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bishop

Title: Gambit, Bishop
Fandom: Reign
Pairings: Mary/Francis, Mary/Bash
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Angst/Drama
Words: 3812
Summary: spec fic based on small bits of spoilers, ep descriptions, the new promo, promo pics & BTS info for eps 1x09-1x13. What I think will happen on the show. If you're spoiler free, you've been warned.
Disclaimer: CBS owns Reign, chess metaphors belong to me!
Links: Prologue, Pawn, Knight





Bishop

The court gathers to greet the king as he's returning from Rome with Bash's legitimacy from the Pope. As soon as word arrived as to when Henry would return, I began planning a celebration and investment - though there is still no signet ring to be given to Bash. Francis has it, and we haven't found a jewel smith who can make a new one.

We move to greet him as the carriage stops, but he bangs open the door before the footman can open it, forcefully striding past the waiting court. We move quickly to follow - I'm almost having to run. This can't be a sign of good news.

"Get that Medici bitch from the tower. At once!" Henry barks at the first door guard he sees, sending the man scurrying.

We follow him to his study, closing the door behind.

"I take it things in Rome..." I begin.

"Giovanni Cardinal Medici was at Papal Court," Henry begins, anger and exasperation infusing his tone. My heart constricts at the word 'Medici.' "It seems that His Holiness believes that God has blessed my union with my Medici wife and the offspring of that marriage. I have sufficient heirs by my good wife. If I want to give land and titles to my favored bastard I am welcome to, but no annulment will be granted without cause. His Holiness made very clear I had presented no cause. And no legitimization either. 'Young Francis is your heir,' he said. 'This is as God wills it.'"

"Did you mention that I am willing to claim the English crown if I marry Sebastian?" I query. I feel like I've been punched in the gut. Henry left so confident of success. This has to work. There is no other option.

"Of course," Henry snaps. "His Holiness," he continues with a sneer, "says that my consecrated heir is the strongest consort for you to claim the English throne with - that he has prayed upon this and it is God's own will. Not the Queen of Scotland's will," he keeps going, his eyes boring straight into mine, "or the King of France's, but God's own will!"

No, this can't be happening. The Pope is supposed to want the English flock enough to overlook this. There must be a way.

"Where is Francis?" Henry asks, pulling me out of my thoughts.

"No one has seen him since he left," I reply. "He's not..." I trail off at a sharp knock at the door of Henry's study.

"Enter!" he barks.

"Your Grace, the Queen," the door guard announces.

"Leave us," Henry says.

"But," I begin, wanting to protest.

"No," Henry cuts me off, shaking his head. "Leave us."

---


I hear the door snick closed, my maid coming to wash my hair, I'm sure.

I feel someone behind me, and then something sharp to my throat. My eyes pop open in fright. Catherine is right next to my ear.

"Do you really think you can try to destroy the lives of my children and then use your little girls to try to destroy me with no consequences?" she whispers with a sneer.

"I did what you begged me to do," I breathe back. I can feel the knife pressing into my neck.

"To what?" she continues. "It was my idea that you steal Francis' birthright? That you make all my children bastards, ruining all their lives? To turn a pagan bastard into the next king?"

"My mother says I must marry the next King of France," I return, trying to turn my head to look at her, but it's impossible.

"So you're just a little girl, not really a queen after all," she mocks. "Since you just follow Mommy's instructions..."

"Get away from her!" Bash yells as he and guards rush into the bathing chamber. They pull Catherine off me the knife clattering against the stone floor. I scramble to cover myself.

"You have made a choice that will be your ruin," she yells as the guards drag her away.

"Are you alright?" Bash asks, rubbing my arm.

"Can everyone please turn around?" I request, unsteadily. The guards turn immediately, Bash doesn't. "You as well Sebastian," I sigh. He finally turns and I secure the wrap around myself, preserving as much of my modesty as possible, stepping out of the tub.

"I am fine," I say, once I feel secure. "She didn't hurt me."

"Are you sure?" he insists, holding my neck in his hands, searching for marks.

"Yes, I'm sure," I reply, stepping back. I'm only in a bath sheet, and don't feel comfortable with all these men in the room. "I'd really like some privacy, if you don't mind."

"But..."

"I'm fine," I cut him off.

Once they are all gone, I move to the window to collect my thoughts.

Looking out, the beautiful evening doesn't match the conflict inside the chateau, the world seems so unsettled - off balance. Catherine is desperate, and she will destroy the world before she lets someone else win. Bash is her current target, but if she knocks him off she will come after me next. Catherine has been playing these games of thrones much longer than I have. But I can be cunning too. I must be. I must beat her.

---


We've been standing here for hours as Henry's sénéchaussées, the Viscount Delecroix questions witnesses. Guards bring in person after person - none seeming to have any evidence of actual adultery on Catherine's behalf. Next to me Bash fidgets, moving his feet, adjusting his weight, sighing, adjusting his collar and cuffs, rocking back and forth, and blowing air out of his cheeks, before starting the whole thing over again. Henry has shot him irritated looks, not seeming to appreciate Bash's clear lack of interest and desire to be elsewhere.

As if this doesn't affect him. If Henry can't get his marriage to Catherine annulled then there will be no legitimization. There will be no marriage between us. So this affects him as much as it does anyone else in the room. And still he fidgets.

He says he wants to be my husband, that I will always be his top priority. But this - my country, my people - they must always be my top priority.

Kenna is brought in to tell what she knows of the Queen's crimes. What she tells of Aylee's death and Catherine's reaction to Diane trying to have Bash legitimized might get Catherine's head removed from her neck, but it does absolutely nothing to the line of succession. Neither does her tale of the poisoned cat.

A young noble is brought, and more members of the Privy Council come in, loitering around the edges of the throne room. Gustave Bishop Beauchamp, the Papal Ambassador to France has also put in an appearance, deep in conversation with one of Henry's advisors on foreign affairs.

Catherine has stood behind the witnesses and guards all day. Back straight, head held high - the picture of queenly dignity and defiance - not uttering a word as witnesses try to defame and shame her. She is not rattled. Her eyes scan the room every few minutes taking in who has entered the throne room and who has left.

The young noble tells of flirting, as if that will be evidence Rome will accept to change the line of succession. There must be witnesses to adultery. Nothing less will gain the desired result.

She steps forward for the first time this day, "Might I address the king?" she smiles. It's not a smile of warmth, but of calculation. Something has happened that makes her feel she has gained some sort of advantage. I feel my stomach clench.

"Go ahead," Henry complies with a frown.

"Thank you my good husband," she inclines her head, acknowledging him. "I would suggest that rather than chasing shadows that do not exist - though there are many things I may be accused of and perhaps convicted of, one is loving my children too much," she continues, saying the last part directly to me, her eyes boring into mine. "But you will never find evidence of my unfaithfulness. It does not exist. You are thinking too much like a man, Henry. While you may not ever get enough of playing the rutting stag, I find it tedious outside of the fact that it has given me beautiful children. Why would I take a lover?

"But there is a much more interesting crime we have not discussed today" she keeps going, pacing herself, building to a dramatic moment. "That of the pagan child which your son - whom you are trying to install as your heir - is harboring. And of Sebastian's pagan ties and beliefs, as well."

Gasps are heard throughout the room. Bishop Beauchamp looks from Catherine to Henry, before settling on Bash.

"Yes, Your Excellency, a pagan child has been brought into this chateau. Young Sebastian did foster the child out, but he is paying for her care," she quirks the smallest of smiles. It has become so hushed a mouse could be heard scurrying in the throne room. "The man sent here to guard young Sebastian, also a pagan, the mother of the child's uncle. Also, Sebastian's uncle. His name is Alec, I believe. He was sent by his half-sister, my good husband and king's longtime mistress, Diane de Poitiers."

"Your Grace," Bishop Beauchamp moves forward to address Catherine. Henry looks like he is going to explode, his face turning the red of his tunic. Catherine has upended his game board and strategy. "The Church is extremely concerned with the idea of pagans being given safe harbor. Do you have proof of your accusations?"

"The child had a mother, her name was Isobel," Catherine smiles.

"Was?" the bishop asks.

"Yes, she died giving birth in the Blood Wood, the wood that harbors these pagans," she pauses for dramatic effect. "Young Sebastian there, and his betrothed, the Most Catholic and consecrated by His Holiness himself, Mary, Queen of Scots, laid her to rest at the edge of the Blood Wood in a pagan blood ceremony. Her body is all the evidence you need. She will be marked and that mark is all the proof anyone needs. They take pride in their defiance of the Church, His Holiness and God - Our most Heavenly Father - Himself." Catherine is almost grinning in triumph. The entire inside of my body is seized with fear. I feel as if I might be sick. But she's not quite done. "She was a prisoner for a short time here in this chateau, and was spirited out of the dungeon in disguise by the Queen of Scotland and the bastard seeking to steal my sons' birthright. There are witnesses, ones who will come forward. All that is needed is the body!"

If she gets evidence, it won't be her head that is claimed by the headsman - it will be mine.

---


"Catherine will never stop till she finds evidence of my ties to paganism," Bash says. "I don't like putting you at risk."

"I know," I sigh. I know he's right - she will fight to the death for her life and legacy and that of her children. "But we can't let her win, I am committed to to that."

"You're committed to beating Catherine, or you're committed to me?" he questions.

"I am committed to both," I return firmly.

"Yes, but it's all tied up in beating Catherine. I'm just a side product," he continues.

"I am committed to you, to us." I brush off his implications.

"But will you ever love me the way you..." he begins.

"My heart is open," I gently cut him off before he brings up Francis, widening my eyes to try to convey the truth of my pronouncement.

Something sparks in his eyes. He cups my face, reaching down to kiss me. He pushes his lips into mine, wrapping one arm around my waist.

He pulls me more firmly to him. I feel his lips moving down my neck, then across my chest. I make my body soften and give into his passion. I will my heart to race, to feel something. His hand comes to cup my breast and I feel his other hand searching for my laces, causing me to stiffen and pull away.

"Sebastian, no," I say firmly. "I must be inspected before we marry and consummate our union, I must remain chaste." Never mind that I have to figure out a way to fake my way through said inspection. I gave myself before marriage once, out of love and passion. I'm not doing it again. Not when I don't love him yet. I still hope to one day, but I'm not there yet - certainly not enough to lose myself in a moment of passion.

"I'm sorry," he hangs his head, hands dropping to his sides. "I suppose I've never really had to think about that."

"It's quite alright," I nod, reaching out to hold one of his hands. They swallow mine. "But I think I will say goodnight," I finish reaching up to kiss his cheek.

---


"It seems you finally made it out of your tower," I call out to Catherine who has just walked into the stables.

"Yes," Catherine smirks. "It seems to pay to have friends in high places."

"I'm sure it is just a temporary reprieve," I return tightly.

"We shall see," she continues blithely. "You backed the wrong horse, my dear Mary. Marrying a pagan and trying to install him as the king of France. It will cost you not only England, but your own crown and likely your head."

"It will be hard to destroy us both when you are without your head," I say.

"So it is to be a race, is it? Which one of us will crush the other first?" she smiles.

"When the axe falls on your neck, I will be there," I reply.

"We'll see," she chuckles. "Medicis were ruling the greatest city in the world when your ancestors were still mucking about on the moors. I know how these games are played, and I know how to win. Do you? And when Francis finds out you have conspired to destroy and murder his mother, well, I'm sure you've already lost his heart with the way you've tried to take everything from him. But you will have made him an enemy as well," she finishes, sweeping past me. I feel her verbal slap as if she had struck me across my cheek.

---


"We must hurry," I rush up to Bash and Alec while they are saddling horses. "Catherine is gathering her forces already; she cannot beat us there!"

"I sent a messenger ahead," Alec assures. "A single person can travel fast. Plus the crows see."

I don't know what he means by the last bit. I don't think I want to. I'm not going to ask many questions today. I just know that our tracks must be covered and evidence of Isobel's paganism and connection to Bash scrubbed clean.

"The baby!" I exclaim, remembering. "Isobel put a mark on her before she died. If they find her..."

"I believe the child will be safe," Alec reassures. At least he appears confident. "We have an underground network which I have notified. She will be far away soon. We need to mount up, though."

We swing into our saddles. Clicking heels into horses, we take off. Catherine is right, it's a race. A race to a fresh grave. A race to real evidence that could mean Bash's life. Alec's life. And possibly my own.

The grave is on the other side of the Blood Wood, but the fastest way there is around, not through. We set a fast pace, my teeth feeling like they will clatter out of my head. There is nothing to it though - we have no choice - we must be as quick as is possible.

It takes a few hours, there are no signs of Catherine or her guards - I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. We have no idea where they are or what direction they might have taken.

We get to the grave and dismount. It's empty. Who emptied it, I do not know. "Where is it?" I ask.

"The others took the body," Alec says, bending down, pointing to a symbol traced in the dirt. He begins to say words in the pagan language and like before, Bash joins him. Feeling even more uncomfortable than I did the first time, I turn to look the way from which we have come - which is when I see tiny specs on the horizon, specs which are getting larger.

"They're coming! We have to go," I whirl about, interrupting Bash and Alec mid-ritual.

"We must..." Bash begins.

"There is no time, we must go now!" I insist.

We mount up once again. Bash, pointing toward the edge of the woods. "There's a cabin there, where we should be able to take shelter."

"We'll be sitting ducks," Alec calls back. "We'll circle around back. The two of you can stay there. I will take the horses and travel into the wood."

"Is it a good idea to split up?" I question, panic rising in my voice.

"We have to," Bash yells back. "That way there are still tracks from three horses, they might be thrown off, even though the weight differential will be noticeable, and Alec can lose them in the wood."

I nod my assent - I don't really have any choice - and follow them toward the small hut at the edge of the Blood Wood. We circle around the back, Bash and I dismounting; Alec taking the reigns of our horses and forging into the wood.

Bash directs me inside and to a room to the right. "There is a false wall in this room, we can hide there."

I don't ask how he knows this, as he herds me inside. It's a tiny crawl space - barely big enough for one, and certainly not big enough for two. We wedge ourselves inside, pulling the door shut behind us.

Just as the door latches, we hear horses outside and a gruff voice call out orders: "You three, search the hut, everyone else, into the wood, we have to find them." I feel a cold sweat break out on my body.

Heavy boots scrape against the wooden floor, spurs jangling. Not much is said, but we can hear them tearing the place apart. "No one is here," one finally calls out.

"No, let's go follow the Captain. They must have thought they could find refuge in the Blood Wood," another voice returns.

The boots begin to move in the direction of the back door, then outside. Hoof beats begin to fade, my body collapsing in on itself from relief of having missed being found.

"Let's get out of here," Bash suggests. "There's hardly any air here."

He unlatches the panel, and I almost fall out of our hiding place. He steadies me, then pulls me into his arms. "Are you alright?" he murmurs into my hair.

"We need to find Alec," I say, shrugging gently out of his arms.

"Yes, of course," he agrees.

We set off, now on foot, but Bash can track the hoof prints of our horses. He stops every so often to check and recheck the ground. We've been following the trail for more than half an hour when he turns. "Once my pagan ties only put me in danger, but now you..."

"We don't have time for this now," I cut him off. We will have to deal with this reckoning. But not today, not right now. "We must find Alec."

He nods, and turns back, checking the ground again. A horse whinnies and races past us. It's Alec's horse. We look at one another. I feel a sense of foreboding coming over me, the cold sweat breaking out once more.

"Hurry," Bash says, pointing in the direction the horse had come from. We keep trudging till we hit a bit of a ridge line, where we can see the forest below us.

I gasp, hand to throat - I feel faint at the sight below us.

Hung upside down, throat slit, is Alec.

---


I dismiss my maid. It's been an exhausting few days. Fruitless and dangerous. I strip off my habit, using the cloth at the washstand to get off the grime. I just want my bed and I'm too tired to wait for the servants to bring water for a bath - though I desperately want to be clean. We had to travel through the Blood Wood on foot to make it back to the chateau.

I almost trip as I move from my dressing table to my bed. There's some sort of small lump I've never noticed in the carpet. I go to straighten it and realize there's something underneath. I reach under and feeling something soft I pull it out.

A man's stocking.

Francis's stocking. My heart stops, my body collapsing onto the floor.

I put it to my nose, breathing it in. While it's not the most pleasant scent I've ever smelled - sweat, dirt and filth from being on his foot in his boot all day - I can still smell that distinct smell that is so uniquely his. Citrus, bay, soap. It takes my breath away. Memories flood back. Tears blur my vision.

I haven't been able to even think about him. If I look back, if I remember, I'll never be able to move forward - never be able to pretend that what my life is becoming is just as fulfilling as what it was.

"Oh I'll pressure you... and listen to you, and argue with you ...and love you until the day I die."

I cover my mouth as a sob escapes. Francis understood me - everything about me. My burdens, the sacrifices I will have to make for the good of my people. He understood because he took those same burdens seriously as well. Which is something Bash apparently has no desire for. Francis always understood that while those responsibilities had to come first, I wanted love and happiness in my life too. He wanted to share my burdens, help with the load, and find joy where we could...

I push my tears away with the heel of my hand. Getting up, I shove his stocking into a drawer of my bedside table. I shove his memory there as well, slamming it shut. No good will come of living in the past, might-have-beens, or maybes.

What's done is done. The past must stay there.

TBC

Endnotes:

1) I will definitely be taking a break. I'm really looking forward to the next chapter, and actually have a bit of it written, but I'm kinda burnt out at the moment. I wrote 7000+ words last weekend between this and the other piece I posted and I just need a break. I need to just chill and putter for at least one weekend. Look for the Rook chapter the Tuesday that the show comes back.
2) one of y'all questioned my Bash characterization in a comment last week, and I responded. I got a positive response back and was encouraged to post it somewhere. So I put it in a twilonger message, there is a link in my profile if you're interested in reading it.
3) I forgot to thank them last week, and that was a horrible omission. So much thanks and gratitude go out to justcallmesmitty & Poligirl25. Justcallmesmitty is an amazing beta who fixes every comma, clause and grammatical error I make - and I make a lot. My brain is etched with the idea that thoughts = sentences, and I aim to prove it week-after-week. Poligirl25 is a wonderful beta as well, but she's also my sounding board and spec partner. This story honestly wouldn't exist without her help and contribution. There are just not enough words to thank either of you enough.