Margaret, Queen of Anjou and England, was feeling quite seriously triumphant. She sat her son down on a little chair in her tent on the edge of the battlefield of St Albans, which was a street really, and had a long and serious talk with him.
“You know you’re going to be king some day, Edouard,” she said, her voice very serious. “Well zere are some zings a king as to do zat e may find… distasteful. And after we win zis battle, you are going to ave to do some of zem.”
Prince Edward looked at his mother, trying to figure out what an earth she was talking about. “Yeah, like?”
“Like maybe zere will be some bad men oo need zeir eads chopping off,” the queen intoned. “And you will ave to make ze decision. Your… fazer always finds zat difficult, but ee is a weak and saintly king. You will not be, you will be strong and ruzless. So when ze time comes for ze eads to be chopped off, I want you to enjoy it.”
“Sure,” Edward said with a shrug. “Whatever.”
And now, Margaret thought, her mind glinting like a piece of polished steel caught in moonlight. Eet ees time to come face to face wiz my lover. Only one of us can triumph ere and if I ave anyzing to say about it, it will be me!
Edward IV, Earl of March, sat on a fallen log he’d very carefully brushed the snow off of in Wales and looked up into the sky. Things weren’t going well. Quite apart from the news from Wakefield, which had seriously bummed him out, he was cold and miserable. He’d much rather be indoors in the warm, preferably surrounded by women of easy virtue who could keep him warm and amused at the same time. He liked being warm and he very much liked being amused. With a heavy sigh he heaved himself up and went into his tent. He’d think about it all tomorrow, after a good night’s sleep.
St Albans, scene of his youthful glory, was set out in front of him, its streets leading to other streets and over there was the sign of the Castle pub where he’d once had some very good beer and killed the Duke of Somerset. Happy days! The Earl of Warwick knew the queen was on her way and he wasn’t sure how he felt about it. His heart trembled at the though of her at the same time as it hardened itself against her and he knew he’d have to beat her even though secretly he just wanted to hold her in his arms and whisper her name over and over. Margaret. Margaret. Margaret, Margaret. Margaret. Like that.
He’d surrounded the town with wicked spikey defences, all except one bit where he didn’t think the queen would come. Just my luck, he thought ruefully, she’ll choose that way!
Yesterday he’d got a letter from her that he still treasured because it was from her, but he didn’t believe a word of it. Come to me my darling, it read, and we will togezer rule Angleterre. You and me, zere will be nozing we can’t do. But it was too late. He thought of his father’s lifeless eyes and blamed her for it and that meant he couldn’t just put it all behind him like she wrote in her letter and move on. He crumpled the letter in his hand like his hopes were crumpled and swore that he would win this battle just to show her!
“I will win this battle!” he swore softly. “And then you will see!”
John Neville lay in his tent on his back his arms behind his head and his head on his arms his eyes closed and his mind casting back to the last time he was with his beautiful wife Isobel who he adored and whose ground he worshipped that she walked on. It was difficult being away from her but if he and his big brother, Warwick who he also adored but in a totally different way could win this battle, he might be home before dark. That was something pleasant to think about instead of all this killing which he hated despite the fact that he was seriously good at it. I’ll just have to kill them quickly, he thought, get it over with.
“Shit!” the Earl of Warwick ejaculated when he worked out the next day that the queen, his lover and nemesis, was coming just exactly the way into St Albans that he feared she would but thought maybe she wouldn’t. “This is not good!”
“Bugger!” John Nevill said when he realised that he was about to be captured for the second time in two years, which, things being how they were, was pushing the odds a bit if he wanted his head not to be chopped of, which it wasn’t, luckily. “This is definitely not good!”
The king was singing softly to himself, trying to get the nice men who were with him to join in, but they didn’t know the words. It had been a lovely afternoon, sitting under a tree, watching the flowers grow and the birds sing. He liked birds.
“Looks like we’ve lost this one,” Lord Bonville said. “We’ve been doing a lot of that lately.”
“Never mind,” the king sang harmoniously. “Everything will be all right.”
In his mother’s the queen’s tent at the edge of the battlefield, Prince Edward was practising ordering people’s heads to be chopped off. He was getting good at it and couldn’t wait to do it for real. His mother was watching him proudly and thinking to herself. Hah! she thought. Your fazer, your real fazer, would be proud to see you now, non? I cannot wait to see ees face when ee meets the monster I ave created! Ha ha ha! When her thoughts were interrupted by someone at the door.
“Your majesty,” bowing deeply the soldier at the door said. “Got a surprise for you. Someone here to see you. I think you’ll like it.”
Ze Earl? she thought jumping to her feet and conclusions in excited expectation. Ee is ere?
But it wasn’t it was just the king.
“Oh,” she said. “Eet ees you.”
“They sky is exploding!” one of Edward Earl of Marches soldiers said panicking. “The sun is three suns now and we’re all going to die!”
“Calm down,” he said. “That’s God that is, you know the trinity. And it means someone else is going to die. Come on!”
So they went and the Tudors got their arses kicked but not enough of them because people are still going on about them now as if they were some kind of great heroes when really they were just overblown oiks who got lucky.
“Father?” Prince Edward said looking at the strangely shabby man with the aura of piousness who stood in the doorway.
“Go outside and play, Edouard,” Margaret said dismissively. “I ave to talk to your… fazer.”
“But there’s nothing to do!” the prince whined.
“Go and find some men oos eds need chopping off,” his mother dismissed him.
So he went outside and found some men whose heads needed chopping off and chopped them of. Unreal! he thought. This is the coolest thing ever!
“All right, men,” Edward IV of March said. “We’re off to Towton to meet the Earl of Warwick!”
They all cheered raggedly because they were tired and they adored him because he was tall and handsome.
Right, bitch! the Earl of Warwick thought savagely. Think you can beat me? Well, hang onto your hat and fasten your seatbelt, sister. You ain’t seen nothing yet!