All For One- Chapter Twenty-Two
22. The Infanta’s Gratitude
Anne and Marie strolled into the main hall where the Queen Regent was holding court with the Concinis.
“Good morning,” Anne said cheerfully.
The Queen Regent looked up. “Oh, are you two back already?” she said casually.
“Yes I had a wonderful trip,” she said. The two of them walked through the hall, laughing.
The night before, Anne and Marie made the long ride from Vendôme with Tréville by their side. They were met at the Louvre by Athos, and the two guards snuck the girls inside just after four in the morning. The two girls dropped on to Anne’s bed and promptly fell asleep. They woke up the next morning and decide to visit everyone in the Louvre, so see if anyone was shocked to see them. They reasoned that anyone who was involved in Anne’s kidnapping would be surprised to see them. In addition to visiting the Queen Regent and the Concinis, they visited the Bishop Richelieu, Charles d’Albert, even the King. While people were surprised to see Anne and Marie in the Louvre, it was because it was known they were heading to Brittany, and therefore no one looked particularly nervous.
That morning, André and Bertrand arrived at Athos’ quarters. As was his word, Athos promptly destroyed the letter to the King, even though he considered keeping it as insurance. His honor was more important.
Later that day, they were summoned to the Louvre by the Infanta. In a sitting room, Anne and Marie waited for the four friends. Marie held a small box. Athos, Tréville, André and Bertrand entered together.
“Who knows what would have happened to me if you four hadn’t intervened,” Anne said. “Marie…”
Smiling, Marie opened the box. Four jeweled diamonds sparkled on black velvet.
“These rings were a gift from my father,” she said. “I give them to you, so that you may know my deepest appreciation. I am also aware of the world. I know that these rings would bring a nice price for you, and I will not be offended if you choose to sell them.
“Know that you will always have an ally in me,” she finished.
Marie placed a ring in each guard’s hand, and with a smile the two girls disappeared in to the Tuileries. From that day on, Marie was Anne’s closest friend and constant companion. In the days to come, Anne decided to accept her impending marriage to the King and actively sought his company. Since they were still not married, they were naturally compelled to have escorts. Everywhere the King went, Charles d’Albert was by his side, and Marie was always with the Infanta. As such, Charles d’Albert and Marie de Rohan spent a lot of time together, and Marie started to grow found of the older, handsome gentlemen. The days grew longer, and the two couples spent most of the summer together. Louis was not the warmest of young men and continued to be formal with his bride-to-be. As always, Charles d’Albert seemed to facilitate the conversation between the four of them. He was smart and charming, and Marie found herself thinking about him quite often.
Finally, on November ninth of 1615, Louis and Anne were married. It was a double ceremony officiated by Cardinal de Sourdis in St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Louis married the Infanta Anne of Austria at the same time as his sister Princess Elisabeth married Anne’s infant brother Felipe.
A few nights after the wedding, an apprehensive Louis walked the halls of the Tuileries with d’Albert.
“Are you alright, your Grace?’ d’Albert asked.
“I’m fine, Charles,” he said.
“You seem nervous,” d’Albert said knowingly.
“I’m not nervous,” lied the King.
“Of course not,” d’Albert replied. “What is there to be nervous about?”
“This will not be an unpleasurable experience,” d’Albert added. “In fact, it’s one of the most pleasurable experiences I can think to have, if not the most.”
“Of course,” the King agreed.
“And it’s a necessity,” d’Albert reminded him.
“I know,” said Louis.
“Any marriage can be easily annulled, unless of course it is consummated,” explained d’Albert. “It’s not only good for you, but good for the nation.”
“And you must have an heir. Do you know why the English love their king so much?”
“King James provided the people of England with a legitimate heir, after decades of the question of succession with their so-called “Virgin Queen.” There will be no question of who will be their next king. You are Louis the thirteenth. The people want a fourteenth someday.”
Louis nodded. He had heard this before from d’Albert.
“Consider your history,” d’Albert continued. “The mighty Capetian dynasty ruled for centuries when Philip IV had three sons: Louis, Philip and Charles. Each one of those sons ruled France for a short time, but none of them had children. The crown went to Philip’s nephew, and they called him Philip VI. But Philip IV had a grandson, Edward III of England. His descendant was Henry V, and I think you know what he did.”
“So I must have an heir, or be invaded by a foreign power?” Louis asked incredulously.
“It’s happened before.”
They stopped. They were at the new Queen’s door. Louis breathed deeply.
“It’s more than political. You are married to her. She is your wife. What happens in your personal life is a direct reflection of your public persona. You need to take control of her. She is yours. You are the King, but the King can not be a boy. The King must be a man. You are master of all that you see. She is yours, claim her.”
Bolstered by confidence, the King entered the Queen’s room. He found her at her sitting table preparing for bed and combing her long brunette hair. She was wearing a long silk gown, and the thought of her young body underneath that robe made Louis’ heart beat faster. He closed the door.
Startled, she turned around. “Your majesty.” She climbed to her feet.
He laughed a nervous laugh. “Please call me Louis. You don’t have to be so formal around me, Anne.”
She smiled back. “Very well, Louis.”
He took a few steps to her. “Anne, I…” he began. “We’re married now. And there are… things.”
“What things, Louis?” she asked.
He stammered. “Duties. Between a man and his wife.”
Her eyes widened. She had heard all about martial duties from Dona Estefania, and she had confessed her trepidation to Marie. She knew that someday she would have to perform these duties as well.
“Is that why you’re here?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said.
“I see,” she replied.
He stepped to her. He leaned in and kissed her. It was the second time they had kissed, the first being a simple peck at their wedding. It was strained and awkward. He slid off his doublet and let it fall to the floor. He tugged his silk chemise over his head revealing his thin chest. His frame was not encumbered with fat, but also lacking in muscle. He was only fifteen.
“Take off your gown,” he said.
She paused. She knew it wasn’t a request. She turned from him and began to untie the top of her robe. With her back to him, she let it fall to her feet. She heard him gasp. With a deep breath, she turned and revealed her virginal body to him. While she was also only fifteen, her body had developed. Her long dark hair cascaded over her shoulders, brushing across her breasts which were firm and high upon her chest. Her hips curved from her waist. She held her legs closed, revealing only a small dark triangle
“Good lord,” he said.
“What?” she asked.
“You are truly beautiful,” he said, his eyes wide, full of the sight of her radiance. In response, he removed his breeches. His hips were slim and she gazed upon a man’s naked body for the first time. Where she was voluptuous, he was skinny. Where she was beautiful, he was awkward. Where she was a woman, he was still a boy.
He stepped forward to kiss her again, and their flesh made contact. She could feel him, ready, against her body. He could feel her smooth skin against his. Both were trembling. He with anticipation, she with nervousness. Their kiss was longer, less awkward, and Anne tried very hard to love him. She attempted to summon the passion that she had always dreamed about, but she felt false, like she was just pretending. She decided to keep pretending. She could tell he was nervous and there was no need to hurt his feelings.
About this time, Marie came out of her room to see Anne. She wasn’t using the secret passages anymore as it held terrifying memories for her. She was surprised to see Charles d’Albert sitting in a chair by the Queen’s room. She thought it was odd, out of all the places in the Tuileries and in the Louvre, why did he choose to sit in front of the Queen’s room?
“M. d’Albert,” she said, “what are you doing here?”
He looked up at her and smiled. “Hello, Mlle de Montbazon,” he said. “I am attending the king.
She looked about. “Is he coming here?”
D’Albert indicated the Queen’s chamber. “He is inside.”
“Oh,” she said, and started towards the door.
“They want to be alone,” he said, stopping her. “Trust me; you do not want to go in there.”
Marie was confused.
D’Albert smiled. “The King is consummating his marriage,” he said quietly.
“Oh!” Marie exclaimed, and she felt her cheeks growing scarlet. “Forgive me. I didn’t realize that would happen so soon,” she said. She knew that eventually their marriage would become physical. “Aren’t they both a little young?”
“Young?” d’Albert said, almost laughing. “Mlle de Montbazon, surly you realize that there are girls right here in Paris younger than you who are already mothers?”
Marie laughed nervously. He was right, of course.
“It is a matter of national importance,” he said. “Besides, isn’t that one of the benefits of marital bliss?”
Marie smiled. She wouldn’t mind such benefits herself one day. “Yes, of course,” she said.
“We should probably go,” he said. “They don’t want us hanging over their room.”
“I suppose not,” Marie said. Marie knew that she would stop by later to see if Anne needed to talk about it. She hoped that Anne would be able to tell her all of the interesting parts.
They walked down the hall together. “It has been wonderful for you to be with us this last year,” he said. “Sometimes spending time with just the King can be a bit tedious. Your presence has been refreshing.”
“Why thank you, Charles,” she said, forgetting herself. “Excuse me, M. d’Albert. I didn’t mean to be familiar.”
He smiled. “To be on familiar terms with you, would hardly be a tragedy.”
She smiled back. Charles was handsome, and certainly well-placed within Louis’ heart. If he were a duke, he would be a very good match indeed.
Louis rolled over, sweaty and spent, breathing hard. He smiled. Charles was right, that was extremely pleasurable. Anne smiled back. It had hurt a bit a first, but afterwards she found it utterly unremarkable, although mildly stimulating. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t like she dreamed. Perhaps she would have to get used to disappointment.
But life went on in the palace. The Queen Regent was still calling herself the Queen with no deference to Anne. While Anne lived in sumptuous rooms in the Tuileries, she found her influence was limited. Charles became more and more important. He was named Grand Falconer of France and later that year named the first Duc de Luynes. He became known as a peacemaker. He got the Queen Regent to negotiate with Condé, ending the spirit of revolt and giving Condé amnesty. The agreement became known as the Treaty of Loudun, signed on May 3rd, 1616, and it gave the Huguenots the permission to unite their French churches with those in Béarn. Meanwhile, Milady bided her time.
- All For One- Chapter Twenty-One
The next chapter in the Three Musketeers prequel
- All For One- Chapter Twenty-Three
The next chapter in the Three Musketeers prequel