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Towards the End

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Anne sat near the window through which she could see the royal party leave the castle, her husband at the front of it. It was supposed to be a hunting party in order to lift the King’s spirits after the death of Catherine of Aragorn. Though why on earth Henry would be that grieve-stricken over the death of the Dowager Princess was beyond Anne, after all he had done to get rid of his illegitimate wife. It didn’t matter either, as she knew it not to be the reason behind the trip anyway. No, the reason was far prettier than Catherine and went by the name of Jane Seymour.

A tiny voice told Anne that it was all her own fault. That she shouldn’t have made promises she couldn’t keep, though admittedly she hadn’t known then. She really had thought she could give the King a son. A living one. In that detail she had failed. Subconsciously, she moved her hand to cover her now empty belly, sharp pains of grief coming back to her and drawing tears from her eyes.

No. She composed herself. Took her hand from her belly and forced the tears back. She sat up a bit straighter. She was a Queen, for God’s sake. She would not let one… failure get her down. They would try again once he came back and this time she would succeed. A son would chase all thoughts of stupid Jane Seymour from Henry’s mind, Anne was sure of it. Then he would love her again as he once did and all would be well. She was sure of it.

She just needed to get one.

~~~

It had taken all but five minutes for Henry to get enamoured with Jane Seymour, this much was clear to Charles. How enamoured remained to be seen of course, considering Henry’s rather fickle mind. Secretly, Charles hoped Jane would proof to have permanently caught the King’s attention. If only because so far Jane Seymour appeared to Charles as a far better person than Anne Boleyn. Of course, the bar wasn’t set high. Now all he had to do was hope that Jane could jump.

~~~~

It wasn’t until a few days after Henry had left London that Anne finally managed to swallow her pride. Or rather, her mind had driven her to the brink with scenarios about her husband with Jane Seymour. She needed to engage it in some other way. Of course, she wouldn’t phrase it as such, but fact remained that no amount of chess games with Madge had proven useful. Given her many enemies and few friends at court, Anne didn’t have a lot of options left to her.

Which is how Anne found herself walking into the Secretary’s office. All the clerks rose to greet her with the appropriate courtesies and the Secretary himself was no exception.

“Your Majesty,” Thomas Cromwell greeted her as he always did, though he did not seem happy in the slightest to see her. The piercing look in his eyes told her as much, remembering her of the argument they had had a few days ago regarding the closing of the monasteries. Of course, if it had been a mere argument, she wouldn’t have threatened to shorten him by a head.

“Mr. Cromwell,” she began, suddenly realising maybe she should have thought of a reason to come here. Something less humiliating than her husband having yet another affair. “Have you heard any news from the King?”

“No, Your Majesty, not since His Majesty arrived at Wulfhall two days ago,” Cromwell answered, which also informed her that Henry was still there. Of course he was. At least Cromwell had the decency to look slightly apologetic.

Anne let out an almost inaudible sigh and set down on the chair in front of Cromwell’s desk, allowing everyone to sit down and the clerks to continue with their work. “The Lord of Suffolk’s idea, I presume?”

“His Grace is part of the hunting party.” It was as good a confirmation as any.

Anne nodded to herself. It was to be expected. Suffolk had never really seemed to like her. No wonder he would step into any small crack that existed in her marriage in order to widen it even further. And there were a lot of cracks.

“Could I bother you for a game of chess, Mr. Cromwell?” She looked up at her once-friend. At least, that’s how she supposed it to be after their falling out. She certainly would have thought so had the situation not been what it was.

To her surprise, she saw the flicker of Cromwell’s rare smile. “Of course, Your Majesty.” It was as if he had reached out her hand to help her up from the ground so she could walk again.