Francis Kirke Posted December 31, 2013 Share Posted December 31, 2013 Fluff asked me for the story of Francis and Bess for the Crystal Ball, and I could not help but acquiesce. Without further ado, here it is. The Story of the Forgotten Lord Francis Villiers Her hand was warm, and soft, and comforting. It made Francis forget about weights on his shoulders and fears for a time. As long as he could remember, he had felt something different for her. Most everyone when they first met him and his brother, it was George who everyone noticed and catered to. George, who had been a duke before he had even taken his first steps, before Francis had even been born. Little cousin Bess, though, she had noticed him first even though he was the second son. She had always preferred his company, and she had never been afraid to tell George precisely what she was thinking. At age nine she had delivered a perfectly timed, “I would never marry you, George, not even to be the grandest duchess; you are just spoiled and haughty no matter how witty you are! If you were not duke, everyone would admit to liking Francis better!” George had been amazingly spoiled and haughty at age eleven or twelve and Francis had highly enjoyed the gobsmacked look on his brother’s face. This pretty blond sitting with him had provided him with what every spare needed, especially one of a great father; she had told him every way in which he was as good as or better than George. She had been his greatest friend that was not one of his siblings. She was the first girl he had ever danced with aside from his sister. His thumb ran over her hand in his and looked at her light blue eyes, remembering every moment of holding her hand and looking at her eyes when they had learned to dance together as children and as the years had passed. He did not know what he felt. He was too young yet, but he was very attached to her. George would go off with her elder brother, but Francis oft sat with Bess. There were tears in her eyes now. He had left her once for Cambridge, and they had shared letters. He had always been encouraged to form relationships with what family he had since he had no real parents, no aunts or uncles, no grandparents. In a world where intrigue necessitated familial alliances, both he and George had grown up with a net of people meant to help protect them, especially through their childhood. Bess’ father had gotten taken prisoner helping to protect them in the Siege at Lichfield and who knew when or if he would escape. Now he was being sent away, because the King could not trust he and George to be obedient and not run headlong into “foolishly giving their lives” without any sort of permission. Rupert and Gerard had attempted to intervene, citing how bravely and honourably they had fought, and that they should have a troop of horse each and have their cause be the better for it: “the more danger, the more honour!” What followed had been so loud and nearly devoid of the King’s stutter that George and Francis had heard it in the anteroom clear as anything. Their mother had complained of their involvement with the fighting. Their mother? She was responsible for all this misery of being sent away, and she had left them, abandoned them, herself. Now she appealed to the King! Now she cared for their lives? But the edict was as clear as day and the words resounded through his head: “Parliament blocks me sending any of my children away to safety; you, my boys, I can send, and I will. You will go to Italy and finish your studies in peace, not tempted to repay me with your blood. That was a debt long ago repaid. Remember, though, how they seek to force my hand by threatening the safety of your royal brothers and sisters. Mongrels.” The idealistic and brave youth of just fourteen did not yet realize those would be among the last words Charles I would ever speak to them. Nor did he know that those words would surface in his mind again in his last moments, a last and final disobedience. He would pay the debt with his blood anyway, but the only pain in his youthful face at this juncture was in being sent to Italy. “We swore we would not run off to fight again without permission, but it did no good. His Majesty did not wish to listen to us beg leave to fight once a fortnight nor to be distracted from the betterment of our minds,” he told the pretty blond and sighed. He did not know how he was supposed to think of bettering his mind when he should be fighting for the man who had seen to their very raising. They owed everything to the King, and they were to just leave? They were to just receive intermittent news? They were to be separated from everyone? “I do not wish you to leave. I have not even seen you in months. Charles has been gone too,” she said, of her elder brother, who was George’s age. “Shall I eternally be in the society of my mother?” At thirteen, Bess clearly was feeling the burden of an over-powering, Villiers-blooded woman as a mother. “I shall write you, I promise. At least once a week if you wish, even if I cannot send them that often. And I shall translate some great Roman book into English and send it to you. And songs. I will send you songs.” He was nervous. He did not wish to leave either. It showed in his face. His cheeks pushed up. His eyebrows drew ever so slightly closer. Cambridge had been as far away as he had ever been from the royal family, and they were back numerous times for events, holidays, and ceremonies of state. He could write as many letters as he wished. Italy was a great deal further. This was not a short trip He often had unspoken anxieties about separation from people. He overcame it because it was expected, but it would not have surprised anyone after the atypical life he shared with his brother that he did not wish to be alone. Italy, though? Going to the continent with some lord he barely even knew held no appeal to him. He had felt the desire to throw himself on his knees, cry, and beg the King not to send them away, but George being steady by his side had kept him from a ridiculousness that probably would have gotten him nothing but a good birching for his trouble. “You will have George,” she reminded him, as if she knew precisely what he was thinking. She pat his hand. “I wish you and your brother Charles could come,” he said, looking down, wanting to take some bit of comfort with him. He might have had to mature quickly but not that quickly. He was still a boy. TWO YEARS LATER Francis came in with a few servants following him and was promptly handed a packet of letters. George looked up from some parchment and an old text, raising a blond brow mockingly and said, “More silly letters? Are you going to read them with a funny grin on your face?” “You act more like a disgrace than a grace,” Francis said back, with disinterest, as he plopped down on a cushioned bench, already breaking the packet open. He knew how to annoy his brother, not rise to his liberal baiting. Besides, he did not want to think about and exchange quips, he wanted to read his letters from Bess. “She is going to make her father poor with all these letters.” He ignored the all to frequent commentary on his grace or lack thereof. “I gave her a purse of coin before we left.” “You did not!” The Duke laughed out, putting inky fingers to his face and getting some on the corner of his lips. “You are pathetic, Francis. We don’t even write Mall that often.” Well, Francis was not in love with his sister, so that would explain that, but he surely was not going to share that with George. Not when he had to cohabitate with him for at least until George was of age and probably until they both were. Even then they could not return without the King’s permission, of age or not. “Perhaps we should write her more often then.” He knew his brother would not go for the idea of writing their sister more. “I doubt she finds our letters interesting anyway. I have no idea what you and Bess find to write about. Neither of your lives are that interesting.” Buckingham paused for dramatic effect. “I know you aren’t writing to her about our trip to the brothel or the lovely courtesans that are our night-cap, courtesy of the Archduke.” He grinned. “We send music,” he stated. It was a truth in a lie. Then he thought to change the subject away from himself and his correspondence. “What are you doing then? Actually using your wits and writing something interesting and novel or just doing more translations to send His Majesty?” “Shall you have me write love letters to a girl over writing the King?” “I’ll have you write what you wish, George. I wish you would let me do the same in peace.” “So they are love letters!” Buckingham declared gleefully, turning his chair around and abandoning his quill, enjoying the sport of teasing his younger brother. “They are not love letters,” the sixteen year old declared, rolling his eyes at his blond brother. They were love letters, and George had probably read them, the sneaky bastard. “After nearly two years of these packets going in and out at least once a month, you are absolutely daft if you think I believe that.” The seventeen year old Buckingham chuckled. Passions ran deep in their blood. He understood that. “She is our relation and friend. Of course I have affection for her. She tells me in detail what is going on at home, without censoring it. That’s more than what you can say about what His Majesty or Holland or Newcastle writes to us.” He tried to set his jaw but could not. “I…I miss being around people we know,” Francis said, pursing his lips and trying not to betray that he felt very lonely aside from his brother. He wanted to go home. He was not afraid of what would wait him there. He was afraid of never seeing his makeshift family ever again. He was afraid of it being torn apart in his absence. “Try not to think about it,” George advised, always having liked his protective eldest brother role and not just with Francis. But he was not wishing to tread down that slippery slope himself, the one that would lead him to wishing to be incomprehensibly drunk. The Archduke was a fun host and very diverting, and they need much diverting much of the time. “What if we never go home, George,” Francis whispered. “Write your letters if it makes you feel better,” Buckingham sighed, feeling a bit guilty for teasing Francis about his solace. He had his own forms of solace and the same fears. “Just as you write your translations and send them to the King. It makes you still feel a part of it all and it keeps you busy.” “Indeed.” He and his brother were connected enough to know and understand each other. They had spent every moment of their life together. He pursed his lips. Francis stood up and faced the hearth, trying not to sniffle. “We are old enough now to fight, why won’t he let us come home?” George felt himself sliding down to where Francis was dwelling in his thoughts, a pit forming in his stomach. He faced his brother and put a hand on his shoulder. “Because he loves us, and he loved our father, and he promised our mother to be our father. He swore to God he would protect us as a father. He would send Charles, James, Henry, and the girls away if he could; he would send all of his family away. He has tried to do so numerous times, but Parliament will not allow it. Charles and James would be here with us if they could get out of England, the others with their mother in France.” He was speaking the truth, but he was just as upset about it as Francis. They should not be the ones saved. They should be there staking their lives to save the others. “I know,” Francis replied, but it felt no more fair. Being powerless was horrible. “Our being safe is a minor solace for the King.” Even if it is our torment, George finished in his mind. “Why are we always the ones separated from people?” Francis whispered. Indeed, it was true. They had always been separated from whatever family they had. First their father to an assassin’s blade. Then their mother to religion when she abandoned them to remarry as a Catholic in Ireland. Then finally now separated from the royal family too. George could not say any more while looking at Francis. Neither could Francis. They moved to embrace each other at the same time. “I promise, Francis, we will go home. We will see them again.” They had never seen their mother again, and this would not be like that. The Duke could never know that he would only be able to keep one half of that promise and not the other. His younger brother never would see the royal family ever again. He would give his life trying to save everything that had been and would never be again. TBC (OOC – not my best piece of writing, but with posting and vignettes to write, I can’t be a perfectionist ) Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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