Memories and Destinies - A Reign Fanfiction

A short reimagining of Mary and Francis' first kiss! My entry for the Historical Fiction Competition!

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1. Memories and Destinies

Mary Stuart lazily made her way around the castle’s garden, her thoughts cast back to the convent when there were much more fun things to do like play ball compared to boring French politics. Even trying to catch the eye of Francis, her betrothed, was becoming a bore.

Behind her, she could hear her ladies giggling amongst themselves. She had thought about joining in, but as usual, they were discussing their latest heartthrobs and all Mary wanted was to forget about men. They were frustrating and far too tiring.

Thanks to her wondering, frustrated mind, she rounded the corner and ran smack bang into the back of Francis who stumbled forward and rounded on her. His glare softened into a smile and Mary quickly straightened her back and curtsied to her betrothed and possible future husband.

“My apologies, prince Francis. My mind was wondering and I failed to see you.”

“Mary, please just call me Francis.”

His gentle smile made her heart skip a beat and she looked down again as she amended herself.

“Francis.”

“That’s better. What are you doing outside today?”

“I was just taking a stroll through the gardens with my—hang on, they’re gone.”

Mary’s head whipped backwards and forwards as she searched for her ladies in waiting, though she knew what must have happened. It seemed to be agreed amongst all of them that should one be in the presence of a man they’re interested in, the others should scatter like a flock of birds. While part of her wished they had stayed (she was much too tired to play mind games with Francis), she couldn’t deny that she was excited by being alone with Francis.

“Perhaps I can join you then,” he offered his hand and Mary gratefully took it, thanking God that only moments ago she thought to wipe her sweaty palms on the skirt of her dress.

“What are you up to?” she asked politely as they strolled through scarlet red roses.

“I declared this day my day off from politics. When I become king, there won’t be an opportunity to do so. I have made this a practice of mine since the realisation of how hard politics could be set into my young mind.”

“I’ve spent to much time away from politics, I think. I am like a child, having to relearn this and that. Do you remember your mother teaching us about the different countries around the world?”

Francis chuckled at the memories, a sound that made Mary smile herself.

“If I recall correctly, you spent more time arguing about how silly learning was then actually learning anything.”

“That’s not true,” she argued lightly. “If I recall, it was you who orchestrated different ways to escape from the study. We always vowed we’d never come back from the secret passages, but we always did because we got hungry. Then we listened to lecturers from your mother all through dinner and your father would threaten a beating and then we’d behave.”

“Only for a day,” Francis laughed. “We must have been extraordinarily painful to raise.”

“Maybe that’s why your mother dislikes me now,” Mary nudged him with her elbow and pulled up short. “I’m sorry. I keep forgetting we’re not children anymore.”

“Mary,” Francis stopped and took both her hands, gazing into her eyes. Why oh why couldn’t he just pressure his father to move the engagement along? Why was he playing all these games with her? “When it’s just you and me, we can be and do whatever we like.”

“Thank you,” she smiled before dropping her gaze. It was much too intense to keep maintaining.

They reached the end of the garden and by that time, Mary was practically dragging her feet in the hopes to draw time out further.

“I guess I should probably return to the castle,” Mary mumbled, embarrassed by how obvious she was.

“Or,” Francis added, “you could join me for a sailing trip.”

Mary straightened, eyes bright.

“You always spoke about wanting to sail. You learnt to?”

“I did,” he told her and grasped her hand in his. “Come on, I’ll take you.”

 

********

 

It was an exhilarating experience. Mary’s hair whipped around her face as the small sailboat glided across the water. Francis stood at the opposite end, guiding and directing the boat. Mary could still see the land from which they set sail, but she didn’t mind. On this boat with Francis, she felt like they were the only two people in the world.

“You are quite amusing to watch,” Francis told her once the wind had settled and the boat moved much slower.

“Were you watching me?” she asked him and realised her obvious her flirting was, much too late. She looked down at her lap, feeling her cheeks go red.

“I don’t think you quite realise what an anomaly you are.” His voice was quiet and timid. Mary tried to meet his gaze, but he was gazing over the blue water of the ocean.

“I don’t quite know what that means.”

“It means that you’re the Queen of Scotland currently residing in a court of French nobles. You stick out like a sore thumb.”

Mary wasn’t quite sure if she should be pleased or offended by this comment so she chose to change the subject.

“This boat… did you make it?” She remembered how he often spoke of being a carpenter as a child. Plus, something about the boat had his name written all over it. Francis was pleased by her question and relaxed again.

“Yes, I did. How could you tell?”

She thought about telling him but chose to shrug instead. It was embarrassing how many memories she seemed to have of their childhood that he didn’t. Or maybe he did and he just wasn’t game enough to say anything. That wasn’t a risk she was going to take, though.

Francis tossed her an apple that she caught and turned in her hand.

“Where did you get this?”

“We passed a tree on the way to the boat. I thought we might get a little peckish and judging by the position of the son, I would say it’s time for dinner.”

Mary was pleased he picked only one apple and she enjoyed the time throwing the apple back and forth as they each took small bites. When it got closer to the core, she left the rest to him, declining any more. It was only an apple, but she had remarks mentioned to her about her weight and she didn’t want Francis to think she was gluttonous.

She leant over the edge of the boat and trailed her fingers through the water. It had a bite to it, but she couldn’t help but fantasise of submerging her whole body into it.

“The water looks so inviting,” she looked up at Francis who was watching her thoughtfully.

“Why don’t you jump in?” he suggested and furrowed his brow at her scoff.

“Me? A lady jump overboard? Do you know how much these dresses weight? I’d be drowned in no time.”

Francis glanced at the land which was much too distant to notice any details.

“I don’t think anyone would see you if you chose to take your dress off.”

Mary sat up abruptly, causing the boat to rock gently.

“Francis, are you just trying to see me naked?”

It was his turn to laugh as he stood up, quickly pulling his shirt over his hand and casting it on the floor of the boat.

“Wearing your underwear and being naked are not the same. Plus,” he smirked, “the Mary I know wouldn’t have even hesitated to break the rules placed on noble women.”

Casting a quick cautious gaze at the shore, Mary took Francis’ outstretched hand who pulled her to her feet. Trying not to pay much attention to his watching gaze, she reached back and quickly untied the back of her dress and climbed out of its restraining grip. She shivered at the air on the bare skin of her shoulders and back of the neck. Francis watched her fondly as she straightened her undergarments and took his hand.

“Can you still swim?” he teased and she pulled him overboard as she jumped into the inviting blue water.

At first, the water was bitter to the skin and when Mary came up for air, she could barely keep her teeth chattering. However, it wasn’t too long before she was swimming comfortably with Francis. They played some of the games they used to as children and Francis held her afloat as she laid on her back, eyes closed as she enjoyed the heat of the sun and the coolness of the water.

She didn’t know how long they spent paddling, splashing and joking together, but she was saddened when Francis sighed and looked at the boat which they had been careful to stay close to.

“I suppose we should get back before someone notices.”
 

“I think they’ll notice anyway,” she told him. “It’s going to be hard to miss two wet nobles running around the castle.”

He swam closer to her and she looked down at his nearness. She was usually an outgoing girl, but something about Francis made her shy and unsure.

“I don’t care if people notice,” he told her quietly. “Maybe it will make my father realise how badly we want this.”

“We?” she met his gaze at the pronoun. “You mean, you want it to.”

Francis cupped Mary’s face and rest his forehead on hers, causing shivers to run all through her body. It was all she could do to remember to keep her legs kicking to stay afloat.

“How could I not? I grew up with you, knowing that one day we’d be married.”

“But that hasn’t happened,” she points out.

“Not because I don’t want it to. As a queen, I’m sure you know what it’s like to sacrifice your own desires for the sake of your country.”

Feeling brave, she decided to be honest with him.

“I wish there was some way that my country’s needs could be compatible with my desires.”

“As do I,” Francis murmured, moving his face much closer.

Mary had never been kissed before and she felt unsure as Francis’ lips met hers and his hands tightened around her face. He leads the brushing of lips, softly encouraging her to return his soft affections.

She wasn’t sure how long they stayed there, kissing one another without harshness. Eventually, though, she had to pull away.

“Francis,” she whispered. “As much as I enjoy kissing you, I think you would prefer to kiss a girl who’s not drowned.”

He chuckled and planted the last kiss to her temple.

“Come, my Queen. Let’s go back to the castle and start a new wave of fresh gossip.”

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