“I could help, you know,” Elizabeth Woodville Grey Plantagenet, queen and witch, said to her husband the king.
She stabbed the needle into her embroidery as if she were stabbing a pin into a voodoo doll, which gave her a whole new idea, but one she’d have to set aside, as she now set aside her sewing, to give her entire attention to her tall, handsome and, above all, blonde husband.
“And what could you,” the king smiled fondly, “a mere weak woman, whose gentle mind would recoil to even think upon the horrors of war, whose soft hand is better suited to the tending of fevered children and the calming of the furious flesh of manic manhood, whose tender thoughts are more at home contemplating kittens and household accounts than the brutalities of battle, whose very nature would sicken and wither to meddle in the affairs of men, do?”
“Well,” she said cogitatively, “I am a witch. I could maybe do a spell. There’s a rather good one in mother’s spell book.” Her eyes twinkled wickedly at the thought. “I could raise a mist to confuse your enemies!”
“Ok, good,” Ned nodded. “But let’s just think that one through. Confusing my enemies is an excellent idea, really it is.” Ned never liked to just squash new ideas, even if they did come from weak, gentle, soft and tender minds. “Now, a mist would confuse my enemies how?”
“Well, they wouldn’t be able to see, would they?”
“Excellent, excellent! That would be useful, of course. I wouldn’t be able to see either, but, you know, maybe you don’t realise quite how important that might be. In a battle.”
Elizabeth the queen and witch looked at her tall, handsome and above all, blonde husband and sighed impatiently. His trouble was he had no imagination. “Ok,” she said. “Boils. The Earl of Warwick will hardly be able to sit on his horse if he has a backside covered with boils.”
“Fights on foot,” Ned said dismissively waving his hand dismissively.
“That three suns thing,” she said. “I’d have to look it up, but…”
“Been done,” he gainsaid her. “Anyway, I’d never get away with it a second time.”
“I could make it rain fish.” Now she was clutching at straws.
As he rode to Barnet, the king reflected on what had befallen him since last we saw him in the boat heading across the channel with his best friend, his brother and his brother-in-law, William, Richard or Dickon and Anthony. He’d got the boat to drop him off at Ravenspur and told everyone he was just there being Duke of York which, everyone agreed, he was entitled to be.
“No, I agree with you, really,” he said, smiling his genial smile and getting everyone to believe him, despite the fact that they weren’t entirely stupid. “I’m not king anymore. I’m cool with that.”
And he rode all the way to London saying the same thing and everyone nodded and said. “He’s just the Duke of York.” and “I must say, he’s taking all this rather well, considering.”
But now he was on his way to Barnet where he was going to stop just being Duke of York and start trying to be king again.
The other thing he reflected on was his younger brothers – the one, George, Duke of Clarence, and recently, despite his serial treachery and being not ten days ago firmly in cahoots with his father-in-law, that well known cousin and traitor, the Earl of Warwick, now on his side and the other, Richard or Dickon, Duke of Gloucester, frail and angelic® but quite unshakably loyal. He didn’t quite trust Clarence and had left him in a tavern within easy reach of a large jug of wine. Even if he did take it into his fuddled head to betray his brothers even now at the very last minute, he’d be so drunk, Edward hoped, that he wouldn’t get very far before he forgot what he was doing and lay down and had a little sleep. He smiled grimly, which he seemed to be doing a lot of these days, even his best friend commented on it. and kept on heading towards Barnet.
When he woke up in the morning, he couldn’t believe his eyes. And that was mainly because he couldn’t see his hand in front of them, so thick was the mist. Bloody hell! he thought. Does the woman not listen to a word I say?
Richard or Dickon, looking a little less frail and angelic® in armour than usual, came to him, lumbering through the mist in his armour.
“You ready, little brother?” Ned said grimly clasping his little brother’s frail and angelic® hand.
“I am indeed, my liege lord, brother and king.”
Ned clapped him on the shoulder, which was a little lower than the other one, not at all deformed or hunchbacked, despite what the Tudors were one day going to say, and smiled. Grimly. “You are a good brother and I’m glad I have you by my side.” His voice trembled with emotion and he noticed that Richard or Dickon blinked back sudden tears, which wasn’t at all weak and womanly but endearingly frail and angelic®.
Despite the mist – and he really was going to have to have a word with Elizabeth about that – Edward won the battle and looked down at the dead body of the slain Earl of Warwick and his brother, John.
“Ah, Richard or Dickon,” he said to his little brother who was standing nearby shedding yet another manly tear. “I wish it had been other.”
So did Richard or Dickon, who really had been fond of the Earl of Warwick.
Ned sighed wearily. “Well, no point hanging round here. I suppose we’d best get up to Tewkesbury.”
Richard or Dickon’s eyes glittered. The bitch’s whelp would be there, he trowed, and there would be a reckoning. Before the day was out – not actually that day, but the day he was thinking about – he’d have the lady Anne in his arms, both their heels grinding the face of her late husband into the dirt. I’ll show him who’s frail and angelic®, he thought.
At Sandwich, when she heard the news that her husband was dead, the pale and insipid Countess of Warwick thought. “I’d better go into sanctuary now. Just in case.” So she went into sanctuary and didn’t come out for a long time.
In Bristol, when Margaret of Anjou heard the news that her secret lover and real father of her son, Edward, Prince of Wales, was dead, she fell to the floor in a dead faint.
In Seaton Delaval when Isobel Inglodsthrope heard the news that her husband, who she truly loved, was dead, she rummaged in the back of her wardrobe and took out the sexy dancer outfit she’d surprised him by wearing and doing a sexy dance one night in the castle her husband was beseiging, ran her hand over the feathers and sighed. Now she’d have to find another husband and she bet he wouldn’t even be half as good.
In the English Channel, when the Bastard of Fauconberg heard the bad news from Barnet, he smiled secretly and called for Dakota FitzPercy. “Plan B.” he said to her, leering slightly because old habits have a habit of dying hard.
She nodded. Plan B, she thought, was perhaps her… Best. Plan. Ever.