The royal family is gathered at Sheen for Christmas
“Wake up! There is a fire!”
This time, the lighter sleepers came fully awake as they realized the danger they were in.
“The children,” Elizabeth grabbed the woman closest to her. It was Jayne. “See to the children.” Suddenly, having her entire family gathered in one household seemed most ominous. Jayne rushed from the room, trusting that her queen could see to herself. Smoke billowed in and filled the room when she opened the door.
As soon as Jayne disappeared, the doorway was filled with men who had been sent to escort the women to safety. Elizabeth was able to breathe her first sigh of relief because their presence indicated that Henry was aware of the fire and would have made it outside himself. At least she would have sighed in relief if she could breathe. The air in the room had become opaque and she choked on the hot, thick smoke.
“My children,” she said to the man who took her arm. She recognized him as one of Henry’s household knights.
“They are outside,” he reassured her, carefully keeping his eyes straight ahead. His honor would not allow him to look upon his queen in her nightshift, even if she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.
“He is good, but he expects us to do our part,” the knight said, propelling her forward. He seemed to have a sixth sense that allowed him to navigate the corridors in the darkness of night and confusion of smoke and fumes. “We must get you to the courtyard.”
They were almost there. Elizabeth could almost taste the cool, fresh night air on her tongue. The gallery was in flames that appeared impassable, and Elizabeth prayed nobody was trapped within it. Before she could complete the thought, she saw that someone was making their way through the hungry flames that licked at every surface. A figure, their identity hidden by the tapestry that was thrown over them as poor protection against the blaze, jogged along the gallery, dodging falling timbers and plaster. Elizabeth felt remorse for this man, who would likely die though he was making a valiant effort. Then the tapestry slipped for a moment from his head. It was Henry.
The ceiling of the gallery collapsed with a roaring crash.