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Momentary Bliss

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478 years.

5,736 months.

24,941 weeks.

174,586 days since her beheading, but still, Katherine Howard couldn’t help but keep count.

She wished she could lose track of the hours since her death. That the thought of the passing minutes wouldn’t linger in her mind, reminding her that her time could be up at any moment. No matter how hard she tried though, Kit could never forget.

Tick tock.

Staring up at the clock, Kit watched as the second hand spun around, seemingly growing faster and faster the longer she stared at it. Night after night of waking up in sweats resulted in the girl taking to sleeping in her cousin’s room. She always felt safer wrapped up in bed with the protective woman. The downside to that though was the clock hanging on the wall that seemed to taunt her.

For hours, the girl would stare at that clock, counting the seconds as if they were sheep, willing herself to slip into the land of dreams. Eventually, the sandman would come for her most nights, finally relieving her with the freedom of sleep.

Until the nightmares came.

Tick tock.

That sound rang in her ears night after night as she shot up in bed, gasping for breath. Thankfully, though, the girl beside her would jump up every time and wrap her up in a hug, whispering soft reassurances into her ears.

Those whispers could drown out the ticking, making the girl sink into her arms, desperate for that comforting silence. Of course, Anne was always more than happy to provide this sweet sense of relief, cradling her baby cousin until she drifted off once again.

This time, no nightmares would come. Kit knew Anne would fight off any monsters that may come for her. Her cousin was her hero.

It wasn’t just Anne that helped, either.

On stage, when the stress of her repeating her story to an audience got too overwhelming, the clocks would begin to scream again, that constant countdown ticking away in Kit’s mind.

Tick tock.

It was Jane Seymour who’d provide comfort in that situation, her song soothing the girl’s nerves, grounding her once again. From the loving way Jane would glance at her, Kit could tell the woman knew what she was doing, purposefully aiming to calm the girl as her solo performance drew closer.

And it worked.

That angelic melody had the power to banish all of the bad thoughts that plagued Kit, restoring her sanity for just a moment. It was easy to lose track of time whilst watching the motherly woman preform, putting her heart on the line for all to see. As soon as that opening note played, Kit felt a sense of safety rush over her every single night.

Her family would keep her safe, she knew that. As soon as the music stopped though, Kit would remember something, reality snapping back into place.

Nothing could stop time. Not even Jane’s god-like high notes.

Tick tock.

So here she was, laying in bed 174,586 days since her beheading, staring at the clock. Anne must have already woken up, because the bed was empty, leaving her alone with that incessant ticking. That mind-numbing sound that haunted her waking hours.

Giving a growl, Kit leaped from the bed and ripped the clock from the wall, finally snapping. She used a butterknife to unscrew the back before ripping out the batteries, tossing them into the bin. She even considered smashing the clock, but that would make it too obvious that something was wrong. So, instead, Kit hung the clock back up, glaring at the unmoving hands.

She could’ve sworn that she could still hear ticking but, before she could get too stressed out by it, the door flung open to reveal a group of women.

“Morning, Kitten!” Anne beamed, tackling the girl onto the bed.

The small squeal that came from Kit as she was thrown onto the bed and wrapped up in a hug was adorable.

“Be gentle with her, Anne!” Aragon scolded the girl, though the smirk on her face showed no sign of frustration.

“She’s got to be in bed if she’s gonna have breakfast in bed! It’s in the name,” Anne reasoned with a grin, making Kit suddenly tune in to the sweet scent coming from the trays in Jane and Cleves’ arms.

The trays were lined with plate after plate of glorious food. Pancakes, fresh fruit, her favourite cereals, Cleves’ special waffles, juice, and tea. She even spotted some chocolate digestives on there as Anne stole one, stuffing it in her mouth with a cheeky grin, earning a light slap on her wrist from Parr.

“Mind if we join you?”

Giving a frantic nod, Kit enthusiastically shuffled back on the bed, giving the queens’ room to sit beside the trays. It was a tight squeeze but they didn’t mind, all joyfully chatting about how they may spend their day. Maybe bowling? No, Anne got banned after the incident. Perhaps the zoo? No, the cages upset Parr. Shopping? No again! Aragon was far too impatient for that.

It was Kitty who suggested that they go to the cinema, making the others all give excited smiles.

“The cinema it is!” Cleves had enthused, pulling out her phone to search up the available screenings. Now, just to get the group to agree on a movie. Of course, Kit would get the final say, but that didn’t stop Anne winding Aragon up with outlandish suggestions.

Sitting in bed with the group, hearing their playful banter, Kit felt more relaxed than she had done in a long time. More loved than she ever had in her past life.

Looking up to the unmoving clock, Kit couldn’t help but smile. That awful ticking had no power over her now. Not with her family there.

For just a moment, time stopped completely.