Twenty crowns for the Frenchman, and with one swing of the sword, the Queen of England is dead, her head rolling on the straw, her body laying to the side, quivering pathetically. I gaze around, and there is stunned silence. Norfolk, Suffolk and Audley, all who stood together disrespectfully, refusing to kneel as everyone else fell to their knees, simply walk away, while common women in the crowd weep, their menfolk kindly attentive. Numb as I take it all in, I am startled by the sound of the canon fire, a signal to all London that the deed is done. I finally notice my dearest friend struggling to get to his feet. “Your Grace, let me help you.” The poor man distraught and fighting back tears, I steady dearest Canterbury as he rises. Attempting stoicism, His Grace swallows hard and then walks to the scaffold, bowing his head in prayer before the head of the queen, her eyes open wide peering towards him, her mouth gaped open. My stomach churns, and I hold down the urge to spew. As common folk take pieces of cloth and wipe drips of blood as grotesque keepsakes, he looks up and speaks to them, “God’s Holy Word says, ‘This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth’.” Along with a few of the commoners, I respond, “So sayeth the Lord.” I walk on up beside him, and gently place my hand on his shoulder. He looks to me, and says quietly, “Thomas, get us out of here. Satan permeates every stone, every strand of dirt of this place. God forgive us all.” I nod, and I gently hold him by the arm as I direct people to move from our way, commoners and Lords alike drawing back to leave a path. Once off Tower Green, we begin walking towards the Thames to ride His Grace’s beautiful barge away from here, but to where? “Your Grace, we are in need of each other’s counsel. Where to then?” He points across the Thames, and I have my answer. We are heading to Lambeth, away from court, and for now, away from His Majesty.
As the barge heads up stream, we both stand in silence, His Grace deep in his thoughts, me deep in mine. Tonight, finally, after six weeks of sheer hell, I am heading home, not to Austin Friars, but to my home with Nicoleen, my home with my daughters. Will Anthea, the dear babe, even know me? Or will she, along with her mother, see me as the monster deep in my soul I know I am. And what of Iris and Lily? Thea? Gregory? I pray.”Lord God, I know am going to hell. I accept it. I beseech you to not make my life here on Earth hell, too. I need her. I need them. They teach me in this world of hateful manipulation that love is possible. They teach me in this court filled with flirtation, affairs and adultery that commitment to one woman and family is possible. They keep me sane within the chaos.” Upon arriving at Lambeth’s dock, servants wait to help us off the barge, and we both nod in appreciation. Still silent, His Grace and I walk slowly through his gardens and finally through the Lambeth gates. Awaiting at the entrance is Master Ralph Morice, as devoted a servant to the archbishop as I am to the king.
Ralph Morice: I watch as His Grace and the King’s Secretary walk towards me, and I am struck by how gaunt both men look. Many days I fear that His Grace’s shoulders are not broad enough for the burdens of God’s calling, but I never in until today ever thought I’d ever fear such of Cromwell. As they approach, I remove my hat and bow deeply. “Good Tidings to you both, and welcome home, Your Grace.” Before either man can speak, I add, “I took the liberty of preparing your library for your arrival, Your Grace. I will let the kitchen servants know you have company, and I will insure you both may respite with privacy.”
Thomas Cranmer: “Thank you, dear friend. You are ever so thoughtful.” Ralph walks with us through the halls of this great palace, now stripped of all sinful relics, idols and ornamentation. Upon arriving at my library, Ralph opens the door, and both Thomas and I step in. Waiting for us at a table is wine, pears, cheese and bread, and two of my most comfortable chairs beside it. Ralph bows, and closes the doors behind us. I look to my friend as say simply, “If you pray earnestly for forgiveness, God will listen.” He nods. With every formality and deference always shown, Thomas motions that I sit and pours me wine, and then a goblet for himself. Thomas then offers to serve cheese and bread, and I motion no interest. Who could eat after the debauchery we were witness to this day? The debauchery I aided and abetted? The debauchery Thomas weaved like a expert spinster at the King’s command? With both of us now seated, I look over to my friend and say simply, “Speak Thomas. Speak truth. I need to hear it.”
Thomas Cromwell: My head, it feels as if a boulder did fall upon it. My eyes hurt; my body aches. I am beyond exhausted, beyond repair, I do swear. To the only man in this realm I trust all, I speak frankly. “Your Grace, I have grave concern for His Majesty. Since the fall from his horse, and God’s miracle through Jesus Christ, our savior that did awaken him, His Majesty suffers blinding headaches. His leg is ulcered, and when in private, his limp pronounced to ease the pain.” As I look at my friend, his concern shows plainly.
Thomas Cranmer: Stunned, I am stunned. “By God in heaven, go on, Thomas.”
Thomas Cromwell: I say sincerely, as I want him to know — I need him to know though a monster, my choices were limited. “Your Grace, I do swear with all earnestness that I counseled His Majesty to take a kinder approach, to send Anne away as he did the Dowager Princess, but to a nunnery. His Majesty wanted her dead, completely erased as if she never was born, as punishment for the death of his son, the last babe birthed early and dead.” I swallow hard, and say quietly, “When his headaches rule, I must tread lightly, very lightly. I swear to God, Your Grace, when I suggested a nunnery he did push me into a wall and hit me across the head. His Majesty told me flat out, as I am speaking to you, that if she was not dead, gone, erased from this world, I would be executed. He bellowed, with dagger in hand, “She dies or you die.” Tears welling, I speak truth. “Your Grace, I have small babes, a wife no one must know of. If I am gone, all protection to them goes with me.”
Thomas Cranmer: My heart hurts as I listen to Thomas speak. Though he heeded none of my warnings, I offer gently, “God will protect them and you Thomas if that be His will. God gave you many gifts, including wisdom and resourcefulness. Use them well.” I then say with a gentle heart what must be said. “Make preparations. His Majesty brought down Wolsey and More. Though you are wiser than them, you walk on the edge of a sword.” Poor Thomas. He nods in agreement.
Thomas Cromwell: I drink my wine down quick, and pour out another to take the edge off. His Grace glares disapprovingly, knowing t’is a crutch I sometimes use. “Do pray earnestly that His Majesty’s new queen births of male issue. The security of this very realm and the safety of my family rest with it. His Majesty is getting no younger, and with his ailments forefront in his mind, desperation is setting in. With male issue, preferably multiple male issue, this realm, His Majesty and the rest of us will have much needed peace of mind, and this madness will end.”
Thomas Cranmer: “I pray for His Majesty and this realm daily, no worries of that.” Though illegal to speak of it or foretell the same, I ask the obvious. “Thomas, if it’s God’s will to call His Majesty home before a son is begotten, who reigns?”
Thomas Cromwell: I sigh, and speak truthfully, “God will decide through civil war, European conquest or both. With two daughters, both bastardized, Catholics will fight Reformists in their names, and by this very hand who wrote and pushed the Act of Succession, the crown rightfully falls to the Scots through the line of his sister Margaret. God help us.” I look to the archbishop. The poor man prone to tears, I see him struggling. I say with conviction the words he most wants not to hear. “Anne had to go. The entire realm hangs in the balance until we have male issue, and she could not provide it. Understand?”
Thomas Cranmer: I shake my head, and sharply answer, “NO, Thomas. You are not God. Although he is God’s personification on earth, His Majesty is not God. You can not manipulate His will. No man can.”
Thomas Cromwell: I state more angrily than I intend, “Don’t lecture me, Your Grace. T’is my opinion, as well as His Majesty’s, that God’s will was done.”
Thomas Cranmer: I state bluntly, and through our complete mutual trust, honestly. “Then God forgive us all, I pray. We sinned most egregiously. An innocent woman and five innocent men were put to death. God’s will? I think not.”
Thomas Cromwell: This conversation is done. Nothing good will come from continuing it. I rise and bow, speaking with annoyance obvious, “I am going home, Your Grace. We will speak again soon, when clearer minds with a more gentle spirit prevail. I need my family. You have yours here.” His Grace glares back angrily and nods in agreement. As I begin to leave, Margarete comes into the library. Before she can speak, I blurt out… “I am sorry, my lady. I must go now.” I leave the room, closing the door loudly behind me.
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: I lie in bed half awake, my elixir on the side table half empty. This day has been quite odd. The man, John, whom I have not seen in sometime brought me a wax sealed jar of her blood. “Take this and store it safely in a cool damp area. You will need it.” He began to leave. “Sir. John. John!” He turned to me. “Yes?” He said more than asked while giving me a stern look. “What will I need it for? I’ve no use for this.” He nodded his head. “I will show you soon enough. Until then keep it safe, as if it were gold,” and with that he left. “Nicos what did he want with you?”, Thea asked. “Not now, please Thea. I will take my dinner in my room tonight. I need too be alone.” She scowls at me. “Nicos you spend to much time alone. T’is no good for the babies and I think….” I wave my hand. “Not now Thea,” I plead and take to my room. As I lay in bed, dinner still is sitting there, cold as ice. I’ve had no appetite for many, many moons. Rain slowly begins to fall. I walk to window and look out to Luna. Tears begin to sting my eyes as I fight them. He cares nothing for me. Nothing. If it were so, if he did, he would have came to us. So many moons have passed. I’ve stopped counting them.
Thomas Cromwell: Oh. My. God. My head is going to explode. I pined for my wife for six weeks, and now the day is finally here, I fear going home. As I ride Spades hard to not prolong the inevitable, my mind is swimming. Lord God, I killed a woman, a reigning queen. I killed five men, none guilty of more than showering her with attention — and truth be told, Norris did nothing more than grab His Majesty’s ear once too often. That poor man died because he was in my way. How does a wife live with a man like me? Break bread with a man like me? Lay with a man like me? I think this night she will throw me out, erase me from her life, erase me from our daughter’s lives. Oh God, you know my heart. I beseech she forgive me. Oh no, not yet. I need time to collect myself. I see the smoke from Thea’s home is the distance. As I ride Spades up closer, I dismount, and before knocking at the door, go behind a bush and heave, my stomach finally yielding to the stench in my heart, near dead.
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: I take the last dose of my elixir and sit on my bedside waiting for the pain to go away. I think of tasting the bread but no, I do not desire it. Instead I take it to the kitchen and gather a bottle of Theo’s wine. Gods I miss him so. Pain stings my heart like pins to a cushion when I think of my sweet Theo. Gone. Gone. I pour a large goblet meant for brew and drink near half back. I fill the cup and take it back to my room, trying not to notice Thea’s disapproving eyes. I splash some cool water on face from the basin and brush my hair. As I look into the mirror, I can hardly recognize myself. I hear a knock at the door and listen. “Dear Gods, it’s him.” I pull a robe over my gown, open my door and then lay in bed. Partly numb but anxious to hear what excuse he will lay out to me this time ,I curl into myself and listen to him and Thea.
Thomas Cromwell: After wiping my mouth with my side of my sleeve, I grab some mint Thea’s growing in her herb garden to ease my stomach and freshen my breath. I walk tentatively to the door and knock quietly. Thea opens, and bids me to step in. Before I can speak, she whispers… “I heard, Thomas. Awful, but my worries are with Nicos. She’s in a bad way. Go to her.” I look to Thea and offer, “Thea Nia, I had no choice in it.” She glares at me angrily and points to the bedroom. I nod my head, and I quietly enter. Oh my God in heaven, Nicoleen looks awful. She looks up at me, and rests her head back down and draws herself up like a babe in the womb. My heart, it can take no more. I drop to me knees at the side of the bed beside her. “Nicosa… I pray most earnestly that you forgive me.” Weeks of stress and fears and disgust and pent up emotions come flooding out, and I rest my head into my arms on the bed, and burst into tears.
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: He’s no right to cry. How dare he? I lift my head and look to him. “What drives you to weep? Is it the gold around your neck too heavy?”
Thomas Cromwell: I look to my wife, and see the pain in her eyes, on her face. I wipe my eyes, and say meekly, “Yes, love. I feel like it will strangle me.” I think if I should elaborate, and decide to leave things there. I would rather she be upset with me than frightened.
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: “So be it then! At least I would know what bed your were in.”
Thomas Cromwell: Oh no, God please let’s not go here again. “The only bed I lay in is mine, love. Very few hours are spent there, and always alone. I promise.”
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: “HA!” Too weak to argue, I just shake my head at him and take to my wine. I certainly need it. I rise from bed and stand by the window watching the rain slowly fall, drinking as he watches me. It pains me to no end. He’s no idea how this life is. I begin to grow strong again. “Not even a bloody letter Thomas?” Raised a lady, always, I never speak with a ill tongue as this. May-hap this will gain his attention then. “What pressing matters kept you from even sending James with one BLOODY LETTER!? ONE THOMAS! Not even one.” I digress, and tears I’ve fought for days begin fall. “Was it your love for your Queen that kept you from me? You know there are rumors of this, and I do have ears at court that do care to check in on me. I know you had eyes for her. She was your beloved Queen. Did you want her for yourself? Is this why you have not bedded another? Do not take me for a fool. I am well read and versed in languages. I barter better than you! Say something. Anything Thomas. My heart is not well. I’m broke. What will you do? Run to the next Queen’s side? Certainly it will not be mine. Its never been mine.” I begin to feel so weak I could fall to the floor and rest.
Thomas Cromwell: Oh. My. God. Nicoleen can’t think this. She can’t. I swallow hard and decide I must tell her some, but God, please don’t make me tell all. I walk up to my wife, and rest my hand on her shoulder. “Nicosa, Anne wanted my head cropped. She threatened it many times. After she lost the boy, His Majesty wanted her gone, dead, erased and left me to do it. Nicosa, it was her or me. God knows that is the truth of it.”
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: “I don’t know what to believe, but I do know my heart is broken. My home is broken. We are broken. I want to believe you never strayed. I want to believe a lot of things. I want to believe that Theo is not dead. But he is.” I turn into him and feel passion raging inside. I pound my fist into his chest, tears streaking my face. “I want to believe you will never leave again. I want……..Oh Gods Thomas, I want it so deep my soul is a-blaze. Gods, oh Gods Thomas how will you fix this? We are so broken. How?”
Thomas Cromwell: Although my wife hits me hard upon the chest, it’s her words that wound deeply, my heart bruised, my soul bleeding. As her anger spills through a close fist, I grab hold of her hand and rest it gently upon my chest. Kissing her fist drawn so tight I fear her nails will spill blood, I draw Nicoleen in and hold her tight. “Shhhhhhh… shhhhhh, Nicosa…” I rub my wife’s back an attempt to calm her. “Look at me”, I say quietly. As she begins to shake her head no, I say again, more firmly but in a quiet tone, “Look at me… please, Nicosa.”
My wife gazes up, and I gently kiss her tears. My voice cracking, I plead, “Nicoleen, we are not broken – we.. are.. not.. broken. Our home, our lives, are complicated yes, but we are in this together, always.” I pause to catch my thoughts. “I am so sorry I did not write. I could not. T’was far too volatile and too dangerous to take the chance. Surely you noticed the increased security around you. Surely James told you there were challenges all around me.” I raise my hands up, gently hold my wife’s face, and look deep into her soul so she will hear me, will know my truth. “We are one. There is no one else. There will never be anyone else. It’s just you, Nicosa. I love you.. I love you… you, our daughters, our life.” I take a chance and kiss her deeply. Though exhausted and emotionally depleted, passion rises from deep within and peaks me hard. As my hands rub up against my wife’s gown at the shoulders, I begin running them down her soft curves, stopping with a longing glance before going any further. As I shore myself for my wife’s response, I pray silently. I know He is listening. “God, you know I need her; you know I love her. God you know I am just a shell of a man without her. Lift her burdens. Heal her heart. Bring her to me. Make us whole again. Amen.”
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: I take a sip of my wine and carelessly set it aside. I kiss him deep, hard and passionately, wine still on my tongue. I pull back and place my finger on his lip. I begin kissing his neck, up to his ear, I whisper softly “Make love to me. Make me whole again. Let my body and soul have you, now.”
Thomas Cromwell: I take a step back and smile. God you are too good to me. I pull off the status chain, and toss it onto the bureau, releasing the weight of the world as I do. I pull off my cape, and toss it into a chair. I step back to my wife, and draw her in tight, whispering in her ear. “The wine is sweet, love.” I begin to kiss her passionately, drawing off first her silken blue robe, and then her soft light night gown. I step back again, and draw in her beauty, looking at her every curve… yes, her everything. “Nicosa… I missed you… I missed us.” I lift my wife up, and lay her on our bed among the pillows, drinking her in as I undress before her. I rise to the peak as she opens for me, teasing me by finding on her own a woman’s pleasure.
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: I place my finger to my lips. “Shhh, dont tell me. I need you to show me.” I beckon him to me.
Thomas Cromwell: As she licks her fingers, I just about lose control. I get onto our bed, straddling over her. Six weeks of pent up emotions start rising within me, and I rest my manhood between her legs, rubbing up against her moistness. I bend over, kissing her passionately in the French style and begin caressing down her sides, resting on her beautiful, hard yet soft breasts. I gaze over to the night stand, and her resting wine goblet calls me. I reach over and take a long swig, look into my wife’s eyes and say simply, “Nicosa… you have no idea, none.” Smiling, I pour some wine down upon her, onto her breasts and down her body. I begin kissing her neck, nibbling down gently and then kiss and lick the wine from her shoulders, her neckline, and down to her breasts, settling on her nipples, caressing as I go. “Yes, Nicosa… the wine is sweet.”
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: The cool wine tingles my skin as he drizzles it on me. My body begins to come alive. I cup his face into my hands and hold his eyes in mine. “If I’ve no idea, then show me,” I challenge. His amazing body glistening over me. Luna is full this night. I’ve let go of my anger for the time. I’ve longed for him most every night. Our bed, home and my soul have been barren long enough. As he kisses me, licking the cool wine from my breast, I lay back, close my eyes and think of nothing but him and the time that we do have together. The waits between are unwanted. I arch my back, and he places his hand, holding me up to him. We are becoming one. I lower my hand down his chest, stomach and begin reaching for what is mine, what I desire. I look at him, “I do love you.. like no other. I.. I,” I stop myself. There is no need to talk of these things now.
Thomas Cromwell: “Shhhhhhh…. the babes sleep in the next room, love”, I tease as I spread her legs wide and pour more wine between them. I move down, hold my wife by the waist and draw her in, licking the wine from her sweetness, nibbling and sucking on her. The taste of my wife and her wine sends me past all of the day’s earlier events, all of the last weeks trials and worries, and I focus solely on her, on bringing her pleasure. My wife’s moans urge me forward, and my full concentration is on bringing us together as one, only us, as is God’s will. As I continue enjoying the wonders of a woman’s yearnings, I look up upon her, her back arched, her muscles tensing. I say simply, “Let go… let go for me, Nicosa.”
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: “Yes, Yes…..baby I will. My Gods you feel amazing.” My Gods what he does to me. I am in heaven as I begin to let go and feel myself releasing.
Thomas Cromwell: As I feel my wife begin to wave into pleasure, I draw myself up, lift her legs over my shoulders, and enter her down deep inside, holding myself taunt as she crumbles into tremors and moans beneath me. As she begins to relax, I kiss her hard in the French style, and begin a rhythm first slowly and teasingly, and then gradually increasing the intensity. I whisper… “To every time there is a season… to every purpose on to heaven… Thank you God, our season’s here. I love you, only you.” Nicoleen smiles back at me, and kisses me deeply. God in heaven, thank you for teaching me through this woman what love is.
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: I submit myself to him fully. I lay my arms raised above my head, my breasts swaying with his every thrust. I look him in his eyes as he speaks to me, I know he means every word. His love surrounds me. I can feel it in the warmth of his gaze. He sits up, still inside me and runs his hands down my sides. He feels every curve that I have gained over the past few years, but I sense he loves me more for them. I am complete. He places his hands on my hips and begins pulling me into him over and over. He still holds my body arched into him. I moan uncontrollably. I turn my head in a pillow to muffle my cries. Oh Gods, I want him to feel my desire for him.
Thomas Cromwell: As I see my wife struggling to maintain control, I gently move her face from the pillow, and kiss her deeply, pushing myself beyond all endurance, building an intense rhythm. I feel my seed rising, and I thrust myself completely into her, spilling all saved just for her. My body begins shaking, every nerve turning me inside out, deep down to the core. Losing all control, I feel my wife trying to calm me. It’s no damn use… I lay limp, but still within her, unable to speak, breathing heavy for air, completely depleted.
Nicoleen Sedena-Cromwell: I pull the silken sheet and blanket over him and me. I rest my head on his chest and kiss it very lightly. As I am laying with him, he runs his fingers through my hair. “We need not talk tonight, but tomorrow, we will,” I state. I raise up and put on my robe, and I clean us both, doting over him as if it were his last day on Earth. I giggle out loud for he has no answers for me as I do this, maybe after we talk tomorrow. I take to the kitchen and prepare cheese, bread and fruit, careful as I can not wake the house. As I sit in bed with him, I look upon his face and notice he has changed inside as well as out. Likely he’s had no time to shave the past few weeks. Sorrow feels my heart. He is a good man. After a few bites, I begin to grow very tired. “Good night, Thomas and welcome home.” I begin to fall fast asleep. Nightmares of Anne come to me. I see her innocent face pleading the King to speak with her, her loneliness, her desperation for her child. I begin seeing it all.
~~~~~~~~~~ Fade To Black ~~~~~~~~~~