Greenwich Palace, April 1536

Her hand stung where it had struck the girl. Anne was frozen, blinded with her rage and fury. Jane shot up from Henry’s lap like a startled doe and ran into the corner of the chamber, as far as she could flee from Anne’s rage. Her hand flew to her face and attempted to cover the bright red welt that was spreading across her pale complexion. Henry sat unmoving, looking up at Anne. His face was frozen in a look of fear and shocked stupidity.

“How dare you?” Anne screamed, her trembling rage directed into the open silence of the room. “How dare you do this to me!”

Henry continued to stare at her blankly. Jane began to snuffle loudly in the corner, her hand still upon the cheek that Anne had just smacked with all her strength. Anne was disappointed to see that it had not made her bleed.

The monster had welled again in Anne’s stomach. She could feel herself losing control. Images were flashing wild across her mind: of Henry in a great state of pain, of this little harlot, Jane Seymour, dying in a sea of agony and blood. Anne wanted them dead, she wanted them both dead. She rounded on the easier of the two targets.

“You, my own lady, would dare to throw yourself at my husband? Whore!” Her voice was coming as a screech now, and Jane’s sobs grew more violent as Anne stalked towards her. She would kill her. She would rip her face into a thousand little tiny shreds. She would scratch those big blue cow’s eyes from her face.

A sudden pressure around her waist stopped her, and she felt herself being pulled backwards as if by God himself.

“Jane, leave us,” she heard Henry shout. Anne began to fight against him, as the pale girl squeezed past her, her back to the wall, and ran as quickly as she could for the door. Anne fought with an animal-like anger to free herself from Henry’s grasp and pursue the girl. When the door closed loudly behind Jane, Henry released her and Anne rounded on him. She could feel the tears on her cheeks, but there was nothing but black rage and violence in her mind.

Henry’s face was a mask of sullen anger. “Calm yourself, Anne. Be silent.”

“I will not,” Anne roared back at him. “I will not. How dare you? How dare you take one of my ladies into your bed under the sanctity of our own roof!” Henry’s eyes flashed with a sudden look of hatred. The battle lines were drawn.

“I have not taken her into my bed, Anne,” Henry growled, his voice a threatening whisper. “Jane is not —“

“Don’t you say her name to me,” Anne cut him off, “don’t you dare say her name to me like that, Henry.” She could not calm her voice, it seemed. She was standing only arms length from him, and itched to reach up and scratch his eyes out too. “I am your wife, Henry. Your true and ordained wife. Have you forgotten your duty to me?”

“HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN YOUR DUTY TO ME,” Henry bellowed suddenly, sending a tremor through the delicate little colored tiles of the window. The whole room seemed to shake with his fury. “Have you forgotten all the duties you have failed in to me?” He walked towards her menacingly as he raged, but Anne stood her ground. She would not fear him. Not this man. Not this little boy who thought he was a king. Anne would rather go down fighting than give this cowardly little boy even one inch of ground over her.

“Do not speak to me of duty, Henry.” She shot back, “did I not rot in my duty to you for more than six years? Did I not give up everything for you? My hope, my love, my looks? How dare you speak to me of duty, when I catch you here with my own sworn lady sitting upon your lap like some common, stewpot whore!”

Henry smacked her then, full in the face. The strength of the blow snapped Anne’s head violently to the side, and drove her to the floor. For a moment she was dazed, unsure what had happened. She came to quickly, realizing what had just occurred. Her heart was flooded with a sudden fear. Henry had never struck her before. He stood over her, his face an absolute picture of malice.

“You have forgotten your place, madam. You have forgotten who it is that made you, and who it is that can cast you down just as quickly again.” The air about him was that of a man about to crush a tiny bug.

Anne’s rage surged afresh, and she rose again, standing only inches from Henry now. She looked up into his eyes wildly, feeling the broken skin of her lip and the warm trickle of blood that flowed freely down her chin. Everything about her dared him to strike her again. She would cast her soul into damnation before she would give him this victory.

“So you would strike me now, would you? Do you think that will silence me? Do you think that your blows have the power to turn my head the other way? Do you think them so powerful that they will force me to watch your betrayals unheeded? You may be king, but you are not God, Henry.” Anne gave him her most vindictive smile. She was suddenly reckless in her fury. She had no care what happened next, she wanted only for him to suffer.

She saw the flicker in him then. He backed away from her slowly, never taking his eyes off her. Anne could feel his rage and discomfort growing. The spark was lit and hung only inches above the gunpowder.

“You will keep your mouth shut, wife. You will keep your mouth shut and endure as your betters before you have.”

“No,” growled Anne, defiant to the last. “I will not. You will send that whore from my court. I do not care where she goes, but she will not serve me.” Anne could not believe he had the audacity to mention Katherine to her now.

“She will serve you,” Henry roared, “she will serve you, and she will stay in your rooms and continue on at this court and I will hear no further argument from you about it.”

“SHE WILL NOT,” Anne screamed shrilly. “I will not have that poisonous, common-born daughter of a harpy-bitch in my rooms. She will remove herself, or I will.” Her threat hung in the air. Anne no longer cared what happened next. Her fury was alive. She dared Henry to call her bluff. She had nothing left to lose.

Henry moved towards her again, death in his eyes and his finger outstretched accusatorially, “Remove yourself then. Remove yourself to the abbey or the gutter, I care not which, but know this: you will go before Mistress Seymour does.”

Anne reached up to strike him suddenly, her hand still tingling from the slap she had dealt Jane Seymour, but she was too slow, and Henry grabbed her sharply by the wrist. He pulled her to him, her body pressed against his own, and began to squeeze the tiny bones of her wrist. The pain made nearly made Anne gasp, but she would not give him the satisfaction. She grit her teeth to the pain.

“You will shut your mouth, and shut your eyes,” Henry growled at her, his breath hot and sticky with the smell of wine. “You will keep your peace or I swear, before God, I will remove you. By whatever means required.” Anne’s breath caught in her throat.

Henry threw her from him suddenly, back onto the sweet-smelling reeds that covered the floor. Her fine French hood had fallen off in their battle, her hair coming loose and falling about her shoulders. She heard his heavy footsteps and the slam of the door as he stalked out of the room.

Only when he was gone did she allow herself to melt into a pool of tears. The sorrow she felt suddenly was so real she felt she would dissolve completely into it. The cool stone of the floor bled through the rushes and mixed with the warm saltiness of her tears. She knew many of them would still be gathering outside, listening to their queen collapse into grief and sorrow. No doubt word of what had happened was already spreading through the court like wildfire. They were all just waiting for her to fall, she knew. Counting down the days.

Somewhere, in the darkness of her grief, she heard the door open. She raised herself slowly from the floor, turning to see the figure of George walking slowly towards her. His bright blue eyes quickly took in the sight of her and the full extent of everything that had just transpired. He went to Anne, and sat beside her on the floor, pulling her into his lap, wrapping his arms tightly about her.

Anne buried her face into his chest and sobbed. She let go of all her grief, all her rage. George rocked her gently, stroking her chair and whispering all the common, worthless sentiments. After some time, Anne pulled away from him and looked up into his sweet face.

“George, I have lost him. I have lost everything.”

“Shh, shhh,” George whispered to her, “everything will be fine. You are his wife. You cannot lose him. You are bound to him. In this life and the next.”

He didn’t understand. Anne clutched his velvet doublet tightly.

“No George. You don’t understand. It is over. I have lost him. I am no longer safe.”

“Anne, don’t say such things,” he whispered. He started to rise then, and drug her awkwardly to her feet. Her tears were coming slower now. George gently wiped a tear-stained cheek.

“Come, let’s get you to your rooms.”

“I cannot face them,” Anne said, motioning weakly to the door of the small chamber. “I cannot possibly walk out into that mob. They know. They all know. They can all see that he is finished with me. They can see that I have well and truly fallen.”

George pulled her into him again. She could hear the faint thump of his heart.

“Nan, when have the thoughts of anyone else ever stopped you? You are the Queen of England. You are the heart of this court. Act like it.”

His words touched something in her, and she slowly stopped her tears, drawing herself back up in pride. George helped her retrieve her hood and set it back upon her head, tucking away all the little curls of her hair inside of it. “They will not be able to see your hair,” he told her plainly, “when you return to your rooms, you can get one of your ladies to set it back to rights.” Anne smiled at him weakly.

He was the only constant in her life, he always had been. As everything in the court seemed to fall and tumble about her, George was the only person in the world who seemed to remain unchanged. He was always there at a moment’s notice ready to give her love, support, encouragement. If it was not for him, Anne had no doubt that she would be dead. Swollen and cold somewhere on the banks of the Thames.

George took her arm and walked her slowly towards the door. Before they opened it, he stopped and took one last look at her, and taking a small handkerchief from his pocket, wiped the last of the tears from her face.

“We will make it out of this, Anne,” he said, looking into her eyes with the deepest sincerity, “we will make it through this like we always do. And next year, when you are sitting in the nursery with the prince and future King of England, we will laugh that this ever happened at all.”

Anne felt as if she would collapse as her gratitude washed over her, but she held back her tears. His innocent optimism was moving. And he was right, she knew. For now, she must think ahead, and she must make it to her chambers. Once she was safe behind the closed doors of her own private rooms she could then give in to her grief and try to think about what must happen next. She smiled up at him gratefully.

George opened the door for her slowly, his hand resting in the small of her back. As it opened wide to reveal the few, scattered faces of the lords and ladies that awaited her emergence, he gave her a light push of encouragement. She stepped slowly into the light of the small hall.

Their idle chatter went silent as she came forth from the small chamber where all had just transpired. They had all heard then. The rage, the commotion, the grief. They knew everything. Anne held herself up tall, and walked through them proudly. She could hear the light scratching of her ladies dresses as they rose and aligned themselves behind her, preparing to return to the chambers they inhabited so often these days.

Anne could feel their eyes on her, each set burning a hold into her skin with their wild, searing questions. They knew she was a fallen woman. It was plain now to see that she no longer held the king’s favor, that he was no longer enslaved to her bewitching stare and razor-sharp wit. Anne stumbled, but felt the warm comforting arm of George as he swept to hold her up.

“Be brave, sister,” he whispered in her ear. Anne took a deep breath, and continued to walk forward slowly, her head held high.

—————————————————————————

That night, Anne dined privately in her rooms with her brother George and a few of the other young lords of the court. While the king had not forbade her from attending dinner in the hall, she had thought it best to avoid him, and allow the nastiness between them to sit for a time. Anne sat in the centre of the substitute festivities that filled her room, a fake smile plastered across her face, as they all loudly joked and cavorted, as if nothing was amiss. Once, after the third course had been served, Henry Norris had leaned over and whispered playfully in her ear, “Mistress Seymour, eh? I think I’d rather make love to a ghost.” He had laughed loudly then, the wine rolling thick off of his breath. Anne grimaced and turned away from him.

Her mind was a maze of terrifying thoughts. She still hated Henry, but his love was the only thing protecting her from the frenzy of the papists and the faction of his daughter, Mary. Every day, new reports were coming to her, and often those reports came with hateful little drawings, or pamphlets that condemned her as a whore and a witch. She was told that songs about her were being sung in every alehouse across the country; none of them were nice. The houses of God were still being burned and desecrated across the country, and the people saw only her to blame.

She leaned over and whispered into George’s ear. “Where is our father? Why has he not come to dine with us? I sent word begging him to join us tonight.” A look of uncertainty flashed across George’s face. He paused before answering her. “He is with the king.”

Anne’s stomach rolled. “With the king?” Her face was blank as if she did not understand the meaning.

“Yes,” George said hesitantly, “the king is dining in the hall tonight, and our father was requested to join him there.” Anne looked around at the tiny remnants of the court that now surrounded her. Jane Seymour was missing.

“Of course. Well, I will send to him again and ask him to attend me after dinner, then.”

“He will come,” George said matter-of-factly, “he will want to speak with you about what happened today.”

“Of course,” Anne said miserably, “of course he will.”

When the dinner was over, the men left her chamber in a loud and drunken raucous. A few of her women stayed behind, talking excitedly in the dimming light of the fire. The servants cleared the table quickly, setting the room back to rights. Anne pulled George, who had remained behind, into a corner, away from her ladies.

“Tell me truly, George. What is happening?”

Anne could smell the strong scent of wine coming off him. His cheeks were red with the tiny lines of his veins burning bright against the surface of his skin. They seemed to throb in the moonlight. “Anne, I do not know. No one speaks to me anymore, either. You know as much as I do.” He was lying. Anne knew he was lying.

“You said father would come. How did you know that?”

“Just think Nan,” his words slurring ever so slightly, “the whole court is talking about what happened today. You know it. I know it. The whole court knows it.” He laughed. “I imagine even the emperor in Spain knows about Mistress Seymour’s little ‘lap dalliance’ by now.” Anne could have slapped him.

“Do not say her name in my presence, George. Do not dare say her name to me.”

“You dare an awful lot these days,” George responded sarcastically, a smirk on his face, “I don’t recall you ever being quite so demanding in our days at Hever. You were much more fun then, Anne.” She reached out to smack him, but he caught her wrist, holding it fast. She cringed as he squeezed the bruise that Henry had left her.

“Do not strike me, Anne,” a dangerous shadow crossed his hazy, unfocused eyes. “I am the last soul that you have left in the world, Anne, and I am just as scared as you. Do not make an enemy of me.” George released her hand, and folded his own hands onto his thighs. Anne placed her hands on the arms of the chair and leaned back, scanning George’s face concernedly. If George, the presumed bosom buddy of the king, was being left out of affairs now, then things were much worse than even she had expected.

When Katherine had finally died, Anne had thought to be all but safe from the constant threat of her enemies. With Katherine’s death, Anne was finally, undisputedly, the legal wife of Henry; bound to him not only by the bonds of love and honor, but by the legal and spiritual bonds of the church. But she could not help this feeling of dread that was overcoming her.

“George, there is something wrong. I know it in my soul.”

“Then we will fix it, Anne.” George’s voice was tense, irritated. He was just as scared as she was, and drunk to boot. He did not want to sit and talk of intrigue. He wanted to revel in his drunken stupor and forget, even if only for a few hours, that their world was crashing down about them.

“You will have to end it, George,” Anne said to him suddenly. George’s head shot suddenly to a rapt attention, his eyes becoming brightly alert, edgy. “You cannot carry on as you have been. I’m sorry.” She was addressing the thing they never spoke of, the secret they could not even speak to one another.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” George whispered hesitantly. His expression was changing to one of wide-eyed guilt.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” Anne said, her voice low. “You will end it with him, George. Tonight.” She allowed the silence to hang heavy between them. George looked away from her fathomless black eyes into the dying embers of the fire. “I do not know what is going on George, but I know that I can no longer risk your infatuations and indiscretions.” His head snapped around to look at her, and he shot up in his seat. The wine was making him suddenly brave.

“Infatuations, Anne? Is that what you think? A simple infatuation.”

Anne was sad for him, truly she was, but it as no longer her security that was only on the line.

At the French court, they had called them “Grande Folles”. They were known to be some of the brightest stars at court, often leading in the festivities and pageantry. It was known that the behaviors that they practiced were beyond the upright pale of men and God, but their ranks were often so stacked with powerful and wealthy, that every head turned aside as they went about their carnal business. The truth of the matter was the French paid hedence to one god only, and that one came even before the Christian god. It was love.

While what happened behind the closed doors of the Grande Folles was considered an abomination in the eyes of the church, to the eyes of the French court, they were practicing no more than the ancient Greeks and Romans before them. Everyone knew what happened in the ancient days of the bath houses and in the ranks of the legions. There was little that could be said about the ritual now. Who had the right to judge what could rule a man in the heart of passion.

But the English court was not the same as the French court, and such passions were not overlooked, especially not in the heart of a fall. Anne’s enemies would use anything to tear she and her family down, and George’s midnight pursuits would be the first black thing attached to her name.

“George, I am sorry, truly I am. I know that the heart cannot always rule where it loves, but you must end this. Put it all aside. Forget who you love and what it will feel like to lose them.” George looked at her as if seeing her for the first time.

“How long have you known?”

Anne rolled her eyes and looked away. How long had she known? Surely since she returned to England. George was not one that was given to subtleties. But had she known before then? Something inside her said, yes. Perhaps she had always known.

“I realised it soon after I returned to England,” she told him, without hesitation. There was no need to trouble him with the truth of it. George had always been different, even as a child. Something about him had never been like the other boys. He met her eyes and quickly looked back into the deadening fire.

“What gave it away?”

“George. Let’s neither one of us pretend that you are known for your discreet manner.” Anne had always been able to define the truths of George, just as he always been able to define the truths of her. It had been a part of the special bond they had shared. She did not hate him for it, for she could never hate George, not truly. It was only her will to survive that asked it of him now.

“ Anne, it is not so simple as that. I could not hope to explain it to you, but it is not so easy as that.”

“Isn’t it, though,” Anne asked him, her voice thick with sadness and understanding. “Don’t you think I know that truth of it? Do you think it was easy for me, losing Percy?”

Even now he couldn’t look at her when she talked about Percy.

Anne knew he was innocent in the events that had passed, but he still bore the guilt that her sister and father did not seem able to share. Anne had bared he heart to George about Percy. He was perhaps the only person in the world who had known how deeply that even had truly touched him. He had been with her at Hever as she had languished and suffered of the broken heart that had inflicted on her. She had survived that heartbreak with his help, she had survived because of him. She would make sure that George survived this too.

“George,” Anne sat up, and delicately reached out to him, placing her hand atop his own, “I know what I ask. I know the sacrifice I ask you to make. But think of the sacrifices I have had to make of my own. We must sacrifice for the greater good, the better cause. We cannot think of ourselves now, only how we can survive.”

“Survive,” George exploded suddenly, “Survive? How long must I survive, Anne? Have I not done everything this family has asked of me? Committed myself heart and soul to every task, every masquerade?” He was referring mainly to Jane, she knew. Their marriage had been a long and unhappy one, as Jane would tell anyone who had a few spare moments and a will to listen. “Have I done anything short of sacrifice myself daily on the altar of my family’s ambitions?” He pulled his hand from hers and looked down as the ground. He pulled himself into the chair, as if trying to pull himself as far away from Anne as possible. Her heard broke then.

She let the silence sit, as they both watched the dying embers of the fire.

“I love him, you know,” George finally offered after a long silence. “I love him as I have never loved anything or anyone in my life. I would die for him.” Anne thought carefully about what she would say next.

“Tell me about him.” George looked up at her slowly, with a subtle look of amazement slowly growing over his face. Anne smiled to him sadly. It would be a while yet until their father joined them to plan the next step. The few ladies that remained were well out of ear shot. It was as good a time as any. “I mean it, tell me about him, George.”

George shook his head and looked away from her again. “He’s amazing, Anne. I do not think I have the words to hand in any language to do him justice.”

“Well try, then,” she encouraged him gently. It was Georges turn to smile sadly.

“Oh Anne. He knows me. Truly knows me. When I’m around him, I can be myself. There is no King, there is no Queen. There are no Boleyns, no Howards. We are a world unto ourselves.”

His face lightened in the growing shadows, the thought of his lover lighting him from within. Anne knew she should feel some sense of revulsion, that she should condemn him for a blasphemer and a sodomite, but she could not. She knew the look and feeling of love. How could she, the woman who had given all that up for the place she inhabited now, possibly deny that beautiful feeling in another?

“Go on,” she prodded him gently.

“When I’m with him…”George broke off hesitantly, as if even speaking of his lover was a betrayal of their love. Anne allowed him to sit a moment in his thoughts. He would continue, she knew.

“When I’m with him, I feel as if there is a future. I feel as if one day, we might look back on this all as nothing more than a bad dream.”

His words cast a shadow of sadness upon Anne’s heart. It was never easy, growing up in the house of a nobel family. While the poorest man enjoyed the freedom of choice, the life of a noble man or woman was one of constant duty and self denial. Being a member of a house like Boleyn meant that you could not even choose your clothing on a day to day basis, let alone where the fancy of your love would land. This life, for all its privilege and all its opulence, was a living hell.

“George, you know it can never be. Not really.”

He met her eyes finally, his face a translucent mask of sadness. It was setting upon him, perhaps for the first time ever, that this romance could never be. It was so easy to get caught up in it, the passion, the caresses. Anne knew better than anyone all the little promises that were whispered in the dark. In those moments, when lips met salty flesh and the hearts raced in time, every word, every oath was a promise, sworn before the seat of the Lord. She had no doubt that both George and his love believed in the truth of their convictions, but now it was time for these sweet dalliances to come to an end.

“Anne, I do not think that I can give him up. I love him. I love him more than my own person. I would die for him.” There was something heavy and unsaid in that statement. But I would not die for you.

Anne wondered if there was anyone out there in this world that would die for her; her, the whore, the harlot, the concubine.

It was George who grabbed her hand now, “Anne, please, please do not ask it of me. Please do not ask me to give him up. I do not know that I can carry on in this mad, upside down world without him.”

Anne felt true pity for him, she really did.

“George, I would not hurt you for anything in the world…but you know that this cannot be.” He fell away from her and dissolved into a wash of tears. One of her ladies turned around to stare at the noise. Anne shot her a look of foreboding. The girl turned away quickly.

Anne rose from her seat and brought herself to sit along the arm of George’s seat. Like he had done only that morning, she pulled him to her, and wrapped her arms around him.

“Oh George, my sweet George.” She cradled his head to her breast like a child. She might have held Elizabeth this way once, in another life. She imagined the small, copperhead child skinning her knee and running to her for comfort. “I am so sorry, George. I am so, so sorry.” She held him as he cried.

“I cannot, Anne. I cannot do what you ask of me,” he choked out between the sobs that broke him now.

“Oh George, you must.” His cried began to come louder. “George, please.” Anne had never seen him this way. George had always been this childish beacon of happiness and innocence for her. Anytime Anne had been in trouble, it had been George who had been there to pick her up and dust her off. It was always George that had turned her away from the darkness that was always there, waiting just beneath the surface. She owed her life to him. She could not bear to watch him in such sadness.

“Listen to me George,” she said suddenly, releasing him, and taking his tear stained face in her hands, “This is only temporary. Only for right now. We are in great danger, and we cannot risk this relationship doing us any more harm. We cannot know the king’s mind. We cannot know what he will do to me if I am tainted with the stain of even the mildest indiscretion.” Anne did not mention that this indiscretion of George’s was far from mild. His sobs began to quiet and eventually stopped.

“What do you mean,” he asked her hopefully, wiping his own puffy, salt-stained face.

“I mean only that, for right now, you must end this. Tell your lover that you can no longer keep up this ruse, but tell him that one day, God willing, you will return to him. In a happier time. In a safer place. If he loves you, he will not refuse you.”

“I can return to him?” George asked incredulously.

“I cannot promise you that. But if you end this now, and you help me restore myself, then yes, perhaps one day, you can. When I am safe, and there is a prince or two in the nursery, then perhaps you too can be free to find your love again.” She saw the look that crossed his face as he thought about what she proposed. He looked up finally and smiled at her.

“I love you, Anne,” he said and wrapped his arms around her. He tucked his head beneath her chin as he had done so often as a child at Hever. Anne’s hands cradled his head, her long fingers wrapped in the thick curls of his hair. She closed her eyes and beseeched the Lord on behalf of her poor, lost little brother.

A knock the door broke them suddenly from their reverie. The little maid turned and, taking the in the sight of them wrapped together like two lovers, gave her a frantic look.

“What are you looking at?” Anne snapped suddenly. “Answer the door you little fool!” She stood up quickly, and brushed away the remnants of George’s tears. He wiped his own face hastily, trying in vain to hide the evidecne of what was clear to see. Anne straightened her gown and turned to face the door and their guest.

Her father strode in the room quickly, seriously. His eyes did not even take in the maid as she bowed lowly to him, holding the door open for him. He stopped a few feet away and took in the sight of Anne and her brother, who still sat in his chair.

“You summoned me?” He asked, his voice short and imperious.

“Hours ago,” Anne snapped angrily, “I suppose you find that you have grown so grand that you no longer need to heed the summons of your own anointed queen?”

“Indeed,” her father retorted dryly, “I answer the summons of my king before those of the my queen. As any good man should.” Their father looked at George scathingly with the last of his words. Anne was growing angry again. It had been a day for anger. A life time of anger.

“Very well. Tell me what you would say, then.”

There was no point in drawing things out or playing games with Thomas Boleyn. Her father had been at the court for many years before Anne and her siblings were ever born. He had served only not only this Henry, but his father Henry before him, a much more shrewd, suspicious man than this boy king they now revolved around. Thomas Boleyn was not a man that could be fulled by words, and he was not a man that would play them lightly when so much was at stake.

“You have erred grievously, Anne.”

His words did not surprise her, but she felt the fear growing again inside of her. This was the truth. Not the sweet innocent words of George. She was in trouble, and they all knew it.

“Explain,” Anne said shortly. Her father looked at her blankly, and paused for only a moment before explaining himself.

“It is no secret that you have displeased the king most grievously. Not just today, but in many ways.” He continued to study her, perhaps waiting for the outburst that had become so common in her nature of late. “But your transgression today overstepped your wifely bonds in many ways…he is showing signs of doubt.”

“Doubt?” Anne retorted sharply. “And what does the king doubt? The validity of our marriage? Surely you will have reminded him that the deed is done and dusted more than ten times over? There is no one in Christendom that can now deny the legality of our marriage. Even the pope can not now deny it.”  Her voice betrayed a sense of incredulity that she did not truly feel. The hairs on the back of her neck rose suddenly. Thomas Boleyn continued to stare at her blankly. He let the silence sit between them as the rage inside of Anne grew.

“He does not think that you can bear him a son,” he said finally, his bluntness knocking Anne from her feet. As the magnitude of his words hit her, she fell back into her seat. George’s eyes flashed from her to his fathers with a look of panic.

“What do you mean he thinks she cannot bear him a son,” George snapped at his father incredulously, “She has already been pregnant by him three times. In a shorter time than even Katherine was able to fall pregnant.”

Thomas Boleyn turned to his son and gave him a look of disgust. “She has born him two dead sons and a useless daughter.”

“Useless,” Anne snapped, “is she so useless that even now he plots and plans to sit her on the throne of France or Spain?” Anne’s father looked at her again with the same look of disgust.

“It is not your place to question the decisions of the king. Be thankful that he acknowledges her at all.”

“Acknowledges her?” Anne asked suddenly, a cruel realization dawning over her. “And who else could acknowledge her? She is the daughter of Henry. She is the image of him!” Anne’s voice was becoming louder, more frantic. She was beginning to realize the severity of her situation. A wild fear was overcoming her. “Who else’s child should she be?”

Thomas Boleyn looked away from his children uncomfortably and shifted heavily on his feet. Anne shot up from her seat once again and moved towards the man that was her father. “Do you dare question my fidelity to Henry?” The maids were turning now to look at them again. Anne ignored them. Let them hear. Let them know what craven men would do in times of disappointment.

“Do you, father? Do you dare to question my loyalty to my husband? The legitimacy of my children?” The meaning of her accusations hung in the air, but George looked on in a mask of confusion. He could not comprehend the vicious game that was beginning. Thomas Boleyn pulled himself up and looked her square in the eye.

“I would tread carefully, your majesty. Things are not as they once were.” He turned suddenly and stormed from the room, the rage palpable and fresh upon him. George rose and stood beside Anne.

“I will not fear some milk-pale girl,” Anne screamed at his receding form. “I will not fear a little girl that cannot even afford a dower!” Her breath was coming short and ragged, and the young maids that had watched enthralled only moments before were now fleeing from the room behind her disappeared father.

“What is happening Anne. What is going on?” George’s face was a picture of confusion. “How could he accuse you of Elizabeth’s legitimacy? What is happening?” The wine was gone from him now, from both of them. A terrifying sobriety set in.

“We are not the only Boleyn children,” Anne said suddenly with no hesitation, “We never have been.” She let the truth of her words sit heavy with George before she continued. “And now it would seem that we must fight for our lives.”

                                                                                                    

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