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Philip of Spain lay his hand over mine. This was not brotherly care that he was bestowing upon me now. This was undoubtedly his opening bid to be the husband of the next Queen of England, even now while its present Queen, my sister Mary, lie even her chambers dying. It was only by a sheer dominance of my own Will that I did not fling his hand off with all of the rage that was now rising to a heated boil within me!

"I know well enough that you do not wish to leave England's shores," he said," who would ever truly wish to leave their country? But perhaps it may also be because your highest ambitions lie here," he ventured

"What does it matter, Sir, if but if I were to pay a visit to your Aunt in the Spanish Netherlands or to go abroad to meet with my potential bridegroom that you and my sister have selected for me? In either case, you yourself have promised me Your Highness' unwavering support and brotherly care."

"Yes, of course, most assuredly, my sister," his vice was kept low, and he was pleased, it seemed, that since I had not shrunk from this small advance of his. It was obvious that in this small act, I had given him hope - for both himself and for Spain. All I need do was to convince him that he could possibly hang on to England a little while longer and that I was still young enough to be inexperienced and foolish enough to be flattered by such attentions, however inappropriate. He leaned a little closer now that not even his own ministers could overhear him. "I will be honest with you, Elizabeth," he said, "That I do want you for myself and do not wish to see you sent away from England either, not when...."

"When..... what, Highness" I prompted.

"When you are so close to being crowned England's Queen.," he had no problem saying it. "They say that the Queen, my wife- your sister shall not survive this childbirth."

I did not answer him, I did not dare to speak, not now, not while Philip was laying out precisely what his plans for me....for England truly were. If anyone else were to overhear there would be scandal and outrage. But none of that matched the rage that tore through me just as surely as the fingernails on my other hand that was curled in my lap tore into the palm of my hand. His voice continued and I let it's serpentine quality wrap itself around my awareness.

"Then both of our hopes might be realized, sister," Philip continued.

"Surely Your Highness cannot be so insightful as to know my hopes so clearly," I said protesting.

"Everyone hopes that you are to become Queen and they also know that you yourself also hope to be Queen," Philip said simply, "and to be honest with you, that is my hope as well. You see," his fingers stroked across mine and then massaged my palm. Philip had been quite careful in this, for he had made certain that no one from Mary's Court could have witnessed what passed between us now, "It is also my hope, sister, that you will remember your brother in Spain and think kindly upon him."

"What do you mean to say to me, Sir?" my breaths I fought to still.

"We are neither of us free as of yet, Elizabeth," he said, "I want to be the hand you seek in marriage because I fear as the Priests in Rome say, your true father is the Devil and that you have bewitched me. Whether it be in Spain or in England, I care not for what they say. I mean to have you."

"Have you no mercy, Sir?" I said, "You cast your shadow on both of us now, a shadow that will lead me back to the Tower and onto the block if anyone were to see us and Mary were to hear of it! " I finally wrested my hand away from him, straightening in my chair.

The room seemed entirely too airless now, I needed to take a walk after this. I needed to clear my head and leave this place, for the stench of not only impending death was beginning to fill every corner, there was the distinct odour of animals such as my brother-in-law who thought nothing of feeding off his own not-yet-dead wife and planning to make a meal of her sister next.

"You are right,"he nodded, "you and I must be cautious. One day it is my hope that it will not be necessary for me to be so." He rose from his chair and gave me a stiff bow. His counsellors, anticipating that their Prince was now ready to leave also inclined their heads in my position and as Philip left, each followed him in turn, leaving me to stand staring after him. He was not a very tall man, and by comparison to Robert Dudley or the Duc de Anjou, he was markedly shorter than either of them. Still, this man had held my sister in thrall and held nearly one third of the world in his hand. I would have to tread very carefully in the days ahead.

Muse: Elizabeth I
Fandom: Historical / 'Elizabeth' and "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Word Count: 776

Crossposted to [ profile] theatrical_muse
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