Sara (life_of_amesu) wrote in historical_love,
Sara
life_of_amesu
historical_love

Historical Fiction

Since this is allowed and I have no where else to post it - here we go.

Title: Sleep of the Innocent
Rating: PG at most
Characters: Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Gardiner, Margaret Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell, William Seymour, Sir Francis, and Henry VIII (of course) I may be missing a few minor ppl.
Summary: the trial of Anne Boleyn from Cranmer's POV.
Notes: This is oddly written, not in your usual prose. Sorry about that. And long spaces between dialogue is intentional.

Enjoy?

    "Of course you don't know what it means, you're not him are you?"
    "No, but I thought, perhaps…a bit of mercy-"
    "No! No mercy, we show it to one and soon they'll all be clamoring for it. Look, what they want is stabi-"
    "I know! You've told me before, I know."
    "And I'll tell you again."
    "Don't Cromwell. I know. I don't need to hear it again."
    "Bitter, isn't it?"
    "Must it be?"
    "Well…yes. Of course it must. That's life. You're a philosopher, a – one of those men who cares about others."
    "A humanist?"
    "In the truest sense of the word. Of course history will ruin it all."
    "Oh, well…I suppose it must."
    "There, that wasn't so hard was it? She'll go quick."
    "But surely there's another way!"
    "Sir! Only two things signify anything now – loyalty and trea-"
    "Ssh."
    "Sorry?"
    "Ssh, I hate that word."
    "Why?"
    "It's a synonym for death."
    "So is life."
    "But –"
    "Don't argue Tom, it is. And so is this, this peace of paper. It's both you see. Life and death, treason and loyalty. It is. And so is the world and everything in it."
    "What about compassion? Mercy? Christ's word?"
    "God's blood man, this is politics not your church! Christ's word is against everything we do. But, I suppose that's the reason I exist, and you. To make sure those involved in the dirty game aren't aware of their own damnation."
    "So we damn ourselves for the preservation of their ignorance?"
    "You're catching on."
    "I think I'm going to be sick."
    "It'll pass."
    "No it won't."
    "The guilt of the world is yours then, heaven knows I don't want it."

    It won't happen again. It will not happen again. It shouldn't happen again. But then, it shouldn't have happened in the first place. None of this should have happened. Gardener should be here, not I. He would have said no. Surely he would have. Stood up. Made a passionate cry to justice.
    Not this.
    Not me.
    I tried, I hope she knows that. I hope God knows that. I tried but I'm not strong enough. Not brave enough. But it won't happen again, the next one will be different. I swear it. On, on my life. My soul. May I die by flame and live by flame if the next one ends the same.
    God I'm going to be sick. Not here, not at the altar. It hurts too much.
    God save the King.
    And I'm sick, on my knees retching. I'm sick.
    God have mercy on me.
    So sick. Can't stop and my eyes hurt, sting, and it's started to rain. There must be a leak.
    God save the queen – both of them.
    It'll end. I'm sure it will.

    Spring came and the sun warmed everything. Even the rain stopped. It had stopped when he knelt to pray, stopped when the whispered words escaped his mouth asking God to forgive them world of it's sins. To forgive him, and her, and More, and Fisher – everyone. Cromwell too. The rain stopped but he didn't notice, just closed his eyes; incense tangling it's sent in his hair and clothes forever imprinting the smell of a thousand herbs on his soul.

    Greenwich is beautiful. That was all that ran through Sir Francis' head as he rode behind the king. Beautiful. So much so he forwarded his thoughts on to the king who readily agreed.
    "Aye Sir Francis, simply stunning. But the clouds on the horizon do dampen the spirit."
    "Clouds your majesty?" Sir Francis looked about, the sky just as clear blue as it ever was.
    "Yes, the clouds." There was no following comment so it was left to Sir Francis to agree and quickly change the subject.

    "There's fruit to be gathered Tom."
    "Is there?"
    "Don't sound so morose."
    "It's not that, or you."
    "Wine?"
    "No thank you."
    "Been thinking again? You're always in a mood when you do that."
    "Aye."
    "And? Come to any conclusions."
    "Does it mean anything?"
    "Does what mean anything?"
    "Well this, all of it."
    "What?'
    "This, our lives I suppose."
    "Probably not."
    "So it doesn't signify."
    "No. You're just going to die Tom. The only thing you have to hope for is a quick death, preferably painless."
    "Death then, is what it all amounts to."
    "Yes. We're all going to die, I, you, Anne, even the King."
    "Treason."
    "Life."
    "Tell me how the Queen is."
    "Her health is well."
    "The child?"
    "We shall, for the sake of optimism, assume that it is a boy and healthy."
    "I hope to God it is so."
    "You would."

    Cranmer paused outside the Bishop of Winchester's study. In hand were various documents, enough to make it seem as if he had a point in being there.
    "Your Grace." Cranmer said, his voice quiet.
    "Ah, Archbishop, please come in." Gardiner gave a smile, one that didn't seem to meet his eyes. The older man shuffled in, suddenly very aware of himself. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"
    "I've come to apologize."
    "Apologize? For what?"
    "For what I have no control over."
    "Your appointment to the See of Canterbury?"
    "Aye."
    "Oh, no need to apologize for that. It's God's will."
    "You were better qualified." A brief silence that seemed to agree. "I've also come to apologize for what I will do."
    "Archbishop?"
    "I'm sorry Gardiner."
    "My dear man!" Cranmer shook his head and waved for the younger man to be still.
    "No, I will apologize. I'm doing this because I know it will hurt you more than it will hurt me which means it will hurt you a great deal. I'm confused right now, I would say lost but I don't think it's fitting," his voice began to pick up pace. "I will do what is right, what I think is right and for your pain I am sorry. I'm sorry. Things are going to happen – are happening – that shouldn't."
    "Archbishop!" But the older man was gone, leaving the study suddenly quieter than it had been before.

    "Can't I go to town?"
    "No, not yet."
    "You've been saying that since we arrived!"
    "It's too dangerous."
    "I want to see England."
    "You will."
    "When?"
    "Margaret-"
    "Thomas."
    "Fine, we'll work something out." Cranmer sighed and rolled over, pulling his wife closer. "You knew what you were getting into when you married me."
    "I know, but we got me here, surely I can see a bit of the country."
    "Being a Polish pageboy may not cover it."
    "You said we would work something out."
    "I did, and we will." They went quiet as clouds drifted across the sun covering the world in a soft grey. "Shall we ride later today?"
    "Of course," Margaret propped herself up on her elbows and looked down at Cranmer with an amused smile. "But I worry for your health."
    "Mine?"
    "Are you sure you'll be able to keep up with me?"
    "Oh! I see how it is," he smirked and leaned up for a quick kiss. "I'm not worried."
    "We'll make a day of it. You're not to go to Town are you?"
    "Not that I know of."
    "Good. Now, tell me again about what life is supposed to be like."

    "How's your Venus?"
    "I know not of what you speak."
    "Quite well, judging by your glow. Don't look at me like that."
    "The Queen."
    "Always business. Yes, the King wishes you to speak with her. If she admits – well."
    "Will she be spared?"
    "You're amusing. I never knew you for a comic."
    "A fool."
    "There we are with the bitter feelings again."
    "Will she be spared?"
    "Does it matter? It's over for her regardless."
    "Must I?"
    "Yes. Offer her what you will but she must confess."
    "Does it matter?"
    "Yes."
    "Why?"
    "For the dirty game my man. This is the part where you sell your soul for their peace of mind."
    "You don't sleep much do you."


    "No. No I don't."

    "There was a time, Archbishop, when I thought the world was everything."
    "Madam –"
    "No, don't interrupt. I used to think the world was everything. That the sun rose then set and that was it. There was nothing beyond that. But…but now I know there is more, so much more and I wish to God I had known it before."

    William smiled an effusive smile as he strolled out to the gardens. The air was filled with the hum of insects as they flew from flower to flower.
    Standing by the hives was his niece, heavy cloaks on and white netting about her pale face.
    "Jane," he said, resting his hand on her shoulder. "How are you?" They turned away from the house and headed deeper into the gardens. Blossoms lined the path, covering them with the thick sent of spring. In the distance hymns rose as the chants of the monks were sing from the mouths of commoners.
    "I've been fine Uncle."
    "Keeping busy I see."
    "Yes," her hands were suddenly whiter than snow.
    "What is the matter Jane?"
    "Nothing."
    "You're worried."
    "I'm fine." William stopped and turned to face the young woman.
    "Tell me," he said, holding her hands in his.
    "I can't."
    "Yes you can. What are you worried about?"
    "Everything."
    "Everything?"
    "Yes, everything." The chanted prayers stopped and her eyes closed tight, blinding out of the sun and the look from her uncle. There was the sound of branches breaking and from the bushes emerged the King.
    "There you are Seymour!"
    "Your majesty."

    "Margaret," Cranmer walked up to the younger woman, pulling her close to him. With a smile she set down the herbs.
    "Yes?"
    "May I ask you something?"
    "Of course."
    "Walk with me," taking her arm they turned from the bay window and wandered down a long hall. Not a sound could be heard except for the soft tread of their feet. Every so often the sharp sent of mint caught Cranmer's attention and he glanced down to Margaret's hands to see her twirling a small piece of red mint. "Tell me about God," he said at last, squinting as they entered the gardens. Margaret started to laugh but caught sight of Cranmer's face and stopped.
    "God Thomas?"
    "Yes, tell me about him."
    "I can't."
    "Why?"
    "You're the Archbishop."
    "And you're a woman, I –" he paused, threading his fingers through hers. "I often thought that women have a better grasp of the divine than men." The statement earned a laugh from Margaret accompanied by a coy look.
    "What do you really want Thomas?"
    "To know who God is."
    "Why?"
    "I fear that I've lost him. Or that he's lost me." Margaret stopped, pulling Cranmer to a halt next to her. She turned and looked up at him, her eyes squinting under the glare of the sun.
    "You've not lost God. You will never loose God."
    "But I'm lost," he found himself trembling, a loud noise thrumming in his ears. So loud he wondered that Margaret did not mention it. "So lost, I don't know who I am, what I'm to do. Margaret please," he sank to the ground and she followed, holding him close. "Please help me, save me. I can't do this; I can't sell my soul for this. Save me Maggie, save me."

    "I wish to make a confession."
    "Very well."
    "Forgive me father for I have sinned."
    "What are your sins my son?"
    "I'm going to send an innocent woman to the for my own gain."


    "My son that is a grave sin."
    "I'm making the only friend I have give up his honor – his goodness – for me."
    "Crom-"
    "Ssh. I'm confessing my sins father, please let me finish."
    "I can't."
    "You will."
    "Don't let me know these things."
    "My friend is the only good person at court and I am bloodying his hands."
    "Cromwell!"
    "Ssh, listen father. I don't regret what I've done, I've never regretted it and I never will, but he's part of the carnage, he's the remains of the ship that has struck on the rocks and for that I am sorry."
    "Cromwell, please. Don't – just let it lie."
    "You're as lost as I am Cranmer. Despite that I've always felt some form of comfort around you."
    "Cromwell –"
    "Please father."
    "I can't absolve you of your sins."
   
    "That is for you to do."
    "If anyone can absolve me, it's you."
    "Learn to sleep."
    "Sleep?"
    "Learn to sleep and then you will be absolved."


    "Thank you father."

    His fingers lingered on the door, unwilling to knock. Unwilling to enter the room that held everything. Sobs seeped through the door and as he opened it slowly he could see a shaking form on the bed.
    One candle was lit; lighting up a desk and the face of a young man whose expression carried wisdom of more than a thousand years.
    "My lord Rochford." He said with an incline of his head, still lingering by the door.
    "Your Grace." It was rasped.
    "How is she?"
    "Ill."
    "But I thought – I was told that the pregnancy had gone well."
    "It…"
    "I know."
    "She's ill at heart Archbishop. Help her."
    "I can't."
    "Comfort her."
    "I have none to give!" The young man stopped staring at Cranmer and turned his gaze to the candle.
    "If you're lost then we're all lost." He whispered, his voice barely heard as Cranmer closed the door, returning the room to darkness.

    Gardiner was sitting in the courtyard of his house. The sun was warm and cast a soft glow about his face.
    "M'lord." He opened his eyes to see one of his servants standing by one of the entrances to the courtyard.
    "Yes?"
    "There is a young…man here to see you."
    "For what?"
    "He says he is here on a private matter. It concerns the Archbishop, he says." Gardiner sat up and brushed the grass and leaves from his robes. Picking up the book he had been reading he quickly tucked it away.
    "Your Grace," the young man bowed in an awkward fashion, clearly not used to it.
    "You may stand."
    "Thank you."
    "What is the matter my son?" The boy licked his lips and glances at the servant who remained in the yard. Gardiner dismissed him with a wave of his hand.
    "May I speak plainly m'lord?"
    "Of course."
    "Walk with me? I think better when I am walking."
    "We may make rounds if you wish."
    "What I have to speak of concerns the Archbishop. I am, well, I am concerned about him."
    "Why come to me? I am no friend of his."
    "But he respects you." The boy's expression turned earnest and Gardiner noticed that the lips were too full and the wrists seemed to be too delicate.
    "Does he?"
    "Yes, while he does not agree with you he respects you. Much like he respected Fisher and More."
    "What troubles him?" The younger man suddenly looked away, seemingly unsure of his mission. "You can speak plainly my son, I'll not say a word to anyone."
    "He doesn't like court, doesn't like the intrigue and power play."
    "It's required –"
    "He knows that but it's killing him." In seconds the uncertainty was gone and in its place was adoration, love perhaps.
    "Killing him? He seems strong enough."
    "No, killing him inside."
    "Then he suffers from the same disease as the queen."
    "He does?"
    "Fear."
    "For what? Surely they won't –"
    "No, not him, not yet. But he cares for others and so he fears for them."
    "What is he to do?"
    "Nothing…loose his heart? His soul? I don't know," Gardiner paused and gave a bitter laugh. "Not all of us are as lucky as he."
    "Or as unfortunate."

    She was beyond me, beyond this world. She cried and cursed – begged you for salvation, to deliver her soul from the world she no longer wanted to live it and I could do nothing. I tried to speak to her of your love, of your compassion, how you would not curse her. But she would not listen, would not listen. My Lord Heavenly Father, one of love, forgive her, forgive her, and me, and the King. Forgive us all. Please. Bring us peace, bring us sleep. The sleep of innocent so we may once again live and pray with passion.

    "My Lord of Canterbury, you've come to hear my confession?"
    "Yes."
    "Where has the King gone?"
    "He's gone to the chapel to pray."
    "And you are not with him?"
    "Madame, he says he does not need me."
    "Very well. My confession then…"
    "If you need time to think I understand."
    "Of course you do."
    "Madame –"
    "I know God not."
    "Madame!"
    "I know God not Archbishop, do not condemn me for it."
    "Of course not, but think of what you're –"
    "Shush. I know Him not yet I love Him."
    "Madame?"
    "Like the King – I know him not yet I love him."
    "It is not the same."
    "Yes it is, perhaps, if you were ever to love you would understand."


    "Of course Madame."

    "They were all taken, one confessed." Cranmer said as he strode into the inner courtyard. Margaret looked up, quickly closing the book that had been lying on her lap.
    "Who?"
    "Norris, Smeaton, Wyatt, and Rochford. Smeaton confessed."
    "Her brother was taken?"
    "Aye," he grimaced as he joined his wife under the chestnut tree. "Charges of incest and planning the King's death."
    "And the Queen?"
    "Adultery and treason."
    "Thomas you were her Chaplain." Cranmer said nothing, just squeezed her hand in silence. "They're not coming for you are they?"
    "No, of course not. I've done nothing."
    "Neither did the Queen."
    "She gave birth to a boy and he was stillborn."
    "That makes her treasonous?"
    "According to the King, Maggie we shouldn't speak of this."
    "Why?"
    "The walls have ears." Margaret pulled away, her eyes going wide. She took a step back then another, slowly shaking her head.
    "No, Thomas," she whispered," no, don't turn into them."
    "I won't –"
    "You have."
    "Maggie! Wait –"
   
    She asked for one last confession and when he arrived he could hear the steady pounding as the scaffold was built.
    Opening the door he found her by the window, hands clasp so tight her knuckles were turning white.
    "Madame," he said with a bow before stepping fully into the room. It was still early in the morning and the sun was peaking through the window like a shy soul.
    "Good morning Archbishop." It was said with her usual cheer and Cranmer could feel her fear.
    "Good morning Madame."
    "You're here to hear my confession."
    "Yes, if you're so inclined."
    "I am," she smiled a quick smile and knelt, carefully bowing her head. "Forgive me, I have sinned. I've wished ill on others."
    "Who Madame?"
    "Lady Rochford for her ill treatment and the Princess Mary for who she is."
    "Anyone else?"
    "No. I have felt jealousy and envy towards the Lady Jane Seymour and anger towards the King for the attention he paid her. Forgive me my pride and ambition – for these I will pay dearly."
    "Anything else Madame?"
    "Nothing."
    "Nothing?"
    "Nothing." Cranmer watched her kneeling, slight body trembling on the stone floor.
    "Madame-"
    "Nunc lento sonitu dicut, morieris." The queen whispered as she stood slowly, head still bowed. "Now this bell, tolling softly for another, says to me, thou must –"
    "No!"
    "Yes."
    "Surely not now."
    "Then when? If it's all the same in the end. I'll be gone, you'll be gone, and the world will move on."
    "Life will find a way?"
    "As it has always done."

    Lady Jane walked down the halls, eyes closed and fists clenched. She walked back and forth, her heels clicking over and over again. A monotonous sound of comfort. Her eyes were shut yet she could see, her heart beating fast with fear yet her mind still and calm.
    "Madame?" He stood at the far end of the hall, by the opened window. Outside the fresh sun rose on yet another impartial day.
    "Good day your Grace."
    "How are you? You seemed frightened." She stopped, body still and standing in the center of the hall. Eyes closed again,
    "oh Archbishop." And she fell.

    The doctor said it was nothing, just over exertion. But the fear is still here, perhaps maybe, just maybe – will it?
    End the same that is.
    And I don't mean death; Cromwell has confirmed my belief in that. But the how and the why are what matters. How will she die? Why will she die?
    My Lord I don't mean to question you, you have your ways but I can't help it. Is this how Christ felt?
    My life depends on it – my soul.
    I must know!
    God, I must know. Please God, please, tell me – will it? Will it end the same? Dear God in heaven or hell – wherever you are how does it end?
    I'm sorry, sorry. Sorry my Lord. God I'm so sorry. Jane I'm so sorry, Anne, Katharine –

    "She's fine, up and about as she should be."
    "I'm glad to hear that."
    "Are you?"
    "Yes Cromwell, I am."


    "You seem tired."
    "I am."
    "The guilt?"
    "Uncertainty."
    "The same, usually."
    "Usually."
    "Don't sound so forlorn."
    "But it's over."
    "What is?"
    "Everything. Over."
    "My dear men, it's only just begun."
    "No, it's over."
    "The beginning of the end."


    "For who?"
    "Everyone. As always."
    "Will you walk with me in the dark Cromwell?"
    "No."
    "Good. I wouldn't want you to."
    "Archbishop we are all on our own."
    "But we're not."
    "But we are – on our own together…and sometimes I pray, pray that it will all end quietly."
    "It won't. Never does I suspect."
    "Do you know Cranmer? For certain."
    "No, but neither do you. No one knows what it means, do we? We're not Him after all. We don't understand till the end and by then it's too –"
    "Ssh."
    "Late."

   
end

as I said, not the usual prose. Sorry if it's confusing. Um ya.
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