Sometimes we make choices that seal our fate; being a queen and wife to an easily changeable king, I am afraid that my fate had been sealed a long time ago.
The only thing I could change was the path that led me to this fateful night.
The eerie darkness shadowed over me as I watched the guards enter. The servants in the castle gathered to watch as I was arrested.
Lord Greenstone’s lizard-green eyes narrowed as the cuffs were placed around my wrists.
He lowered his head as James was pulled out of my arms. I refused to let the tears spill over onto my cheeks and instead held my head high. I would not fall apart in front of any of them, they would not get that satisfaction.
I could hear James crying. He was only two. I had grown fond of him as I had mothered him, well, everyone else thought he was mine at the least.
I glanced at Greenstone as I walked through the archway. He would do anything for power, and I was in the way of his sister becoming queen. How I could laugh now. It was all in vein because my husband had already chosen another to take for his wife and it was not Greenstone’s sister.
It was Mary. One of my ladies. She was fair-haired, unlike my English rose appearance, and had the personality much more dangerous than even the king.
I walked out into the courtyard. It was cold, as cold as the axe that would soon meet my neck.
Is it not strange, how as I walked toward my place of death, I could only think of Anne?
I had been one of her ladies, and just as Mary had done to me, I had done to Anne.
Anne was clever, diplomatic, and funny. King Henry had taken her as his queen at the tender age of seventeen.
Of course, I know that Anne was having an affair with the Lord Chamberlain. They had given into their infatuation just as I had done with my Michael and now I would go to the same block for the same crime; treason.
Greenstone, however, could not find Michael, Elle, or their family.
I had warned them once I knew what was coming and they had fled to save me, but Greenstone had orchestrated false evidence, being that his one witness was not enough.
As soon as I heard that he would be the judge for my crimes, I knew I was going to lose my head.
Thunder clapped as I approached the boat. I saw Henry watching from the window with Mary on his arm. He was devoid of all emotion which was expected. He had not truly loved me.
My loyal subject gathered by the gates, watching as I stepped onto the boat. I stared blankly ahead as the knot in my stomach grew.
We sailed away, and as we did I turned and looked at castle I had spent many years in. It stood proudly as it had done for decades, against the black sky.
I looked up. Milky speckles formed puffy shapes against the dark canvas. I felt the first drizzles of the rain. England had been in a drought all summer. The rain brought me solice that night. It felt cold on my hot skin.
The tower slowly came into view, the grey mass twisted up into the sky, casting a shadow over us.
I was taken through the traitor’s gate.
As they opened the black bars, a shiver slithered down my spine.
How many had come through this gate to die?
I walked up the steps and over to the building where I would stay until the day of my beheading.
As I stepped past the scaffold, I ran my fingers around my neck, reminded that soon it would be detached from my body.
The morning of the execution came and the sky was tinged with grey. I looked out of the window as a guard told me it was time.
I could have been a thousand miles away as I stared up, refusing to look down at the crowd and scaffold.
The man coughed loudly and I closed my eyes. Slowly, I turned. My ladies walked behind me as I walked down the steps, each step feeling heavier than the last.
I took a deep breath; my knees were wobbly and I could not stop myself from shaking.
I reached the scaffold and looked out over the crowd. I dropped to my knees and looked down at the block – it was covered in blood from the previous decapitations.
It took everything to control my bladder. The basket below was occupied by a head of a woman, staring up expressionless.
If I had not been on my knees, I would have fainted.
Turning to executioner, I dropped a bag of coins into his hands and turned to look out onto the crowd of familiar faces. Faces of those who had dressed, bathed, coveted, loved and hated me.
The King had only let the court witness my execution as a favour to me. I could laugh. A favour would be letting me go free.
The council and all my friends at the castle knew the truth - that the king did not sentence me to death because I had been unfaithful. No, this was because of Mary.
Divorce was not allowed and would never be granted by the Pope; an annulment would take too long so this was the easiest way to get rid of me.
Henry’s wedding and Mary’s coronation would come soon after my execution, meaning she would be their queen and her child, if God gifted her one, would be next in line to the throne before James, meaning he was in terrible danger. Even more so if Henry deemed him a bastard or anyone learned the truth about James’s true heritage.
My most trusted servant, Lina, removed the hood from my head and unclasp the ruby necklace from my neck. She placed the white bonnet around my braided hair with delicate care.
‘My lady,’ Lina cried as she stepped back, but I could still hear her muttering prayers under her breath.
I looked up and opened my mouth to delivered the well-rehearsed speech.
‘As you all know, I have come here today to die.’ I paused and rubbed the ring on my finger. ‘I willingly accept the fate decreed by my Sovereign. I pray for England and all her people.’ I could hear my voice breaking. ‘I beg for you all to pray for me as my life here in this world leaves me. God bless each and every one of you.”
The crowd knelt in prayer and I lowered myself down to the block. The blood was cold on my cheek.
I go over every memory of my time as queen as I look at Lord Greenstone who watches me like a snake waiting to strike his meal.
I avert my gaze and close my eyes.
The cold edge of the axe touches the back of my neck as he lines up his shot.
I hear the whistle of the axe cutting through the air and I weaken and rest heavy on the block as the blade hits the back of my neck…