Actions

Work Header

Happy am I, For the Daughters Will Call Me Blessed

Work Text:

1509

These days, Henry comes to sit with her often, full of questions about her well-being and that of a child he is certain is a son.

"Do you wonder, Katherine, how different our lives might be if not for our daemons?" Henry asks when her stomach is full with her first child. As he asks the questions, his fingers are stroking down the back of Aloysius' proud Andalusian hound back. The badger at Katherine's feet stirs fussily, rigid with indignation at the very idea that Henry could ever make do without her.

"Come here, so I can sooth your pride, Margaret," Katherine instructs. She doesn't indulge Henry's question, because who could ever imagine their life differently?

"My pride is not hurt," Margaret huffs, but she arches up into Katherine's fingers, and across the room, Henry lets out a barely noticeable sigh of contentment.

"Of course it isn't," Katherine assures her, and Aloysius lays his head onto his paws.

1511

It is the second attempt, and a second failure, that makes Katherine unable to leave the bed on this day. She buries her head deep into Aloysius' fur and tries not to think too hard about the loss that she has suffered.

It is difficult, trying not to remember those rosy little cheeks, and the way little Henry's face had shown with all the promise of being the kind of heir that Henry deserved, the kind that Katherine has always planned on giving the kingdom she has grown to love so much.

It is difficult not to think of the celebration they had given in little Henry's honor. It is difficult to not wonder why the God she worships so strongly would -

But no, that is not a thought she can entertain. It is not a thought she will allow herself to entertain.

"There will be other children," Aloysius whispers as he licks the tears from her face, and that thought, meant to be comforting, twists the already all-consuming hurt.

Henry does not come to alleviate the hurt. He does not come to tell her that he does not hate her for what she has done. He does not come to tell her that he doesn't blame her or that this isn't her fault.

He does not come to alleviate her pain.

But when Katherine's tears have dried and her chest is no longer heaving with the sobs she tried so hard to keep in, Margaret makes her way into the room, lifts her head onto the bed and demands to be stroked.

"My dear Katherine," she murmurs, as she nuzzles her head into Katherine's palm.

1520

"And then, God cast Adam and Eve out of Paradise," Henry says with a great wave of his arms and in the booming voice that Mary loves.

"But not alone. Right, father?" Mary asks.

"Oh, never alone! For he knew that his children would be lost once cast out from the garden. He sent them guardians to watch over them and guide them in their way. Do you know what we call those guardians, Mary?"

"Daemons!"

"Right you are!" Henry leans down to pick the four-year-old up from her spot in the garden, and Katherine thinks that she can almost pretend that his desire for a son is not as strong as it actually is.

"Charles keeps changing!" Mary complains, pointing to the spot where the little red fox is currently watching Henry with great interest.

"As it's supposed to be, daughter of mine," Henry reminds her. "It is perfectly natural that your little fox used to be a frog, and may next week be a bear."

"It is true, Mary," Katherine tells her pouting daughter. "It is only when you are older, and old enough to live with your future husband, that your daemon will finally settle on its true form."

"But what if my daemon doesn't like his daemon?" Mary asks.

"That is impossible!" Henry informs her. "If your daemon does not approve of your husband's daemon, the man is not meant to have your hand. Your daemons falling in love form a bond that can never be broken. By anyone."

It is a kinder tale of how relationships work, but then, Aloysius never minded either Arthur or Henry. Perhaps if he had, things would have gone differently.

"Not even you, Father?"

Katherine pretends that she does not see the heavy sigh or the way that Henry looks at Aloysius and Margaret curled around one another.

"Not even by me," he promises.

1523

Katherine is not at all surprised to see another woman's daemon catch Margaret's eye. In fact, it is not the first other daemon that Margaret has gotten inappropriately close with since their wedding.

Henry dismisses Katherine's complaints on the issue, as he dismisses so much these days.

But she has never had any reason to doubt Aloysius' loyalty. So when she feels a shocking tingle along her spine that is both entirely familiar and incredibly different, she is taken by surprise and knows that she has to seek her daemon out immediately.

No human would dare touch Aloysius without permssion. But another daemon might.

Her efforts lead her to the sight of a magnificent falcon perched upon Aloysius' back. Her loyal daemon's head is turned over his shoulder, nose stretching forward to meet the falcon's beak, with Margaret nuzzling against Aloysius' neck.

The shiver runs through her again, and Katherine looks up to see a woman with a similar look of discomfort mingling with urgency in her dark eyes.

Anne Boleyn. Certainly a woman that Katherine has respected for her intelligence and service, but this ... what the daemons are suggesting is something Katherine has never considered.

She summons Aloysius and does not speak of it to Anne, or to Henry.

She gives herself time to get used to the idea, of what it must mean, of what it could mean.

Of what she wants it to mean.

She seeks comfort in her prayers, but she never forgets the feel of that falcon on Aloysius' skin.

1526

When she has spoken her peace to Holy Mary and God, Katherine goes to her husband.

"Our daemons have grown bored with our marriage, and wish to incorporate another," she tells him.

The man who has long since stopped coming to her bed looks up from his books in surprise. "Incorporate?" he asks. "How scandalous of them. I can scarcely believe my pious wife would suggest - "

"There is precedent. The bible speaks of daemons choosing clusters," Katherine points out. "Rachel, Leah, and Jacob - "

Henry holds up his hands. "Even Sir Thomas More himself would never wish to debate you on matters of theology, my dear. Tell me of this splendid Rachel to your Leah, then."

"Her name is Anne Boleyn."

"Ah, a Boleyn. Margaret never cared for the other Boleyn, you know."

"She cares for this one," Katherine tells him. "As does Aloysius."

"And Aloysius never cares for anyone. I'm not even certain that he cares for me."

"You have never fallen our of his favor, nor mine," Katherine answers. "We remain loyal and faithful to you."

"And what you propose would not change that?" Henry asks as he leans back into his chair. He studies her as he asks the question, and she is pleased that she can answer it truthfully.

Three years of prayers have enabled her to do so.

"You want a son. I cannot give one to you. Perhaps as was the case with Jacob, this is the Lord's benevolent way of allowing you to have what you want most," Katherine says.

She does not mention the way that she feels when she sees Anne, nor does she mention the way that it feels when Aloysius bounds over to Anne and she gives him the petting that he demands.

Henry will know that in time, as he will know how it feels when Anne's falcon, Devereux, flutters his wings against his own daemon's fur.

"Not even the Pope himself could challenge the legitimacy of a child born of a match picked by daemons. I could never claim this with Henry Fitzroy, but this child - " Henry's eyes shine with delight, and Katherine sees that she has picked the correct path to get him to agree. "No one could challenge this, Katherine."

"They could not," she agrees. "To do so would be to question the wisdom of the Lord himself."

"Well then!" Henry jumps to his feet and extends his hand to her. "What are we waiting for, my dearest Katherine? We have an Anne Boleyn to seduce!"

With their daemons walking beside them, Katherine and Henry exit the chambers in pursuit of the woman they intend to incorporate into their relationship. Katherine wonders if Leah ever felt this happy or this nervous.

But Katherine knows she is not Leah, and she knows that her path will not be the same as the one that has been written.

But perhaps it can be better.