A Carol in Autumn (Henry V fanfic)

A Carol in Autumn is an ~6000 word piece of fan fiction from Shakespeare’s Henry V, following the lines of the 1989 movie, featuring Henry and the French herald Montjoy. It’s on the sweet side, sex is implied but not shown. It takes place year after Agincourt, in England. Warning: Contains footnotes and takes liberties with history. Kind of like Shakespeare.

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Battle scene; from Johannes de Thwrocz, Chronica Hungarorum, Augsburg (Ratdolt) 1488. From the Medieval Woodcuts Clipart Collection

A Carol in Autumn

Faint singing filtered up from somewhere below–a song Montjoy didn’t know. He huffed in irritation and tried to ignore the words.

He had no room for songs. He was juggling reports, letters, and records in three different languages–English, his native French, and Latin. The last thing he needed was more words in his head.

The tune wasn’t familiar at all. Damnable snatches of it came creeping into his mind, despite his efforts to ignore the singing. He translated without much thought. Something about victory and someone comely.

Sweet Jesu, the English and their singing. Montjoy rolled his eyes. Only alone did he indulge in that act of petulance–it was an unseemly thing. He never let himself be seen irritated in public, partly for Harry’s sake. Though, if he were being honest with himself, it was mostly out of pride.

He was irritated, though. And thoroughly alone.

Harry had left him to his work, and had joined those below, hours and hours ago.

The King was in a mood. In the past several months, Montjoy had learned that sometimes the best remedy for a moody English King was an absent French Herald.  Oft times, his presence soothed. But there was Harry and there was the King. Today there had been more King than Harry.

So Montjoy had suggested that he might have much work to do well into the evening hours. And the King had seemed disposed to spend the day with his comrades rather than be Harry with Montjoy. So, without much discussion, they had departed from one another.

When Harry returned, they would speak and all would be well. At least, that’s what Montjoy told himself. He wasn’t entirely sure if he was being honest or not.

He picked through the desk of papers, found the one he wanted–a letter from the Duke of Burgundy. He read it, considered what the Duke was asking, read between the lines, then picked up his quill pen and focused. But the song snuck in. Call and safely sing?

There was cheering from below. The tune had come to an end. For now.

Montjoy set his pen aside. It would never do if he started copying the words to the latest song into his report. Or worse–into a treaty. Once he knew how the song went, he could ignore it, but before that? Well, words were his vocation. He had been trained to listen and so he did. Alas, sometimes too well.

He waited and listened as he had been taught. They would repeat the whole thing again–they always did for new songs.

He hadn’t imagined that Harry would like singing. But then, he hadn’t imagined so many things–like sitting in the rooms of an English king. Or calling that King Harry while sitting in the King’s rooms. Or being vaguely annoyed at being left alone in those rooms by that King, Harry.

Montjoy flicked a glance over his papers. He had asked for that, though. He was still Herald–that had not changed–and there would always be labor for Herald from Kings. He was also upfront enough to admit that the work helped sooth him when he was in a mood. For sometimes he was taken to be more Herald than Montjoy.

Like tonight. If he were being honest with himself.

Below, they started singing once more. He caught the meaning of the chorus immediately

Deo gratias. Give thanks to God.

Not a bawdy song then. The next words set his heart beating wildly.

Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria. England, give thanks to God for victory.

He rose from the desk, took two steps toward the door.

What day what this? He had been so busy lately he hadn’t bothered to look. He only knew it was Sunday, for they had heard Mass in the morning. Even then, he hadn’t paid attention, his mind too focused on the long list of tasks Harry had set before him.

Had he been so engrossed with work that he had forgotten the date? The Harry had seemed a bit pensive, but it was autumn after all and winter had been making himself known across the land.

Montjoy took a breath. It was autumn.

A curse–in French–ran through his mind, but did not settle on his lips. Another bit of Herald’s craft, to keep his own speech inside. One more step took him closer to the door–closer to joining them downstairs, but the song’s verse–in English–rooted him to the floor.

Our King went forth to Normandy
With grace and might of chivalry
There God for him wrought marvelously
Wherefore England may call and cry: Deo gratias!

Dear God in Heaven, he had forgotten. The shame of it nearly took his legs. But he had been trained to stand–and stand well–through whatever emotions might play in his mind. So he stood still, listened, and remembered.

They had met before that fateful trip to England, of course, but only briefly. Henry, fourth of that name, had been the King and Harry but the unfavored son. It had been rumored that the King would pass over Harry and leave the crown to the Duke of Clarence.

Everything Montjoy saw and heard during his visits supported that rumor. Harry was a naught but an idle son who spent time in the bawdy houses in the company of thieves and cutpurses. Montjoie de Saint Denis had little time for flippant rouges, even ones with brilliant blue eyes.

It was almost a surprise when he became King. When word came of England’s preparation for war, the French court scoffed. An idle and frivolous boy make war with France? Then his English counterpart had brought a letter that metered out Henry’s demands and they could no longer ignore this new Henry.

It was the Dauphin who answered–for King Charles had taken another fit–and it was Montjoie de Saint Denis who he sent as ambassador. It should have been an easy task, but in the time it had taken Montjoy to stride from the door of the throne room into the King’s presence, he saw that France had been terribly wrong about Henry, Fifth of that name.

Worse for Montjoy, Harry had been stunning to behold.

He set siege, forsooth to say,
To Harfleur town with royal array;
That town he won and made afraid
That France shall rule until domesday. Deo gratias!

When the news of Harfleur had come to the court, the King–his King–the French King, damn it all–had sent him to the English. The roads. The miles. The rain.

He had found the English King on the road, soaked to the bone, his golden hair darkened and plastered to his head by rain and the march. There had been tears in his eyes.

Henry had just hanged a man and had been in sore pain for doing so.

Montjoy hadn’t wanted to deliver the message, not out of fear but from a sudden desire not to trouble Henry anymore that day. But the King, with no more than a tired nod, had bid him to it.

By a swinging corpse, the Herald had hurled down the words of the French King, given voice the the French demands and threats and claimed that this English King had betrayed his followers.

Afterward, when the King should have given retort, should have railed back, he had not. No, he had asked for his name.

And Montjoy had given him the name they all called him, though had he been honest, it was not his name at all.

It was now. Harry would call him not else, though he knew the truth. Montjoy had tried to persuade the king otherwise, but each attempt had met with failure. When ‘ere Montjoy dared broached the subject, it was with a cocky smile and twinkling eyes that King Henry reminded him that he had, in fact, asked Herald for his name. And Montjoy was what Herald had replied, so Montjoy he would be.

The man named Montjoy took a breath, exhaled. Steadied himself to listen to the next verse.

Then went him forth, our king comely,
In Agincourt field he fought manly;
Through grace of God most marvelously,
He had both field and victory. Deo gratias!

Well, Harry was comely. That had been the second thing he had noted about the English King during those steps across the throne room. He had met many a handsome noble as Herald but had never before wanted to know exactly what was beneath those very fine breeches.

And the Dauphin had sent Henry tennis balls, of all things.

Montjoy was losing the battle with his legs to remain upright. Sometimes even the best training failed. He backed up, each step more unsure than the last, until he felt the chair behind him. He sank onto that.

And yes, Henry was victor that day, though the King had not known until after he had thrown a certain Herald to the ground in such a fury that Montjoy had thought–just for an instant–that he would die before he could ask for succor to count and bury their dead.

The French dead. His people. God in Heaven, so many had died.

Montjoy looked at his fingers. Ink spotted his right index.

Harry had other victories that day, too.
Well, the Gospels did extort that one should love thy enemy. They had oft joked about that, later.

Montjoy rubbed a trembling hand over his face. How could he have forgotten the date?

Their lords, earls and barons
Were slain and taken and that full soon,
And some were brought into London
With joy and bliss and great renown. Deo gratias!

Montjoy found it difficult to breathe. Good that he was alone, for these words had undone him, he who was a master of languages.

He had overseen the count that day, had walked the field with the other marshals and heralds. He was, after all, Montjoie de Saint Denis, French King of Arms. It was his duty. He knew their losses keenly, knew many of the men by face. He had watched the Constable of France die, even as he tried to lead him to safety, still saw those lifeless eyes sometimes.

It had been almost too much to bear. It would have been easier to count the living and subtract, so many had died.

Those numbers he did give to the English King, as well as the number of the English losses, though Henry had a herald of his own to do that task. But the King of England had asked for him, and so he had gone. He, a Frenchman, sat surrounded by the enemy with only the Duke of Exeter between him and their King. Henry had read the numbers and names of the French dead with sadness, not joy.

It made no sense. It made every sort of sense. That was Harry.

Montjoy, too had gone to London with the prisoners, though not as captive. King Henry spoke little French, needed someone who did. Or, so the King had said when he demanded the French King of Arms to attend him.

The English heralds knew French. King Henry knew French, for had written his initial demands in that tongue by his own hand. But who would gainsay the King of England now?

All through the trip, the hatred in the stare of the Dauphin felt as if it would bored a hole through Montjoy. He knew, of course, why King Henry had asked for Montjoie de Saint Denis. What a talented tongue you must have, Herald.

Harry’s French pronunciation was horrible, though. But the man could read and write like he had been born in France. And you could almost pass as English, my dear Montjoy!

Almighty God he keep our king
His people and all his well willing
And give him grace without an ending
That may we call and safely sing: Deo gratias!

More cheers from below. The pounding of hands.

Montjoy closed his eyes. They had been so very soundly defeated by Great Henry Plantagenet one year ago today.

And Montjoy, French King at Arms had forgotten. The shame was almost overwhelming. Not for the dead, nor for those ransomed, nor his countrymen, nor the land that gave him birth. But for what had happened afterward–the very reason he was here in England.

Though, if he were being completely honest–not a day went by when he didn’t remember.

It was not the event, but the date of which he had lost track.

Jesu have mercy, had it been a year already?

♕♕♕

Just after sunset, after they had finished burring as many of the dead as they could in the waning autumn light, the English King had demanded–for no reason at all–the presence of the French Herald, called Montjoy.

The Dauphin had railed against it, but he was captive now and had no say in it. Neither, for that matter, did Montjoy.

So he washed and dressed and went, still shaken from the events of the day, to the tent of the English King. Over a small supper, and while sitting on stools, they began the task of drawing up ransom for the surviving French nobles, including the Dauphin.

Perhaps it was the wine, the strangeness of the entire situation, or the casual air of the King, but he found himself unexpectedly giving voice to the question at the forefront of his thoughts. “Surely William Bruges is capable of such and undertaking? Why–” And then his mind caught up with his mouth, for you did not question the actions of a King. Especially when that King was your enemy.

Even if you liked that King. God help him.

“He is quite capable.” Spoken softly, those words held amusement, not anger. “But I like your French better, Montjoy.”

“Pardon, Majesty.” Oh, the curve of the King’s mouth, how his name sounded from those lips. Warmth rose to his face.

The King waved the offense off, then stood. In the lamps of the tent, Henry was golden. Cleaned of the blood and gore of the day, his hair shone nearly as brightly his belt and livery collar. His eyes, though, were dark. Montjoy preferred them blue, as they were in the light of day.

That thought, coupled with the others, froze his pen hand. The pacing of the King gave him an excuse to set the quill down, allowed him to dissemble his own feelings. Admiration for Henry was one thing, what he felt within was another matter entirely.

The King came to an abrupt halt and turned those dark eyes on him. “Do you fear me, Herald?”

Yes. Every moment he spent with the King, he feared his impassive mask would crack. But Montjoy the Herald had a proper answer as well. “I have only twice feared for my life in your presence, Majesty.”

“Once was this afternoon, I should think.” Regret in those words.

“You had just cause to be angry.”

“You were an unarmed man, come in peace.”

Montjoy said nothing, for silence was as much a tool of diplomacy as voice.

A chuckle from from the King. He knew the tricks, too. “But what of the other time?”

Ah. “When I do rouse me in my throne of France.” Montjoy watched the King.

Henry nodded. “I was angry then too, but at the message and the sender. Never at the exceptional messenger that bore it.”

Montjoy snatched a breath of air, then smoothed over his expression. Exceptional?

The king paced again, so there was reading his face, no telling if he had caught Monjoy’s moment of surprise or seen past the carefully constructed facade. Henry walked behind Montjoy, out of his sight.

A moment later, the king rested his hands on Montjoy’s shoulders.

He froze beneath that touch, every limb suddenly afire. So, the King had noticed. Even through his tabard and gambeson, he felt the heat of Henry’s body against his back. Montjoy trembled, though he tried in vain not to. Oh yes, he feared this King.

“What do the French think of me? Tell me truthfully.”

Montjoy fought through lightheadedness to answer. “They think you a conquerer.” A gentle squeeze told Montjoy his Majesty expected more than that. “Some wish for your death. Others do not–for your victory was as if given from God and our King–”

Montjoy cut himself off. That was too close to treason to say.

“Soft, Montjoy. There are aught but the two of us here. Speak freely. I will not tell your words to another.”

He spoke again but at a much more careful pace. “Our King is a good man, well loved. But his is ill now and ill-used by those he trusts.” He paused, considered his next sentence while the King idly rubbed his shoulders.

It was very hard to think through that.

But he was Herald and had composed his words though much less pleasant distractions. “You have shown strength of mind and body. And great grace, too. More so than the Dauphin.” It was easier to call the King’s son Dauphin than Prince. There was little princely about the man.

“Your Dauphin thinks me an untried youth.”

“He thought you an untried youth. I do not think he can make that mistake now.” Not when he sat as a prisoner of war. It might actually do the haughty man some good.

Henry laughed and rubbed his his thumb against Montjoy’s neck. That touch caused more, much more, than his face to alight. Thank God the tabard of his office was knee-length. A gulp of air did much to calm his thoughts. His body? Well that was another matter entirely.

His calm shattered completely when the King bent forward and their cheeks brushed together. So close, he could scent traces of the herbs that must have accompanied the King’s bath. Lavender, of all things.

“And you?” Henry said. “What do you think of me?”

Surely the King could hear the thundering of his heart. Montjoy swallowed, his mouth suddenly very dry. There were no protocols for this, no tricks on which to fall back. No possible way to dissemble.

“Montjoy?” A whisper against his ear. “I will have your answer.”

“I think–” The response came, more clearly that he ever could have hoped for. “I think you are a great conqueror too, Henry, King of England.”

A rueful sigh. “That is the herald speaking, not the man.” Hot breath across his cheek.

“Not so. For surely–” Montjoy caught his breath and dared speak the next words. “–you have captured me.”

“Ah, is it so?” Henry touched his lips to his cheek. “Good.”

After a moment of silence, Montjoy spoke. “What is your pleasure?” He knew, of course, what would come next. He was but a herald–King of Arms, yes–but a herald, nonetheless. Bound to obey kings.

The King straightened and let go of his shoulders before he slipped around the stool. He took a seat on the edge of the table before Montjoy. “That depends entirely upon you.”

The earth must have shifted a little, for he could not have heard the King correctly. Or he had misunderstood his English. “Pardon?”  That word came out in French.

The King smiled, but that faded before he spoke. “You may, if you so choose, depart now without reprisal. Nor will I think any less of you for it. Or you may stay, if you so wish.” Henry looked toward the flap of the tent and shrugged. “The former is likely to be your best course of action. For the latter, I think, might bring you much trouble.”

Free to leave. Encouraged, even. Montjoy followed the King’s gaze to the opening of the tent. All he had to do was rise and bid his Majesty good night.

He turned back to the King. “But why offer me this?” Incredulousness was not an emotion a herald should ever share with a king, but they had walked so far past the line of propriety and decency that it mattered not.

The King straightened his back and looked down at him. “You are a good and honorable man. I would rather you remain so.” The king touched the crowned swan hung from his linked collar.  “I could not live with myself knowing you felt ill-used because the weight of my crown forced you to a place you did not wish to be.” He stood, put more distance between them. “Stay or go, gentle herald. The choice is entirely yours.”

The Herald in Montjoy fought with the man. The wisest course of action was to rise and depart as the king had suggested. He had gained the knowledge of this King’s heart and his place in it, he could take that and go. A bittersweet ending, but one where his loyalty would never be tested. The safe path.

Or he could stay. That path was fraught with peril and divided loyalties. With suspicion, hints of treason, and certain malice on the part of the French court–the English court as well, no doubt. He would gain more than knowledge of the King’s heart–oh how much he desired that–but for how long? Kings must surely be wed. That was another thorny road, past the one he already looked upon. No, the Herald said to the man, best not to hazard that path. Take the other road.

Montjoy glanced up at the king and caught–just for a fraction of a moment–Henry’s unmasked emotions before the king turned away.

It was easy to forget Henry’s age, for he had mastered statecraft beyond his eight and twenty years. But Montjoy had seen something in the younger man for a moment. Love–God only knew why–and longing too. A terrible worry and great sadness.

The King, it seemed, already knew the content of Montjoy’s answer and it had shattered his heart.

In that instant, the man won out over the Herald. “Then, I will stay.”

There. Done. God help them both.

He watched the King turn and look at him as if he had just grown three heads. Again, Montjoy glimpsed the man beneath the crown. That man looked as if heaven had just opened up to him.

He couldn’t help the small smile.

“And now it’s my turn to ask. Why?” Consternation and confusion. Henry wore it well. Imperially, even.

The King might not like the truth, but if this arrangement were to have any hope at all, there could be no lies between them, at least in private. “Because it seems, Dread King, I was not the only one to get themselves captured today.”

It was the King who froze and the King who answered. “You will never say that to anyone, Herald.” But then, a moment later, Harry shrugged. “Though you do have the right of it.”

“It shall never leave my lips again.”

After a long stretch of silence, the king chuckled. His mouth lifted into a crooked grin. “In faith, I only ever rehearsed up to the gentle herald part. I was so sure you would go.”

“Yet here I am.” Montjoy folded his hands into his lap. “It’s good practice for a King to think on his feet.”

“Ever the herald.” The King strode forward. “Then get you to your feet, Montjoy, and let us see what this King can think to do.”

Montjoy stood, though he was not sure he could, for his heart pounded faster than a charger’s hooves. But the King was there and pulling his mouth down to his. Then leading him across the tent, pausing to divest him of his tabard and gambeson and the thin shirt under those.  A glittering belt and collar followed. Majestic red cote and fine linen shirt as well.

Montjoy’s boots were a minor struggle, coming beyond his knees as they did.

Harry muttered a curse. “‘You need shorter boots.”

“Try riding around all of Europe several times in short boots, then tell me so.”

Harry laughed and pushed him over for that. But the boots came off, as did everything else.

And far into the night, Montjoy discovered that this King could be quite inventive indeed.

♕♕♕

Below, they had sung the tune several more times before moving onto something else.

Montjoy had never regretted the choice he had made. Even now, in a room lit only by the dying coals of the fire, guilt affixing him to his chair, he did not regret. Mourned the dead, yes. Felt keen shame in his forgetfulness. But regret? No.

Oh, it was hard–harder than he ever imagined–to walk the line between love, loyalty, and duty. But he had managed. He had even remained Montjoie de Saint Denis, though how, he knew not. Perhaps the King of France, though the last time he had seen the monarch, he was much diminished, so he doubted that. Perhaps he had friends in the French court he did not know he had.

Certainly, the Dauphin wanted his head. Harry’s too. But that had never been any surprise.

There had been unexpected opportunities, too. Harry had created the Garter King of Arms sometime before Agincourt and had placed the running of all English officers of arms under it. William Bruges, now Garter, was a capable herald from line of capable heralds, but organizing an entire kingdom’s officers of arms was a frightful task. Montjoy knew it well. Garter was well glad to have Montjoie’s advice, and he well happy to give it.

His own heralds, he kept busy as well. Not all the year had he spent with Harry, for there was much diplomacy in the wake of war. It kept him on the road, kept him in contact with his own officers, and made Harry ever more the glad to see him when he did return. And he, ever more happy to return, despite his love of the road.

Off in the distance, there was still the issue of a line of succession, of a Queen. They spoke in abstract terms of that, as Herald and King. In private, it haunted Montjoy, more than anything else. A Herald could have divided loyalties, but a King?

Still, one great and grand love. How many could say that? He would take what of it he could and be grateful for the time he had. A piece of love was better than none at all. Yes?

In the dark, there was nothing but honesty.

The laughter and merriment that floated up from below had waned to quiet. When moisture dropped on to his wrist, Montjoy was surprised to discover he had been weeping in silence. His tunic was damp with tears.

Oh for God’s sake! A right mess of a Herald he was. Of a Frenchman, too. He made to rise, before Harry came and found him like this–forlorn in the dark. That would be too much.

The door opened.

Montjoy startled badly and rammed his knee against the desk. He kept the string of curses inside–years of practice–but did voice a small hiss.

Where was the reed?

He should have lit the tapers long ago, before the sun had set. How long had he been sitting here? His candle had burnt to naught but a nub. What a waste of beeswax!

He found the reed and hobbled to the fireplace. Faint light spilled in from the open door. A derisive huff, as well.

Once the reed was alight from one of the few remaining coals, Montjoy set about lighting the tapers. King Henry closed the door, leaned upon it, and watched.

He wore the same red cote, belt, and chain he had that night after the battle, only now his ams were crossed, his expression unreadable.

No, not true. It was entirely readable, for there was only one time Harry ever looked that way.

Montjoy put the reed out, set it on a metal plate on the fire’s mantle. “Forgive me.”

“For what?” Cold, distant words.

“I–forgot. Lost track of the dates.”

A snort of disbelief. “You’re a herald, Herald.”

“Yes.” Montjoy took a breath, exhaled. “I know.”

Henry pushed himself off the door and stalked across the room to where Montjoy stood.

He had an idea of what the king saw. Disheveled hair, tear-stained face, dower expression. He looked away–down never worked well this close, for he was taller than the King and Harry had made it habit to stand under Montjoy’s nose when he tried that ruse. He stood his ground, though.

Another snort from the king. He walked to the desk, sat in Montjoy’s chair. “I had a mind to upbraid you, but it seems you’ve done that well enough on your own.”

What could he say? Montjoy looked at the King. Henry, in turn, regarded him.

After a round of silence between them, Montjoy spoke. “I heard the song.”

The King leaned back in the chair. He could make any seat look like a throne. “They’re calling it the Agincourt Carol.”

Silence.

Montjoy tried again. “Will you forgive me?”

“I can understand wanting to forget the blood and the slaughter, God knows I do. But the other, Herald? Us?”

That blow hurt–both of them. Pain lurked in the anger that gave rise to Henry’s voice.

Monjoy took a step toward the king. “I didn’t forget–haven’t forgotten any of it. I just–didn’t know today’s date.”

“Well, prithee, what date did you put on these damnable papers?” The King slammed the flat of both hands down onto the desk, then stood in one fluid motion.

Montjoy stopped moving. “I haven’t dated any of them.”

Henry worked his jaw.

The King had not been this angry in a very long time. For an entire year, in fact.

“And were you not in church this morn, when we celebrated the feast of Crispin Crispian?”

He had sat close by the king, with only Exeter in between, as was their habit. This time, Montjoy did look down. There in body, but certainly not in mind. God only knew the state of his soul.

Silence, then a huff of breath.

“Are you to tell me that you–upright and pious Herald–that you were not paying attention during our Lord’s Holy Mass?”

Montjoy listened. The timber of that question had shifted ever so slightly at the end, from anger to something far more familiar. He hazarded a glance up.

The King was trying very hard to hold a stern, majestic expression. And failing. Little bits of a smile kept creeping out at the edge.

“My shame, yes. Your Majesty has uncovered the truth of it.” He spoke the words as Herald but heaved an affected sigh at the end.

The delivery uncovered the whole of the King’s smile. “Whatever am I to do with you, Montjoy?”

Montjoy never answered that question. It had always been more interesting to find out.

Outside, bells rang out in the cathedral nearby. Probably for Matins. He had been sitting in the dark for quite some time, then. Yes, Herald had most definitely been in a mood tonight.

Matins. Long after sunset. A year. Montjoy pursed his lips, considered times and dates.

“I know that look,” Harry said–and it was Harry, not Henry, nor the king who spoke, but Montjoy’s Harry. “What is in your mind?”

“It occurs to me that we did not begin this–” He paused before continuing. “–friendship on the twenty-fifth of October.”

“No?” Harry rounded the desk, joined him by the fireplace.

“No. For the day begins and ends with the setting of the sun, does it not?”

“Does it?” Harry bent and peered at the coals, then moved them about with the poker.

Montjoy ignored the questioning tone. “We, at least, began on the twenty-sixth. Right about this time of night, I should think.”

“So.” The king stood. “A year ago, now.” He set the poker aside, then closed the gap between them, pulled Montjoy tight to himself, and spoke against his throat. “That’s an inelegant save, Herald, far below your usual. But I’ll accept it. Forgiven.”

Deo gratias Anglia,” Montjoy murmured, then pressed his lips to Harry’s hair.

Harry laughed, tipped his head back and pulled him down for a kiss. Too suddenly, though, he broke the away. “Shouldn’t that be Deo gratias . . . what is the Latin for France? Francia? Gallia?”

“Either,” Montjoy said. “But who is giving thanks, Harry? You or me?”

Harry opened up a little space between them. “For me forgiving you for your infraction? You’d better be the one giving thanks!”

“Thank you, Great King.”

“You’d be most welcome, gentle herald, had you not let the fire go out.”

Oh. That. Montjoy gave a small shrug. “There are other ways to stay warm.” Honestly.

Footnotes:

The Agincourt Carol (Deo Gracias Anglia) was composed sometime in the early 15th century, though probably not the year after Agincourt. But since I was playing loose and fast history anyway…

I transcribed the carol into modern English. The original 15th century wording is here: http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/medlyric/agincourt.php

A good rendition of the carol can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9VJzKNhp0s

The version I learned, sung by the SCA choir I once was a member of is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaZEoTZd8eA (along with several other songs. I am not in the video).

No one seems to sing the “lords, earls and barons” verse anymore. Probably because it doesn’t scan very well in modern English. But I thought it was important for Montjoy to hear it.