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February 28 1527

Pope Clement sipped his wine as he thanked God that the terrible calamity of the Holy City being captured had been averted. Rome was safe from the Holy Roman Emperor's troops thanks to God's will and bad weather: a little of both perhaps. The few ships that had managed to land in Italy were met by the English troops sent over by King Henry and the Spanish ships were quickly commandeered by the English; as a show of gratitude, the Pope had sent the spoils of the tiny fleet back to England as he sent the Spanish and German soldiers back to their master while the generals and commanders were sent to England to be used as hostages.

Despite outwardly forgiving Emperor Charles, Clement was still outraged by his planned attack on Rome and was eager for a chance to get back at him. Although he spent many hours in penance, that sinful thought of his would not go away until a messenger from King Henry the Eighth was brought to him, carrying two requests from the English monarch, concerning his unhappy marriage to Queen Katherine of Aragon and his infatuation with Anne Boleyn.

While Clement never really paid any attention to rumors, he had heard something about a woman not following in her sister's footsteps and refusing to be the King's mistress. He also knew that Queen Katherine could no longer produced any children and the only living babe she had was a girl who could cause England to have another bloody civil war as it had happened when Empress Mathilda rose to the throne.

King Henry needed a son and if the request for a papal dispensation in order to marry a woman whose sister he had known carnally was any indication, it seemed that Anne Boleyn was the woman he desired to be his wife. Of course, the red-haired monarch willfully ignored the fact that if he had committed sin by marrying his brother's widow than by the same token Lady Boleyn was also off limits.

Despite the shakiness of his case, King Henry seemed certain the Pope would grant him the annulment and considering numerous monarchs before him had asked for annulments on less reasonable grounds and were still able to get their way, Clement was not surprised that he would think that. The only difference between King Henry and those royal men was the fact that his wife just so happened to be the aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor and the King of Spain who would not be happy to have his two relatives humiliated and tossed aside like they were nothing.

If Emperor Charles had successfully sacked Rome and held the Pope prisoner, Clement would have needed to find a way to appease the ruler of England without angering his captor. And quite truthfully, there was no reason why his predecessor's papal disposition for King Henry to marry his brother's widow would be null and void just because he suddenly decided he was living in sin. However, such technicalities could be ignored and Pope Clement was fully prepared to do so. After all, God had protected the Holy City from that ruthless Emperor by sending King Henry's troops to Italy's aid. Surely God would want to reward England for it's service by blessing her king with his long-sought after male heir.

And if Anne Boleyn could give birth to a son, Pope Clement would not want to delay the proceedings. God clearly wanted King Henry's Great Matter to finish with Katherine of Aragon's marriage being annulled. This really had nothing to do with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles or his blasted family and all to do with God's reward for England.

Perhaps I should inform my niece that when she goes to France to wed King Francis' son, she should mention to her new father-in-law that if he feels that he was forced into marrying the Emperor's sister, he might have a case to end his unhappy marriage.

With that rather vindictive thought in mind, Pope Clement sat down at his desk to write two official bulls, trying to stamp out the sense of satisfaction he was feeling. Once he made the decision, there would be no turning back and surely no one would dare argue with God's representative on Earth.


March 9 1527

Cardinal Thomas Wolsey was normally unflappable and not the type to become overwhelmed with shock. But when he had received the Pope's answer to Henry's suit of annulment, he could not stop his jaw from dropping nor his eyes from widening as he read His Holiness's official decree.

Although my predecessor, His Holiness Pope Julius II, did give a papal disposition to His Majesty King Henry, he had only done so because Infanta Catalina of Aragon had sworn that she had not laid with his late Highness Prince Arthur. In the Bible, it states that a man lying with his brother's wife will be heirless and the lack of male issue of King Henry proves that God Almighty did not approve of this union and so I, Pope Clement VII, do declare that the former disposition null and void and His Majesty King Henry the Eighth is a free man in the eyes of God and the Catholic Church and he is free to marry once more.

Clement had all but accused Queen Katherine of Aragon of being a liar and a whore. Wolsey shuddered as he thought of the proud Spanish Emperor's reaction once he learned of the Pope's declaration.

Hours and a few goblets of wine later, Wolsey realized that it mattered not what the Emperor thought or did; after all that was Clement's problem not theirs. What mattered was Henry had gotten what he wanted and God willing there would be a Prince of Wales by next year.

Even though he was weary of Henry's intended bride knowing that she had been coached by his enemies to speak against him, Wolsey could not help but feel elated that things were actually going better than he thought they would. Besides perhaps if he showed himself to support Anne Boleyn, he would be able to win her over or at the very least keep himself in Henry's good graces. That was another problem for another day. For now, he had to make haste to court so he could tell his master of the wonderful news.

"Boy, fetch me my horse! I must ride to Greenwich immediately!" he commanded his manservant, his thoughts racing. There was much to be done.


March 12 1527

King Henry was not at court when Wolsey arrived, instead he was at Hever spending time with Anne. He had specifically asked that no messenger disturb him so it wasn't until he returned to Greenwich when he learned that his Lord Chancellor had requested an audience immediately.

"Do you think it's about the annulment?" Anne wondered, only to feel silly seconds later as she knew that was a stupid question. What else would Wolsey want to speak to them about?

Henry smiled reassuringly at her as he could tell from the way her hands fidgeted in her lap that she was nervous. He took one of her hands in his, rubbing circles on her skin with his thumb, hoping to soothe her anxiety.

"I'm sure that His Holiness has read my arguments and he will see the justice of my suit," Henry told her assuredly, kissing each of her fingers. "We will be married soon, my love, do not worry."

"Forgive me, I spoke without thought," Anne said shaking her head in exasperation.

"No, no, I give you leave that we may always speak freely with each other, honestly, openly and with a true heart. For me, that is the true definition of love," Henry told her firmly, drawing her into his embrace. He was so sure that Wolsey would walk in soon with good news that he was already imagining their wedding day. "We will soon be man and wife, Anne and I want us to be nothing but honest to each other."

He almost closed the gap between them when Cardinal Wolsey was announced by the herald. With an annoyed groan, Henry nodded for the herald to let his chancellor in. Anne gave his cheek a peck before sitting back down, not even trying to pull her hand from his grasp.

When Wolsey entered, he bowed first to Henry but upon seeing Anne he quickly bowed to her as well- something that he had never down before. Anne could feel her heart thudding in her chest as she prayed that this signified what she thought it did. Wolsey did not seem surprised or affronted when he realized that she was there with Henry and unlike the last time, he did not wait for Henry to tell him to speak in front of her.

"Your Majesty, Lady Anne, I bring excellent news. His Holiness Pope Clement has agreed to the annulment," the Lord Chancellor announced, placing the Bull from Rome on the desk for the King to read.

Anne did not bother to examine the parchment herself, instead she studied Henry's face. Although they both knew that Wolsey wouldn't give them false hope if it weren't true, it just didn't seem real that their prayers had been answered so quickly. Could it really have been that easy? Could Henry really be free to marry her so they could be together and have many sons and daughters?

Henry let out a victorious shout before lifting Anne up and swinging her around.

"He has given us our blessing, sweetheart, we can get married right now if we wanted to!" Henry exclaimed delightedly, kissing Anne hungrily on the lips.

As deliriously happy as she was, unlike Henry, she had not forgotten the other person in the room so she pushed the red-haired monarch away and turned her head meaningfully to remind Henry of Wolsey who was pointedly looking away.

"Your Majesty, while I agree that this a wondrous occasion, I would caution you to not get married for two or three months- just so your people can digest this news properly," Wolsey hastily added the last part seeing that his master was about to object to the suggestion that they wait. "Not to mention there is the matter of the Princess Dowager and her daughter."

Henry flinched at the mention of Princess- no not princess- Mary. It wasn't her fault that she was born of a cursed union and yet it would be she who would lose the most. Perhaps after Anne and he had a son, he would give his daughter a title of her own that would hopefully make up for her downgraded position.

If either Anne or Wolsey saw his flinch, neither remarked on it and they instead merely waited for him to speak.

"I suppose you have a point, Thomas, for now I wish for the Pope's declaration to spread throughout England so my people know that they will be getting a new Queen by this spring," Henry commanded, hoping that the Pope's blessing would make the English people more receptive to Anne despite their love for Katherine. "Anne, perhaps you should return to your apartments; I'm sure your family will be eager to find out what's going on. I'll join you shortly."

He smiled slightly, thinking there would be much celebration in the Boleyn apartments, once they learned the news. He pressed a chaste kiss on the back of her hands before letting go of her hands and watching her as she left.

"Should I inform the Princess Dowager of what is going to happen?" Wolsey asked cautiously, sensing that the King was conflicted over making his daughter a bastard. This would not stop him from doing it but Wolsey would be careful not even to mention the eleven-year-old girl unless her father brought her up.

"No, I'll do that. In the meantime, I want you to make arrangements for my daughter to be brought back to court," Henry said, unsure what he would say to Mary when she arrived but he would do his best to assure her that despite what her mother might think, he did love her and would still be her loving papa. "As I have no Queen at the moment, the Princess Dowager is to be moved into different apartments, her household should be reduced and she is to give up the royal jewels."

"Yes, Your Majesty."


After his conversation with Wolsey was finished, Henry left his audience chamber and headed to his former wife's apartments.

Katherine was kneeling at her alter when Henry walked in. She had heard someone come in and when she realized it was her husband, she quickly got up to greet him. She froze when she saw his somber face, getting a feeling of déjà vu as he looked as he did when he came to tell her that he believed that their marriage was over. Dread chilled her veins.

"Husband, what is it?" she prompted, swallowing hard.

There was a flash of mild irritation on his face when she called him husband but when he spoke, his voice was gentle with a note of finality.

"His Holiness, in his infinite wisdom, has read my case for annulment and he has agreed with me that you are not my wife. He declared our marriage null and void. Furthermore, he has given me my blessing to remarry a bride of my choosing. I'm sorry, Katherine, but you are, as I've said before, my brother's widow and I was wrong to ever think otherwise," Henry said without a hint of sadness.

She had been married to him for nearly two decades and they had seven children even if only one had survived. And yet he characterized their once happy union as a mistake and labeled his daughter a bastard.

Her disgust at Henry's lack of empathy was overpowered by the horror at learning that Pope Clement, the leader of the Catholic Church, had apparently granted the annulment, allowing her and Mary to be displaced by the daughter of an earl who had merchant ancestors and little to no royal blood. It took all of Katherine's willpower not collapse into sobs. She merely sank back down onto her knees, her back towards the man she still loved, unable to look at him. She closed her eyes and clasped her hands in prayer, silently pleading with the Lord to let her know that this was just some error or nightmare.

Frustrated by Katherine's silence and the fact that she had just turned her back on him, Henry continued talking, his tone growing harsher. "I want you to pack your things. Lady Anne and I will be married soon and she will be the true Queen of England," he continued, growing angry as she continued to ignore him. "I have already ordered our daughter to leave Ludlow and her household will have to be disbanded as she is not a true princess."

"Yes, she is!" Katherine contradicted, her temper flaring at the mention of her daughter. "She comes from a long line of legitimate royalty, on my side at least. Your whore can have twenty sons and they will still be the children of a daughter of a mere earl with nothing but common blood in his veins."

Henry's eyes flashed. "You shall not speak of Anne that way. If anyone is the whore here, it's you, Katherine, for you did not come to my bed as a virgin despite your claims."

Katherine spun around and she stood up, her eyes blazing. "I have known no man but you. Besides if that really mattered to you, you wouldn't be marrying her as you slept with her sister. The only reason you are marrying that harlot is because you want a son. I wonder how long it will take for you to tire of her when she fails. Will you make her daughters bastards? Will you search for a third wife?"

With an angry roar Henry leapt at Katherine, grabbing her shoulders and shaking her, causing her to fear that he would hit her.

"SHUT UP!" he bellowed, digging his nails into her bare skin. When he saw her wince in pain, he let go of her and spoke to her in a deadly soft voice. "I will order your servants to pack your things for you and you are to leave the palace by tomorrow morning. You will not be allowed to return to court unless you are invited."

"What about Mary? May I see her?" Katherine pleaded, thinking that her daughter would need to hear about this from someone who cared about her.

"Why? So you can turn her against me," Henry snapped. "No. You will leave and you will not be able to contact her unless I allow you to. Goodbye Your Highness."

"For the love you bear our daughter, I beg of you, do not separate us," Katherine pleaded, tears welling up in her eyes. She sank to her knees again but this time, she grabbed the edges of Henry's robes, clutching them tightly.

"Do not attempt to manipulate me by using the love I have for our daughter against me, Madam, it will not work," Henry said coldly, tearing his robe from her hands and storming out of her apartments.

He didn't turn back even when he heard her wailing. Instead he walked to Anne's apartments, needing to see people who would actually be rejoicing over the news.


Inside Anne's apartments, the atmosphere was completely different to mood in the Queen's chambers; it was full of celebration. To say Thomas Boleyn was happy, would be an understatement.

"I never thought I'd be so glad that the Catholic Church is so corrupt," he laughed with a grin, surprising his children who had never seen him so light-hearted.

"Thomas, please don't say that when my brother is here," Elizabeth implored him, knowing how much of stanch Catholic the Howards were.

"Father does have a point, Mother. If Pope Clement wasn't so vindictive, I doubt he would have be so quick to grant King Henry the annulment of his marriage to Lady Katherine," George chimed in, a smug smirk on his face.

"I know he has a point but considering Pope Clement granted the King a divorce, I would assume that would make His Majesty less willing to hear anything bad about the Catholic Church," Elizabeth pointed out, giving her daughter and husband a rather meaningful look. She was not a true supporter of the reformation so it didn't bother her but she feared if Thomas or Anne's reformist tendencies were found out, her entire family would suffer for it.

"For now, religious reform is not important," Thomas assured her. "For now, we should be focusing on the fact that Anne is about to become the Queen of England." He beamed at his youngest daughter as he spoke.

"I think Anne is still processing that," George laughed, noticing that her sister seemed to be in a trace and hadn't reacted to anything anyone said.

"It feels like a dream," Anne murmured. "A wonderful dream I don't want to wake up from."

Thomas opened his mouth to remind his daughter that there was still much to do and prepare for but he was interrupted when the herald announced the King's arrival. At once Anne's eyes lit up and she rushed into Henry's arms, looking as happy as he did.

The Earl of Wiltshire smiled at that display of affection. For now, they didn't have to think of unpleasant things and instead they could focus on the fact that soon he would be the grandfather to the next King of England.


March 15 1527

Henry had held off summoning his daughter until Katherine was moved into her own manor with only three of her ladies-in-waiting accompanying her. He had also wanted to wait until he had arranged for Mary's new household only to decide for the time being he would allow Mary to have a place at court; her governess, Lady Salisbury would be allowed to remain with her.

He also decided that in a fortnight, he would create a title of peerage for Anne to have as her own, not wanting anyone to claim--- as Katherine had--- that she was unworthy to be his queen. He decided to make her the Marquess of Pembroke, a title she would pass down to one of their sons.

The were also the matter of discussing a price with the Emperor for the safe return of his captured commanders aside from the traitorous Charles III, Duke of Bourbon who was set back to France for his execution.

There was also the wedding plans to consider and while Henry saw sense in waiting a while, he was determined to be married to Anne in April as he wanted to celebrate Mayday with his new queen and wife.

But all of this could wait until he had spoken to both of his bastard children. He was sure Hal would be accepting of his new stepmother who would certainly treat him warmer than Katherine had; Mary, on the other hand, might see Anne as the reason why her mother was no longer a Queen and she was no longer a princess-even without her mother's influence, she might come to that conclusion.

"Make way for the Lady Mary," someone called from outside, causing Henry to grow tense. In his haste to make sure that Mary was no longer referred to as the Princess of Wales, he had ordered all of his servants to call her by her rightful title. In hindsight that was something he should have waited to do after he had explained to her what had happened instead of letting her figure it out herself.

When his daughter walked into his audience chamber, Henry quickly dismissed her governess so he could speak to her alone. He noticed that she was dressed completely in black which coupled with her sad expression, made her look far too somber than any eleven-year-old should be.

"Mary, my pearl, I have missed you," Henry exclaimed, hugging his daughter tightly and kissing the top of her head. He needed her to know that despite the annulment, he still loved her very much.

"I missed you too, Father, but I am confused and hurt," Mary told him stiffly, trying to keep herself composted. She had fond it very hard to stop weeping when she learned of the Pope's decision to annul her parent's marriage. She had barely been able to believe that her father wanted to be rid of her and her mother, the fact that Pope Clement had given in to her father's demands made this entire travesty a hundred times worse. "How is it that a few days ago, I was my Lady Princess and now I am my Lady Mary? Why am I no longer a princess and my mother is no longer a Queen?" She knew the answer already but she needed to hear it from her father's lips despite dreading what he would say.

"Oh my Mary, I am sorry that you are in the middle of this and I swear to you that this is not your fault," Henry began, trying to find a more eloquent way of telling her that her mother was a liar who cursed her marriage. "It's a complicated matter, sweetheart. I thought that God wanted your mother and I to be married despite the fact that she was my brother's wife but I realized too late that was not the case."

"You're lying to me, Father, you do think it's my fault! You think because I am a girl, I cannot be your heir so you are punishing me by making me a bastard!" Mary cried, tears falling down her face.

"No, no, sweet child, that is not the case," Henry said gently, kneeling down and lifting Mary's chin towards him so they could be eye-to-eye. "You would make a wonderful queen but this is not Spain and I fear that there will be bad men who will refuse to accept a woman on the throne. England cannot survive another civil war. I must have a son to take the throne after me. It pains me to hurt you, Mary, but I must do the best for England."

Mary said nothing more but she did not fight her father when he embraced her and instead she cried into his doublet, remaining silent as he whispered comforting lies into her ears.


March 30 1527

Kimbolton Castle was a nice country manor, lovely enough for any member of royalty but despite how nice it looked, it was a reminder of Katherine's fall from grace. She was not allowed to go to court, the servants were not to treat her as a queen and very few people were brave enough to visit her least they upset the King.

A comfortable manor did nothing to blunt the humiliation or woefulness Katherine felt as she knew that there was very little she could do about this situation. The Pope had made his decision and instead of doing the right thing and declaring her marriage good and valid, he had called her a sinner whose daughter was nothing more than a bastard.

The worst part was no one would stand up against the Pope's decision even though they disagreed with it. Katherine's own nephew was still reeling from the humiliating defeat he had when his troops tried to march on Italy and thanks to attacks from the Turks, he was unable to intercede on her behalf. Through Ambassador Mendoza, he had assured her that he would try to convince Henry to at least allow Mary to retain her princess status as it was a marriage of good faith. However, that would as good as admitting that she had not been a virgin when she first married Henry. Although she longed to allow her daughter to remain a princess and it galled her to stand against the Pope, the alternative was to allow herself be labeled a slut and a liar while an unworthy woman took her throne and crown.

No, she could not allow this to happen. God would not bless Henry's marriage with Anne and He was on Katherine's side. The consciences of either Pope Clement or Henry would awaken eventually and they would recant their foolishness.

If she was patient, Henry would come back to her and their daughter would be the Queen of England. She would not relent and she knew that her daughter and her people would not accept Anne Boleyn as the new queen.


Meanwhile, miles away from the unhappy former queen, Anne Boleyn was contemplating the reactions to the news of her marriage to King Henry as she lay in the arms of her husband-to-be.

According to her father, the common people had mostly accepted their monarch's upcoming marriage as Pope Clement had given his blessing. There were those who grumbled that Katherine was still the true Queen but her father and Master Cromwell had began spreading rumors that Katherine had hoped that her daughter would be Queen, marry the Holy Roman Emperor and make England one of his many countries; essentially robbing England of its freedom. 

Speaking of the Holy Roman Emperor, he was not happy about the humiliation heaped on his aunt and cousin but he was currently occupied with the Turks and France to try and forcefully change the Pope or Henry's decisions.

King Francis was more than willing to accept Anne as the new Queen of England both out of a fondness of a girl who had grown up in his court and also to spite his enemy. He had sent orders to his ambassador to greet Anne as if she was a queen already, something that irked the Imperial ambassador who had not been as gracious when he was introduced to her.

The Duke and Duchess of Suffolk were polite to her, not very warm to her but not outright rude. However, Charles Brandon did try to start up trouble by implying that she had lain with Thomas Wyatt and he would have been banished if his wife hadn't pleaded with Henry to allow him to stay for the wedding.

Queen Margaret of Scotland and her daughter were to be guests at the wedding so Anne assumed that Henry's other sister approved of his new marriage if not Anne herself.

As for her stepchildren, Hal Fitzroy adored her and she went out of her way to dote on him as she tried to do with Lady Mary. Unfortunately, she knew she was doomed to fail when to came to her future stepdaughter. When they were introduced, Anne could see the blame in Mary's eyes when the girl looked at her.

It didn't matter that her cousin tried to attack Italy only to have most of his fleet destroyed by a sudden blizzard and that the remainder of the fleet was captured by her father. It didn't matter that out of anger and spite Pope Clement had decided to punish her mother for what her cousin had attempted to do by granting her father's request for an annulment. To the former princess, it was Anne's fault and Anne's alone that her father had decided to discard his wife of nearly two decades and bastardize his daughter. Lady Mary- as did Princess Katherine and their supporters- believed that Anne was an evil seductress who had bewitched Henry to do her bidding.

Lips trailing up her naked shoulder brought Anne back to reality.

"Have I regained your attention, my Lady Perseverance?" Henry purred, nipping at her neck.

"You never lost it, my Lord Desire," Anne told him playfully. "I simply thought I had tired you out," she teased him.

"Never," Henry laughed, sizing her mouth in a lusty kiss.

If her father complained about her giving in and losing her maidenhead, Anne would point that the only person who would know was her future husband the man whose arms she was currently in. Besides if she did get pregnant after her first time, not even the doctors would realize that she had conceived a week before her wedding night.

"I will give you a son, Henry, I swear to you," Anne promised as her lover straddled her.

"Do not trouble yourself with that, sweetheart, we have all the time in the world to have a prince. Right now I want to enjoy you again," Henry whispered in her ear. "I love you, Anne."

"And I love you," Anne said breathlessly.

 

 

Chapter Text

May 19 1527

Today was the day Anne Boleyn would be crowned Queen of England. Henry had opted to have a private small wedding back in April after some urging from Wolsey who feared the English people would still be unwilling to accept Anne despite the Pope declaring Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon null and void.

However while he was willing to keep the ceremony small for his wedding-his first true wedding he insisted- King Henry refused to do the same for Anne's coronation, wanting it to be a bigger celebration than his own coronation which had happened nearly twenty years ago.

As the queens and kings before her had done, Anne slept in the royal apartments of the Tower of London alongside her husband who refused to leave her side. She had fallen asleep in Henry's arms, dreaming of what her new life as queen would be like.

But her wonderful dream soon became a nightmare.

"Madam, you have been convicted of high treason," the jailer told her matter of factly. "You will beheaded at the King's pleasure."

Anne was dressed in rags and she was kneeling on the dirty ground, tears flowing down her cheeks.

"No, there has to be a mistake! I am innocent! Henry, please, I am innocent!" she cried hysterically. A hand sized her chin and suddenly she was looking into the furious eyes of her husband.

"Your neck," he said coldly. "I loved your neck."

With that, Henry swung his sword towards his wife, a sick expression of pleasure on his face as the blade cut into her neck.

"NO!" Anne screamed, shooting upright, breathing heavily.

"Anne, what is it? What happened?" Henry asked her worriedly, waving the guard away as he wrapped his arms around his wife. "It's all right, darling, it was just a bad dream. There is nothing to be afraid of."

She was still shaking as she touched her neck where the sword in her dream had just hit her.

"Just a bad dream," Anne agreed, burying her face in Henry's chest. She reminded herself that he would never hurt her and what she had experienced was just a nightmare brought on by her anxiety.

"Do you want to tell me what it was about?" Henry questioned gently, stroking her face which was paler than he had ever seen it.

"It doesn't matter because it would never happen," Anne told him firmly, kissing his lips, wanting to forget about that awful dream. Considering that there was light coming through the windows, it was almost time for them to wake up anyway. "Let's just get ready for today."

"As you wish, my darling," Henry said with a smile. "After all, today is all about you, my queen."

Anne beamed at him, her nightmare already fading from her mind as she felt a rush of excitement at knowing that she would soon be crowned Queen Anne of England.


The crowds that stood on the streets of London as the royal procession rode by were rather subdued. Although some cheered as the Queen and King rode by, most stood there silently, their gazes were slightly hostile.

Anne was determined not to let the lukewarm reception she was receiving bother her and instead waved and smiled as warmly as she could. Soon the people would forget about Katherine of Aragon and they would cheer for Anne and her sons. It would just take a little time for them to love her but thanks to the Pope, it would happen sooner than it would if they had still been fighting for the annulment.

Suddenly there was a sound like a crack and Anne heard shouting and neighing coming from behind her carriage. The procession came to halt and Henry leapt out of the carriage to see what was going on, ordering Anne to stay there. Despite her better judgement, Anne stuck her head out the window to see what was happening.

"She is a whore and she deserves to die!" a man was shouting as two guards struggled to keep him from escaping their grasp.

"Take this man to a prison at once," Henry commanded, looking as though he was five minutes from strangling the person who had tried to shoot his wife and continued to make such ludicrous accusations.

"She has already bewitched the Pope and the King, how long before we are all under her thumb?!" the madman continued to rant. "Long Live Queen Katherine and Princess Mary! Death to Lady Anne Boleyn!"

"For God's sake, shut him up!" Henry bellowed, causing one of the guards to stuff a handkerchief in the prisoner's mouth before they dragged him away. He then returned to the carriage with a strained smile on his face. He gave Anne a chaste kiss, assuring her that everything was fine and nothing would spoil her special day. Then he commanded the procession to continue forward.

After the procession, Anne learned that the man had tried to shoot her but because of a lack of skill with firearms, he had missed and hit a groomsman's horse instead. Although the poor beast had to be killed, his rider only suffered a minor injury thankfully.

Despite the lack of bloodshed, Anne couldn't help but fear that her nightmare and the gunman were both bad omens. However, she pushed those thoughts aside as she knelt down at the alter and Henry put the crown of St. Edward's on her head making her officially an anointed queen.

 


As Henry and Anne returned to Westminster Palace for a celebration, Master Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey went to interrogate the man who tried to shoot the newly crowned Queen Anne.

"What is your name and trade?" Cromwell questioned, judging by the man's poor attire that he was not a gentleman which made it quite suspicious that he would have enough money for a gun.

"Matthew Porter," the man said, looking defeated as he knew he failed his mission and he would die having accomplished nothing. "I am a farmer."

Wolsey's eyebrow rose, thinking it was quite unusual for a farmer to possess a weapon of any kind.

"And why did you decide to shoot the Queen?" Cromwell asked coolly.

The man's eyes narrowed. "I would never try to harm the true Queen, Her Majesty Katherine of Aragon," he declared fiercely. "God gave me the mission to kill the great whore before her poison could destroy England forever."

Cromwell fought the urge to roll his eyes. If God wanted you to shoot her, he would have made you a skilled marksman. Rather than voice his thoughts aloud, he continued interrogating Master Porter.

"How did God provide you with the money for a musket?" he asked calmly. Part of him wonder how a farmer had ended up in the city of London but he supposed the man could have hitched a ride on any cart.

"I had a good harvest and saved my money," Porter replied vaguely as though the only reason why he would put his funds aside was to carry out an assassination attempt. He was clearly keeping something back.

"Tell me more about what God said to you," Cromwell demanded, deciding to set aside the money issue for now. After all, he had a shrewd guess who had sent this man on a mission to assassinate Queen Anne either directly or indirectly.

"God didn't speak to me but His angels spoke to a nun," Porter told them. "She had dreams from angels about what would happen if Anne Boleyn was allowed to be queen. She said that Anne Boleyn would have a daughter and King Henry would die soon after, causing England to be drowned in blood."

Wolsey and Cromwell exchanged a look, realizing who the farmer was speaking of: The maid nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton had made a prophecy a year ago that King Henry would save Rome from the devil (considering what happened with Emperor Charles, the implication was rather amusing) and Henry had been quite pleased with her until she began to speak out against his quest for an annulment.

It seemed that while Elizabeth Barton had lost the King's favor, she still had people who believed in her "visions of the future" and one of them had decided to try to kill the new queen to avert what he believed was the truth.

It was time for the mad nun to be silenced least she incited any more would be assassins to kill Anne Boleyn.


June 28 1527

Both Porter and Barton were found guilty of high treason and sentenced to be hanged sometime in July. In the meantime, Henry was more than happy to spend his birthday with his newly crowned queen, unaware that she had a surprise for him.

Anne had missed her courses twice and was growing ill in the mornings something that she knew signified that she was with child. She waited until Henry's birthday to summon a midwife, thinking that if she was right, the news would make for a pleasant surprise. She had sent her ladies save for her sister and mother, not wanting anyone to know before she had a chance to tell Henry.

The midwife confirmed her suspicions and the woman was dismissed with a pouch full of money for her service and silence. After spending several minutes of celebrating with her mother and Mary, Anne decided to go find Henry so she could tell him of his unofficial birthday gift. The red-haired monarch was busy with his councilors but Anne doubted he would be too angry at her for interrupting especially when her news involved the prince he had been hoping to have for so long.

Anne was too excited to even bother explain to the sentries why she needed to go into her husband's study despite knowing he was in a meeting. She simply brushed past them, smiling wildly. The men around the table turned when she walked in, surprised by her sudden appearance. Norfolk and Wolsey looked annoyed at her imprudence. Her father and Cromwell looked thoughtful, knowing she would not barge in for no reason. Henry merely looked hopeful.

After all, he spent every night in her bed and was well aware that she was sick every morning for the past month. He knew what that could mean even if he didn't voice his suspicions.

"Anne, what are you doing here?" Henry asked, sounding bemused with a trace of excitement. Why else would she look so giddy if not because she was pregnant?

"I must speak to you alone, Your Majesty, it is most urgent," Anne told him.

"Well I suppose we can pick up our meeting tomorrow," Henry suggested. "After all it is my birthday. I deserve a break, don't you think so, gentlemen?" he jested cheerfully, nodding at his councilors, silently ordering them to leave.

The auburn-haired queen waited until only she and Henry were left alone in his audience chamber before she spoke.

"I have just found out that I have gotten you two birthday presents, my love, one I can give you tonight but the other won't be here for another seven months," Anne informed him playfully.

"Are you sure?" Henry questioned, knowing at once what she was getting at. When Anne nodded, he embraced her, kissing her everywhere on her face before tenderly kissing her lips. "Have you checked with Dr. Linacre?"

"I sought out a midwife instead," Anne replied.

"Well I think Dr. Linacre should take a look at you just in case," Henry reasoned before beaming at her. "Seven months. We shall have our son in January then. A prince who will usher a golden age for England."

"Like his father before him," Anne gushed, cupping Henry's face in her hands.

"Oh Anne, I love you so much and you have made me most happy," Henry quipped, stealing her motto as it certainly fit this moment.

Anne smiled as she kissed him, thinking that they truly were on the edge of a golden world. She would do what Katherine had failed to do: give birth to a healthy son. When she did that, those who disparaged her by calling her a whore and a witch would declare her as England's savior.

That mad nun, Elizabeth Barton and all who believed her nonsense would be proven wrong and Anne Boleyn would be victorious.

Yes, she was the most happy.


August 5 1527

The scandal of Christendom was pregnant. Katherine was not a fool, she knew that Anne would get pregnant eventually but she had hoped that it would take longer than just a few months after the wedding. According to her spies, the false queen was almost three months pregnant and would give birth sometime in January.

Katherine closed her eyes as she remembered her little new years prince who had lived for fifty-two days. If he had lived, he would be nearly seventeen and Henry and she would be picking out his bride-hopefully one of her nieces or grand-nieces. If her little Prince Hal had lived, none of this would be happening because Henry would have his son and not even Anne Boleyn could convince him to disinherit his only legitimate prince.

If Anne had a son, Katherine and Mary would be forgotten by everyone. A son along with the Pope's continued blessing would make the English people accept him and his mother despite knowing that they were forsaking their beloved Princess of Wales and her mother.

The worst part was Katherine was unable to do anything to prevent this travesty. If she spoke out against the Pope Clement's decision, saying he had no right to issue a proclamation invalidating her marriage than her enemies would say that his predecessor had no right giving a papal deposition allowing her to marry her dead husband's brother.

A dark part of Katherine hoped that the so-called Queen Anne would give birth to a girl or a still-born. Perhaps then, Henry would realize that it wasn't Katherine's fault, that Anne Boleyn was no better than any other woman and was capable failure just like anyone else. Perhaps then the Pope would realize he had made a mistake and would renounce his declaration, allowing Henry, who would come to his sense, to reinstate Mary and Katherine to their rightful positions.

She tried to repress those thoughts and spent long hours in penance before deciding that she would pray that Anne would have a healthy baby. She would never insult Mary by praying for a boy and she couldn't bring herself to wish that her rival would give birth to the healthy prince she failed to bring into this world.

As for Mary, Katherine's spies at court had managed to smuggle her letters to her beloved daughter and vice versa. She would tell Mary of her stepmother's pregnancy and counsel her daughter to act as though she was happy for her father. She would remind Mary that the baby Anne carried was her flesh and blood and it would make her father happy to see his daughter acting like a loving sister to her half-sibling.

Katherine knew that her daughter was stubborn and hated her new stepmother but it was important that she continued to have her father's favor even if it meant being courteous to her mother's replacement and sisterly to her rival.

With Mary's position being so shaky, Katherine feared that if she behaved terribly towards Anne, Henry would send her away, calling her an ungrateful bastard. Worse if she insulted her half-sibling, Henry might view this as treason and would downgrade her even more than he already had.

Mary would have to tread carefully and to be forward would be forearmed. If Katherine was able to inform her daughter of her stepmother's pregnancy, she could put on an act of happiness when Henry made the official announcement.

All her daughter could do was pretend and all Katherine could do was hope. Hope that everything would work out. Hope that God would touch the hearts of those who had turned against her. Hope that she would return to court as Queen and Mary would become England's ruler after her father.

It was hard to have hope without wishing that Anne Boleyn would fail and she would be reborn from her rival's ashes.


It seemed that while England and Italy were done fighting, France and Spain were not. They both had sent treaties to King Henry, hoping to convince him to ally with one of them.

Despite being war-hungry and filling the English coffers with quite a bit of coins the last time, Henry had decided not to get involved with the squabble over territories, feeling that his time and resources were better used to secure his own country for his unborn son.

His Excellency Jean du Bellay had privately told Cardinal Wolsey that King Francis was sure still eager to make an alliance and had commanded that his ambassador after the birth of Queen Anne's child suggest that Princess Margaret could marry the new Prince of Wales or if it was a girl, she could be a bride for the Dauphin.

Wolsey understood at once what the French monarch was trying to do. While Emperor Charles might grudgingly offer his nieces for the future Prince of Wales, he would never dream of allowing his son to marry his cousin's rival for the throne of England which King Henry would find very insulting. By offering his son-his oldest son no less- for Henry's daughter by Anne would not only make it clear that France was England's ally, it would make a statement to all of Europe that while Emperor Charles might disagree with the Pope and King Henry's decision, King Francis supported them.

King Henry had told his councilors that Queen Anne was expecting a child and had them draw up an Act of Succession that would make it clear to all that boy or girl, the new royal baby would be his heir.

Wolsey had wondered if his master would be angry if instead of the prince the entire court was praying for, Queen Anne gave birth to a princess instead. Would he declare he had made a mistake and return to Katherine of Aragon and her daughter? The Lord Chancellor doubted that would be the case, considering that Anne Boleyn was in the prime of her life and could have many babies: both sons and daughters. It was more likely that the King would disappointed but not disgruntled.

However, with the mad nun of Kent's prophecies still circling, Wolsey feared that the birth of a daughter would make it seem as if she was right and the Pope might use it as an incentive to recant his blessing. It was better for all of them if Anne had a son even if that would make her pompous father and uncle even more powerful and smug.

"Your Eminence, might I have a word with you?" Sir Thomas More questioned, bringing Wolsey back to the present. He glanced around the room, making it clear he would speak to the Cardinal where no one would be listening in.

"Of course, my lord," Wolsey agreed. He followed More out of the Great Hall and into an unused chamber. "How may I be of service?"

"As you must have heard, William Tyndale's English translation of the Bible has been circulating around England," More began. "I have learned from my daughter, that she has seen a copy of it in the Queen's apartments."

Wolsey knew that More's daughter Elizabeth had joined the Queen's ladies-in-waiting and he had guessed that she was there to spy for the Dowager Princess of Wales. If it weren't for his loyalty to More, he might have told King Henry about this.

"And where did she see it?" Wolsey inquired, already knowing the answer. He had spies in Anne's household just as he did in Katherine and her daughter's households.

"In plain view," More told him, before his face paled. "The King already knows, doesn't he?"

"He would have to be blind not to notice," Wolsey pointed out with a sigh. "It doesn't surprise me that Her Majesty has an interest in the reformation. Her father and she have been known to make donations to groups that support Martin Luther. Luckily those heretics in Germany do not support the King's annulment and are still calling the Princess Dowager Queen of England. It's ironic but thanks to the Pope's decision, it is unlikely that Queen Anne will be able to convince His Majesty to turn against the Catholic Church."

More did not look convinced. "Unlikely but not impossible," he said foreboding. "She is a dangerous woman, Wolsey and I fear that once she has her son, heretics will be able to take over England."

Wolsey said nothing, thinking perhaps he should dig a little further into Queen Anne's interest. At the very least, find a way to diminish her control over the King before she gave birth to a son and King Henry viewed every heretical word from her mouth as the gospel truth.


August 30 1527

Her father's concubine was pregnant. Of course Mary had already known that before her father chose to make a public announcement that he would soon have another child. Even if her mother hadn't warned her, Mary would have already known as the whore's belly had become rather swollen as she was entering her fifth month.

Despite her mother's urging, Mary could not help but frown as she listened to the courtiers congratulate her father and Anne on their upcoming happiness. They were betraying her mother by doing so- deep down she knew that people like More, her aunt and her uncle were only expressing good cheer because they knew if they didn't, the King would be angry at them. However, that knowledge did not make the former princess feel any better.

She hoped Anne would give birth to a girl so her father would realize that he had made a mistake forsaking Katherine for his harlot. It would be better if God chose to abandon the harlot altogether and made her miscarry but Mary could not wish such a fate on an innocent child even if it was Anne's baby especially when it was Mary's flesh and blood just as Hal Fitzroy was.

Mary remembered hearing about the incident before Anne's coronation- for days afterward, she had wished that the gunman had not missed- and how a woman named Elizabeth Barton had said that Anne would have a girl which would lead England to be torn apart by civil war. Although she prayed that God would not take her Papa, who she still loved, she did not care if that prophecy came true, she would not let Anne's children- sons or daughters- take what rightfully belong to her.

She would be Queen of England, not the spawn of her stepmother. God would see to that.

"Mary," her aunt called, laying a hand on her shoulder. "Your father wants you to go up to the dais." She gave her niece a stern look, making it clear that she expected her to behave instead of causing a scene. Not that the Duchess of Suffolk liked Anne Boleyn any more than Mary did but she had promised Katherine to keep her niece out of trouble with her brother.

A little apprehensive, Mary walked towards the two thrones, curtsying to her father as she got nearer. Protocol dictated that she should curtsy to the queen as well but Mary would not acknowledge any queen aside from her mother. Luckily King Henry was sitting close enough to her stepmother that it seemed like she had curtsied to both of them, allowing her to get away with doing it only once.

"Mary, my sweet, in January, you will have a new brother," Henry told her as if she had somehow missed his announcement. "When he arrives, I hope you will be a good sister to him. After all he is to be the new Prince of Wales."

"Of course, I will, Papa," Mary said sweetly, trying to keep the bitterness out of her voice at the reminder of the title she had lost. Although she knew that had her mother given birth to a boy, she would have been unable to retain her status as her father's heir, it would have been much easier to give up being the Princess of Wales for her mother's son than it would be for Anne's son.

I hope she never has sons. Mary snarled inwardly.

"Good girl," her father praised her with a warm smile before beckoning Hal Fitzroy over. Putting Hal on his lap and having Mary stand in-between him and Anne, he declared "Je suis en famille!" causing the courtiers to clap.

Well aware of the eyes upon her, Mary was forced to continue to smile happily, not letting her outrage show.

While she could accept little Hal being her father's family, even if he was a bastard, Anne Boleyn and her spawn had no right to be included. Her mother was the true queen and father's true wife. She could not wait until the Pope recanted his vile mistake and her father saw the Boleyn witch as the unworthy harlot she was.

Mary met Anne's eyes and she was pleased to see unease in them. The Great Whore had cause to worried for when Mary was Queen she would see to it that Anne was burned at the stake for her sins.


October 13 1527

If there was one bad thing about becoming pregnant so early in her marriage to Henry was the fact that she would miss out on her first Christmas as queen. In fact, she was due to go into confinement during the last week of November.

Despite knowing that she would not be able to participate, Anne had decided to plan a masque anyway, thinking it would be a good way to show off her skills even though she would not be present at the Christmastide feast.

"Are you sure you are not doing too much?" Elizabeth inquired, looking for her daughter's shoulder. "Too much excitement is bad for the baby."

"Mother, for goodness sake, I am simply designing a dress, not practicing the dances with my ladies," Anne snapped, rolling her eyes. She couldn't help but think that nearly everyone was treating her like a piece of glass that might break. At least with Henry, she could understand his worry, his former wife had five of her seven pregnancies end with miscarriages. Her mother recoiled as though she had been slapped. The queen sighed and softened: "I'm sorry, Mother, but I'm fine. Honestly, I'm just glad to be able to do something. I don't know how I will be able to handle two months of being confined in my apartments with nothing to do."

"Once you have your son in your arms, you'll find that two months of boredom will be well worth it," Mary assured her, deciding to leave the part about her needing to stay in the Queen's apartment a month after the birth so her body could properly heal.

Anne nodded, lightly rubbing her belly. She felt excited knowing that in three months she would have given birth to a healthy son in less than a year of being Henry's wife and queen.

She wondered how Princess Katherine and Lady Mary would react once the new Prince of Wales was born. Would they accept it or would it make them want to stir up an uprising against their rivals?

Thinking of Lady Mary caused Anne to shiver, there was hatred in the girl's eyes that she had never thought an eleven-year-old could be capable of feeling. Anne wondered if even without Princess Katherine's urging, the former princess might try to harm her half-brother either directly or indirectly.

"Anne, are you all right? Are you feeling too cold? Should I get more wood for the fire or bring you a blanket?" Elizabeth offered, sounding as though she was afraid her daughter would freeze to death despite it being a warm day.

"No, Mother, I'm fine," Anne said, shooting Mary a dirty look when she saw the corners of her sister's mouth twitching. She laid down her quill and held up her drawing for mother and sister to inspect. She then turned to her other ladies-in-waiting. "Nan, will you please get this to palace seamstress? Tell her, that I'll need ten of them."

Nan curtsied before hurrying off to do her mistress' errand.

"Well now that's over with, perhaps you should take a short nap," Elizabeth suggested, hopefully.

Anne masterfully turned her yawn into a sigh. "Will it make you feel better if I do?" she asked quickly, not wanting to admit that she was feeling rather tired. At least this way, she could pretend she was only lying down to please her mother.

"It would."

"Then I will lie down but I'm only doing it for you," Anne said firmly, ignoring her sister's knowing expression.

"And the baby," Elizabeth reminded her, looking a little too pleased with herself.

"Yes Mother."

As she walked towards her bedchambers, Anne rested her hand on the top of her belly. Soon she would have her son and nothing else would matter.


October 31 1527

Henry did not look like he was enjoying himself as they rode through the forest, looking for any wild game to hunt. It was nearly winter, so the King had wanted to go on one last hunt before it became too cold and too snowy to enjoy such a pastime.

Unfortunately, it seemed that he could barely keep his mind on the hunt, he was no doubt thinking of his pregnant wife who was too big with child to join them as she usually would.

Charles didn't mind that Anne Boleyn was not with them as he held no love for that horrid woman who his friend was so infatuated by. Although he would never say so aloud, he agreed with his wife that she was a cheap nothing who had caused a good woman to be cast out while her daughter was made a bastard.

Of course, Henry was too smitten to care about his wife and daughter; he had even ignored his brother-in-law's warning that she had lain with Thomas Wyatt. Henry had taken Anne's side and nearly banished his childhood friend from court. A fact that still upset Brandon as he rode by his King's side.

It was clear to everyone that Henry was not enjoying himself and his bad mood was casting such tension over the hunting party that it was almost a relief when he decided to return to the palace instead of continuing to search for game.

"How is my sister, Suffolk?" Henry asked as they rode towards the palace. "And how are my dear nieces and nephews?

"Quite well, Your Majesty," Charles replied. "I think my wife and I would like to invite them to court for Christmastide."

"Well they should meet their new cousin so I think that would be a splendid idea," Henry said with a merry laugh. "Just think, Charles, by the New Years, we shall have a Prince of Wales."

Or a princess. Charles thought ruefully. After all Henry had believed that each of Queen Katherine's pregnancies would end with a healthy son. Why would Anne Boleyn be any luckier?

In fact, in his opinion having a daughter would be just what the Boleyn bitch and her smug family deserved for what they had done to Queen Katherine and Princess Mary.


Henry didn't even bother to change out of his riding clothes and instead he made a beeline for Anne's apartments, wanting to see her right away.

He found her sitting in a chair, reading a book only for her to drop the book and clutch her stomach.

"Anne!" Henry exclaimed racing to her side. "Should I get Dr. Linacre?"

"No, no, here, feel this," Anne demanded, grabbing his hand and putting it on her stomach. Within seconds, the King felt a thump against his palm.

"Now that was a powerful kick," Henry declared with a grin. "Our boy must be strong."

"Just like his father," Anne agreed, lying her hand on his. "Soon we shall have our son."

"The prince England has been waiting so long for," Henry agreed, kissing her lips before kissing her belly.

"Our Prince Henry of Wales," Anne declared.

"No not Henry. That was what her son was called," Henry said urgently. While he would love to have a son named after himself, he refused to tempt fate by naming a son born in January the name he had given his infant son who was born and died over a decade ago. "We will call him Edward or Edmund or perhaps a name that no other king has had."

"Well we have until January to decide," Anne reminded him, smiling softly, her eyes were shining with excitement and joy. "We'll decided once he is born."


January 9 1528

Her water broke just a few hours after she had broken her fast and now she had spent the entire day in labor. Mary had said that first births were always the hardest and longest; Anne hoped her older sister was right but she was unsure she could go through this much pain for this length of time for a second time.

The midwife continued to tell her to push, her sister and mother continued to tell her to hold on and she was doing fine. Anne was ready to tell all three of them to go to hell if they didn't stop saying that.

Instead she simply settled for letting out a pained scream as another contraction rippled through her body.

Finally, the pain stopped and the midwife held a child up. The woman cut the umbilical cord and gave the infant's bottom a ringing slap that caused it to let out a wail before she went to clean the child up.

"Hurry and give me my son," Anne demanded, remaining sitting up so they could put the baby in her arms when her was all cleaned up and swaddled.

"Your Majesty, you have given birth to a healthy baby girl," the midwife said, her tone was soft and her eyes were filled with pity

It took all of Anne's self-control not to wail in horror. She had given birth a princess instead of the prince she had promised.

Her enemies would celebrate and Henry…

Oh God, what would Henry think when he found out she had failed him? He had turned England upside down so he could divorce the barren Katherine and have her as his wife. And despite all they had gone through, she had given him a second daughter instead of the Prince of Wales that he wanted.


Henry's feet moved slowly as he walked towards the Queen's apartment. Anne had given birth to a daughter instead of the son they had hoped for.

He couldn't help but feel disappointed. All of Europe would surely be laughing at him once they learned he had a second daughter despite divorcing Katherine when she could not give him a prince.

The thought of Katherine made the disappointment disappear and it was replaced with outrage as he recalled her words to him:

"The only reason you are marrying that harlot is because you want a son. I wonder how long it will take for you to tire of her when she fails? Will you make her daughters bastards? Will you search for a third-"

Her first pregnancy had been a stillborn daughter and yet she dared to think Anne giving birth to a healthy daughter should be labeled as a failure. No. Anne giving birth to a healthy princess this early in their marriage was a good omen that she could have strong children. It was a girl this time but it would be a boy next time.

With that thought in mind, Henry smiled as he entered the room outside the birthing chamber, only to frown when he noticed the uneasy looks on everyone's face. Did they all think so little of him that he would be angry at Anne?

"I hear I have a beautiful daughter," he declared happily. "I think her name should be Anne after my loving queen."

"A fine name," George Boleyn agreed, beaming at Henry. Obviously, he was more concerned about his brother-in-law's reaction than harboring any resentment that his sister had given birth to his niece instead of his nephew.

His father was less pleased but smiled at Henry's demeanor all the same and looked even happier when the King ordered for the bells to be rung in honor of the new Princess Anne.


After that, Henry walked into Anne's bedchambers where she lay with their newborn daughter.

"I'm so sorry, my lord," Anne whispered, tears in her eyes.

"Don't be, my love, my mother was the first of three girls before her brothers were born. If we can have a strong daughter than a strong son is sure to follow," Henry assured her as he stroked the head of their baby.

"Can we name her Elizabeth after your mother and mine?" Anne asked, relief flooding her now that she knew that her husband wasn't angry at her.

"While that is a lovely name, I think we should save it for her sister. I thought that we should name her Anne for her mother instead," Henry informed her. His widened as tears fell from her eyes, mistaking them for tears of sadness instead of joy. "Have I made you unhappy?"

"I would only be unhappy if you stopped loving me."

"London would have to sink into the Thames first."

Henry kissed her lips lovingly before moving onto the bed and wrapping his arms around his wife and daughter.

He would protect them from their enemies. He would not let anyone, not even the Pope himself, try to say that they weren't his true wife and daughter. Princess Anne was the beginning of a golden age of England and he would fight to his death to make sure that no one tried to dispose them.

God was on their side and Henry was sure that he would bless the royal marriage with a son eventually. England did need a Prince of Wales, soon rather than later, but for now his two Annes were enough.

Chapter Text

January 10 1528

News spread through the city of London like wildfire: Anne Boleyn had given birth to a princess instead of the Prince of Wales she had been certain she carried. Despite she and the King believing that she would have a son, the new queen had failed and those who supported Queen Katherine were celebrating what surely would be a blow to the Boleyn woman's vanity if not the beginning of her downfall.

"Serves that haughty whore right," Tom Clinton hissed as he drank his ale. "She thought she could do better than Queen Katherine and yet she failed." There were many jeers and hoots at that remark.

"Did she really fail?" Arthur Paxton questioned loudly, causing the tavern to fall silent, surprised by his words. "Do not get me wrong, I love Queen Katherine and Princess Mary as much as the next person. But the old queen only gave birth to a healthy daughter after seven long years of her marriage and yet the new Princess Anne was born nearly ten months after her parents were wed," he explained, not wanting to upset anyone by calling Anne Boleyn queen.

"The King doesn't seem to be disappointed by the birth of the newest princess," his friend, George remarked, thinking of how the people of London had woken up to the sound of bells ringing, something that many had assumed meant to signal the arrival of the new Prince of Wales. "I have a brother who works in the royal kitchen, the celebrations for the new baby girl have not been cancelled and it is said that His Majesty has not let go of his daughter since she was put into his arms."

"Well then, I suppose we should toast to the newest princess," the bartender suggested, raising a full mug of his own. "To Princess Anne Tudor!"

Even though they didn't like her mother, the people were willing to accept the newest princess as she was the daughter of their beloved King Henry and that was good enough for them. In time, when Queen Anne had a son, they would accept him and his mother as well.


Anne Boleyn had failed to give her father the son he had so desperately wanted and Mary was thrilled when she learned of this new development. She expected her father to be furious at his false wife and was sure that he had demanded that she and her daughter to be kept from his sight.

Mary expected King Henry to stride into her apartments and apologize for believing the lies that wicked woman had fed him. He would tell her that he had sent a letter to the Pope Clement, pleading with him to recant his declaration and once His Holiness did so, he would call back Queen Katherine and reinstate Mary as his one and only heir. He would banish Anne Boleyn, her bastard daughter and her horrible family from court and out of their lives.

When she heard the bells, she thought nothing of it, believing that Anne or one of her family members had ordered it in hopes to cushion the blow or to pretend that giving birth to a princess was a good thing for their family.

When the morning hours dragged on until it was almost noon and her father had not come to her rooms, Mary simply thought that her father was too angry and disillusioned to do anything but rage in his chambers. After all, he had just come to the realization that his harlot had played him for a fool.

When she told Lady Salisbury that she had no wish to visit her half-sister as she knew that her father would send the baby and her dratted mother away and she would never lay eyes on either of them again, her governess disagreed with her view. Lady Salisbury tried to tell her that the King would not banish them from court because Anne Boleyn was young and even if Mary's father was unhappy with his second daughter, he would try again with Anne until she gave him a healthy prince. Mary, perhaps naively, had not believed that Lady Salisbury could possibly be right.

Surely, her father would realize that his new daughter was God's punishment for forsaking her and her mother. Surely, he would realize that if he did not return to his true family that Elizabeth Barton's prophecy would come true. Surely, he would not forgive Anne for failing him as he had not forgiven his loving and faithful wife of two decades because she had failed to give birth to a healthy Prince of Wales.

Then her father sent for her and Mary's hopes soared. She could hardly contain the smile on her face as she walked down the corridors with a small bounce in her step. She hardly noticed that Lady Salisbury seemed to be almost pitying her charge's good mood or that the courtiers barely bent their knees as she passed them even though she had expected the nobles to cleave to her and her mother's side once Anne failed to give to a birth to a prince.

All she cared about was the fact that soon everything would go back to the way it was before her father had met the Boleyns. She was certain that no more witchcraft from the Boleyn whore could tear her family apart.

But when she arrived at her father's audience chamber, her heart plummeted like a stone in her chest. King Henry was holding a swaddled infant in his arms, his eyes filled with love and affection.

"Mary, my dearest, come say hello to your sister, Princess Anne," her father commanded her happily, breaking Mary's heart in the process.

She struggled to keep the tears at bay as the name Princess Anne resounded in her head. Instead of being angry at Anne for giving birth to a girl, he was thrilled even rewarding that bitch by choosing her to be the namesake of their daughter.

Why would he do that? How could do this to her and Queen Katherine? How could her father be happy with Anne when he was angry at her mother? How could her father be pleased with the birth of his second daughter when he had disinherited his first-born daughter for not being a boy?

To Mary's horror, she could not stop the sob escaping her lips nor the tears rolling down her face. She closed her eyes, willing herself to stop but she could not. She was not aware that her father had cleared the room until she found herself in his arms, bawling like a baby into her doublet.

"I'm sorry, Papa," Mary cried, angry at herself for not being able to control her emotions. "I don't know why I'm crying." That was a lie of course and she was sure her father knew it. But she couldn't tell him the truth in fear that he would get angry at her and she was too vulnerable right now to be able to take her papa yelling at her.

When she first learned that Anne had given birth to a daughter, she had thought that everything would go back the way it was. But just as Anne had replaced her mother, it seemed that Princess Anne would replace Mary in their father's heart.

"It's all right, sweetheart, I know this must be a confusing time for you," Henry said soothingly, stroking her hair. "Let me assure you of something: just because you aren't a princess anymore, doesn't mean you are not a king's beloved daughter, my precious pearl."

"But why are you so happy with Anne when you were so disappointed when I was born?" the question fell from Mary's lips before she could stop herself.

"Oh sweet child, no, Mary, you were the only living child I had with your mother and I swear that I was overjoyed when you were born," Henry assured her, leaving out the part where he had hoped that Mary's birth meant that he and Katherine could conceive a living son. His daughter was already doubting her worth and he had no wish to add to her insecurity. "Forgive me, Mary, I did not call you here to hurt you and I am sorry that I have. But you must understand that Anne is your family too just as much as Hal is."

But Hal isn't legitimate nor could he replace me as your heir.

Mary wiped her tears as her father kissed the top of her head. Then deciding that his daughter was comforted enough, he called Lady Salisbury and the infant's nursemaid back in.

Holding her father's hand, Mary was led over to Princess Anne and this time, she was able to force herself to smile as she laid eyes of her rival. But the more she stared at her new sister, her smile became genuine. Princess Anne looked like a pleasant baby even if she was Anne Boleyn's daughter. Perhaps she would not be so bad.

"I was thinking you could be her godmother, sweetheart, would you like that?" Henry asked his daughter, smiling encouragingly to her. After all, who better to be a godmother to his newborn princess than her older sister.

"Yes, Father," Mary said, nodding her head with a determined look in her eyes.

Eventually the false queen would be cast out and Katherine and Mary would be returned to their rightful positions. When that happened, Mary would not allow her half-sister to live with her maternal family; instead she would entreat her father to allow the child to live in her household where Mary could make sure she grew up to a respectable woman unlike Anne Boleyn.


January 13 1528

Mary Brandon wondered how Norfolk and Wiltshire had reacted when Anne had a girl instead of a boy. Did they fear for their positions? Did they blame Anne for it? Not that the Duchess of Suffolk had much sympathy for her sister-in-law but even she didn't deserve to be yelled at for something she had no control over.

If Norfolk and Wilshire were disappointed with the newest royal child, they were doing a masterful job of concealing it. Lord Howard looked as impassive as he also did, Lord Boleyn had a look of pride on his face as he carried his baby granddaughter up the aisle where Archbishop Warham was waiting.

He and Brandon were Princess Anne's godfathers while his wife shared the position of godmother with the infant's half-sister.

The Duchess of Suffolk smiled at her niece as she passed by. She had heard of her niece's reaction to Princess Anne and was relieved that instead of getting angry about it, Henry had comforted his daughter. It was a good thing that he treated his daughter kindly despite bastardizing her and forsaking her mother. Although the former queen of France did think Katherine and Mary should be reunited, she felt that at least if her niece continued to stay at court, it was possible that she could at least develop a sisterly bound with Princess Anne and stay in her father's good graces.

Lady Brandon had no doubt that Mary's extreme reaction to her half-sister came out of despair at learning that despite Anne giving birth to girl, her father had no intention of getting rid of her. Sadly, the King's sister doubted that even if the Pope changed his mind about his declaration, Henry would never forsake his concubine.

Her brother was too besotted with Anne Boleyn to give her up. Charles had been surprised when Henry decided to celebrate his daughter's birth; her husband, as did many others, assumed that at the very least Henry would be frustrated that he had a second daughter when Anne had promised him a son. However, Mary Brandon saw the matter differently. She was only fourteen when Katherine's first miscarriage happened just a few short months after their wedding. It had been a girl who Henry had named Katherine after her mother just as he named Anne after hers. If Mary had to guess, her brother viewed a daughter being born just ten months after his wedding as a blessing and a good omen that Anne would give birth to many healthy children unlike Katherine.

Maybe he would get a little frustrated if Anne didn't have a son next time or if she miscarried her next child but he would be patient for a few years.

The worst part was even if he did decide to discard that cheap nothing, Mary knew her brother well enough to know that he would not swallow his pride and admit he was wrong to leave Katherine, instead he would try to start a new marriage with whatever poor lady he grew fond of.


Thomas Boleyn was not pleased that his daughter had given birth to a princess instead of a prince- especially when he was sure that if his new granddaughter was a boy, he would have gotten a dukedom. However, the King was happy that Anne had a healthy daughter and even Thomas had to admit that even though she was a girl, the newest Princess was a good omen for the royal marriage.

Besides, according to his spy in Wolsey's household, the French ambassador had orders to suggest a French match no matter what the gender of Anne's baby was and once he broached proposal publicly, it would quell any doubts that Princess Anne was unworthy for Europe's' heirs. And according to Cromwell, although there were some who laughed at the Boleyn's misfortune, most were pleased to welcome the new princess, something that boded well for when a prince was born in the near future.

Princess Anne cried out as holy water was poured over her, cleansing her soul from all impurities. After saying a prayer, Warham handed the baby girl back to her grandfather. Then the Earl of Wiltshire led the precession out of the chapel and through the corridors of the palace.

Thomas could not help but smile at his sweet granddaughter as he walked towards his daughter's rooms. She looked just like Anne did when she was babe in his arms. He had always known that his second daughter would be special but he had no idea that she would be the Queen of England. They needed to secure Anne's position with a son but Thomas could not be too unhappy with the baby in his arms. She filled him with too many found memories of his children's childhood for him to resent her even a little bit.

Elizabeth gently touched his arm as they neared the bed where both the King and Queen were lying.

"Princess Anne, Your Majesties!" the Earl of Wiltshire announced with unnecessary flourish. He laid his granddaughter in Anne's arms and then, to everyone's surprise, broke protocol to lay a kiss on his daughter's cheek. "She looks just like you did. Although she didn't make as much of a fuss when she was christened," he whispered, just loud enough for Henry and Anne to hear.

The red-haired monarch laughed good-naturedly, clapping Thomas on the shoulder while Anne just chuckled at her father's words.

As the precession left the room, the Earl of Wiltshire glanced back at three people on the bed. It was hard to tell who Henry had more affection for: his wife or his daughter. Thomas just prayed the King's love for Queen and Princess Anne continued.

He would remind his daughter that she needed a son tomorrow but for today, he would celebrate his granddaughter: the first Boleyn princess.


January 18 1528

Her first-born babe was a girl who Henry had named Katherine after her mother even though the baby was born dead. That girl was the first child the former Spanish princess had carried in her womb; the first baby she had ever miscarried. Back then, Henry held her in his arms while she sobbed over the death of their daughter, assuring her that they would have many more children to fill the empty royal nursery. He continued to hold her and comfort her when five of her next six pregnancies ended in death and sorrow, never once reproaching her for her failures.

Then his mistress Elizabeth Blount gave birth to her husband's son and Henry suddenly decided it was not his fault that he had no living Prince of Wales. A few years later, he met Anne and soon after Katherine, the barren and aging queen, was set aside for the much younger and fertile daughter of an Earl.

She was not so foolish to assume that if Anne had a daughter, Henry would be so upset that he would discard his whore and return to Katherine. But she did not think he would be so happy with receiving a girl instead of a boy that he would name his new daughter after her mother nor that he would celebrate her arrival as if he had hoped that Anne would give birth to a princess all along.

Perhaps Katherine was being a little bit unfair as Henry had been just as delighted with Mary's birth but she would have thought he would at least be displeased that he didn't have the Prince of Wales he was so convinced Anne would be able to provide for him after so many years of losing son after son with Katherine.

"The joust was canceled, Your Majesty," Ambassador Mendoza pointed out as though no jousting was a sign that Henry was furious he had a second daughter instead of a son. Upon seeing her skeptical look, he pressed on, wanting to give her some good news that would give her hope that Henry's love for his concubine was fading. "And Lady Anne will be confined in her bed for at least another month." He didn't elaborate nor did he need to: it was entirely possible that Henry would get a mistress while his wife was unable to preform her martial duties.

However, Katherine doubted that would be the case for one simple reason.

"Did he take a mistress while Lady Anne" she would never refer to that woman as queen. "was pregnant?"

Katherine would never condone adultery even if she did not believe that Henry and Anne were truly married but at the very least Henry showing an interest in a different lady would mean that the Boleyn woman's hold over him was weakening.

"No," Mendoza admitted, sounding rather displeased. After all, if the red-haired monarch couldn't be faithful to Katherine- a far worthier woman in Mendoza's humble opinion- why would be faithful to Anne?

"Then he is unlikely to do so now. He waited years to have her so he'll be fine with waiting one more month," Katherine said with a sigh. Henry was a fickle man but he clearly viewed the birth of his second daughter as a good thing and if he showed no interest in another woman, then he would wait until Anne was churched before happily returning to her bed. Not wanting to discuss her husband's affairs any longer, Katherine turned to a different subject. "Have there been any news from Rome?" she questioned hopefully.

"Nothing good I'm afraid. His Holiness, insists that Anne is the Queen of England and her daughter is a trueborn princess," Mendoza answered, frowning sympathetically when he saw the Spanish woman sag in despair. Of all the betrayals she had encountered over the years, it was the unexpected one from Pope Clement that hurt her the most.

"What of the Princes of Europe? What do they think of Henry's newest daughter?" Katherine asked, praying that at least her nephew was unwilling to acknowledge the so-called Princess Anne.

"Well heretics like Martin Luther are on your side, my lady," Mendoza remarked with an ounce of humor in his tone. It was rumored that the Boleyns believed in all of that heretical nonsense so it was almost funny that their ambitions inadvertently made the Catholic Church's influence stronger in England and drove a wedge between them and the reformers. "So I doubt that the heretical dukes of Germany will be calling the new baby a princess or her mother a queen any time soon. Your nephew is, of course, on your side and he will continue to plead with the Pope to put an end to this injustice. Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Scotland and Poland seem to have take His Holiness' declaration as the truth but they have simply sent their congratulations to King Henry, nothing more. France, on the other hand, are more overt in their support." Mendoza grimaced before continuing: "If the rumors I hear are true. King Francis is offering his oldest son as a bridegroom for Anne Fitzroy."

Katherine could scarcely believe it. The gall of King Francis was appalling, he had to know that if Pope Clement ever did recant his declaration that the so-called princess would be made a bastard. And yet he was willing to risk his son marrying an illegitimate girl just so he could insult his enemy.

The worst part was once it became known that Francis was seeking to make such a match, there was no doubt that the royal houses of Europe would follow, in hopes to make an alliance with England.

And when Anne Boleyn had a son, it would be even harder for Pope Clement to see reason and even if he did eventually, Henry might not listen.

If that happened, only God could help Katherine and Mary.


Meanwhile Henry was discussing matters with his councilors.

"Both France and Spain are asking for your aide in their war," Wolsey read from his papers.

"Considering the Emperor continues to badger the Pope, trying to force him into declaring my false marriage true, I think it is safe to say that I will not be siding with Spain," Henry snapped, harrumphing at the gall of the Spaniard who used to call him uncle.

"King Francis also expresses his desire to see a marriage between Princess Anne and the Dauphin Francis," Wolsey continued. No one at the table seemed surprised as gossip traveled fast around the court and it has been known for days.

"I hope he doesn't expect me to pay my daughter's dowry in advance," Henry said coolly, scowling as he remembered how the Spanish Emperor had wanted to marry Mary-when she was still a princess- and had taken her dowry in the form of help against the French. When Emperor Charles married Isabella of Portugal, he did not pay back a farthing of the coffers he received.

Thankfully Henry had managed to gain his money back a year ago when his troops sized control over the ships left floundering on the Italian shore. But it still irked him that the man he once saw as an ally and was the cousin of his beloved daughter was such an untrustworthy knave.

"The French Ambassador assures me, he only hopes to unite France and England through the bounds of matrimony," Wolsey informed him.

"I think that the Dauphin Francis would make a good husband for Princess Anne," the Earl of Wiltshire declared with a smile. After all his granddaughter would be the Queen of France and his future grandson would be the King of England. Why wouldn't he be elated by such a prospect?

"Very well but I do not want to seem too eager so let's wait a few months before starting the negotiations," Henry decided before abruptly changing the subject. "Speaking of my daughters, the Lady Mary will be turning twelve in a fortnight and I want to celebrate by giving her a title of her own."

He had originally wanted to wait until Anne had their son before giving Mary her own peerage but he could not get his daughter's reaction to her new sister out of his head. The last thing he wanted was for Mary to feel unloved so he hoped that a title of viscount or countess would remind her of his love. However, he did not dare give her a higher title, in fear that some would insist that he was punishing Anne by making Mary a marquess or a duchess.

"Your Majesty, if I could make a suggestion," Thomas More began, trying to keep his fears under control. He could tell that Henry felt guilty about Mary's downgraded position. He had thought of this solution some time ago but he had thought it was best to wait until Henry decided that leaving Mary as simply Lady Mary was not enough before he broached this particular subject.

"Of course, Thomas, speak freely," Henry told him, smiling at his old tutor.

"I've been thinking about the Lady Mary and I remembered how you said that she had done nothing. She is a victim of circumstance, born from a marriage of good faith. Perhaps you could ask Pope Clement to allow your daughter to return to her title as princess," More explained.

The men sitting around the council table became apprehensive, fearing Henry's reaction. Those who supported Katherine and Mary were nervous that the red-haired monarch might lash out at More for suggesting such a thing while those who supported Anne were worried that he might agree which would surely weaken Anne and her children's positions.

"I do not think that would be wise," Henry said stiffly, a dark look on his face. If he died sometime after declaring that Mary was a princess, Spain's troops would be at England's doorstep to make sure that his wife and daughter did not hold the crown. Dear Lord, what if he died tomorrow and that happened anyway. Little Annie was just a babe: she would not be able to protect her throne. "In fact, gentlemen, I want to make sure that there can be no question that my children by Anne are my true heirs."

More flinched, knowing that he had unintentionally just caused Lady Mary to lose her chance at receiving her own peerage.

Henry sighed. He wanted to honor his oldest daughter but he could not do so now. Not while he had no son and that dratted woman's prophecy of him dying once he had a second daughter which would cause England to be torn apart by civil war was still fresh in everyone's mind.

His father had hoped to put an end to the civil war in England and he had already let the old King Henry down by failing to secure the Tudor Dynasty. Henry could not do anything else that would put his legacy and England in jeopardy.

However, that didn't mean he disagreed with Sir More. After all, Mary was not to blame for all of this. Why should she have to lose the title she was born with because of her mother's lies?

His daughter was a charming, intelligent young lady, a good wife for any king. When Anne had a son or maybe two sons, Henry would send a letter to the Pope, requesting that his pearl be reinstated as a princess.

She deserved to a queen, he just couldn't allow her to be the queen of England.


February 9 1528

"You are a month old, my sweet girl," Anne cooed at the baby in her arms. Her father was right, Annette (as Mary liked calling her) was her mirror image except she had Henry's eyes.

Annette giggled as her mother bounced her up and down.

"Your Majesty, it's time for her feeding," the nursemaid said, her hands fidgeting at her sides as she did not want to seem like she was eager to take the baby from the queen.

Anne glowered, feeling that her time with her daughter was too short and she hated not being able to feed her daughter from her own breasts because queens did not do that. She still grudgingly handed Annette over and waved goodbye as the nursemaid took the infant back to the nursery.

"I'm sure they will bring her back soon," Mary whispered in her ear, patting her shoulder sympathetically.

Before Anne could reply, the familiar call of 'make way for the King' was heard and minutes later Henry strode into the bedchamber. Mary quickly took her leave, knowing that the married couple wanted their alone time.

"Where is my Annette? I was hoping to see both of my Annes today," Henry mock-complained after sharing a sweet kiss with his wife.

"I am afraid that you just missed her. She returned to the nursery to be fed," Anne explained before adding with a teasing tone. "I hope that I will be good enough company while we wait for her to be brought back."

"Always, my sweetheart, always," Henry assured her with a fond chuckle before sobering. "Anne, may I ask your opinion of something that has been weighing on my mind for these past few weeks?"

"My opinion has been given more times than anyone has actually asked for it," Anne jested before putting her hand on Henry's arm, gently stroking his sleeve. "Is it about Mary or that awful Barton woman?"

She had heard rumors about the mad nun's prophecy and while she didn't believe it would ever come true, it was still a dark cloud hanging over her and her daughter's head. Her father had told her about Henry and More's discussion and while she didn't see the harm in giving her stepdaughter a title, she did agree that making Mary a princess ahead of Annette was simply asking for trouble.

"A bit of both perhaps," Henry said, his brow creasing. "I want to make my daughter happy but I fear what will happen to you and Annette were I ever to die-"

"You will not die. I won't let you!" Anne declared fiercely, not even wanting that terrible thought to be completed.

Her husband beamed at her. "If only it were that easy," he murmured, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing her fingers. "In any case, my love, what do you think of me giving Mary a title or making her a princess again?"

What could Anne say to that? She could not tell him that she feared that the twelve-year-old girl might her death and she would rise an army against her own blood in order to wrestle the crown of England from her half-sister's hands.

To be so afraid of a child was ridiculous and Henry would find it insulting that Anne would think his daughter would turn against his loved ones.

Henry feared that Katherine or her allies would use Mary against his daughter and wife but he would never believe that Mary herself would be capable of being anything but his sweet lovely daughter.

"I am sure that she would be very happy with either," Anne said thoughtfully, privately wondering if Mary would accept being a princess with her stepmother still the queen. "However, I do fear that wrongminded people might believe that your daughter takes precedent over our children." Feeling slightly guilty, she added: "But if you really want to do this for your daughter then you should."

"I think that I will wait a few years," Henry decided with a sigh before giving Anne's hand a squeeze, not wanting her to think he was angry at her honest answer. After all, they both feared the same even if Anne was slightly more paranoid.


June 2 1528

Her husband had returned to her bed in early March and they had spent every night together but Anne had not dared believe that she would get pregnant again so soon after giving birth.

After all she had the mistake of being too prideful in her own abilities the last time and God had punished her for her arrogance-even if Princess Annette was the sweetest and most adorable punishment she had ever received.

She had missed her courses twice but she had yet to feel sick in the mornings so she did not send for a doctor or a midwife. Anne feared getting her hopes up prematurely so she did not share her suspicions with anyone not even her mother.

However, as she rode her horse by Henry's side, she could not help but feel a little nauseated and was beginning to regret not seeing a physician before agreeing to join Henry on this outing.

"Are you all right, Anne? Do you not feel well? Should we head back?" Henry quizzed her, his brow furrowing in worry at how pale and queasy his wife looked.

The queen swallowed the bile in her throat that lurched upwards when her horse walked down the bumpy path. Then she shook her head, a strained smile on her face.

The group that they were traveling with was George, Anthony Knivet and Charles Brandon. While Charles and Anthony were joking and jesting with each other, George seemed was uncharacteristically quiet and Anne was sure she knew why.

While her brother and his wife did not have the best of marriages, they had grown closer when Jane fell pregnant and was due to give birth in July. George for all his playfulness was anxious to be a father and had asked to leave court tomorrow.

"Tell me, George, what will you name your offspring?" Anne questioned, ignoring how her stomach seemed to be doing cartwheels.

"Either Henry or Anne, of course," George stated, his eyebrows shooting up in mock-surprise as if there could not be any other names to choose from.

"As flattered as we are, I think that there might be too many Henrys and Annes that it might be confusing," Henry pointed out with good cheer. "After all your daughter will be a companion to our little Anne."

"Besides I think Mary might feel a bit left out," Anne remarked, thinking of her sister who was currently spending time with her husband and children. "Perhaps you should name your son George or your daughter Jane."

"I shall think on that, Your Majesties," George promised.

After having a picnic under a tree, the group made their way back to London only to stop at the gates, realizing something was terribly wrong.

"Dear God what is that awful smell?" Anne asked, feeling as though she was about to lose her lunch on the side of the road and she quickly covered her face with her handkerchief.

"It smells like vinegar," Anthony remarked, looking worried.

Henry tried to approach the gate only for the guard to stop him.

"You must stay back, Your Majesty, it is the sweat," the man told him. "It is spreading quickly."

"We must return to the palace at once," Henry commanded just seconds before Anne leaned to the other side of her horse and let loose the vomit she had been trying to keep down for the past few hours. "And I think that Dr. Linacre better take a look at you just in case, my love."


June 25 1528

The sweat was running rampant through England and Anne was pregnant.

Henry had sent Mary and Annette away to Katherine's residence as it was the furthest from the sickness in London. On Wolsey's advice, he had disbanded the court, feeling that for everyone's safety, there needed to be as few people as possible at the Palace of Placentia.

Learning about Anne's second pregnancy should have been a joyous occasion but instead it was filled with fear and uncertainty. They both remained away from each, having contact with only a few attendants.

Just when it looked like things couldn't get worse, Henry's manservant dropped dead and an hour later, Anne's maid became sick with the sweat. They had to flee from the palace before they could catch it.

However, Henry knew that he could not leave London completely as they needed their king but he could not risk getting ill so he ordered her to go to her family's house immediately.

Unfortunately, Anne was not so easily cowed despite her fear of the sweat.

"I am your wife and queen. My place is at your side. Either we leave together or we stay here," she declared.

"Anne, please, you have to go to safety for our children's sake. Our daughter and our son need their mother alive and well," Henry implored her, struggling to keep his temper under control.

Didn't she realize how much danger she was in? If the sweat took Anne and their unborn baby, he wasn't sure how he would cope without them. He couldn't lose them, not when everything was going so well.

Death was everywhere and he was just a mere mortal. He couldn't protect his children from the sweat.

What if Hal Fitzroy, his only living son, died at such a tender age? He would never forgive himself if Mary did as a bastard believing that her father did not love her. And sweet Annette was only a babe who he wanted to see grow and flourish.

"What about you? Don't they need their father alive and well?" Anne questioned, reaching out to touch his cheek. Her eyes widened as her hand continued up his face to his forehead.

Henry suddenly realized that the room seemed to be swirling. He could see Anne's mouth moving but there seemed to be no words coming out of it.

Then it all went dark.

Chapter Text

June 25 1528

One minute everything was fine and then the next moment, her world was crumbling before her eyes.

Queen Anne was not sure how she had managed to remain calm when Henry fell to the floor, covered in sweat. She was not sure if she had screamed in horror or if the guards had heard the red-haired monarch's body hit the floor and that's why they came running in. She was not sure how she did not collapse into hysterics as her only remaining lady led her away from the physician examining her husband.

God must have been watching over Anne that day, keeping her from losing her baby and becoming sick with the sweat herself. She was determined not to give in to the fear that was coursing through her veins, her husband had decreed that she was to be regent if he was indisposed for one reason or another and she would not let him down.

She refused to flee to Hever. Henry had said that someone needed to stay in London and with him being indisposed, Anne needed to be the that person.

"You can't be serious, Anne, you must get to safety," Thomas Boleyn demanded. "Think about the baby and yourself." He would not speak to her too harshly in fear that the argument would cause her to miscarry or worse become sick.

"Henry wasn't about to run away so why should I?" Anne demanded.

"Anne, I beg of you, for the sake of your son and your daughter, at least let us go to Hever until the sicknesses has abated. If you die, who is going to protect your daughter's crown?" Thomas questioned.

His daughter chewed her lip thoughtfully before nodding as she stroked her stomach.

"I will go to safest place near London and I expect to be informed immediately when I can return," Anne ordered regally. She would leave Surrey so she could keep her children from becoming orphans but she refused to leave England without a leader. She was the regent and she would not allow anyone to say that she cared more about herself than her people's wellbeing.


 

Miles away at Hever, while Anne was worrying about her husband, her sister-in-law was afraid for not only her life but also the lives of her unborn babies. Because she was carrying multiple babies, Jane had gone into confinement early and she had been doing all right for the first eight months of her first pregnancy. However she feared that with the epidemic going around she was in great danger, a fear that only worsened as her labor pains started.

"I can't do it," Jane sobbed. "It's too much pain. Oh God, what if the babies catch the sweat from me."

"It's going to be all right," Elizabeth Boleyn said soothingly, holding her daughter-in-law's hand. It was impossible to tell if Jane's sweaty forehead was because of the strain of childbirth or if she really did have the sweat. Despite knowing that Jane would be contagious if she did have that horrible disease, Elizabeth did not leave; she would die before she left Jane and her grandchildren go through this alone.

"How can you say that! I have doomed my babies and you!" Jane screamed.

"The first baby is crowning!" the midwife called.

Once the child was out of it's mother's womb she quickly cut the umbilical cord and hurried the newborn out of the room just in case their mother did have the sweat. The Boleyn's doctor was waiting in the other room and he would inspect and clean the child so the midwife could go back to tending to Jane.

The second baby was born forty-five minutes later. Sweat or no sweat, Elizabeth doubted Jane would be able to safely deliver a third baby as she had lost so much blood already; unfortunately, she had no choice but to keep punishing despite barely having the energy to scream.

"Save the baby and let me die. Please," Jane whimpered as her eyes rolled to the back of her head.

"No! Jane! Stay with us!" Elizabeth shouted, terrified.

"We have to preform a c-section immediately," the midwife told her before summoning the doctor.

Elizabeth could not bear to watch so she left the room to be with her worried son.


 

An hour and a half later, the physician walked outside of the room, his expression grim.

"How is she? Is she all right?" George demanded. He had heard all three cries of his children so he assumed that they were healthy. However, his mother had mentioned that Jane had fainted in the middle of giving birth and he feared that the c-section would damage her already fragile health even more. Although he had not loved Jane, George had cared for her and once she became pregnant, he had found himself excited at the prospect of becoming a father and he was sure that Jane would make a wonderful mother.

"I am sorry to tell you that your wife died due to blood loss. We couldn't save her," the doctor said sadly. "She had two more boys in her womb. I do not think the fourth baby is long for this world."

George could feel his heart breaking. God, he was to lose his wife and newborn son on the same day. "What of the other three? Will they live?" he asked, a plea in his voice. He closed his eyes and swallowed the lump in his throat. He had been so happy when he learned that Jane had given birth to a daughter and overjoyed when she was joined by a by a second girl. Now he had two daughters and two sons but no wife to complete their family.

"I cannot say for certain especially when there is so much sickness going around. Only time will tell."

"Why don't we go to the nursery and we can go see them," Elizabeth suggested, resting her hand on her son's sleeve.

"No, I should go. Anne needs me," George said, tearing his sleeve from his mother's hands.

Elizabeth stared open-mouthed at her son. How could he abandon his four newborn and mother-less children like that?

"George, you are all they have, you cannot just leave them," she admonished him.

"I can't look at them right now, Mother, please don't make me go see them," George pleaded with her, his voice strained.

He couldn't explain it but he was afraid. Afraid that if he saw his children, he would never be able to bear the grief he would feel if they died. It was ridiculous but he was unsure of how much tragedy he could take.

"Very well. Will you at least name your motherless babes?" Elizabeth demanded, glaring at her son.

"Jane, Mary, Thomas and George. I should go pack, I'll leave in the morning," George said, not meeting his mother's eyes. He didn't need her to tell him he was a coward; he was already aware of it.


 

The newest George Boleyn died just a few hours after his mother. When Elizabeth passed her son's room, she could hear loud weeping from inside it. But he was not the only one who needed comfort so she continued to walk until she reached the nursery where her remaining grandchildren were sleeping, blissfully unaware that they had lost both their mother and their brother in a matter of hours.


 

June 28 1528

Henry was thirty-nine today and he languished in Greenwich Palace, barely clinging to life. There were rumors that the sweat was God's punishment for the King forsaking his true wife and daughter replacing them with another. But if that was true, surely it would Anne who was sick instead of Henry.

Katherine was terrified about what Henry's death would mean for her and Mary. They could fight for Mary's right to the crown. In fact, as her mother had done in Spain, even if the Pope did not recant his declaration, Katherine would gladly raise the troops to battle for her daughter's throne as winning would prove that God was in fact on her side and that Clement and her husband were… mistaken in their views.

But would it be worth it? The sweating sickness was still spreading through England, ravaging countless lives. Countless more Englishmen would perish in the civil war that would happen if the Boleyns and Howards chose to fight for a Queen of their blood despite her being just a babe.

What if one of Anne's relatives or even Anne herself if she was paranoid enough, decided to get rid of her daughter's rival permanently just in case Henry died? Katherine was sure that there were spies in her manor who reported everything she and Mary said to their masters, what if one of them murdered the twelve-year-old girl just so her seven-month-0ld half-sister would be the undisputed queen of England?

Despite everything he had done, Henry was the only person who could keep Mary safe and end this horrible mess without bloodshed. They were at a stalemate right now and only Henry being alive and well would keep the fragile peace from being broken.

God please forgive my husband's sins and spare him from death. Katherine prayed that Henry would get better so he could protect his kingdom from civil war and protect his daughter from harm.


 

Deciding that was enough prayer for the time being, Katherine left her rooms and went to visit her daughter. The town they were in had been lucky enough to avoid the sweat and considering how long it had been since she had seen Mary, Katherine was pleased that she got to spend so much with her daughter without fear of either of them growing ill.

They sat together as Mary showed her mother how much better she had gotten playing the lute. But throughout her performance, Katherine noticed that Mary seemed to be lost in her thoughts and she finally told their ladies to leave so she could ask Mary what was bothering her.

"What troubles you, my dear heart?" Katherine asked soothingly even though she could already guess the answer.

"Why didn't Papa heed Elizabeth Barton's prophecy? If he had just admitted to making a mistake and asked the Pope to reinstate you and me to our rightful positions, he wouldn't be dying," Mary ranted, feeling unusually angry at her father. "Now he'll die and I'll have to dispose my own sister in order to keep England safe from the Boleyn witch and her vile kin."

Katherine stared at her daughter in dismay. It wouldn't be until later would she realize that Mary was simply covering her own feelings of anguish with ire. But in this moment, she was completely unnerved by her daughter's words.

"How dare you say something like that! How can you talk about your king not mention your own father dying so casually? How can your even think like that?" she demanded, furious at what she perceived as callousness. Perhaps her daughter took after Henry in more ways than one.

"But Mama-" Mary began, trying to explain that it was not that she wanted her father dead, it was that she believed that he could have avoided getting sick if he hadn't married Anne Boleyn.

"No!" Katherine interjected sharply. Then she softened when she saw the tears in her daughter's eyes. She embraced Mary and gentled her tone. "You should not be berating your father for his actions. You should be praying that he lives so there is no bloodshed. England is already suffering and a good queen should always do what's best for her people including waiting until her father sees the error of his ways." And the Pope as well She added inwardly.

"I understand, Mama," Mary told her softly. Her mother's words reminded her of something that her father had said that day she had asked him why she was no longer the Princess of Wales, accusing him of punishing her for being female.

You would make a wonderful queen but this is not Spain and I fear that there will be bad men who will refuse to accept a woman on the throne. England cannot survive another civil war. I must have a son to take the throne after me. It pains me to hurt you, Mary, but I must do the best for England.

Although she was a young girl when this particular event happened, she remembered rumors that the Duke of Buckingham was plotting to kill her father and take the throne for himself. Would he have done so if her mother had a son? Perhaps he would have still carried out his treasonous plot regardless of what gender her father's heir was but the fact remained that there was royal blood in England that could try to take her crown from her if they felt they had a better claim.

Perhaps it would be better if Anne had a son especially when Pope Clement had blessed her stepmother's marriage to her father. And if her father did die, perhaps it would be better for her country if she chose to stand aside rather than let a civil war destroy what was left of England.

That being said, Mary would cut out her own tongue out rather than letting anyone think that she believed the vicious slander that was spread about her mother. Katherine of Aragon was not a liar and if she said that her marriage to the Prince Wales was unconsummated, then that was what happened.

Her mother would fight for her right to become queen of England even though she did not want any blood being spilled and Mary would defend her mother's reputation until her dying breath.

"We will get through this together," Katherine promised her daughter, planting a kiss on the top of her hair.

"I know we well," Mary said determinedly. "We come from a line of strong woman."

 


July 3 1528

It was nearly over. They had decreed that court could be reestablished in London again. Wolsey had given Henry and Anne Hampton Palace as a wedding gift and it would be used for those who were able to travel to court.

There were still a few men (including her husband) who were still sick and they remined locked in their homes. Henry was still in Greenwich and Anne prayed that he would soon become well. Because Kimbolton had not been overcome by the sweat, Anne decided that was the safest place for her daughter to be until the dangers of the sweating sickness was truly over.

Her father disagreed.

"Anne, leaving your daughter in the home of the enemy might not be a good idea," he argued. "If the King…" He could not finish his sentence as it was treason to even think about the monarch's death. However, Thomas doubted that there was a person in all of England who wasn't thinking those thoughts from the moment Henry became another victim of the sweat.

"Give the Princess Dowager some credit, Father, she would never harm a helpless baby," Anne said firmly. Even though she still feared that Mary would one day be her death, the queen knew that the twelve-year-old girl would not be dangerous even if she was used to weaken her siblings' claim to the throne of England.

"If it makes you feel better, Father, I can ride to Kimbolton and stay there until Princess Annette is able to return to London," George suggested, thinking that as the uncle of the princess, no one would be suspicious that he was there as a spy instead of simply being there for his sweet niece.

There was another reason why George wanted to leave: fearful of the sweat Jane had gone into labor early and it was entirely possible that she would have died from it had she not bleed out from her excruciating childbirth. The was some irony that instead of dying of the sweat like so many of her countrymen were dying from, the Countess of Rochford died because of complications during giving birth. She had now left her husband a widower and their children motherless.

Anne gave her brother a disapproving look, clearly thinking it would be better for him to go back to Hever where his newborn children were than playing spy for their father. But she said nothing which was something George was thankful for; he was feeling enough guilt already.

"Very well," Thomas agreed. "But we must make plans in case the worst thing happens and your son is born a king."

Everyone was so certain that Anne would have a son just as they had cheerfully predicted it would be a prince when she was pregnant with Annette. But for once, the hope that she will have a son did not come from fear for her position if she fails again. If a second princess is born, Katherine of Aragon's loyal allies would use it to strengthen Lady Mary's claim to the throne. A son would show everyone that God favored Henry's second wife and therefore those who were not firmly on Mary's side would not rise against him especially when they still had the Pope's blessing.

"When it has become safe for people to move about the city, I want food and clothes to distributed amongst the poor," Anne commanded. She had also decided that when the sweating sickness had left for good, she would visit a poorhouse herself, to find out what she could do to help them. Anne was fully aware that her father would object on the grounds that she was a queen and queens did not mingle with the common folk. She would deal with his disapproval when the time came. "How soon can there be a meeting of the privy council?"

"Wolsey and Suffolk are still recovering from their illness. Norfolk and Oxford will be here in a few days," Thomas informed her, frowning slightly. He had half hoped that the cardinal would die from the sickness so he could be rid of that hated son of a butcher who had risen far too high.

"Very well, do you have any other suggestions on what to do, Father?" Anne asked as she racked her brain for something, anything else she could do aside from simply waiting for everything and everyone to get better.

"Arrange a mass for those who died in the sweat," Thomas replied. "However, I would suggest waiting until we have the final numbers. I will speak to Cromwell and Audley about writing papers that will declare your daughter Queen just in case the worst thing happens."

"God willing the worst won't happen," Anne whispered, terrified that she would lose her husband after only a year of marriage. It would be heartbreaking for her and devastating for England.

"Leave it to me, Anne, perhaps you should go rest," Thomas suggested to her gently, not wanting his daughter to overwork herself in her delicate condition.

Anne opened her mouth to refuse when a page entered.

"I have a message for the Viscount of Rochford," he announced.

George stared at the man apprehensively, not moving to take the envelope in his hands, fearing the message inside. His father took it instead, dismissing the page before opening and reading the contents of the envelope.

Upon finishing it, the Earl of Wiltshire turned to his son with a grave look on his face. "Thomas has gotten sick with a fever," he reported, knowing that his eight-day-old grandson was not strong enough to survive this illness.

"Well I should go pack. I'm sure Princess Annette will want to see her uncle," George declared tonelessly, practically sprinting out of the room before his sister and father could say another word.

"George, what about your two daughters!" Anne shouted after him but if her brother heard her, he ignored her.

"Let him go, Anne, everyone grieves differently," Thomas told her gently. "He has lost his wife and two sons in a matter of days. It's hard thing to get over."

"I would understand him bottling up his emotions if he wasn't punishing his children by ignoring them," Anne snapped.

Thomas sighed. Anne wouldn't know what it was like to lose a child who had barely lived. He prayed that she never would know that pain.


 

July 8 1528

I fear that the King does not have long to live.

Dr. Linacre had made his report grimly and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Warham had been summoned to administer Henry's last rites. The red-haired monarch had fallen asleep so physically exhausted and drained that he too assumed that he would not wake up in the morning.

But God worked in mysterious ways and in the early hours of dawn, a groom had come in to find Henry sitting up, demanding food to brought to him at once. His servant had run to get the physician and then afterwards made his way through the empty kitchen to fetch some meat that thankfully was only a few days old.

"Your fever has broken, Your Majesty, you are going to get better," Dr. Linacre assured him, sounding relived as Henry was sure that all of England would be.

If he had died, he had no doubt that Katherine would immediately ask her dratted nephew for help stealing the throne from Anne and his children. The results would have been catastrophic. But thankfully it wouldn't happen because God had saved him and he would live to see the birth of his legitimate son and he would get to watch all four of his children grow up with his adoring wife by his side.

Anne had written him countless letters that the only remaining groom had dutifully read to Henry as he lay in his bed. He was elated to know that she, their baby, his son, and his two daughters continued to live. Soon he would be able to return to them.

"How long will I be stuck in this bed?" Henry demanded as he tore into a chicken leg greedily.

"I would just you stay here at least two months until you have returned to your full strength and health, Your Majesty," the doctor replied.

Henry groaned, hating the fact that he would be stuck in bed like invalid especially for such a long time. But if he wouldn't dare ignore his physician's warnings as he feared that if he did, he might become sick again and this time he might not be lucky enough to recover.

I'll be home soon, Anne, I promise.


 

Kimbolton Castle was spacious manor where George could avoid the two enemies of his family if he wanted to. Truthfully, the childish part of him enjoyed the look of irritation on the mother and daughter's duo when he called Katherine the Dowager Princess of Wales or the offended look when he greeted the twelve-year-old girl by the title of Lady. They should be used to it but perhaps it was the fact that George was the new queen's brother that just made the entire ordeal just a tiny bit harder for the two of them to deal with. He was sure that it was even more aggravating that they had to play gracious host to him.

However, having lost his wife, two of his four children made George not wish to do anything but sulk in his rooms without having to interact with anyone. The lone exception was his niece.

Seeing his niece gave him hope that when he returned to Hever, maybe Janey and Mary (he would half to consult his sisters on possible nicknames) would be alive and well. He looked at Princess Annie and wondered if his daughters looked like her. Dear God, it had been twelve days since they were born? He had not even seen them; what sort of father was he?

"Your cousins had two brothers who both died as did your aunt," George remarked as he rocked a sleeping Anne back and forth. "I keep fearing that they will die as well and I'll be left with nothing. I never saw their brothers and yet their deaths did not hurt me any less. Am I being a fool, Annette?"

The princess gurgled and her uncle could not help but think that was a yes.

"Perhaps you are right," George said with a sigh before letting out a sardonic chuckle and smiling tearfully. "Boleyn girls are so very strong. Mary has Cathy and Anne has you. I have no doubt that both of my nieces will be just like their mothers when they grow older. Cathy's father is dead and you… well hopefully not. But I'm all my girls have left."

But still, George was afraid of going home and losing the only two lights left in his dark world. He had been falling in love with Jane and he would have loved George and Thomas so much. But his sons had died and he was left with this empty numbness of his heart.

He needed more time before he could face his daughters.


 

July 9 1528

To my dearest Anne, Queen of my heart as well as England,

I dreamt of you as I lay there in my sickbed. I remember walking towards the light until I heard you calling for me, begging for me not to leave you. Then you grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the light, telling me that it was not my time and you would not let me go.

Then I woke up and my fever had broken. You saved me, Anne, I know you did. Just as you promised me all those months ago, you refused to let me die. God saved me just as it protected you and our son.

 

I will be trapped here for two months and I shall spend every waking day, thinking of you and our children. Write to me, Anne, for it was my only comfort when I was sick and it will be something for me to look forward to while I am stuck here. When I am better, I shall ride to court and take your in my arms, kissing your sweet ducky lips, trailing kisses down your lovely neck.

Until then, my darling wife.

Yours forever and for always, Henry Rex.

Anne's eyes glistened as she read her husband's letter, her fingers lightly caressing the words written on it. When she had received the news late last night that Henry was alive, she had been overcome with emotions. To know that her husband was not going to die and would be home in two months lifted a burden off of Anne's shoulders.

"It's over, Father, Henry is coming home," Anne whispered as she folded the letter and held it close to her heart.

"The Sweat is over but our work is not," Thomas pointed out. "While His Majesty is quarantined, you are still regent. The mass will be tomorrow. I have arranged for Thomas Cranmer to lead it."

Anne frowned, knowing full well why her father had chosen Cranmer of all priests to preform mass.

"Really Father? Now is not the time to proceed with religious reforms. We can't stir up controversy after a crisis," Anne snapped.

Thomas glared at her, annoyed that she would think he'd be so foolish. "If I wanted controversy, I would have asked Robert Barnes to do it," he said coolly. Unfortunately, Barnes was one of the many Lutherans who did not support the King's new marriage. Something Thomas hoped would change once Anne had a son. "Cranmer is of the new faith and loyal to us. He won't be doing anything different but he will be making sure to remind the people that God has saved the King and blessed you and your daughter so you may bring a golden age to England."

Her father had a bigger goal in mind, Anne was sure of it, but she decided not to dwell on it. She would leave him to his ambitions while she focused on other matters for the time being.

She would first send a letter to Queen Margaret of Scots, assuring her that her brother was alive and would recover from his sickness. She would also send a letter to Kimbolton, summoning not only Princess Annie and her brother back to court but Lady Mary as well; perhaps she should even send an invitation to the Princess Dowager Katherine as she was sure her stepdaughter would not wish to be separated from her beloved mother.

A letter would be sent to Hever would be sent as well and Anne was fully prepared to lock George in the nursery if that was what it took to get him to actually bond with his newborn daughters.

Anne pressed Henry's letter to her protruding stomach as though she hoped the baby could read it through her skin and her dress. The danger of the sweat was finally over, and Henry was alive and well. Although they had lost many people, including those they had been close to, they had still lived through it.

Everything was going to be all right.