Chapter 1: The Ink in Which We Inscribe Our Lives is Indelible
It was years into their second lives when Catherine Parr decided to write down the queen’s origins in the modern era.
For some, like Katherine, it was only vaguely remembered first hand due to illness and had to be filled in from other’s accounts. For most of the others, like Aragon, the start of her story actually began with her lady in waiting. Regardless of all of that, Parr had finally finished the short tale of entering this new world after months of revisions and consultations.
As Katherine Howard wandered into the room that day - something about how Jane wouldn’t let her get a sword, so she’s “angry” at Jane now - Parr invites her to read it. With excitement in her eyes, she does just that.
Anna of Cleves was the last to die, but the first to arrive.
She gasped awake, eyes wide and wild for a moment before she realized where she was. She doesn’t remember coming here, but she distinctly knows how she did just that.
She looked down at her hands; they were foreign, yet familiar. Her clothes, at least, hadn’t changed style, which she would both thank god and curse at within the next few hours.
She stood a bit unsteadily barely able to stand as she took everything in - things looked the same for the most part, but there were small differences that led her to believe that something was very, very wrong.
She frowned as she looked around, stumbling at first but eventually able to catch her balance. It looked like it was to rain, maybe a few hours time, so she made the decision to find shelter before figuring everything else out.
Just as she was about to move, though, she heard a small, kind, familiar voice.
Anna turned to find the familiar yet unfamiliar woman and she couldn’t help but smile, despite the shock.
Bessie Blount moves forward, wrapping a blanket around her mistress. The former queen took it gratefully, still looking around.
“We’re not home, are we?” Anna asks.
“Not even close,” Bessie replies. “Come on. I have a flat not far from here.”
Anna nods, heavily leaning against her lady in waiting, before she frowns. “How exactly did you find me?”
“I’ve been waiting for you,” Bessie replies. “I don’t… I don’t know how. But I have been. All I know is that you were here and I need to get you ready for meeting the others.”
Anna frowns. “Who are the others?”
“I don’t know. But they’re good, whoever they are.”
Anna nods; for the moment, she’ll take her word for it.
“Let’s go,” Bessie says, clearly wanting to rush out of there. “There’s someone coming. One of them is coming soon, and she’ll need our help.”
A few hours later, that would prove to be true.
Katherine suddenly awoke that early morning, torrential downpour already having soaked her through.
The woman in question, startled, snapped her attention to the person to the right of her; she hadn’t noticed the older woman standing there. Katherine whimpered, scampering away, dress muddied up as she tried to make distance.
“It’s okay, I won’t hurt you,” the woman said gently. “You’re Katherine Howard, right? I don’t… I don’t quite know what’s going on, but I just… I know that.” She tilts her head before slowly crouching to Katherine’s level. “I must say, in all my years of a historian, this is certainly a first.”
Katherine was still breathing heavily, a hand on her neck. She looked around, shivering.
“You must be confused,” the woman continued. “Probably as confused as I am, I’m sure. Do you remember how you got here, Katherine?”
The woman approached slowly, making no sudden movements, trying to ensure that the wide-eyed, terrified girl in front of her didn’t bolt. Katherine watched every single move but shook her head. She leaned back against whatever she was leaning against, her hand rubbing her neck.
“That’s fine, we can figure that out later,” the woman said. “Let’s get you out of the rain-”
Unfortunately for her, a sudden lightning strike close by had her spooked.
Katherine bolted up, rushing away. The woman tried to call to her, to tell her to come back, even following Katherine as she ran, but Kat was too fast and disappeared.
Katherine rushes through the streets of London, already completely out of her mind: there’s weird noises and scary contraptions and nothing looks the same as it was before. She didn’t know what was happening, but she was scared and alone and couldn’t breathe.
Months after this, she would learn that this is what they now call a ‘panic attack,” but the girl had no idea what that was or how to properly combat one. She kept running until her body forced her to shut down, stumbling in an alleyway and collapsing to the ground. The rain was still heavy and her dress was soaked as she lay there, gasping for air while trying not to drown in the flooded street.
Spots in her vision started appearing more rapidly as she tried to fight for breath, but no breath would return to her. Within minutes, her body was limp and she blacked out, body face down in the torrential downpour.
When the girl awoke a few hours later - the rain still continuing, though not as badly as before - she struggled to get herself up. Her body, so tired, barely responded to her commands of sitting up out of the water. She coughed, chest burning; she must have swollowed some water while unconscious.
The girl felt feverish as she stood, cold and barely lucid, wandering the back streets of London as she tried to find somewhere to go. She would have loved to go back to where that woman was - maybe she could help - but she didn’t have a clue how to get back there. Even though the streets were deserted thanks to the torrential storms, nothing was recognizable for the young queen.
She walked for hours, getting very weird looks from very weird looking people. She cried out in pain as she continued; her fever was getting worse, as was her cough. She was barely able to stand by the time she got to where she was going, body trembling as it unknowingly lead her somewhere intentional, yet not a place she ever had been before. Glassy eyes looked around the alley before they closed, the girl pitching forward as her body gave into the pain and fever…
… only for someone to gently catch her before she fell.
She doesn’t know that voice, yet she very clearly does. She doesn’t know the hands holding her, yet she can pinpoint exactly when she saw them last. It’s all very confusing, having knowledge she very well shouldn’t, but it didn’t matter right now. What mattered was she felt safe, especially when she heard the second voice.
The first picks Katherine up. “She’s burning up, m’lady.”
“Let’s get her inside. I imagine she’s as confused as we were. She needs to be ready for when the time comes.”
The last thing Katherine sees is the very, very concerned face of Anna of Cleves before she settles into darkness.
Meanwhile, in Peterborough, another reunion of sorts was happening.
A woman carefully hopped over a fence st Peterborough Cathedral. The chapel had been closed for renovations that day, which was good and bad with the current situation. For one, no one would be around to scare off the person she knew was in there, but this meant she couldn’t just walk through the front door to help her mistress.
Well, she thought, picking a lock with skills she didn’t know she had, wouldn’t be the first time she had to sneak in to find her queen. It wasn’t even the first time this week, actually.
The woman hid behind a corner, listening for footsteps before she made her final few turns through the halls to her destination. Hearing none, she quickly moved and rushed to her destination. She turned left with purpose, as if she had done this before-
- only to stop and gasp in awe.
She was there.
Maria de Salinas rushes to her friends side; Catherine of Aragon was still unconscious, draped over her burial site. After checking every single day for the past week, Catherine of Aragon had finally arrived.
Maria did not know how she knew that Catherine would return.
She only knew that she knew it.
For the moment, it was enough.
She holds her friend in her arms, almost exactly as she did the last night they saw each other. She’s crying - of course she is - and she can’t help but smile widely as Catherine’s eyes flutter open.
In their first life, Maria was the last person Catherine saw.
Now, she was the first person Aragon laid eyes on in this new life.
Maria smiles, tears rushing down her face as she embraces her long lost friend for the first time in centuries.
“Oh, god, I’ve missed you, Catalina.”
“What’s going on?” Catherine asked; she’s speaking Spanish, an old tongue in this new world, but Maria understands every single word.
“It’s alright, I’m not sure but we’ll be okay,” Maria says. “Come on, we need to get out of here.”
Catherine slowly stands for the first time in centuries, smoothing out her dress as she looks around. “Where is everyone? Am I dead?” She looks Maria over. “And what are you wearing?”
Maria chuckles. “They’re not here, you were dead, and it’s complicated but in fashion for our current time,” Maria says. “It’s… it’s going to be a shock. We’ll take it slow-”
They turn to find a man there, eyes wide as he trembles. He falls to his knees, saying a prayer.
Aragon blinks, confused, but Maria steps forward.
“You know who we are, yeah?” Maria asks. The man nods, still trembling as if he’s seen a ghost. Which, Maria thinks, he very well might be. “Can you show us the way out of here? And possibly some clothes for my mistress.”
“Uh… o-of course.”
Maria gently takes Aragon’s hand, giving her a gentle smile.
“It’ll be okay, love. I’ll explain what I can, but when you’re well enough, I think we have people to find.”
Sure enough, at that very moment, the lady of Sudeley Castle drew her first breath in centuries.
She sat upright on top of a marble tomb, catching her breath. Oddly enough, a stone statue of her that was on top of her tomb was now gone, replaced by the woman herself.
The plaque in front of the tomb scared her more than anything else:
KP HERE LIES KATHERINE PARR
Parr carefully moved from the tomb to the ground, looking around with confused, fearful eyes. She knew where she was - she recognized the chapel she had prayed in so many times for safe delivery of her baby - but she just knew that, somehow, it’s been ages since last time she saw it.
Seeing as no one was around at the moment, she quickly moved out of the chapel and into the courtyard, wincing at the light peeking through dark, stormy clouds. She looked around and, sure enough, this was definitely the Castle, but not the way she remembered it.
Something is wrong.
She moves to where she knew her quarters to be, but they’re no longer there; it looks like someone’s made a museum out of her living arrangements.
“I… honestly didn’t expect this to work.”
Catherine turned to find a woman standing there, seemingly astonished. It takes a moment, but the woman bows.
“Lady Parr, I’m sure you’re very confused, but I think I can help.”
Parr, frowning, tries to speak, but her voice doesn’t come to her. The other woman nods.
“I’m unsure of what’s happening, but there are reports of Anna of Cleves and Catherine of Aragon once again breathing. I met Lady Katherine Howard just yesterday morning. I think… if you come with me, I think I can explain some things and, best case, get you to the others.”
Parr tilts her head, swallowing before trying again.
“My godmother is alive?”
“Yes. As, I would suspect, the other wives.”
Catherine nods, a bit dazed, but she looks back at the woman when she extends a hand. She looks at it, then at the woman, and nods.
“I don’t know how I know this,” Parr says gently. “But I must be ready in a day’s time. Then, I’ll have to go.”
The woman nods. “We’ll be ready. Lets get you some clothes that’ll help you blend in, then we can chat a bit more, yeah?”
Parr later would say that historian saved her life - or at least ensured that she wouldn’t have suffered from being dropped so suddenly into this new world. It seemed that, despite not having a lady in waiting to tend to them like the others, Parr and Howard would be taken care of regardless of that.
The final two pieces of the puzzle would suddenly appear an hour later.
Nearby the place where Katherine Howard awoke the day before, a young woman waited patiently with a blanket, an extra set of clothes, and some food and water. She had been waiting here every day, always around this time, for the last week. She didn’t exactly know why at first - she just felt compelled to - but it became more and more apparent as she sat by the grave.
Today, her patience would pay off.
It’s a blinding flash of light that would suggest that her waiting was at an end and, sure enough, her mistress appeared once the flash was over. The woman laid on top of her grave, unconscious at first, her neck scar clearly agitated and visible.
Her lady in waiting is quick to pick the girl up, smiling at the woman she had considered a sister, bringing the girl round while holding her in her lap.
“Anne?” The woman said gently. “Wake up, Anne. Please.”
Anne slowly cane round, gasping in pain at her neck before her eyes fluttered open. At first, Anne seemed confused, but then she recognized the person before her.
“It’s Maggie now, actually,” her lady in waiting replies with a chuckle. “How are you feeling?”
“Weak,” Anne admitted, sighing and closing her eyes.
“That’s alright,” Maggie says softly. “We can rest here for a bit, but after that I’ll need you to change your clothes to something a bit more… suitable.”
Anne frowns. “I died.”
Maggie nods gravely. “You did.”
“Swordsman cut m’ head off.”
“Cleanly, from what I could tell.”
“Still hurt, though.”
“Why do you look younger than me?”
“Dunno. There’s a lot of things I’m unsure of now.”
“Like how a dead, headless woman can talk?”
“And how I even knew you’d be here in the first place.”
“Well, you always went above and beyond your duty, so I wouldn’t put it past you to know the unknown.”
Maggie rolled her eyes fondly before she started to stand. Anne, shakily, is able to as well. Maggie holds up the clothes.
“There’s a bathroom nearby,” Maggie says. “Let’s get you changed. We need to get going.”
“I think you know.”
And indeed, Anne did know; it was like an overwhelming sensation, to get to the place she knew she needed to be. She understood it rather perfectly.
“We don’t have much time,” Anne says. “I’ll need some help.”
“Of course, my lady.”
An hour later, they were on their way; Anne wasn’t entirely sure what they were in - Maggie called it a “train” - but whatever it was was faster than anything Anne had seen. The world, too, had changed since the swordsman’s swing, and Anne found herself both scared but thrilled st the prospect of a new beginning.
They arrived in Windsor less than an hour later, walking the rest of the way. Anne wasn’t sure how both of them knew what to do, but they did, and they knew they wouldn’t be alone in this endeavor.
“Do you know what year it is?” Anne finally asks, having just now gotten the courage to do so.
“Early 21st century,” Maggie replies.
Anne makes a face.
“That can’t be real.”
“It is, I assure you.”
“How long have you been back for?”
“About half a year. The others have as well, I think.”
“I don’t know.”
“How do you know they’re back, then?”
“I don’t know, m’lady, I’m sorry.”
Anne hums in thought as they continue to walk.
“This is quite peculiar.”
“But we just keep walking, yeah?”
“We just keep walking, yeah.”
They arrive at their destination - Saint George’s Chapel.
It was closed for some reason, though Anne would alter speculate that everything had lined up so perfectly that it had to of been fate.
When they get there, Maggie is quick to lead Anne to the back… where a small girl was waiting. She looked worse for wear, a small teenager, shaking and barely lucid.
At first, Anne wanted to avoid her, but there was something about the girl that drew her in.
Anne crouched down next to the girl and felt her forehead; she was hot.
“A fever, definitely,” Anne mumbles. “No way she could have gotten here on her own-“
Maggie stepped in front of Anne, protecting her from the woman that suddenly appeared from around a corner. The woman in question narrowed her eyes.
“Step away from that child, if you please.”
Anne gently cupped the girl’s cheek, smiling gently when she felt the girl lean into it. All at once, a name came to her.
“Katherine Howard,” Anne says softly. “This is my cousin.”
“Your cousin? That makes you Anne Boleyn, no?”
The woman in front of them relaxes, allowing Maggie to do the same.
“My Lady, Anna of Cleves, has been waiting for you two.”
“Why is Katherine out here?” Anne demands, glaring at the girl. She’s never really connected with Katherine - not even in the previous life, they had barely seen each other if at all - but there’s a surge of protectiveness for her younger cousin that rushes through her.
“I… I was compelled to do so,” Bessie says. “I’m not sure why.”
“I think it was to lead you here, Lady Boleyn.”
The three look over to find Anna of Cleves standing there, Maria de Salinas next to her.
“Looks like mostly everyone is here,” Maria says. “My lady, Catherine of Aragon, is inside awaiting her goddaughter’s arrival.”
“Catherine is here?” Anne asks, perking up a bit. “Finally, a familiar face in all of this.” She looks back down at Katherine. “Let’s get her inside.”
The four move into the deserted chapel and, as soon as they do, Anne gasps in surprise.
“Catherine of Aragon, as I live and breathe!” Anne says with a smile.
Aragon scowls. “Be quiet while we’re in here, Anne, surely you remember proper decorum in a chapel?”
“Rules have changed, babe,” Anne says. “Everything’s changed, clearly.” Boleyn watches as Bessie brings in the still sick Katherine.
Aragon frowns. “Is the girl alright?”
“She’ll need a doctor,” Anne says. “But we cant leave. Not yet. We’re missing three.”
Aragon frowns. “You feel it too, right?”
“I don’t know why, or how, but we’re missing-“
Anne points to the back of the chapel where a one Catherine Parr has arrived. She’s different - everyone is - but she instantly zeroes in on one queen in particular.
Catherine is quick to embrace the woman, hugging her tightly. It’s been ages since last.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Parr admits.
“How did you get here?” Catherine asks with a frown.
“A lady helped me. She wanted to come in, but I told her no,” Parr looks back at a particular spot in the chapel. “We need to do this together, but without anyone else.”
It’s a weird statement, but Aragon is inclined to agree.
As Parr says that, a woman walks in from a side door. She seems startled to see all of them, but then she nods.
“I’m Joan Meutas,” Joan says. “I see we’re all present.”
Anna of Cleves nods from her place in a pew, Katherine Howard leaning against her, barely responsive. Anne Boleyn is keeping a close eye on her cousin while also standing next to Catherine of Aragon, who still is holding Parr’s hand.
“What’s this all about?” Aragon asks, but Parr can answer it.
She moves forward, pointing at each queen as they’re related to the poem.
“Divorced, beheaded, divorced, beheaded, survived.” She nods at them. “The only one we’re waiting on, is-“
That’s all she can say, though, as a brilliant light blinds all in the chapel.
When it fades, the final queen is unconscious next to her so-called final resting place.
Joan is quick to attend to her, a bag of clothing and a blanket in hand. Her mistress comes round relatively quickly.
“Lady Jane?” Joan asks quietly. “Are you alright?”
“Joan?” Jane asks quietly, eyes fluttering open as she looks around. “What’s going on, what’s happened?”
“We’re unsure,” Joan says quietly. “But we’re all here now. Exactly where we’re supposed to be.”
“But why, though?” Anna asks, standing as Bessie takes over caring for Katherine. “Why are we here?”
“Is it not obvious?” Parr asks. When they all look at her, she points to the tomb Jane is leaning against.
Jane Seymour’s marble statue is gone.
Only Henry’s remains.
Immediately after the fateful meeting in the church, Parr wandered back outside.
“Did everything go well?” The historian asked, tilting her head curiously. “There was a weird light and-“ she frowns when she sees Anna carrying out Katherine. “She’s not well, is she?”
“She’s not. They’re taking her to hospital,” Cathy watched as they moved away. “The light was Jane Seymour. We’re all back.”
“That’s… incredible, honestly,” the historian leans back against her car, processing all this new information. “The six ex-wives and… three, four of the ladies in waiting?”
“Four, yeah. Howard and I don’t have ones. Margaret Lee, Bessie Blount, Maria de Salinas and Joan Muertas. All are back as well. Apparently have been for a while.”
Then, the historian speaks.
“What’s your plan now, Catherine Parr?”
Parr frowns. “I don’t have one. Not really. I’ll just.. figure something out-“
“Excuse me, Lady Parr?”
Both historian and Cathy looked over at the woman calling for her.
“My lady would like to have a word with you,” Maria says with a soft nod. “We have an extra room in her flat. I’m assuming she wants to offer it to you.”
“Well, that settles that, now, doesn’t it?” The historian asks. “Looks like your godmother’s looking out for you, Catherine.”
Parr nods after a moment before looking over at the historian. “Thank you for all you’ve done to help.”
The historian makes a “pff” sound and shakes her head. “I’ve done nothing. I’m glad you and Katherine are in good hands.” She gives Catherine a wave. “You have my phone if you need me. Lets keep in touch, Alright?” She looks over at Maria. “This is certainly going to be interesting.”
She drives off a few moments later.
Cathy watches her go for a moment and Maria steps up next to her. “Do you trust that woman?”
Cathy nods. “She got me here.”
Maria bums for a moment before she gently takes Cathy’s hand and leads her to Aragon,’who was currently in the car. Parr gets in and waits.
“Can…” Cathy smiles. “Can we go home?”
Aragon smiles back and nods, Maria starting the car.
“Of course we can, love.”
Back in the present, Katherine lets out a low whistle.
“That was brilliant, Parr,” Kat says with a big grin as she offers Parr the story back. “What ever happened to that historian?”
“We still keep in touch,” Parr replies, taking the papers from Kat. “She made that documentary, remember? The one that meant everything to us.”
Katherine nodded, tilting her head in thought. “I don’t really remember those days,” Katherine says quietly. “I didn’t talk much.”
Parr nods sympathetically. “You has pneumonia, love; even then, it’s completely understandable, considering…” she trails off with a frown. She takes a moment before she moves over to hug Katherine tightly. “You’re better now,” Parr says quietly. “That’s all that matters.”
Katherine smiles and nods at that. “And we’re all together still,” Kat says with a grin. “It really was fate or destiny or what have you.”
“I’d like to think so,” Parr agrees. After a moment, she released Kat. “How about we go downstairs?”
Kat huffs. “Only if I can get a sword.”
Catherine laughs and hugs the girl again, kissing the side of her head before leading her downstairs. There, she finds Jane smirking at her daughter, Anna firmly on Jane’s side and also smirking at Kat and Boleyn trying to convince the others of the “importance of swordsmanship in the 21st century.”
The ladies in waiting were there for the morning before they headed out to the two-show day: Joan making breakfast, Maggie assisting, and Maria wandering over to Parr with a glass of juice.
“Aragon’s in the living room, if you’d like to join,” Maria says. “Joan and Maggie are trying to keep the peace while Bessie may or may not be quietly enabling the conversation.”
Parr laughs as Maria wraps an arm around her shoulders, leading Parr towards where Aragon was.
“Bessie is sneakily the most chaotic of the lot of you, I’ll have you know,” Parr says. “Though I wouldn’t mind a sword-“
“Don’t you dare,” Aragon says, not even looking up from her work. “No child of mine is having a sword in this day and age.”
Parr chuckles and is quick to curl up next to Aragon. She hands Aragon the story and smiles.
“Oh, you finished!” Aragon says.
Katherine hears that from the other room. “Oh, right! We can debate this later, it’s story time now!”
They all move into the living room, breakfast cooked and plates full, and settle in for Parr to start.
Parr looks around he room, at the nine other people that have suddenly meant so much to her… and she can’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed by the feelings of love and appreciation for each and every one of them.
They’re telling their stories.
Not only from then, but also from now.
Catherine Parr wouldn’t have it any other way.
Chapter 2: Help In Unfamiliar Territory
“Thank you for your time, Katherine.”
Kat coughs as she moved to get out of the chair. It had been only a week since she came back to life, and only two days since she had gotten out of the hospital due to the pneumonia that had unexpectedly come with it, wandering the streets during a thunderstorm and collapsing due to a panic attack in the street. She still didn’t feel great, but she was taking the medicine and trying to stay as warm and as dry as she could.
When the six ex-wives had all met in that chapel - the one that Jane Seymour had been buried in - she had thought that maybe they could get along. But when she woke up in the hospital, Kat only saw Bessie. And when she was released, Anna and her had parted ways.
It was rough; she had been staying in a park, hidden in a corner of it that she observed had not a lot of traffic. She had stolen a blanket from the hospital and kept her old clothes in a bag which served as a pillow - Bessie had given her new clothes while in the hospital - so she had the bare necessities, she figured. She could survive.
It was rough going. She still had a fever, her cough wasn’t going away and Kat was sure she would have to go back to the hospital a few days from now. Still, the warm bed and free food was something she was looking forward to.
“Call me if you need anything,” was what Anna had said, but Kat just… she just didn’t feel like she could. She didn’t want to be a bother. To her knowledge, everyone else was on their own; surely she could as well?
She’s considering that thought when she accidentally walks into someone. She yelps, falling to the floor and coughing up a storm because of it. She groans, a hand to her head; this well and truly sucked.
Kat blinks, looking up. There, an uncertain woman was looking down at her.
Jane gave her a small smile as she kneeled down to meet the fifth queen. “Hello. I didn’t expect you to be here.” She offers Kat a hand. “Getting an interview, too?”
“They wanted me to talk about my experience as queen,” Kat explained, taking the hand and standing up. “Figured it was a good idea, I dunno.”
Jane hums in agreement. “It’s nice that some people care, yeah?” She asks. Then, she looks around. “And between you and me, the money is nice as well.”
“The money?” Kat asks, tilting her head. “You’re getting paid?”
Jane blinks. “You’re not?”
“Jane Seymour? We’re ready for you.”
Jane looks over at the men in the room Katherine just left. She turns back to Kat, looks at something - someone? - behind her, then hugs her again.
“I’ll talk to you later, okay? We should keep in touch, all of us.”
Kat nods mutely, watching as Jane disappears through the door.
She’s staring at the door as she hears them start the interview, frowning, until gentle hands suddenly put a nice, warm coat over her shoulders. She startles, looking back, only to find…
Jane’s lady in waiting, Joan, smiled softly. “Hello, Lady Katherine,” Joan says with a gentle nod. “You’re still recovering from your illness, right? Do you have some place I can send a car to?”
Katherine frowns and gives an address. Joan immediately tilts her head.
“That’s a park.”
“You’re staying there?”
Katherine is relieved that Joan doesn’t give her weird looks or anything. She takes out her phone and does something before she looks back at Kat with a smile.
“While we’re waiting, how about you and I sit down over there?” Joan asks, pointing to the nice, warm couch right next to food. “Did you have anything to eat today?”
“A little,” Kat said as she moved over with Joan, “but my stomach doesn’t feel all that great.” When Joan frowns, Kat scrambles to dismiss the concern. “It’s probably just coming back here, to this new world.”
“Lady Jane doesn’t have that issue, and I know Lady Catherine didn’t either.”
“… we’ll need to sort that out later, I assume. But this time, I meant Aragon.”
Katherine lights up at the name. “Oh, she seems lovely. Parr, as well. And my cousin and Anna, of course. Everyone seems really nice-“ Katherine is cut off by a coughing fit, which she barely is able to stay sitting upright for. Joan puts a gentle hand on the girl’s back and frowns deeper as she watches Kat suffer.
Hadn’t she suffered enough back then, she wonders?
“Here, if you don’t mind, Lady Katherine…” Joan gently pulls her over to her side of the couch. Kat tenses at first, breath hitching, before she gently melts into the embrace. She’s leaning against Joan now, head on the girl’s shoulder, half-laying down.
“We can rest here until your ride arrives,” Joan says gently. “And you can take some food for home.”
Kat smiles and nods. “Thank you, Joan,” she mumbles, eyelids already heavy. Joan just wraps an arm around her and smiles.
Jane Seymour leaves the room about an hour later, smiling gently when she spots her lady with the resting Katherine Howard. Jane had some sort of mental link with Joan, they’ve realized, which led to them being on the same page when they saw the shaking, still-ill Katherine only less than an hour ago.
“How is she doing?” Jane asks gently, leaning down to smooth some hair away from Kat’s face. “She has a slight fever.”
“She’s been resting,” Joan reports, looking down at the girl. “I called Bessie, she said they’d get down here as quickly as she could.” She looks down at Kat. “She said she was living at the park across from our flat.”
“She may not have anywhere to go,” Jane confirmed. “She didn’t get paid for any appearances and I don’t think she has a lady to help,” she pulls the jacket Joan had wrapped around Katherine earlier closer to Kat’s chin. “Poor girl. She’s so young, beheaded at that age… and now she’s alone in this new world.”
They’re silent for a few minutes, letting the girl rest, until two women arrive.
“Thank you, Jane,” Anna says, giving Jane a gentle smile. “For helping us find her.”
Bessie moves over to Joan, checking Katherine over, as Jane moves to speak with the fellow queen.
“She has a slight fever, but that’s normal for recovery,” Jane says. “She’ll need someone warm and dry and, well…” she looked back st Katherine. “I would love to take her in, but I figured you’re the closest with her, so…”
“Of course,” Anna smiles and nods. “We’ll take good care of her.” Anna tilts her head, though, when she sees that Jane is still staring at Katherine, still worried. “… if you’d like, though,” Anna says, “I would be happy to have you visit her? She needs all the friends she can get out here, and I’m sure she’d love the company.”
Jane smiles brightly at that, turning to face Anna. “I… I would love that, actually.”
Anna smiles back. “I’m sure she would as well.”
Katherine mumbles something in her sleep. Something about Henry.
The two queens frown.
“… you should get her home, Anna,” Jane says quietly. “Joan, if you could help Bessie-”
“Of course, my lady,” Joan says softly. Joan hands Kat off to Bessie, who then hurries off to get the child into the car parked just outside he building.
“She’ll be okay, yes?” Jane asks, looking over at Anna.
Anna nods. “We will make sure of it, but maybe come over tonight for dinner?”
Jane smiles again.
“I’d love that.”
And, just like that, Katherine Howard awakens from her dream.
She tilts her head, thinking back to what she just saw.
“Was that… a dream?” Katherine wonders out loud, frowning. “Vision?”
She hears someone hum immediately next to her and looks up to find the still-asleep Jane Seymour, a soft smile forming on her face. Katherine looks curiously as Jane sighs again, curling closer to her daughter. Kat frowns, though, when she hears Jane speak in her sleep:
“Take care of her, Anna.”
Kat gently shakes Jane awake.
Jane blinks, looking around before she registers a weight on her chest (literally, this time). She looks down to find Katherine staring at her.
“Hello, Kat,” Jane says softly, yawning. She stretched slightly. “How are you today?”
“You were sleep talking,” Kat says. “I think it was from back then. From when we first met.”
Jane makes a thoughtful hum. “I had been dreaming about that time I saw you in the interview, about a week after we got back. Remember?”
“Yeah. I was dreaming about it, too, actually.” Katherine shrugged. “I… it wasn’t a great time for me. But it was the start of things getting better.”
“I cannot believe they tried to scam you like that,” Jane huffs. “I’m glad we got you your money. And I’m glad we all banded together to make sure you continued to get compensated for your time.”
“And you got me into Anna’s place,” Kat reminds her. “I probably would have had to stay in the hospital the second time longer if it wasn’t for you and Anna.”
Then, Jane looks down at Kat.
“Kitty, look at me.”
Kat does, tilting her head curiously.
“Can you promise me,” she holds out her pinky for Kat to see. “That no matter what - at any time, in any place, even if the show is done and we’re miles and miles apart - you always call me if you need help. If you WANT help. At any point in time, whatever you need. I’m here for you, Kat. So are the rest of the queens. We won’t let you go back to then.”
Kat looks at Jane with a smile and makes the pinky promise with a chuckle.
“I promise,” Kat replies. “Though you and I especially won’t be too far from each other ever, you know. You’re stuck with me, Mum.”
Jane smiles and pulls the girl close.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way, my love.”
Chapter 3: Running Away From the Best Chance at Survival
When Katherine awoke, she was instantly aware that this was not her “place” in the park.
For one, she was warm. And dry. And there wasn’t branches dangerously close to hitting her in the eye. She was in a bed, medicine and water on a table to her right, a note laid right next to it:
“Hey, Kitty. You’re in my home while you rest. Come say hello when you can. Please get as much rest as possible. - Anna”
Katherine frowned; the last thing she remembered was falling asleep on Joan’s shoulder at the interview. Anna wasn’t scheduled to be there at all. What happened?
Her thoughts are interrupted by the sound of occasional clattering and chatter. Tilting her head curiously, she snuck out of the bedroom and ito the hallway, stating out of sight as she listened in.
“She only had a wallet and a bag of her old clothes?”
Jane. It sounded like Jane.
“No coat, a hospital blanket, no phone. We checked around the park to see if we could find where she was staying, but she must be well hidden. Maybe she has stuff there, I dunno. But she clearly didn’t have any help like us.”
That’s Anna. She’d recognize the voice anywhere.
“She wasn’t getting paid for her work, for the interviews,” Jane says softly. “We should change that.”
“Of course, maybe she can get an apartment with the funds,” Anna says. “She should be able to, anyways. They pay quite well, considering the day and age.”
There’s a moment of silence. It’s awkward.
“I actually… I have a third bedroom,” Jane says quietly. “But I see that you do, too.”
“Yes,” Anna says with a nod. “I kind of… I was hoping to invite Kat to stay with Bessie and I.”
“That sounds lovely,” Jane says, but there’s something weird with her tone. “I’m sure she’d love it.”
Kat frowns; she didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. She definitely didn’t want to suddenly occupy so much space. Now that she knew she could get money for her interviews, she thought, maybe she can start to live on her own.
She looks around before she spots the door; it’s out of the line of sight of the two queens sitting st the table. She can see that it’s locked, but she thinks she knows how to unlock it.
She creeps over, looking st the lock before she manages to figure out how to unlock it.
It makes a click sound, something that makes the two queens pause.
“Hello?” Jane asks.
But Katherine is already out the door.
She runs as fast as she can down the hallways, out of the flat and onto the street below. She knows where she is; she’s seen this place before. This is good.
She quickly makes a right and rushes down the street, even as Anna calls for her to return. She slips out of sight, coughing up a storm as she moves to head back to the park, back to home.
It’s cold and damp and she misses the warmth immediately, but she didn’t want to bother anyone any more than she has. The others can fend for themselves; why can’t she?
She has to stop when another cold wind blows through the area, coughing more and more. She doubles over, whimpering; her throat is going to hurt after this, she knows it, but she needs to figure out this by herself. She couldn’t depend on the others and, currently, she didn’t overly trust them, either; Jane was Henry’s beloved and Anna had a fairly good relationship with him, even after the divorce; who’s to say they don’t still love him? Who’s to say they actually care about her?
She moves to her spot in the park and frowns; nothing is there. She didn’t have a lot, but she can tell it’s been cleaned up. She remembers with a sigh that she also didn’t pick up her backpack before she left; everything, wallet included, is in Anna’s flat.
Somehow, she’s ended up worse for wear.
Katherine Howard sighs, a hand through her hair as she looks around. She’s not really sure what to do just yet, standing in the cold.
She’s about to hide in the bushes until she hears a soft, gentle singing voice. There’s something about it that calls to her, something that she can’t help but follow.
She finds that it leads to a pub.
She looks inside.
Anne Boleyn and Maggie Lee are up on stage. Maggie is on guitar, acoustic, and Anne is singing about something. About trying to belong.
Kat can relate.
The song ends and they get offstage. Before Kat even realizes what she’s doing, she’s walking towards Anne.
Boleyn looks up at her in surprise.
“Katherine, right?” She asks, tilting her head. “What are you doing here?”
“I…” Kat frowns when Maggie steps in.
“You look cold, Katherine,” Maggie says gently. “And you still have that fever… and your clothes haven’t been washed in a few days.”
Katherine frowns deeper at that, looking down at her clothing. She hadn’t really noticed.
“You’re still very ill, but you’ve seen Bessie and Joan lately,” Maggie finishes.
Anne makes a low whistle noise. “You can really tell all of that by looking at her?”
“I told you,” Maggie says. “It’s like there’s a link. To you and the queens and the other ladies.” Maggie shrugs before turning back to Katherine. “We need to get her inside.”
Anne, with a bright smile, leads Kat to the back of the bar.
“You two work here?” Kat asks, tilting her head as Maggie leaves them for the moment.
Anne sits down next to her, on chairs next to a small table that’s the impromptu break area.
“We bartend,” Anne explains. “Maggie’s done it since she got here. I just started. We do a little show for open mic night but that’s it. That plus interviews and the like.”
Kat looks up when Maggie returns with some soup. The lady in waiting gives a soft smile of encouragement and Kat smiles back, taking the bowl. She wheezes slightly but starts eating. It feels soothing to her throat.
“Why are you out here alone?” Anne asks gently. “I thought you were close to Anna.”
“I am,” Kat nods, speaking in between spoonfuls of soup. “But I just… I don’t know. I didn’t want to bother her.”
Anne makes a humming noise. “So if Maggie’s right, and you saw all of them earlier… you ran off, didn’t you?” Kat looks away, not saying anything. “You know they’re probably worried, right?” Silence. “And clearly you’ll need to go to hospital again, you look like death itself.”
Katherine curls up a bit, breathing a bit faster. Again, that feeling in her chest, the panic.
“Hey, Katherine? Look at me.”
Kat does. Anne is soft and gentle and smiling. “It’s okay. Can you breathe for me? That’s all you gotta do right now.”
“Hurts,” Kat manages, but she does start breathing again. It’s a good sign.
“You gotta breathe. Here, follow me.” Anne starts box breathing, which Kat follows. Eventually, Kat’s able to calm down, but not after a full few minutes of coughing.
Her eyes go wide when she coughs up blood.
“Ok,” Anne says, keeping calm. “We’ll get you to hospital and they’ll figure it out, alright?” She looks over at Maggie. “Can you-“
“I’ll inform the manager and find coverage. I know Lewis said he wanted extra shifts and he was gonna watch Netflix all day, I’ll see if I can find him,” Maggie says, already on her phone.
Anne nods. “Thank you.” She turns back to Kat. “Come on, Kitty-Kat, lets get- Kat?!?”
Katherine was just about to tell Anne that she didn’t need to worry so much, that she can handle it, that she really likes the nickname… but she’s suddenly hit with a wave of nausea. Her head feels like it’s burning up and she can only watch as the ground faster and faster comes up to meet her…
… and then there’s darkness.
And then there’s beeping.
And then there’s light.
Katherine slowly opens her eyes to find that she’s no longer at the bar; she’s at hospital, from what she can tell. She has an IV in and she can feel an oxygen tube against her nose. There’s a lot of monitoring devices as well.
It’s all very scary for a 18 year old girl from the 1500’s.
She tries to move, tries to leave, but a gentle hand on her shoulder stops her; she’s too weak to do much else.
She’s surprised, though, when she sees who it is. She can’t really speak, but she croaks our the name anyways.
Catherine of Aragon gives her a gentle smile and gently pushes Kat back to laying down on the cot.
“Hey, Kat,” She says. “Stay down, okay? You just rest. The others went outside to discuss something.”
Kat frowns, but leans back. She groans a bit when she tries to move - everything is just so heavy - and she closes her eyes soon after. Kat can hear people start to move in, but she stays still with her eyes closed.
“Did she fall back asleep?” Anna.
“Yeah, but she was awake a minute ago,” Aragon. “She tried to get up.”
“The poor thing probably doesn’t really know what’s happening,” Parr. “Doctor said it could take a few more hours for her to be lucid.”
“Is she going to be okay?” Anne.
“She should be.” Maria.
“Doctors said she might have a slow recovery, though.” Maggie.
“Definitely a slow recovery.” Bessie.
“She ran out on us.” Jane. “She ran out of he apartment.”
“We tried to track her.” Joan. “But Bessie and I lost her.”
Katherine doesn’t hear anything else, though, as she’s pulled back into sleep.
A few hours later, she wakes up again… and she’s alone. It’s a dark room and it’s clearly night.
Visiting hours are over, she assumes.
They must have kicked them all out.
She pages for the nurse and one comes rather quickly.
“Miss Howard, it’s good to see you awake, I-“
“I would like to be discharged.”
The nurse blinks. “I’m sorry?”
“Discharged. I want to be discharged. Right now.”
The nurse frowns, watching Katherine for a moment before she speaks. “I would need to talk to the doctors-”
“I don’t care what the doctors think,” Katherine says. “I need to leave. Before they come back.”
“Those ladies from earlier?” The nurse asks. “They said they’d be back when visiting hours are on again-”
“I need to go before they do,” Katherine presses, but she’s coughing up a storm again.
“Miss Howard, I wouldn’t recommend-” the nurse starts, but Katherine shakes her head and looks her directly in the eye.
A few hours later, when Anna and Bessie arrive, they are met with an empty bed.
The doctor and nurse arrive a moment later, having foreseen this being a problem.
“Voluntary discharge,” the nurse says when she sees their shocked faces. “She left in the middle of the night.”
“She’s an 18 year old girl,” Anna says, voice low and full of anger. “And you lot just… let her go?”
“She’s 18, she has full capacity to do so, and since she doesn’t have a caretaker on record-” the doctor starts, but Anna pushes him out of the way.
“Get the others,” Anna demands to Bessie. “We’re going to find her.”
Chapter 4: For Her Own Good (Hopefully)
“Thank you for speaking with us, Katherine.”
Kat nodded, coughing quite a lot, shaking. “Y-you... there’s money. I’m owed money. Right?” She asks.
The man stands up, nodding. “Jane Seymour arranged for you to get paid, yes. Come on, I’ll get you your payment.”
Katherine smiles happily at that, moving to follow him through the corridors. She was finally going to get a good amount of money - a few thousand dollars, per agreed upon based on Jane and Anna’s rates. She could stay in a hotel for a bit, finally get her bearings in this world.
He opens a door to the street.
“Out you go.”
Kat frowns. “But the money-“
“There is no money,” he says, rolling his eyes. “You don’t get money, Katherine.”
Kat’s alarmed. “I came here to do the interview and to get paid for it, sir-“
“Only the real queens get paid, no one wants to hear what you had to say anyways.” He pushes her out the door. The door slams shut just as Katherine hits the ground.
She scrambled to the door and bangs on it.
“Give me my money! You promised!” She yells, but it’s no use.
She slides to the floor, coughs wracking her body. Pneumonia or not, the girl is still homeless and it’s going to be cold tonight.
Could she even survive the night?
Kat snaps her head to look at the woman standing a few feet away. She remembers her, vaguely.
Maria de Salinas moves over to Katherine and kneels down. “What happened there?”
“He owes me money for an interview,” Katherine said, glaring at the door. “They said they’d pay me and-“
She stops, though, when another coughing fit arises.
Maria gently puts a hand on the girl’s back.
“You’re still not well, eh?” Maria asks sympathetically. When Katherine nods, Maria hums in thought. “How about this - you come with me and-“
“No!” Kat yells scrambling away. “No, I don’t want charity. I wanna do things on my own, I don’t need people babying me all the time.”
“Easy, Kat, I wasn’t going to say that,” Maria says with a nod. “I was going to say that you and I should go talk to Catherine. She’s getting interviewed in five minutes. If they don’t give you your money, she’ll likely walk.”
Kat frowns. “She would do that?”
Kat looks at the hand that Maria is offering... and takes it with a nod.
A few minutes later, in the society’s waiting room, Catherine of Aragon has just stood to enter the interview room. She’s stopped, though, by her lady calling for her.
“I don’t think we can do this, Catalina,” Maria says, a gentle arm wrapped around Katherine’s shoulders.
Catherine of Aragon tilts her head. “Why not?”
“They tried to swindle Katherine here,” Maria says with a gentle smile Kat’s way. “They said they’d pay her, but they didn’t.”
Catherine looks over at the man who had kicked Kat out; he looks furious. “Is this true?”
He recovers with a soft smile. “We were going to send her a check in the mail, as I explained to Miss Howard. Now, if you could follow me-“
“That’s literally impossible because she doesn’t even have an address to send to,” Aragon replies. She takes a step back. “Do you have her money now?”
The man frowns. “I don’t.”
“Then you’re not getting anything from me or my fellow queens,” Catherine replies. “Good day, sir.”
The three walk out.
When they get back outside, Katherine frowns.
“I’m sorry, I caused you to lose money, too, now, haven’t I?”
Catherine shakes her head. “Not at all. It wouldn’t have been worth it if we all weren’t getting paid.” Catherine looks over at Kat with a neutral face. The girl is shaking, sniffling... how she got out of the hospital is beyond her.
But she also knows that if she’s here - without Anna or Jane or the other ladies - that Katherine likely left on her own. There’s bound to be a reason for it.
“Where are you staying tonight, Katherine?”
Kat frowns. “... near the park,” she lies.
“Did you find a flat, finally?”
“Something like that.”
Maria watches Kat carefully as Catherine continues.
“Well, regardless, do you want to come over for dinner? Cathy wanted to talk with you a bit and I want to thank you for your help.”
Katherine bites her lip nervously, but a chill from the winds make her decision.
“Yes, please,” she mumbles, “if it’s not too much trouble-”
“It’s not, Kat, I wouldn’t have asked if it was.”
Katherine smiles and nods at that, moving with Maria back to their car.
Maria sits in the back with Katherine, smiling as the girl seems to sag into her seat.
“It’s going to take a while to get home,” Catherine says. “Traffic is killer this time of day.”
Maria gently puts a blanket over Katherine’s shoulders. “This might help you rest, Kit.”
Katherine doesn’t want to accept it - she really doesn’t - but the voices are as warm as the blanket and she just can’t help but nod in thanks, leaning into the nice warm sheets as she falls asleep relatively quickly.
Maria gently smooths out the girl’s hair.
“We’re literally next door to one of our apartments,” Maria says gently. “Why are we in the car?”
“We’re not going home,” Catherine replies with a shrug. “We’re getting her some help. Make sure she stays resting. Contact the other queens, let them know where we’re headed.”
Maria frowns. “But, the girl-”
“Clearly doesn’t know what’s best for her,” Catherine replies. “We’re headed to hospital. Notify the others.”
Maria frowns, looks like she’s about to say something, but holds her tongue.
“As you wish, m’lady.”
Maria does that quietly, as Katherine leans heavily against her in slumber. When it’s all said and done, they’re already close to the hospital.
“Poor thing, half on death’s door at this rate,” Maria mumbles, looking her over. “Maggie said she ran off.”
“She’s quite stubborn, apparently,” Catherine says. “I guess it’s in the family; she reminds me of Anne.”
Maria nods, keeping Kat as close to herself as possible.
A few minutes later, they’re at the hospital, flanked closely behind by the other queens.
“How did you lot find us?” Catherine asks as Maria carries Katherine inside.
“We just sorta... knew,” Maggie replies.
“Where we were?”
“Where Maria was.”
They table the conversation, though, as Katherine is immediately sent in. They’re all sent to wait, as none of them were Katherine’s legal guardians.
“We should really fix that,” Anna says with a sigh, sitting down.
“I’m sure there’s a way once Katherine recovers,” Cathy says with a soft smile. “There must be, even with our... circumstance.”
They all look at each other.
“So...” Anna says. “This is kind of the first time we’re all meeting together since... well, since Jane’s resurrection.”
There’s silence for a moment before Cathy continues.
“Maybe next time, we do it under better circumstances-”
“Next time? There won’t be a next time,” Anne replies with a roll of her eyes. “As soon as I know Kitty’s okay, she’s coming home with me and we’ll all go back to living our lives.”
Catherine, ignoring Anne for the moment, looks over at Anna. “You get paid for your interviews, right?”
“Yeah,” Anna nods.
“How much, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Seven hundred per interview.”
Cathy looks around. “We all should standardize our rates, if we’re all going to be talking about the same things. I go for three thousand an interview.”
Anna’s eyes go wide. “What?!?”
Cathy looks at Jane. “You probably go for closer to mine, right?” When Jane nods - fairly quickly, as if she wanted to get it over with - Cathy looks back at Anne. “And you?”
Anne shrugs. “Seven thousand five hundred.”
“We should talk about this,” Cathy pushes. “So we’re all getting good rates.”
“And give up the extra cash? I think not,” Anne retorts, but then Cathy continues.
“Katherine hasn’t been getting paid, Anne. We want her to get paid, and how we can help is standardizing.”
Anne looks at everyone else before she rolls her eyes and nods.
“Fine. For Katherine.”
Just then, the doctor arrives. “You’re welcome to see her now, just be gentle. She’ll be in her own room, so everyone can come in, but... still, we ask that you remain calm. She’s been through quite a lot. She had a panic attack when she first came in, we needed to get some help calming her down.”
“A what?” Anna asks, tilting her head, but the doctor has already left.
The queens and ladies move swiftly into the room.
There, Katherine Howard is hooked up to machines, has an IV in and looks decidedly better, if not terrified of what’s happening around her.
Katherine looks relieved and then immediately ashamed as she sees Catherine talk to Jane, Anne and Anna.
Anna instantly moves over, a bag in hand - Kat’s bag. “You left this when you ran off,” Anna says, a harshness to her voice that makes Kat cringe. “Did you even have any plan?”
“I did!” Katherine says, a bit too loudly; she coughs for a moment before she continues. “I was going to do the interview and they were going to give me money - it was enough for, like, two weeks in a hotel. Then I would go from there and eventually find a place-“
“But they wouldn’t have given you cash, you know that, right?” Anna asks. “It would be a check, or some sort of electronic payment.”
Kat frowns. “A what? No, they said they’d pay me, so I would walk out of there with the money, and-“
“Things are a bit different nowadays, love,” Jane says quietly. “They would have needed your payment information. They said they’d get that sorted when you entered today. I told you to ask them about it, remember?”
“They did,” Kat says with a frown. “They said they’d get it sorted when I said I didn’t have an address or a bank... thing.”
Anna sighs, running a hand through her hair. “Did you honestly expect to walk out of there with thousands of dollars in your pocket? That’s dangerous, Katherine.”
Kat frowns. “I... I dunno. I thought....” she huffs. “This world is confusing.”
“It would be less confusing,” Catherine says, though not unkindly, “if you allowed us to help. You don’t have a Lady here that’s been in this world for months - we all do, and it’s why we’re set up.”
Katherine makes a face. “Cathy doesn’t have one-“
“She has me,” Maria presses. “I’ve taken her in with Catalina.”
Kat frowns. “Oh.”
“I’d be more than happy to take you in as well,” Bessie says.
“Same,” Joan replies.
“Me, too!” Maggie says with a grin. “See? You have support, love, we all want to help.”
Katherine frowns, looking around the room. Everyone seemed so kind and helpful... why were they?
Joan, Maggie, and Bessie, suddenly, blink rapidly, twitching slightly.
Maria looks concerned. “You guys alright?”
They regain their composure before Joan looks up.
“You think we’re all going to betray you,” she says, voice a bit distant. “You think because everyone but Anne had a solid relationship with Henry - either dying as his favorite, or being divorced and still loyal to him - you think we’ll betray you.”
“Not only that,” Maggie continues it, “You think we’re going to kick you out and send you to the streets anyways because you think we’ll see you as how Henry saw you.”
“And you don’t want the pain of getting close when you know it’ll end badly, you can’t trust anyone,” Bessie finishes.
Maggie puts a hand to her head. “I... don’t know how I knew that.”
“We’re connected to her, too, it seems,” Bessie observes.
“Maria, did you feel that?” Joan asks. When Maria shakes her head, Joan continues. “We didn’t feel it for Parr, so that’s probably why.” She looks over at Katherine. “We’ve got a connection- literally.”
“’course you lot do. Of course there’s more connections.”
Everyone looks over at Katherine.
Kat looks down. “... I guess there’s no use hiding what I’m thinking then, is there?”
“We’ll learn to control it,” Joan promises. “We have for our queens... somewhat.”
Maggie nods. “We’ve learned with them, we’ll do it with you, too.”
Katherine sighs. “Right then. Who am I being shuffled off to now?”
“You’re staying in hospital until you recover - until you actually recover,” Anna replies. “Someone will be here no matter what, I promise you.”
“We’ll even take turns,” Maggie says with a grin. “You’ll never be alone.”
“Never again,” Anne promises.
Kat looks them all over before she sighs.
“... not like I’ll be able to sneak out now anyways,” she mumbles.
Anne nods. “Maggie, Ladies, if you could stick with Kat for a bit,” she looks over at the other queens. “I think we should have a chat. Privately.”
The queens move into a room across the hall - a waiting room that, thankfully, is empty and a bit of privacy.
“I know we all haven’t really hung out or anything,” Anne says, “but it’s clear all of us - even the ones that didn’t meet her - are really concerned for Katherine.”
Catherine, after a moment, nods, stepping forward. “We’re all here for some unknown reason. We should help each other out as much as possible.”
Anne’s jaw sets tightly for a moment, but she nods, trying not to let that show. She looks over at everyone else. “I... I’d need a few days to get my things together, but I think I should be the one that she lives with.”
“Is that something you think you’re ready for?” Catherine asks, trying to be gentle with the situation.
Anne shrugs. “I don’t know, to be honest, but she’s family. She’s my cousin.”
“She was my Lady back then,” Anna pushes, only a little bit. “I know her the best. I think-”
“Yeah, fat lot of good that did her back then,” Anne growls. “Got her beheaded, didn’t it?”
Anna flinches at that. “I couldn’t do anything. I...”
Anne laughs as Anna’s voice fades off.
“Were you about to say that you tried? Oh, that’s a laugh. You didn’t do shite for her, Anna-”
“Anne, that’s enough,” Catherine starts. Anne snaps her gaze to her, anger and fury all on her face. It doesn’t deter the first queen. “We need to figure out where she’s going.”
Anne, seeing that, calms down a bit. “... right,” Anne says, turning back to the others. “Maggie has a third room. I’ll take her in a few days. But until then, I’ll need someone else to help.” Anne glares at Anna. “Not you.”
“Then it would have to be Jane-” Catherine points out, and Jane looks over, a bit surprised.
Anne’s seeing red.
“Definitely not her!” Anne all but screams. “No fucking way is Kitty getting anywhere near Seymour. It’s absolutely out of the question.”
“Then she’s going to be homeless for the next few days, then, because there’s absolutely no other way for this to go,” Catherine presses. “It’s Anna or Jane’s places. Nowhere else.”
Cathy steps forward. “What if we let Katherine decide?”
Anne blinks. “She’s going to just choose to be alone again-”
“We don’t give her that option,” Cathy replies. “We make her choose where she wants to stay, but it needs to be with one of us.”
They all look at each other and slowly but surely nod in agreement.
When they get back to the room, they’re met with the sight of Katherine’s hair being brushed gently by Bessie, as Maria is telling a story, with Maggie gently holding onto Katherine’s hand and Joan braiding the hair that Bessie has brushed. All in all, it’s a wonderful little scene, and it makes the queen’s hearts melt.
Katherine looks over, and it’s the happiest and safest she’s seemed since they returned.
“Hey, Katherine,” Anne says with a gentle smile. “We need you to pick who you’d like to live with.”
Katherine frowns. Anne hates that she’s made the smile go off of Kat’s face; she’ll have to be a bit more gentle with her wording next time.
Katherine tilts her head in thought. “... Anna?”
Anna perks up a bit. “Yes, Kat?”
“Can I stay with you?”
Jane can’t help but notice the look of utter devastation on Anne’s face. She says nothing.
Anna, meanwhile, looks relieved. “Of course, love.” she looks over at Bessie. “If you don’t mind, later on tonight, we’ll get things ready-”
“No,” Katherine says quickly. “I want you to stay here. Please.”
Anne’s hand clenches and she turns to leave, leaving the five queens and their ladies. Maggie is quickly out the door... but surprisingly, so is Jane.
“Anne-” Jane starts, but Maggie gets in her way.
“What are you thinking?” Maggie asks, a bit confused.
Jane looks back at where Anne is; she’s standing in the hallway, looking back at the two.
“I wanted to help-” Jane starts, but Maggie cuts her off.
“Listen, Jane,” she says, not unkindly and very apologetic. “I... I don’t think you should go after her. Let me take care of this, okay?”
Jane frowns, but nods. “Let me know if there’s anything that can be done to help.”
Maggie nods. “Right away. I’ll keep in contact with Joan.”
With that, Maggie starts after her queen. Jane and Anne make eye contact - the first time in centuries - before Anne turns sharply on her heel and walks off in a huff, Maggie barely able to keep up.
Jane enters the room again and Anna and Kat are catching up.
Catherine gently puts a hand on Jane’s shoulder. “I don’t think that was in your best interest, dear... but it was a nice thought.”
Jane just stays quiet. Cathy watches the two before she watches Katherine and Anna chat, already formulating a plan.