A Dream for Christmas by Tessa Payer
Snow fell softly outside as the dark eyed Queen of England looked out the window, her hands on her stomach. She was still wearing a plain chemise and hadn’t changed into her elegant red Christmas gown for the party yet. For now, it would just be her and her Prince of England.
By next Christmas, she realized, there would be a little Prince in her arms, one that would secure her position on the throne of England. Maybe he would have dark eyes and hair, like her, or perhaps would be the image of his father? Either way, he would be loved dearly.
Feeling peace for the first time in some months, Anne Boleyn laid down on her stately bed and was taken by dreams.
Anne opened her eyes just in time to see a little girl launching herself onto her lap. Little arms wound their way around her waist, and she smiled as Lady Bryan approached, looking mortified.
“I’m so sorry, your Majesty-”
“It’s quite alright, Lady Bryan. She’s just a little girl.” Looking down at the small figure, Anne smiled. This little one was her image; dark hair and dark eyes, with not a trace of her father anywhere on her perfect face. But that was alright, Anne just had to look at Elizabeth to see Henry.
“Is that little Margaret?” Anne heard a cheerful voice boom next to her. “Come here, child, come see your father.”
“Papa!” Margaret exclaimed, practically attacking her father with a hug. “Did you get me any presents, Papa?”
By now, Lady Bryan was positively horrified at the young Princess’s behavior. “I can fetch her presents, your Majesty.” She offered.
“Go, Lady Bryan.” The King said, and the governess curtseyed and quickly exited.
Anne looked sideways at her husband, who seemed happier than he ever had been. His eyes glowed as he looked down at their daughter, and then at Anne herself. There was no anger his eyes, no disappointment. Just happiness.
“Where are the rest of our children? Where are the Prince and Princess of England?” He asked one of the heralds, and, as if on cue, in came two children. One she recognized immediately, and smiled at the sight of her Elizabeth. She wasn’t such a little girl anymore; she was maturing into a young woman.
“Bessie.” Anne breathed as her daughter curtseyed to her. “Oh, my darling Bessie.” She descended from the dais, embracing her daughter. The girl squirmed in her grip.
“Mama.” She complained. “You’re embarrassing me.” Elizabeth pushed back slightly from her mother, smiling. “Happy Christmas, Mama.”
“Happy Christmas, Bessie.”
“What about me, Mama?”
Anne looked around her daughter to see what looks like a young Henry standing there, gleaming in his red Christmas doublet.
“Henry.” She found herself whispering. “My boy, my little boy.”
Her son came forward, bowing to her. Her son took her hand, kissing it. Her son.
Henry, the father, not the son, came down to embrace his son, laughing. “Happy Christmas, Harry.”
“Happy Christmas, your Majes-”
“Father, Harry.” The King corrected him, and Harry smiled.
“Happy Christmas, Father.”
The whole family ascends onto the dais, sitting on their thrones. Anne breathes in the air, full of spices and Christmas and peace. She’s never felt this safe before, surrounded by her family, whom she knows loves her. It’s a wonderful feeling.
Gifts are exchanged. Margaret squealed at the sight of her gift; a puppy, and held it the rest of the night, trying to feed it scraps off of her plate. Elizabeth got fabric for dresses, as well as some jewels. But, Anne’s eyes are on her son, who sat next to her. Is he real? She took his hand in hers as his gifts from the King are brought forward, and her hands brushed against a real, living person. No one will challenge her again, not with him at her side.
“Your Majesty? Your Majesty, the party is almost starting, and the King is wondering where you are.”
Anne Boleyn sat up suddenly, blinking the sleep from her eyes. “Harry?”
The lady-in-waiting looked at her quizzically. “It’s Mary Norris, your Majesty.”
Slight panic begins to envelop Anne. “Where’s my son? Where’s Harry?”
Then, the horrific words are said. “Your Majesty, you don’t have a son yet. But, I’m sure in a few months, you’ll have safely delivered your Prince, of course.”
Sadness washes over Anne as she sat up, her hands on her stomach, and she tried to calm herself down. ‘Harry hasn’t been born yet, but that must’ve been a premonition’, she told herself. ‘It’ll be alright. Soon Harry’ll be in your arms, and then Margaret, and then however many more children the King wants.’
“I have your dress ready for the party, your Majesty.” Mary Norris said, holding up a red gown. “Would you like me to help you dress, your Majesty?”
Anne nodded, stepping into the dress. She looked down at the red, realizing how much the holiday had lost its appeal without little Margaret giggling about her puppy or Harry smiling like his father.
‘Next Christmas’, she promised herself. ‘By next Christmas, Harry will be in my arms, and everything will be alright. The Christmas of 1536 will be the Christmas of my son’.