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“Queens? Have you seen my scarf?”

Five gazes glanced up. It was Jane who had asked, stepping from the hallway into the living room. Anna had taken up one of the armchairs and had begun beaming upon seeing her girlfriend enter the room. Kat and Cathy had managed to squeeze themselves into one armchair as they watched the television. Catherine was seated on the couch, a book in hand. Anne had managed to drape herself along the back of the couch and looked dangerously close to both falling asleep and literally falling as she played with Catherine’s hair.

There was a chorus of negatives before Kat also spoke up. “You know, I’ve lost my jacket as well.”

It turned out, it wasn’t just Kat and Jane. The other queens all added their own missing articles of clothing too. It seemed everyone had lost something, leading to confusion.

“Okay, there's six people in this house. Someone has to be stealing the clothes.” It was Anne who spoke up, slipping off the back of the couch to actually sit on said couch. “The ‘who’ and ‘why’ is what I don’t get.”

“Alright, then who is our thief?” Catherine asked, setting her book aside.

“That’s the problem, right? We don’t know?” Cathy asked.

“How do we even know it’s a thief? It could be a mix up.” Anna spoke up, glancing at each queen.

“Sounds like something a thief would say, Anna!” Kat teased.

“And how do we know it isn’t you then?” Anna shot back with a smirk.

“Guys… Jane’s been awfully quiet.”

“Really?!”

The queens burst into loud chatter as they all blamed each other for the missing clothes. It started teasing but soon turned serious.

“Why wouldn’t it be you?!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?!”

“Queens, let’s all calm down—!”

“WHO STEALS A FUCKING SHIRT?!”

“PROBABLY YOU! YOU’RE THE ONE GETTING ALL DEFENSIVE ABOUT IT!”

“GUYS!” Cathy finally burst, her hands clamped over her ears. “Guys! Let’s just— think about it some more before blaming each other!”

The queens all paused and settled down. They murmured apologies to each other and looked thoroughly scolded by Cathy’s interjection, even if she hadn’t said anything scolding. Everyone took a deep breath and managed to calmly continue.

“How do we know it isn’t just the couples forgetting we took something?” Jane spoke up.

“Well, I think we would remember.” Cathy explained. “Plus, I know for a fact I haven’t taken Kat’s jacket.”

The other couples agreed with this. The specific items they were all looking for weren't taken by their girlfriend.

“Okay, okay! We all only had clothing with our respective colors right?” Anne commented, earning agreement from everyone. “So what if we search our rooms and whatever clothing we find that doesn’t belong to us, we bring back here?”

“I like the idea, but we can’t search our own rooms, we wouldn’t admit it.” Kat spoke up, giving her cousin an apologetic look.

“Simple solution.” Catherine chimed in. “We don’t check our own room, we all swap instead.” Anne pointed happily at Catherine.

So that’s what they did. They all split up and checked each other’s rooms, after giving consent to the search, of course. They had been in each other’s rooms before, it was nothing new and the check was only for clothes.

Soon, they all reconvened in the living room, six piles of clothes in front of them.

Only, the piles weren’t just clothes shared between the couples, it was a multicolored, mix of clothes from everyone. Each queen had at least one of the others colors, more if it was their girlfriend’s.

They all stared at each other for a stretch of time as realization slowly set in.

“Well, this explains a lot.” It was Anna who spoke up. She actually looked a little impressed as she eyed the six piles.

“We’re all the culprits.” Cathy said in a contemplative tone.

“So…” Anne looked very confused. “Wait, wait, wait! All of us have been stealing each other’s clothes?”

“Looks like it to me.” Kat muttered, looking very surprised.

“Where do we even go from here?” Catherine spoke up.

That was a question all of the queens had after this realization. What do you do after figuring out your five housemates had been stealing some of your clothes and it was revealed that you yourself had also been taking their clothes?

“Do you guys… want yours back?” It was Cathy who asked, looking cautiously at the others.

“I mean… I’m personally okay with sharing my clothes.” Anna gave them all a laugh and a smile. “I already share with Jane openly, and you queens are like family to me.”

“It’s cool with me!” Then Anne gains a triumphant smirk. “And I told you it wasn’t for a prank!” Anna smirked back, ready to give a response before Kat spoke up.

“So none of us have a problem with sharing? It’s why I tried to hide it earlier… I got worried you would be uncomfortable.” Kat said, giving everyone a sheepish grin as she shoved her hands into her pockets.

“I mean, we’d be hypocrites, yes?” Jane spoke with a small laugh. “All doing the same thing.”

“Does that mean we can share clothes?” Cathy asked, tilting her head in curiosity.

“If we are comfortable with it, then I don't see a problem.” Catherine said clearly, giving everyone a smile. “We should set some boundaries though.”

And from that point on, you could find a queen in three different stages of clothing when it came to colors. In their own respective color, their own color with a splash of another’s, or in a rainbow of six different colors.

It wasn’t just between the couples anymore. It seemed all six queens began to share clothing among each other. And they were all perfectly satisfied with that. They let each other know what was and wasn’t okay to take and share.

It became more and more common to see the queens in each other’s colors and sharing clothes. There were moments when they stole each other’s clothes, be it from the laundry, their rooms, or closets. Even Jane and Catherine joined in when they wanted to wear something of the others.

There were also moments when they all willingly gave over their clothes, and not just between the couples. Some of those moments were small and as simple as handing the article of clothing over for almost no reason.

But there were occasions where there were reasons behind the sharing.

~~||~~||~~

It wasn’t just clothing the queens shared. No, this time, it was a blanket. And just like the clothing, it wasn’t returned until later. But also like the other occasions, the owner was content, and even got to steal the borrower’s own blanket in return.

Most of the queens had somewhere they needed to go that day. Catherine did not, so she opted to stay home and catch up on books and movies. After several chapters of a book and one movie, Catherine searched for a second movie to watch.

Not interested in the movies kept on the shelf (she had seen most of them already, for the others Anne insisted she wait so they could watch them together), Catherine decided she wanted to check the movies kept in the basement before turning to Netflix. So she made her way to the hall.

The door to the basement was at the beginning of the hallway leading to Cathy and Jane’s rooms. It was never really used by the queens, their rooms, the living room, and the attic being plenty enough room for them to hang out in. So the basement was their very rarely used storage.

So Catherine made her way down the basement stairs and glanced around the room.

There was hardly any light available in the basement. There was the metal grate that let slits of light into the room, the lightbulb had gone out and the queens had always forgotten to get a new one. They didn’t have much to store, but there were still a few boxes and items scattered throughout the room.

The movies were in a box appropriately labeled, ‘movies we didn’t have room for.’ Catherine still wasn’t quite sure which of the others labeled the box.

She sifted through the movies, searching for one that caught her interest. She eventually pulled a disc out of the box with a satisfied hum.

Catherine closed the box back up and turned around, making her way back up the stairs. She reached for the doorknob and twisted it.

But the door wouldn’t budge.

Catherine felt panic rise within her. She pushed harder, turning the doorknob harshly, but the door stayed shut.

The movie slipped from her clasp and clattered to the ground. She moved back down the stairs, looking for any sort of option to escape. But there was none.

And suddenly, Catherine was trapped again. She couldn’t leave, she couldn’t run. She was imprisoned again after Arthur’s death.

Yes, her home had been where most of her imprisonment took place. But for a time, she had also been locked away in a cell. A cell that was dark with a tiny slot of a window and a slit of light, broken to pieces by the bars, eerily similar to the cold basement she was now locked in.

And Catherine feared that unlike last time, this imprisonment would be forever. She wouldn’t be released. This is where she would spend her life before dying. All she could do was curl up at the base of the stairs, memories flashing in front of her eyes. She wasn’t in the current time anymore, she was hundreds of years in the past once again. And just like then, she was powerless.

She was trapped in a dark, cold cell once again.

And no one was there to help.

But unknown to Catherine, another queen had arrived home a few minutes after this.

“Catalina?” Kat called into the house as she opened the door. There was no response and Kat glanced into the living room, finding no trace of the older queen.

Perhaps she had gone out? It was a nice day outside.

But a part of Kat was telling her that something wasn’t right. So she began to search the house. Catherine would have left a note and the eldest queen’s phone was lying abandoned on the couch, along with a bookmarked book. There was no sign Catherine had left the house either.

Kat had checked each room, and she felt anxiety swell. Catherine had left everything she would usually take with her. Perhaps she should call one of the others?

But then, she heard a sob.

A sob coming from the basement, the last place Kat hadn’t checked— forgot to check, really. Kat bolted over to the door and quickly pulled it open, making sure to keep it unlocked. She froze at the doorway.

Catherine was curled up at the bottom of the steps, face pressed against her knees as she sobbed and shuddered, unable to get her breathing and trembling under control.

Kat recognized the panic attack and quietly made her way down the steps. She maneuvered around Catherine to kneel in front of her.

Kat had never really seen Catherine in this state before. But she hardly even paused to think about it. Catherine’s well-being was far more important to the pink queen.

“Catalina? It’s just me… it’s just Kat. I need you to breathe…”

Catherine didn’t reply, another choked sob escaping her lips instead.

“Come on, Catalina.” Kat soothed, aching to pull the other queen into a hug. “I need you to breathe. Can you look at me?”

Catherine glanced up at Kat through the tears in her eyes. Kat inhaled sharply as she noticed something. Catherine had a very familiar glaze to her eyes. That was the moment Kat fully realized that Catherine was not in the present.

“Catalina, It’s Kat. Katherine Howard.” Kat said slowly, tilting her head to look Catherine in the eyes. “I don’t know where you are, but it’s not real. You are in our house in the 21st century. I think you got stuck in the basement, but I’m here and you’re okay now, promise.”

Catherine’s eyes flickered with familiarity. “Gatita?”

Kat perked up at her nickname. “Yeah, that’s right! Can I touch you?”

Catherine slowly nodded and Kat reached forward, tugging Catherine into a hug.

Catherine clung to Kat, her fingers digging into the pink shirt. “I don’t want to be imprisoned again… I don’t— I don’t want to be here—! I don't want to be alone— and it’s so cold—! And— and Arthur—!”

Kat pulled Catherine tighter to her as she gently hushed the rambling. She had a feeling she knew what Catherine was seeing. “Catalina, you are not imprisoned. I think you got locked in the basement. But you’re okay now. I’m with you, the others will be back soon, and you can go wherever you want. You’re not trapped, you’re free.” Kat glanced up the stairs. “And I think we should get you out of here.”

It took several minutes to get Catherine up the stairs to the living room. She sat Catherine on the couch and moved to grab some stuff, but Catherine kept her grip tight, her hand grasping onto Kat’s. She was slightly more alert than she had been downstairs, but she was still in a daze and didn’t want to be left alone.

Kat leaned over and pulled her pink blanket from one of the armchairs. Catherine blinked in confusion as the blanket was draped around her, her grip on Kat’s hand loosening.

“Gatita, what—?”

“You don’t want to be alone, right?” Kat chuckled sheepishly. “So my blanket can take my place while I get some stuff for you. It won’t take but a minute.”

“... Alright.” Catherine agreed after a short pause, letting go of Kat’s hand. The pink queen beamed at her and was quickly walking out of the room, trying to hurry with what she needed to do.

Catherine still looked around the room warily, as if expecting something to happen. But she relaxed into the blanket, pulling it closer around her as she took deep, steadying breaths and let her tears dry. The blanket was definitely a comfort, even more than her own golden blanket would have been.

Kat soon returned, snacks and drinks in hand. She settled on the couch and Catherine let out a pleased hum as the pink queen pressed herself into Catherine’s side. “See, I’m back.” Kat said jokingly, beaming at Catherine.

“And I’m happy to see that.” Catherine replied with her own, slightly strained, laugh. She took the bag of chips and water bottle, eagerly taking a sip of the latter.

Kat leaned forward to snatch the remote before moving back to Catherine. From that point, she refused to move, keeping an arm wrapped around Catherine along with the blanket.

“Gracias, Gatita.” Catherine murmured, leaning into Kat’s hold.

“Of course, Catalina.” Kat replied. “I’m sorry that happened to you…”

“I’ll be fine now… I just need to focus on something else.” Catherine glanced towards the hall. She had a feeling she would be avoiding the basement for a long while after today. “I just wanted to thank you first.”

Kat nodded, giving Catherine a sad smile. “I understand. And there’s no thanks needed. You’re family to me. And… I know how it feels.”

The two fell into a peaceful silence, looking towards the movie playing on screen before Kat spoke up, her tone teasing. “How long will it be until I get the blanket back?”

“A while. You can take mine if you want.” Catherine said smoothly, leaning to tug her golden blanket off the back of the couch. She pulled it over Kat, the pink queen happily allowing this with a laugh.

“Trading it is!”

The two settled after that, leaning into each other and focusing more on the movie. Catherine’s memories slowly faded away as her surroundings grounded her. Kat felt Catherine relax and that made Kat herself relax.

The other queens would arrive later to find the two fast asleep on the couch, pressed together. They would take a picture or two before turning off the tv and leaving them to sleep, staying quiet in their rooms or the kitchen.

They would continue their blanket trade for several days, perhaps even a week or two, after the incident.

It was a comfort to both queens. Even if the others weren’t there it felt like another queen was still with them. It kept them calm and steady. Most importantly, it felt like it protected them.

~~||~~||~~

To the others' surprise, an argument had sparked between Anne and Jane.

It was towards the end of breakfast when it started and everyone was gathered around the table. When everything was over and done with, none of the queens, including Anne and Jane themselves would quite remember what had started the argument. But the two’s well known fiery tempers clashed as they began arguing.

Loudly.

The others' attempts to intervene only raised the volume, something that made Cathy clearly uncomfortable as she hunched in on herself with her headphones over her ears. But everyone was too caught up in anger and confusion to notice. The only one who did was Kat, who kept glancing at both the fight and Cathy, trying to find a point where she could calm everything down.

“JUST SHUT UP! TAIS-TOI!” Anne finally roared. She slammed her tangle down onto the tab, grabbed her plate and sent it whizzing across the kitchen. It slammed into the cabinets and shattered to pieces. Anne’s chair went toppling backwards to the floor at the same time. All of the queens yelped in surprise as the sudden burst and all stared wide eyed at Anne.

After the physical outburst, Anne’s breathing became erratic. She had hunched in on herself and began pacing, eyes squeezed shut and hands clasped over her ears. She was trying to block everything out. She could hear and feel everything around her. Her anger didn’t help, sending tears of frustration and rage down her cheeks that felt too warm to Anne. She began muttering harshly to herself between her gasps, trying to calm herself down.

Anne hadn’t known the name of what was happening to her at the beginning of this new life. It was only now that she could know what was happening, if she had been able to think properly at that moment. A sensory overload. One that was mixed with her anger and caused by all of her emotions and the loud noises shoving at her mind all at once.

It was rare for Anne to have a meltdown or overload in front of the other queens. Anne occasionally had one after a nightmare, but they could all count on one or two hands how many each of them had seen outside of the nightmare incidents. As Anne opened up more since the reincarnation, it became more common for her to let them help, Catherine especially. But there were still moments where she fled and hid away from the others in her room until everything faded away.

Most of the queens paused, quickly going over what they needed to do in their heads. But before any of them could move, Cathy did. She was out of her chair, and by Anne’s side in seconds. She was quickly guiding the green queen away with a hand pressed against her back.

They didn’t notice the others dumbfounded expressions that quickly changed to both a hopeful and anxious look. The others would proceed to clean up and go about their own activities as they waited for the other two to return. Those activities were slow and filled with anxiety and worry.

Cathy had whisked Anne away to the former’s room down the hall. Cathy herself had almost reached her limits as well when everyone began yelling. But Anne had reached that limit first. Cathy hadn’t reached her breaking point and was able to get both Anne and herself away to her room in time.

The door was carefully closed behind them as the green queen slumped to the floor and curled in on herself. It was as if her anger had faded, giving way for her meltdown. She let out one final cry of rage, uncurling herself and grabbing at her shirt. The thin, green t-shirt ripped after several sharp rugs and Anne threw it to the floor before curling back in on herself, sobbing as her hands flew to her throat.

The anger that had fueled her vanished and now her senses and literally everything had moved in to take its place. Every sound, every light, every touch all pounded at Anne’s brain. She couldn’t handle it, but she couldn’t think and she couldn’t speak either. All she could do was curl in on herself, close her eyes, and try to black out to everything. But every little thing was demanding her attention and those little things were too loud.

Even the normally comforting weight of her choker burned and hurt. Her scar was even worse.

Anne’s hands fumbled with the choker before managing to undo the clasp and fling it across the room. Her nails began scratching at the scar it hid. The pain was sharp but it was something to focus on, and Anne just wanted the scar’s burning to stop. She just wanted everything to stop, really.

Before she could manage to break the skin, someone knelt in front of her. They grabbed her hands and pulled them away from her neck. Anne wheezed out a whine, not opening her eyes. She shook her head, trying to pull her hands from the grip.

“Here.” A voice whispered at a soothing level as something was pressed into Anne’s hands. It was the familiar form of a tangle. Anne’s shoulders ever so slowly untensed and she uncurled herself slightly as she began to twist the object.

After another second, the voice whispered again. “Are you alright to move to the bed? It’s more comfortable there.”

Anne pondered the words before slowly nodding. She opened her eyes and noticed that the lights were off. Through the darkness she could make out blue eyes and curly hair crouched in front of her. Ah, so it has been Cathy speaking.

Cathy gently helped her to her feet, still very much aware that Anne was probably still experiencing the overload. The green queen stumbled to the bed with Cathy and let the blue queen pull her onto her lap. Anne took solace in the other queen’s warmth and she curled tighter into the embrace, turning so her side was against Cathy’s front.

Neither of them talked now. Anne was still calming herself and Cathy was remaining quiet for Anne. There were no more questions needed anyways.

Cathy reached to the side with one arm and grabbed two objects. Anne hardly took notice but it was Cathy’s weighted blanket and headphones.

Anne let Cathy wrap the blanket securely around her, the blanket being big enough to cover both of them, and place the headphones on her head. Anne took a deep, relieved breath at both the pressure and silence. But despite how tired she was, she still felt the need to move. So she began tapping her fingers against Cathy’s leg.

Cathy evidently noticed the problem. She began rocking the both of them, taking solace in the movement as well. Anne’s foot and hand stilled and she relaxed further into Cathy’s arms, letting her eyes close as she began to fully calm down from her meltdown. Cathy hummed happily upon noticing how much calmer Anne had gotten. She let her chin rest on Anne’s head, something the green queen allowed peacefully.

They didn’t know how long they remained there. The whispers of their breathing and heartbeats, along with just each other’s presence, calming both of them. If someone was to walk into the room, they could easily think the two were asleep. The only things indicating otherwise was the rocking and the two women occasionally peering through the room’s darkness.

“Do you need anything?” Cathy finally asked, not pulling away.

Anne shifted so her face was pressed against the crook of Cathy’s neck instead.

“I want Lina.” Anne grumbled into Cathy’s neck.

Cathy chuckled. “We can do that. Do you feel better enough to leave the room?”

Anne hummed an affirmative before she realized something. She glanced down at herself and groaned, pressing her face back against Cathy’s neck.

“I can’t go out without a shirt.” Anne hissed, grip on Cathy’s shirt tightening. “And I don’t wanna put my choker back on either.”

Cathy gently brought her hand up to stroke at Anne’s hair. “The others wouldn’t mind if you walked through in your bra. I did it that one time, remember? And we all have seen your scar before, the others wouldn’t do anything over it.”

“I know, I know…” Anne grunted. She still didn’t want to go out there. She wouldn’t admit it to Cathy, but only part was due to the clothing and choker issue. The other part of it was embarrassment over everything that had taken place. “Can I just… stay here forever?”

“Trust me, you would get bored in under an hour.” Cathy replied and it was hardly even a joke. Then she nudged Anne. “Let me up.”

Anne groaned but let herself be moved off to the side, Cathy wrapping the blanket around the green queen.

There was silence as Cathy ruffled through her closet. She turned around and just as Anne opened her mouth to speak, a fluffy piece of clothing hit her face, cutting her off with a squeak.

Anne pulled the cloth away from her face, the blanket falling away from her. She blinked in surprise upon seeing that it was a deep blue turtleneck.

Cathy tilted her head, chuckling at the confusion. “Now we can get you to Madrina and you won’t be embarassed.”

Anne blinked at Cathy but shrugged the shirt on. She had worn the others' clothing before and was one of the first queens fully embracing it, which is why she didn’t hesitate as much as she could have. She had mostly been confused at the sudden gesture. It was definitely a little oversized on her, but not as much as the others’ clothes. Added bonus, the turtleneck covered her neck too and felt wonderful and fluffy.

She hummed happily and burrowed herself deeper into the turtleneck, savoring it’s warmth.

She had her eyes closed and didn’t notice that Cathy was next to her again until the blue queen was draping the weighted blanket back over Anne’s shoulders. “And you can also keep this for however long you need. We really need to get another one.”

Cathy picked up the shirt and choker before helping Anne to her feet.

“You’re alright to go out?” Cathy asked one last time.

“Yeah, it’s not like we’re leaving the house! Can we go find Lina now?” Anne asked, trotting over to the door.

“Of course, let's go.” Cathy agreed with a laugh. Anne clung to Cathy as the younger woman led her out the door.

They made their way through the house. They traded smiles, whispered words of apologies, and ‘I’m glad you’re okay!’ They didn’t find Lina downstairs so they made their way upstairs and stood in front of the golden door. They could hear Catherine moving inside.

“Merci, Somnolente…” Anne murmured as they reached Catherine’s door.

Cathy’s smile was small, but she directed it fully at Anne. “Of course, you’re family to me. And you’ve done the same for me.”

Anne grinned as she vanished into Catherine’s room, being welcomed happily by her girlfriend.

Cathy wouldn’t get to wear that turtleneck again for a while. But the writer was perfectly content with that.

~~||~~||~~

It was after breakfast and Jane decided she wanted to bake something. So she checked the cabinets, only to find that they were out of some ingredients, as well as other foods.

Hm, a grocery trip was in order. And since they used public transport (the store was just far enough away to use transport instead of walking), Jane couldn’t really go alone due to all the items she would be carrying.

So Jane made her way into the living room where the others were situated. “Would anyone want to accompany me to the store? We’re running out of some food.”

“I’ll come!” Anne announced, raising her hand from the couch. The other queens all stated they had prior plans with each other, leaving only the silver and green queen to go.

So they went upstairs to get dressed. It had been very cold outside recently, calling for jackets and other warmer clothing.

Jane could only find her lightest jacket. Well… she guessed it would be fine for a simple shopping trip. They would be on public transport most of the way anyways, and even that ride was fairly short.

Upon getting to the door, Jane was greeted by Anne. She had her familiar tangle in hands, a thick green jacket, and a green scarf where her choker would usually be. She beamed upon noticing Jane.

“Ready?” She asked joyfully. But then she turned worried upon noticing how light Jane’s jacket was. “Hey, are you gonna be alright in just your jacket?”

“Yes, I’m sure I’ll be fine.” Jane answered simply, giving Anne a reassuring smile as she reached for the door.

“We can ask another queen if they have a thicker jacket or I could give you something of mine? I know none of us would mind.”

“I’ll be fine, Anne, but thank you. We’re just going to the store.” Jane said as she slipped on her shoes.

Anne fixes her with a concerned look that soon faded to an almost nervous smile. “Well… if you’re sure. Don’t be afraid to ask, though.”

Jane hummed her assent and the two were off. Friendly talk filled the silence as they walked to the station.

Remember when Jane thought that they would be on the tube for most of the ride anyways?

Well, it turned out even the tube itself was frigid. There were less people than usual, giving Jane and Anne more space to sit down. But it seemed to come at the price of colder air.

Jane couldn’t help the shivering that occurred from the cold. She wrapped her jacket further around herself, but the light fabric didn’t help much at all. She noticed Anne watching her in concern every couple of seconds (before trying to ignore the people around her with the tangle, Anne didn’t do very well with crowds) but Jane tried to brush it off.

As they walked the last stretch to the store, Jane felt even colder. She began shivering even more, hands reaching up to hug herself.

Anne clearly noticed all of it. She gently nudged Jane, pressing herself closer to the woman to try and share some heat. “Mère, do you want my jacket?”

“I’m fine.” Jane said simply, shaking her head. But she still gave Anne a thankful smile. “Thank you for the offer, Annie.”

But Anne didn’t back down. “Mère, you’re shaking.”

“Anne.” Jane shook her head. “I don’t need your jacket. You’ll get sick.”

Anne bit back her retort of, ‘you’ll get sick too!’ Instead she had another thought. “Then what about my scarf?”

Jane’s eyes widened and flicked to Anne in surprise. “What?”

“You don’t want me to get cold, so I can give you my scarf at the very least.” Anne gave Jane a confident smile, but she was tapping her fingers rapidly against her leg. “It won’t help as much as a jacket but at least it’s something.”

“I… but your scar…?”

“I’ll be fine, Jane.” Anne said smoothly. “I don’t want you sick.”

“Annie— I’m perfectly fine!”

“Mère, you’re fucking freezing! Je ne veux pas que tu sois malade!” Anne slipped into French, giving Jane a frustrated and worried stare.

Jane didn’t know much French. She picked up on some due to spending time with the French speaking queen, but she couldn’t make out what Anne said. So she continued with the first argument against the scarf.

“Anne, I know you don’t like your scar showing. And I don’t want you to be uncomfortable or panicked. I’ll be fine.”

“I’d rather have my scar showing than have you sick and panicking like last time!”

The queens all remembered the time Jane had gotten sick and began to panic. It was scary for all of them, Cathy especially. The survivor herself had experienced the same thing after reincarnation.

Jane still looked very unsure, but had mostly given up. So instead of continuing, Anne simply began taking her scarf off.

“Anne—!”

Anne cut her off by reaching up to wrap the green fabric around Jane’s neck. Jane’s words got caught in her throat as she observed Anne grinning at her.

The green queen shivered as the air hit her scar, but she remained smirking at Jane. “No take backs!”

Jane took a deep breath but pressed herself further into the scarf. “Alright, fine. But if you feel uncomfortable, tell me.”

“Sure.” Anne said with a shrug. Agreeing but not promising. A few minutes later, they reached the store and headed inside. They grabbed a cart before making their way down the aisles.

Usually, Anne would be asking for some treats they had on the shelves. But she was quiet, subdued. It made Jane worried. But the problem was obvious.

As much as Anne tried to make her scar unnoticeable, Jane could notice the stares just as easily.

A parent staring wide eyed. A child looking at the raised mark with curiosity. Some were respectfully and quickly averted their gaze, or hardly even noticed. But there were a few others that took note of the scar and wouldn’t take their gaze away until Anne and Jane rounded to the next aisle.

It was clearly getting to Anne. But Jane knew the other woman was too stubborn to say anything and would still refuse the scarf, possibly wanting to prove something. The green queen simply kept her gaze on the tangle in her hands, trying to ignore it all.

So Jane sighed and reached out. Anne jumped as she felt an arm wrap around her shoulders, but she quickly relaxed as she realized who it was. She leaned into the touch and they both stopped walking for a moment.

“Is this alright?” Jane asked as she pulled a chewy peppermint out of her pocket and passed it to Anne.

“Definitely.” Anne said back, unwrapping the peppermint happily.

“I can give back the scarf if you want it?” Jane asked quietly. She figured she already knew the answer.

“No, I think I’m good now. And I still don’t want you getting sick.” Anne said, glancing down at the tangle in her hands. “Can we finish and get home?”

“Of course we can.” Jane said, but before she backed away she gently rubbed Anne’s shoulder and spoke confidently. “Anne. You are so strong… doing this. You don’t have to, yet you always pull stunts like this. Look after yourself more often, alright? You deserve it. And we won’t be here for much longer, I promise. We’ll be home with the others soon enough.”

Anne took a deep breath and looked a little embarrassed at the compliment. “Thanks Jane… let’s finish up and get you home where it’s warmer.”

“Comfort and warmth.” Jane laughed, reluctantly removing her arm and grabbing an item from the shelf. “A wonderful plan to me!”

“Then let’s get moving!”

Jane felt the cold fade away as the scarf helped warm her. It wasn’t entirely helpful, but it did help. And Jane felt even more comfort at what exactly Anne did to give it to her. It was a nervous comfort, the fact that Anne’s pain was giving her comfort made Jane slightly anxious. But it helped nonetheless and Jane stuck close to Anne, wanting to comfort her in return.

And everytime it felt like someone stared at her scar, Anne would take hold of Jane’s arm or hand, keeping close to the other woman. But Anne was more proud of the fact that she kept Jane safe. She didn’t want the other woman to get sick when it was preventable. The sickness incident was one of the most painful things Anne had witnessed, and it was saying something, considering the green queen had lost her head at one point.

Eventually, bags in tow, they made it through public transport and reached home safe and sound.

“Thank you again, Anne.” Jane said softly as they approached the door. “And I’m sorry you had to give me your scarf.”

“It’s fair, yeah? I gave you the scarf to keep you from getting sick and you helped me feel more comfortable in the meanwhile.” Anne explained with a shrug.

Jane smiles back. “I suppose it’s fair then.” Then she opened the door to the house. “Now let’s get this all out put away and maybe we can bake something? I think we need it after the stress.”

Anne beamed and helped prop open the door as they carried in the bags. Some cupcakes sounded like a good treat.

Jane didn’t take the scarf off for the rest of the day, even while they baked. She smiled when she saw Anne back to her perky self, choker hiding the scar that caused so many insecurities.

~~||~~||~~

It was a nice evening. The queens had spent the day inside, messing with each other and spending the day in comfort. After dinner though, most of the queens decided they wanted to go to the pub.

Catherine hadn’t wanted to go so she stayed home. It had taken some convincing to get Anne to go with the other queens, but the woman had soon relented.

So now Catherine was perched on the couch, watching a movie on the television. Things had been going smoothly. The other queens had been gone for a while, presumably having fun, and Catherine was able to relax.

She loved the other queens, but their household tended to be chaotic. They had their movie days and days where they all wanted to do nothing but curl up and relax, but they were usually together. Now, they all had their alone time, they needed it, but Catherine hasn’t had alone time in several days. So she decided now was a good opportunity for that. She wasn’t feeling up to the pub anyways.

But apparently, life decided otherwise and soon, the phone rang.

Catherine glanced at the phone curiously. It was Jane.

“Paloma?” Catherine asked, putting the phone on speaker as she muted the television.

“Catalina!” Catherine tensed at the urgency in Jane’s voice. “Anna disappeared and I don’t know where she went!”

Catherine straightened, eyes widening. Anna went missing? “Jane, I need you to breathe for me. Where are the others?”

There was a second of deep breathing and shuffling. Then there was a muffled conversation before Jane spoke to Catherine again. “They’re looking around the bar.”

“Alright, that’s good.” Catherine had to admit, one queen missing was better than four, but that didn’t quench Jane’s panic, nor her own. “Do you need me to head over?”

Jane’s voice mixed with conflict and anxiety. “I— I don’t know—!”

Before Catherine could tell Jane she was going to come help search, there was a sudden knock at the door. Catherine felt dread pool in her stomach as she stood and quickly strode to the door, phone still in hand.

She opened it and immediately let out a breath of relief.

It was Anna. The red queen was still decked out in the attire she had left the house in. She was leaning against the wall and definitely looked drunk.

“She’s here at the house.”

Catherine could hear Jane’s own relieved gasp. “Oh thank god! Is she alright?”

“She looks alright. I’m going to hang up and take care of her, she’s definitely still drunk.” Catherine told Jane quickly. She paused before hanging up the phone. “If you want to, try and have some fun with the others still. Anna is safe and sound here with me.”

“I—!” Jane hesitated. Then, she took a small breath on the other side of the line. “Alright. But I will be bringing the others home soon. Maybe after another thirty minutes.”

Catherine hummed, she had a feeling Jane wouldn’t last even that long. But it was very understandable. Her girlfriend literally disappeared only to show up at home. Honestly, Catherine didn’t even know why she tried the request in the first place, she would be just as scared had it been Anne. “I completely understand. See you soon, Paloma. Anna is safe with me.”

And then Catherine hung up the phone. She shoved it in her pocket and quickly stepped out the door to Anna. During the talk with Jane, Anna had continued leaning against the wall, eyes closed. Catherine was still very surprised by the sight. Anna was known for being able to hold her liquor, but even with that, she usually tried not to go overboard.

It seemed Anna hadn’t noticed her until now and upon seeing Catherine, Anna’s mood seemed to shift as she perked up.

“Königin!” She cheered happily, her speech slightly slurred. She tried to push away from the wall and Catherine was quickly by her side to steady her.

“Reina oso.” Catherine returned the greeting affectionately. “Why don’t we get you inside? It’s pretty cold out here.”

“Inside sounds nice.” Anna agreed with a hum. “I mean, I jogged home. And it’s cold…”

Catherine raised an eyebrow, hooking Anna’s arm over her shoulders. “So you did walk home.”

“Jogged!”

Catherine gently helped Anna through the door and began leading her towards the kitchen. She knew she should probably get some light food and water in the other queen. Afterwards, it would be shower and bed. Anna was very cheery because of the drinks in her system, but she also seemed tired. Considering how she had walked the way home, presumably after dancing and partying, Catherine could see why.

As they made their way through the hall, Anna began talking.

“I drank a lot tonight, y’know!” Anna cheered, pumping a fist in the air and leaning more against Catherine, nearly sending her stumbling.

“I can tell, reina oso.” Catherine decided to search for answers. “Why did you drink so much?”

“Ehhh, I figured one night wouldn’t hurt! I wanted to really have some fun tonight!” Anna laughed before pausing slightly, cloudy eyes seemingly thinking about something. “I also think Anne dared me....”

So it wasn’t some deep reason like Catherine had been thinking. It was a relief, but it also made her roll her eyes. Of course part of it was a dare, from her chaos filled girlfriend no less. But the part of Anna just wanting to have fun placated the golden queen slightly.

“It’s nice that you had fun, but please don’t do something like this again.” Catherine admonished as she sat Anna at the kitchen table. “You scared Jane half to death and I don’t even know how you managed to get all the way home before she fully noticed.”

“I scared Liebste?” Anna asked, voice quieter than it was before.

Catherine searched for a response as she began searching the cabinets. “You did. You gave me quite the scare as well.” Catherine spoke gently, pulling out a pack of crackers and grabbing a glass of water.

Anna frowned at the table. “I just wanted to come home.” She slurred sadly.

Catherine placed the food in front of Anna and put a gentle hand on the other divorced queen’s shoulder. “And I understand that. All I’m asking is that you please tell one of us before you go off on your own. We were worried.”

Anna hummed a conformation, beginning to eat as Catherine kept a careful eye on the drunk queen.

After she finished, Catherine gently ushered her to the downstairs bathroom for a shower. Anna had become talkative again as they walked, and the topic turned into everything she loved about the other queens.

“Königin seems scary to most but she’s a big ass softy!”

“Verrücktes Mädchen deserves the world after what happened to her! HENRY’S A DICK!”

“If anything happened to Kätzchen I would kill everyone in the same room and then myself.”

“Bücherwurm is cuddly and her hair is fluffy. She’s more of a cat that Kätzchen is and I will protect her.”

“I love Liebste with all of my heart and if someone tries to hurt her I will destroy them. That goes for all of ‘em but Janey especially.”

As Anna continued to babble about everyone, Catherine started the shower for the drunk woman. She felt a blush rise to her cheeks at the compliments and she exited the room, leaving Anna to her shower. Catherine just hoped nothing would happen while she was upstairs.

As Anna showered, Catherine made her way up to the red queen’s bedroom. She began her search to find sleep clothes for Anna. She searched the drawers, closet but came up empty. That was when she remembered that the sleep clothes were all in the wash.

Apparently, Anna had somehow gone through all of her sleep clothes without any of them being washed. Catherine was half sure that Anna was planning to either sleep in whatever she came home in or just steal something from one of the others.

Catherine hardly even had to debate anything before she was walking over to her own room. She began searching her drawers for sleepwear for Anna. She quickly found a pair of black pants with a gold, vine like pattern, along with a simple gold, long sleeved shirt.

She took them downstairs and placed them on the bathroom sink before waiting out in the hall. She leaned against the wall, eyes closed as she listened attentively to the noises from the bathroom, making sure Anna didn’t hurt herself.

Eventually, the water slowed to a stop and Anna could be heard drying herself off and getting dressed.

Anna didn’t seem to question the clothes, instead simply making her way out from the bathroom. She had less of a stumble to her step and looked a little more clear headed. She now looked more sleepy than drunk.

Catherine chuckled at the sight and hooked an arm around the other queen’s waist. “Vamos a la cama, reina oso.”

It didn’t take too long to get back to Anna’s room. As they entered the door, Anna spoke up.

“Hm, thanks, Königin.”

“Of course, Reina oso. You would do the same for me, yes?” The question needed no answer, but Anna gave one anyways.

“Hell yeah.”

Then, Catherine helped Anna lay down, the red queen curling up under her covers. Anna seemed to fall asleep almost instantly, and Catherine turned to exit the room with a satisfied and relieved hum.

Then suddenly, Anna grabbed her into a hug, pulling her onto the bed.

Catherine yelped and froze in surprise. She tried to move away but it was clear that Anna wasn’t letting loose any time soon. It was also clear that the other queen had done this in her sleep and was still sleeping.

“You are all so lucky I care about you.” Catherine huffed, happiness in her gaze and voice as she shifted to a better position. She was ready to sleep anyways.

The other queens would arrive minutes later, Jane hurriedly moving to check on her girlfriend. She would pause and smile fondly at the sight of the two divorced queens curled up together before gently turning the lights off and leaving them alone.

If the others noticed Anna in golden sleepwear, then no one really said anything.

~~||~~||~~

It was another case of a queen being home alone. This time, it was Kat. The others had all gone out but Kat stayed home. The pink queen was on her bed, book in hand. She was yawning from time to time.

When Kat felt her eyes beginning to drift close from sleep, she didn’t try to stop it.

Last night had been a rather restless one. It wasn’t a nightmare, but Kat just couldn't sleep. She had laid awake in Cathy’s arms, struggling to sleep, getting only an hour or two at most. And she was definitely feeling the effect of that.

Kat simply laid her book aside and slipped further under her covers, curling up on her side. Kat felt her head drop to the pillows and then she fell into her dreams.

But they didn’t remain peaceful for long.

It started wonderful. She was spending time with the other queens, her daily life. Cathy was curled up to her side, talking to the others about whatever topic had come up. Anne and Anna were teasing each other over said topic. Catherine and Jane watched fondly, their own teasing and chatter joining in from time to time.

But the dream morphed and shifted. The queens faded away and even in her dreams, Kat felt dread pool in her stomach. But it quickly faded as Kat fell fully into the nightmare. Or rather, the memory.

Suddenly, she was back in the castle. The halls were dimly lit as Kat navigated through them, one of her ladies in waiting having come fetch her. Thomas Culpepper, her friend, had wanted to see her again and Kat was very eager. When Anna wasn’t with her, Thomas was there, one of her only friends. He helped her adjust to royal life and he was just a nice guy.

So Kat wasn’t alarmed when he asked to see her. She was happy in fact. All her life, men had used her and it wasn’t until Henry that she realized how wrong everything had been, and even now she was still struggling with the weight of the realization. She had never wanted to be with them, they used her. And Henry was doing the same. But still, she kept falling into the trap (“I don’t know what I would do without you.” “This is your place in life, Katherine.”).

But Thomas. Thomas was different. He was just her friend! She wasn’t like Mannox or Dereham, he just wanted her company instead of her passion. There were no hidden lessons or hidden jobs, it was just a friendship.

That wouldn’t last.

“I’m starting to think we have a connection, Katherine.” (They always said there was a connection)

Kat should have known. It was never different.

His hands. His lips. They burned at her skin as she tried to protest. The only thing that burned worse than his touch was the feelings of terror and betrayal. But just like before, there was absolutely nothing she could do.

She just wanted it all to stop.

Kat snapped awake with a shriek. Her hands moving to push away the hands that weren’t there. They burned at her skin and Kat scratched at them weakly yet vigorously, creating red marks. Thomas was still speaking in her ear.

It wasn’t just Thomas now, all of them were in her mind. The feeling of more hands, more bodies, joined the first and now Kat’s entire body was on fire. She could hardly breath now, whimpers and sobs escaping her lips.

The queens. She needed someone, anyone from her little family. Cathy being a major choice.

She needed comfort. She needed her family to chase away the men her mind had conjured once again.

She sprung up from her bed and quickly made her way downstairs, making a beeline for Cathy’s room. The voices and hands still followed her. Kat’s panic only increased at the feeling.

In her panicked daze, Kat had made the wrong turn into the wrong room. She stood in the doorway of Jane’s room now. She looked frantically around the room for any type of solace, or perhaps even the woman herself. No one was there.

Then, on the bed, Kat spotted Jane’s cardigan. She didn’t know if she could walk another step anyways. So she stumbled over to the bed and half collapsed, shakily shrugging on the cardigan as she curled into herself. Kat managed to get herself to lay down, head on the pillows. She took a deep shuddering breath, their whispers and touch slowly fading to the back of her mind. It took much longer than it did if a queen was physically there with her. But eventually, the scents calmed Kat down.

Wrapped in Jane’s cardigan and her head on the silver queen’s pillows, Kat felt comfort. Enough comfort that she was carefully guided back into sleep. This time, it was a good dream.

Kat was soon awoken again. By a familiar voice rather than a nightmare.

“Hello, sweetheart.”

Kat cracked open her eyes and was met with a familiar blonde smiling down at her. Jane sat on the side of the bed, not touching Kat.

Kat had her own smile forming upon seeing the motherly woman. She remembered the fear she had felt earlier and now felt relief. She moved so her head was on Jane’s lap and she looked up at the silver queen happily.

Upon seeing Kat fully awake now, Jane gently began to stroke Kat’s pink and brown locks that were out of their usual ponytail. She was very careful not to tug, lest she bring up some painful memories for the younger woman. Kat hummed happily at the contact, curling on her side again.

“Are the others home, too?” Kat asked, her tone still slightly sleepy.

“They are.” Jane replied, smiling as Kat glanced up to meet her eyes. “I came in here to get something warmer, only to find a Kat on my bed. In my cardigan no less.”

“I can take it off if you want?” Kat made clear as she moved to sit up.

“No, no. I already told you and the other girls that I’m comfortable sharing clothes, just like the rest of you.” Jane soothed and Kat slowly lowered her head back to Jane’s lap, letting the woman continue running her fingers through her hair. “Now, what are you doing down here, love?”

Kat tensed slightly but let out a groan. “Nightmare. I tried going to Cathy’s room but I turned wrong.”

Jane didn’t need to hear more. She figured that she knew why Kat had fallen asleep in her cardigan, she just wanted to confirm it. And she definitely wasn’t going to deny Kat comfort. “I’m sorry that we left you alone.”

“It’s alright. I was fine! I just… wanted to take a nap and it backfired.” Kat frowned.

“Well, we’re all here now.”

They fell into silence. Kat’s eyes drifted closed, although she didn’t fall asleep, as Jane continued running her hands through the younger’s hair. But eventually Jane spoke up with a question.

“Do you want to go join the others? Or would you rather stay here?” Jane asked gently.

“The others.” Kat smiled at the thought and moved to sit up, slightly reluctant to remove her head from Jane’s lap.

As Jane moved from the bed, Kat sat there for a moment, pulling the cardigan tighter around herself. She looked very against taking the cardigan off. It was warm and so very comforting. Jane evidently noticed.

“Wear it.”

Kat’s head jolted up and she blinked at Jane in surprise. “Uh, what?”

“I already told you I was comfortable sharing several days ago. So if you feel more comfortable wearing it right now, then wear it.” Jane was giving Kat a serene smile.

“Thank you, Jane!” Kat said, her face lighting up as she got up to join Jane.

“You don’t need to thank me, love.” Jane said simply, letting Kat pull her into a small hug.

Kat stuck close to Jane as they made their way back into the living room.

Cathy was perched on the couch and starting a movie. The other three were in the kitchen, chatting happily as they collected snacks. Kat made a beeline for Cathy upon seeing her. Cathy welcomed her with a sweet kiss.

Anne trotted from the kitchen to the living room upon catching a glimpse of both of her cousins emerging. Jane passed her with a friendly nod. She made her way over to the counter and wrapped her arms securely around Anna’s waist, pressing a kiss to the red queen’s jaw. Catherine watched with interest as Jane spoke up.

“She’s become so much stronger.” Jane murmured happily. The other two smiled back almost sadly.

They all remembered when they first awoke from reincarnation. How broken down they all seemed.

“All of us have, Liebste.” Anna whispered back, planting a kiss on Jane’s forehead. “All of us.”

Jane glanced back into the living room to see Kat curled up with Cathy on the couch, the two watching a Disney movie. Anne made some sort of comment that sent Kat into laughter.

She beamed upon seeing Kat still wearing the cardigan.

~~||~~||~~

Cathy’s favorite bookshop was a nice place. Carpeted floor, wonderful selection, rows of shelves that seemed almost maze like. There was a little café to the right of the shop that allowed Cathy to get her coffee fix (the coffee at home was far better, but Cathy would take what she could get). Tiles replacing the carpet where the café’s section began.

There were never too many people, just enough so that the whispers were soothing rather than bothersome. The regulars recognized Cathy, used to seeing her browsing the shelves or sometimes perched in the corner of the café. It wasn’t unusual to see the other queens with her as well.

This bookshop was her favorite for its atmosphere. A wonderful smell of coffee and new books. Nice and homey. Friendly faces. Popular, but not too popular.

So when Anna asked if she wanted to go with her to the shop, Cathy readily agreed, clearly excited.

Apparently, Jane had asked Anna if she could pick up a book for her, and Anna remembered that Cathy needed the new book from her favorite series.

The store wasn’t far from the house, so it didn’t take long at all to get there. They had to search for both books, so they began scouring the shelves. Eventually, they scanned the shelves right next to the café.

“It’s right here, Bücherwurm.” Anna announced, gaining Cathy’s attention. The writer was next to Anna in seconds.

Cathy beamed, flapping her hand as her excitement and happiness bubbled. Anna smiled at this and handed the book over.

Cathy proceeded to begin ranting to Anna about the book as she kept pace with her fellow queen. The red queen indulged Cathy joyfully. She loved hearing the other queens talk about their interests, and Cathy was so noticeably happy with her tone, stance, and the hand flapping.

Anna just wanted all of them to be happy. They more than deserved it.

Now they just needed to find the book Jane had requested. So they passed next to the café, heading back towards the front. As they walked, Cathy and Anna continued chatting and Cathy kept flapping one of her hands, the other keeping the book clutched to her chest.

“Damn, who let the freak in here?”

Both women froze. Anna tensed up and her head swiveled towards the voice. Cathy flinched and slowly lowered her hand to her side, her mood diminished. That clearly only made Anna angrier.

“Don’t listen to him.” Anna practically growled, trying to keep her voice calm for Cathy.

But Cathy still shrunk in on herself, staring firmly at the ground. She had heard words like that many times in her past life. All of them stung. She could even feel a flashback on the edge of her vision.

Anna seemingly noticed and placed a hand on Cathy’s shoulder, getting the shorter queen to look up at her face (still avoiding eye contact, but Anna was used to that by now, and she was always careful about it). “You aren’t a freak and you should never listen to assholes like that. Henry and Thomas were just as wrong as this guy. And so many more people think the complete opposite. You’re just being yourself. You understand that, right Cathy?”

Cathy gave Anna an understanding look. “You and the others tell me that everyday. I’m getting used to the idea by now…”

“That’s good. And we’ll keep saying it for however long you need to hear it.” Anna assures with a small laugh. But then she gave Cathy a concerned frown. “You’re okay, yeah?”

“I’m fine.” Cathy said with a shrug. “I just… kind of wish I brought my headphones or my cube…”

“You don’t have them?” Anna asked gently, letting Cathy hang onto her arm, book clutched to the younger queen’s chest.

“I was so excited to come here that I forgot.” Cathy admitted. It was extremely rare for her to forget them, but she had been so excited to get the books with Anna that she left them.

Anna nodded, taking a deep breath. They just had to pick up the book Jane requested. Then they could be out of there. She just had to hope whichever idiot that spoke didn’t say another word. Or there was a very good chance she wouldn’t stop herself.

Glancing at the others at tables around the bookshop’s café, it was clear that several others were uncomfortable as well. Regulars and newcomers alike had heard the man’s words and a tense atmosphere had taken root. The patrons had gotten back to their conversations, trying to ignore what happened.

Cathy took her own deep breath. She was fine, Anna was right next to her and correct with what she had said. Cathy could make it home, and when she did she could spend time with the others and curl up with Kat, forgetting the single sentence that nearly set her off. She was still a little hunched in on herself and still looked a little depressed (although it was a far cry from earlier) but moved to keep walking with Anna.

“God! The freak had some sort of breakdown a second ago too. At least she’s shut up and stopped doing that weird thing with her hand.”

Anna finally seemed to snap. No one— absolutely no one— in this time was going to hurt her family, be it through words or fists.

“Here.” She said, taking her jacket off. Cathy had frozen as Anna placed the jacket over Cathy’s shoulders. She had frozen in both fear and sadness at the man’s words, but also confusion at why Anna was suddenly taking off her jacket.

“Anna—!” Realization quickly hit Cathy and she moved to try and intervene.

“I refuse to let this go.” Anna said in a low tone before moving past Cathy and storming over to the man and the lady who sat with him.

The woman had noticed her and had seen the dangerous look in her eyes. She began tugging at the man’s sleeve, trying to get him to leave.

But the man simply stood to meet her. Cathy stayed several steps behind Anna but had followed her over as well. Customers around them also sensed the tension and were watching.

“What was that you were saying?” Anna asked, scowling and arms crossed.

“I was talking about how glad I am that the freak behind you stopped being so weird!” The man snarled back. Anna took in his posture and mentally noted that he was definitely looking for a fight.

Cathy shifted anxiously at his words. Moments with Henry and Thomas came flooding back. Cathy curled tighter into Anna’s jacket, putting it on fully and wrapping it tight around her body. She took solace in the warmth and familiar scent of another queen.

“My friend is anything but a freak.” Anna replied, managing to keep her cool. But while her body language seemed calm, her words were scathing. “You’re just an asshole who doesn’t realize that people don’t have to be perfect or exactly like you.”

The man looked furious and he stepped forward, swinging a fist. Anna smoothly sidestepped him, letting the man topple to the floor. The man yelped as he hit the floor and held his arm as he scrambled back to his feet. Several other patrons chuckled at the man’s misfortune, even Cathy let a small snicker escape her lips.

“You really wanna fight, bitch?! Meet me outside!” The man spat before stalking to the door, he went outside, rounded the corner to the alley and vanished, but both queens knew he was waiting there. Anna couldn’t help the spiteful laugh. She hadn’t fought back and the man still thought she would fight him? Maybe she should take him up on it, then he would shut up with his comments about Cathy and anyone else. Or at least he wouldn’t be able to make them.

She moved to make her way towards the door, a cold look on her face. But someone caught her by the hand. She glanced at the source.

Cathy looked back at her with a frown, still wearing the red jacket. “Do not.” She said simply.

Anna frowned right back, a determined look in her eye. “Why shouldn’t I? He was the one who started talking shit about you. Then he picked a fight. Warum sollte ich ihn damit davonkommen lassen?”

Cathy tilted her head at the use of German, she had been learning since Anna used it around the house, but she was no expert. Cathy knew what she needed to know. “I’m fine. I don’t want you to get hurt in an unneeded fight.”

Anna didn’t relent, glancing between Cathy and the door. Cathy tried another approach.

“Jane would kill you if you got in a fight. Plus, wouldn’t it be funnier if you never showed up anyways?” Cathy questioned. The ideas made Anna pause. The second idea did sound appealing. It would prove the guy was an idiot for waiting and she wouldn’t have to get her hands dirty…

As for the first idea… Jane wouldn’t kill her in the literal sense. But there would be a scolding in store that Anna would prefer to avoid if she could. That and there was probably a fifty-fifty chance Anna would be sleeping by herself for a while if she proceeded with a fight... Probably.

“Fine.” Anna relented with a pleased chuckle, she had mostly calmed down from everything anyways. “I do like that idea, Bücherwurm.”

Cathy looked relieved. “Thank you. I didn’t want to explain everything to Jane.”

“And I didn’t want to sleep alone.” Anna joked with a wink. Her gaze softened. “Are you alright though? That dumbass’s words were…” Anna trailed off, searching for an appropriate word.

Cathy slowly shook her head, sinking deeper into the jacket. “I’m not… perfect. But I’ll be okay soon. Can we go home for hot chocolate and cuddles?”

“Of course we can, Bücherwurm. And I’m sure the other queens would love to join us.”

So they paid and left, Anna keeping an arm securely around Cathy, the blue queen keeping the book held tight to her chest as she leaned into the touch.

The red jacket was still worn by Cathy for the entire way home and even until she changed into her sleepwear that night. That jacket would get passed around from Queen to Queen, and Anna loved it whenever she would see a familiar spark of red against the normal colors the others wore. Be it the jacket or another piece of clothing.

It was only halfway home did Cathy realize something.

“We forgot Jane’s book…”

“... Fuck!”