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Kynges Games (4/4)

Title: Kynges Games
Author: lareinenoire
Characters: Ten, Martha, and an assortment of sixteenth-century people
Summary: September 1529. Why are there zombies in London? More importantly, who is creating zombies in London using a device from the fifty-first century? But when the Doctor and Martha find themselves in the middle of the biggest royal divorce case in English history, unexplained zombies are the least of their problems.
Rating: PG13
Prompt: There are peculiar alien goings-on at the court of Henry VIII, but the King hasn't noticed; he's more interested in this charming young woman who's appeared from nowhere, much to Anne Boleyn's annoyance.
Warnings: Zombies, bad puns, humanist jokes, Epic Legal Fail (Ecclesiastical), and unintentional drunkenness.
Notes: Bending canon a little, since the Doctor implies at the end of The Last of the Time Lords that they've never met Henry VIII. The title comes from a line in Thomas More's History of King Richard III.

Apologies for how long this took -- the past few weeks have been a bit mad for me. Many, many thanks to my lovely beta-readers rosamund, angevin2, and gileonnen. The entire fic is also archived at AO3.

Chapter 1: Two of Oure Companye Beynge Dead
Chapter 2: Pastime With Good Company
Chapter 3: The Black Knight



iv. Fortune è una donna

Martha had thought the King was joking about Wolsey's expensive tastes, but the moment they stepped through the doors of York Place, she realised it was all true. Leaning close to the Doctor, she murmured, "I guess it does pay to join the Church."

"Only sometimes," the Doctor said. "But when it does, boy does it pay well! I had dinner with Rodrigo Borgia once..."

"And?"

He grinned. "What happens in the Palazzo Borgia stays in the Palazzo Borgia, I'm afraid."1

They were shown into a massive, book-lined room. Wolsey was seated near one of the windows, apparently absorbed in writing a letter. "Ah." His smile was surprisingly friendly when he looked up at them. "Doctor. Thomas. Mistress Jones. I'm so glad you came."

"Master Cavendish didn't necessarily give us a choice," said More, his expression as forbidding as Wolsey's was not. "What are you about, Wolsey?"

"I knew you wouldn't understand, Thomas." A shadow passed over Wolsey's face. "I haven't the luxury of your principles."

"Principles, Wolsey, are no luxury--"

"They are when you're in my position," the Cardinal interjected, rising to his feet. "Thomas, I have no other choice."

"But to do what?" More burst out. "What is going on, Wolsey? Why are dead men walking in the streets of London? And what in God's name are those black knights from the Tower?"

"You know what they are, Thomas."

"But those aren't real," More insisted. "They can't possibly be real."

"Thomas, with all due respect, if one follows that logic, the Doctor can't be real either."

Both men now looked at the Doctor, who held up his hands apologetically. "I'm afraid I can't help you there. And this really can't go on. You, Your Eminence, are interfering with technologies you can't possibly understand."

"Then explain them to me, Doctor. Help me keep this realm from falling prey to damnation itself." Martha had to acknowledge that Wolsey had a brilliant sense of timing; he paused just long enough for both the Doctor and Sir Thomas to stare blankly at him before taking a breath and, meeting her eyes briefly, continuing, "You know of the Lutheran menace, Thomas. You are hardly blind to that heresy."

"You can't possibly believe--"

"The Lady Anne is sympathetic to their cause."

"But what exactly are you doing?" the Doctor said, eyes narrowed in puzzlement. "What do zombies and armoured robots have to do with Lutherans? Unless there's something I'm missing, and that doesn't generally happen."

Wolsey looked down at the paper he'd been scribbling on in writing that made some of Martha's fellow medical students' look legible and, after a moment's hesitation, back at the Doctor. "Doctor, if you were given the chance to give two of the most powerful men in the world precisely what they wanted without any bloodshed, wouldn't you do it?"

The Doctor, if anything, looked even more suspicious. "What do you mean?"

"His Majesty wants a divorce. The Pope wishes to stamp out the Lutheran heresy once and for all. Thomas," he added, his eyes moving to More, "you cannot tell me you disagree."

"With the former, most assuredly," More retorted. "There is no question whatsoever in my mind that Her Majesty is the King's lawful wife--"

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Thomas, but His Majesty will be marrying the Lady Anne, regardless of your opinion or mine. The question is how he will do so."

"The Pope would never--"

"He would, if I offered him the most powerful army in the world."

"Oh, no." The expression on the Doctor's face was so abjectly disappointed that Martha nearly winced, herself. "Always armies with you lot, isn't it? Always looking for the upper hand, always ready to stamp out someone else just because they don't agree with you! Haven't you ever listened to yourselves?"

"Oh, I listen, Doctor." Wolsey fixed him with a steady stare. "I listen well enough and often enough to know that there are good reasons why the saints--God keep them--do not live very long. We are imperfect beings and it is our lot to strive forever and fail on every attempt."

Is that your excuse?"

"It's the truth. Take it or leave it. And if offering this army to the Pope will end this Great Matter once and for all, it is a chance I am willing to take."

"You may be," said the Doctor quietly, "but I'm not."

There really didn't seem any good response to that, but Martha forced herself to step forward all the same. "I'm going to guess the King has no idea what you're doing. But Lady Anne knows."

Wolsey frowned at her for a second before exchanging glances with More. "Mistress Jones, I cannot even think why you're here, let alone what you mean."

"Because I'm a woman?" she demanded, hands on hips. "Oh, you've got no idea--"

"Martha," the Doctor warned, "space-time continuum."

"Oh, fine." Martha sighed. "But that doesn't change the fact that she knows something is going on and if you make us disappear or whatever it is you clearly want to do, she'll tell the King everything."

"You can't do this, Your Eminence," the Doctor said, an awful sort of compassion in his face. "I know you want to--I understand it better than anyone--and I know why you want to, but the consequences are too horrible to contemplate. Can you imagine what would happen if, of all the men in the world, King Henry the Eighth got himself an army that couldn't be defeated?2 You've known him as long as he's been King, Your Eminence. Even you have to know this is an awful idea."

"And what would you have me do instead, Doctor?"

The Doctor did not look away from him. "I am so sorry, Your Eminence."

"So am I, Doctor. However, I fear you're too late. The messenger left before you arrived."

Whatever the Doctor might have said to that was interrupted by the sound of someone clearing their throat. A footman stood in the doorway, looking intensely nervous. "Your Eminence..."

"Can't you see I'm busy?" snapped Wolsey.

"There's someone here to see you--"

"No need for that," the now-familiar woman's voice interjected from the shadows behind him as Anne Boleyn stepped into the room and drew back her hood, her smile positively predatory. In her hands was a letter bearing a broken wax seal. "I believe this belongs to you, Your Eminence?"

To Wolsey's credit, he did not flinch, though his face grew very pale and his hand clenched around the back of the chair. "My lady Anne."

"Indeed."

"You do understand that that letter would have given the King his divorce and you the crown of England?" He was looking at her the way someone might look at a snake. "You are acting against your own interests, my lady."

"Not at all, Your Eminence. An you give His Majesty his divorce, how am I to trust that you shall not pour your poison in his ears as you have done before?" Her dark eyes narrowed. "Nay, my lord. Like Lucifer, you shall fall."

"His was not the only fall, my lady. You would do well to remember that when you think to take that which is forbidden to you."

Her laughter seemed to ring in the air. "I somehow doubt the Princess Dowager would appreciate your attempt to champion her cause, Your Eminence. She hates you as I do. Indeed, it would seem to me that your enemies vastly outnumber your friends."

Wolsey's smile at that made Martha shudder. "I think you shall learn the same to your cost, Lady Anne."

The Doctor was looking between them, a frown pinched between his brows. "Right. Claws in, both of you. I've got work of my own to do here and it involves confiscating this." Reaching past Wolsey with one swooping motion, he snatched up an object Martha had originally thought was a letter opener, though a closer look revealed a suspiciously glowing stone at the centre of the hilt. With one zap from the sonic screwdriver, it went dark.

"Doctor, what have you done?" Wolsey froze, half-reaching for the device, as, in the corner, Master Cavendish slumped to the floor. Martha ran to his side and, rather to her relief, found his pulse more or less normal.3

He opened his eyes and stared blearily at her. "Am I dead?"

"Oddly enough, no," was Martha's reply before turning back to the Doctor. "Is that all? No more zombies?"

"Should do," the Doctor said, grinning. "Sir Thomas, I should think you can take it from here."

More had been watching the exchange between Lady Anne and Wolsey with increasing alarm and looked at the Doctor for several moments before finally speaking. "Take what where?"

"Figure of speech. Never mind. What I meant is that Martha and I can be on our way, if you don't mind. All of you," he added, eyeing Lady Anne warily. "It's better this way. I promise. Well, maybe not for all of you, but--"

Martha had reached out to put her hand over his mouth. "Space-time continuum."

"Do you ever plan to explain exactly what that is?" More wondered aloud.

"It would take far too long," the Doctor said, having disentangled himself from Martha with a rueful smile. "But, trust me. None of you actually wants Henry the Eighth to have an invincible army of dead people. Or the Pope. Or the King of France. Or anybody. Just think about it."

Anne shrugged, looking admittedly sheepish. Beside her, More gave an expressive grimace. "I think that's enough far-fetched fancy for one night."

It was only after they stepped out of the gates of York Place that Martha heaved a sigh of relief, at least until she remembered the shadow in the halls of Westminster Palace. "But what about the black knights?"

"There are only two left." More kept his eyes determinedly focused on the road before them. "Not enough, I think, to cause any harm."

"I might disable their mechanisms all the same," the Doctor mused. "Better to be safe, in case anyone gets any ideas." That last with a hairy eyeball in Anne's direction.

She shrugged gracefully. "I don't know what you mean."

"Don't you give me that. I know you too well, Anne Boleyn." With a wink at Martha and an irrepressible grin, he added, "You'd best watch your head."

Martha swatted him on the shoulder. "And don't try to tell me you don't deserve it because you do."

More just shook his head. "A man in a blue box who speaks only in riddles. Pity Master Vergil returned to Italy, else I could collect on my wager."4

"You wagered on me?" The Doctor wagged one finger at him. "That's not appropriate behaviour for a man of principles."

"I don't see how it isn't," More replied with an unexpected smile. "I'm only human, Doctor."

The Doctor fixed him with a long look. "That you are, Thomas More."

Lady Anne left them at the gates of Westminster, the Doctor warning her at least three separate times that she was not to breathe a word to the King. She had straightened, eyeing him coldly. "I keep my word, Doctor. For good or ill."

"Can't argue with that," the Doctor murmured as they watched her disappear into the courtyard. "Now, Martha Jones, had enough?"

"Of what? The sixteenth century or you?"

"Either. Both. Whatever you like!"

"Neither, but I don't trust you here," said Martha, mentally adding that she was decidedly sick of sixteenth-century fashion. "You might give away something important."

"So you do know the future, then, Doctor," More spoke up, visibly uncomfortable. "That was what I had heard."

"Speaking of what you heard, did you ever find your notes?" He gestured back over his shoulder at the receding city. "You never did tell me how you planned to end the History of Richard III."

"The only way it could possibly have ended, Doctor. The late king hacked to death in battle in Leicestershire." But he did not meet the Doctor's eyes. "There are some things, perhaps, that are best lost to time."

The Doctor's smile at that moment made Martha's heart lurch a little. "You've got far too much common sense to be Henry VIII's conscience."

"Someone must." More finally looked at him, lip caught between his teeth. "I have the feeling it does not bode well for me. Kings rarely think well of their consciences, in the end."

"Not how it works."

***


When they returned to the TARDIS, the Doctor drew a sheaf of yellowed pages out of his overcoat, prompting Martha's jaw to drop.

"You had them all along!"

"Not exactly," the Doctor demurred. "I grabbed them from Wolsey's desk as we were leaving. Couldn't help myself; I have to know how it all ends."

But Martha reached out and took them from him. "Do you really? I thought you liked surprises."

He hesitated, head tilted slightly to one side. "Good point. Seems to me I've got a trip to the fifteenth century in my future and it certainly wouldn't do to spoil it." He turned several gears and peered at the screen. "Where to next?"

Martha leant back against the control panel with a grin. "Someplace with running water, please. That's all I ask."

"As you wish, Martha Jones."

Finis.



___________________________________
1. Palazzo Borgia: This is probably better for everyone involved.
2. An army: Henry VIII invaded France no less than three separate times and he started his own religion when the Pope wouldn't let him have his way. What do you think would have happened?
3. Cavendish: It is the assertion of this fic that Cavendish conveniently left this bit out of his Thomas Wolsey late Cardinall, his lyffe and deathe. Possibly because he decided to repress his inadvertent stint as a member of the undead.
4. Wager: Because Thomas More would totally wager with Polydore Vergil on the existence of the Doctor. I must admit I am sort of picturing some form of anachronistic poker league with More, Vergil, and Erasmus, where More has an awesome poker face, Vergil is the guy who won't shut up, and Erasmus gets annoyed every time anybody bluffs.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
persiflage_1
May. 2nd, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
Aw, shucks, it's over... 'twere good fun, while it lasted my liege.
lareinenoire
May. 2nd, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm very glad you enjoyed it!

(And I hope you don't mind how short it was and how long it took me to finish the last bit; I'm doing au_bigbang and finishing that fic ate my life for about two weeks.)
persiflage_1
May. 2nd, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Heh, don't worry about it - I know very well how that goes...
gileonnen
May. 2nd, 2010 02:42 pm (UTC)
This was tremendous fun! I love Martha's last line and More's sensible commentary and how, in fine Ten form, the Doctor gave Wolsey a chance to recant while he still could. This was a splendid adventure, and I'm glad to have read it. ^__^
lareinenoire
May. 2nd, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Poor Martha! I get the impression she really enjoys meeting brilliant, famous people, but that medical degree probably makes her shudder every time she's in a time without modern medicine!
yalegirl03
May. 2nd, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
Oh :( It is over. Lovely story. It read better than any episode of Who that I've seen. I loved it! Poor Martha and those head dresses. I hope that she got some aspirin.
lareinenoire
May. 2nd, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
I'm sure she did, sooner or later. ;) And thank you so much for reading!
tempestsarekind
May. 2nd, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
(I wish I had a more cheerful Ten-and-Martha icon from "The Shakespeare Code.")

Yay! That is my incredibly erudite comment on this fic. :) And also, awww, Thomas More. Poor dear.

Also, I love the last footnote. Hee.
lareinenoire
May. 3rd, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
I just love the idea of More, Vergil, and Erasmus just hanging out and being dorks at each other. Because I really think they would.
tempestsarekind
May. 3rd, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
I mean, didn't More and Erasmus do that anyway? :)
ressie_noldo
May. 2nd, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
This was enormous fun to read. You win!
torn_eledhwen
May. 3rd, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
Very good! I loved the voices of all the characters, and the atmosphere, and the intelligent humour. :)
snorkackcatcher
May. 21st, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC)
Heh, very neatly done and the Doctor was very right about not trusting anyone with the zombie army. And Martha was very right about not trusting him to keep his mouth shut :)

(Although I do sometimes wish they'd do a historical story with no alien technology other than the Doctor's in it again for a change ...)
lareinenoire
May. 21st, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
Well, Ten isn't exactly known for being able to keep his mouth shut, is he? ;)

(Although I do sometimes wish they'd do a historical story with no alien technology other than the Doctor's in it again for a change ...)

It would make a nice change, though he'd have to go there deliberately and either just observe (which we know he can't do because he's just like that, regardless of incarnation) or get involved with something without changing the outcome. I'd definitely be curious to see it if they manage it.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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I tolerate this century, but I don't enjoy it.

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