Wow, this is a late post! My apologies, this week has been insane – I found out I’m moving in two weeks so I’m trying to get all of that straightened away!
This weeks post is a story written by myself! I’m nervous, but excited to be sharing this. I haven’t done any creative writing since I was in grade school!
Charles Brandon always struck me as someone who was simply known has Henry’s best friend, and we rarely see his perspective, or know how he felt. This story takes place a week before he died, and shows him reflecting on his life. It’s how I believe he felt.
August 15, 1545
Charles woke with a start. Feeling like he was falling in his dreams was becoming a common occurrence as of late. It was still dark, and the fire had died. The chill in the room was making him reconsider whether he should get up, but he knew he wouldn’t get back to sleep. Sitting up, Charles noted the ache in his bones. He was stiff. When did getting out of bed become such a chore? Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he looked over at his wife Catherine, sleeping soundly in the bed beside him. He felt a brief sense of envy at her youth. Twelve years into their marriage and she was still as beautiful and full of life as the day they married. He, on the other hand, felt those twelve years more and more lately, becoming more of a simple bed companion, rather than a lover.
Creeping as quietly as he could, Charles went to the window and looked out. It was an early start, but he could tell that it was going to be a beautiful day. Despite the struggle to get up lately, the morning was becoming his favourite time, it gave him time to think without interruption. Another battle with France was coming up, and he needed all the time he could get to plan. The Mary Rose recently sunk, and Charles knew Henry was in a state of rage over it. Many things put his old friend Harry into a state of rage lately, but this time it was different. The Mary Rose was his prize warship; he went to the Solent to see it in battle with his own eyes, but only watched it sink. The thought sent a chill down his spine. He knew many of the men on that ship, and now they were all gone. Loneliness over took him. He hadn’t felt this since Mary passed.
Charles opened the window. The cold breeze might wake Catherine, but he didn’t care, he needed to feel it on his face. Something about the breeze always reminded him of Mary. He thought back to their time in France when he was charged with taking her back to England. He did the one thing he wasn’t supposed to – marry her. Henry was livid at them both, and understandably so. But eventually he came around. Charles chuckled to himself, Mary was determined to marry for love after the old King of France passed on, and she got what she wanted. Marrying a royal without permission from the King was considered treason. Charles was thankful for his friendship with Henry, and Henrys love for his younger sister.
“Mary,” Charles whispered, as he closed his eyes to the air coming in the window. Would she be proud of the man he had become? He hoped so. Their time together wasn’t always easy, but he always loved her. Regret filled him like all the wine and ale he used to drink when they were younger. He knew he didn’t always show her what she meant to him; he took life for granted back then. Their children and Henry were his last ties to the first real love of his life and he held them dear.
Shutting the window and crossing the chilly room to the room to relieve himself and get dressed, Charles was sent into a coughing fit. Catherine stirred and sat up,
“Yes, sweetheart. Go back to sleep, I am sorry to have woken you.”
“Are you okay?” she asked, concerned.
Charles went to the bed, “yes, yes, it is no more then a tickle in my throat. No need to worry.” He didn’t want to tell her that his cough had been getting worse and he feared it would not get any better. He kissed her head and adjusted the blankets around her, “back to sleep now, my love.” It was always hard to leave, but the day had to be started no matter how he felt.
Walking down the stairs, Charles could smell the fresh bread baking in the kitchen. It made his mouth water and his stomach growl like the dogs they used to bait bears. With the upcoming battle, he would not be enjoying freshly baked breads, sweets, or anything that was considered a luxury. Still living was considered a luxury on the battlefield. In his mind, flashes of bodies scattered all around him appeared. Suddenly Charles felt he could not stomach the food he intended to break his fast. Instead he swallowed a mug of ale and decided he would eat later when his stomach stopped churning. He never enjoyed war.
Charles found himself walking to the stables. The smell of the barn reminded him of his younger days when he became Master of Horse for the young King Henry. How they loved anything to do with horses; riding, hunting, jousting. Hours seemed like minutes back then. Time felt like it could never end, and their once muscular bodies would carry them forever. Both he and Harry knew that was not at all true today. Harry could barely ride a horse these days, as his leg gives him much discomfort. This saddened Charles. Henry was known as the most handsome man in all of Europe, however it seemed that through all the hardships he had gone through as king, the man he once was had been lost. Charles wondered that if Henry would have been better off if he had gone to the church as was intended before Arthur passed. Charles shook his head, after all the changes Henry made throughout the years, breaking from Rome, becoming the head of the Church of England, it was difficult to imagine him as anything other than what he was.
Reflecting on his life and all the events that took place seemed to happen more and more lately. Nostalgia felt like an old friend. Charles found a stool and sat down. Closing he eyes, he thought of all the arguments he had, all the heartache he went through. Was it all worth it? Charles sat still with his head resting on the wall for a few minutes before he drew in a deep breath. He smiled. “Yes, it was,” he whispered to himself. Heaving himself up and walking out into the yard, he looked around, taking in the sun that was now just beginning to rise. Had he not had those arguments, or that heartache, he would never be where he was now. Charles knew that still being in favour with the King made him a rare breed. He also knew he could rest easy knowing that his family would be taken care of after he was gone because of that. Heading back into the house, Charles felt like he could now prepare for whatever was to come.
He knew he would be ready.