Chapter 1: Introducing Katherine Howard
Trigger Warning: mentions of blood and execution and implied sexual assault
Katherine Howard had always been alone. Sure, she had friends at some point but even most of them had proven to be shallow once she had gotten the crown so when she got a fresh start in the twenty-first century, she was dead set on doing whatever it took to at least make friends with the other queens.
However, it seemed like the past was dead set on repeating itself.
Even Anna—her oldest and dearest friend—had been acting coldly toward her, leaving her truly alone in the strange new world where nothing made sense.
Yet she had to try.
She couldn't take being alone again.
Nights never came easy since her execution. No, every night had her waking in a cold sweat and heaving stomach, expecting to find herself covered in blood or standing above her own lifeless body. Other nights, however, could be considered worse as the phantom hands groped and probed and repeated actions that she longed to forget.
And every night Katherine would just sit there in her room trembling and alone, wishing that—just this once—someone would hear, that someone would care enough to come to check on her.
No one ever came.
Why would they?
Anna probably saw her as a slut or worse and Anne acted like she had the plague.
So who could she turn to if not them?
Wasn't her friendship worth anything?
Wasn't family worth anything?
If they were, then why was it that no one seemed to want to give her a chance? To get to know her? She wasn't a bad person, or at least she didn't think she was. Was there something wrong with her? Is that why everyone who claimed to love her had just tossed her to the side?
Was that why she had been killed?
Because she was broken?
Was that why Anne practically shunned her even though she didn't really know her?
Chapter 2: Introducing Catherine Parr
Sorry it's so short they get longer after the introductions
Catherine Parr had been in situations of worry before but nothing seemed to hold a candle to the strange circumstances that she was in now with the other former queens and ladies.
How was it that they were living in this world? Why them? Were there more people—who like them—had been reincarnated through questionable means? Were their families out here somewhere just as confused as they were?
There were just too many questions for Catherine to really decipher and that was before she even begin to figure out where she stood with the other queens.
After all, everyone seemed to have someone but her. Howard had Cleves, Boleyn had Maggie, Cleves had Bessie, Seymour had Joan, and Catherine had Maria.
So she was 100% alone and she knew it so she just turned to research, trying to make sense of all that had changed in the last four hundred years or so.
Only to have her sins and failures thrown into her face.
She had been so self-absorbed she had completely blamed Elizabeth for the actions of a seemingly power-hungry man.
She had only been a girl. A girl under her protection.
She felt her stomach clench whenever she found her mind drifting to it.
How could she be so stupid?
No wonder Anne hated her. No wonder her godmother kept her distance.
But she had to try.
She had to be betterer.
Chapter 3: Introducing Anna Von Cleves
Why did it hurt so much? Why did she have to be reincarnated just as young as she had been upon her death? Since they all had been brought back younger, why couldn't Katherine been brought back at least somewhat older?
The question always found its way into the german's head whenever she looked at the girl. It was a constant reminder of the past. Of how she had failed in her marriage since maybe had she not have been so stupid, or so ugly then perhaps Katherine wouldn't have died in such a cruel way.
She wished she could have protected her. Could have convinced Henry to just sentence her to servitude.
Anything but what happened.
She had been just a girl, barely more than a child.
The apprehensive voice drove her from her thoughts, prompting her to look up at the youngest of the six former queens as she hovered near the doorway.
Why did this remind her so much odd their first meeting?
Anna had to swallow the knot that formed in her throat
She hated how the familiar name came out so choked and distant.
"Um...Everyone is off doing their own thing so...I was wondering...Can I stay with you? I won't get in the way or bother you."
Katherine adverted her eyes and shifted a bit, her voice dropping with each word and Anna could see that she was terrified.
"Of course you can stay, Kat. You've never been a bother."
Before Anna could blink, she felt the wind knocked out of her by the sudden force of the whisp of a teenager lunging her way into her arms and Anna's heart broke.
The girl had such a small frame and obviously was so young. Too young to know what kind of pain.
Too young to meet her end at the edge of an ax.
Slowly returning the hug—and feeling the trembling girl melt into it—Anna made herself a promise right then and there.
She would be damned if she let anything hurt her in this lifetime.
"Shh. It's alright now Kitty. I promise everything will be alright this time around."
She knew this promise was one she couldn't be certain about but she hated how forlorn the once cheerful girl seemed.
"What if it isn't. Everyone hates me and I don't even know why."
Katherine whispered, sounding dangerously close to tears and if Anna thought her heart was broken before, now it had completely shattered.
"Hush now, no one hates you. How could they? You're one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Anyone would be lucky to know you."
Chapter 4: Introducing Catherine Of Aragon
Catherine of Aragon could hold a grudge. Yes, being vengeful and petty probably was a sin but she couldn't help herself. At least, that is what one part of her brain told her anyway. Yet, whenever she saw the woman in question emerging from her room, red-eyed and seemingly soulless, she felt nothing but pity.
She had deserved to fall on her face, sure. However, Catherine would have never wished death on her. Not like that.
To hear people cheering for your death?
To have the last thing you see be condemning crowds?
Catherine could only imagine that the sword—while handled by a master swordsman—had been the least painful option and this a mercy. After all, Axes were more inaccurate and not always as sharp.
Yet whenever she saw the younger woman and the scratched raw scar, she felt herself question that logic. It was obvious she had not slept soundly for bags darkened beneath her eyes and she rarely left her room so she most certainly wasn't eating properly.
Had Anne been nearly cruel in her treatment of Mary? Perhaps.
Was she angry because of that? Certainly.
However, Aragon knew of the pain of leaving a child behind and reckoned that it had been even worse for Anne because—from what she had read anyway—her daughter had only been a mere three years of age.
Perhaps she would never truly forgive the girl but was it all Anne's fault? After all, the same man that had left her for Anne had done the same twice more and had god only knew how many mistresses. Was it all truly the fault of the youngest Boleyn girl?
Had she really bewitched her husband like Catherine had wanted to believe?
She wasn't so sure anymore.
Catherine couldn't sleep. Thoughts of what she had read about Mary—her daughter—swirled in her mind. How could the girl she knew have grown into something that wasn't recognizable?
Sighing she headed downstairs, only to find Catherine Parr—her goddaughter—sitting at the table, nursing a cup of coffee.
"You couldn't sleep either?"
She guessed, the informality feeling strange on her tongue though there was no use for formality now. She was not a queen anymore after all.
"No. Everything is so noisy here. The traffic, aeroplanes, I swear sometimes I can even hear the electricity running through the walls." The younger woman responded, earning a chuckle.
"Yeah, it was much quieter back then and I'm still not entirely certain that some things of this world aren't derived from witchcraft." Catherine of Aragon retorted, just as Anne slinked into the room.
"Didn't know anyone was awake."
Catherine felt herself stiffen, however, the second queen just made a beeline for the coffee without further comment.
"You look like hell."
"Oh really? Well, you would know, you're the queen of it."
Anne's retort—which would have normally infuriated her—fell flat because the girl just sounded so tired.
"Oh shut up Anne. You know what I mean."
She retorted instead, earning a sigh.
"Mind your own business, Aragon."
With that, Anne turned and walked out of the room, although Aragon could see some form of emotion forming on Anne's face.
Chapter 5: Introducing Anne Boleyn
Every night she remembers it. The way everyone turned on her, the cheering crowds, the whistle of the sword behind her, the sheering pain, the darkness. What had she done to deserve that? Sure, she had made mistakes—who hadn't?—and had been beyond petty with the whole Catherine of Aragon situation but had that truly made her deserving of such a fate?
Had she deserved the pain and the fear as she watched as even those she thought cared about her spit accusations or turn away? Even her own family had turned on her.
Wasn't family supposed to be loyal?
She knew that perhaps it was stupid, that perhaps they were just doing the king's bidding, however, that wouldn't explain the charges fabricated against her.
Charges that people she had loved and trusted had sworn true.
These thoughts kept her awake at night. The accusations ringing loudly in her ears as her scar tightened like a noose around her neck.
Each word repeating until she was sure that she would go mad.
Perhaps that would have been a mercy. An escape from the reality of it all. It would be more of a relief than the anxiety she felt whenever she happened to be in the same room as one of the others.
Catherine Of Aragon was passive-aggressive at worse but still, the shame burned her.
They may have had their differences but Anne should have never treated Mary in such a way.
Should have tried to convince Henry to at least let Catherine and Mary write to each other.
Yet how do you confess that to the person who hurt the worst?
How Did she know that any sort of move toward making amends wouldn't come back to bite her just like the connections she had held in the past had.
No, it would be better to just do everything on her own. That way, she wouldn't run the risk of being hurt.
In theory that would have been easy since the two former queens she actually knew had not liked her, however, there was just one obstacle that made it more challenging and that obstacle was Katherine Howard.
Anne hadn't been fond of the Howards nor had she even met Katherine in the past but it didn't stop Anne's heart from breaking at the sight of the thick (much thicker than her own) scar that ran about the girl's neck like a necklace or the muffled screams and sobs that came from the room just beside her own.
She was young, much too young to have met such a gruesome end.
Yet Anne couldn't allow herself to react to the teenager.
Familiarity would just get her hurt and Anne hated to admit it but she wouldn't survive that level of pain again
Chapter 6: Introducing Jane Seymour
Her mind sneered the words at her whenever she looked at the girl, the girl that she inevitably led to the scaffold.
She had been glad to have been favored by the king. She had ignored the fact that her former mistress had to die, choosing instead to pick out a wedding gown.
What kind of monster had she been?
Jane Seymour knew she had not been a good person.
That perhaps she deserved the fate that she had received.
Deserved the fear and the pain that had lead up to her death.
Had deserved the fear of being the next one sent to the scaffold due to displeasing her husband, after all, hadn't he threatened to do just that?
Then there was the worse of her offenses. She had perhaps caused so much stress on her—then mistress— that she had caused a miscarriage
Every time she saw Anne she thought about the hell it must have been, losing children and seeing yourself replaced, then being accused of things that perhaps—mostly—were not true. To be ripped away from her child and then ultimately executed for crimes she did not commit.
Yes, Jane longed for her son but she couldn't forget that she wasn't the only one who had been forced—in one way or another —to leave her child because Aragon and Anne did as well.
Thinking about the children of the other former queens, Jane couldn't keep herself from wondering even more about the whole situation with Henry.
Had he loved her or was his love just there because she had borne him a son? Was it love or lust that prompted him to take notice of her?
Of any of them?
She didn't want to think about it. Not really.
She didn't want to think of the possibility that his love had only been surface level. That he hadn't possessed any real fondness for her as more than a source for an heir.
That he would have had her killed if she didn't keep her head low and her nose out of his affairs.
So she avoided the others because they would definitely bring it up and she didn't think she could bear the truth.
She had done a well enough job avoiding the others—most particularly Anne Boleyn—until one day she went downstairs while everyone else was out job hunting, only to find the one person she wished she could avoid. She had stood in the doorway for several minutes, unsure of what to do when her former rival sent her a look.
"What? Come to gloat?"
Anne didn't sound angry or bitter just tired, the kind of tired not easily cured and it caused Jane's blood to freeze. In the past, there had always been a spark of fight in the other girl, but now she was void of any emotions.
"No, I..." Jane paused, unsure of how to continue "Anne, we need to talk. Please, I know what happened back then..." She stammered to get the words out, although Anne just closed her eyes, expression unreadable.
It was the same commanding tone she sometimes had taken as queen consort.
"Don't, let just...Forget that shit. It's done and there is no use grumbling about it. I want to be done with it...It's not like you signed my death warrant."
Those words made Jane's blood freeze and she rushed to defend herself
"If I had known he would have..."
Anne cut her off again, this time her voice painted with some anger
"Did nothing. You saw a chance and leaped, the same of most women would have, especially back then. You were powerless."
The words were like acid but they were true.
"He was the king...I..."
Anne sent her a look.
"I denied him for seven years and perhaps would have succeeded at life if it hadn't been for my father." The words were bitter and Jane could see the way her eyes had become unnaturally shiny at the mention of the man.
"How can you just forget that..." Jane began after some time, half expecting to be lashed out at or ridiculed but instead, Anne just answered:
"I can't. I can't forget but I wish I could. I want to start over, move past all the bullshit."
Chapter 7: First Act
Catherine Of Aragon was used to being stoic, used to keeping thoughts and feelings to herself, however, it became harder to ignore the fact that everyone seemed to ignore Katherine Howard.
Well, everyone except Anne of Cleves anyway.
Didn't anyone notice how lost the girl seemed? How she tried to strike up a conversation?
Didn't they hear the crying that came from her room during the late hours of the night?
Catherine didn't pretend to be perfect—after all, no one on earth was—but she knew how it irked her to no end to sit and listen to the poor thing.
Why hadn't Anne offered her advice or comfort? They had wet through similar things.
It honestly hurt her herd to think about.
This was the reason that Catherine found herself standing in the teen's doorway at three AM, unsure of what to do as she watched the girl sob into a pillow.
"Howard? What's wrong?" She eventually said, hating herself for sounding more like a queen and less like a concerned housemate, especially since Katherine jolted at the sound of her voice.
"Lady Catherine, Did I wake you? I'm sorry."
Katherine stammered out, quickly trying to compose herself although Aragon could easily see that she was still trembling from emotion.
"No, you didn't wake me. Are you alright? You seem pretty upset." Catherine responded, moving toward the bed, taking note at how plain that the girl's room was.
Did she not earn money from the odd jobs she took on?
"Just a nightmare. Nothing to worry about." Howard's response caused Catherine to scoff.
"Really? So I am to just ignore a crying seventeen-year-old? How about you actually try telling me what is wrong and let me decide if I should worry or not."