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where was my fault (in loving you with my whole heart)

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A feeling of dread settled in the pit of Bash's stomach when his father stopped him from leaving. He wished he could be confident that his father wouldn't harm him, but those days had ended when Henry had used Bash's life in an attempt to leverage Mary into doing what Henry wanted.

When the guards flanking Henry bound Bash's hands and pushed him through the corridors of the castle, the dread threatened to morph into panic, and it was only the knowledge that they weren't heading for the dungeons that allowed him to keep his expression flat.

It wasn't until Henry said something about teaching Bash a lesson about not coveting things that weren't his that he realised where he was being taken. It took every ounce of his hard-won self-control not to fight the guards as they shoved him into the room where the consummation ceremony was taking place.

He remembered thinking that morning how eloping with Mary meant they wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of this ceremony, how he had told her not to plan on sleeping tonight and had called her his wife. He remembered the feel of her lips beneath his and the taste of her on his tongue and the pain of it ripped through him as surely as if his father had instructed the guards to run Bash through with their swords.

Mary noticed him, and her eyes met his and he wished he could look away but instead he found himself transfixed, trapped in her gaze as she lay beneath his brother. The look in her eyes was strangely fearful, a little embarrassed, and tinged with pity that made Bash squeeze his hands into fists and close his eyes until he felt Mary look away.

Then he opened his eyes only to find Francis looking in his direction, a gleam of triumph in his eyes as he slid a hand under Mary's nightgown and coaxed a moan from her lips. Bash clenched his teeth and strained against his bonds.

He closed his eyes once again and tried to concentrate on his breathing. In and out, he thought. He tried to think of better things, better places to be, but all of his better places had Mary in them. He had fallen in love with her before he could stop himself, and then he had allowed himself to believe that something might come of it.

The injustice of it all nearly brought him to his knees - his father, his brother, his country, they would all punish him for reaching beyond his station. They would punish him for reaching for the throne, for the crown. For titles and land and status. Bash didn't give a damn about any of that, and he never had. They were incidental; he'd have gladly relinquished them all if he could have done so and still won Mary's heart. He'd only taken them on because she asked him to, and he loved her.

Bash tried to block out the sounds coming from the bed, tried not to think about how everything had gone so wrong, tried not to wonder if there was anything he could have done differently, anything he could have changed that would have meant he ended up Mary's husband the way they had planned.

I love you, she'd said, but I love Francis more.

He'd told her to say it so it would be real, but even now part of him couldn't quite believe it. Couldn't quite understand. Would Francis have done for Mary the things that Bash had done? Would Francis have vowed to defend her even to the point of killing Henry if necessary? Bash had literally bled for Mary on multiple occasions already, and even now - though it should probably gall him to admit it - he still would.

And she loved him too. She had shed blood on a pagan grave for him. She had matched wits with Catherine for him. She had been willing to challenge the bloody Pope for him.

Who could blame him for loving her? Who could blame him for reaching for her hand when she offered it, even if it had meant reaching for the crown as well?

Who could blame him, a few hours later, when he stood over the bodies of the men who had tried to kill him and was faced with the choice between running to Spain on his own or running to her… who could blame him for choosing her?

He loved her. He would always choose her.