can see your sister.’
And Lucy who’d actually forgotten about her fears smiled. Mary held out her hand, and she took it and followed her new best friend towards the queen’s chambers.
Maybe everything would be alright.
Edmund wanted to stay behind and help them.
When their father told the girls, they had to stay and wait for one of the guards to take them to their location and then just walked off, he had wanted to stay. Everything in him rebelled at leaving his two sisters in a place they did not know, with people they had never met; for all they knew somebody could hurt them. He could not believe their father could just leave them behind like that, but he was far more interested in their advances, in their positions; the girls seemed almost like an afterthought. He would have stayed too, rebelled probably causing his father to get angry, but Susan had just looked at him and softly shook her head. There was no point in making a scene now, they would be okay; still for the first few minutes after they left it was all he could think about. Which is why he didn’t pay attention to his surroundings and missed how alike they were to Cair Paravel? For a minute, just a minute, he wondered why Peter had not spoken up for their sisters; but then he remembered that Peter was standing closer to Susan and probably realized it would be of no use before he did.
His father stopped in front of a room gesturing at him that this was where he needed to be.
He tried to listen to everything he said but his mind kept wondering; he did, however, get that Cardinal Wolsey was an important man, that to be his friend was to be the kings. If he Edmund good gets in the Cardinal’s good graces, he would be in the kings as well, and they would rise because of it (his father seemed to forget that he was just ten, there was no way the Cardinal would pay attention to him for many years to come), he stayed silent through the entire lecture. Then he ushered him in introducing him to the man who was obviously the Cardinal and left with Peter, probably towards the king’s chambers.
‘So, Edmund isn’t it?’
‘Yes Your grace.’
‘Can you write boy?’
‘Of course, my tutors taught me everything about reading and writing.’
He smiled (Edmund was glad that he could smile; it made him seem a little less menacing) and told him to sit down and write a few letters; his secretary it seemed to be ill, and the letters had to be written now. And so Edmund sat down and started to write, eager to make the Cardinal like him not just for his father but for himself; he had to live here after all, might as well make people like him. Who knows maybe when he was older he could use his knowledge of Narnia to help the king, to give advice; but not now, now he was too young; nobody would listen to him. The other man, dressed in black, came a few hours later; he looked nicer than the Cardinal but just as sophisticated. Later, when he asked one of the other servants, he discovered that the man was Thomas More, another of the kings trusted friends.
He didn’t notice him, just walked past him and Edmund truly could not remember thinking anything special about him that day.
(Later, many years later, he would think how strange their first meeting was. Considering how much he came to respect and love him, it seemed almost surreal that first day he thought nothing of him and forgot Sir Thomas More as soon as he walked into the Cardinal’s chambers).
Cair Paravel was much better.
Maybe it wasn’t so much the castle but the people in it, how they treated him, how they respected him; he was their high king after all. Here he was nothing; here he was just a servant among many; the son of a prominent courtier true, but nothing more. There were many more like him, all eager to take his place (as his father had explained to him), but he was not about to let this opportunity slip him by. He was going to be great in this world as well, eh could not stand being overlooked, being forgotten. He too was king and he would make everyone see how good a man he was, how much he could help; it would take time, but he would make it; he would.
They did not bow for him when he walked in the room.
In fact, they didn’t even look up at him; they barely noticed that he had arrived; the king was sitting on his throne wearing his beautiful clothes. For a moment, Peter had to admit that he looked magnificent, and then he wondered if that was how he looked when the Narnians saw him. The king had not noticed him either, not until his father caught his attention and introduced him. He was nice; Peter had to admit, most likely because he was younger than most other courtiers. However, he dismissed him almost immediately, leaving it to someone else to explain his job and what it entailed. Peter followed the other man but looked back just before leaving the room; the king had already forgotten about him, so had everybody else.
Peter vowed that someday he would make the king look at him like a friend. He would be magnificent in this world too.
Oh, he would not be a king like in Narnia; he knew that was impossible; Henry was his king and nothing would ever change that, but he wanted to be more than somebody that could just be forgotten in the blink of an eye. Somebody that could be told what to do and punished when he did not do it; he wanted to be more.
He wanted to walk into a room and make everyone notice he was there, not forget that he even existed.
The complete court was in uproar.
Susan thought it was hilarious and a little bit ridiculous; it wasn’t just that it was Christmas; Christmas was obviously a big deal. She agreed; she could remember clearly how it was in Narnia, how Father Christmas would show up with presents every year. However, that of course would not happen here. She’d been here for many months already, and she started to get used to how the court worked; she loved working here, yes she had to work a lot, but she was learning a lot too. She’d never had a mother, never had anyone who cared for her; she’d always been the mother to all the others, but she’d never had one; she'd died when Lucy was born. But even before that she’d never been there, always at court with their father.
However, now she thought the court looked ridiculous.
It wasn’t just the festivities; it was also the fact that the king’s illegitimate son was coming for a visit. She’d heard stories about him, from the queen herself, in fact; and she could understand why the king wanted to honor him and love him; he was his son after all, but why make the Queen? She’d heard from others how he’d celebrated as if a prince was born and how he’d made the queen listen to all of it. (Later she heard how the Queen courageously went to congratulate him; this was Susan learned the way the court worked. Always make sure the king feels good about himself and not guilty. Susan found the Queen the bravest woman she knew, she certainly could never have done that).
Still she could not understand the fuss to make everything look perfect. The boy was only five years old; it's not like he would really notice.
Lucy loved being at court, and she loved Christmas.
She knew it wouldn’t be as great as it had always been in Narnia, but surely it would be special? Mary too was very anxious for the festivities to start and get her presents. She couldn’t believe she’d ever been anxious about coming to court; she loved it here now; being Mary’s companion was great. They both needed a friend their own age, and now they got one, when they were alone together Lucy felt like they were equals: the princess did not make her feel worthless, instead she made her feel great.
Mary strangely enough was anxious to meet her brother, Henry Fitzroy.
She didn’t understand Lucy had talked with her many times about it; the boy wasn’t a prince; he wasn’t important. And he made her mother sad, though Mary did not completely understand why (neither did Lucy, for that matter). However, she wanted to meet him and play with him, nevertheless. Mary did not understand, but Lucy did; Lucy after all had two brothers and a sister (brothers who she hadn’t seen in a long time), and she knew what it was like to have someone who understood you. Somebody that would always be there, because they were your brother (or sister).
So when Henry Fitzroy’s nurse asked if the Princess would grand him an audience, Mary happily agreed.
When the king walked in an hour later he found his daughter and her companion playing with his son.
(It was the king thought a great scene, and it would have been perfect if Catherine had given him a son.)
Later, they’d watched the fireworks.
Mary had asked her mother if her brother could stay with them, and since her mother could never deny her anything he was allowed to stay; the king was downstairs with his court. But since the princess was so young she would soon be brought to bed, but for now they were watching fireworks. Mary clung to her mothers skirts while holding little Fitzroy’s hand, Susan and Lucy were standing arm in arm next to the Queen and her daughter.
It was the (almost) perfect scene of a perfect life. And Susan asked Aslan to let everything stay this way.
Let them all be happy in this world. All of them, together.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
The entire court was changing Edmund could feel it.
Not just feel it. He could see it as well, something was different, every courtier was acting wearingly, but he had no idea why. Nobody wanted to talk about it and definitely not with an 11-year-old boy. Normally, he’d be able to pick up the gossip, the one good thing about being an overlooked child was that nobody stopped talking when he was near; however, there was no actual gossip. It was almost as if everyone was too afraid to say out loud what they thought, just in case their king heard; one of the things Edmund had quickly learned was that was the king was concerned every word had to be weighted carefully. Even when you were sure you knew what the king was thinking, even if you were wording it on his behalf you still had to be careful; the king, after all, could change his mind in a second.
It had not been like this with him in Narnia, he was sure of it.
But then again, in that world he had been king in this one he was one of the many, perhaps all the Narnians did weigh their words carefully, just in case. Still the world was changing, before these kinds of silences usually meant the king had a new mistress but even that was talked about; just not in the neighborhood of either king or queen. Now there was not a word, not even a whisper; but something was definitely going on. It had started many months ago, when Fitzroy had been at court; however, that had, at the time, been understandable. After all the King loved the Queen (or at least he respected her) and having his illegitimate son at court could only hurt her (since so far she had been unable to give him a son, in truth Edmund doubted she still could she was old after all). She’d been strong; he remembers the moment when Henry Fitzroy arrived at the festivities.
The Princess Mary had walked in holding the smaller boy's hand, clearly delighted at having a brother.
The queen smiled proudly, most likely at her daughter, and then she’d helped the son up, so he could sit next to his father on the dais. Everyone had talked about it for weeks, even the king had been delighted. In those months, the queen could do nothing wrong, first there was her nephew the Emperor of Spain, who had accepted to marry Mary, as soon as she was old enough and now this; nobody could even think anything bad about the Queen in those days, but those days were over. Something was happening. He had been King himself, he had his own court, he knew when something was up, when something was not the way, it was supposed to be, child or not.
But nobody would tell him anything, nobody knew anything, and just like everyone else (he a king!) had to wait for the King of this world to make his move.
He’d been here for almost a year, and still they barely noticed he was here.
He was just a Groom among many, his fellow grooms told him he should be grateful that the king remembered his name; he had no need for him, he was just fourteen, a child. ‘He was smart and athletic'; they assured him, ‘when you’re older the king will notice and favor you. But now you’re too young, just do your jobs wait a few years. But he was tired of waiting; he wasn't just a child, wasn’t just one among many, he was a king, the High king of a country much more beautiful than England. That’s who he was, Aslan had granted him that honor, and even in England. He was still a king!
But people only noticed one king and what’s worse they called him magnificent.
But something was clearly different, and he’d found there was one upside to being unimportant; he could just stand there and listen to private conversations (he wondered if any of the Narnians did that, just listen to their private conversations. The worst isn’t that he can’t tell, or that he can’t remember if they were there; truth, apart from the most important ones, he can’t remember all the servants. Not that it mattered. Not anymore) and he knew whatever was happening had to do with the queen. Peter thought it was a long time coming; it had to be a divorce, since she hadn’t given him a son; he didn’t agree with it, but he could see why king’s in England (hell why people in England) believed that females could not rule the country. He’d seen his sisters at it; they'd at times been better than him and Edmund; Susan’s gentle nature (not to mention her beauty) and Lucy’s believe and love for pretty much everything got more done than he, and Edmund ever could have.
Still he could see the climate changing and when it did he would be there to find a place closer to the king. To gain his full potential.
She wasn’t very good at Latin.
The history and philosophy as well as drawing and music came very easily, but Latin was just not her thing. Mary was very good at it (Lucy had spent her first few days calling her Princess Mary, and Your highness but Mary had decided very quickly that would not do. They would be friends, and she wanted her friends to call her by her name. So Lucy called her Mary to the disapproval of the Lady Salisbury) and she tried to help Lucy wherever she could, but it would not take. Still it did not good, Lucy just couldn’t remember all the grammatical rules and the words; Mary could; Mary was smart, and Lucy thought what does it matter; I won’t need it. Mary was also better at the music, but Lucy was better at drawing; the first time she’d drawn something for her princess. She’d been afraid she would resent that she was better at it, but she did not. Instead, she liked having an artistic friend and had shown her paintings to the King (he’d praised her very highly and given her supplies the next day, to Mary, he gave a gift as well. Lucy liked the king but felt a bit jealous; she could after all not remember her father ever giving her anything, let alone praising her.)
Mary liked to spend hours at her mother’s side.
Lucy quickly learned that if it was up to her. She would never be far from her side, but of course, the etiquette of the court demanded that the Queen be at several official ceremonies and the young princess not attend. Mary also had to learn all her lessons and retire to bed early so she could not be by her side always. Still there would not pass a day without them spending at least two hours together and Lucy loved it for when the Queen came (or when Mary went to her) she would always make sure that Susan was near. (Lucy had also quickly discovered that the Queen was like that, trying to do the best for her ladies. Susan spoke very highly of her, so Lucy loved her because Susan did.)
If you looked at the Queen, you’d never be able to tell that something was wrong.
She was very good at keeping her emotions hidden, away from the public eye; and Susan had to admit she was very good at it. If she had not been there when the King had screamed at her, then she would never have known; but she had been there, and that was the whole point. It had happened before; she’d heard the other’s talk about it. Late at night when they thought she couldn’t hear, for they knew she didn’t like gossip. They said that the king got like this, usually after having a new mistress; they said it had something to do with is conscious (Susan thought, privately of course, that if his conscience bothered him so much he shouldn’t have mistresses. Still she was too smart to say that out loud.) But this was different, before he’d blame her for not giving him a son, but still treat her with respect; sometimes even frequenting her bed (she’d been there once when he’d shown up, she had been on duty that night, thankfully she had been dismissed.)
Still right now, standing at the window looking at the garden, she looked so calm and serene that if she hadn’t been there she never would have even considered she was upset. It wasn’t a mistress, at least it doesn’t seem that way; it was something else; something worse, the Queen, usually composed, had been shaking (with anger or fear Susan couldn’t quite tell) and the king left before his daughter arrived, which was. She didn't say anything though, that’s one thing Susan noticed almost immediately; no matter what he did the Queen never said one bad word about him, not even a whisper. And she did not allow her ladies, not even those closest to her, to talk of any of the things he did while he was not with her; Susan wondered often if, when she had been queen, she had been that strong, that composed. Now she just stood there, staring out the window, and she would be willing to bet that she was seeing nothing.
‘Would you like me to get you something, your majesty?’ Those first few weeks she had been here saying ‘your majesty’ had been the worst thing ever, she had hardly been able to say it (thankfully since she didn’t talk much those days the queen just attributed it to be new at court, which according to her was daunting at any age, let alone twelve.). Now, however, she attributed it to her mistress gladly, for she was a true queen and Susan wished that somehow she could be just as royal and as strong as her. Especially now that everything was clearly starting to change, more so than before; the wind was definitely blowing in a new direction. The biggest difference was that this time nobody knew which way it was blowing or what it meant.
The king was staying away more now, coming only occasionally and those moments would end in fights.
What would happen the day he didn’t come anymore? What would happen to the Queen? What would happen to them all?
‘No my dear, I don’t need anything. I’m sure Mary will be here soon.’
‘She will be your majesty, any minute now. Would you like me to read to you?’
‘Of course, thank you.’
And so she read, but she was sure the queen didn’t hear a word of it, to speak the truth, neither did she.
June 8 1525
The Queen got her a beautiful new gown.
It was nothing like the gowns she had in Narnia; those were the most beautiful and probably the most expensive; this one was simpler, one of many probably. But it was new, and it was about ten times more beautiful than the one her father had gotten her. The Queen gave it to her just a few days ago; her father didn't even remember her birthday. The other girls were all jealous; she was the queen’s favorite and more importantly she ran no change of losing her position; she was after all far too young to catch the attention of the king. Being the Queen’s favorite meant that she was always by her side, and that she was the one who got the most expensive gifts; and in a few years that would mean that the Queen would find her a good husband and pay her dowry. The Queen did it for the others too but being the favorite was important; and the queen well, the queen liked her.
Edmund said it was because she was so nice, so gentle.
She didn’t know why; she just liked it; it was; she supposes, the closest she was ever going to get to her Narnian glory. Unlike Peter, who was drowning in self-pity and wanted more, she didn’t mind her place in the world. Queen Catherine was a strong queen; she was what Susan would like to be if she ever got back to Narnia. Strong like her, the way she was today; nobody would ever be able to tell that she hated being there, that she might even hate her husband. Nobody could tell, nobody would know; nobody besides her in whom the queen confided.
It was an elevation ceremony, but not just any.
She watched, in awe, as Lord Boleyn was made a viscount; but neither he nor the others were the star attraction. It was the little boy, barely six years old (not even that, his birthday was still coming up) that attracted all the attention. Just like his visit for Christmas he made everything important; everyone wanted to make sure the king knew they respected him. Little Henry Fitzroy, who turned around one time to look at his mother, walked towards the thrones on which the king and queen said; Susan thought he looked so small and so young for everything he represented. However, he commanded respect, he was the king’s son after all; he wasn’t the queens, and that was probably his only fault. Susan wanted to reach out and hug him, because she was sure he lacked it; for everything his father cared for both his children, he just didn’t have the time to sit down and play with them.
However, she didn't; she couldn’t (one just didn’t hug the king’s son) and she just watched as the king elevated him to duke twice over.
She realized what the queen probably already knew that in one simple stroke. he was putting his illegitimate son above his legitimate daughter.
And that could not bode well for neither Princess Mary nor Queen Catherine.
For the first-time Susan was actually afraid of the future.
Chapter 4: Chapter 3
June 10, 1525
The queen should have kept her mouth shut.
Edmund could understand why she did it, in her place he might have done it too; the king had just put his son above her daughter. He shouldn’t have done it, but Edmund doesn’t think it actually means something after all Mary was in line for the throne and Fitzroy was not recognized. It’s not like the king could just change that, at least he doesn’t think he can do that. However, despite her feelings, despite all that was happening, she should have just kept her mouth shut; and then she wouldn’t be in this predictment. Forced to say goodbye to her adored daughter, who was being sent to Ludlow castle; he could understand the reasoning behind it, the queen could too, it was why she wasn’t putting up more of a fight. It was a good sign, showing the world that his daughter was still important; but even so, it might not have happened if the queen just hadn’t said anything.
Or if she just hadn’t said it to Wolsey.
The word was that the Queen had complained about the elevation to Wolsey, worse she had insulted him; and to insult Wolsey was to insult the King. It was stupid, even he knew it, and he was Wolsey’s secretary, a nobody really. Personally, he didn’t like Wolsey; it wasn’t how high he had climbed it was the way he acted towards everyone else. It got on Edmund’s nerves how he thought himself so far above everyone, but he knew that to make him angry was a very bad idea. The talk around court was after all that the Duke of Buckingham had lost his head, not because he had risen up against the king, but because he had spilled, water on the Cardinal’s clothes and insulted him. And now he convinced the king to send his only daughter far away, just to hurt the queen and several of her ladies, probably her closest friends, werebeing sent away as well (married off but the point was still there). Thankfully, Susan was not among them, but being just thirteen the Cardinal had probably not thought her important enough.
However, that wasn’t even the worse of it.
If it had been just that the Queen would still be in high regard, but in the king’s eyes she was in some sort of disgrace. Charles the Emperor had jilted their daughter and decided that marrying the princess of Portugal was more beneficial. How this was the queen’s fault he wasn’t so sure of, yes he was her nephew, but it was not like she had any control over him. In fact, she was probably just as hurt, if not more so, then the king; and yet he chose to blame her. Susan had defended her, yesterday when they had all been in his chamber, but Susan always defended her. Though she was right of course, the queen had no control over the situation, and she just wanted what was best for her daughter, which was her duty. Peter had not agreed that on its own hadn’t been so weird; he was looking at everything from a different perspective, from the king’s point of view.
But then Peter had told her she should just stay out of it since it had nothing to do with her.
(Admittedly when he thought about it later Peter had probably meant that it had nothing to do with her because she wasn’t the queen, and that she shouldn’t call attention to herself, just in case she should forget that. However, it sounded like he was telling her she was stupid, that she should stay out of it because she was a woman.)
He hadn’t been able to control his temper and what had started as a simple fight turned into a fist fight; it wasn’t just what he said or how he said it. It was how he was acting; only thinking about being close to the king, not paying any attention to the consequences. He didn’t like it and he just wanted to knock some sense into her. Of course with their luck their father arrived just as they were fighting and gave them the lecture of a lifetime, reminding them that if they did it again he’d send them home and never let them come back.
Peter hadn’t even looked at him, and for the first time since they defeated the white witch Edmund felt as distant from Peter as he had before Narnia.
Mary had cried when her governess had told her what happened.
She had cried and cried, so much that the governess had to send everyone else away, for fear that someone would see her like this. Lucy had tried to console her, but she had been pretty down herself; it wasn’t just Mary that was going away, she as the Princess’s companion was going to. Which meant that for the first time she would be separated from her siblings, she would be thousands of miles away from Susan and there was nothing she could do about it; the king commanded it and she had to obey. She didn’t like it; she wanted to go back to her original home, to the place where being separated was so impossible she never even contemplated it. However, she couldn’t go back, and they had to accept and look forward to the adventures that lay ahead.
‘At least you won’t be alone; I will be with you. And you’ll see we’ll be back before you know it, with all of your lessons you won’t even notice how much time has passed.’
‘Do you think we’ll be there long?’
‘Probably not, the king just wants to prove you’re still his heir. That you are important, when he does that he’ll send for you. He loves you, and he likes having you close; he won’t send you away for long. I’m sure of it.’
It helped; Lucy wasn’t sure if Mary believed anything of what she said (truthfully she didn’t believe it herself), but she calmed down. By the time the Queen came to her chambers to spend some time together, her tears had dried, and she was the composed princess once again. Lucy left them alone, normally she stayed but just like everyone else she thought they should be allowed to be alone for a little while; besides she wanted to spend some time with Susan.
The worst was the goodbye the next day.
Nobody cried, nobody else even said anything; the queen was calm and composed, you would never be able to tell her heart was breaking. IT was doing a world of good because thanks to that Mary were also very calm, hurt and sad that she was saying goodbye to her mother, but calm, and it was all they could ask for.
‘Listen to me Lucy, everything will be alright. I know you don’t want to go, but you belong with the princess and remember wherever you are Aslan is always with you.’
‘I’m going to miss you.’ Susan pulled her close and held her in a hug for a few moments, before Lucy and Mary both got into the carriage and rode away.
Susan stood next to the Queen still watching the road long after the carriage had disappeared.
There was no time for grieve in the Queens live.
There was always something to do, someone to receive or the king to dine with; there was always something. She would be able to think about her daughter and cry later, when nobody was around to see. However, now she had to be strong and welcome her new ladies, since so many of her old ones had been dismissed. They were beautiful, of course they were beautiful all the new ladies at court was; sometimes she thought the queen did it to herself, surrounding herself with so many beautiful ladies. Anne Boleyn wasn’t the most beautiful among them, but there was something about her; Susan thinks it was her eyes, something so intense, so compelling. Susan thought she might like her; she looked smart and might want to talk to her; but that would be later, first Anne had to learn her place in the world. She reminded Susan of someone, but she couldn’t figure out whom; perhaps she had seen her before today.
Later she heard from the others that Anne had been at court before, though it had been long before her time.
They said she had been with the Princess Mary, the king’s sister, when she had left for France to become queen, and that she had returned not so long ago. She had fallen in love with the Earl of Northumberland, and they had married, or at least they had wanted to marry; but the Cardinal had decided that she wasn’t good enough for him and separated them. Susan felt sorry for her, to lose the one you love because everyone thought you weren’t good enough. Still, there was something about her; you’d never be able to tell she was heartbroken: and perhaps she wasn’t, perhaps she had gotten over it, perhaps she had found someone new. Still she attracted attention, just new from France and Mary Boleyn’s little sister, though from what she heard with more virtue.
The Queen was putting together a pageant, and since Anne could dance she thought nothing of giving her a place.
Susan too would be dancing in it and so would the King’s sister.
June 15, 1525
The dance was beautiful.
Peter had to admit that the King had a good taste, in both sports and dances, and he wasn’t a bad dancer; he, Peter, was not a part of the show, but he didn’t really mind. He had never been a good dancer and no matter what he didn’t want to be in the spotlight making a fool of him, his time would come; he was sure of it. Susan looked beautiful, despite her young age, and she was a graceful dancer (not like Lucy but good enough), but thankfully, she was too young for everyone to truly pay attention to her. However, it wouldn’t be the same in a few years, and he knew how beautiful she would be then, even the king might notice her; Susan might say no, she was like that she would definitely say no, but their father would not let her. In that moment, Peter noticed; the king was more taken with the girl he was dancing with. He asked around, trying to find out who she was; so that if the king she asks he would have the answers, and the king might notice him. The king never asked, he had the duke of Suffolk find out everything about her instead.
Chapter 5: Chapter 4
May 31, 1529
Today was the day everything could change.
It had been so many years since they’d arrived here; she could barely remember a moment that they hadn’t been at court. The first few years, Susan remembered it well, had been fun; she’d loved it here. But ever since the king told his wife, on that June day almost two years ago, that he wanted to divorce her everything had gone from bad to worse. First, the Princess Mary and Lucy barely came to court anymore, they wrote letters but Susan agreed with Queen Catherine on this one it wasn’t the same. But the king wouldn’t send for his daughter to come to court; Susan was sure that he was using it against his wife; he was just waiting for her to crack. He’d never succeed; Susan was sure of it, because the more he used her daughter against her the more he reminded her of what she was fighting for.
Today could be the beginning of the end.
The court was assembling today and both the King, and the Queen were being called before it. She had been there when Cardinal Campeggio had called on the queen and almost begged her to join the convent, but Catherine had refused. Privately, Susan thought it might have been better for her if she had just relented, but she never said it out loud, who was she (after all) to give advice to a queen. (Years ago when she had first arrived she had hated that, hated being reminded that she was nothing; but since that moment a lot had changed, and she had noticed that there was a lot she could learn from a queen like Catherine). So here they were getting their queen ready for what could amount to the most important moment of her live. Susan herself would have been dying from nerves, but you would never be able to tell something different was happening by the looks of their queen.
When she left Susan offered to go with her, but the queen opted to take older ladies with her.
And so she stayed behind waiting for the verdict, even if they all already knew what was going to happen next.
It had been stupid; he admitted it.
One of the most important days in the King’s life, the one day that could make the difference, and he decided to get into a fight today, of all days. It wasn’t him; it had been the other guy who started it, not that anyone would believe him. There were fights all the time and nobody really paid attention to it, except that he had decided to have an argument with one of the men of the entourage of the Duke of Suffolk. His father had noticed and after apologizing on his behalf had spent an entire hour of his life screaming at his oldest son, Peter could see the disappointment in his eyes. He’d done nothing in his time at court; nobody wanted him, and nobody needed him. Even Edmund, his own brother, barely paid attention to him anymore.
It might be because he told him he was being stupid walking away from Wolsey.
That had been a huge fight as well, though since they were brothers nobody really paid attention to it; all families after all have quarrels.
‘I don’t know what’s going on with you, but I need you to get your act together. So I’ve decided to send you home, for the time being.’
‘Silence! You’ve caused nothing but trouble, so I am sending you home. Use this time to think about your options because if I call you back, and that is a big if, your behavior must be much improved. Do you understand?’
‘Now get out of my sight, I don’t want to see you again’
He’d wanted to argue; he had a dozen different things to stay; starting with the fact that for once he hadn’t started the fight, but he knew it wouldn’t help him. He hated going home right now; the king was after all finally starting to learn his name, but there was nothing he could do.
Perhaps he should have listened to Edmund when he told him to think before he acted.
He’s not sure how it happened but More had decided to make him his new protégée.
He liked More, liked him more than he liked Wolsey; Wolsey was all about the king; he was capable of sacrificing his own son to please the king. Just as long as he too could stay in power, there were times that he thought that Peter was a lot like him, though he sincerely hoped he was wrong. However, More was different, More had integrity; and from the moment they met by accident years ago, Edmund had been intrigued by this man. Strong-willed, full of faith and smart; the kind of man Edmund wanted to be when he grew up, and he hoped that he would reach his goal.
More had noticed one day during a conversation how smart he was.
The next thing he knew his father called him to his office, told him that More had stopped by earlier and for a moment, Edmund had wondered if he had said something wrong. But that wasn’t the case; it wasn’t the case at all; More, his father told him, had noticed how smart he was, and he wanted to make sure he had the proper education. He was offering to pay for tutors or college, and his father had accepted on his behalf; he was to leave his post with Wolsey and go with More; from him. He could learn everything he needed to learn.
When More asked him what he wanted to be he thought of his time in Narnia and ended up choosing the law as a career.
Since that moment, three years ago, he’d been close to More. They’d had conversations and More had read some of his briefs and essays. In those few years Edmund felt closer to him than his father, and he’d ended up wishing that More was his father.
However, the world was changing; he could sense it, and they were all in danger of saying the wrong thing.
And siding with the queen was definitely the wrong thing.
She could hear the screams coming from outside.
The smell of vinegar was everywhere, while the king was getting closer and closer to his divorce; everything was being put on hold now. The sweating sickness, after managing to miss it the last few years, had finally come to London. Susan had to admit she feared the illness as well, though she admitted that if one had to die fast was probably the way to go (and the sweating sickness was fast). It was strange; the king did not love the queen anymore and was doing his best to be rid of her, but when the illness came to London, she was the first on his mind. He came to her chambers and told her to leave, to go to Ludlow castle and stay with Mary until all was safe again; she should not take too many ladies with her since it might be dangerous.
Susan could see that the Queen loved how worried he was, but Susan did not think it truly mattered.
The queen had turned, after he’d left and decided that she should go with her; she could hear the other ladies talking, after all it would be much safer over there, but Susan didn’t say a word. She was glad, not just because she’d be saved, but because for she would be seeing her sister again. She hadn’t seen Lucy since Christmas, and she missed her dearly; she'd begun to wonder lately if they ever returned to Narnia, if Narnia had actually been there and she hadn’t dreamed it. Lucy was the person to talk to when one thought that, her love for Narnia assured that she would never doubt it, and she’d know what to say to make Susan believe again.
They’d left so fast that Susan was sure they forgot half of the stuff they needed.
She didn’t realize she hadn’t said goodbye to Edmund until they were already long gone.
The court was in uproar.
He returned only a few days ago, but he’d already noticed that everything was different, Anne Boleyn was queen in all but name and Catherine was being ignored most of the time. Edmund had to agree with everyone when they said that it was only a matter of time before she was gone. He also knew that More didn’t agree with it and truthfully neither did he, but there was nothing they could do about it. Henry was the king, and if he wanted his wife gone so he could get a new one that was his choice. He, unlike everyone around him, actually felt for Anne Boleyn; now she was having the time of her life, now she had the king on her side. But not too long ago that had been both Wolsey and Catherine, and now they were both in disgrace. If she did not give him a son on her first try, the king would lose his patience with her, much sooner than he had with his first wife. But now in this moment none of it mattered, all that mattered was the cries in the streets and the deaths in the houses, the sweating sickness had finally reached London.
It was More who decided that he should send home.
His father wanted him to stay here; or better yet go with the king; ever since More had taken him under his wing, the king had started to notice him more. Sir Thomas More was full of praise about him and the king liked smart people, even if they were young and just growing into their part. So his father wanted him to go with the king, since he’d be one of the only people there, but More decided against it. A few years ago, it wouldn’t have mattered, but since the moment that More had decided to take care of him his word was law. His father had no more pull over him and More said he was to go home. He wasn’t sure how he felt about going there; he could not really remember ever being there, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about seeing Peter again (they had after all not parted on very good terms).
More blessed him and promised him he would pray for him before he left. (Edmund promised he would pray as well though he wasn’t sure anyone, not even Aslan, could hear him).
Six months, six long months since she had last seen her mother, and now she was there.
Princess Mary, now 13, had missed her mother so much that she forgot all about protocol, for the moment. Lucy, next to her, was just as excited as she was; though she was more excited about her sister than about the queen. She was grateful that her friend was there; she doesn’t think she would have been able to make it through the last few years without someone by her side who listened and helped her trough everything. As she clung to her mother, she watched as Lucy was also hugged by her older sister, and she vowed she would make sure that they too could spend some time together.
Lucy was the best thing that ever happened to her, especially since she had lost her mother.
She hadn’t really lost her, but it sure felt that way and in her worst nights (when the darkness almost suffocated her) Lucy had told her the most beautiful stories. And when the first rumors of her parents’ divorce finally reached Ludlow, she’d assured her that everything would be alright; the king would never put her aside and her mother would never allow it to happen. She’d reminded Mary about all the rumors that had come before, all the women they spoke of, there were always rumors but that was all they were. There was nothing to it, in a few weeks it would be forgotten, and they would be talking about something else; and she had been right; she hadn’t heard anything else about it since that afternoon.
(She didn’t know, though she would one day find out, that Lucy had gone to her governess, and she had scared the staff so much that nobody dared to speak of it anymore. But they all knew, even Lucy, that the court had assembled, and it was really only a matter of time.)
Peter was waiting for him when he arrived.
It had only been a few months but his brother looked different, or perhaps he’d always looked like this, but he hadn’t paid attention. He wondered if that look was on his face as well, the memories of Narnia sometimes so close to the surface that it seemed like they could touch them, that wishful look. He wondered, briefly, if Peter was still angry at him, if they were still fighting. He ought not to have worried, when he got there, was to give him a big (manly) hug. He was relieved. he told him that he was already; he'd heard the sweating sickness reached the city, and he’d been so worried that he would lose him. He asked for the girls, but Edmund didn’t know, all he knew was that Susan had left with the Queen towards Ludlow castle so the assumption was that they were safe.
It was a few hours later, after dinner, that they felt it; Edmund would never be able to forget that pull. Magic and love all wrapped into one, one look at Peter’s face, and he knew it was not in his imagination. The next thing he knew the world around him, which a few moments ago had been a simple room, changed, and suddenly they were standing on a beach; he didn’t need anyone to tell him anything; he knew he was finally home.
Lucy didn't really realize how much she’d missed Susan until she saw her again.
She’d been so busy with all her lessons and making sure that Mary felt up to her everyday events and that no word of gossip ever got to her again; that she didn't notice the ache in her heart. At night, she’d been so tired that she didn't stop to think about it, she’d assumed it was mostly Narnia, but now she realized it was all about her sister. She was sure that it was the same thing Mary felt too, for since she’d never had a mother Susan had been the closest thing to it, and she couldn’t imagine a live where they were separated. She couldn’t understand how she had managed to live the last few years without her. She only felt whole when Susan was holding her in her arms, and she would have gladly given up anything, even her friendship with Mary, to get back to where they were before.
She knew Mary understood because after dinner she told her they could spend some time together (though Lucy assumed it was also because Mary wanted to spend some time with her mother).
They’d been talking about everything that was going on at court; Susan was attempting to describe Anne Boleyn without making her sound too awful, when she felt it. She grabbed a hold of Susan’s hand, but before any word could leave her mouth the world around them shifted and the next thing she knew she was standing on a beach, the ocean to their left beckoning to them almost daring them to jump in.
And in the far distance two boys, Edmund and Peter, and finally, the realization that she was in the one place she never thought she’d see again.
Chapter 6: Chapter 5
Their time in Narnia was short, much too short.
Susan would have loved to have stayed there for many more years, finally she felt at home again and for the first time she felt the surge of love trough her body. She’d had feelings for boys before, of course she had, but never like that; she thought it strange that it came up so suddenly but perhaps that was just the way things were. She knew it wouldn’t work; she'd known from the moment, she saw the ruins of their old castle that they couldn’t stay anymore, and she knew they couldn’t be together. She’d have to find her own man in her own world and Caspian would find his princess in his, but still she would have liked a little more time; the fact that they couldn’t work didn’t make their love any less real, and she would have liked more than a few stolen moments and a goodbye kiss.
However, one did not argue with Aslan, and she was sure he knew what he was doing.
She wished she could shut herself in her room and mourn her lost love, but as she had observed before in the household of the queen, there was no time for mourning. The queen asked her if she was feeling alright but Susan assured her she was, just a bit tired from the long journey. She would have liked to have forgotten all about Caspian, but he haunted her dreams and she knew she’d never be able to forget what happened. But then the news started to come, first that both Cardinal Wolsey and Anne Boleyn had fallen ill, and she could see a light in the queen's eyes perhaps God would call Anne to him, and then all would be better. She’d never say it out loud, and probably pray for forgiveness later, but Susan had to agree that might make everything better (though she wasn’t sure it would change the king’s course).
A few days later they heard they’d both survived and since the sickness had left London, they were called back to court.
Back to the pretending and the pain, back to everything she wanted to forget. Back to the live she didn’t want, and she had to forget the live she wanted.
He thinks he finally understands.
Maybe he should have understood before, maybe he should have seen what Aslan wanted him to learn; however, he’d been too busy trying to get what wasn’t his. Now that he had gotten Narnia back and then lost, for the final time, he understood better. In life, you didn’t always get what you want, no matter what that was, and he had to learn and accept his place in this world, like his siblings had already done. However, he couldn’t do so if his father kept him away from court, he knew that somewhere there was a place for him; he just didn't find it yet. His father came at the end of the month with two things to discuss with him, first he would not return to court; after careful contemplation, he’d decided that the household of the king’s natural son, Henry FitzRoy, was better suited for him.
What hit him harder, however, was the proclamation that his father had decreed he should marry.
And, together with the king, they’d found the perfect girl for him; she was from a good family and quite beautiful, though submissive from what her father told his father. Their wedding would take next week; afterwards, they were both to go to FitzRoy’s court and start their live together; Peter had almost asked if he had no word in this, but he knew he did not, and he suspected his wife had even less of a say in it. He would make sure to be kind to her and treat her with respect and perhaps in time he would learn to love her, perhaps they could even be happy. He was glad, when he finally met her, that she was beautiful and kind (though he had to admit he was slightly put down when he realized she wasn’t exactly smart).
They were married in a beautiful but quiet ceremony, and then he sent away.
It almost felt like exile again.
When the word had come that the queen was to return to the king she’d thought they were going to be left behind again.
She’d been steeling herself, ever since they left Narnia, for the loss of her big sister. The loss of Narnia was still raw and there were moments she felt she couldn’t breathe anymore; especially late at night when it almost felt like her chest compressed together to keep the air out and not let any in. She knew Susan had it worse, her heart broken on top of it, and she knew that was nothing she could do about it; and because she didn’t wish to make her feel worse, she did not tell her what she felt about losing Narnia, but she knew that Susan knew. Still when the Queen called them to her chambers and told they were going to Lucy had never felt happier.
They wouldn’t be left behind again, and she’d be with all her siblings again.
It was Edmund who told her, when they arrived back at court, that Peter had gotten married and she couldn’t help but laugh about that. She’d thought that everything would be better once they were at court, but it was worse. Here she couldn’t protect Mary from the gossip; she couldn’t make sure that nothing reached her ear. Instead, Mary finally found out the awful truth, that her father was not only trying to get rid of her mother but was trying to do it in such a way that would brand her a bastard. It would be as if she never mattered and slowly as the story took shape in their minds, they both couldn’t help but blame Anne Boleyn for it.
Lucy could understand why Mary did it; she couldn’t blame her father for it after all.
Everything was different, completely different.
The king had taken the fact that Anne Boleyn had survived as a sure sign that God wanted this divorce (Edmund privately thought that it was just luck that she survived, but he was smart enough not to say that out loud). More had noticed that he was sad, different he said (almost older as he explained it and Edmund didn’t say 1500 years older than anyone here, it would just make matters worse), he’d explained that one of the boys that had died of the illness had been his friend. More had assured him that he was in a better place, and that death was not something one should fear, especially not death like this since it was said to be relatively painless.
The king was putting everything in acceleration now, trying to get his divorce.
He was growing impatient, Edmund could tell, in a way he reminded him of his brother. Peter too couldn’t handle it very well when things didn’t go his way and Edmund, just like More, quickly noticed that it was not just the queen, who was making sure that the king thought twice about it (parading his daughter, who he loved dearly, in front of him to make sure he felt guilty about trying to get rid of her), it was the pope as well. Campaggio was doing everything in his power to stall the proceedings, and it wouldn’t surprise him if he had been told not to give the king what he wanted, and he was just afraid to say the words out loud. He didn’t know what would happen when the King didn’t get what he wanted, but he could tell it would not be good. Sir Thomas More thought that the fact that the Pope was against it would save the marriage, but Edmund wasn’t so sure.
He had a feeling, there was some stormy weather ahead and somehow, though he couldn’t explain how, they’d all be caught in the crossfire.
He knew something was going to happen, and though he hadn’t guessed it would be this; he wasn’t surprised.
Despite his assurance and everything, he believed in Edmund could tell that More wasn’t surprised by it either, they both knew it was coming; when Campaggio told the king, his case would be tried in Rome instead the King had been furious. And like always he took his anger out on those closest to him – Edmund though his sister and brother in law were the smartest, they left for the country side and did not return until his anger had vanished - in this case the Queen and Wolsey. To the queen, he did the same thing he had done before, but it was the only thing that had true affect: he sends her daughter away again, and Lucy went with her. Wolsey was stripped of all his offices and send away, found guilty of several charges and then forgotten.
The king had turned around, taken a good look at all those around him, and given the job of Lord Chancellor to his most trusted advisor. The one man, who the king knew, valued his conscience above everything else; his mentor, Sir Thomas More.
More had been reluctant, he’d been there when the King had given him the post (ever since his return after the sweating sickness More made sure he was everywhere with him; he wanted him to learn. It was almost, Edmund realized, as if he was afraid he wouldn’t be here for much longer). He couldn’t help but agree with his mentor, after all Wolsey had been the king’s closest friend and advisor for more than twenty years, and he’d just send him away without looking back, just allowed his enemies to take him down. But he also knew, and he knew More knew, that he really had no choice; what the king wanted the king should get.
And so he became the secretary of the new Lord Chancellor, and he wondered if this is what life was going to be like.
Just keeping low and making sure the king got what he wanted, to be in his favor until what the king wanted could not be achieved and then to be just set aside, like they were nothing.
She was getting married.
The queen had been the one to tell her, apparently she had realized that she was losing and in an effort to make sure her favorite maid was taken care of she had found her a husband. She’d spoken to both the king and her father, and together they’d found her a husband. She knew it was a done deal, after all the queen herself had paid her dowry, and there was nothing she could say. It’s not like she could explain why she didn’t want to marry, besides nobody cared about her feelings. They didn’t matter, they never mattered; she didn’t have to love her husband all she needed to do was obey him and never betray him. Still she wished she could have said something, could have complained about it, made sure the queen knew she didn’t want to marry. It wouldn’t have mattered, even if the queen took her side, one day she’d have to marry; she couldn’t wait forever for the King in the wardrobe; he would never come for her. He couldn’t.
Edmund was the one to point her new husband out to her.
He wasn’t that much older than her, just a handful of years, and he wasn’t bad looking either. He looked nothing like Caspian, but she figured that was a blessing in disguise. Most importantly, according to Edmund anyway, he was a kind man, and he’d treat her with some degree of respect. And since Lord Stanly, Gregory as she later learned, lived at court and was in the king’s entourage she would not need to leave neither the queen nor her friend, which is something she didn’t want to do. So she put a smile on her face and allowed the queen to make sure she had a dress and when asked if she wanted anything she asked her father if her sister could come.
That night she curled up in a ball and thinking of Caspian, she cried.
She dreamed of Aslan that night, and he held her until there were no tears left and promised her that someday it would all be okay.
She didn’t remember the dream when she woke, but she did remember the feeling.
It was strange living at the court of FitzRoy.
Bound to listen to a boy who was much younger than him, yet at the same time it was easier. The boy reminded him somewhat of Edmund, and since he was so young he looked up to Peter just a little. He liked it here, strangely enough; he liked the way this place was conducted. It wasn’t really a court, FitzRoy wasn’t legal; however, he was a duke twice over, and as such, he had high friends. The Earl of Surrey, the duke of Norfolk’s son, was one of them; his sister, Mary Howard, was to be married to FitzRoy, though Peter had never seen her at court. They were both related to Anne Boleyn, and FitzRoy seemed to be on her side in the entire thing.
He quickly realized, however, that the boy wasn’t so much on her side as he was on the kings.
Or at least not stupid enough to say out loud that he wasn’t on his side, like so many other people; most people, he’d learned quickly, would rather keep their head down than say a word. It was the safest option, the best road, if one wanted to keep his head on his shoulders. While his relationship with both Henry’s was going up his relationship with his wife wasn’t so good, he found her boring at times though he made sure to always treat her kindly and when she came to him one day to tell him, she was pregnant he was genially happy. He’d make sure that FitzRoy was his sons, or daughters, godfather; surely, Edmund would understand why he did it.
Things were definitely starting to look up.
October 15, 1529
Her dress was stunning; the queen had really outdone herself.
If nothing else that was what she would remember about this day, she was also finally starting to grow into the beautiful looks she had had in Narnia. She was a few hours away from being the Lady Stanley, from having a new room at court; from being married, married to a man who wasn’t the one she loved. Bound to a live she didn’t want but had to accept, like millions of other girls before her; even princesses were not spared this pain. She knew the queen was a little sad, not because of her wedding, but because when Lucy came she did not bring the Princess Mary with her, since the king had decided she could not come.
Still today it was her day, and the Queen made sure she was happy for her.
She’d met him, Gregory as he made sure to tell her to call him, once; Edmund had introduced them, and he had been kindly enough. Treating her with respect and courtesy and she could not help but feel that she could be happy with him, even if she could not love him. She heard the music, the beautiful music that Edmund had chosen (somehow he was always able to pick the right music for the right occasion), and she knew it was time. Looking in the mirror one more time she could have sworn she saw Aslan in it for the briefest of instants, and she knew he was with her in those moments.
Her father took her by the hand and guided her towards her future husband and so, in a ceremony she could barely remember; she was pronounced the wife of Gregory Stanley for the rest of her life.
She would have to forget Caspian had ever existed or at least try to.
This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life. (It was probably a man, she though, that had come up with that concept).
Chapter 7: Chapter 6
29 November, 1530
There were times he was surprised by how much life could change in a year.
A year ago Wolsey had been in disgrace, but the king had spared him, even made sure he had somewhere to go and a promise that perhaps someday everything could be better. Perhaps that was what had killed him in the end that promise, the fear of his enemies that Wolsey would be able to climb up again and take them down. He’d been with Sir Thomas when he’d learned that Wolsey was to be arrested for high treason, they’d been friends Edmund knew and to this day, he admires his friend's calm composure, despite the obvious pain in his eyes. In the year that had passed he and More had grown even closer, to the point where the latter felt sure that he could talk of anything with him Edmund would keep his secrets, whether he agreed or not.
He’d asked him, yesterday actually, if he believed the king would truly turn away from Rome.
More had looked at him, like he saw him for the first time, and admitted that despite his feverish prayers and the hope that the king’s conscience would win out, he believed that yes the king would turn away from the pope. He could understand it too, he pointed out, to an extend, a king needed male issue after all. Edmund often wondered if Mary had heard about this, if she knew that it didn’t matter how good she was at her lessons, unless she could change her sex, she would forever be inferior, and he wished that Henry could have seen his sisters as queens, for they had at times been better than him and Peter, been able to smooth things over without bloodshed.
Edmund had asked More if he thought Wolsey would be spared.
More never answered.
Fitzroy liked his new company, almost as much as he liked Surrey.
The three of them would stroll the gardens and talk about what was going on at court, despite his young age, the boy knew a lot more than he was given credit. At times, he missed his brother and sisters, and Narnia too, but he had come to accept that this was his place in life. That he should not dwell on what he could not have and instead focus on that which he did have, on that which he now had. It might even be better if he could forget what he had had and just focus on this world, but something felt so wrong about forgetting Narnia, about pretending that it did not exist. He also knew that he should spend more time with his wife, but he truly couldn’t be bothered, and since neither of the Henry’s spend time with their wife's, he thought nothing of it.
Their first child was a boy and Peter named him Henry, to both the king and his son.
He made FitzRoy the boy’s godfather and asked his wife, Mary Howard, if she were the godmother. He hoped that his brother and sisters could understand why he’d done it, it would be much better for his child (and for him) if he made sure the royal family came to like him. And this was the way, he knew it was, he promised himself that he would make Edmund the godfather of his next child and Susan the godmother. However, he couldn’t think about that now, now all that mattered was this boy and the life it was going to have.
He was going to make sure it was a grand life.
Mary was iill.
On its own this was not strang,; she had after all always been weaker than other children. This time, however, it seemed to be worse, the fever that had taken a hold of her was so strong that for several nights, the doctors were sure she would die. Not for the first time Lucy wished she had her special potion, so that she could heal her best friend and make everything alright again, but of course, she could not do that, so she took care of her the best she could. Still Mary got more ill every day, and every few seconds she asked (begged) for her mother and all Lucy could say was ‘She isn’t here, but we send a message. Surely, she’ll be here soon.’ She hadn’t slept the last few days, always making sure she was by her princess’s side, should she need something.
However, she needed her mother and no matter how hard she tried she could not take her place.
She though she knew why Mary was ill as well, the rumors that she had tried to make sure never reached her had finally done so, and she’d heard the entire truth. She’d spend the last year worrying, fretting about her mother, wondering what sort of spell this women, Boleyn, had put on her father that he would put such a good and honest woman aside for a harlot. (Lucy admonished her when she’d said it, but privately she’d agreed. What kind of woman, after all, came between a married couple and then tried to declare the child a bastard?). Now, however, it had finally caught up with her, and she was lying deadly ill in her bed and there was nothing she could do but wait.
Wait and pray, beg Aslan not to take her only friend away, since he already took Narnia.
She was with the queen when the message about her daughter’s illness reached her.
The queen had gone to beg her husband but all he had done was send a physician, proclaiming that a queen should be by her king’s side, however, she was free to go to her daughter and stay there if she so wished. The queen understood the implication and only sends a message, praying that her daughter would understand. Susan would have liked to have gone with her, to visit Lucy, but even if the Queen had been allowed to go, she would not have allowed Susan to go. Her pregnancy, though not so far along that it came in the way of her duties, was something the queen like to worry over. And since it was a happy thing in her life, and there were so many bad things, Susan allowed her to make clothes and even plans. It was almost, Susan had to admit, like having a mother.
Being married had been far better than she had ever dreamed it could be.
When she married him, she’d been afraid he would treat her horribly, but he was kind, understanding that she was afraid and lost, he had done everything in his power to make sure she was alright. When she told him, she was pregnant, he’d been genuinely happy (she wonders, briefly, if he is faithful to her, but decides that it doesn’t matter as long as he is kind to her. After all she was in love with another man, and perhaps he had loved someone else as well, if he had she could not begrudge him, not even if that love had sprung after their marriage had taken place.) Still she hoped for a boy, she did not want to go through the Queen’s ordeal, even if her husband did not care, her father definitely would. Or his father would, who even knew at this time.
She felt the baby kick and pointed it out to the queen, creating a small smile on her mistress's face was the best she could do for her. She wished she could do more.
30 November, 1530
Cardinal Wolsey, though no longer a Cardinal, was dead.
He’d been stripped of all his offices and all his prestige and was left to die in a corner of the country. Robbed of the love of his beloved king and even that had not been enough for his enemies. He’d been dragged out of his house in the cold night, charged with treason, and then he’d started a long and painful journey towards London. Towards the tower in which he would reside and the scaffold he would eventually walk, but he had never made it. More said in private, and Edmund couldn’t help but agree, that Wolsey had probably not wanted to arrive and that an illness, which might not have killed him at another time, combined with the fear had finally done the old man in. The king was heartbroken, only thinking of his old friend, and made sure he was buried with honor.
However Edmund could not help but wonder what would have happened had Wolsey made it to the tower.
He would have gone to trial for treason, and he would have been found guilty, the king would have made sure he was spared the most gruesome death, and he would be beheaded. Would the king have saved him in the end, only meaning it as a warning? Would the king have remembered his old friend then or forgotten him? Would he have allowed a man, who he had cared for deeply and who had stood by his side for many years, to walk the long walk towards the scaffold, lay down his head and have an axe struck it off? Could he do it? He knew More was wondering it as well, and he realized with a jolt what the scariest prospect was. Not that it had happened and not the knowledge that he probably would have allowed him to die, but that he could do it again.
And the next one, whoever he was, might not be so lucky to die before the king had to make a choice.
Mary finally woke up that morning.
Lucy could honestly tell she had never felt as relieved as in that moment, though she suspected she had, she heard the governess tell a messenger to hurry and tell the queen behind her, but she did not care. Mary was weak, that much was obvious, and she was in pain, who wouldn’t be in her situation, but she was better and alive, and it was all that mattered. Perhaps Aslan, who’d obviously heard her prayers would grant another wish as well and find a way to save both queen and princess, but somehow she doubted it. Maybe, there was nothing anyone could do, maybe this was the way things were supposed to go.
What would happen to them, Lucy wondered, if the king won?
Surely, the fact that she was his daughter, and that he loved her, would save her from the bigger humiliation? Surely, he would not send her away and forget about her? He’d love her always, maybe he’d reduce her household and change her status, but he would not turn her away, she was sure of it. He loved his daughter and he would need her as an heir, at least until he had a son and even afterwards; for children could easily die especially young ones. She smiled softly at her friend, trying to reassure her, but she knew there was nothing she could do.
Mary knew the truth and she also knew it was just a matter of time.
He had to admit he hadn’t really seen this one coming.
He thought the king would send a warning with Wolsey and then let him go, perhaps even restore him to his former glory, however, the man had died before he had reached the tower, so one would never know. But then the message came that the king had been declared head of the Church of England, so far as the law of Christ allowed it anyway. Peter thought, briefly he thought, that might mean he was not head of anything, however, he did not say it out loud, there were ears everywhere, even as far away from here. What surprised him the most about the next few days was FitzRoy, when he heard of his ill sister, he sent her flowers and several pieces of fruit from his estates, to cheer her up.
He understood why, he had two sisters after all, but he did not think he would do it, especially not in the current climate.
They had not grown up together after all, only met a handful of time, never truly close. And the king was moving against her mother, one wrong move against him could mean the end, even being his son would only go that far. However, the king loved his daughter dearly, the one time he had seen them together was proof of this, and perhaps it should not have been a surprise that the King was proud of the son who cared so much for his sister whom he dared to send a message, without asking for permission.
Still one had to be careful in this climate, but he could not just point that out, so he held his mouth and prayed that everything would turn out alright.
For everyone, even the queen and her little daughter.
Chapter 8: Chapter 7
I'm sorry it took a while to post some more chapters, I went on holliday and I kind of forget to post the story here.
July 14, 1531
She was being sent away.
Just like that, the king rode out with Anne Boleyn and his court; leaving only a handful of people behind, just enough to man the court. Then he’d send Cromwell, his newest ally in the fight against the Catholic Church, to tell her that the king wished her to leave the castle and reside at a new residence, to be gone by the time he came back and not to return. They all knew what it meant of course, the king had finally listened to Anne Boleyn (and though she did not agree with her in any way, Susan had to admit that she had a point, the rumor had reached her after all, they could not all three live under the same roof forever.) The queen did not protest; she asked Cromwell if she was allowed to take her ladies, and he told her that the king had degreed that they could all go with her, that she was to lack nothing.
All she was to leave behind were her crown jewels, and though she protested at first, Susan knew she would leave them behind.
She wished she could turn back the clock, to this time last year; when she held her new-born daughter in her arms. Her husband had not minded that it was a girl, she was healthy, and it was what truly mattered; though she could tell that despite his kindness, he really did want a son. The queen was her daughter’s godmother, and she’d named her after the women who meant so much to her, despite the warning from her husband that it could be taken as a bad thing; thankfully, it was not. Now she was pregnant again, and though she had not told the queen yet she knew she knew, but she was going to go with her this time. The king had degreed they were all to go, regardless of their loyalties; though most of the ladies who remained were loyal to Queen Catherine.
They were to be exiled from court all of them and then, she suspected, to be taken away from the queen one by one, until she relented.
If she ever would.
His wife was to give him another child.
The boy was growing up to be strong and handsome looking, but he wanted more children; he liked children. His place at the court of FitzRoy grew as soon as he’d realized that he was not so different from his father, one just had to agree even if one did not. So when the word came that the Queen had been banished, Henry (as well as his two friends) sends word to the king whom he would like to host a banquet for him and his future queen, the Lady Anne Boleyn. And the king gratefully accepted, probably because there were few that would take FItzRoy’s stand, at least not so openly.
However, in this world, Peter knew, one had to walk with the king or not walk at all.
They came in their entire splendor, and though she was good looking, she was nowhere near the beauty his sister was (or the king’s sister, for that matter) and she was not as royal as the queen. It was not her fault, unlike her predecessor she had not been brought up to be a queen, neither had his sisters, but they’d grown into their roles, and so would Anne Boleyn. But he wondered, as he watched them, if she ever realized that she could not rule him as she had ruled him before. That she would have to become submissive and accept everything the king wanted or if not give him a son, then she could get away with almost anything.
He felt like the world was exploding and there was nothing he could do but watch the wreckage.
They’d gone to say goodbye to the queen when she left.
There were many people there; most of them commoners, who proclaimed that she was their queen and always would be, that they would never accept anyone who would take her place, and that they would pray for her return. He saw a few lords as well, Susan’s husband too though that might have been for Susan that is in truth also why he came. She was shaking, though from grieve or fear he could not tell, and she hugged him tightly, so tightly he was afraid she would not let go; but she did and then she hugged her husband, got in her coach and never said a word; he wondered if she was too afraid she would cry.
He could hear More attempt to assure Catherine, but it wasn’t working.
It was all moot anyway, they could say what they wanted but this was the end of the road; they all knew it. With or without the Pope the king had made his choice and the queen, the rightful queen, would never return to the palace. Never, no matter how much More fought for her, in the end, he would reach nothing. However, they could not say it, could not squash the final bit of hope in the Queen’s heart; she would not give up; he knew this. She loved her daughter too much for that, but it would do her no good, instead, Edmund suspected; her life would only get worse from this point on. He wondered if the king knew of the pain he caused, if he knew of what he was tearing apart.
He wondered if the king even cared.
May 16, 1532
Everything had, if that was possible, gotten worse.
Edmund had known it was coming, known that there was only so much that More could actually take; when the clergy had finally relented, when they had finally given him what he wanted, he knew it was only a matter of days. More could never live in a world where everything he believed in was demolished, where the world was being destroyed for whatever the king wanted in that moment. His conscience would not permit it and though his love for the king made sure More never spoke against him, he could not live like it anymore; so he resigned. He did not, of course, say out loud what he thought; instead, he said he wished to spend time with his family, perhaps write another book.
The king was sad to see him go, but he did not speak against it, just said he was glad they would always be friends.
More had taken him aside afterwards, he told him he was proud of him and always would be; but every boy must eventually go out in the world alone, and now it was his turn. He’d gotten him a place, a good place, in the entourage of the next Lord Chancellor, Cromwell, and he would do well. They’d meet again he was sure of it, and they would keep in correspondence but this was their parting point. Edmund wanted to argue, to say that he did not wish for them to part; however, he knew it would do them no good, More was, after all, right.
However, he could not shake the feeling that this would be the last time they would actually meet.
And it scared him, more than he could admit.
She was dead. It happened so suddenly that he was not prepared for it.
She’d been fine when he saw her yesterday, their new child growing in her belly; everything was going well. He was woken up early in the morning by one of his servants, strange the way things changed, who told him his wife was in labor. He knew it wasn’t good, at least not for the baby, because it was coming far too soon; but he never thought she would die. He didn't like her, he’s man enough to admit it, and he’d never managed to feel anything for her; but that does not mean he wanted her death. She was a good person and a good mother and now his son had no mother, and he had no wife.
He’d spend hours outside her chamber hearing her scream.
He thought, in that moment, that was the worst sound ever; that nothing that came afterwards would sound that awful. Then, suddenly and without explanation, the screaming seized and a deafening silence followed. And he realized, very quickly, in fact, that the silence was much worse then, the silence which was almost deafening. It drove him crazy; he could not hear her scream and for a moment, one shining moment, he thought it just meant it was over; but then he heard people moving rapidly inside, and he knew it was far from over. He has no idea, how long he said there, it could have been hours; it could have been just minutes.
Eventually, the doctor came out and told him both his daughter and wife were dead.
He has no idea, nor does he think it actually matters, what he said to him.
The castle was cold.
Maybe, Susan though, that was just her imagination; maybe it truly wasn’t that cold; she just thought it was. After all it was a beautiful place, grand, a good palace for the dowager princess of Wales; but not for a queen. And Catherine was the queen, no matter what anyone said; and despite all her assurances that she would never blame nor hate Anne Boleyn, Susan could help but do just that. Because if she had not shown up, then none of this would have happened, or perhaps it would have happened; perhaps the king would have thrown his loving wife, his strong queen, away anyway. He did want a son after all not a daughter.
That, however, was not what mattered, what mattered was that the queen was ill.
Susan suspected that while she was obviously really ill, it was more the despair that got her down. They’d send the king a message, telling him that his wife was ill; however, she suspected that would not help, and she was right. They got a message back telling them that the king was not married, but he was slightly worried about his sister-in-law, and he was sending his doctor to check on her. At least, while he could not admit that they were married, he still cared enough for the mother of his child to make sure she was alright. The doctor, she can’t remember his name, checked her over and told them that the Princess Dowager would be alright. One of the ladies said that there was no princess here just a queen. She shouldn’t have said anything, then perhaps she could have stayed; instead, one of the armed men who came with the doctor arrested her and dragged her away.
Many years later Susan tried to find out whatever happened to her and found her in the household of the Princess Elizabeth.
At least, she wasn't hurt.
Every day new reports came in from court.
The new Spanish ambassador, Eustace Chappuys, was doing everything in his power to help them and keep them informed. There were times, like the day they had been told the queen had been banished; that Lucy hated him, hated the information he was giving her best friend, hated him for bringing only bad news. However, she supposed it was better she heard it from him, a man who actually cared about both, her and her mother, as opposed from people who hated her and would love her to be hurt. The rumors from court arrived here at Ludlow anyway, and some of them might be exaggerated or wrong; from Chappuys at least they would hear the truth.
Perhaps it was even better for her to hear, better than to imagine things.
But Lucy wished she could protect her, shield her best friend from all the evils of the world – even if the evil that now threatened her was her own father – and make sure that nothing could ever hurt her. Protect her from the changes, make sure that she could forever pretend she was a princess and perhaps the love her father felt for her, a love, she herself had seen, would protect her as well. Perhaps he’d leave her there, allow her to remain a princess and simply place her behind all of his future’s wife children, but she’d be a princess, and she’d be safe. Perhaps nothing would ever happen to her, maybe they were safe here.
There were moments she wished she could ask Aslan to let them both go to Narnia and just stay there.
However, that, she knew, would never be possible.
Chapter 9: Chapter 8
September 1, 1532
It was something new, something that had never happened before.
As Cromwell’s new assistant he was privy to the information much sooner than anyone else, and he even knew things nobody else was supposed to know. However, the king knew that Sir Thomas More had taught him well and Edmund Pevensie, no matter what he thought or privately believed would never share his secrets or fuel the rumors already circulating. So he knew it was coming, knew it would happen before it did, but that did not mean he was not surprised by it; the King was elevating his mistress, the women he hoped to make his next queen, to Marchioness in her own right. He knew people would talk about it; he could already hear the speculation; what did it mean? Why was the King doing it? Why was he doing it now?
People would assume that he was perhaps thinking of setting her aside.
But Edmund did not think he would; they would not come this far just to give up so close to the price; he thought the king just wanted to protect her, make sure that the king of France during their next visit. But he knew the rumor mill would work overtime. He wrote to More about it, careful to word everything in a good way, so that, should the king happen to read their correspondence; he would just conclude that he was keeping his old mentor, his friend, up to date to what was going on at court; so that More, when he finally did come back to court, knew what was going on and could act appropriately. He did not think the king truly cared about what he, little Edmund Pevensie, wrote but this was not the time to stop being careful.
Peter was there the day the created her Marchioness, and he realized for the first time how far apart they had actually grown.
The messenger had come a week before.
The king was inviting his only son to a special ceremony, though the king did not explain what was going on; and more importantly he was inviting his son to join them on his trip to France. Fitzroy, who loved it when his father paid attention to him, happily agreed and decided that his two best friends, Surrey and Pevensie, were going with him. And so, after so many years away from court, after only seeing his brother a handful of times since their last visit to Narnia, he was returning to court. He knew he’d see his brother there, and he was glad he would, but he could not help but feel that everything was different now; he had not seen him in so long that Peter was sure he wouldn’t be able to recognize the man his brother had become, nor the other way around.
He had seen him as a grown-up once before, but that was a different world, a different life.
He was different too, and though it pained him to admit it, he was much closer to FitzRoy and Surrey than he had been to Edmund. Apart from their time in Narnia when they helped Caspian, he could not remember the last time they truly spend some time together. It hurt a lot when he realized how far apart they had grown, the distance between them while standing in that room and watching Anne Boleyn become a Marchioness, was only a few meters; he was standing next to the king’s son on his left; Edmund was standing closer to Cromwell on the king’s right side. It was just a few meters, just a few steps, and they could have covered it, but it might as well have been different worlds they stood in, there was no way they could cross it.
It made him sad to think that they had grown so far apart that he, Peter, was sure they could never get back what they once had.
And they were probably not going to get the chance.
It was Lucy, who on that cold September day got sick first.
Truthfully she’d been feeling ill for some time; the weather was doing her no good, but just like many others she did not want to leave the Princess alone. Over the past few months, she’d been losing more and more of her friends, most people were too afraid to go against the king, and Mary needed all the friends she could get. Only a few hours ago the message had arrived from court that the Lady Anne Boleyn was now marchioness of Pembroke and as such Mary was expected to treat her with some degree of respect. Lucy had been very amazed when Mary, without a sense of the fear and anger she must have been falling, called over for parchment and a quill and sat down to write the Lady Anne a respectful letter, congratulating her on her elevation and wishing her luck on her trip to France.
Later, she explained to Lucy that her father was the king of England.
And as such he had the right to give titles to anyone he pleased, just like he had done with her half-brother many years ago, and she would treat those people with respect. He just didn’t have the right to against the Pope and God and take away her mother’s rightful title; the Lady Anne would be marchioness of Pembroke, but she’d never be queen. Afterwards, when Mary had retired to rest for a few hours, Lucy had also gone to bed, and now she was ill. Mary, though she did not come to her chamber too afraid to get ill as well, sends her own doctor to care for her.
For all the doctor and Mary did for her in those moments she wished that Susan could be by her side.
She wonders if this is how Mary felt when she was ill, and her mother could not be by her side.
Her second child was a boy, which she named Edmund.
It didn't take long to convince her husband; he'd wanted to give him any name but his own (he pointed out that there were far too many Gregory’s at court already) and Edmund, well there weren’t that many of them. Since Edmund was also to be the godfather it seemed only right to give him the name, he had, however, put his foot down about the godmother and convinced Susan that it might be better to name his sister the godmother in contrast to her sister, since she was the one caring for their children. Truthfully, and Susan could understand it; Lucy was still Mary’s companion and naming her godmother, despite being related, might make the king angry, and one did not want to anger the king.
She knows she’ll have to leave her queen at some point.
Both her husband and her father had already hinted at it, but so far it wasn’t happening; Susan assumed that the king was being careful. He would not dissolve Catherine’s household until he was married to the Lady Anne Boleyn. She dreaded that day, knowing that she would have to leave; the king would most likely call her ladies to come to court and serve the new queen, leaving only a handful of servants for the rightful queen. She did not want to take care of a woman who could make a man put his loving wife aside and turn his only daughter away, like they were nothing.
It was the Lady Talbort, who said out loud what everyone was thinking, calling Anne Boleyn a whore and many other names.
The queen had looked at them with a grave expression and told them not to speak nor think like that, but instead the pray for the poor women; for now she stood at the height of everything, as she had many years ago, but if she did not give the king what he wanted there would come a day that they would pity her. Susan wondered in that moment if she, also a queen, would have been able to take that stand or if she called the women who took her place even worse names than the other ladies called their future queen.
She probably couldn’t have.
January 25, 1533
It was a very simple affair, the marriage of the king and the lady Anne.
He’d seen it with his own eyes; the king had invited his son, and he had taken Peter with him, despite having first decided to take Surrey, but he had, unfortunately, fallen ill. There was only a handful of people there, and he watched as they were pronounced man and wife, and he wondered if anyone else found it problematic that the king was, technically seen, still married. However, he, despite his stupidity in the first few years at court, was smart enough not to say out loud what he thought. He’d come far he decided, from the boy who was mostly ignored by the king to one of his son’s (a duke twice over) main advisors and friends. It wasn’t what he had aimed for, but it was close enough, and he would take it, surely the FitzRoy would be close to the king, and perhaps he could make his name known.
He wondered if the rumors about the Lady Anne were truth.
The ones about her behavior before her marriage and the ones were going around about her being pregnant; he decided the first ones didn’t matter, if his king didn’t think there was any truth in it who was he to say any different. However, he assumed that the second rumor was the truth, that the new queen was pregnant; after all why else go through with such a hurried wedding? Why not a few more weeks, for that was all it would take with the new archbishop, and then get married? Why the hurry if she was not about to have a child, a child who if he was a boy the king surely wanted it to be born in wedlock.
May 29, 1533
It was Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, the king’s closest friend and his brother-in-law, who came to tell the queen.
Visibly shaken by what happened, though apparently not enough to speak up for the queen; he spoke the words with as much confidence as he could muster. Susan had been reading to her queen from More’s book Utopia when they announced the duke’s arrival. The queen had told them to just let him in, she was not going to move for a man who would not recognize her place; Susan had to admit he looked confident when he walked in, but lost his nerve when he saw the queen sitting there. The women, who despite being obviously been through a lot, and yet still managed to sit up straight and just radiated strength; in that moment, Susan realized; she looked more like a queen then she ever had before.
‘My lady, the archbishop of Canterbury has declared the marriage between yourself and the king illegitimate on the grounds that you were his brother’s widow, and as such he did not have the right to marry you. He commands onto you the title of Dowager Princess of Wales. In his generosity, the king has decreed that he will pay for your stay in this castle, but he will not pay your staff. He also decrees me to tell you not to try to return to him since he has married the Lady Anne Boleyn, her coronation will take place tomorrow in London.’
There was a silence so deafening Susan wondered for a moment if she had just lost all hearing.
The queen, visibly shaken by what had happened, did not say a word and the king had apparently not instructed the Duke. What do to if silence was his answer? He could not look at her anymore and turned towards the window; looking out of it as if there was something interesting to see, there really wasn’t. It was the queen who, after a few moments, broke the silence.
‘And my daughter? May I see her?’
‘My lady…. Forgive me.’
It was all the answer she would get and all the answer she needed; the king had decided to use his one and only valuable asset in this fight; her daughter. Susan wondered if he would one day realize that the more he reminded her of the girl the more she fought, for everything she did she did to make sure Mary remained a princess. However, she had lost, despite what they believed; despite what everyone did or said, despite what they felt, the queen had lost. She would be asked to leave any moment now, she and probably many of the other ladies; send to care for the new queen, send by their families to make sure the king did not think for one second that they were on Catherine’s side.
Not for the first time Susan was grateful she was a queen in Narnia and not in England.
The man came in the early afternoon.
If Lucy had known who he was, if she had known what his message was she would have asked him to tell her; so that she may, gently, break it to the princess. However, she had not been told, she had been with Mary at the time, and as it was impossible for the Princess to go alone, she had gone with her. She had not recognized him; she knew the Lady Salisburry had recognized him, but she did not say anything; despite being on Mary’s side, she was obviously afraid of displeasing any relative of Anne Boleyn, should she send away, had not wanted to send him away. She did not dare. Later, after Mary had locked herself in her room, she had been told the man was the Lady Anne’s father.
‘I have come to tell you of the judgment made recently by his grace the archbishop of Canterbury…’
And she listened as the man told them that the marriage between her parents was declared null and void, and that she was no longer a princess, then he told them that the Lady Anne was now queen of England. She knew it was coming; she knew her friend would say it even before the man finished his sentence; it would do her no good, her hope that her father’s love would protect her had come to nothing, but she agreed with every word.
‘ I know of no queen of England, save my mother, and I shall accept no other queen, except my mother. ‘
‘In which case I have to tell you that you are forbidden to communicate in any way with your mother from this day forward.’
‘May I not even right to her?’
‘Not even a farewell note.’
It was the perfect game, the one thing he could truly hurt them with; they had been separated for some time it was truth, but until now, they had been allowed to communicate. Now even that road was taken from them and for Mary, who loved her mother so much, Lucy knew it would be hard. She wondered what would come next, what other ploys the king would use; surely, he understood that Mary would never bend to his will, not as long as it meant going against her beloved mother?
Lucy did not know what would happen next, but it would be a long and hard road for her best friend.
And for her as well, for she intended to stand by her side or at least try.
She was to leave the next day.
After he had told the queen what he came to tell the Duke of Suffolk called her household together and read of the names of the people who were to go back to court. She was one of the ladies who was called to court to care for the new queen; she had known it was coming and for a moment, she wanted to protest; however, it would do her no good; it might even make the lives of her loved ones worse. So instead she listened as the Duke told them to be ready to go in a few hours and when he allowed them to go, returned to her queen. She had not moved from the place she had been sitting before, and she knew, from the look on her face probably, what It was she came to tell.
She was graceful and while she did cry a little Catherine assured her it would all be alright.
When she left a few hours later she saw the woman she had loved, and would always love, like a mother standing at her window watching them go. She would remember that moment forever; it would in the end be the most vivid memory of her, standing at that window staring at the world below. She’d remember her strength and her courage, how she looked as if nothing could take her down; although she had already lost everything she cared for. Susan looked at her once more before she entered her carriage, and she knew she would remember it forever, that moment that look, those feelings. And the knowledge that this was the last time she would see her, no matter what she told herself.
She remembers how, when she was a child, her governess used to tell her the story of King Henry and Queen Catherine. To her young mind, it had sounded like a beautiful fairy tale, and she had wished for a knight in shining armor like the king to come and save her and marry her. She wonders if, had that young and lost girl known what was coming, she would still have been so wishful to marry the future king. If she would not have just begged her mother to take her home and find her a better husband, a better live. Or would she have married him anyway, certain in her conviction that God wanted her child to be queen of England?
It had seemed like a fairy tale then, but as she watched the queen standing all alone she realized it might have been a fairy tale then, but this right here was how it ended.
And it was anything but a fairy tale.
Chapter 10: Chapter 9
June 25, 1533
The king’s youngest sister, Mary Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk, died.
It was unexpected, though Edmund suspects it had been more unexpected because the king wasn’t paying attention. However, he had loved her; Edmund knew this, and the court truly grieved for the beautiful and graceful girl. The girl who had married a king and done her duty as princess and then turned around and married the man of her dreams, with whom she had been – or so he was told – very happy and had given him several children. And now she left this world, perhaps at the best time for her; since it was well known that she did not recognize the new queen and stood by the old queen’s side. King Henry had not yet invited her to court, probably to avoid the awful moment where he had to choose between his new wife and his little sister.
Now she was death, and they would never know what would have happened.
He could feel the court changing; the king was working on several acts to make sure his queen and new heirs were accepted. He was afraid, not for himself, he knew he would sign anything not truly caring, but for More. He knew Cromwell was already looking into his affairs, though reluctantly, thankfully the man, who knew how much, he cared for More, did not ask him to do the investigating. He couldn’t tell what would happen next, but whatever it was it wouldn’t be good; it wouldn’t be good at all.
They’d drunk from the same cup.
Fitzroy was offered a glass of wine, though no one can remember who had offered him and thankfully for him Surrey had, jokingly, taken it from him and drunk from it, then he had offered it to Peter. Peter, had drunk from it as well – one did not ignore an Earl when he offered you a drink, even if he was a friend – and that had probably saved them all. Since none of them had drunk a lot from it the poison which was in it had not done much damage and all they had been was violently ill for some time. They’d thought for a while that FitzRoy would die, but thankfully, he didn’t and life went on.
Nobody knew who had tried to poison them.
Peter could hazard a guess, though he was smart enough not to say it out loud; George Boleyn had been in the castle a few days ago. And it was known that the new queen feared the power the boy had, but there was no proof and nobody spoke of it. He doubted if the king believed them, even if they had evidence, so much did he love his new wife. Even Fitzroy thought it had been someone else.
It did not matter in the end all that mattered was what the king thought.
September 7, 1533
To her credit, Anne Boleyn never used her obvious love for Catherine of Aragon against her.
She bore her role well, never paying attention to her obvious enemies; and why should she, Susan wondered; she was after all certain that the king loved her and would protect her. Why would she worry about the people who spoke up against her, if she knew the king would either banish them or imprison them? She was kind to her ladies, especially those that had spent some time with Catherine in her exile; and even if she did not truly agree with what had happened Susan was grateful. She even began hoping that Anne would have a son, for she knew her live wouldn’t be easy if she did not; if there was one thing, she knew for sure was that the king had little patience these days.
In the end, all the prayers in the world could not have helped her; the child who was born was a girl.
She was there when the king walked in the room, calm though that was just for show; still obviously in love with his wife he told her that in the future they would have sons. He held his daughter for a few moments, and fell in love with her instantly – since the king did love all of his children – and then he left. But it was obvious he was not happy, obvious that he felt like the world was against him; but he managed to convince himself; Susan heard later, that perhaps it was better. Now he could make sure that his next child, which would be a boy, would be accepted by the people.
Susan hoped that it would go alright for them, because Anne, unlike her predecessor, had no powerful help.
And even the emperor had not been able to save his aunt, so who could save Anne if the king turned against her?
Who could save Elizabeth?
Mary was told of the birth of her sister.
It had been cause for celebration, the Spanish ambassador had come to tell her himself, and they were sure it was proven that God had abandoned the lady Anne. Privately, Lucy did not see what God had to do with it, and she did not see how this would help them in any way; the king would never go back and say he was wrong, not after everything he had gone through. He might set his new queen aside if she did not give him what he wanted, but he would never take his old wife back; he would never accept that someone besides him was right. They shouldn’t have celebrated for word of it had obviously carried to the king.
The next day she and another half of Mary’s household were send away.
At first, Mary refused to let her go, stating that she would write to the king, beg him to allow her friend to remain. But they both knew what his answer would be, if she wanted to keep her friends, if she wanted contact with her mother, all she had to do was accept the new queen. Accept her and the king would give her anything she wanted but they both knew Mary would never do it, never accept, and so they had to part. She did not cry; she was her mother’s daughter, and her emotions would never be known to the outside world, but she did look sad.
Lucy promised her that one day they’d be together again, she just hoped she hadn’t lied.
The oath of succession declared Elizabeth the one and only heir of King Henry.
And everyone, even the lowest of his subjects, had to take the oath; nobody would ever be able to walk around it. He’d been one of the first, being secretary to Cromwell, and he’d taken the oath calmly. It was not that oath that worried him; it was the other one the Act of Supremacy, that was being sent out at the same time. He knew More would calmly swear the first one, having no problem with the king himself; it was the one where he had to go against his conscience, against everything he believed in. He knew More would never take it; he would perhaps accept it, if the king did not want him to swear to it.
That, however, was not what the most important thing in his life was in that moment his impending marriage.
Last month, his father, after long contemplation, had decreed he should marry and More, who was still one of his closest friends was coming to the marriage. He knew it might get him into trouble, but perhaps the king would allow his love for More to take precedent and never ask him to swear to anything. Still he could not ask him, not to come; he loved him far too much and it had been too long since he saw him. When he arrived, they spoke privately and while he told Edmund that he was right to take the oath he also made sure to tell Edmund he never would.
When he left after the marriage, Edmund knew somehow he’d never see him again.
She couldn’t believe how different things were.
Last year, she was the companion of the lawful, though apparently not legitimate, daughter of the king. Now she was the maid in waiting to his youngest daughter and so was Mary. They were not allowed to spend any time together, though Lucy did everything in her power to stand by her friend without ever speaking a word. She was grateful, when Mary despite all of her setbacks, despite never being able to see her mother again, never took any of her feelings out on the little girl. She obviously loved her little sister, and while she did not accept that the girl was a princess while she was not, she always called her sister.
Lucy wished she could somehow change the situation, for everyone involved.
However, she couldn't, and she had a feeling everything would go worse from now on; word had been carried to them about the oath. And while she had taken it, after having talked to her friend who told her she should since she’d send away but Mary never would. Perhaps she’d follow the king’s ruling, if she had not been asked to take a stand against her mother. There was almost no news of the former queen, sometimes Chappuys carried news to Ludlow, but since she had been here with the Princess (lady) Elizabeth Chapuys had not been allowed to visit her, so no news was forthcoming.
She wondered how long Mary could go without screaming out against her father.
Bishop Fisher had just been beheaded.
He’d never see a beheading before that moment, and it horrified him, to a degree, what horrified him more than the death, however, was the way the people reacted to it, the cheering and the obvious disregard to human live. He couldn’t tell whether he was being beheaded because he refused to take the oath or because a few years ago he had stood up against the king and spoken in favor of the queen. But that almost seemed like a different era, a time when Wolsey ruled the court and Catherine of Aragon was still the queen; it almost seemed like that time had not existed at all; which was of course the king’s intention.
It was of course well within his rights to behead people who had been found guilty of treason.
Except that no one was really sure what treason involved anymore, lately he had been imprisoning anyone who did not accept Anne as queen; but not all were being beheaded, though Peter suspected that only the important ones would be. He’d heard that Tomas More was being investigated and for a moment, he felt sorry for Edmund, he knew how close they were; though he could not feel sorry for neither More nor Fisher, they had their chance after all; they could just take the oath and go on with their lives.
Their ending was of their own doing, and as such he could feel nothing but contempt for their stupidity.