B/c I have a soft spot for Catherine of Aragorn! I was going through old works and found this!
The bells were ringing.
Just like before.
They had been ringing when Anne left England- when she had been sent to France. Bells meant two things in England. Either death or a birth related to the monarchy. But when she had left, the bells had been celebrating the birth of yet another royal child of King Henry and the Spanish Infanta: Queen Catherine. She wondered idly if the people of England ever got tired of them. Though she doubted anyone would have the nerve to ever voice it if they did. For certainly it seemed to be a rather common occurrence. To hear them upon her return was downright nostalgic. She even heard the French king complain about the excess of the English court. Not that anyone seemed to be complaining.
The whispers regarding the death of the first child born to Queen Catherine had put the young queen in a precarious situation. For all her noble blood, a queen who didn't produce an heir was just about useless. Though both Henry and Catherine were still young; rumors swirled. After all, a royal family needed as many heirs as it could get. The Tudor reign was young. Vulnerable. Without a presumptive heir- a son; it was weak. Open to rebellion and claims to the throne. It had been said the Catherine spent hours and days on her knees praying. She sought out a never ending supply of priests to sit with her, pray with her and bless her. And though no one out right said it- out of desperation it was implied that perhaps Catherine had visited all sorts of doctors. Legitimate and even possibly heretics. However, such things would ever be voiced publicly. Even if someone dared, Catherine had royal blood in her veins. To accuse her of such things was surely a death sentence. So, Anne didn't know what was the truth. But whatever the Spanish Queen had done; it had worked.
When the Queen fell pregnant again, everyone was wary. For the stigma of a still born child would never leave her.
But by the grace of God or something else entirely, the Queen then gave birth to a healthy child. A favored boy. Anne had heard the bells rang for a full fortnight! And then subsequently, Catherine spent the better part of the next decade being pregnant. With 3 royal princes and almost as many princesses, Anne wondered how the queen could even stand it. The sheer number of births was astounding she told her herself shuddering. Either the king was unusually fertile or the queen was now prone to pregnancy at even the slightest touch. Perhaps even both she chuckled to herself. She supposed it was a reason why everyone in England seemed happy. A clear line of succession solidified power which in turn meant a happy king. And a happy king meant a happy kingdom.
But of course there was always more salacious gossip swirling about. One, the king had quite the wandering eye. For all his proclamations of love and devotion, it seemed to waver every time a particularly pretty lady entered his court. However, if it bothered the queen- she didn’t let it show. No, the queen seemed to stand taller and raise her chin a bit higher. It seemed the beloved queen refused to let it diminish her. Anne didn’t where Catherine got the strength to close her eyes and endure all the humiliations but she couldn’t help feel a glimmer of respect for her.
And the second? More interesting? Which in her opinion was always better. After every birth, the court was 'cleansed'. For every successful birth, all those ladies the Queen didn't like or suspected of catching her husband's eye would be effectively banished from court. The queen would ask this and the king would not deny her. It didn't matter how well established, pretty or young they were. They would be in no uncertain terms be asked to leave. A peace offering and small token of affection to his bountiful bride. Had the Queen not fulfilled her duty so many times over? It was hard to argue with the results since the shrieks of children echoed loudly throughout the halls of court.
But Anne could see that it was more than a simple gesture. For the king it meant another heir to add to his growing brood. No one would advise against the king in this matter. After all, what did the Queen ever really ask for? The queen had her fears assuaged for a time and the king got a new batch of fresh playthings. Though in her opinion, the King of course had a greater advantage but then again when did he not? Anne scoffed lightly at the continuing bells and flashed a pleasant smile to a passerby who looked at her suspiciously. As she moved through the crowds, her skirts swirling delicately behind her, her eyes took in the wine that was flowing freely and music that filled the streets. The loud boasts of how blessed England was. Her ears perked up at the mention of the heir.
Henry, Duke of Cromwell- otherwise known more affectionately as Hal.
Which is why Anne was here.
From what she had heard from letters from her father and uncle, the young prince was just recently a new fixture at court. She had been told he was tall, handsome and just a few years older than her. With an easy smile and his father’s red hair. Educated with a sharp wit that seemed to charm all the ladies at court. Her father’s standing had been rising steadily in her time away, but it had dropped considerably with her sister Mary being sent away in one of the “cleansings”. It didn’t matter that she bore the king a son. He was illegitimate and the king would never acknowledge him. Much less claim him. Not when he had real children by his actual wife. But Anne was not here for him. No, not at all.
After all, who wanted a king that was fickle and tumultuous when the future of England - a perfectly good single prince was available?
So in this timeline, all the children Catherine had after the 1st one survived. Based on the actual dob's in history- it lined up more or less. So slight change!