Chapter 5 : August 1533 (Part II)
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“Welcome back to Gaelen Castle, Your Highness.”
I smiled for I was home again, back in the castle that had once belonged to my ancestors and to many clans of witches and wizards. As we materialized within the confines of the hand hewn slate room, the butterflies in my stomach began to flutter as I took my first steps as a permanent resident within Gaelen Castle. It all seemed so unfamiliar to me when I walked the familiar paths that lead me to the meeting hall and my bedroom. I began to step towards the more familiar path that lead directly to my chambers but Eric grasped my arm and held me back.
“Milady, I bid you welcome to your new home. Let us walk the corridors that you know not exist and travel the castle round,” he murmured into my ear and began leading me down the carpeted pathway that I never had used before.
My eyes grew in awe as I gazed upon the hall of my ancestors. Immense portraits lined the walls, each one smiling approvingly down upon me as I crossed their line of vision.
“Do you know where we are?” Eric asked me.
“We’re in the portrait room, right?”
Eric nodded. “You’ll find this room quite helpful. Each of the past kings and queens in your lineage has their portrait on these walls. If you ever need advice about anything, come here. They’ll instruct you. They know the stories of their past and how the court was run when they were ruling. You need not heed all of their advice, for your portrait will be up there as well. You can learn from their stories as well as learning from your own experience.”
The hall came to an abrupt close as we reached the far end. To my left, I looked and gasped in wonder. There, standing and smiling before me was the portrait of my parents. My mother was seated in the jeweled throne in a burgundy gown that appeared to be her gown of state. My father was standing just to the right of the throne and waving to me as well. His crimson doublet was trimmed with silver and his black hose matched the slashing in his sleeves.
“Welcome home, Elizabeth,” they said to me as I continued to watch their delicate movements on the canvas. “If you ever need us, we’ll be right here.”
Eric turned to me and signaled for me to follow him out of the portrait room. “Do you like what you see?”
“I-i-it’s wonderful,” I stammered, my hand gracefully drifting over the stone walls. “Eric, why did you not tell me before about the portrait room?” I asked.
“The lords asked me not to show it to you until you officially took the throne. They think that as a woman, you can’t rule the wizarding population. They were sure that if you never got the advice of your ancestors that you would cede the throne to one of them.”
“And they actually believed that one of them would get the throne? They’re a bunch of selfish ninnies more concerned about their land than the good of the population. I would never give them the throne. This throne was passed to me by blood. And that’s how it will continue.”
I completed my sentence and stepped into one of the largest rooms that I had seen. The walls were of limestone and the floor was lightly covered in scented rushes. The width was over twice the size of a traditional Jousting course and it appeared as though a battle could be fought within these walls. The ceiling overhead was intricately charmed with a mural of flowing clouds that distinctly reminded me of Hogwarts. Eric caught me observing the sky with memory and interjected, “Your great-great-grandfather charmed the ceiling himself. It looks familiar, doesn’t it? I believe that his schooling at Hogwarts had a great deal of influence on the design.”
“My great-great-grandfather went to Hogwarts?” I asked, surprising myself at how little I knew of my family’s history.
“Your entire family has gone to Hogwarts. Each and every one of them in Salazar Slytherin’s house, even from the first year it was founded. Your family was close friends with Slytherin. Twas a great honor for them to study under his watchful eye.
“This room here is the Main Hall. Any feasts, balls, or celebrations you hold will be in this room. There is a book in the library of how to charm it into the outdoor gardens that I know you enjoy so. The main outdoor area is the surrounding border between the castle and the blockade walls that line the moat. This room is typically used as the gardens during spring and summer, but the gardens will be in bloom whenever you say so.”
We turned and exited the room we entered, just to come around the corner and find the grand staircase that welcomed us onto the upper floor. The golden gilded handrails and cream marble steps were regal in every sense of the word. At the middle landing of the grandiose staircase, Eric turned us towards the left wing, or housing wing of the castle. I knew that somewhere along these dark hallways, a gilded door opened into the Queens chambers and another opposite lead to the Kings. The many doors were propped open, revealing blank slates of chambers, ready to be decorated when the Courtiers and Ladies in Waiting came to join the court once more. Tapestries woven with tales of knights and trolls, giants and dragons insulated the cold stone walls and the castle was newly cleaned by the house-elves that had served the castle for generation after generation, never being freed by a master, for I was the only one left binding them to the house, and today was my first actual time coming back for an extended period.
Everything felt right.
I spotted the gleaming golden door a few meters away and found myself running toward the singular familiar location in the large castle. Flinging the doors open, I skipped into the central chamber and opened the doors to my privy chamber. All was as I had left my room the last time I had left a few months ago. All was perfect.
I flopped down on the goose-feather bed that had previously only been used for when I would nap during the long meetings that the council would hold. Deeply sighing, I rolled onto my back and whispered, “I’m home.”
“Miss Everard! Oh! Miss Everard! It’s time for your meeting!” a squeaky voice chided me as I opened my sleepy brown eyes, finding them to be staring into a pair of bright blue, owned by a small house-elf.
“Thank you Maggie. You’re always the one to make sure that I get to my meetings on time. You’ve been such a help to me these past years.”
“We are so glad to hear that you’re coming to live with us Miss Everard! All of the Elves are looking forward to having the palace restored to its proper glory. We haven’t had a proper master or mistress in many years,” she sighed sadly.
“Well you shan’t have to worry about that now. Come, help me get dressed,” I beckoned. Maggie was the ‘Queen’s House-Elf,’ deemed to serve me alone. She had already unpacked my trunk while I napped and set out my emerald gown of state that I wore to each meeting that I had with the higher lords. The bodice was beaded heavily with shining jewels that sparkled in the firelight and my slashed sleeves were offset by a deep violet satin that shone through the pleats. She pinned the silver crown upon my head where my hood would normally sit when I was just a Lady-In-Waiting. The weight of the jewels felt comforting to know that I was where I belonged and I shook my head slightly to make sure that Maggie had pinned it in correctly.
I walked swiftly to the door and as I followed Maggie through the misleading hallways of my castle, I felt like a small child, dwarfed by the immense size of the castle. I was the newcomer, the unknown. I had the same feeling when I entered Hogwarts for the first time, and the same as when I first walked into the palace of King Henry VII. But each of those times, it was just a human. An experienced human showing me the often-treaded pathways of their life. I was never alone, even as only one of four girls in my year, I was never alone. Here, locked within a castle with hallways and passages that lead to nowhere in particular, I was truly alone. I was the lone woman, the lone heir to the throne. These thoughts pounded on the walls of my head until we reached the double doors that were the central meeting hall. Maggie disappeared inside and announced my entrance as I mentally prepared for another time with the bickering Lords.
Taking a deep breath that stretched my stomacher to full capacity, I strode forward into the large circular room. In the center lay a large rectangular table with six lords standing on either side of it. The willow throne sat at the far end and I made my way around the table, greeting each lord by name and finally taking my seat at the head, allowing the lords to sit as well.
“Good Evening Gentlemen,” I started, acknowledging their presence and beginning the conversation. “Tonight is a meeting of the most grave importance. Eight years this war has been going on. Each one of us has seen death. Each one of us has fought on the front lines. Each one of us has served our time. But still, the task is not completed. The country is not purged of mudbloods and half bloods. I don’t ask for much. I don’t even ask for the muggles to be exterminated. But we must keep our bloodlines pure, just as they do. We must rebuild the wall that stands between our two societies. The wall that those people are breaking down, generation by generation.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a twitch of movement.
“Yes, Lord Crouch, you may speak.”
I could see Crouch inwardly cursing himself for the involuntary reaction to one of my previous statements. “You said all of us have fought on the front lines. There is one person in this room who has not, Your Majesty. With all due respect, you yourself have not fought on the front lines.”
“As I do know, Lord Crouch” I responded caustically. “For if I had any say in the matter, I would be on the front lines, helping our men. But as a woman, it is forbidden for me to go into war. And may I ask if you remember the Lord who instigated that? It was indeed you, Lord Crouch. You came up with the bright idea that women cannot fight. And it was signed by each and every one of you. So if there are any objections to what I have to say, I suggest you keep them to yourself unless they are useful.”
A blanket of silence covered the room and I continued speaking. “Back to the matter at hand. The war has lasted too long. We’re in the eighth year. I don’t want this war to last much longer. I can’t watch my men be killed while I sit here safe. We must end this now.”
“If I may be so bold as to interject my opinion, I would say that the easiest way to rid the world of bloodlines filled with impurities is to release the Dementors. Tell them to give all half bloods and mudbloods the kiss. They are unworthy of the title of Witch or Wizard,” a man with long black hair tied back with a leather cord stated steadfastly.
“Lord Gaunt, it’s quite obvious you feel so strongly about this. But have you forgotten that it is nigh impossible to control those foul creatures? Are you not sure that they would not take your own soul before hearing out your orders? No, I do not think that they would follow orders. I know that they would simply hinder our plans, rather than facilitate them.”
“It is in ourselves that we must place our trust. I ask for one more thing of you good gentlemen. One final charge. Where each of you will gather all able bodied men and bring them here. Any man above the age of fourteen and under the age of sixty will fight. Together, we shall train them. Together, we shall fight.”
“My Queen, who will lead the training of the men?” Lord Rowan inquired.
“Lord Aldridge will lead the training of the men. His experience in warring years is useful and I daresay that he has been on those front lines more than any of us. Lord Aldridge, do you accept?”
“As you wish, Your Majesty,” was the response that echoed from the ancient in the corner.
“You shall have an assistant as well. Lord Black, you shall assist in training the men.”
“Whatever your heart desires,” the youth murmured, enamored with my presence.
“And the charge? Who shall lead the charge?” asked Lord Pickering, obviously angling for himself to lead the final fight.
“But Your Majesty, it is forbidden for women to go into war!”
“It’s forbidden for a woman to sit on this throne alone as well. But here I am. I shall lead the charge.”
“Your Highness, it’s far too risky. You could get yourself killed! I’m afraid we cannot let you risk your life like that. Who would be your next choice, as you cannot lead the charge?”
I frowned at their impertinence. “If I cannot, then Lord Donnan will lead the charge. And he shall return. There is no option of failure. Only success. For that’s what this final charge is about. It’s about winning the war. It’s about returning the Wizarding world to the glory it has beheld in the past when the bloodlines were clean and pure. It’s about the victory,” I spoke passionately.
“Where?” A voice asked from my left.
“Where, Lord Sutton?”
“Where will we train the men? Where will this battle take place?” he asked.
“We shall train the men in the Hall. It can be sized to our needs. Maggie, please get the book from the Library that includes all of the details about the Hall,” I requested as the small house-elf ran off to find the book that I had asked for.
“Returning to the matter at hand, Lord Lestrange, where is the largest Mudblood and Halfblood stronghold? Where are they concentrated?”
“The impure wizards and witches can be found here,” he pointed with his wand to an area that was slightly south of London. “This is where they gather. Most are close to the safety of the Royal Court. Not so unlike yourself, Your Majesty.
“However, if we want to attack, we’ll need to do so here,” Lord Lestrange pointed again to a castle painted to the east of Greenwich Palace. “This is their stronghold. It’s their most defensible fort. If we wish to wipe out the rebel leaders, then we must exterminate them all.
“When can we attack,” I pushed. “I wish to be out of this war within the year.”
“Your Highness, I’m afraid that if we are to be confident in our win, that we must wait until December of 1534 or January of 1535. We will need to train the men to become experts at handling their wands. We will have to teach them how to curse, how to defend, how to use a proper shield charm depending on the jinx and curse, and when to reach for a dagger or lance. This kind of training takes time.”
“So you’re saying that it will take over a year to complete this training?”
“Y-you’re okay with this?” spluttered Lord Lestrange.
“Yes. But they had better be the best damned fighters that the wizarding world has ever seen. I want them to know every curse, every jinx, every spell that you know. Whether they have gone to Hogwarts, another school, or whatnot, they must be masters. I want a minimum of two battalions of the cream of the crop. You are to use whatever tools necessary to whip them into shape. Peasants, Lords, everyone. Women must know a minimum of five basic jinxes and spells for risk of an attack from the rear by any non-pureblood. Can you accommodate that?” I demanded.
“As you wish,” the Lord bowed and retook his seat.
“I-I-I’m af-f-f-fraid that the book is not there,” the house-elf nervously stammered, nearly cowering in fear as she ran back into the room. “The librarian said that a man had come to retrieve the book just an hour ago,” she whispered.
Leaning over I placed my arm around her shaking shoulders and whispered, “It’s okay Maggie. I won’t hit you. I don’t know what these men have been doing to you in the past,” I glared, “but you shall be free from their tyranny. You are my personal elf and I decree that you shall be treated kindly. You’ve been a great help to me.”
“Which one of you did it?” Eric demanded of the men, his eyes blazing with fury. “This castle is hers. You know better than to steal something of the Queen’s. You no longer have free reign over this castle. It is hers. She lives here and she will rule here. If you wish to see her removed from this throne, please, leave now. For I know that the curse lies just outside these doors if you choose to leave. Go on! If any of you feel that Elizabeth should not be Queen, speak!”
The men seated at the table gasped as Eric stated my first name, rather than calling me his Queen, and all eyes turned to me. And yet, my eyes were on them, scanning each one of them, looking through their shallow faces into their souls. One man stood out to me as he slightly averted his eyes when I came to him.
“Maggie, we need some Veritaserum, for none of these conniving men would tell me willingly if they took the book,” I spat, my eyes remaining on the singular man who refused to meet my stare. I discreetly signaled under the table to slip the potion into the drink of Lord Hurst, sitting three seats to my left and when his eyes were off his drink for a half a second, Maggie switched the goblets.
A few minutes later after Lord Hurst had guzzled half of his drink, I turned my attention to him. “Lord Hurst, have you been in the library within the past two hours?” I interrogated.
“Yes? Or Yes, My Queen?”
“Yes, My Queen.” I could already see the potion beginning to take effect as Lord Hurst attempted to quiet the truth but found it spilling between his own lips nonetheless.
“And Lord Hurst, do you know who took my book from the Library?”
“Yes, My Queen.”
“Lord Hurst, did you take the book from my Library?”
“I repeat my question. Lord Hurst, did you or did you not take the book from my Library?”
His eyes fell downward and he clenched his teeth together. Still, the potion worked its way through the motions and I heard a meek, “Yes” flow from the corner of his mouth.
“You see? Wasn’t that easy?” I asked. “Now for the real question. Why did you take the book? Answer, Man!” I erupted after he took too long to think over his answer.
“Because...Because...Because I feel that a woman is unworthy to rule over us men and that I should be put in your place on that throne. Women are weak. They are powerless and have no right to rule. It is in men that the power lies.”
My eyes narrowed in anger at his response. “You feel that I am unworthy? You feel that a woman can never rule over men? I’ll teach you differently,” I growled, standing from my throne and removing my wand from my sleeve as I paced over to his chair. One flick of the wrist and he was hovering above the table. Another flick and he was flying headfirst towards the stone walls. The crunch of bone on slate echoed and with a final movement, Lord Hurst was reseated in his chair, not a stain of blood anywhere on his dress but a clearly visible scar was imprinting its self on his forehead.
“Remember that Lord Hurst. Remember that I am the one who commands you and you have no such right to refer to me as just a woman. I am not just a woman. I am the most powerful woman in England. Does anyone else wish to challenge my authority? Or have you seen enough of the show?” the remainder of the room was quick to mumble yes as they eagerly began eyeing the wooden grain of the rich mahogany table.
“Good. Gentlemen, we are beginning a revolution. We are the rulers of what has been lost. We will take what is rightfully ours. And we shall win this war. This meeting is adjourned and we shall meet again next month to further discuss tactics.”
Slowly, the men filed out of the room, leaving me alone as I nearly collapsed into my throne, weary with the tension of the day and the frustration of the rebellious Lords. I set my head in my hands and closed my eyes while deft hands removed the heavily jeweled crown from my head.
“Thank you, Maggie,” I sighed, returning to my thoughts when the weight was lifted from my head. But even though the crown was removed, the fingers continued along my neck until they rested softly upon my shoulders. A warm breath caressed my ear and as I leaned my head against the large hand that delicately touched the soft folds of my gown sleeves, comforting me when nobody else could.
A pair of soft lips began working their way along my collarbone, each one leaving a burning imprint on my skin and as they slowly made their way over the hollow of my throat, the soft brushes of the lips transformed into tantalizing kisses. I worked to keep my breathing even as my heart raced with passion when his mouth reached mine.
“Elizabeth,” a rough, husky voice whispered over my ear. “Elizabeth, this isn’t right. You shouldn’t have to deal with the feuding Lords. You shouldn’t have to deal with this war. I’m so sorry I brought you in at this time.”
“Eric,” I whispered, feeling his hands twisting my wavy hair into delicate ringlets. “You did the right thing. It is my duty to be here. It is my task. If you had never come to notify me that night six years ago, I wouldn’t be sitting here now with the love of my life. I would be still waiting hand and foot upon Anne.” My mind caught at the mention of Anne and I flashed back to where she was.
“Elizabeth, you only just left her. Don’t tell me that you need to return for her. She is lying there in the dark confinement chamber, just as she has been dreaming of her entire life. She is carrying Henry’s son. As soon as the babe is born, there will need to be no more liaisons between the muggle world and wizarding worlds. They shall have their prince, and we shall have our mastermind Elizabeth.”
“Princess,” I corrected.
“Anne is carrying no son. Eric, I must go.”
“Elizabeth, you needn’t tell her that she is having a daughter! It will simply upset her and the family will never let you near any of them again. Not Anne, not Mary, not George.”
“I have no intention of telling Anne that she is having a daughter. I’d much rather have Anne be surprised when she sees the fruit of her loins is a daughter. If the family finds out that Anne is having a daughter before hand, they will lock me with her until she conceives a son. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during the birthing.”
“Elizabeth, please don’t go.”
“Eric, I must do this. Not for the good of Anne. But to leave my mark on history.”
“If you must go, then I’m coming with you. We’re not getting separated again. I cannot risk you being detained there.”
I found myself snuggling into the warmth of his embrace, which now included my shoulders and torso. “I’ve no problem with you joining me,” I murmured. “It’s only making me happier that you’re coming. I never want to be separated from you again.”
Together we rose from the throne and when I turned to face him, he captured my lips in a resonating kiss and in the split second that we broke apart to breathe, Eric whispered almost silently in my ear.
A/N: Sorry if the kissing scenes suck...it’s rather hard to write a good kissing/snogging scene without the experience of being kissed. Yes, I’m already a legal adult and still haven’t been kissed. My apologies if these are as horrendous as I feel that they are.
The next chapter is much shorter than this one...It’s more of an outtake that doesn’t fit in, but is rather important to the storyline. As a result, this story will be around 9 chapters, rather than the original 8 expected. This means we’re over halfway done!
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