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The Monster and The Rose

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Chapter One

 

Nobody knew why they had come back.

 

Catalina had called it divine intervention, she believed someone up above knew that they were all good people who did not deserve their hardships and that warranted a second chance. Anne said it was dumb luck, some afterlife lottery they all conveniently won. Jane and Anna never questioned it, the third queen due to her passive nature and the fourth due to genuine disinterest in the hows and whys. However, Cathy put it down to them all having unfinished business. The idea that they had all been brought back to do something they’d neglected in their past life.

 

That had been the one most queens went with but Katherine didn’t know how much she believed it. She had been nineteen when she died and so had never really thought about what her life plan was. To her, this was the powers that be cutting her a break. After a life of trauma and difficulty they had finally given her a chance for a do-over. She had a chance to be someone, do something - anything to be more than the least memorable wife of some old fat bastard.

 

Katherine had started at university after the mysterious powers that be supplied them all with what they assumed were fake documents to help them account for missing lives in the 21st Century. She was doing an Art degree, probably a waste but she had always loved creating things and the idea of being a graphic designer had appealed to her ever since she found out what it was. She would always ask Cathy to give her characters from whatever book she was reading to draw as practice. The surviving queen even had some of her favourites framed on the wall.

 

It had taken the best part of a year but they had finally reached a point of stability in the house. Obviously the first three queens each had their resentments and in fighting, everyone was cold to Anna for a while due to her being dubbed the ‘King’s Sister’ and Jane, Anne and Kat struggled to get to know one another due to their equal distrust of family. The first few months had been volatile to say the least but now everyone had found the perfect balance to prevent everything from descending into chaos.

 

Catalina was indisputably in charge of the house, though Anne would never admit it. The woman had been Queen first and the longest. Old habits died hard and most of the ex-wives were happy to accept that she was the original Queen. The Spanish woman was strict, devout in her faith and refused to let the others openly deviate from the divine path. It drove Anne and Anna ballistic, constantly being scolded for the slightest indiscretion but Katherine found she understood the motivations behind it. At one point in her life Catalina had everything taken away from her. Her crown, her home and even her daughter. Religion had been her only constant, prayer gave her great comfort.

 

She was improving though, softening round the edges and coming to accept that not all the Queens held the Bible as tightly as she did.

 

Jane had taken over the more domestic duties in the house. When she had been alive she had never been taught scholarly activities like reading and writing in the same way the others had. Kat almost felt a kinship with her because of this, the two of them being surrounded by intellectuals. Both raised knowing it was better to be seen and not heard, taught to be the perfect wife as opposed to a proper education. Jane was well intended and kind, if a little bit scatterbrained at times. The Queens sometimes walked over her a little, despite not meaning too. But Jane had made it clear to tell them off when she reached her limit. She had the same family temper that Anne had, hers was just a little harder to trigger.

 

Kat had it too but hers was rarely shown, nothing ever bothered her much.

 

Anne presented the perfect counterweight to the two matriarchs of the house. Easily slipping into the mischievous big sister role. She would happily rile up Catalina or deliberately confuse Jane for fun and her pranks were legendary. Though Kat knew most of it was for everyone else’s benefit rather than just to amuse Anne. Making light of what happened to them or painting herself a fool just to gain some laughter. She just wanted to offer little distractions when life seemed too serious. Surprisingly, she had been the one to first attempt fostering a relationship between the three cousins.

 

Kat reckoned she was a softy deep down and the fact that she insisted they regularly held Boleyn/Seymour/Howard Friday Film Festivals proved this.

 

Anna was the true neutral of the house. She could be both the attacker and the defender, the prank co-conspirator or Catalina’s police officer. Anna had been the only person Katherine had recognised from her life before, though that hadn’t been a reassurance. They had only met a few times and were nothing more than civil. Now was different, though. Anna had shown herself to be a good friend to them all and it made Kat wish they had been able to build their friendship before. Now Anna was a fitness junkie, even converting one of the rooms in the mansion into a gym.

 

The mansion had been bestowed on them by the powers that be, they all had their own private room aside from their bedrooms. Their own space.

 

Cathy had found it the easiest to adjust to the modern day. She had learned quickly to adapt to whatever life threw at her due to constantly having to marry different men to survive in the Tudor era. She mainly kept to herself, a recluse. Usually falling down a rabbit hole on Google and finding the most insane conspiracy theories. She nearly went anti-vaccinations but then the common cold nearly killed all of the centuries old monarchs and Jane forced everyone to get everything offered to prevent something like that happening again.

 

The next time she’d run downstairs claiming the earth was inside another earth, Catalina had literally thrown the book at her. The book in this case being a large hard-back Oxford Dictionary.

 

This left Kat, the youngest of the Queens. She didn’t really know where she fit in. Ever since month three when they’d all finally talked about their lives, when Katherine told them about her history, the group had all began watching out for her as if she were their younger sister. Kat didn’t mind, she always liked being around people. She attended Sunday mass with Catalina so she didn’t have to go alone, she helped Jane cook and ran to her when she had nightmares, she pulled pranks with Anne, went running with Anna and sat in silence with Cathy whilst she read and Kat drew.

 

It was nice, she never had anyone that cared about her in her past life.

 

They all joked that Henry was awful to them all but Kat always felt an extra tinge of bitterness. When she thought about it too long her scars would begin to burn. You’d think that, like Anne, Katherine would only have the one scar on her neck. But this was untrue, you see Henry cared so little about her and her execution that he let an inexperienced boy behead her. He missed twice before finally finishing her off. A painful end to a painful life. Almost poetic.

 

So there it was, the somewhat happy found family living in their mansion in the middle of nowhere. Hanging on the tip of a pin, but for now they were functional. Each fell into their role and the dynamics began to fall into place. Katherine would never know why they were brought back, why she woke up one day stood on the door step. But she could safely say she’d never been happier. As she sat snuggled between Anne and Jane watching some romcom Jane requested, Katherine felt safe. A feeling never felt in her previous life.

 

But if this new world had taught the group anything, it was that things often changed. It was unstoppable.

 

Though nobody could have foreseen what was about to happen.

 

As previously mentioned the mansion was located in the middle of nowhere. It was a half an hour drive to the nearest town or an hour from the bus stop ten minutes away. Everyone was currently in the house and they all knew that. The cousins were watching their movie, Catalina was sorting out the dinner, Anna was by the door tying up her trainers before she went on a run and Cathy was in her library.

 

Which was why everybody immediately went on high alert when the doorbell rang.

 

The group froze, trying to figure out who it could be. Nobody ever came out this far, hell the driveway was behind a locked gate and at least twenty meters long. The entire property was fenced off. This was not an easy place to get to. Even Cathy poked her head out of the library to check what was happening.

 

“Please tell me there’s not some secret wife nobody knew about.” Anne grumbled under her breath,

 

“Nope I’m pretty sure I was the last,” Cathy called out, “Unless he dug himself up.”

 

“Wouldn’t put it past him.”

 

“Someone answer it.” Catalina ordered, watching from the kitchen door,

 

Kat felt her anxiety creep up and thankfully, Jane and Anne grabbed a hand each. They weren’t feeling much better either. Anna bit the bullet, heading for the door and taking a breath before opening it. There was silence once the door opened. Nobody said a word. The Queens sat in concerned silence, waiting for Anna to say something….anything.

 

Then she laughed.

 

A loud rambunctious laugh taking everyone off guard.

 

A head popped into view from the door, Anna with a beaming smile on her face, “You’re not going to believe this.”

 

Stepping back inside, she ushered in the newcomers at the door. Nobody made the connection at first, except Kat. She knew the second she saw the red haired trio, the toddler in the arms of the redheaded girl in the middle, particular blue eyes that used to look upon Katherine with disgust.

 

“M-Mary?”

 

“Lizzie?”

 

“Edward…”

 

“It can’t be.” Cathy whispered,

 

But it was and the moment that clicked for all the mothers in the room, the room errupted. Catalina wailed and ran across the room, Cathy dropped her book and came out into the foyer. Both Jane and Anne stood abruptly, sprinting to the door and leaving Kat alone on the couch staring after them. It felt awkward for her, she didn’t know what to do with herself. But, ever the friend she needed, Anna caught her eye from over the heads of the reunited. She nodded towards the door, silently offering to let Kat join her run.

 

Kat nodded and went to get changed.

 

The duo sneaking out the back door to let everyone get reacquainted.