The Fae Worlds

Introducing James

Henry Wakes

Breathing deeply, knowing that her body wasn’t best pleased with her, Anne realised there was one very important thing she’d forgotten – the arrival of Edward’s child. Putting a little space between her and Henry was easy enough. Slowly, double checking to make sure they weren’t paying too much attention to what she was doing, she stepped towards the door. The likelihood was that whoever it was happened to be outside waiting. After one last look at Henry, busy testing his strength against Charles, she slipped out of the door, to find herself facing another Immortal.
“I am so sorry. My mind was entirely focused on Henry, and I forgot your arrival was imminent.”
“You’re forgiven.” He smiled at her. “I cannot imagine what this has been like for you.” Their eyes met for a moment. “You’re hungry.”
“For now that’s not what matters. What matters is introducing you to Henry in a way that won’t anger him. He seems pleased at the moment, to be stronger than he was before. I hope that will help. At the same time I know him, and it’s not unheard of for him to become angry at the smallest of things, which is not what you are. You are more than a small thing to deal with, on top of everything else.”
“Learning alone is hard, Anne. You know that from experience. There was no one there for you, and there are still things you don’t know about being one of us. Having a guide is logical. Finding someone who could do what you couldn’t is logical.” He reached out to touch her shoulder. “Although I was lucky enough to have had someone by my side the whole time I was becoming who I am now I know plenty of us who weren’t. They made mistakes. As he is the King of England Henry can’t make the same mistakes. The eyes of the world are going to be on him.”
“Which is why I agreed to having you here, as worried as I am about the situation. I just don’t know how to explain to him that you are here to help us. Or how I know you. Unfortunately for us he knows I was alone. You being here… if I’d been able to get Charles to introduce you it would have been different. He was too busy arm wrestling the King for me to be able to draw him out to speak with you.”
“Simply say I’m someone who heard what happened, and offered to be the guide you both need. You and I know that there is still so much more for you to learn about what it means to be an Immortal.”
Nodding, Anne ran both her hands down her skirt. “Follow me, please. How would you like me to introduce you?”
“Like so many of us I’ve had a number of names through the years, but, currently, I am using James Montague.”
Turning, her heart pounding, Anne stepped back into the King’s bed chamber, knowing that things could easily go badly wrong. “Your Majesty.” His eyes were on her in a second. “I have told you about my lack of mentor, when I first became an Immortal, and that being alone was complicated. Making the mistakes I did…” She hated that her voice broke then. Tearing up wasn’t going to help the situation. It was simply going to make her look like an emotional woman. Breathing deeply, pushing back the emotions, she shook her head. “People I cared about died, due to my lack of understanding, and some are dealing with a fate that might well be worse than death. It seems to me to be fortunate timing for me to have found someone willing to teach me more about what it means to be an Immortal, and he is willing to teach you too, should you be open to the idea.”
For a long time Henry was silent, staring at her. Anne had always hated it when he did that. Standing there, knowing James was right outside the door, made it harder. What she wanted was for Henry to realise the situation they were both in. By making the choice she had she’d complicated her own life, even though that was something she hadn’t needed to do. Instead she could have left him to deal with the Immortals that wanted to change him. She could have turned her back on a relationship that had never truly made her happy, no matter how in love she had been with Henry. Loving someone like him was hard. There were days when she’d wanted to leave, to move far far away, but she’d stayed, believing it was the best thing to do. Returning to court hadn’t been the best or the right thing to do. It had simply been the necessary thing to do.
“Explain to me why it is you believe you don’t know enough to be able to teach me, Anne.”
“Oh, Henry, I don’t know where to start. I am young. So young. My time as an Immortal has barely started, and I was unlucky enough to wake as I am now alone. I couldn’t tell you who it was that made me what I am. What I do know is that I was dying. I should have died. Had it not been for them I wouldn’t be here now, so I am grateful, but I am also angry with them. By leaving me…” She ran her tongue over her lips. “The first person I fed from I killed. She was a maid who’d been with my family since I was young. I couldn’t stop myself, even though I wanted to, desperately. When Father found me I was sobbing over her body. He was the one who helped me through all of this. Without him this would never have happened. I would have lost myself to the blood lust, I think, because those early days were so hard.
“You think I am the one who’ll stop you from making the same mistakes, and I will do my best. At the same time I know I’m a woman. I don’t have your strength. Even as an Immortal I don’t have your strength. Should you make the decision to feed regularly you will be much stronger than I am, so, considering what I know of being a young Immortal, you are going to need someone who can stop you from doing anything that might affect how people view you. You are their King, and you also drink the blood of humans. Some find that to be too much for them to deal with. You are lucky to have Charles, but he is human, and that means he is weaker than both of us. He wouldn’t be able to stop me from doing something stupid, let alone you. We need a male Immortal, with the strength neither Charles or I have, to be able to stop you from killing someone. It is the easiest thing in the world to do.”
“Anne came to me for help, Your Majesty.” The voice came from behind her, and Anne knew James had waited until the right moment to step into the room. As she turned she watched James bow deeply to the King, and all Anne could do, her eyes on Henry’s once more, was hope the respect James was showing him was going to be enough. “Immortality is complicated. Being as young as she is she’s barely scraped the surface of complications that can come from making mistakes when feeding from someone. I am certain she has warned you that you may become addicted to the blood of those you feed from. Yet she has never seen someone truly addicted.
“If I’m right, and I believe I am, she was feeling the beginnings of it herself, and made the decision to free herself. That shows she is stronger than a lot of Immortals. They wouldn’t have cared. She will also have warned you that those you feed from may also become addicted to you. That is something she can also only know from experience.” It was possible for her then to feel James’ eyes on hers, and she wished he was wrong when he told Henry about what she’d been through in her short time as an Immortal. “Being young means you make mistakes. Being young and alone makes those mistakes harder to deal with. You are in a position of great power, so you will be the one who shows the world what an Immortal can be. It’s entirely up to you whether you show them the light side of Immortality, or the dark side.”
Slowly, looking thoughtful, Henry nodded. “Like it always was my focus must be on how I appear to everyone else.” He stood, stepping over to Anne and James. “They will be watching me even more closely than they were before, due to the choice I’ve made.” He studied James. “I’ll be excommunicated.”
“Not that it matters. You are an Immortal now, Your Majesty, and you are unlikely to die any time soon. By the time your soul does leave your body it’s likely that everything will be different. I know that from experience. I’ve watched this country change in the hands of different rulers. I believe that having an Immortal King can only be a good thing. We will have true stability for the first time in generations. All we need to do is make sure that you are smart, and you are safe.”
It was a true relief when Anne felt Henry pulling her close. He kissed the top of her head. “Once more you’ve proved yourself to be the woman I need by my side, Anne. I want you with me, for the rest of time, and that is something I am certain of.”
As Anne’s eyes met with Charles’ she could see her disbelief mirrored. Unable to stop herself she smiled at him. He smiled back at her, raising an eyebrow as he did. “Your Majesty, I believe it is best not to make that choice now. The rest of time is far longer than I believe we can imagine.” Hearing the logic spoken by someone who wasn’t her would hopefully stop Henry from thinking that the two of them would be together for any period of time. She knew him too well to let herself think it was even a slight possibility. Falling in love was something he was better at than anything else. “I can barely imagine what life would be like in ten years, let alone the hundreds you are likely to live.”
“Maybe you are right about that, Charles, but Anne will always be the one who changed me, and that is a link that will keep us together throughout those hundreds of years.” Henry seemed to pull her a little closer. Anne, nibbling her bottom lip, looked to James, wondering if what was happening was normal. Did young Immortals often feel the way Henry did? She’d never had a chance to feel that way. There had never been anyone there for her. “That is something you won’t be able to understand, my friend. Unless you make the decision to become an Immortal.”
“Time will change that, Your Majesty. Your feelings right now are heightened. It’s a part of being a young Immortal. For now the love you feel for Anne is more than anything you have ever felt before, but that may not last. She never had that, as she didn’t have the one who changed her stay to look after her, and I think it might not be something she can truly understand. I can, however. I’ve been where you are. The feeling was more discomforting than anything at the time, as the one who changed me was male, and yet I still felt this all encompassing love for him, because he’d given me the chance to live for the rest of time. Fortunately it faded. Now I’m free to live my life without being close to him.”
“Both of you are wrong. I know what this is, as I felt it before. I loved Anne before she gave me this gift. Coming back to court to give me the most wonderful gift anyone could give to anyone just makes me more certain of the choices I made before.”
Knowing that there was a conversation they hadn’t yet had Anne turned to look at Henry. “What are you going to do about Catherine, Your Majesty? She is still your wife.”