Chapter Three: Katherine Meets Jane
Katherine Howard thought that Prince Edward was so adorable. All she wanted to do to the infant prince is snuggle him and take him home with her. But Lady Brian wouldn't like that. Her strict but firm nature was a shock in the system for Katherine as she was used to a free-spirited living filled with laughs. She was one of Jane's new ladies in court, and Katherine was ecstatic to be in the presence of Her Majesty.
"Welcome to my chambers," Queen Jane said. "I am pleased to meet you Mistress Howard."
"Thank you very much, Your Majesty," Katherine Howard smiled as she spoke and curtsied before The Queen. "I hope that we can all be best friends."
"I hope so too," Queen Jane said.
As soon as The Queen left to do some sewing in the corner, her chief lady-in-waiting, Jane Boleyn, grabbed Katherine Howard's shoulder and leaned her cheek against her ear.
"Can we have a word please?" Jane Boleyn asked as discreetly as she could.
"Why of course," Katherine Howard responded with much joy and enthusiasm. She couldn't see that anything was going wrong. Jane Boleyn paced off ahead and left the room and as Katherine followed her, she struggled to catch up with her. The two of them eventually found themselves behind a pillar. "What is it M'lady?"
"Why are you here?" Jane Boleyn hissed.
"To serve Her Majesty of course," Katherine Howard replied. Her happy facial expression melted into a weird state of confusion.
"How can you even show your face after what your family did?"
"I don't understand," Katherine admitted. "We've only just met."
"Your cousins were executed," Jane Boleyn reminded the young Katherine. "They committed incest."
"That's a lie!" Katherine's little smile returned as she raised her eyebrow at Jane Boleyn: The Lady Rochford. "And you know it. Anne never committed adultery, and she most certainly didn't commit incest with her brother. See, I'm not as foolish as I look. Just because I'm young, doesn't mean that I'm stupid."
"Has your uncle brought you here?"
"Thomas Howard," Jane Boleyn replied. "The Duke of Norfolk."
"He encouraged it."
"Do you know that your Uncle Thomas Boleyn has been sent to the tower?"
"I haven't heard from him for a long time," Katherine confessed. "What did he do this time?"
"He sneaked into Her Majesty's chambers and tried to kill her." Jane Boleyn spoke in an unpleasant voice and almost growled at the young girl. "And I bet that you're a pawn to one of their foul games."
"I'm sure being The Queen's cheif lady-in-waiting must be a very demanding role," Katherine said with a curved smile. She also appeared thoughtful as her eyes drew closer to Jane Boleyn's. "But The Queen has only just had a baby, her chamber would be protected all the time. Someone must have helped Uncle Thomas."
"Why are you looking at me like that?" Jane Boleyn asked. "Why would I want to kill The Queen? And why would I help after all the shame your family put me through?"
"Somebody must have helped him get into the chambers," Katherine said. "I find it very hard to believe that it was all his own doing."
"Whatever your uncle is forcing you to do," Jane Boleyn begged as her knees fell to the floor. "Please, don't do it. You don't have to do what he commands. I can even get you a nice man. Somebody who will look after you."
"I'm not sure if Francis will ever come back to me," Katherine's smile dropped as she frowned at the floor. Jane Boleyn got up and hugged her.
"You'll find someone," Jane Boleyn assured her. "There's plenty of beautiful men here."
"Really?" Katherine's face lit up.
"We'll discuss this later," Jane Boleyn replied. "Let's get back before The Queen worries about us."
Both women returned to Queen Jane's chamber and it seemed that nobody noticed that they had even left the room. Queen Jane stood next to Lady Brian who was looking after Prince Edward with the most tender care. Katherine followed Jane Boleyn's steps and stood behind The Queen. Not so long after being awed by Edward's cries, The King arrived at the door by himself.
Everyone bowed in time, apart from Katherine who bowed slower than everyone else.
"I wish to speak to my queen," Henry announced. "Alone."
Everyone left the room, just as they were told to do. As soon as they left, Henry smiled at Jane and sat on the chair that Lady Brian was sitting. He held onto her hand and kissed her. "How are you?"
"I'm doing well," Queen Jane replied. "Even more happier to see you."
"I pray that it stays that way," Henry admitted. "Lady Mary is getting married."
"To Chapuys," Henry replied. "I can't believe that the Lady Mary has finally found a suitable husband for herself."
"I'm happy for The Princess Mary," Queen Jane confessed. "I'm sorry, I mean The Lady Mary. I'm happy you've told me this."
"But that's not what I've come here," Henry said as he threw his hand away. "I've come to talk about your coronation. If you're well enough, I have arranged it to be as soon as possible. But I have concerns."
"What are these concerns?" Queen Jane asked. "I don't mind waiting for the coronation. If you feel it is more ethical if we spend more time as a family."
"Following the fate of my previous queens, I would hate you to meet their fate. I almost lost you to fever and delirium," The King announced. "Sweet Jane... I cannot live with myself if I lose you for good."
"You mustn't worry about them," Jane told The King as she reached out over the table as her palm slid around the front of his hand. "The late queens are being well looked after."
"Is there anything I can do to make your life more comfortable?"
"I would like to see The Lady Mary more often."
"That can be arranged."
God was looking down on Queen Jane the whole time, just as he was watching down on King Henry. It was the moment that they had both been waiting for: the coronation of Queen Jane Seymour. Many people assumed that Jane had to earn it, but issues with his church, the pilgrimage and Jane's pregnant delayed the grand coronation. There could have very well not have been a coronation at all, but Henry had every intention of making his beloved wife officially crowned.
There was also a special guest from Germany who was invited by Cromwell. Henry was so delighted that he wanted the whole world to see Jane's coronation. The King didn't find the German guest's appearance pleasing, but thought that she had a sweet heart. Anne of Cleves was a distant relative to King Henry, and Cromwell brought Anne over for his own personal mission. Nobody, apart from Cromwell himself, knew what these missions were.
Jane was placed in a golden carriage with Henry by her side and Edward in her arms. The carriage was lead by dazzling white horses who were on their way to York.
"You've kept your promises," Henry said, squeezing onto Jane's hand. "Now, it's my turn to keep mine."
"You didn't have to do all this," Jane responded with a smile on her face. "I was happy enough to be your wife."
Jane's modesty thrilled The King. He knew that he would always find a faithful servant in Jane, and by God's grace she would be his angel. He stroked Jane's hair and kissed her again. "You deserve all the fortune in the world. You have a heart of gold, and this is only the beginning. Princess Mary will be in the front row."
"You're too kind."
Henry and Jane were greeted with crowds of people. In every direction, the streets and windows were covered with bobbing heads. Henry grabbed onto Jane's hand and told her, "These are my people, and they're here for you."
"They seem so happy."
"Happy to see you and our son." It wasn't long before they reached the Clover-Shaped Clifford's Tower. Around the tower was grass and buttercups waving across the grass. "This is where your coronation will take place," Henry announced. The carriage stopped and guards opened the left door and The King gently made his way out of the carriage. Henry tried to behave like a dashing gentleman and opened his palm to Jane. "They're waiting for you."
Jane greeted Henry with a smile as everyone led Jane into a hall with vibrant tapesties. She found herself surrounded by close friends of herself and The King. Mary was there with the most churpiest smile that Jane had ever seen her wear. It was a glorious end to another chapter and it was official that Jane was The Queen of England.
~Katherine Howard's youthful appearance made Henry's tired lard-coated heart sing. Queen Jane told The King that she was beautiful and helped make court sparkle with her lavish dancing. His eyes always wondered to Katherine whenever she was in court, and many were surprised that The Queen didn't make a scene out it, but Jane remained kind and gentle to Katherine.
What made it very clear to the court was that Henry had a thing for ladies-in-waiting. Katherine Howard was the star attraction at court as far as The King was concerned and he desired nothing more than to rip her clothes off and take her under his wing. Even though he believed that Jane was his true and loving wife, he wanted the young girl as a mistress.
He had arranged a chamber with a double bed covered with red velvet with rose petals on top. Henry knew that he was not the athletic prince he once was, and he had not shared a bed with Queen Jane since her coronation. He blamed the ulcer on his leg, but there was a deeper reason: much deeper than an ulcer can ever justify.
He wanted to tell Katherine the reason why he wanted her as his mistress. He chuckled as he watched Katherine walk into the room in a loose white gown. She was dressed for the right occasion that The King was about to propose to her.
"Come here sweet child," Henry requested as he laid his hands out on Katherine's chest.
"Good evening," Katherine said, giggling from the ticklish sensation from Henry's hands.
"I must ask you to do me one favour."
"Anything for you, My Lord."
"Will you come to bed with me," Henry whispered as his hands slid all the way down to her hips. "...Willingly?"
"Is His Majesty asking me to be his mistress?"
"But why me?" Katherine asked as she shook back her blonde hair. "I don't understand. There are so many better women than me, including Queen Jane."
"I want to go to Jane's bed," Henry confessed as he cupped his hands on Katherine's cheeks. His red eyes began to cry as his accent vibrated through a croaky tone. "But I don't want to lose her. I have waited for years and she was the one to give me the male heir I need to keep this dynasty alive. But that's not enough, I want more sons. Katherine, you are very young and healthy. Capable of producing sons."
Katherine gasped. "I don't know what to say."
"You don't need to say anything," Henry told her. "Just take your clothes off and let's get on with it."
Katherine giggled and followed The King's every order.