Threat

GREENWICH PALACE 1558

Time does pass by fast. It is winter and just a few more days Edward and I will be celebrating our first year as man and wife. How exciting is that?

Edward Seymour has returned to court for quite some time now and it is apparent that he is losing the king's favour. Dudley is now Edward's most trusted and favoured in the council and in court. True to his word, he has been loyal to Edward and I. Though I have warned Edward to not completely trust the duke. He, in return, assured me that I had nothing to worry about. He keeps Dudley in his place and Dudley has not committed any actions of usurping Edward.

It is the Yuletide season and castle is festive. Merriment has been frequent in the palace and when there is merriment, no doubt Baron Sudeley is present. Please do not make hasty judgements on the man. It is Edward who frequently invites him to join the merriment.

With the Baron's frequent presence, Jane Grey's presence is also frequent. I cannot help but despise the woman. His Lordship is a little too eager to create a match between the two. But that is impossible since I am married to Edward. I see Edward and Jane from my chamber's window once again taking a stroll. This was the same scene a few months ago. "Your Majesty, you will get wrinkles at this young age if you continue to frown like that." Lady Fleming jests.

"She is with Edward once again." I say taking another look at the window.

"Oh, Your Majesty, you should not fret. She is no match against you." Lady Seton says as she sits beside me and holds my hand as assurance. I sigh. I wish Edward is does not take on his father's womanizing ways. I turn to my ladies. I look at them and notice something.

"Where is Lady Livingston?" I ask them.

They snicker. I sigh in frustration.

"I am going to put a leash on that girl." I say and my ladies giggle.

"Madam, as I was heading here, I heard some members of the court talking… about the Baron Sudeley." Lady Fleming nervously says.

"What about the Baron?" I inquire.

"It is said that he is having an affair with the Lady Elizabeth, His Majesty's sister, despite being married to the dowager queen, who is with child."

"What?"

"Forgive me madam but I no longer heard the details to this rumour. I was almost caught eaves dropping when I gasped in astonishment."

This is just repulsive.

"Very well then, I shall see the king about this. He has to know about this or family's reputation will be ruined. We cannot have a member of the royal family be a mistress. Thank you for informing me, Lady Fleming." I say as I stand and leave my chamber, ladies in tow (of course).

I go to the garden, the part that is seen from my chamber. To my luck, I walk into the other Seymour. The Baron sees me and bows to me. "Your Majesty" he says with a smile. I forcefully return the favour.

"Your Lordship, it is pleasant to see you in this fine afternoon." I lie.

"It is very pleasant to see you too, madam. I see you are going to the garden as well."

"Yes, I am. What is your business to go the garden, if I may ask?"

His Lordship grins. I so want to tear that grin off his face.

"I am to fetch the Lady Grey. How about you, madam? Are you out to get some fresh air?"

"Yes but I am also to fetch my husband, who is strolling about the garden with the Lady Jane Grey."

His Lordship's grin falter. I got you.

"Your Lordship, I suggest that you do not toy with my marriage and play matchmaker between His Majesty and Lady Jane Grey. I know your intentions and I suggest you do not push through with it. You are already in hot waters, Your Grace. Do not get to the boiling point. There shall be consequences." I threaten him. "By the way, congratulations that your wife is with child." I add and triumphantly go on my way.

I approach the Edward and Lady Jane Grey as their backs facing me. "Your Majesty!" I call out and curtsy. The two turn to me and there linked arms are unlinked. "Mary! What a surprise!" Edward says in shock.

"Yes, indeed…" I say then turn to the Lady Jane Grey. She curtsies to me. "Your Majetsty" she says, with a light tint of red in her cheeks. Yes, be ashamed for being such a harlot.

"Lady Jane Grey, I am surprised to see you. Are you enjoying the stroll with my husband?" I ask her. She blushes further.

"Yes, His Majesty, has been kind to show me around the palace." She replies without making any eye contact.

We have a very awkward silence.

"Well, I hope I did not intrude but I am in need to speak with His Majesty." I tell her.

"I must take my leave then, Your Majesties." Lady Jane Grey curtsies and then leaves us.

Once the Lady Jane Grey is out of the premise, Edward turns to me with a glaring expression. What did I do? "Must you be rude to the Lady Grey?" Edward reprimands.

"Me? Rude? Your Majesty, I was not rude to the Lady Grey." I defend myself.

"Then explain to me why you acted as such."

"I was trying to protect you. She is a puppet of your other uncle! Edward it is high time you execute both of your uncles. They will become the end of you."

"What are you speaking of?" Edward asks as if I am going loony.

"Is it not obvious, Your Majesty? Your uncle, Thomas Seymour, is trying match Lady Grey, with you!"

Edward laughs a little in disbelief.

"That is impossible, Mary. I am married to you. How can a match happen between the Lady Grey and I?"

"There is divorce."

Edward laughs again but this time in amusement. He steps towards me and cups my face as he kisses my forehead.

"I would never divorce you. I am not my father." He says then engulfs me in his arms.

I hope what you say is true.

"Tell me what you came here for." He says as rests his chin on my head.

I take a breath. I am certain that this will distress him. This involves his sister. "It is the Lady Elizabeth. I believe that she should stay with us. She currently resides in Sudeley Castle, does she not?" I say and ask.

"I would love to have Elizabeth stay here but why do you say so?" Edward replies pulls me away from him, so that he can look at me.

"Is she in any danger at the baron's home?" he adds.

"Yes, I believe the baron is seducing her. There is talk, Your Majesty. They say that the Baron of Sudeley is having affair with the Lady Elizabeth."

"What?"

"That is why I want to ask of you to make her live here. I also care about the welfare of Catherine. She is with child, Your Majesty." I pleadingly tell Edward.

"What a bitter sweet moment this is."

"I know. Please bring back Elizabeth here, for her sake."

Edward kisses my forehead.

"I shall have a word with the Baron of Sudeley then." he says before leaving me.

In the evening I call for the Duke of Northumberland in my study chamber. I cannot do much when it comes to Seymour brothers, they hold so much power and I also do not want to ruin Edward's plans. I now turn to the (nearly) second powerful man in England, Dudley, to act on my behalf.

Dudley enters the chamber and bows to me. "Your Majesty, you have asked for my presence?" He asks. "Yes, I have an important matter to speak with you, regarding the Lady Jane Grey. Tell me, Your Grace, what you know about this woman?" I seriously ask him.

"She is your cousin -"

"Cousin? I have never heard of such cousin." I cut-off Dudley.

"Your Majesty, you share the same great-grandfather, Henry VII." He tells me calmly.

"I see, how unfortunate that is."

"Your Majesty, if it will make you at ease, I assure you that she has no intention to take the crown and your husband from you." Dudley assures me.

"How are certain? Have you spoken with her?"

"No madam, but I do have eyes and ears in court,"

I give him a suspicious look and he chuckles.

"Rest assure madam, I have no spies following you and the king."

I let out a breath.

"Well what have you gathered from your eyes and ears?" I ask.

"The Lady Jane Grey is innocent and does not want anything to do with being queen and consort. In fact, she is very much satisfied in having a friendship with His Majesty. Though, I am still keeping a close eye on her. Thomas Seymour is an aggressive man."

"I know, Your Grace. I have suspected that from the moment Lady Grey set foot on the palace."

There is silence.

"If Her Majesty is still worried about the Lady Grey, then I propose we set a match for her, with the blessing of the king. She is, in a way, still part of the court since she shares a certain friendship with His Majesty and is related to him."

"And who do you suppose we match with her?" I ask.

"My son, John."

I love the idea. I smile in agreement.

"Then we have to set this match."

John Dudley and Lady Jane Grey's engagement is announced in a few days. I am astounded on how quick Dudley works. I happily send my congratulations to the couple and paid the duke a hefty reward for his act of loyalty to me. It is a thorn that I have happily plucked from my problems.

In a few weeks, the Lady Elizabeth resides with us, to save her and the family from the shame of the rumours that happen to be true. Edward gave strict orders that the Baron of Sudeley be forbidden to the palace for as long as the Lady Elizabeth is residing with us. In fact, he is forbidden to any residence the lady resides. Edward has become furious to discover about this rumour and how it is true. The Lady Elizabeth is furious as well with her brother to forbid her to see her lover but Edward would not relent. She has also pleaded to me that I speak to Edward on her behalf. I did not do so for the obvious reasons. Need I say more about this? With that, she is also furious with me.

There is no doubt that Thomas Seymour has hatred towards me. He has lost the favour of the king and his plots are ruined, and I caused all of that. A sense of fear is brewing inside of me. For sure he will be out to get me. It may not be now but I know it is bound to happen.

It is now evening and my ladies prepare me for bed. Once I am in my nightgown, I am tucked into the bed and my ladies bid me a good night's rest. A moment later, I sink into deep slumber. I get a few moments of good rest when a loud thump and frightened shrieks awakens me. I immediately open my eyes and sit up on the bed. A memory flashes. This is nearly like the time when I was abducted. My heart races in fright. I close my eyes and await for what is about to come next. But nothing happens. I give out a breath.

With withering courage and a rush of panic, I get out of bed to see what the matter is. I arrive at the sitting area and I am greeted by the site of Lady Fleming on the floor with a dagger embedded into her stomach. A pool of blood seeps beneath her. I immediately put my hand on my mouth as I gasp in horror.

The king's men then burst into the chamber and halt at the gruesome site. I look at them and then look back at the corpse. It finally sinks in and I let out a scream and fall onto the ground. I weep my heart out. This cannot be. I then feel familiar arms wrap around me that then lifts me from the ground. Once I am standing I wrap my arms around Edward's torso, tightly, and he whisks me away from the chamber.

We hastily walk the hallways and people immediately avoid our path. Guards are trailing behind us trying to catch onto our pace. Edward is practically dragging me as we head towards my chamber. To Edward, it must be the safest place to be in for both of us.

Once we reach my chambers, the door is immediately shut and locked. The guards all stand by outside and Edward and I are alone in the chamber. He gently guides me to my bed and makes me sit on it. I wipe my tears with my sleeves and whimper. Edward returns with a goblet of water for me. I drink and return the goblet to him.

Edward kneels in front of me and moves my hair away from my face. "Are you okay?" He gently asks me, which irks me. Do I look like I am okay? I give him a look and (thank goodness) he understands. "Forgive me." He says. I wipe the remaining tears on my face.

"It's the Baron of Sudeley. He is the one behind this." I say.

"Mary, you cannot just come to conclusions like that."

"I know but he is the one I am most paranoid of. He is the one whom I have recently ruined. He is out to get me Edward. He has come after me through Lady Fleming. Oh, why must she suffer for my sake?" I cry into my hands.

Edward removes my hands from my face and wipes away my tears.

"We will get to the bottom of this. I swear this to you, I shall protect you. No one will harm you, Mary. I will do whatever it takes to make you feel safe. Whoever it is who is out to harm my queen shall suffer grave consequences even if they are closest to me."

That evening Edward gave strict orders that the entire palace be locked down. No one is permitted to leave palace grounds until investigation for the murder of Lady Fleming is concluded. To my dismay, my remaining ladies are considered to be suspects until proven innocent. I highly believe they are innocent but Edward thinks otherwise. They are not put in the dungeon since I will still be needing their assistance but they will be heavily chaperoned by guards.

Edward and I stayed together in my chamber that evening. We laid in bed together in each other's arms. My head rests on his chest. I listen to his steady and strong heartbeat. It relaxes me. "Edward" I say and he responds. "Why must I live an unfortunate life?" I ask him, feeling another tear ready to roll down my cheek.

"Do I not have a right to be happy?" I question him again. The tear rolls down my cheek and I wipe it.

"Are you not happy with me?" Edward asks in disappointment.

I look up at Edward with confusion.

"Please never think of that. You are the only happy thing in my life."