Hope For The Morning.
Anne felt sick to her stomach as she loaded the bag containing her cousin's belongings into the boot of her car. She hated this, she hated the fact that she couldn't watch over her younger cousin herself but there was just no room for an extra body in her three-bedroom apartment, not with both her daughter and Maggie there.
"Are you sure this is the best idea, Anne? I mean, after all, she's been through and...she seems devastated." Maggie, Anne's best friend, and housemate whispered, causing Anne to glance over at the young girl in question, who was sitting on the steps.
"Mags, I would love to have her stay. But she deserves to have a room of her own and someone who will be a constant in her life. My life pretty much rotates around work, caring for Elizabeth and classes. Jane at least will have time to spend with her and honestly, that is exactly what Kat needs right now."
Anne retorted in a hissed whisper before sighing and slamming the boot shut.
"Kitty? Can we talk inside for a second?"
Anne hated this, hated the dejection written across the thirteen-year-old's face as she got up and wordlessly headed toward the door and Anne couldn't help but notice how stiff the girl's movements where. Just what had her baby cousin faced during her stay in not only foster homes but at the hands of her step-grandmother? Sure, Anne had saw faded bruising on the girl's arms but she didn't know the full extent and honestly, she was afraid to.
Anne's heart broke when she saw that the girl had tears in her eyes when she walked in. How could anyone turn their back on this child, let alone hurt her? Anne wondered because she was sure her heart would melt at the forlorn expression painted across the girl's face.
"Before you start yelling...can I ask one thing?"
Anne froze at the question. Why on earth would she yell at Katherine? Had that happened before?
"Kat, honey, no one is going to yell at you and you don't have to ask permission to ask me things, you should know that." Anne managed to respond, wanting nothing more than to pull the young girl into a hug but knowing that probably wouldn't be appreciated since Katherine Katherine flinched at an arm wrapping around her a few days prior.
"What did I do wrong? I….dont understand...and I thought you loved me."
Katherine questioned, her response breaking Anne's heart completely and all while throwing caution to the wind, she pulled the teen into a hug.
"I do love you, I love you so damn much and If there is nothing more I would like more but to keep you here, safe with us but you deserve to have your own space and not have to be alone for hours. That's why I talked to Jane, I know she is safe and would never let anyone hurt you again. it was never anything you did, sweetheart, never. Understand?"
Katherine wasn't sure what to expect when Anne moved toward her, however, she was surprised when she suddenly found herself nearly crushed in an embrace. Sure, it irritated the bruises on her back and ribs but she couldn't help but melt into the embrace.
"I don't wanna go."
She couldn't help the childish whimper that escaped her mouth and reflexively drew back slightly, waiting for an insult or blow to be thrown her way. However, she was just held tighter.
"I know Kitkat, I know this is scary and you've been moved around so much and treated so badly but please...Please trust me when I say this time will be different because guess what? this time if anyone dares to lay so much as a finger on you, I will personally kick their ass because no one messes with my family."
With that, she pressed a kiss atop the girls head before adding:
"Here, so you can always contact me. I promise you will never be alone again."
Katherine glanced down at what was being put into her jacket pocket, eyes growing wide when she saw that it was a phone.
"Anne, I can't ...it's too much."
She began, only to earn a look.
"You can and will Kitty-Kat. I want you to know you can contact me whenever for whatever reason and I will drop in to check on you. You are not going it alone this time, okay. I trust Jane but I'm not just going to let you fend for yourself. This time is different because this time you have people who will always be in your corner."
Katherine is confused by Jane's kindness and Anne finds out her cousin has been hurt far worse than she realized
Warning: Child abuse heavily implied in this chapter! Read at your own risk
For Jane Seymour, things couldn't have been stranger than how quiet and timid Katherine was. Anne had, of course, told her about some of the bruises that had marked the girl's arms and how she had not really slept much in the past few days. However, nothing prepared Jane for how Katherine really acted.
She didn't seem to show any emotion when Anne left, moving seemingly on autopilot for the whole evening until she finally had asked permission to go to bed—another thing that set alarms off in Jane's mind.
She couldn't imagine what the poor girl must have faced having rendered her so lifeless and Jane found herself unable to sleep as she searched for ways to try to make the teen more comfortable.
Katherine couldn't sleep, not when she wasn't sure who was going to come into the room—or if she could even sleep at all due to the memories that her brain seemed to repeat on a loop whenever she dared to close her eyes. Not to mention how her back ached from the bruises she knew would get worse before they got any better.
One thing, amongst everything else, was far worse though.
Why didn't Jane act like a normal person? Why didn't she bark orders or become angry? Why didn't she give any signals at all?
Did Jane want to have an excuse to get rid of her?
Would Jane hit her if some unspoken boundary was crossed?
Anne had promised that Jane was safe, that this time would be different but what if it wasn't? What if Anne had just wanted an opportunity to get rid of her just like her own father had?
Anne wouldn't do that...She loves you.
She mentally berated herself, although even that felt like a lie.
After all, weren't fathers and grandmothers supposed to love as well? Why had both her dad and grandma turned their backs on her? Why hadn't her grandmother protected her when she needed protecting?
What if there was something actually wrong with her?
What if there was a reason no one loved her? Was that the reason that everyone who claimed to love her had hurt her? Because she was some kind of freak?
Katherine hadn't realized she was crying until she heard the door open, sending a flood of light through the dark confines of the room.
Suddenly she couldn't breathe as her eyes glued themselves on the blonde in the doorway.
Good going stupid, your first night here and you've already ticked her off.
She thought as she moved back toward the headboard of the bed involuntarily, biting her tongue to keep from yelling as her back collided with the hard surface.
"I...I'm sorry. Didn't mean to wake you." she stammered out, praying that this time her apology would work. That at least, this time, she wouldn't get into trouble for causing so much noise.
"You didn't wake me."
The softness of the voice (which was almost a whisper) caught Katherine off-guard slightly. Then why was she there? Why didn't she sound annoyed or angry? Wasn't she afraid that Katherine would wake up her baby?
Before the teen could even muster up the courage to say anything else a hand reached out and touched her cheek, causing her to flinch back although she couldn't help but relax when no pain followed.
Wasn't she going to be punished?
"I know you don't trust me enough to tell me what's wrong, so I'm not going to push it but may I sit here for a bit? Just until you feel better of course?"
Alarms went off in Katherine's mind, but yet she found herself nodding.
She really didn't want to be alone, even if she did regret the childish need come morning.
Jane watched as her new charge slowly relaxed, although she never fully seemed to lay back, Not even when sleep began to win its battle over her.
"Why don't you lay down, sweetheart?" she eventually asked the half-asleep girl, who just shook her head.
The answer caught Jane off guard before sharp realization dawned on her.
"Katherine, I promise I'll try to make you feel a bit better but you need, to be honest with me. Is your back hurt?"
Another slight nod caused Jane to really want to hunt down every last foster home the child had been in.
"I'll be right back, sweetheart."
Katherine only became really aware of what was going on when she felt her shirt being lifted up slightly, causing her heart to jump onto her throat as her mind made a connection between the motion and the phantom hands she still could feel on her body.
However, before she could move too far away, she felt a hand gingerly grab her wrist, not even enough to hurt.
"Katherine, it's me. Jane. I'm just going to put something on your back to help with the pain. Is that alright?"
"I...I get a choice?"
The words come out before Katherine can stop them but to her surprise, Jane released her hand and moved a bit back to give her space.
"Of course. You always have a choice."
Anne awoke to the sound of her phone ringing, causing her to groan and glare at the clock which read two-thirty-five AM.
"Unless my cousin needs me, you better have a good excuse, Seymour," she grumbled after answering, only to hear a voice practically shout
"How could you Ignore that your cousin, who idolizes you, by the way, was hurting so badly that she couldn't sleep!"
Anne instantly sat up, surprised by this information.
"What? She never acted like she was hurting that much and she didn't mention it!" she started, only to hear Jane sigh on the other end.
"Her back is a mess, Anne. She only let me see because I asked about why she was trying to sleep sitting up. She's sleeping now, thank God, but the poor girl is so bruised that even with the lightest touch she would flinch."
The answer made Anne's blood run cold.
"Fuck...I should have checked her over more closely...I just assumed she would tell me. I mean…" Anne began, suddenly feeling sick "I'm an Idiot."
"No, you're not. Look I'm sorry I blamed you for ignoring such a large problem. It just...How could someone do that to someone, least of all children? I can't understand."
"I don't know but I'm going to make damn sure no one ever dares hurt her again." Anne states then paused and closed her eyes "I'll drop by tomorrow after classes. I have the feeling that she's going to need all the support she can get."
Anne Surprises Katherine by coming by for a visit
Warning: Implied CSA in this chapter. Not explict but it's there
I“Poor kid is still asleep?” Anne asked when she came in, earning a sigh from Jane who shook her head.
“Honestly I think exhaustion catching up with her is the only reason she even fell asleep. It’s nearly lunchtime, so I guess you could go upstairs and wake her, just don’t be too loud or you’ll wake Edward and I just got him settled.”
Anne let out a whistle at that.
“Up all night with one kid and all day with the other. Been there.”
Jane couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the other woman’s antics, even though she knew all too well what she was going on about.
“Yes well, unlike you, the second kid in my care is literally afraid of her own shadow. Just what in the seven sectors of hell did those people do to her anyway, didn’t they tell you anything?”
Jane instantly regretted asking when she saw Anne shift from one foot to another and bit her lip, something that Jane knew meant that the usually blunt woman didn’t want to talk about.
“I don’t know the full details but I know that she was given an EC in the A and E and you know what that means.”
The answer made Jane sick.
“That poor girl...No wonder she is so terrified. What kind of monsters did they allow her with?”
Anne closed her eyes and shook her head.
“Blame her father and step-grandmother They carted the poor girl off one way or another so who really frickin knows. I just wish that I knew about it before now. Maybe I could have done something before now.”
Jane sighed as she put an arm around the usually hyper woman.
“Hey, you are here for her now when she needs you and that probably means a lot more to her than you realize.”
Katherine could feel something or rather someone shaking her slightly, however, the touch wasn’t harsh so it caught her by surprise and caused her to turn to look at who the intruder was, only to see Anne knelt by the bed.
“Hey love, told you that I would be back.”
No sooner did Anne say this, she found herself nearly knocked to the ground by the younger girl.
“You actually came back.”
Katherine began, only to freeze up as her mind because to toss about a whirlwind of questions
“Is Jane kicking me out?”
Anne sighed, hoping she didn’t accidentally hurt the girl as she drew her in close.
“No love. She’s not, I promised you that I would stop by, didn’t I? How was your first night? Is she treating you well?”
Katherine just nuzzled closer to Anne at that before answering
“she seems really nice...She wasn’t angry when I woke her up last night.”
Anne’s heart broke at the tone Katherine used at that and she sighed
“Hey, I wouldn’t send you to live with just anybody. I meant it when I said I had your back. No one is ever going to hurt you again.”
Jane was surprised at how different that Katherine acted when she thought no one was looking, or rather no one but Anne. She spoke excitedly about something or other as Anne showed her something on her phone. It honestly warmed Jane’s heart to see that the girl, despite everything, still was capable of being so playful and full of life.
all the things that a child should be.
“Come on Annie! You’re being such a jerk!”
“Hey, not my fault you’re a complete dork!”
Jane debated on going back upstairs or not but before she could make her decision Anne turned her attention toward the stairs.
“Hey, you should download this game then we could team up and kick your ass,” Anne commented, earning a laugh from Jane who just shook her head.
“The last time I let you talk me into playing some sort of video game you and Anna got me stuck in that pit and then more or less murdered my character.” Jane retorted pointedly, earning a laugh from the older brunette.
“Hey, not my fault that you got in a trap that would slowly zap your HP anyway! Then again, you committed homicide on a dozen Neopets so you’re not the gaming type.”
Jane tried to ignore the sudden change in behavior from Katherine although she just shot Anne a dirty look.
“You know what? What game is that? If you want war, then so be it.”
Katherine watched as Jane and Anne bantered, the blonde becoming just as playful and cocky as Anne could be.
“Okay, I’m definitely going to have to have Kat show me how to do ... whatever that was. Seriously Anne, how on earth can you people learn how to work these things that well?” Jane complained, catching Katherine off guard slightly although she wasn’t sure if this was just because Anne was here or if perhaps, this woman really was capable of being this relaxed.
But what if this was a mask to how she really felt toward her? What if she had actually been annoyed the previous night and just hadn’t said anything?
“Kitkat, come out of space for a few minutes.”
Anne’s voice jolted her from her thoughts, although both Jane and Anne looked amused.
“we were thinking about meeting up with some of our friends at the park but we wanted to check with you before we made any real decision.” Anne said, causing Katherine to glance over at Jane who just gave her a look that Katherine really couldn’t really decipher, although it wasn’t angry or threatening.
“It’s totally up to you, Catherine Parr decided it would be a good idea to invite everyone out since it’s actually not raining for once but if you’d rather us hang out here it’s fine. Remember, you always have a choice on these things, Kat.”
Jane surprised her by saying and for once, Katherine dared to believe it.
“Promise you’ll stay close?”
She dared to whisper to her cousin, who put an arm around her neck in what was some sort of attempt at a sideways hug.
“I promise, Katherine. Besides, if you get overwhelmed or something we can always leave, yeah?”
Catherine watched in amusement as her seven-year-old daughter try (and fail) at teaching four and a half-year-old Elizabeth how to play some sort of game that Catherine only half understood.
"You know, Anna makes the perfect babysitter," Anne commented, earning a chuckle from both Catherine and Bessie who was helping lay out the tables.
"No one even assumed you would be a good mum since you were either argumentative or had your nose stuck in a book during secondary. Yet, here you are." Bessie commented earning a laugh from Catherine.
"Or having her nose stuck in other affairs."
Anne just nudged Catherine at that.
"How many times do I have to say sorry for that? I mean, he humiliated me in front of half the school!"
Catherine winced at that memory although she knew Anne well enough to know that she was just being argumentative.
"Oh, I don't know...Maybe eighteen million?"
Catherine would never forget the night when Anne had shown up on her doorstep, drunk and battered from the hands of the man who had claimed to have loved both of then.
Catherine hadn't been able to hold a grudge after that, not after seeing the prideful younger girl so distraught. That, however, didn't mean that she couldn't tease the girl.
"You're an asshole, you know that?"
Catherine just responded by playfully bumping the younger female out of her way.
"Speaking of people who have changed in the past few years, is Jane coming?"
Anne sighed then and nodded.
"She'll be here...But there is something that you have to know before she gets here." She began, suddenly sounding out of place, despite knowing these people since secondary school.
"What happened this time?"
Anna commented, earning a sigh.
"My cousin is staying with Jane for a while. She's in a pretty bad place right now and I have no idea how she'll react to all of you. Like she's fine around me and Elizabeth but she freezes up around Jane and even Maggie."
"Okay, Jane I can understand but Maggie? She's as intimidating as a flea." Anna commented, earning a smirk as the girl in question glared over at her.
"Jane, You can't....I won't accept it! You already have done enough for me."
Jane tried to hide her amusement at the almost argumentative tone that the young teen took, although she noticed how Katherine seemed to flinch when she turned to put Edward into the pram.
"I can and will...You have what? Four outfits? It's my job to provide for you and that includes clothing." Jane retorted, lightly nudging Katherine along as she added "come on, before Anne starts blowing up my phone with texts. We can settle this debate later."
There was a few things Jane noticed about Katherine upon entering the store.
The first thing being how the girl kept a death grip on the pram or trolly at all times, as if afraid that Jane would disappear and how on more than one occasion had nearly knocked Jane over to put distance between herself and some person passing by.
Jane also found she had to coax the girl into picking anything out, just shrugging or mumbling something nearly incomprehensible, both which caused Jane to grow more and more concerned with the girl's previous upbringing. Yet after an half hour she had managed to goad Katherine into choosing at least five new outfits as well as some other necessities, although with each slightly pressed decision Katherine seemed to become more and more nervous.
What could she do to make this kid feel more comfortable? To make her realize that this wasn't some sort of heartless trick? That she wouldn't owe her some kind of favor?
Katherine wasn't sure about this whole situation. Why did Anne and Jane want her to meet their friends? Was this some kind of set up? She couldn't help but worry, although she also couldn't make herself believe that Anne would ever do something like that to her.
Not after Anne had practically stormed into the hospital in a rage when the child protection agency had called her, looking equally ready to fight someone or cry.
She hadn't really been close to her extended family but Anne was sort of laid back despite being short tempered (As Kat had noticed when the blender had refused to work correctly a few mornings after she had been stay with Anne) and loud. Yet, despite all of this Katherine knew that Anne was safe.
So why was she so nervous? She berated herself as she tried to make herself as presentable as possible, putting on a jacket in order to hide the bruises that were in different states of healing along her arms.
"Katherine? You okay in there?"
She nearly jolted out of her skin at the sudden voice outside the door.
"Yes! I'll be out soon!"
She called, half expecting to be told hurry up or that she was taking too long, yet Jane just responded
"Okay, I can imagine moving around so much today has not been good on your injuries. If its too much, let me know and I'll let Anne know you're not feeling up to it after I drug you about the shops all day."
The lack of accusation or annoyance caught Katherine off guard.
"No, I'm fine. I'll be out in a bit!"
Jane wasn't expecting a rather disgruntled looking Katherine to come downstairs, holding a hairbrush and looking a bit red in the face.
"I'm..You said if I needed help to just ask and...um...It kinda hurts to move my shoulders so much and I was wondering if you could um......"
The half stammered, nearly whispered question (if it could have even been called that) caught Jane by surprise although, she quickly masked it.
Before she even had time to make any suggestions on how they should do this, Katherine had already taken a seat on the floor in front of her.
Jane could practically see the nervousness coming off Katherine in clouds. This whole situation isn't ideal but Kat seemed to want to go through with it and Jane was not the one to deny Kat time with her cousin.
"I'm gonna warn you, they're like a gaggle of geese…..although nowhere near as mean," Jane stated, earning a ghost of a smile from the teen, who was still fidgeting slightly.
"You know, you don't have to go through with this. Anne has good intentions but I'm sure that she'll understand if you…" she began after a few minutes, only to be cut off by Katherine.
"No, it's fine! I promise! I just...I'm nervous, you know? I've never met any of Annie's friends."
Jane just chuckled at that and put a hand on the girl's shoulder, careful of any bruising.
"You'll fit right in. I can assure you of that. No one is going to hurt you, you know that? Right?"
Katherine nodded although she didn't meet Jane's eyes.
"Kat? I promise, Anne and I won't let anyone hurt you and if you do become overwhelmed tell me and we will go home, okay?"
Katherine hadn't seen anything running toward her until she was laying on the grass, the wind knocked out of her and a large white mass standing on her. Her back protested the added weight but she could do nothing to get it off of her.
"Wolf! Down! "
The commanding voice caused Katherine to freeze up until Jane had knelt beside her.
Katherine managed to give an annoyed huff as she sat up, wincing slightly.
"Just caught by surprise."
She answered, only to flinch when something wet and cold touched her cheek, although she relaxed when she saw the large white dog standing beside her.
"Were you the one who bowled me over?" She questioned, reaching out to pet the large creature which once again began to lick her.
She didn't even notice that someone had joined them until she heard a voice mutter "well thank god she isn't afraid of dogs."
Katherine quickly tried to hide her laughter, although Jane just patted her shoulder.
"Kat, this Is Anna...Anna...This is Katherine Howard, Anne's cousin."
The woman in question, Anna, smiled at the introduction
"Another Katherine? Well, it's a pleasure to meet you and I'm sorry about Wolf ...he usually isn't this bad."
Katherine was surprised by the sincerity that she heard in this woman's voice (and how it was no longer harsh).
"It's alright, really. I just wasn't expecting to get tackled."
Anne kept a close eye on Katherine, taking note of any changes in behavior or signs that she needed (or wanted to leave), however, to her surprise the girl seemed to be slightly at ease with Anna although she seemed to prefer to stay to herself or with Jane.
That was when Anne wasn't around.
But one thing she did notice was that Katherine froze up whenever Aragon was around, or rather, more so than she did with anyone else and she couldn't understand why.
Especially since Aragon had spent most of her time herding the kids away from the food (or rather the sweets) or helping Parr finishing laying out the picnic area.
There is another mystery added to the nightmare that is Kat's past. Aragon has said all of like four words to her so why is she acting like Aragon's some kind of rabid dog?
Anne couldn't help but wonder as she came over.
"Hey, I'm getting restless so I was wondering if you'd like to come for a walk with me?" She asked, watching as Katherine's eyes widened.
"Yeah, I mean…If you want?"
Anne hated how uncertain that Kat sounded.
"Of course! We have a lot of lost time to make up for and I'm pretty sure that you'd like someone to talk to besides boring Jane ."
Jane (who was in hearing range), cast a rather silly look at Anne from behind, causing Katherine to have to hide a laugh.
"For one, Boleyn...You didn't find me boring earlier today...and for two ...All you've been doing is pestering Aragon...Or putting the kids up to mischief."
Jane stated although it was easy to tell she wasn't the least bit annoyed about any of that.
"What? Someone has to be the fun one!"
"Oh, you go beyond fun ...remember the random fake snake you put in my car? I freaked!" Jane retorted although Anne just scoffed.
"Oh like you didn't catch me not looking and put green hair dye in my shampoo! I was getting odd looks for weeks!" Anne retorted before chuckling a bit and adding "not that I didn't deserve that I guess."
With that Anne lightly nudged Katherine
"Come on Kitty Kat, let's go."
The scowl on Katherine's face wasn't missed by Anne or Jane, although it was quickly replaced by a ghost of a smile as Anne looped her arm around her shoulders.
"So how are you liking Jane's so far?" Anne asked as they walked, taking note of how Katherine shifted a bit nervously.
"Too soon to tell but...she seems nice. I mean...She didn't get annoyed when I ask for help and she hasn't gotten irritated with me...Yet." Kat answered, recalling how Jane had sat up with her most of the night just because she had asked.
"Speaking of asking for help, there is something we need to talk about."
Katherine's blood ran cold at the slight sternness that painted Anne's tone, although in the next minute she found a gentle hand playing with her hair.
"Why didn't you tell me you were hurt when I asked you?"
Anne's voice had returned to normal although Kat felt a gnawing feeling in the pit of her stomach.
"I didn't want to bother you...Besides its not that big of a deal. I mean...I deserved it."
Anne felt as though she was going to be sick and without thinking she turned the girl to face her (noticing but ignoring the way Katherine seemed to freeze).
"Katherine, you could never be a bother first off, especially if you're in need of help. Secondly, you could never do anything that would warrant such treatment. What they did to you wasn't right, no matter what reasoning they give for it." Anne stated before sighing and forcing the teenager to look at her.
"I know it's hard to trust any of us...But please try to understand that I love you and that if you need anything at all...Just tell me and I'll be there, even if you just want someone to vent to."
She hated the way the thirteen-year-old looked at her like some kind of scared animal, so sure that pain would follow. Just what had people told her? Did people claim they had hurt her out of love? Did she honestly think she deserved everything that had happened? Anne's heart broke at the implications.
She didn't even think before pulling the teen into a hug, feeling the girl stiffen at the embrace before practically becoming putty as she returned it.
"You're not mad?"
The question was barely a whisper but it told Anne volumes about the girl's upbringing.
"No, sweetheart. I'm not. Never was. I just hate the idea that you spent all that time at my place hurting when I could have helped a bit." Anne replied softly, pressing a kiss into the teen's hair before adding "and even if I ever do get upset with you, know that I will always love you and will always be here if you need me. We're family."
Catherine sighed as she watched Bessie type furiously on her phone.
"She's seventeen...She's probably hanging out with friends." she commented, earning a huff of annoyance.
"Yeah, or she's being a little shit and ignoring my texts."
Bessie retorted, earning a laugh from the slightly older woman.
"Remind you of anyone?"
Bessie just rolled her eyes at that
"I think you and Maria are the only ones who have a good relationship with your parents." Bessie retorted
"Actually Anna and Cathy do as well...They just don't get to visit much." Catherine responded
"Well, I'm going to be daughter less if she doesn't show up today. Jane! You call her, maybe she'll answer for you since you're her cousin, not her mum!"
Jane watched as Katherine and Anna watched over the younger kids, Katherine—reserved but still playing along—and Anna obviously taking careful measures not to frighten the teenager.
"You know, to be a kid herself Kat seems to know how to take care of the younger ones." Aragon commented, earning a sigh from Anne.
"She made the comment she was used to helping with the kids of one of her foster families. I just hope that she eventually relaxes a but though, she should be playing around not acting like a hawk." Anne retorted "How was she with shopping?"
Jane sighed and closed her eyes, thinking back to how the girl had clung to her in the store.
"Well, one good thing she's been a bit opinionated and willing to argue her point. She will just need time to work through everything." Jane responded "She was pretty skittish in the store, however. As to be expected really."
Anne nodded, eyes never leaving her younger cousin.
"I hope the bastards who hurt her rot. Every one of them."
Jane wasn't surprised by the comment and honestly agreed with her fully on the subject, especially after seeing how scared the girl had been the previous night.
"No, people like that need to be given exactly what they dish out. If they think that hurting a kid is okay, then they need to see what it's like!" Catherine retorted, eyes lingering on her Mary who was trying to wrangle Kat into one of their games. "That or they should die a slow and painful death."
Katherine laughed aloud as Elizabeth basically tackled her. It hurt, sure, but it wasn't often that she actually didn't have to worry about messing up. Anne, after all, wouldn't let her be hurt.
"Oi, don't kill Kat! She's not used to being as rough as you." Anne called, a laugh in her voice although Elizabeth just sent Kat a slightly sheepish look although she giggled slightly.
"I'm not that breakable Anne!" Kat retorted, freezing slightly when she heard Aragon say
"She told you,"
For a second Kat was worried that perhaps, maybe she had said the wrong thing—that Anne perhaps would be angry, that was until she heard her cousin let out a chuckle.
"Hey, I'm just looking out for her. I know how rough Lizzie and Mary can be, then again...I'm probably the one to thank for that."
Katherine was surprised by the lack of hostility in the catholic's tone.
Didn't she care that her daughter was getting dirty or not acting like a proper lady? She wanted to ask, however she was distracted by her smaller cousin who practically demanded her attention.
"Joan? Any reason as to why you answer Jane's text but not mine?"
Joan groaned at the comment.
"Because I was with friends and was about to call you back when Jane called me." She retorted before adding "who's the little dark-haired kid?"
"That would be Anne's cousin Katherine Howard, She is staying with me and Edward." Jane answered, earning a nod from the older teen.
"Well, at least she seems to be able to entertain the firecracker."
Takes place after the picnic while Edward is napping. Katherine also reveals hints to her childhood
"Jane? Can I ask something?"
Jane glanced up from her knitting to see Kat standing there in the doorway to her sewing room, looking a bit nervous (although why alluded the blonde).
"Of course, what is it?"
Katherine shifted a bit before speaking.
"Aragon...She's Catholic right? Do you think she was angry with Mary for joining me and Lizzie in that game?"
Jane let out a small chuckle at that, motioning the girl into the room.
"No, of course not. When Anne or Bessie babysits do you think Mary returns home in mint condition? Besides, Mary gets herself into her own scrapes every now and again. Aragon doesn't really mind as long as she isn't trailing mud into their house."
Jane wanted to ask what brought this up but didn't, not wanting to pry too much.
"Oh okay. Catherine...Er...Aragon just seemed scary."
Jane just smiled slightly "she can seem that way huh? The woman has the patience of a saint if it comes down to it though."
Katherine seemed in thought at that before she took a seat on the floor by Jane's feet.
"Can I ask another question? About Catholics?"
"Of course. What do you want to know?"
Katherine shifted nervously before she spoke again.
"How can Catherine be Catholic if she doesn't demand respect? She barely even said anything to Mary when she and Elizabeth snagged those cookies."
Jane sighed a bit at that, almost positive at where these questions were coming from.
"Aragon is a bit serious and stern but not to the point where she is going to be angry at any little childish stunt Mary pulls. Fear isn't the same thing as respect anyway and I think Aragon would prefer respect over fear."
She could practically see the gears turning in Kat's mind at this.
"Isn't it the same thing? Everyone always said that fear was healthy."
Jane sighed, moving to sit on the floor with the girl.
"Respect is earned, fear is forced. Think of it like this, would you rather someone be afraid of you or trust you to help or give advice?" She prompted, waiting for the girl to work out an answer
"I wouldn't want anyone to be afraid of me."
Jane nodded then before continuing
"Being afraid of someone you should be able to trust isn't a good thing love, it means they are taking the lazy way out by control besides doing their job and teach."
A stretch of silence passed between them before Katherine spoke again
"But Dad and Grandma said…fear would teach? Everyone said it actually. Even people at church."
Jane sighed then, everything clicking together at once and her heart broke.
This was less about Mary and more about something Katherine had experienced.
"Kitty, let me put it to you like this. If I were to ask you to knit something and never show you the correct way but would yell or punish you any time you made a mistake would you ever learn how to do so correctly?"
Katherine actually looked up then, brow still knitted together.
"I guess not?"
She sounded so unsure so Jane continued
"A lot of the time that's what happens when fear is used as a parenting tool because while there should be limits and consequences there should never be fear involved."
Katherine sat in her room later that evening, mulling over what Jane had said. Was all of that true? Was that why Anne had been so angry at everything that happened?
"Hey sweetheart, it's late. We need to get things sorted tomorrow so we both better be hitting the bed. Is something wrong?"
Jane's voice from the doorway jolted her out of her thoughts.
"No, sorry. I just got lost in thought."
Katherine was surprised when Jane came in and took a seat on the bed beside her.
"You know, if you don't want to talk to me about things, Anne is always there right? Sometimes it just helps to talk to someone."
Katherine offered a smile at that and resisted the urge to lean against Jane.
"I know. It's just...Crap happens?" She tried, earning a chuckle.
"Alright, we'll leave it at that then. Do you want me to help with the salve tonight or do you want to try?" Jane retorted and Katherine could feel heat crawl into her face.
"Will you help me again? I think the kids made it worse today."
Katherine was surprised when Jane just nodded and moved to ruffle her hair a bit.
"Gonna have to be more careful, love. Just until your back to a hundred percent, okay?"
Jane comforts Kat
Jane awoke with a start, not sure what had caused her to awaken until she heard a scream come from down the hall, prompting her to get out of bed.
She saw the girl sitting up, covers pulled taut around her and breathing panicked.
The way the girl whimpered and lowered herself into bed as if she was trying to hide broke the woman's heart.
"Sorry I woke you."
Katherine muttered, voice barely audible and wavering as Jane came to kneel by the bed.
"None of that now love, if you ever need anything I want you to come to me even if that means waking me up. Okay?" Jane responded, reaching out to wipe some of the tears of the girl's face before adding "wanna talk about it?"
Katherine sat in silence for a few minutes before whispering.
"Can you just stay for a while?"
Even in the dim light, Jane could see the way Katherine flinched when she stood, although she didn't comment as she took a seat beside the girl on the bed.
They sat in silence for some time before Katherine spoke again, voice still low but no longer shaking.
"It still hurts. Every time I close my eyes, I see them...I feel their hands everywhere and…" her voice broke as she squeezed her eyes shut. "I just wish it would stop."
Jane recalled what little Anne had said about the girl's life before and felt her stomach knot up at the thought.
"I'm sorry Kat. I know I can't undo the pain that everyone caused you but I want you to know that no one will ever hurt you like that again. You should have never faced that." Jane stated, running a hand through the girl's hair, resulting in the teen practically flinging herself into Jane's arms.
Jane was careful with how she returned the hug, not wanting to hurt her or bring any bad memories about. She noticed that the girl seemed to melt against her, clinging to her in a way that made her wonder when the last time the girl had been given any sort of affection.
When Katherine finally pulled away, she looked slightly uncomfortable.
"Sorry, I probably should have asked."
Jane just lightly nudged the girl, smiling when she looked up
"It's okay love, it's always okay with me. Alright?"
Jane was surprised to find Katherine already awake the next morning, cooking breakfast and already (from the look of the highchair and the front of Edwards clothes) fed Edward.
"You know you don't have to be up this early, right?" She asked, watching as the girl jolted slightly at the sound of her voice.
"Sorry, I'm just used to waking up before everyone. Um...I hope you don't mind?" Katherine responded, earning a nod.
"Its fine, just wanted to make sure you knew that it was okay to sleep in. Now how about I take over cooking? You can still help, I think this is just something we both should do. You're my guest, not a slave."
It had been three months since Jane had let her move in and Katherine Howard couldn't imagine that she could be happier. After all, she saw her cousin at least once a week and had taken to babysitting (or in Anna's case, dog sitting) for extra money, not to mention that Jane was so nice and had let her actually enroll in dance courses.
Yet the young teen couldn't shake the small bit of darkness that seemed to loom at the back of her mind, Darkness fueled by some girls in her year that, for whatever reason, had taken a severe disliking to her.
Where's Mummy? Doesn't she care that you're walking in the rain?
No one will ever love you! That's why everyone left!
I bet your Mum died just to get away from you!
Their words cut deeper than she dared to let them see, although Joan (who happened to be in her last year of school) had quickly shut down the worst of the more physical attacks when she had overheard something outside of the school one evening.
Only Joan knew how much the words hurt her.
Only Joan knew the truth about what had happened that caused Katherin to live with Jane.
But—unlike so many others—Joan didn't judge. She always offered Kat a safe space, keeping secrets that Kat didn't dare tell any of the adults in fear that she would be blamed again.
Joan knew about Mr. Maddox, who had been her private tutor for some time.
She knew about the stiff and unrelenting expectations of Agnes Howard, about how her own father had abandoned her and hadn't even offered to give her a call since.
Joan even knew about Francis Derham, who had been a friend of her grandmother's and who's actions Agnes ignored.
She even told Joan about the four foster families she had before Jane.
Joan even took her to the cemetery where her mother was laid, a place that Kat hadn't set foot in since her mother was buried six years prior.
That's where Katherine found herself on that particular day, kneeling by the polished headstone as she tried to ignore the rain that was soaking through her uniform.
"Hey Mummy, it's me again. I have to make it quick or I know I'll get an earful from Jane for being out so long in this weather but I was wondering, can you send me a sign?"
Katherine paused and wiped at her eyes.
"I'm just so confused Mama. I don't want to replace you or forget you but...But I find myself hoping Jane adopts me. It's just...It's nice to finally have someone who cares so much, you know? It just feels like she actually could love me and...I'm afraid that if I….I'll either forget about you or get hurt again and I'm so sick of being alone Mama."
She couldn't stop the tears that came then.
"I have Joan and Anne but…Everyone else has an actual family. What is so wrong with me that I can't? Did I do something wrong? Is that why you left? Was Daddy right?"
Jane knew something was wrong when Katherine stormed into the house soaking wet and headed straight toward the stairs, tracking mud behind her.
"Kat? Is something wrong?" She asked, the carelessness being very out of character for the teen. However, instead of getting an answer, the girl just brushed passed her and slammed a door behind her once she got upstairs.
Jane sighed, glancing down at Edward, who was currently trying to pull up using the couch
"Well, I better get the vacuum before that dries." She muttered to the toddler as she picked him up and deposited him into his playpen before adding, mostly to herself "that girl is doing the dishes tonight though."
After she was finished—and she was sure that Kat had calmed down—she headed upstairs to talk to her, only to find her sitting on the bed, wrapped in a blanket with traces of tears on her face.
The girl glanced up, offering what could only be called a hint of a smile.
"Sorry about the floor. Want me to go clean it up?"
Jane just chuckled at that and moved to sit beside the teen.
"I took care of it. Now, why don't you tell me what's wrong? You aren't usually slamming doors or ignoring people." She prompted, putting an arm around the girl who instantly snuggled closer.
"Some kids at school are assholes."
Jane lightly jostled the girl at that, trying to fix her with a stern look, although she could help but smirk at how much like Anne she sounded at that moment.
"Katherine." She began, trying to sound disapproving though the teen just closed her eyes, unphased.
"Sorry, but they are."
Jane just rolled her eyes and gave the girl a light flick on the back of an ear.
"Cheeky." She muttered before adding "wanna talk about it?"
Katherine just shook her head.
"Can we just stay like this for a little while?"
Jane was about to respond when Edward began to cry from downstairs.
"Let's go get him settled then how about I make you some hot cocoa and we curl up under a blanket and watch a movie? Think that would work?" Jane half suggested, noticing how the teen's face fell when she moved to get up.
"I guess. Can I pick the movie?"
Jane laughed softly then and nodded "just nothing rated eighteen, please. I don't care what Joan nor your friends let you watch. You know my rule about that."
Katherine had the decency to look sheepish at that, recalling the events that lead to that rule being made in the first place.
Kat opens up a tiny bit and Joan and Kat get into some mischief.
Jane watched as Katherine helped Edward stand, trying to hide her amusement at the idea the girl had fallen into a sense of usefulness by just acting a role similar to an older sister.
"Shouldn't he be walking soon?"
Katherine asked, glancing toward Jane who just chuckled.
"Perhaps. All kids are different." She responded, moving to sit on the floor with them before adding "you know, you're really good with him. So patient."
Katherine just shrugged.
"My last two foster homes had kids of their own. One part of my duties was taking care of them."
Jane was surprised by the answer, not because of her wording exactly but because Kat rarely spoke of her life before briefly moving in with Anne. However, before she could ask Katherine Continued:
"The second foster home I was in wasn't that bad, they had strict expectations of me but they didn't hurt me...I honestly thought they would keep me, you know? Don't even remember what I did to make them want rid of me. The next one...It was just as bad as living with my...with Agnes."
Jane was surprised by the fact that Katherine called her step-grandmother by name, having only heard her refer to the woman as grandma before.
"Kat, can I ask something?"
She pressed, earning a shrug.
"Yeah, I mean...You would find out eventually."
Jane wanted to backtrack, to apologize for prying but didn't, knowing Kat wouldn't appreciate that.
"All the questions about Catholicism you keep asking Aragon....was one of your foster families...."
Katherine answered before Jane had time to even get her whole question out.
"Yeah, so was Agnes...Although she didn't hurt me like the others. I mean, she was super strict but she could have been worse." Katherine responded although something about the way she mentioned Agnes didn't sit right with Jane.
"Kat, even if she didn't act like the others, it doesn't make it right if she ever did hurt you in some way," Jane stated, earning a hint of a smile.
"That's what Catherine said when I brought up some.... topics with her." Katherine responded before sighing and adding "I'm sorry I never really told you about anything, even when you were nice enough to sit with me after nightmares."
"I know that It's hard to talk about, Kitty Kat. You can tell me in your own time okay? Even if you don't, that's okay."
Jane would be lying if she said that the hug she got in return didn't surprise her.
"Uh, Jane? Can I go hang out with Joan and Bessie tonight? It's Friday and I've got my homework finished and all my chores." Katherine asked later that evening, holding her phone in one hand while practically pouting at the woman.
"You spending the night there?" Jane asked, earning a small, nervous chuckle from the girl.
"Um...Can...I mean...May I?"
Jane tried to keep a straight face as she glanced toward the ceiling "I don't know Katherine..." She began, although her smile gave her away "oh alright but try not to let Joan drag you into any mischief."
"I won't. It's only supposed to be me and Joan and maybe Joan's friend from the cafe, Jane Parker. She's just a bit older than Joan and Bessie will be there!" Katherine looked panicked, as though she had said too much and was waiting for Jane to change her mind.
Jane only reached over and gently ruffled the girl's hair, earning a squeak of protest as the girl tried (and failed) to dodge
"Kat, I trust you and I trust Joan. You don't have to convince me. If things go south, call and I'll come to get you at any time okay?"
For the second time that day, Katherine instigated (practically tackled) her into a hug.
"Thank you and I promise, I will."
"Are you sure Jane isn't going to be mad about this? I mean...I really want to but I don't want to end up in trouble." Katherine asked, earning a sigh from Joan who gently squeezed her shoulders.
"I promise you, even if she does get mad she isn't going to do anything more than tell you to ask next time." Joan assured before adding "Jane isn't so strict that she is going to get furious at a drop of a hat. Trust me, okay? I wouldn't do anything to get you into trouble."
"Joan? Can I ask you something?"
Joan let out a grumble and turned toward the younger girl, who was curled up beside her.
"Yeah. What is it?"
She knew it was serious from the way that Katherine took a breath before continuing
"You remember your parents right? But you call Bessie Mum...Doesn't that...feel wrong? No offense or anything! I just...."
Joan chuckled softly as the girl trailed off.
"How I see it, I have two mums. One is dead, one isn't, there is no way Bessie will replace my biological mum but she definitely loves me as much as a mother, you know?" She answered, moving to sit up a bit before adding "this is about Jane isn't it?"
Katherine sat up then and pulled her knees to her chest and even in the dark, Joan could see that the younger girl was uncomfortable.
"I try not to think of her like that but...sometimes it's hard but it's stupid. Why would she ever care about someone who can't even spend a night without nightmares? My own dad didn't want me."
Joan only responded by pulling the girl into a sideways hug.
"Your dad was an idiot. Katherine, there are things that happened to you that should never happen to anyone, especially not a child and if Jane judges you because of that, then she's just as big of an idiot as the rest of the ass wipes you have stayed with but I don't think she will."
Katherine turned and buried her face against the seventeen-year-olds chest.
"What if she does? She doesn't even know everything that happened and...I don't want to just end up alone again. She doesn't mind if I just...Want her there...You know? She doesn't get mad if I mess up or if I wake her up. I just...i don't know what I would do if she suddenly wanted me to leave."
Katherine confessed, earning a sigh.
"I think you need to talk to Jane about this, Kath."
Jane knew something was wrong when Katherine refused to remove her hoodie the next morning when Bessie dropped her off. Just what was wrong with her? Was she sick? Had she and Joan gotten up to something the previous night?
"Kat? Sweetheart? Are you feeling okay?"
She finally asked after several minutes only for her concern to grow when she didn't get an answer right away.
That was until the young teen slowly lowered the hood, revealing the neon pink that was in her hair.
Jane felt her worry dispell instantly.
"You dyed your hair?" She asked.
it was a dumb question but it got the girl to look up at her, although she shrank back slightly as Jane came to sit beside her.
"It suits you, probably going to blind someone in the sunlight though."
The joke caused the tension to leave Katherine's body.
"You're not mad?"
Jane sighed, turning herself so that she faced the girl before lightly tugging one of the now pink strands.
"I am sure you're not the only teenager who has part of their hair colored florescent, besides, it's just hair. You like it, yes?"
When Katherine nodded, Jane continued
"Then that is what matters. I already know the school won't say anything since I remember someone accidentally dyeing her whole head a putrid green."
That was what got Katherine's attention.
Jane couldn't help but laugh at the memory.
"Anne. Still not sure what she was doing exactly but her hair was this awful shade of dark toxic waste green for the longest time."
That finally earned a laugh.
"What? She never told me about that!"
Jane had Katherine's full attention now and couldn't help but laugh.
"Oh really? I guess I'll have to fill you in on how big of a clown that cousin of yours can be then."
Warning: Self-depreciation and talk of abuse in this chapter.
Mondays were hell in general for any teenager but the Monday following her sleepover with Joan seemed to be even worse than normal. The jeers about her being in foster care stuck deeper than usual, reminding her that she didn't even have the luxury of stability like Joan had with Bessie. Not even her friends could protect her from the onslaught that day.
Especially not when one of her tormentors called out "I bet it's your fault your mum died! Bet she offed herself just so she wouldn't have to raise a pathetic as you!"
Katherine tried to ignore it. She really did try, however, the more the words rang in her mind the truer they felt. She was Pathetic. She could barely speak in class without stammering, she couldn't spell to save her life, and despite having quite a large group of friends she was extremely uncomfortable with crowds.
Who would want a daughter like her? Surely that was why her father had left her with her step-grandmother and why none of the foster homes had wanted to keep her either.
Would Jane eventually leave her too? Would she drive even her away?
Katherine didn't even realize she wasn't feeling well until she was sick all over the floor of her second class.
It wasn't often that Jane left work early, preferring to save her sick days for when she truly needed them and from the sound of it, she was needed more at home than she was at the nursery school she worked at.
Katherine had seemed fine that morning , she thought as she pulled into the school, or had the girl lied to her in fear of upsetting her?
For some reason, Jane doubted it. Katherine would tell small lies at times, sure. But those were usually relating to sneaking sweets or staying up too late on a school night. Not an illness, so either something happened or Katherine had just come down with something all at once.
Jane was surprised by the redness of Kat's eyes when she first saw her. It was obvious by her flushed face and eyes that she had been crying as well (which just furthered her concern).
"Kat? What happened?" She asked once they were in the privacy of Jane's car once again, although Katherine just shook her head.
Katherine really didn't feel like doing the packet of makeup work. Her head hurt, she was tired, her chest ached and she just felt as though she was going mental, although she was sure that was the case.
After all, she had delusioned herself into thinking she had an actual family this time.
Why did she have to be such an idiot? Jane didn't love her unconditionally, she knew that.
Jane had Edward and Anne had Elizabeth, neither had a reason to want her around.
Except for pity.
They would grow tired of her and send her away, It had already happened so many times before.
Right after the whole Derham thing. She had felt safe then too but that had blown up in her face.
No one would really love her, would they?
Had anyone ever loved her?
Katherine was so lost in thought that she didn't even notice Edward until he pulled himself up using her pants leg, causing her to groan.
"Edward, go play. I'm busy."
She muttered, closing her eyes as she tried her best to ignore the bitter emotion that was bubbling up inside of her, after all, he was just a baby. It wasn't his fault
But why did everyone have people who truly loved them besides her? Was she broken? Evil? What was wrong with her?
She felt Edward tug at her again and she sighed
"Edward, I said no!"
Jane had been upstairs when she heard the shrill cry come from the kitchen. A cry she had only heard from Edward a few times before. One that meant he actually was hurt.
Rushing into the room, she saw Katherine sitting at the table, eyes wide as if she didn't quite believe what she had seen. Jane ignored this, however as she rushed over to pick Edward up and check him over.
She hated how cold her voice came out but from the way the girl just looked down, she knew the teenager was hiding something.
"Katherine Howard, what happened?"
She tried again, a bit firmer.
Katherine's murmured answer came as a shock for the woman.
Jane couldn't deny that she was angry as she grabbed the girl's arm, pulling the girl to her feet.
"What were you thinking?" She demanded, her mind instantly going to the worse case scenarios that could have happened, however her grip listened when she saw the tears in the teen's eyes.
"We'll discuss this later, go to your room."
She barely managed to keep from yelling—mostly because she saw the pure fear on her ward's face.
"Jane I...I didn't mean," Katherine began, taking a step back as soon as the woman's grip loosened.
"Katherine, I told you to do something."
Once Katherine had retreated upstairs Jane practically collapsed onto the couch and checked over the toddler in her arms, finding him uninjured.
What is going on with that girl?
One part of her didn't believe what she had just heard but she had siblings, she knew that things happen and teenagers didn't think things through, especially not kids who were barely teenagers, to begin with.
Katherine never thought she would ever hate anyone but at that moment, as she slid the lock in place on the door, she hated herself.
Why had she let herself do something like that? She had always sworn she wouldn't be anything like them...Yet she was. She was exactly like them and she deserved whatever it was that Jane planned to do to her.
She could practically feel the belt ripping into her as she sank onto the floor.
Not that she didn't deserve it.
She wouldn't be surprised if Jane sent her away for this.
She deserved it.
Why did she always mess things up? Why did she always turn the people she loved against her? What was wrong with her? Why didn't she ever learn?
Would Jane kick her out or just hit her? Would there be blood? Would she be able to eventually sleep or would the pain be too bad?
Her mind was a whirl of questions and she felt sick. So much for ever actually hoping that Jane would ever actually love her, she would be lucky if Anne loved her after this royal screw up.
After several minutes she managed to get to her feet. She may as wells start packing, maybe she could at least keep the jacket and pajamas Jane had bought for her? Did she even deserve that much comfort?
Warning child abuse implied
Jane sighed as she tried to think this through and calm down. She couldn't let Kat get away with this but she also didn't want to scare the poor girl even more, especially since she hadn't really had a cause to punish the girl before now and if she was honest, the girl was probably terrified of her right now.
Edward could have been badly hurt had she actively shoved him besides just kinda tipping him over (which Jane realized was exactly what happened after not finding any major knots or bruises on him anywhere).
she just didn't know how she should handle it.
Katherine was a good kid that had a temporary lapse of common sense plus she had been hurt so much before that she must be terrified at the moment. Hell, she had looked horrified at her own actions even before Jane had yelled at her.
Sighing, she glanced down at her son (who was playing with her necklace) and debated with herself. She needed to go about this carefully, or else the girl would think the worst.
Especially after losing her temper in her worry for Edward.
Thinking about it, Katherine had been sort of out of sorts lately and refused to really open up.
Not that she did that too much.
"Come on, sweetheart. I have to go talk to that sister of yours." She commented, her heart jumping into her throat at what she had just said about the teenager.
'Shit,' she thought 'she's going to freak out if she ever hears me saying stuff like that.'
Jane wasn't sure how to react when she found Katherine packing.
She called, trying to keep her heart from breaking at the way the girl stiffened.
"Katherine, we need to talk." She called, trying to keep a neutral tone although she couldn't help but let her voice softened in compassion toward the child.
She was surprised when the girl turned to face her, obviously distraught.
"Then talk! Tell me what to pack and I'll get out!" Katherine began, the bitterness in her tone as she stood there, trembling.
Jane's heart broke at the sight.
"Kat I'm not…"
Jane began, however, she didn't have time to say anything more before Katherine turned and grabbed a belt, hurling it onto the ground at Jane's feet.
"Oh, so you just… Go ahead! I don't care anymore! Nothing I ever do is enough anyway! Not even when the people who were supposed to protect me took everything from me!"
Katherine's response sounded so hopeless that Jane's heart sank, although she moved to pick up the belt, trying to ignore Katherine's flinch or how the color seemed to drain from her face.
She had to make it clear to the girl that she was not going to be like the rest.
That she was not going to hurt her.
"Katherine Howard, there is one thing I want to make clear." She began, leveling the girl with a look "we don't ever hurt the people we love."
And with that, Jane hurled the belt into the hallway.
"I..I don't understand, you were so mad…. I hurt your son….I…"
Katherine stammered, taking a step back as Jane moved a bit closer.
"Kat," the use of the nickname caught her attention "no matter how angry we get, it's never okay to hurt someone, especially not when you love that person."
Jane's heart broke at the way the girl's expression crumpled, obviously not registering the point of her words.
"Is he...is he okay? I...I didn't mean….I…"
Katherine began, only to stiffen when Jane moved closer.
"I think you scared him more than anything but he could have been hurt. That's why one must always think their actions through." Jane responded, keeping her voice neutral although she pulled the girl into a hug, unable to just watch the girl cry.
Katherine practically melted at the touch.
They stayed like that until Kat was calmer before Jane pulled away, motioning to the bed.
"We need to talk about what happened today and I think it goes deeper than you just having a lapse of judgment. Want to tell me exactly what is wrong? You have been acting a bit odd today."
However, just before either could say anything Katherine's phone rang.
"I am so sorry...I…" Katherine began, although Jane just glanced at the device.
"Go ahead and answer it. I am assuming you called Anne? If it makes you feel safe, so be it."
Jane sighed as she glanced over at the teen, who was practically curled in on herself and refusing to make eye contact. She was surprised that Katherine hadn't told Anne much of what happened, just asking her to come over for what would basically be moral support.
Jane half wondered if it was because the girl was still afraid that she would be hurt if they discussed this alone.
Jane noticed the way the teenager flinched at the sound of her full name, yet she pressed on.
"I'm sorry I grabbed you like that down there. I didn't hurt you, did I?"
Katherine shook her head, a silence passing over them for several minutes before she finally spoke.
"Why didn't you? I mean…"
Jane hated that the girl was so confused, hated that someone had hurt a child so much that they had come to expect some sort of threat to always loom over them.
"Katherine, I meant what I said earlier. You don't hurt the people you love, no matter what."
This finally caused the girl to glance up, eyes widening
Her voice sounded like she was caught between hope and disbelief but in spite of this, Jane managed a smile as she reached across the bed and rubbed away some of the tears that had once again begun to slip down her charge's face.
She wished there was something that she could say to prove it, something that would put an end to the girl's fears but sometimes actions speak much louder than words.
It was obvious that Katherine wanted to say something but before she could, the sound of the doorbell called for their attention.
"That would most likely be Anne. wanna go let her in?"
"Kat, sweetheart, I promise you...Jane is not like that. If she says something, she means it."
Anne tried to assure as she moved to pull her cousin into a hug, casting Jane (who was standing by the door) an apologetic look.
"I want to believe that Anne, It's just. That's what they told me too and…"
Katherine trailed off, choking on the words.
"Who? Kitty, please talk to us. We're just worried." Anne coaxed, although she wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer.
"It's not important."
Jane spoke up then, revealing that she had been listening to the whole conversation.
"Katherine, of course, it's important. Please just talk to us."
Neither of them was prepared for what they were told because once Katherine began to talk about it, everything just came bubbling to the surface and everything from the last seven years just came pouring out.
Short chapter is Short but next one will be longer
Anne was practically fuming as she excused herself from the room. How could anyone harm a child like that? How could anyone think such a disgusting act was acceptable? How could people ignore someone when they just wanted help?
Anne swore under her breath as she tried to resist the urge to find these people and beat the ever-living hell out of them, but she knew that she couldn't and it irritated her to no end. She was supposed to protect her cousin, yet even now Katherine's life was still some form of hell.
"Are you mad at me?"
The voice broke her from her thoughts and she turned to see Katherine standing well out of reach, arms wrapped around herself.
"No. Why would I be? Kat, it was so brave of you to tell us. However, I am furious with Agnes and Edmund for not stepping in once they found out and for what they did. All of that is bullshit, you're just a kid you should have never had that happen to you….None of it." Anne replied, signing before motioning the girl closer, drawing her against her side once she was.
A silence passed over them for several minutes until Katherine finally spoke again
"You knew my mum, right? Do you….Do you think that she would still love me after everything?"
"Yes, she would. You were her baby, you know? She made that bastard promise he would look after you when she took ill. She would be furious at him, not you." Anne answered, pulling her close and pressing a kiss to her head.
"I miss her so much sometimes and…." Katherine trailed off, her voice wavering when she spoke again "I know she would be upset with me."
"Really? Wanna tell me why you think that?"
Jane wasn't sure what to think when Anne sent Katherine upstairs to take a breather then came to sit beside her at the table in the kitchen. Anne looked tired as if whatever had conspired outside had drained her.
"Not making excuses for her but I think I know what half her moodiness is being caused by. Poor girl looks up to you and I think feels like she's replaceable. It has probably been building up for a bit and the immature schoolgirl bullshit made everything just flood her at once." Anne said in a low voice once she knew Katherine wouldn't be eavesdropping.
"Then why wouldn't she just talk to someone? I mean, she knows that she at least can call you." Jane responded, earning a sigh.
"From what she told me out there, I figure she was afraid I'd judge her for it. She's scared, Jane. She's afraid that she will just end up hurt again when all she really wants is people who care." Anne responded "whatever you decide to do about earlier...Please keep that in mind."
Jane narrowed her eyes at the younger woman.
"Now you sound like you expect me to hurt her! I already got told to hit her...I mean she literally asked me to use a belt. I mean, I know I probably frightened her and I know I was angry but I had thought that I had made it clear that I would never…"
Anne cut her off, putting a hand on the blonde's shoulder.
"That was not what I was implying and honestly….After hearing that girl degrade herself outside, I'm not surprised. She was seven the last time she had a stable environment, she probably thought that was what she actually deserved. It's fucked up but with what has happened to her I can't say I am surprised. Just be honest with her, but let her know that even if you do get mad at her, that you still care...that you're still safe . That is really all the girl wants is someone who won't give up on her and love her no matter what."
Katherine was surprised that the question came from both of the women when she walked in, although she managed a nod as she accepted the hug that Anne offered before taking a seat between them.
She was even more surprised when Jane moved to put a hand on her back.
Wasn't she angry? Surely Anne had told her of their conversation outside.
"I'll leave you two to talk...I'll keep an eye on Eddie in the next room so if you need me, just shout, okay?" Anne said after a few minutes of silence before taking the toddler and disappearing into the kitchen.
"You know, what those girls say isn't true in the slightest. I do, however, want to know why you never told me about this?" Jane began after a while, her hand never stopping its tracks across Katherine's back.
"Didn't want to be a bother...You're busy with work and Edward and…It wasn't that important." Katherine replied, earning a sigh.
"Kitty, if it is enough to upset you so much it is important. Just because I'm busy doesn't mean I don't have time to talk. Now, let's focus on that situation first, yeah?"
Katherine was surprised that Jane wasn't yelling, even when the incident with Edward came up, her voice remained calm only taking on a slightly stern edge when she was explaining what could have happened. Katherine hadn't really thought about what could have happened, she hadn't thought at all really.
Not until after it had happened anyway.
"I really didn't mean to hurt him." She eventually said earning a nod.
"I know love, let's try to make better choices alright? Think things through a bit better?"
Jane responded, catching her by surprise because of the lack of judgment in her tone.
"Yes, ma'am." She managed to say before adding "um...Should I go to my room or…"
She didn't want to ask the question that really was on her mind, or dare make eye contact with the woman.
"No, but you're going to be hanging out around the house for the next week. I'm not angry but what you did really could have ended badly and I need you to start thinking about the consequences alright?"
Katherine nodded, kinda surprised by the whole ordeal.
That was it?
She had been positive it would have been worse.
Maybe Jane hadn't been lying when she said she wouldn't hurt her.
Kat gets enough courage to come to Jane for comfort, just a soft scene between a sleepy Jane and a slightly cuddly Katherine
Jane tried to suppress a groan at the sudden assault from the light from the hall hitting her in the face, or the fact that the initial thump that had woke her had been a picture frame falling from her dresser.
"Kat? What time is it?" She asked, sitting up although trying to shield her eyes as she felt for the lamp that she kept beside her bed.
"Sorry," then room once again dimmed "it's almost four…. I couldn't sleep and I just thought…"
With her sight not overwhelmed by the sudden change nor the now dimly lit light, Jane saw that the girl had brought a blanket and a pillow with her and that she looked ready to bolt out of the room if Jane even began to say something she thought of as a threat.
"Then come on, some of us don't have the leisure to sleep in every weekend."
Jane couldn't help but chuckle when the girl quickly made her way over to the bed, making herself comfortable beside her.
"You have to work today?" Katherine asked, earning a chuckle
"More like my room is a mess and I was too tired yesterday to deal with it. Someone gave their kid too much sugar and….ugh."
That officially got a laugh out of the teenager.
"Maybe I could come to help? I know technically I'm not allowed out of the house but I don't think volunteer work counts."
If it was anyone else, Jane perhaps would have assumed that she was just trying to get out of trouble for a day, but this was Katherine and she always offered to help if she thought that Jane needed it.
"I think I can handle it. You're going to be dead on your feet if I get you up in a few hours and I'd much prefer that I didn't have to deal with a grumpy teenager all day." Jane retorted lightly, leaning down to press a kiss against the girl's forehead before adding:
"thanks for the offer though but I'm sure Aragon could use your help since she's also watching Lizzie for Anne today."
Jane tried not to laugh when Katherine made a sound that seemed like a mix of a whine and a groan.
"If I have to listen to Mary and Elizabeth argue all day then could someone just shoot me?"
The teen grumbled, nuzzling against Jane's side.
Jane couldn't help but chuckle at that particular comment.
"Oh, surely they aren't that bad?"
She retorted, earning a huff.
"They argued over pancakes the last time. Aragon had to basically threat to make them eat liver instead if they didn't just be quiet and eat."
Jane could imagine that, especially since she knew how strong-willed both the girl's mothers were.
"Well, one is five and the other seven...Pretty sure that's normal." She snickered before adding "won't be long until Edward is that age. Are you going to avoid him too?"
Katherine mumbled something but didn't look up, letting silence fall over them for a few moments before she spoke again—just as Jane was dozing off.
The blonde barely managed a hum in response
"You said you loved me earlier...Well...I love you too."
Sort of a continuation of last chapter
Katherine couldn't sleep, Anne's words repeating over in her mind.
"Joyce wouldn't mind, as long as you didn't forget her. She would just want you happy and safe, Kat. She'd be glad someone was taking care of you as well as she would have."
She wanted to believe that, wanted to believe that her feelings didn't insult or erase her actual mother. Yet, this was the first time since she was little that she felt this kind of safety. Jane was affectionate but didn't press if she wasn't feeling up to being touched that day, and before the previous day, she hadn't yelled at all—even when she was annoyed.
She genuinely seemed to mean it when she said she cared and Katherine would be lying if she said she didn't love the woman just as much.
Outside of her mother and Anne, had anyone ever truly loved her before?
The question had always haunted her, everyone who had claimed to have loved her either hurt her or left her. She had been in three foster homes in the last few months and only one had seemed to have cared, but then suddenly she was sent away.
She wasn't sure why and she was terrified that the same thing could happen now.
She could feel a knot forming in her throat at the thought of it.
However, when she eventually gathered the strength to get out of bed (to go into another room so that if she started crying, she wouldn't disturb Jane), she found herself being pulled back into the woman, who was much stronger than she looked.
"Unless you need the bathroom, there is no excuse for you wanting out of this bed."
The playful, yet tired tone caused Katherine to smile in spite of herself, especially as Jane sat up and drew her closer.
Katherine wished she was better at lying (or at least didn't feel so guilty afterward) because saying yes would have been easier than the alternative.
Saying yes would result in conversation this she really didn't warn to have.
"I just….I keep thinking about stuff." She eventually answered, leaning into the embrace.
"Is this one of your you don't want to talk about it things?" Jane guessed, and even in the now dim, bluish light of morning Katherine could swear she saw the woman's expression soften.
"Is that okay?" Katherine replied, earning herself a tighter embrace
"Of course, sweetheart. Just know that I am here if you ever need someone to talk to."
Jane responded and without thinking too much of it, Katherine just let herself snuggle closer.
"I know...m…" Katherine felt her face heat up as she caught what she had almost said and buried her face against Jane's side, feeling her laugh softly.
"Forget not to be formal?"
Katherine was thankful for that guess and nodded, only to feel a kiss pressed into her hair.
After several minutes Katherine felt Jane playing with her hair, just running a hand through it and gently unknotting any tangles.
"You know you don't have to stay up with me, right? I mean you have work and…"
Katherine began after a few minutes, feeling herself sort of slipping away at the gesture, though Jane only shushed her, never once moving to force her away.
"I told you that any time you needed me, to come to me didn't I?"
Jane pointed out, her voice just barely above a whisper.
Jane couldn't help but smile as Katherine's breathing leveled out. She carefully moved to guide the sleeping teen in a more comfortable position, only to hear a whimper.
The plea was barely audible and muffled but it broke Jane's heart nonetheless.
"I won't leave Katherine, I promise."
Really wanted to write some soft family floof between these two since I've practically tortured kitty the last few chapters.
Wanna aks questions or yell at me? You can find me on tumblr
Katherine had to dodge a random ball when she came downstairs, which was followed by the voice of the older Catherine shouting "take it into the garden before you break something!"
If it was a few months before, Katherine would have found herself worried for the girls but now she just rolled her eyes.
"I see double trouble is at it already," Katherine responded, earning a laugh from the woman
"As always." Catherine responded before adding "you slept in today."
Katherine felt her heart rate quicken, even though she knew that there was no real reason to be afraid of Catherine nor was there any reason for her to actually be awake before noon since it was a Saturday.
"Yeah, had a hard time falling asleep last night," Katherine replied, suppressing a yawn as she sank down onto the couch, curling closer to Aragon who just put an arm around the teen.
"Jane mentioned it, I think she left you some breakfast in the oven."
Katherine just mumbled out a response, leaning against the woman.
"I think you may want to go back to bed for a while Kit. Pretty sure Elizabeth and Mary would not hesitate to target you with their pranks, especially since you're basically a zombie." Aragon commented although she was basically ignored.
Katherine didn't know how long she had been asleep when the sound of crying woke her up.
"What happened? Is he alright?" She asked instantly when she found the older Catherine knelt on the floor, talking softly to the toddler.
"He just slipped down, he managed to take a few steps though. Didn't you, Eddie?"
Kat couldn't help but grin at the sight, especially since she really hadn't imagined the woman as being capable of being soft before actually getting to know her.
"You know, you still confuse me."
The teenager said after a while, earning a look from the older woman, so she continued
"You remind me of Agnes, well my step-grandma but you aren't like her. You never lose your temper or demand perfection."
Aragon sighed as an expression that Katherine didn't quite understand coming over her.
"No one is perfect Kat. It was unfair of her to hold you to those expectations."
Aragon responded before adding softly "was she one of the ones who hurt you?"
Katherine actually had to think about that. Should she loop her grandmother in with the foster families who had been so harsh? She wasn't that bad , after all.
"If you're talking about the bruises, no. I mean, she smacked me once or twice but…. She never really hurt me. She just...treated me like a bother instead of a granddaughter, always saying that I was disgracing her in one way or another. Especially when I told her about….never mind."
Katherine didn't even realize that Aragon had moved from her place on the floor until she felt Edward tug lightly on her hair, seemingly entranced by its color.
"Kat, she should have never hit you. Is that why you were so nervous around me? Why you asked so many questions before?"
Katherine felt her face heat up as she nodded.
It all added up for Catherine. The questions about religion, child-rearing, and her skittishness in general.
"Have I proved myself to you yet?" She asked, knowing words really didn't prove anything "It's okay if I haven't, trust takes time to build."
Katherine just gave a shy smile at that
"I do trust you. I mean, you have been nothing but nice to me. All of you have. It's kinda confusing."
Trigger warning: brief mentions of rape
"Anne, I swear you are lucky you didn't get your ass arrested."
Anne wanted to care about the older woman practically yelling in her ear but she couldn't. Her wrist was throbbing and the medicine she had been given was making her mind fuzzy, yet that wasn't enough to keep her sister from lecturing her.
"He fucking raped a teenager, Mary. Don't tell me you are like the other idiots in this family that upholds for that sick bastard."
Anne snapped after a few minutes, earning a sigh from Mary.
"Oh, I never said the bastard shouldn't get his ass kicked. Honestly, that is one thing I wish we still had the death penalty for but you know as well as I do that Agnes is the most stubborn woman on this planet and if you weren't her favorite, she probably would have called the police."
Anne just tried to make herself comfortable, clearly under the effects of the medicine.
"I already managed to sprain my wrist. You don't have to keep on driving it into the ground." Anne grumbled, unaware that her retort caused her sister to have to bite back a laugh.
"Yes and since you brought that up. Do you need me to teach you how to throw a punch? So next time I don't have to spend my day off coming to drive you home?"
"Shut up Mary!"
Katherine was keeping her younger cousin and mary occupied in the back garden when Anne arrived, her eyes instantly landing on the plaster that covered Anne's wrist.
"Annie! What happened?"
She asked, earning an unreadable look from the older woman who's eyes seemed to turn stormy at the sight of her, which made her take a full step back. However, she relaxed slightly when she saw Anne shrug.
"Just a sprain. You should see the other guy."
Anne retorted, just as Elizabeth noticed her mother's presence and ran over to her.
"Mama, what happened?"
Anne sighed, glancing toward Catherine (who had come out upon hearing the car pull up) and sighed.
"Let's just say Mama got hurt doing something that she technically probably shouldn't have done. Now if you two detectives will excuse me, I think I need to talk to Catherine...Er...Aragon about something."
Katherine could see the look (which she had no name for) in Anne's eyes and found herself leading Elizabeth away, her own heart hammering slightly as her mind raced with possible reasons for the sudden change in Anne's demeanor.
Had she did something wrong? Was Anne angry with her for some reason?
She wracked her brain trying to figure out if anything she could have said or done could have upset her cousin, after all, they had been okay the previous day.
"Mama seemed angry, didn't she? I wonder what happened?"
Elizabeth questioned, earning a sigh from Katherine.
"I don't know Lizzie."
Katherine didn't feel like dealing with their questions or games suddenly. Why should she if the only thing people were going to do was suddenly acting like Agnes had.
"I punched Francis."
Catherine really wished she could say that surprised her but instead she just sighed and busied herself with finishing up lunch.
"Francis? Who is he?" She questioned, sparing a glance at the younger woman who let out a strangled sound as if she was trying to find some way to censor herself.
"The creep who works as Agnes Howard's...driver? Gardener? Anyway, he is in his forties and...I probably shouldn't tell you this without Kat's permission but you spend a lot of time around her and probably should know."
Jane sighed as she walked into the garden, finding Katherine sitting by the shed at the back hidden from view. After getting a text from both Anne and Aragon, she had forfeited stopping at the market (and instead brought takeout) in order to hurry back.
"A bit lonely back here." She commented, sitting down on the grass beside the teen, who flinched slightly
"You didn't say I couldn't come out. Just that I couldn't go anywhere."
Jane wanted to laugh at the way the girl instantly went on the defensive, although she didn't.
"Not why I came out here, love. Evidently, you worried everyone pretty badly when you didn't come inside for lunch and snapped at the girls. Did something happen?"
"I didn't snap…Lizzie is just too sensitive." Katherine muttered, and this time Jane couldn't hide her amusement.
"Kat, she's four... Now wanna tell me what's wrong? Pretty sure there isn't anything visible to the human eye across that fence and you've not once looked at me since I sat down here."
"I don't know what I did wrong but Anne is mad at me."
Jane sighed, moving to pull the girl closer.
"It's not you she's angry with Katherine. She saw Agnes today...and whatever happened….it made her angry." Jane responded, not wanting to go into what little detail she actually knew about that particular conversation.
"Agnes probably told her how fucked up I am."
Jane tightened her arms around the girl at that.
"Katherine, you're not a screw-up. You're not anything any of those people have ever called you and I know for certain that Anne loves you as much as she does anyone." She said, choosing to tackle the bigger problem than the girl's choice of wording.
"Yeah? Then why do I keep messing up? Why do I always end up second best to everyone?"
Katherine demanded, pulling out of the embrace and glaring at Jane, who just sighed.
Well, at least she is comfortable enough to open up.
"To answer the first question, everyone messes up Kat and you're not any less than anyone, why would you say that?" She promoted, earning a look.
"It's always been that way. First with dad, then Agnes, then the foster homes, now you. Don't pretend you don't just keep me around because I help out."
Katherine expected to be scolded or at the least, told to pack. However, she just felt a hand lifting her chin, forcing her to look up at the woman.
"I keep you around,"
Katherine could practically hear the air quotes around those words as Jane paused
"Because you deserve good things. Are you a huge help with Edward? Yes but if you want to hang out with friends instead of babysitting do I force you to stay home? Besides, I recall that outside of a few chores, you get paid for helping out. Katherine, I know that it's hard to believe but I love you, we all do."
There was no irritation anywhere in Jane's demeanor.
There was a pregnant pause that came over them for several minutes before Katherine dared to so much as breath again.
She managed to mumble, only to feel an arm around her shoulders.
"Don't ever apologize for feeling things, love. Just remember, you have people to talk to. You don't have to keep things bottled up inside anymore. Now come on, I bought pizza for dinner and since you missed lunch, I am sure you're hungry."
Katherine let her pull her to her feet, although she hung back a little.
"Maybe I should apologize to Lizzie first? I didn't exactly snap at her but…"
Jane surprised her by laughing.
"Perhaps, although what she told Anne was that you needed a nap or something because you were grouchy. You may be in more trouble with a four-year-old than you are with anyone else."
Trigger warning: Victim blaming and discussion of child abuse
"She fucking blamed a child for what two grown-ass men did to her! She's lucky I didn't punch her in the face." Anne stated, earning a low curse from Jane.
"No wonder Katherine's always so on edge. Who knows what that witch said to her?"
Catherine sighed, glancing at the clock.
It was late but the kids had already been put to bed in the guest room and this was something that they needed to discuss.
"Well anyone would be afraid if they were hit for minuscule offenses or locked in bedrooms as punishment. She got in trouble just for acting like a child. I thought Boleyn's parents were bad, but this takes the cake."
She commented, earning a look from Anne.
"Hey, my mum isn't the problem there. Evidently, she got the lesser end of that spectrum than the rest of the Howards. My dad, however, would fit right the hell in with them!" Anne retorted "I couldn't imagine having my head so far up my ass that if a child under my care came out and said that my...whoever...had hurt her in any way...that I would defend him instead."
Jane sighed then and pinched the bridge of her nose. The more she learned about the young girl under her care, the more she felt her temper want to boil over.
"Thank god I filed those papers a month ago. At least that will keep that woman from getting her hands back on her."
She didn't notice how both Catherine and Anne seemed to light up at this statement.
"Wait, you did? Have you told Kitty yet?"
Jane sighed, shaking her head.
"No idea how to bring it up. She gets the final say of course but after we talked about that whole comment Edmund made…I refuse to let her return to that."
It surprised her when Anne snickered.
"Janie, come on. The girl adores you and if you talk to her about it, she will definitely say yes."
"I agree," Catherine spoke up, "she is still uncertain how to go about expressing herself and her feelings but it is plain as day that she loves you."
They had just finished that particular conversation when Katherine stumbled her way into the living room, obviously half-asleep as she practically collapsed onto Jane's lap.
"Well, that was unexpected." Anne snickered, earning an elbow to the ribs from Aragon as she snapped a picture on her phone.
Jane (for the most part) ignored the other woman's comment and shifted herself slightly.
"Nightmare?" She guessed, earning a mumbled, incomprehensible response as Katherine got comfortable.
"You think she even realized what she was doing?"
Anne whispered after a while, earning a shrug from Jane.
"Not a clue. Either way, she feels safe enough to do this...So I'm not complaining. She spent the first month or so afraid to breathe the wrong way."
Katherine slowly became aware that someone was, well not really yelling at her but just speaking a tad bit loudly. Prompting her to groan as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
She asked, not even realizing where she was until she felt Jane laughing.
"I think we both should get to bed love. Think you can make it up the stairs?"
Katherine nodded, heat climbing into her face as she realized that she was very much snuggled up against Jane.
"I am so sorry. I didn't even realize that I…When did...This happen?" She asked, motioning to their predicament as she stumbled to stand up and nearly falling in the process.
"Katherine, sweetheart, take a breath. You stumbled in and just plopped down. Now stop apologizing. It's not a big deal."
Jane responded although Katherine couldn't exactly keep her heart from racing.
"Yeah, it is...I made a fool of you...I..."
Katherine stopped herself when she felt a hand on her shoulder, prompting her to look up.
"Sorry...I'm just not used to this. I know you don't mind but I should have asked."
She stammered, averting her eyes once again, although this time in embarrassment.
"Kat, we've been over this.you do not have to ask. If you need me, you come to me. Simple as that. Yeah?"
Jane responded, pulling her into a hug before adding "now let's get to bed, tomorrow maybe a day of rest but with small children who are going to be expecting breakfast in the morning I'm sure we're going to be woken up at some point before nine."
Katherine began to laugh at that comment and nodded as she let Jane lead her upstairs, although she paused on the landing.
"Um...Can I stay with you tonight?"
She knew she was being childish and clingy (something adults hated in one her age) but she couldn't keep the question at bay, not after waking up feeling so warm and (if she dared say it) safe. Did jane really not mind that she had practically squished her on the couch? That she had been so childish in front of guests?
Why had she even acted so stupid anyway?
She didn't remember waking from a nightmare or really even coming downstairs.
She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't hear Jane's answer until she felt a slight bump from the woman.
"Did you fall asleep standing up? Come on silly girl, let's get to sleep."
Katherine relaxed a bit as Jane took her arm, the answer coming again only as she was being led to her guardian's room.
That night as she curled against Jane, feeling the dangerous, selfish thoughts fill her mind.
She knew Jane wouldn't like the idea, who would? There were always limits and love was definitely not an exception to that, even if Jane swore she loved her.
Why did she have to be so stupid and needy? Hadn't she practically taken care of herself? Hadn't she taken care of small children while in the other foster homes? She shouldn't even want to shove her own problems onto Jane. Yet, she couldn't help but feel so secure around the woman, who was so patient and open.
How long had it been since she had been since anyone had treated her with the same compassion that Jane had?
If she thought about it, she could just remember it being her mother and the comparison made her stomach clench. What kind of daughter replaces their mother? What kind of daughter forgets what their parent's voice sounded like? Forgets Those little details that meant so much?
What Katherine is worried about (forgetting about her mom) literally is not the case. In this story, she was roughly 7-ish when her mother died and so her memory is sort of frayed.
She remembers her mother but finds that she forgets what she sounded like and other little details (favorite food, color, etc) which in all honesty is devastating to realize when you're young and have lost a parent you were close to.
She isn't forgetting her mom or replacing her but is terrified that she is a bad daughter because she sort of has found a mother figure in Jane as well.
Kat finally opens up to Jane.
The next few days seemed to slide by at a snail's pace for Katherine, who had become nearly locked in her thoughts to the point that it was becoming a problem concentration wise. She knew that she had to talk to someone before she went completely mad but who was there to talk to?
Anne had exams of some sort and was stressing over them and she wasn't quite sure if Jane would be the best person to talk to about this sort of thing, especially since it was Jane who had even planted some of the thoughts in her head.
That left only one person (that she knew how to contact anyway) and that was Anna. The only problem, Katherine still had two days left of her grounding and she wasn't sure if the vet technician would rat her out or not.
Glancing at the clock, the girl quickly weighed her chances. Jane wouldn't be back from Edwards's appointment for another two hours or so and if she could convince anna not to tell on her, well, she may finally get the answers that she definitely wanted.
Anna had been in the garage when she heard Wolfe start barking, then suddenly starting to playfully yip at someone and it didn't take a genius to figure out who that someone was by the sound of the laughter.
"Katherine Howard? What on earth are you doing out here and why aren't you at school?" She tried to make herself sound at least somewhat authoritative just to see the girl's reaction, but the sight of a mere whisp of a girl wrestling the large, white dog off of her–only to get attacked with licks once again–was just too adorable for her to be able to keep up appearances.
"Jane knows I'm home of that what you're worried about."
She retorted, managing to sit up, pushing the dog away only to be bowled over again.
Anna laughed then let out a whistle, bringing the animal lopping to her side.
"Well, that I believe but I am still curious as to why you're on my property while Jane has said you were on restriction." Anna retorted, helping her up.
Anna knew she had hit the target if the way that Katherine shifted and averted her gaze was anything to go by.
"I'm not going to tell, I am surprised though since you usually avoid potential trouble." She added, earning what she assumed was supposed to be a threatening look before Katherine just sighed and seemingly deflated.
"I needed someone to talk to and I don't know. If I should bother Jane with it because it's nothing that really affects her and…."
Anna cut her off by pulling her into a sideways hug.
"Kid, she loves you and honestly, she's been worried about you and how distant you've become toward her. However, if you think you can't trust her then I suppose I can lend an ear, but let's go inside."
"You need to talk to her about this, love. I know it's nerve-wracking but honestly? Jane isn't going to react badly. She'll understand."
Katherine wanted to shout at the woman, wanted to point out that all this had happened before, that she had gotten in trouble just for giving someone a mother's day gift as a thank you for letting her stay there, that Jane couldn't love her that much because she wasn't anything to her.
But she couldn't bring herself to say anything, not to Anna.
"What if she doesn't? I don't want to just end up who knows where again! I...I'd rather die." Katherine found herself saying, only to feel arms wrap around her.
"Don't say that Katherine. I know it feels like the end of the world right now but I know Jane, okay? Jane would never kick you out, especially not over something like this."
Anna murmured, maneuvering herself so that the girl could comfortably fit in a full embrace.
Jane noticed that Katherine acted oddly that evening, remaining oddly quiet and lost deep in thought.
"Did something happen today?"
She tried, jolting the girl from her thoughts.
"Not really...I just...I was thinking about my mum and I...I realized I can barely remember what she sounded like and…."
Katherine choked up, shifting her gaze to the floor as she added
"I know, you don't want to hear about her but…."
Jane didn't give herself time to think, she just reacted by moving herself in front of the girl.
"No Katherine, I want you to talk about her or anyone else that is important to you. I don't know what the other people you lived with said or did but I am not going to try to erase your connections to people. If you want to talk about your mum, then I will listen. Alright?"
She wasn't expecting to be tackled into a hug, so when she was hit by a bolt of pink, she found herself nearly falling onto the carpet but even so, she found herself more worried about the rushed, one breath sentences that were coming from her charge than anything.
Sentences that she could only understand bits of, though they were concerning. Especially since there were words like 'horrible' and 'disgrace' that seemed to be repeated every few seconds.
"Katherine, you were very young when she passed. Memories, no matter how precious, fray with time. What matters is that you still think about her and love her, yes?" Jane spoke after a while, wondering briefly if the poor girl had actually been allowed to grieve at all.
"Why don't you tell me some things you do remember?"
She promoted after she was sure that Katherine had heard her.
"She could sing...we used to sing together."
Katherine managed to get out, not lifting her face from where it was buried against Jane's shoulder.
"I bet she's where you got your love from music, yeah?"
Jane felt a nod.
"I stop by her grave every week...well..except this week since you want me straight home." Katherine surprised her by saying after a while, pulling away slightly but not leaving the embrace.
"Well, how about I drive you there this weekend? We can stop at the shops to pick up some flowers?" Jane replied, causing Katherine to finally make eye contact.
"Wait you would do that?"
Jane couldn't help but chuckle at the wide-eyed look.
"Of course, silly girl. I don't lie now, do I?"
She said in mock defense, earning a small smile.
"I'll pay you back."
Jane playfully flicked the girl on the nose at that, chuckling at the indignant look she got in response.
"Hey, I'm the adult here. No, you will not."
"Yeah well, I don't like people buying things I can pay for!"
Katherine found herself challenging, only to feel arms wrap around her, effectively pulling her into Jane's lap (although if she was honest. It didn't take much since she was halfway there already)
"Oh hush up. It's not going to kill you to let me buy things. You're not grown quite yet."
The playfulness was still there and along with the warmth of the embrace, Katherine felt slightly guilty about earlier that day, even if she did try to swallow it down.
Jane would be so angry and she really didn't want to press her luck.
"I won't get in trouble for asking questions right?"
She said after a few minutes of just listening to the woman's heartbeat.
"Of course not."
Katherine took a breath before beginning
"Hypothetically if I deliberately did something but had a reason...How much trouble would I be in?"
Jane hummed in thought for a second before responding
"Depends on the severity. Now if it would put you or someone in danger I'd be cross but if it was a small thing, it would depend. Why do you ask?"
Katherine found the truth coming out before she could stop herself and quickly rushed to explain herself.
"I went to annas but...I needed someone to talk to and you were gone and Anne's busy and I couldn't text Joan since Bessie took her phone and…"
She was expecting to be yelled at, not the chuckle that she got.
"Sweetheart, take a breath. I can't say that I'm pleased by this but…. I am proud of your honesty and...Well, I'd prefer you talk to someone than stew in whatever had been bothering you. So how about this, you do the dishes for the rest of the week and we'll forget this happened?"
Was Jane really not angry?
She couldn't keep from asking, only to feel a hand gently flick against the side of her head.
"I'll have you know this is a very serious infraction and this is a very big deal."
Katherine couldn't help but giggle at the fake sternness in Jane's voice.
"I thought you'd be angry." She stated, earning a sigh.
"Under any other situation, perhaps but I heard it from you and not someone else and since talking to Anna seemed to help get you out of whatever slump you have been in, I'm assuming you had very good reasons. Although, I do want to see your phone for a minute, so you don't have to sneak out again in order to have a conversation with someone."
Katherine nodded, glancing up.
"Before you do that can we stay like this for a bit more?"
The response she got was a kiss pressed to her temple as arms tightened around her.
"For as long as you need, sweetheart."
On the day after she finally gets released from her grounding, Kat lands herself in a bit more hot water.....
But Jane also is sort of a pushover and understands Katherine's reasoning
"Come on Jane! Please?"
Jane tried to ignore the girl (who she had explained her answer to multiple times in the last hour) but it was getting harder to do so, especially since the girl honestly was adorable when she was pouting.
"I said no, Kat. We do not need a dog, especially since Edward is so small. Ask me again in a few years and we'll talk about it. Now, why don't you go call Cathy or Anna and tell them all about me being a jerk while I finish vacuuming this glitter off the carpet? I programmed their numbers into your phone for a reason.*
Jane retorted, trying to remain firm but the girl made it hard to say no, especially when she gave her that look.
"Come on! I won't ask you for anything ever again!"
Jane let out a huff before turning on the vacuum, gently whacking the girl with the hose as she tried to drown her out.
Katherine was, fortunately, acting more and more like any other child her age and since she had just been released from her punishment earlier that day, seemed to have been dead set on driving Jane insane.
First the accidental spill of multicolor neon glitter on the white carpet.
Now the dog she was insisting they needed.
Jane honestly would have been more concerned if Katherine didn't feel comfortable enough to state her opinions, even if those opinions were spoken through whining.
Jane was almost done when Katherine suddenly unplugged the vacuum from the wall outlet.
"Kat Howard! Before I smack you with a pillow, stop."
She would have been lying if she said she was truly annoyed because she really was more amused than anything, especially since the girl had never shown this much attitude before but her want for a pet seemed to outweigh her anxieties.
"I'll do all the housework for a month if…."
Jane cut her off before she could finish.
"Katherine, I would never agree to that because you're under my care, not my slave. You can help, by plugging that back in and letting me finish up with this. We can finish this argument later."
Katherine obeyed but Jane couldn't help but chuckle at the sulky look she received as the girl collapsed down onto the couch.
Dropping a kiss onto the top of her charge's head as she walked past, Jane made a mental note of teasing the kid later about this whole thing.
"Oh stop being such a brat kat, it's not gonna work my girl. I can be just as stubborn as you."
Later that night Jane was awoken by the sound of a crash and a sharp curse in a voice she easily could recognize as Katherine. Groaning at the fact that it was twelve o'clock, she grabbed her dressing gown and headed toward the back door.
"You better have a good excuse for being out here this late….and waking me up."
Jane commented, only to end up on her butt within the next minute as something white whizzed past her, knocking her feet from under her.
"Jane! Are you okay? I am sorry, I…"
Jane just held up a hand and met the girl with a look, although she felt her annoyance melt when she saw how genuinely frightened the poor girl looked.
"Control that sonic cloud while I get back to my feet. Then you can explain to me why there is a rabid ball of fluff in my back garden."
When Katherine finally came over, carrying the mostly white creature, Jane sighed and tried to think.
Katherine looked close to tears and seemed like she was waiting for an executioner's blow.
"First off, I don't appreciate you being sneaky like this. Secondly, I told you my reasoning on why I didn't want a dog. However, I promised we'd talk about it and I guess we are having this conversation sooner rather than later."
Holding out an arm, she gingerly guided the nearly trembling teen into the house. She wasn't angry per se, though she wasn't sure how to go about this situation.
"Anna was desperate, no one was claiming her and the shelter was filled up and...If we don't keep her they will kill her and I just can't let it happen! Please, Jane?"
Jane sighed and closed her eyes. She really did hate that Katherine sounded so heartbroken.
"Fine but she stays outside and no playing with her without some form of supervision. We do not know the temperament of the dog and I would rather not have any bit children...and you pay for her food and such out of your own money. You want a dog, you're responsible for it."
Jane chuckled slightly when Katherine put the dog down and practically tackled her.
"Thank you! I promise I won't let you down!"
Jane just chuckled, returning the hug. She really couldn't stay angry at the girl.
"Next time Kat, no surprises like this. You use words, no sneaking around. I want to be able to trust you, alright?"
"Let's make it clear that I did not say the dog would be euthanized. Kid probably assumed pound equaled death." Anna laughed as she helped Jane set the table, earning a snort of amusement from the blonde.
"Of course the little con artist did. Not that I would have actually told her she couldn't keep the fluff ball." Jane retorted, kneeling to pet the aforementioned creature, which was gnawing on a chew toy Anna had brought with her.
"Of course you wouldn't. Speaking of Katherine issues, have you met with Edmund yet?"
Anna asked after a few minutes of silence, earning a sigh from Jane who managed a nod.
"He was...surprisingly pleasant...and He signed but only after practically interrogating me about how Katherine was doing," Jane answered, glancing at the taller woman who just shrugged.
"Maybe underneath everything he did love her in some way. Still doesn't excuse blaming a child for her mother's death though."
Jane sighed and nodded, cursing under her breath as the pot she had been minding began to boil over.
"You have no idea how much I wanted to smack that man after how many nights I had to sit up with her until she calmed down thanks to all of that bullocks." She retorted, just as the door practically slammed open.
Jane rolled her eyes at the half yelled, excited tone of none other than Anne Boleyn (who was followed closely by an equally excited Katherine Howard).
"I'm guessing that if you break my door that you'll replace it?"
She quipped, only to be ignored by the slightly younger woman.
"Sorry. Anyway, Kitkat and I were talking about that music thing she wanted to go to for a week and we figured out how she could raise most of the money." Anne announced, earning a groan from both the other women.
"It's not even close to the deadlines for that Bo, although you two can tell us all about it over lunch. Kitty and I had some plans for today, didn't we?"
Jane retorted, watching Katherine's eyes go wide.
"Wait, you remembered? I thought....with everyone here...."
Katherine's stammering earned an amused grin from Jane who responded by messing up the girl's hair.
"Yeah, pretty sure Aragon can keep the house in one piece while we're gone. Not like Boleyn is still the annoying little twerp she was in secondary." Jane responded, earning an obscene hand gesture from Anne (and a giggle from Kat.)
"You guys went to school together? I mean, I knew you've known each other forever but I didn't realize you guys went that far back."
Katherine said after her cousin and guardian stopped bickering.
"All but Aragon but that whole thing is complicated by itself. Anne and I were in the same year." Jane replied, earning a scoff from Anne.
"We may have been in the same year but Jane wasn't on the same planet! She was a massive bitch and..." Anne began, only to be cut off by the pink-haired girl.
"Hold up, what? You two get along so well now? How did that happen?"
Jane and Anne exchanged looks before Jane sighed.
"That, my girl, is a story for another time. Right now we'd better get going. They're giving rain for this afternoon."