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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.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

 

Mary felt the impact as the woman ran across the room and hugged her.

 

Strong arms wrapping round her figure and holding her close in a way that seemed familiar through the hazy fog of her brain. A moment ago she had been floating in nothingness, surrounded by a world of black. Then there was a light and suddenly she was on the doorstep of a grand mansion she didn’t recognise. Each step towards the door caused more and more memories to flood back to her, beginning with those also confused on the step. She knew Elizabeth was her sister and Edward her brother, both younger than when she had last seen them. She didn’t recognise the toddler.

 

But Mary had no time to digest this when the door opened and another woman stood before them. This woman also seemed familiar and the way her face lit up when she saw them meant that she obviously knew who they were. Following her out of the cold and into the warm house, Mary’s brain began to whir as all the women around her closed in. She knew their faces, but how? Who were they? It was on the tip of her tongue but the thought got knocked out of her when one woman tackled her into a hug. Whispering rapid fire Spanish into her ear.

 

Mary didn’t hug back, too overwhelmed to do anything but dart her eyes around the room. Desperately seeking out something that would click the puzzle into place. Too many glimpses of tiny moments, nothing that she could cling to for clarity. Nothing to tell her where she was. Who these people were around her. Why they looked so happy. Until…

 

Her eyes went to a woman still sat on the couch.

 

Their eyes locked and that was the catalyst for a new emotion to eat away the confusion. A burning, hot fire erupted from Mary’s chest and she remembered everything. Even as the other woman looked away, the pure fury caused everything to snap into place. She was Mary I - Queen of England. She was feared and respected by her subjects. Anyone who spoke out against her would burn. That little doe-eyed bint on the sofa was her biggest embarrassment. The reminder of when her father had not only spat on her mother’s memory by marrying a fifth woman, but spat on her too by marrying someone younger than herself.

 

“Mi amor! My baby!” Catalina’s crying brought her out of her rage filled daydream, “You’re here! Gracias Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe!”

 

Suddenly, the anger subsided as the warmth of her mothers hug took over the forefront of her mind. Her mother…the one she hadn’t seen in so long. Who had died all alone where Mary couldn’t be with her. She had dreamed of this moment as a child. Having her mothers armed wrapped round her one final time, to hear her whispering how much she loved her into her ear. While the adult Mary had been before her death would have much rather scorned the pathetic girl in the middle of the living room, she owed it to her younger self to bask in this moment.

 

To show weakness for once and allow her tears to fall.

 

“Mama…” Mary whispered, “I’m here.”

 

Her mother pulled away, ignoring her own tears in favour of wiping away Mary’s before cradling her face, “It’s been so long, look what a beautiful girl you grew up to be.”

 

Mary felt her cheeks heat up, “I’ve waited for this moment all my life.”

 

“Me too, mi amor.”

 

Mary felt herself smiling and her mother hugged her close again. This time Mary hugged back, eyes drifting away from them to see Elizabeth also being squeezed to death. Anne Boleyn looked just as Mary remembered, only she didn’t feel like the evil stepmother any more. Mary had made her peace with Boleyn after she had passed, if only for Elizabeth’s sake at first. With how quickly Jane had appeared, it wasn’t hard to realise her father may have been the problem. Not Anne. This was an assumption that proved true as each wife came and went.

 

Anne looked up, tear drowned eyes meeting Mary’s. The older woman sent a small smile and Mary only nodded in return. They could deal with their shit later, for now they could be civil.

 

“I think we need to talk.” Jane said to the room after a while,

 

“Yes,” Catalina agreed, releasing Mary, she kept their hands enclosed and squeezed, “We have much to discuss.”

 

______

 

They talked for a couple hours about everything that needed to be said.

 

About the lives of the children before their deaths, about the original Queen’s new lives in the 21st century. Some parts were omitted, of course. Mary noted Elizabeth and Cathy chose to avoid each others eyes rather than address their history and everyone agreed that they shouldn’t discuss Anna and Katherine in their absence. Those confrontations would come eventually, she was sure, but not right now. Now was a celebration. Mary, Elizabeth, Edward and even little Mae were reunited with the mothers they so desperately missed in life.

 

After the deeper conversation had ended, they had begun to joke around with lighter topics. It was interesting for Mary to see the dynamics of the house for the first time, namely her mother and Boleyn getting along. With Jane too no less, though Jane hadn’t really contributed much. She was too focused on Edward. Hearing him speak, talking with him. Being able to hold him close for what Mary assumed was the first time. Seeing Edward again wasn’t just a joy for Jane either, Mary and Elizabeth both had a soft spot for their brother and had grieved him terribly.

 

Now the siblings were also together again, in this brand new world that they could explore to their hearts content.

 

“So,” Elizabeth was the one to ask, “How old are we now? Last I recall I was an old woman.”

 

Mary studied her siblings, “Edward looks to be about ten. Just before his slight growth spurt. Your baby hairs are gone and they disappeared when you were seventeen.”

 

“Genius.” Catalina smiled proudly,

 

Mary almost felt shy at the attention, she looked down at her hands and noticed a small scar on her thumb, “I must be twenty or older. I fell off a horse and got this scar shortly after my twentieth birthday.”

 

“Mae must be about two.” Cathy muttered, cradling her sleeping toddler with a small smile,

 

“Seems random.” Elizabeth said,

 

“My theory is that we were brought back at the age we were happiest.” Cathy explained, “Maybe not a conscious happy but…happy.”

 

“No,” Anne countered, “I can’t believe that. Kat’s still the age she died, it’s probably more luck.”

 

Cathy sent her a sad look, “Or maybe…”

 

A hand was held up to stop her, Anne never liked hearing about her cousin’s life, “I’ll believe what I believe.”

 

Cathy dropped it, focusing again on Mae. However, Mary took note of something Anne had said and felt the rage rebuilding.

 

“Did…Did you say Katherine is the same age as she was when she was beheaded?” Mary asked through gritted teeth,

 

There was a look exchanged across the table.

 

“Uhh yeah?” Anne said, confused, “Why?”

 

There was a moment of silence and then suddenly Elizabeth clicked to the problem and began laughing hysterically.

 

“Liz?”

 

“Oh my God, Mary - you have to get over this!” Elizabeth got out in between her hysterics,

 

“What is it?” Catalina asked, not liking that she was kept out of the loop,

 

Mary slammed her hand on the table loudly in frustration, “Of course, she gets reincarnated first and I’m STILL older than her.”

 

At another round of confused looked, Elizabeth calmed herself down to explain, “When father married Katherine, Mary was furious. She was seven years older than her own stepmother.”

 

“It was humiliating,” Mary snapped, “Father dragging that waif around Court, everyone was uncomfortable.”

 

“She wasn’t that bad.” Elizabeth rolled her eyes,

 

“I remember she played the flute,” Edward said, thinking face on, “Oh! And she used to play with me when father was in court.”

 

Mary scoffed, “I’m just glad we only had to deal with her for a year before father came to his senses.”

 

A tension rose and Anne was trying desperately to hold her tongue.

 

“Mary,” Catalina interrupted, wary of Anne now glaring at her daughter, “This is Kat’s house too. Please try to get along, or at least be civil?”

 

“I plan to avoid her.”

 

“She’s a sweet girl really,” Jane tried, “I think you’d get along.”

 

Mary actually laughed at that, “What would I wish to discuss with some empty headed whore?”

 

“See here you little--” Thankfully Anne’s incoming rant was cut off when the back door opened,

 

Anna ran in, barely sweating and all smiles. Quickly, she was followed by a dishevelled, out of breath Katherine Howard who was completely unaware of the tension she had inadvertently caused.

 

“Good run, Anna?” Cathy asked trying to break the tense atmosphere,

 

“Great!” Anna smirked, “Would have been out longer but someone got tired.”

 

Katherine had her hands on her knees, wheezing in the doorway, glaring at Anna, “Nobody…should run…for two hours…”

 

“Spoil sport.” Anna joked getting her a bottle of water from the fridge,

 

“Katherine does have a habit of ruining things.”

 

Immediately Kat tensed and looked towards Mary, the other woman’s eyes flashing dangerously.

 

“Mary…it’s been a while.”

 

Mary raised an eyebrow, “Not long enough, it seems.”

 

Kat swallowed down her reply, drinking from her water bottle instead. Luckily Anna swept the conversation up and began asking the newcomers for stories about what they’d done after she died. She already knew of course, but it was a welcome distraction. Kat watched on for a while, feeling uncomfortable after the slight confrontation. When the moment was right she opted to sneak away, heading for her music room. Well…they called it the music room but it didn’t just have instruments, it also had all of Kat’s art supplies. It was her safe space.

 

Nobody took note of her absence, but that was fine. It was probably best for her to hide away for a while so that Mary had time to get over EVERYTHING that had been revealed today. Then eventually, she and Kat would clear the air. Besides, if she stayed she could get into another heated conversation with the bloody queen. Over her short period as Queen, Kat had learned that the way to deal with Mary was to take the high road. Let her snap and scream, but never give a reaction.

 

So all Katherine had to do was maintain her temper.

 

To stay level headed, never showing that Mary got to her.

 

How hard could that be?

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

 

You ever wondered what people will say about you when you die?

 

What stories they’ll tell?

 

Things they’d remember?

 

Who would come to your funeral?

 

For the inhabitants of a mysterious mansion in the middle of nowhere, they had the unique experience of knowing the answers to most of these questions. To some it meant a lot to have been remembered for being strong, like Catalina, or for the work they did, like Cathy. To others it had been difficult to see their claims to fame in negative lights, like Anne as a temptress or Anna as ugly. The thing all the Queens agreed on though, was the idea that things from their lives still had repercussions today. The religious and political reforms or the crimes and tales from the Tudor era - it all made up history and they all played their part.

 

There was only one set in stone rule within the mansion. For the most part everyone was able to cohabitate peacefully, quickly learning where the boundaries were or what upset each person. Rules weren’t necessarily needed among them, they could all mostly use context clues. But there was still one thing that everyone had agreed to respect and follow. The rule that while you could research yourself, you could not research the others in the house. You couldn’t read up about a history that wasn’t your own. They had all made their mistakes and it was up to them if they wished for such things to die with their original bodies.

 

Mary and Elizabeth, upon stating that they wished to find out their legacy, had both been explicitly told this rule. Cathy’s library contained all the books surrounding the Tudor era, namely the ones involving her and her fellow Queens. They had all read through their own books and some had taken to scribbling out the parts they disagreed with or that weren’t accurate. There were a few books in there about Mary, Elizabeth and Edward that their mothers had read themselves and so the “children” had been instructed to read their parents biographies if they wished. But no one else’s. It wouldn’t be fair.

 

So that’s how Mary ended up roaming through the shelves in Cathy’s library, about a month after her resurrection. The past month had been spent learning the dynamics of the house and adjusting to the 21st Century. But now, she deemed it time to learn once more about the past. She had noted there were no books solely about her father in the entire library. Mary understood this, by the end she didn’t view her father very highly either.

 

Elizabeth had been the one to suggest tonight be the night they finally read their books. Being a smart woman, Mary knew that the reason for Liz pushing to go tonight was because Cathy was out at an evening Mummy and Me class with Mae. The elder sibling had learned through overhearing various conversations that Anne and Cathy had buried the hatchet in regards to Thomas Seymour and Elizabeth ages ago. She also knew from Liz that there had been a conversation between the three and Jane about how to proceed. But that didn’t mean the younger Tudor daughter was ready to be one on one with Cathy any time soon.

 

So there they were stood in front of the aptly named ‘TUDOR’ bookshelf at the back of Cathy’s library. The books varied in size but some had post it notes or cards stuck in them, probably where a Queen was highlighting inaccurate information and correcting it. Liz giggled and took out one of her mother’s. She showed Mary how many edits had been made, flicking through the book. Nearly every page was defaced by green pen, scribbling parts out and adding anecdotes. Mary grabbed her Mama’s and chuckled at the sight of yellow post-it notes covering different parts.

 

Putting the books back they grabbed the ones with their own names on. The duo had talked briefly about their reigns together, namely Elizabeth confirming Mary’s fear that she had gone back on all the religious reforms she had instilled during her time as Queen. But after the realisation that religion no longer held as much power over the modern world as it had in their day, both had ultimately decided it was a fight to be left with their past selves.

 

Liz sat cross legged on the floor as Mary leant against the bookcase, both opening their biographies and settling in to read. They were silent for a while, neither wanting to break away from their reading. The more Mary read the more horrified she became. It went into copious amounts of detail regarding the things she had done in her past life. They talked about her noted hatred for Anne, about her rejection of her Queenship. The author likened her to a pretentious child throwing their toys out of the proverbial pram. How cruel she had been to Liz in the beginning.

 

It discussed how close she and her father had been until he divorced her mother. The entire book constantly compared her to him and that disgusted her. While she may have the Tudor name, she was not her father. For all her contempt for the other Queens in the house, it had not blinded her to the role her father had played in her mother’s misfortune. For the others, she knew that in most cases they were women who had been cast aside due to situations out of their control. Her mother for Anne, Anne for Jane, Anna for her looks and so on.

 

Then as the book began discussing her reign as Queen, Mary had to put it down. The author had written her as though she were a heartless monster. Bloody Mary. She was not naive, or disassociating. It was not lost on her that the author was only presenting historical fact, but reading it through his eyes was a culture shock. Back when she was Queen, nobody would ever have actively spoken out against her for fear of retribution. But in this new era historians or anybody really could say what they wanted providing they had the paper trail to back it up.

 

And even if they didn’t, someone would believe them.

 

Mary had done these things. She had burned people at the stake, she had ordered executions, she had ignored apologies from those only trying to live. The book didn’t lie, those were Mary’s actions and were her actions alone. But at the time she had thought it was right. As twisted as it was, she had believed that those going against her posed a threat. That Catholicism was the only true path to heaven and anybody promoting a different lifestyle would be leading others astray. At the time she had believed that she was doing the right thing.

 

That was her excuse for the murder and torture she subjected over two hundred people to. She knew it was not substantial but it was all she could offer. What she had no excuse for, however, was locking her dear sister away out of fear. Fear that Elizabeth would double cross her, fear that her sister’s loyalty was fraudulent. Looking up at her now, sat cross legged on the floor, reading quietly with her face uncharacteristically serious - Mary felt her chest tighten.

 

Was she a monster? Was the image being presented by whomever wrote this book an accurate one?

 

“Mary…” Her sister called gently, sounding slightly distressed,

 

Mary immediately blinked back her own tears, focusing on her dear sister, “What’s wrong Liz?”

 

“Do you…” Elizabeth stammered, eyes watery, “Do you think Lady Jane Grey will get to be resurrected?”

 

Hearing the name caused Mary to feel as though someone poured ice down her back.

 

“I don’t know…”

 

“It says here,” Liz pointed to a part of the book in her hands, “That she had accepted the throne reluctantly. She had been forced into a position and we killed her for it.”

 

“It was hard to tell then who was friend or foe. We had to decide which side she supported and we made our choice.” Mary swallowed and came to sit next to her sister, “We can’t focus on lives of those five hundred years ago.”

 

“That doesn’t stop the guilt.”

 

Mary found truth in that statement.

 

“Maybe in this life, we can focus on being better.” Mary suggested, “Atone for out actions in a very different era by being morally good in this one.”

 

Elizabeth hummed, “Maybe.”

 

They were silent after that, Elizabeth continuing to read while Mary drifted off in thought. Remembering the sounds of screams and pleading that came from hundreds of executed people. So many that she couldn’t even remember most of their faces or crimes. Trying to keep her mind on the present as to try and lessen the guilt brewing in her stomach, Mary’s eyes travelled around the room. When they came to rest on the bookshelf opposite, she caught sight on one in particular that caught her attention.

 

‘Katherine Howard: Queen for a Year.”

 

Her curiosity peaked, if history painted her as a monster how would they paint a true one?

 

Elizabeth looked up when her sister stood, confused as to what she was doing. When she saw Mary reaching for a book that was not one of her own, the younger girl moved quickly to stop her.

 

“What’re you doing?”

 

“Reading about our dear step-mother.” Mary replied, saying the word ‘dear’ as though it burned her tongue,

 

“That’s against the rules!” Liz told her,

 

“Her sleeping with every man she’s ever met whilst married to our father was against the rules of his marriage.” Was the counter argument, “Besides, maybe seeing what’s true and not true will make me hate her less.”

 

Unlikely.

 

“You were literally just saying you wished to be a better person this time around.”

 

“I’ll start tomorrow.”

 

“Mary…”

 

It was too late, the elder woman had the book in her possession. She took note that it was smaller than all the other books even with the added parts subtracted. It was also the only book on the shelf about the fifth queen. Looking over the cover with contempt, it was only a picture of the famous K Howard portrait. Then Mary opened it, only to find…nothing. Nothing was scribbled out, nothing was added and no anecdotes stuck in. The book looked brand new and given the stiffness of the books spine it hadn’t been opened for a while if at all.

 

To Elizabeth this meant Kat had, for whatever reason, opted not to read the book.

 

But to Mary and her warped perception, it meant something very different.

 

“See! She hasn’t denied any of it.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

Mary and Katherine continued to create a tense atmosphere whenever they were in the same room.

 

To the point where even the others, each wrapped in their own drama bubbles, began to take notice. It primarily came from Mary, the bloody queen sending glares and evil looks to the usually bubbly Kat whenever she entered the room. Katherine for her part ignored the looks and tried to remain her usually chipper self, but it was easy to see how she was now leaving the room when Mary entered. Nobody really knew how to help the situation, everyone else in the house was so outspoken that all the issues were ironed out in screaming matches and the calmer conversations that followed.

 

But Mary had still not given up her regality, she was the Queen in her mind and so what need did she have to explain her actions? Nobody would question her decisions during her rule and she was positive that her view of the ‘least relevant Katherine’ was justified. On Kat’s part she was just a non-confrontational person. She had no issue with Mary and didn’t want to get into an argument with her. While the family temper was still in her blood, she was never the type to achieve that level of fury and she didn’t want to test how much it would take.

 

So instead she focused on her classes and tried to spend time with whoever was free. Sadly everyone else’s free time was getting less and less but at least she could always join Anna on her runs. Meanwhile, Mary watched her like a hawk. Something she had noted quickly after reincarnating was how all the other older queens treated the pink tipped woman. They were all disgustingly soft on her, like she had wrapped each one around her finger. Even Mary’s own mother used to take Kat with her to weekly Sunday mass but she made sure to put a stop to that by joining Catalina herself instead.

 

It was a sick thrill to see Kat’s face fall when she came down that Sunday to see Mary stood with Lina ready to go to the church.

 

Still, Mary couldn’t help but wonder why everyone treated the whore with such care. Why they coddled her the way that they did. Asking before they so much as brushed past her, the worried glances they shared when she wanted to leave the house alone, how they wouldn’t raise their voices past a certain level when she was in the room. It was like they were scared she would break. Mary found it pitiful, for a grown woman to permit herself to be treated in such a way. But yet she continued to observe, trying to find a reason for the treatment.

 

Eventually she began to notice certain things. Certain events that caused Mary’s interest to peak.

 

Three in particular were instrumental in Mary’s change of heart. Said change would come a little later but these three moments were the beginning of the beginning for Kat and Mary.

 

And it all started at 3am on February 13th.

 

_____

 

Mary had been asleep.

 

She was always a good sleeper, setting a rigorous routine that she refused to deviate from in either life. Which was why she got so furious when she was awoken early that morning by a shrill scream. When she first awoke she didn’t know what had caused her stir, though even her groggy brain knew it was uncommon for her to wake before daybreak. Deciding it was most likely a fluke, she closed her eyes once more to try to go back to sleep. However, as soon as she did another scream rang out from down the hallway.

 

It actually startled her upright. Who on earth would be screaming like that so late at night? The more she listened, the more unsettling it became. Whoever it was seemed to be in distress and it was too hard to lay there and listen to. So she got up, walked to her door and poked her head out. The room next to hers was also open and she could see Elizabeth’s red hair looking in the same direction she was.

 

Mary could see her mother and Jane stood down the hall, opposite what she remembered as Katherine Howard’s room. She watched her mother flinch as another scream rang out, a look on her face that Mary had never seen before. Catalina was always a strong woman, able to channel fire back at her husband when he raged at her. Always calm, always composed, always maintaining her image. But now, Mary was watching her mother portray a very different emotion. One she had never envisioned seeing on her Mama’s face.

 

She looked helpless.

 

Catalina looked unsure and insecure about what to do. Jane held a similar look, both wanting to go into the room and comfort, whom Mary assumed was, Katherine. But they didn’t know how. Mary was confused, surely one would just go in and talk to her but neither woman moved. Eventually both Anna and Cathy stepped into the hallway too, both looking equally as forlorn. It was strange, all the “adults” looking so ridiculously helpless whilst Katherine was still screaming. Even Mary, who hated the woman with a passion, found herself begging for someone to do something.

 

Luckily, Anne eventually shot out of her room and went straight into Katherine’s. She could see that it had sparked a tension from Elizabeth, seeing her own mother rushing to care for someone else. But Mary could use that as a reason to further dislike Katherine later, right now she was far too tired. After a moment the screaming died down, leaving only the sound of sobbing and whimpering as everyone else looked on. Mary decided she could probably go to bed now, but the sound of talking rooted her to the spot.

 

“She hasn’t had one this bad in a while.” Catalina had said, somewhat quietly but loud enough for Mary to hear,

 

“I know,” Jane sighed, “Poor Kitty…I wonder what brought this on.”

 

“It’s February 13th.” Anna spoke up, “Y’know how the two of them get on the reunion of their beheadings.”

 

Their beheadings…

 

“Anne’s got it.” Cathy sighed, “She’ll calm down once she knows where she is.”

 

“I wish I knew how to help.” Catalina said sadly,

 

“Usually her nightmares aren’t this…hysterical.” Jane told them, “She comes into my room every so often for comfort but when they're like this--”

 

“It’s scary.” Anna finished, “Poor Kitty.”

 

______

 

From then on Mary would stay up a little later, listening out for Katherine’s door. Sure enough she would occasionally hear the pink queen’s door open and soft footsteps come down the hall to go into Jane’s.

 

The bloody queen couldn’t help but be curious about what these nightmare’s entailed. About what could have made Katherine scream like that.

 

Not that she worried about her or anything.

 

______

 

The second event wasn’t quite as dramatic.

 

Mary and Katherine had both been roped into helping Jane do the weekly shop in town. Jane always went each week but they drew lots about which other two who would join her. Mary could only curse her luck, blaming some form of karma for being forced out the house with the woman she hated most. Still, she would always have her own soft spot for Jane. The older woman had been extremely kind to her during their previous life and out of all her step-mothers, Jane was her favourite. Sharing her with Katherine though had immediately soured her mood regarding the outing.

 

They walked the aisles of the supermarket, Jane being in charge of the trolley. Apparently, the one time Anne and Katherine had been in charge of the cart they had knocked over a tower of dog food cans and now the shed at the mansion was filled with the dented ones they’d been forced to pay for. They didn’t even have dogs. Mary had rolled her eyes at the story, calling the cousins imbeciles in her head. Though she had found the story amusing, the way Jane had described the ‘oh shit!’ looks on Anne and Katherine’s face had earned a chuckle.

 

But the moment was over and now she was back to brooding.

 

They walked slowly, keeping an eye out for anything on the list. After a while they stopped so that Jane could find the right pasta. Everyone was very particular about what they liked, so choosing the right one was always a chore. Mary remained by the cart, people watching the mundane lives around her whilst Katherine, in an attempt to stay far from Mary and avoid tension, stood a little way off on her phone.

 

Mary had been watching a little old lady attempting to get something off of the top shelf, fighting the urge to chuckle at her struggle, when she suddenly heard talking to the side of her. It was Katherine’s voice and while that immediately filled her with unexplainable anger, Mary still turned towards the noise since there was nothing better to do. She nearly cackled cruelly at the sight of yet another man leaning against the shelves next to the pink queen. Trapped under the witches spell. Looks like Katherine hadn’t changed a bit, once a slut always a slut.

 

Though after a moment, Mary noticed that Katherine was refusing to look up from her phone. Refusing to interact with the man trying to get her attention. He wasn’t unattractive, in fact Mary would have deemed him a suitable suitor had he pursued her back in her day. But Katherine barely spared him a look. Upon further inspection, Mary noted that the woman was gripping her phone tightly in her hand and her body looked incredibly tense. Like she was getting ready to spring away but had been frozen in place before she could.

 

“Hey baby…don’t just ignore me.” The guy said, not taking the hint, “I’m talking to you.”

 

“L-Leave me alone, please.”

 

Mary raised an eyebrow, why would she say please? If the mans attentions were unwelcome then why not tell him in harsher words to go away?

 

“Come on,” The guy continued, tucking some of Katherine’s hair behind her ear, “Let me buy you a coffee.”

 

She flinched as he touched her but still didn’t look up from her phone. Something began bubbling up in Mary at the sight of the girl looking so uncomfortable. She looked like a statue and so clearly did not want this man in her personal space and yet he was ignoring her wish. If someone had done that to Mary whilst she had been queen…well she would probably have burned him alive but in this day and age that may not be socially acceptable.

 

Not that many men had pursued her back then. Other than Philip but…no…no, she wouldn’t think of that miserable excuse for a man.

 

Mary was snapped out of her memories by the sight of this jerk grabbing Katherine’s chin and pulling it to face him. Out of shock, the pink phone was dropped to clatter on to the ground loudly. She let out a pathetic noise, like that of a whimper and it prompted Mary to step towards them. Before she could go over and break them apart however, a flash of blonde got there first. Jane shoved the man away, telling him off as she did so. He just huffed and swaggered away, leaving the three women and a totally-not-eavesdropping old lady in the aisle.

 

Mary glared at this woman and she quickly hobbled off nervously.

 

It was nice to know she still had it.

 

Looking back to her companions, she saw Jane stood directly in front of Katherine. Whispering something to her as the younger woman’s eyes glazed over. Mary wasn’t even sure she was listening. Feeling unsure of what she should be doing, Mary chose to pick up the dropped phone. She’d tell Lizzie to return it to Katherine later on.

 

“Just focus on your breathing, Kitty.” She heard Jane say, “In…out…in…out.”

 

Mary observed as Katherine slowly became calmer, previously erratic breathing slowing to relaxed deep breaths. Jane then asked if she could touch her and the girl nodded, allowing Jane to cup her face gently and place a soft kiss on her forehead in her own motherly way.

 

“Are you alright to continue?”

 

Katherine nodded.

 

“Do you want to hold on to the cart?”

 

Another nod.

 

Then everything went back to normal, like it hadn’t happened. Except Katherine kept a tight grip on the shopping trolley and Jane made sure not to go too far. Mary thought it was ridiculous for a grown woman to be holding on to a shopping trolley like a toddler. Katherine didn’t say anything about it for the whole trip, immediately running up to her music room when they returned home. Leaving Mary and Jane to unpack, which seemed unfair. But in her absence, Mary felt comfortable to ask Jane a question that had been bothering her.

 

“What happened at the store earlier?”

 

Jane paused, midway through putting away the milk in the fridge, “Which part?”

 

“Katherine completely shutting down because some man showed her attention.” Mary said in her usual blunt way, “It wasn’t like she had any reservations about their affections before…”

 

“Don’t say that.” Jane’s sharp response surprised her,

 

Mary had never had someone be that stern with her besides her father and it really took her aback.

 

“Sorry, I shouldn’t have been so sharp.” Jane apologised, closing the fridge, “I can’t say much because to be honest, I don’t know all of it. But Kitty is…vulnerable and when she’s around men in tense situations it leads to events like today. In which she needs to be talked down gently.”

 

“Why?”

 

Jane just sighed, “I can’t tell you that, it’s not my place.”

 

_____

 

Later on, when Mary knew everything, she would think back on this memory and forever regret not burning that jerk to ash. She should have known that any man touching a woman the way he did without their permission was wrong.

 

It was one thing she would regret about the early days of her and Katherine’s tumultuous relationship.

 

_____

 

Finally the third event was more of a shocking observation.

 

It was an unusually warm day and Anne had suggested they open up the pool for the day and have a barbecue. Everyone was all for it and even Mary and Elizabeth were excited to experience swimwear in the 21st Century. Both had been a little uncomfortable with how little swimming costumes covered and so their mothers had bought normal, well fitting swimsuits for them. It was still exciting, being the least amount of clothes they would willingly wear outdoors. Catalina and Jane were the same, quite content in the more conservative bathing suits.

 

The other queens, however, preferred bikinis which had nearly given Mary a heart attack. She was already struggling with the concept that day to day undergarments were now so small, but people wearing plastic versions of said skimpy clothes to wear in public - it was a huge culture shock. Still, it was only them in their immense gardens, around the pool and that added a sense of security around being so under dressed.

 

Of course Katherine was laid in the sun in only her bikini. Mary could at least call the others a surprise, but Katherine would probably bare all for whoever wished to see it. Elizabeth and Mary were on the opposite side of the pool, talking and enjoying the sunlight. Occasionally they’d watch Edward and Anna splash each other in the pool and a brief war would start, Anne and Cathy quickly taking sides and Jane and Catalina attempting to escape.

 

“Anne if you get my hair wet, I will destroy you!”

 

Mary couldn’t help but chuckle at her mothers empty threat.

 

It was nice to be able to smile about their interactions now, knowing that underneath it all there was a friendship there.

 

As Lizzie was talking about her experience beginning a modern secondary school education (being home schooled by Jane), Mary found her gaze landing on the pink bikini clad sunbather opposite. Behind her sunglasses, Mary knew she could observe without being caught providing she regularly reacted to what Lizzie was saying. A slight “uh huh” or “I see”. Now in hindsight, Mary was staring a lot longer than intended. Distracted by a weird flipping feeling in her stomach at the sight of defined abs and gently tanned skin. She put it down to not being used to seeing people practically naked.

 

Though she also couldn’t deny that she understood why her father had turned his gaze to the young woman. Katherine was beautiful, if she hadn’t been she probably wouldn’t have gotten herself into so much trouble. Still, something about it continued to make her stomach feel funny and she found she couldn’t look away. Even as Anna left the pool and greeted them as she laid on the lounger next to Lizzie, Mary’s eyes stayed on the resting woman opposite.

 

Then Katherine turned over to tan her back and Mary couldn’t help what came out her mouth.

 

She sat up sharply and let out, “Oh my word…”

 

“What is it?” Liz asked,

 

Mary finally turned to her sister and lifted her sunglasses to rest on her head, “Look at her shoulders.”

 

Elizabeth raised an eyebrow but did so, visible shock spreading across her face.

 

Anne and Katherine both had scars around their necks from their beheadings, a sad memento from their final seconds. Usually, they covered these with matching chokers - even getting one for Lizzie so that it could be a family thing. But on Katherine’s back there were two more deep scars across her shoulder blades, crossing slightly on her spine. Neither Mary or Liz had attended Katherine’s beheading and to be honest they hadn’t really cared to ask about it. At that point they knew to care little about their step-mothers since they could be replaced to quickly.

 

“Who Kat?” Anna asked, remaining laid back enjoying the sun,

 

“Yeah.” Liz replied in awe,

 

“Yeah, those are some nasty scars.” Anna agreed, “I don’t like seeing them myself, she usually keeps them covered.”

 

“How did she get so many?”

 

Anna sighed, the same sigh Jane had given before ignoring her question about the supermarket.

 

“Let’s just say - your father never cared much for poor Kitty.”

 

Mary laid back, looking at the younger woman across the pool again. Taking in the jagged lines on her shoulders. She swallowed any pity or remorse that bubbled up, too stubborn for her own good.

 

“It was her own fault, she shouldn’t have opened her legs so readily.”

 

Anna made a noise to disagree but instead clicked her tongue, “Y’know if you actually got to know her you wouldn’t be stuck speculating from across the room.”

 

Mary just scoffed and covered her eyes with the sunglasses again.

 

Like I would do that.

_____

 

These three events marked the beginning of Mary’s questioning in regards to what she knew about Katherine Howard.

 

They sparked questions that had to remain unanswered, at least for a while. When Mary would eventually get these answers she would feel guilty beyond belief. And she had a lot to feel guilty for already. But that would come in time, for now she was still an angry and stubborn girl. She believed that her view was the only view and that everyone else was a fool for falling for Katherine’s innocent face. For letting her twist them all around her finger through what Mary could only assume was well trained manipulation.

 

While these things were the start, they weren’t the final push Mary required. No. At best they were a lit fuse on emotional dynamite that had yet to reach detonation.

 

The kaboom would happen a few weeks later.

 

After the long awaited confrontation between the duo.

 

When Katherine finally snapped.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

 

Katherine Howard would never call herself smart.

 

Cathy and Anne read a lot so they were book smart, Catalina and Jane were wise and Anna was street smart more than anything. But Kat had never been able to think that way. She had tried, reading books or watching documentaries with her chaotic cousin. But the pink queen never had the attention span. She couldn’t retain information like dates or facts. Plus she had been far too young in her last life to have the same experiences Catalina and Jane could call upon for advice. Adding on her trusting nature, it meant street smart was also out of the question.

 

But one thing she was, was emotionally intelligent. The biggest part about being reincarnated for Kat was learning that wanting things was okay and that her emotions were valid. Before, she always had to put her personal feelings aside. Henry Mannox wasn’t a bad man, she shouldn’t be so easy. She couldn’t be sad the King wanted her, she was told to be grateful. She shouldn’t cry about getting her head chopped off, she deserved it. While that had been her mindset still when she was brought back, over time Kat learned that moping around would never help anything.

 

So she had set to work. Out of all six of them she had been the one to break the silence. If there was one thing that could be said about Katherine Howard, in either life, it was that she was quite the social butterfly. She had just brought up a conversation that she knew everyone would have an opinion on. Everyone had looked at her like she was insane when she had asked 'what the best name for a horse' was but it got them all talking. Even if at the beginning it was only them commenting on how random she was.

 

But she never took any mind of that. Kat was always the one to approach the quiet girl in class or strike up a conversation with the little old lady at the bus stop. Sure, she had been through hell in her past life and should probably be more wary of the world than she was but it didn’t change anything. Katherine wanted to see the best in people and was always open to anyone for conversation. She knew how to tailor herself based on who she spoke too, she knew when to talk and when to listen.

 

Sure, she had her damage. If a man got too close she’d panic and occasionally her nightmares got so bad she became hysterical and woke up the house. But at the end of the day, Kat liked people. She liked being surrounded by people because she feared being alone.

 

And she was easy to like. Bubbly, fun, upbeat - she was like a breath of fresh air.

 

It’s why all the queens adored her so. Katherine would listen to their problems and wouldn’t offer advice unless asked. She was self aware enough to know she didn’t have all the answers and sometimes all someone needed was empathetic ear. Kat was happy to give that, no matter what people needed or when they needed it she would be there. When Anne’s death day came round and she had flashbacks, Kat comforted her. When Jane used to get upset about Edward (pre-reincarnation), Kat would allow herself to be coddled to make her feel better. When Anna needed to let out some form of emotion, Kat would join her runs and then sit patiently with her until she was ready to talk.

 

That was Kat. That was the way she was. Always conscious of the feelings of others, even at the expense of her own sometimes. Which was why that afternoon, everyone was shocked when she finally lost control of herself. The only lesson Kat had retained from her time with the dowager duchess was that image was very important. It didn’t matter if there was nothing beneath, what was on the outside was what counted.

 

Therefore, Kat always made sure to present herself the correct way. From never leaving her room without make-up to rehearsing her beheading the night before so at the very least she could die looking dignified. Mainly, she would never let anyone see how she truly felt. Kat made it a point never to lose her smile, to never show when she was sad or frustrated. Refusing to unleash the family rage that bubbled within her. So when it came out, everyone was stunned. And as is probably expected, all it took was one comment too far from Mary.

 

They were all sat down to lunch when it happened. Kat was giggling along to whatever Anne and Anna were debating while Mary was engaged in conversation with her mother and Jane. Or at least she was trying to. For whatever reason, Mary’s fuse was even shorter than usual that day and the uproarious laughter that suddenly erupted from the other side of the table sent her over the edge. Liz looked over to her sister, she too laughing at the epic one liner Anne had delivered and her smile dropped at the sight.

 

Mary set her shoulders, the way she always did when she was about to get mad.

 

Something their father did when sizing up to his opponents.

 

“Do you mind?” Mary snapped, gaining everyone’s eyes on her, “This is a family lunch, not a pub crawl.”

 

Anna muttered an apology, always one to prefer keeping the peace. Anne just opened and closed her mouth like a goldfish, stunned by the sheer gall. Kat, for her part, just met Mary’s eyes for a moment (having expected her to say something else) and then looked away.

 

This was a mistake.

 

“What was that?”

 

Realising that the remark had been meant for her, Kat looked up again, “I’m sorry?”

 

“That look you just sent me.”

 

Kat blinked, suddenly feeling very tense, “I…I thought you had something else to say. That’s all.”

 

“Right,” Mary scoffed, “Because you know me so well.”

 

“Mary!” Catalina warned,

 

“Me!?” Mary flung down the fork she had been holding and Mae began wailing at the sudden noise, “Why is it always me that gets the stern looks? She’s the one glaring at me!”

 

“I wasn’t glari--”

 

“I know what I saw!”

 

“Okay, okay,” Kat held up her hands, calling for a truce, “I’m sorry.”

 

“Of course you are.” Mary huffed, “Perfect response for the perfect girl.”

 

Katherine was at a loss, between Mary’s shouting and Mae’s wailing it was overstimulating sitting there and she was beginning to feel overwhelmed. Everyone reeled in the tension, Cathy desperately trying to calm her daughter. Unfortunately, Anne suddenly got defensive on behalf of her cousin and only aggravated the situation.

 

“What is your problem?” Anne snapped,

 

“She’s my problem.” Mary answered, as though it were obvious,

 

“But why Kat,” Anne asked, “Why not me?”

 

“Mary…don’t…” Liz begged quietly,

 

Mary wiped her mouth with the napkin, looking every bit as regal as she usually did, “Because at least I know you didn’t do the things you were accused of.”

 

Kat took a deep breath, she understood Mary’s anger. She knew that there had been a lot of falsehoods surrounding her trial and the people whispering in Mary’s ear definitely wouldn’t have focused on the true story. It would be a lie to say it didn't still hurt but Kat refused to show that. She needed to rise above and not let Mary know she was bothered by her comments. Besides, maybe this was a good thing. Mary was finally getting everything off her chest, she must have been clinging to these resentments for a while. If she needed to unload them then so be it, Kat just wished she wouldn’t shout so loud.

 

“She,” Mary spat that word with venom, “Was an embarrassment. Watching my father drag her around court while she batted her pretty little eyes and twirled her hair. Every man in court was so besotted by her - and why!?”

 

Ah so that’s what it was. Katherine had heard Mary had a difficult time finding and keeping suitors, maybe that’s where this resentment stemmed from.

 

“I can see why my father liked you, you were young and pretty. But he was ignorant. He should have seen you for what you were.” Mary seethed, “A power hungry witch, already used up before my father got her in his clutches.”

 

The table stiffened.

 

Kat kept her expression schooled and refused to break eye contact.

 

“Every other time my father spat on my mother’s memory, every other woman he slept with, every illegitimate child he had - all of that I could forgive. But I could not forgive him marrying someone YOUNGER than me. It was humiliating.”

 

“Is that why you hate me so much?” Kat asked, somehow keeping her voice stable,

 

“No.” Mary growled, she was on a role and NOBODY would tell the bloody queen when to stop, “I hate you because you simply threw it all away. You got his love and his affection and his attentions and you threw it away on some fling…”

 

That was when Kat finally understood. Mary wasn’t jealous that she got male attention, she was jealous that her father (with whom she had once been so close) had suddenly begun paying attention to someone else around her age. It didn’t matter the situation, Mary was jealous she no longer stood at her fathers side. She was still that hurt little girl. Turned away by her father and banned from seeing her mother. She wasn’t mad at Kat, she was just looking for someone to channel the hatred on.

 

Vaguely, she wondered if Mary knew the origin of her hatred for herself but given what the bloody queen said next, Kat realised she just wanted to hurt her.

 

“Was is worth it?” Mary continued, “In the end my father didn’t even think it important to attend your beheading. Is this why they call you the least relevant Katherine? Or is it because the only time people remember you exist it’s when they’re between your legs.”

 

“Mary!”

 

“That’s enough now...”

 

“That is completely out of order---”

 

Kat held up a hand, effectively shutting Anne up.

 

She stood, face calm and turned to leave the room. Trying to forget the memories all clambering to the front of her mind. She could pick and choose her battles and this one in particular was one she chose to avoid. Her plan had been to escape to her room, but Mary wasn’t done. As Kat approached the stairs, Mary quickly intercepted her and stood on the bottom step. Blocking her way with an evil grin, knowing she had found a weak spot.

 

“Move.” Kat said through gritted teeth,

 

Mary just laughed, the queen moved for no one. Especially not a whore. The rest of the adults had all come out into the hallway, probably planning to intervene but they wouldn’t get the chance.

 

“Did it feel good?” Mary asked, viciously, “Their hands grabbing you.”

 

Kat swallowed as she remembered it…

 

“Biting your lips?”

 

She could taste the blood in her mouth…

 

“Pulling your long hair?”

 

Her skin was crawling with phantom touches and she could feel herself begin to spiral.

 

“Did they finish you off? Tell me Katherine, were they worth it?”

 

She felt trapped, unable to run upstairs due to Mary and couldn’t run anywhere downstairs because of the others blocking the hallway.

 

“Did you like it?”

 

She couldn’t breath.

 

“Them pinning you down…”

 

She couldn’t breath!

 

“...fucking you like the cheap whore you are--”

 

SLAP!

 

Mary was sent crashing to the floor and it was almost as though the world stopped. Later when recounting this event, Anne would admit that the look on Katherine’s face in that moment had terrified her. Nobody had seen sweet, innocent Kat give in to the family rage that brewed inside her. But in that moment they did. They could only watch as she breathed heavily, looming over a stunned Mary who could only hold her cheek and look up in terror.

 

“Y-You hit me…”

 

Kat swallowed, internally trying to regain control but she was too far gone, “I have tried being patient. I have tried being kind. I have tried to ignore every insult, barb and dirty look you have flung my way.”

 

Even her voice was unlike anything the others had heard. So angry, so not their Kitty. Anna would later pose that she too was only channelling her own unexpressed anger at Mary. An anger born from the voicelessness in her last life.

 

“You are not the queen in this house.” Katherine told her, eyes like fire, “You are not in charge here. You don’t know anything about me or my life or my choices in the same way I know nothing of yours. I am done justifying your treatment of me. Step too far again and I swear I will do more than slap you.”

 

Mary just stared at her.

 

“Okay?” Kat snapped,

 

Mary nodded, shakily, “Okay…”

 

Nobody had ever hit her before, nor had they spoken to her in such a way. When Kat’s hand extended to help her up, Mary hesitated before taking it. Thinking it could be a trick, but no. Kat wouldn’t do that. She gently pulled Mary upright, eyes still holding a fire in them that seemed worlds away from their usual innocent sparkle. Once the bloody….err…once Mary was on her feet again, Kat’s rage subsided and she remembered she wasn’t alone. Catalina rushed over to check Mary’s cheek, whilst she did not condone her daughter’s behaviour it had been a hard hit.

 

They could all only watch as anxious, sweet Kat returned and guilt immediately spread across her features. Shame, for laying a hand on someone. For letting Mary get to her like that. She looked up and met Anne’s eyes. Anne was holding on to Lizzie, her daughter visibly upset by the display. This only served to make Kat feel worse. Mae was still crying, picking up on the tension that seemed to consume the house.

 

It was all too much.

 

So Kat did what she thought best.

 

She turned towards the front door and bolted. Leaving Mary and Anne and Liz and everyone else behind.

 

Removing herself from the situation.

 

Desperately trying to outrun the phantom hands tugging her thighs.

 

Fleeing the memories she had desperately tried to keep at bay.

 

Ignoring the little voices in her head that claimed Mary had been right.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

 

Mary laid on the sofa with a bag of frozen peas against her cheek.

 

After Kat had stormed out, Jane had run to get something cold and her mother had told her off in Spanish. It felt strange, a grown woman being lectured by her Mama as though she were still a child. Though the way she had acted had indeed been childish. She could silently admit that to herself. Mary wasn’t even entirely sure what she had been angry about, it was like something possessed her. Something about Katherine just made her want to shove the woman away and the easiest way to do that was through viciousness.

 

Mary’s temper had always been short. Whenever she experienced any intense emotion she would mask it as fury and rage. Some would back down, like Lizzie, or others would fight back, like her father. Some would even use her anger to manipulate her, knowing it to be her biggest downfall. That was Philip’s favourite way to cope with her tantrums. But not once, ever, had Mary been struck. Hell, she’d never even been ignored either. Katherine had done both. Thinking about it, maybe it was the fact the pink queen had chosen to walk away rather than engage Mary, which caused her to take things too far.

 

She always hated being ignored.

 

When she had caught Katherine looking at her, apparently waiting for her to continue what she had been saying, it made Mary feel off. Like her stomach was twisting itself in knots. It made her feel hot all over and rather than deduce what this feeling could mean, she instead chose to scream and shout it away. Unfortunately, Katherine was the one to get caught in the crossfire. Though Mary herself hadn’t escaped completely unscathed, as shown by the hand print currently glowing on the side of her face. The look of her eyes that never left Mary’s while she raged and spat out insults ingrained themselves in her mind.

 

You are not the queen in this house. You are not in charge here.

 

Those sentences twirled around Mary’s head, over and over in an endless loop. How dare she? How dare that...that woman, question Mary’s right to the throne? She tried getting angry about it, attempting to reignite the fire within her for a second round whenever the teenager returned. But every time she tried the memory of herself being slapped to the ground make her cheek burn and Mary just felt embarrassed. Whether embarrassed by being so easily beaten or for taking things too far she wasn’t sure, but either way there was shame there.

 

But what really stood out was how different Katherine’s eyes had looked. Mary, like everyone else in the house, had only ever seen Katherine with bright, innocent eyes. Eyes that shone brightest when she was painting or drawing, eyes that twinkled when she laughed at Anne’s jokes or lit up at the sight of a puppy on the street. There was none of that in them when the confrontation came to a head. She had looked through Mary, with such unimaginable fire within them it was almost like she had planned to melt the viscous woman then and there.

 

Then before she ran, Katherine had looked sad. Her eyes were dull. That had been the most shocking part. It was like the usually bubbly woman’s own mask fell and revealed nothing within her. No anger, no sadness, just quiet acceptance. Then guilt. Intense, shattering guilt that Mary herself knew all too well. She sighed and flung the now melted bag of peas away from her. Feeling far too sorry for herself to continue psychoanalysing her one-sided nemesis.

 

She could probably return to her room, it’s not like anybody would notice. Everyone had quickly disbursed after the fight, leaving Mary all by herself in the living room like a child on time out. She didn’t know what anyone else was doing, but she had seen Anna run after Katherine. Despite her attempts to hate her attacker, she couldn’t help but wonder if Anna found her. If she was okay. It was something she had noticed early on, how close Anna and Katherine were. Mary didn’t remember them being close in life so this must be a relatively new friendship.

 

Something about the thought of them both together made Mary feel weird. It was probably because Anna had been her friend once and she didn’t like the elder woman doting on Katherine so much and not herself. That was the only way she could explain the desire to rip them apart, like when they had been laughing at Anne’s joke at the table earlier. When Anna had leant on Katherine’s shoulder and the stomach twisting started.

 

Mary just huffed, emotions were ridiculous things.

 

And where did they get her?

 

Nowhere.

 

Because Katherine was now off being comforted by Anna somewhere and Mary was laid all alone with nobody to vent too. And how was that fair? Katherine had attacked her! If she had done such a thing when Mary was Queen then---

 

--then that would have been different.

 

But now none of that mattered, did it?

 

Katherine had been right, Mary wasn’t queen any more. Even if she was, every woman in this house had the same claim to fame. It didn’t make her special or important because she wasn’t special or important. Not any more. Not like she had been. Her flaws could no longer be ignored, her temper no longer had to be put up with. The Bloody Queen had died around five hundred years ago, now she could only be Mary.

 

But who was Mary without a crown? Without her father’s name to wear as armour?

 

Did she even know any more?

 

Maybe instead of picking fights and looking down her nose at everyone she should find out who she was. Find out what new opportunities could have opened up for Mary, just Mary.

 

You are not the queen in this house. You are not in charge here.

 

No. She wasn’t. Not any more.

 

So now it was time to discover who she was if not a Queen.

 

Maybe Katherine did slap some sense into her after all.

 

_____

 

Kat sat sniffling on a tree stump in the woodland that surrounded their estate.

 

It was just off the trail she and Anna usually ran and it was about as far as she could get before her legs finally gave out. She had scraped her knee when she fell and so hobbled to the stump to sit and wait. She didn’t know what she was waiting for but at the very least she wanted to give it a while before turning back and hobbling home. Somehow the running had staved off the panic attack, focusing on escaping rather than of the memories that had begun to haunt her. Still, her heart was hammering in her chest. Tears pouring down her face.

 

Never, ever, had Kat hit anyone before. Nobody had ever pushed her to the point of completely losing it and she felt horrified. Not just because she hit Mary, but because it had felt good to do so. It felt good to let it out and shut the girl up. There was only so much Kat could take and it had just piled on and on her entire life. It was bound to come out at some point, she just wished it had been in a more controlled way. She hated to imagine what the others thought of her conduct. Catalina would be furious, Mary was her real daughter after all. Jane would be disappointed, having always tried to mother and nurture Kat with kindness. And Anne…

 

Anne would probably think she were just like Henry.

 

Her dear cousin would never say it, nor turn her away. But she would think it. Her eyes always gave Anne away, Kat hated to think of how they looked upon her now.

 

But her biggest concern was Mary. She had actually struck her, to the floor no less. While it had felt good it had been wrong and Kat knew it had been the wrong action. She hadn’t risen above, she had stooped to Mary’s level - perhaps lower! That wasn’t right or fair and Kat knew she owed the woman an apology. Probably for more selfish reasons than being genuinely apologetic. She couldn’t walk round with the burden of harming someone, she just couldn’t. Kat wasn’t someone who could let things go if she felt she were in the wrong.

 

If Mary chose not to accept her apology, that would be fine. Once the words left Kat’s lips that would be her own moral dilemma dealt with. It would be up to Mary if she wanted to build further bridges.

 

Kat knew she too deserved an apology but Mary was still Mary so she tried not to get her hopes up.

 

“Kat!?” A voice called further down the path, footsteps running along, “Kat!?”

 

Even with her face buried in her hands, Kat knew it was Anna from the sound of her voice. She heard the running slow down beside her as the older woman approached. Kat felt guilty at how out of breath Anna sounded but knew better than to apologise. Anna hated when she would apologise for letting them care about her, it was something Kat was trying to get over. The red queen joined her on the stump, she hesitated for a second as she wanted to put her arm round Kat but didn’t know if she was having a panic attack or not. Luckily, Kat knew Anna too well and so turned to cuddle into her.

 

“Are you okay?” Anna asked, pulling her close, “Do you need me to get Jane or Anne?”

 

Kat shook her head. Panic attacks were something Anna struggled to help with, she was a very physical person. Words weren’t her strong suit and the idea of talking someone down was difficult, therefore she would always run for help if she knew Kat needed it. Kat respected that Anna had her limitations and so tended to seek her out when she needed a hug or just to be held until the world stopped spinning.

 

“It’s not a panic attack.” Kat whispered wiping her eyes,

 

Anna nodded, “Do you want to talk about what happened back there?”

 

“I feel terrible.”

 

“I know, Kätzchen.” Anna sighed, “What Mary said was completely out of order--”

 

“No.” Kat told her, sitting up straight, “The things she said…I will process in my own time. I feel terrible because I lost my cool.”

 

“Since when have you been cool?”

 

That earned a small smile and that was enough for Anna.

 

“I’ve never felt that angry before.”

 

“I’ve never seen you that angry before,” Anna admitted, “But it was good to see.”

 

“Good?”

 

“Yeah, it’s okay to be angry Kat. When you’re sad, you cry. When you’re happy, you laugh. When you’re angry, you need to shout and rage.”

 

“Don’t need to assault people though.”

 

“Mary needed knocking down a peg or seven.” Anna told her, “If you hadn’t hit her, Anne or I would have.”

 

“She didn’t know what she was saying.”

 

“Yes she did, everyone could see she said it to hurt you.” Anna turned her body so that she was directly facing Kat,

 

“But she doesn’t know EVERYTHING.”

 

“So? Wenn man keine Ahnung hat, einfach mal die Fresse halten." Anna said, firmly,

 

Kat smiled, she liked when the other queens spoke their native languages. She herself had never excelled at them and so she was always in awe at those who had mastered more than one. Seeing the way Kat’s face lit up brought a smile to Anna’s own.

 

“What does that mean?”

 

“It means; if you don’t know what your talking about, then you should shut the fuck up.”

 

Kat snorted, “Really?”

 

“Really.” Anna replied sagely, “We German’s don’t fuck around.”

 

She actually laughed at that, Anna always made her feel better. Kat sighed, “Still, for my own mental health I want to apologise to her.”

 

“But you’re the one who’s owed--”

 

“I know.” Kat interrupted, “I know. But I need to get it off my chest.”

 

“Fine.” Anna sighed, “But do it for yourself, not for her.”

 

Kat gave her a hug, not really sure who was reassuring who any more.

 

“I will.”

 

“Wanna walk around a while before heading back?”

 

“Yes, please.”

_____

 

The sun was setting by the time Anna and Kat walked through the door.

 

Mary heard them talking in the hall, Katherine seemingly in good spirits. She didn’t know why that fact made her feel less uneasy but it did. Still laid on the couch in the living room, Mary had been reading a book Lizzie recommended. It was painfully boring, her sister had a thing for cheesy romance novels, but it was something to do. A nervous tap on the living room door surprised her though, who on earth knocked before entering a communal room? Turing round she found her answer and of course…

 

It was Katherine Howard, looking sheepish.

 

“Hey…” The pink queen began nervously, “Can we talk?”

 

“Come to hit me again?”

 

Mary winced, she hadn’t meant to be so droll. It just kind of came out that way and judging by how Katherine stiffened, she had noticed.

 

“I didn’t mean to be so harsh then.” Mary sighed, sitting up, “Come in, talk.”

 

Katherine entered and awkwardly sat down in the armchair. The tension in the room almost stifling.

 

“So?” Mary asked, not one to beat around the bush,

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

Huh…that had been unexpected.

 

“You’re…sorry?” Mary asked, assuming she had misheard,

 

Katherine just nodded, eyes back to their innocent expression, “I shouldn’t have hit you. No matter how angry I was. That’s not right.”

 

Mary was at a loss, why was she apologising?

 

“Well,” She opted to extend an olive branch, “I did not conduct myself in a very friendly way either. It wasn’t like the hit was unwarranted. You were correct to say neither of us know about each others personal lives beyond lies and rumours. It was unfair to assume.”

 

Kat nearly laughed, that was almost an apology - she’ll call it a win!

 

“Listen,” Katherine took a deep breath, playing with her hands as she always did when anxious, “We don’t ever have to be friends. We don’t have to get along or even be in the same room as each other if you don’t want to. But can we please just…draw a line in the sand today. Be civil to one another. I have nothing against you Mary.”

 

Neither do I, really.

 

“I suppose,” Mary conceded, “If only for the others in the house. Mama is fond of you and seeing her upset with me today for my display was not something I wish to see regularly.”

 

“Good.” Katherine nodded, “So we’re agreed.”

 

“Indeed.”

 

Awkward silence.

 

“Was there anything else?”

 

“Uhh…no!” Katherine awkwardly spluttered, standing, “Th-Thank you for talking with me.”

 

She then span on her heel and fled the living room, desperately wanting to go upstairs and scrub her skin free of invisible hands. In her hasty escape she didn’t notice Mary’s look of amusement at how flustered she had been during her exit.

 

She’s cute.

 

 

Wait…what?

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

 

The weeks that followed had been rather odd for Mary.

 

The main reason for this was that the deep seated loathing she had once held for the pink queen had subsided. Whether the reason for this was Mary finally expressing her resentment or Katherine smacking her down and putting her in her place nobody knew. But the little digs and insults stopped, as did the harsh looks and glares. They could sit comfortably in the same room without making everyone else uncomfortable. Now, when they accidentally met eyes Mary would get a smile and return it with a nod of acknowledgement as opposed to an eye roll. She wouldn’t call them friends, but it was better than before.

 

The other reason was still somewhat of a mystery for her. Obviously, things between her and Katherine couldn’t be flipped over night - not completely. So there was still a distance between the two. Before, it hadn’t bothered Mary, she had wanted to stay as far away as humanly possible. But now, it was all confusing. It made her almost…sad. For example, whenever she saw Katherine joking around with Anne or about to go running with Anna, Mary longed to go over and join in. But she couldn’t. Like she wanted to get closer but an invisible force kept her away.

 

Yet she didn’t know why.

 

She didn’t know why the distance bothered her, nor could she figure out how to get over it. Mary thought she was finally able to understand why her father had been so attracted to Katherine, why the other queens cared for her so, why Lizzie wanted her and Mary to get along so much. Something about Katherine was incredibly endearing. From the sound of her laugh to the way she carried herself, all of it was fascinating. It was nearly embarrassing, the way that the once feared and worshipped bloody queen kept catching herself staring at the pink glitter bomb.

 

Katherine would do something as simple as stretch her legs after her run and Mary’s eyes would just lock on to her. Her stomach would flip and her chest would get all warm, but she couldn’t place the feeling. Or maybe she could and was just choosing to ignore it, opting to push it down and not have to complicate her life further. Still, such things were to be thought through deeply during a quiet reflection at home. Not in the third pew at her mothers church, mid sermon.

 

Sunday mass had slowly become Mary’s favourite part of the week. Religion had always played a big part in her life, due to her mother’s influence. Catholicism was the main thing people associated Mary with. She had fought for her right to worship the way she wanted, she had killed for it. Mary had always been a die-hard Catholic and she had been weirdly proud that that was what she had been remembered for. Sure, it was mainly the brutal ways she enforced it but her religious reforms made history.

 

Her religion was the one tie she had always had to her mother. Her Mama was famously devout, so it was no wonder that Mary clung to it. After Catalina had died, alone might she add, all Mary could do to feel close to her was pray. Learn the scriptures that her beloved mother followed and cling to them as gospel. Now that they were together once more, Mary didn’t want to waste this chance at spending time together. What better place to do it than somewhere that represented what they were both equally passionate about?

 

The priest told them to stand, previously they had been kneeling on the rests at the back of the pew in front. He was an older man, Mary had joked he could be the same age as herself but Catalina had sent her a look and she shut up. They had to stay silent during the sermon, only permitted to speak during the parts which expected it.

 

“Today we will be talking about sin and penance.” The priest began, “Now, what is sin? In today’s culture it gets harder and harder to remember what counts as vice or virtue. We cannot expect our fellow man to follow the bible as we do when everywhere they look they face the eyes of temptation.”

 

Mary could see her mother nodding out of the corner of her eye, the older woman always got so into these sermons. Not that she disagreed, back when they were first alive religion was the be all and end all. Nobody questioned it or fought against it. Christianity, in Mary’s world, was the answer to everything. Even when it was disputed it was less about whether God existed and more about which version of God was more accurate. Like a who loves him more contest. These days there were so many more religions and versions of spirituality that it sometimes made Mary’s head spin. Not to mention atheism.

 

Had someone in her day so much as suggested that there was no God at all, he would have been laughed out the room at best and executed at worst. But if Mary’s whole Katherine-situation had taught her anything it was that sometimes it was okay to question things. Not that she questioned her religious beliefs, but more like she knew it was okay to disagree with what a priest or the Bible said provided it’s minuscule enough not to matter.

 

Like eating shellfish and wearing mixed fabric.

 

“I think the Bible says it best!” The priest continued, “Galatians 5:19–21: ‘Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality…”

 

Mary’s mind drifted to Katherine. She couldn’t help it! When you believe someone is a certain way for so long, those words would forever be associated with them. Now that she wasn’t looking at Katherine through the red fog of rage, Mary had been able to see that she had not been the manipulative, power-hungry wench that had been described. But at the same time, she had done the things she was accused of. Witnesses and Katherine herself had proved it. Yet, Mary still couldn’t view her as a ‘sinner’. At least not with the same certainty she had before.

 

 “...idolatry, sorcery, enmity…”

 

See now she was thinking of Anne. The idea of sorcery and witches always made her think of the rumours surrounding the elder beheaded cousin. Anne’s way of coping was laughing at her pain and so every fancy-dress event she attended, the green queen chose to dress as a witch. She had shown Lizzie pictures of the mini costume party they had for Jane’s birthday. Anne went full green-face with warts and all, apparently she even had a cackle laugh. Mary wondered if she too should look for the humour in her past, but she didn’t think enough laughter in the world would cover the screams.

 

“…strife, jealousy, fits of anger…”

 

That sparked Mary’s interest. Weren’t those normal things that everyone did? Even she herself had been jealous. Jealous of Lizzie replacing her in the line of succession, jealous of Cathy being so close with Catalina, jealous of Anna and Katherine for reasons unknown. As for anger, well…everyone knows of Mary’s temper and the brutal things that usually followed. She had burned 200 people alive because they had a differing opinion.

 

“...rivalries, dissensions, divisions…”

 

She had divided herself from her siblings. Hell, she’d locked Elizabeth away in a tower out of fear she would undo all her hard work. Work that didn’t even matter any more.

 

“...envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

 

Mary swallowed, feeling her chest constrict. She was guilty of a few things on that list. Usually she could justify them to herself, twist it in her head so that she was the moral victor. When she burned over two hundred people, she had done so claiming it was in the name of God. When she attacked Katherine, she had done it because she believed everything she said was fact. But now…now she couldn’t work out if she was the hero she thought herself to be. If her rage and fire weren’t for the greater good, then what was it all for?

 

Was she evil?

 

She didn’t feel evil…

 

But as the sermon ended and she and her Mother walked out to the car, she couldn’t help but rethink her entire life. Well, both lives. It was like it was all finally hitting her, the hurt she had caused. She had coveted, she had murdered…she had viewed herself so highly in her first life that it wasn’t a stretch to liken her to a false prophet. These were against the commandments. These were unforgivable. Adding on these weird emotions Katherine was causing…

 

Was this why she was brought back?

 

Because she could not be permitted into heaven?

 

Her biographers in modern day viewed her as a devil. A cruel and heartless woman. The infamous Bloody Mary.

 

Children chanted her name into mirrors to summon a demon, for Lords sake.

 

Was she truly so broken that she hadn’t even noticed her indiscretions?

 

Could she have truly been that deluded?

 

“--what do you think, Mary?” Her mother’s voice cut through to her, “Mija? You alright?”

 

Mary blinked, turning to face her mother as they reached the car, “Mama…do you think I’m evil?”

 

“What?” Catalina wasn’t expecting that, “What made you think that?”

 

“Before…” Mary sighed, “Mama, I have done a lot of bad in both this life and my previous. I always thought I was doing the morally correct thing…but I wasn’t. Was I?”

 

Catalina hesitated, “Mija…”

 

Mary looked down.

 

“You’re not evil.” Catalina said quickly, pulling her daughter’s chin up to face her,

 

“Two hundred bodies…” Mary whispered, “Two hundred people and I can’t even remember their names.”

 

Her mother sighed, “Mija, listen to me. I cannot take back what you did any more than you can. But you were a child who knew nothing but anger all your life. Anger at me for dying, at Anne for replacing me, at your father for being himself. You never knew kindness, you never learned tact. You hadn’t needed to. All you were ever taught was that screaming and shouting and brutality were the ways to earn respect. When I read your books, I never thought you were evil. I thought you were hurting, trying to make the world burn the way it had burnt you.”

 

“How can I stop feeling like this?” Mary asked, allowing her mother to stroke her hair, “I can hear their screams still.”

 

“Be better in this life,” Catalina told her, “Give to charity. Donate your time and your energy to good causes. Repay the world for your wrongdoings and pay your penance. Our God is a forgiving God, the fact you even feel guilty for your actions means you can still be saved.”

 

Mary sniffled and threw herself into her Mama’s arms. Letting the wall break for a moment.

 

“And what I said to Katherine…that level of anger is still within me.”

 

“It’s within us all, mi amor.” Catalina confessed, “You just need to learn to manage it. What you said to Katherine was out of line, but she has forgiven you hasn’t she?”

 

Mary nodded, head buried in her mothers chest.

 

“Then do what we in the House of Trastámara do best,” She pushed Mary away gently and cupped her chin, holding it up slightly, “We keep our heads held high and move forward.”

 

Finally, Mary was able to smile. Feeling reassured.

 

She could do that.

 

She could pay her penance.

 

And Mary planned to.

 

She would repay the world for her sins, she would repay her mother for her faith…

 

And she would repay Katherine for her forgiveness.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

 

“What about the FFPL?”

 

“..the Forest Fire Prevention League?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Mary…think about that for a moment.”

 

Mary did think, then she realised what her sister was saying, “Ah, maybe not then.”

 

They were sat together on Mary’s bed, a number of leaflets piled in front of them each for a different cause or charity. This was her acting on her mother’s advice, the big plan to repay the world for her actions as Bloody Mary. She had spent two days agonizing over the leaflets but got nowhere. It was hard, having to think of others over herself. Once upon a time she had been the most important woman in the world. Now, she was just an average young adult. Whatever charity she leant her hand to had to be something she believed in, if her ego got bruised doing it Mary could cause more damage to her eternal soul.

 

Elizabeth had walked in after Mary had been frustrated enough to throw her lamp at the wall. Anger management was next on her list but saving her immortal soul seemed more important. After finding out what her big sister was up to, Lizzie wanted to help and so the settled in to find the perfect cause for Mary to help with. Unfortunately it was harder than it looked to find the ideal charity. Given that Mary wasn’t good with kids or animals or people and couldn’t be around fire, it left very few options. It seemed as though being a good person was going to be a lot harder than she thought.

 

“Okay, why don’t we go back to looking at that hospice charity?” Lizzie sighed, picking up one of the leaflets,

 

“I told you,” Mary groaned, “I can’t imagine anything more depressing than being in a building in which everyone knew they were going to die.”

 

“Kat says it’s not depressing.” Lizzie argued, “She said it’s strangely peaceful, everyone knows what’s going to happen and they’ve accepted it.”

 

Mary looked up, “K-Katherine? She does this…volunteering stuff too?”

 

“Uh-huh,” Lizzie nodded, “Her college offers this outreach-charity thing where they help out at one charitable cause each month. This month they’re at a soup kitchen, last month they were at a hospice. Maybe you should talk to her about this, see if she can suggest anywhere?”

 

“No.” Mary answered, instantly,

 

“Why not? I thought you two were okay now…”

 

From Elizabeth’s perspective, Mary and Katherine seemed to be a lot better at being around each other since their fight. She was happy that she no longer had to feel guilty for trying to have a relationship with her only surviving cousin (or Aunt as she had chosen to call her). In their first life the few times the two of them met they had gotten along quite well, enjoying each others company. Not that she could have ever told Mary that. The eldest Tudor sibling had always hated the woman with passion. Elizabeth had to keep her fondness for her cousin a secret, lest she upset her big sister whom she had always looked up to.

 

Katherine was, to Lizzie, a tie to her mother despite the two cousins never meeting. Her step-mother was every bit a Howard, showing a resemblance to Anne in many ways which Elizabeth found comfort in. But, just like with Anne, Elizabeth was to be left devastated when false accusations began to fly leading to Katherine losing her head. Once again Elizabeth lost someone she cared about but could never openly mourn without repercussion. Left to cry privately, away from the eyes and ears of anyone whom would rat her out to her father or sister.

 

“We are…I think.” Mary confirmed, “It’s just things are still awkward. I can admit I overstepped the mark but she still struck me and that was a blow to my pride--”

 

“That you deserved.”

 

“--it left things between us still…frosty. Despite her apology--”

 

“That you didn’t deserve.”

 

“--I’m still unsure how to approach her on a personal level.” Mary glared at your sister, “What do you mean I didn’t deserve it? She hit me.”

 

“And you said horrific things about an extremely sensitive subject.” Elizabeth countered, “Had you said something similar to me about the Thomas Seymour thing I would have hit you myself.”

 

Thomas Seymour?

 

“What does that pervert have to do with anything?” Mary asked, confused,

 

Elizabeth looked conflicted, suddenly becoming nervous. Mary switched straight away, reaching up to take her sisters hands. She waited for Liz to meet her eyes, searching them for any sign of distress.

 

“Are you alright? Has Parr said something to you?” Mary asked, “Has she done something?”

 

“No! No!” Elizabeth was quick to deny, “Cathy and I have spoken and buried all of that. What I’m saying is that…”

 

“That?”

 

Elizabeth thought for a moment, then looked back at Mary with bright eyes, “What if people accused me of being a whore because of what Thomas Seymour had done to me? Would you believe them?”

 

“Of course not!” Mary told her, sincerity easily read on her face, “My God, you had no say in that man’s actions. You were a child.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“What?”

 

“I cannot say for sure what happened surrounding Katherine’s execution and the allegations made,” Elizabeth began, “But from what I’ve overheard between my Mother and Aunt Kat…our situations were not all that different.”

 

“You mean…” Mary trailed off,

 

“I mean, that Mannox fellow, Dereham, Culpepper…father.” Elizabeth listed, “If they all approached her and would not take no as an answer…then I don’t blame her for slapping you.”

 

It made sense, the more Mary thought about it. Her mind drifted back to that shopping trip, the one in which an unsavoury man had attempted to flirt with Katherine. The way she had become frozen in place, the way she had allowed her phone to drop to the ground without moving to catch it, the way Jane had talked to her afterwards. If what Elizabeth was saying was true then, what Mary had said during their fight…

 

“Did you like it? Them pinning you down, fucking you like the cheap whore you are--”

 

SLAP!

 

Mary felt awful, she would have slapped herself too.

 

“Why did she apologise to me then?” Mary asked, suddenly questioning everything, “If I should have been the one to say I’m sorry, why would she say it first?”

 

“Maybe because she knew you wouldn’t.” Elizabeth shrugged, “I mean, have you ever apologised for anything before?”

 

“I’ve made right my wrongdoings when appropriate.”

 

“Yeah, but…have you ever said the words ‘I’m sorry’ - to anyone?”

 

Mary stayed silent for a moment, knowing that she hadn’t, “Are you sure that’s what happened? To Katherine I mean, that it was r--beyond her control?”

 

“All I know is that sometimes, when she’s staring into space, she gets this sad look in her eye.” Elizabeth told her, “After the Seymour thing, I used to see that same look in the mirror.”

 

Mary squeezed her sister’s hands. Thomas Seymour was a disgusting human being, whom Mary wished she had been able to kill herself. Luckily for them both Eddie saw to that, claiming it was due to his push for political power but really it was a small vengeance for his sister’s honour. Sure, he was a kid but he wasn’t dumb. Mary thought over how protective she felt over Elizabeth following the revelation of Seymour’s predatory nature. Was this why Anne was so fiercely protective of Katherine? Why the whole house coddled her so?

 

“B-But you were never like Katherine,” Mary said, still piecing everything together, “You never had trouble around men, let alone panic attacks in their mere presence.”

 

“Well, think about it. I had a whole life after what Thomas did.” Elizabeth explained, “When I left Seymour’s house that was the end, it never ended for Kat. It started with one, then another took over and so on. Over and over, time and again. There was no life beyond the abuse, just trauma and death.”

 

Mary suddenly recalled a conversation she heard on their first day back. When they were talking about the random ages they were when they had returned. A light conversation that now seemed to have darker connotations.

 

“My theory is that we were brought back at the age we were happiest.” Cathy explained, “Maybe not a conscious happy but…happy.”

 

“No,” Anne countered, “I can’t believe that. Kat’s still the age she died, it’s probably more luck.”

 

Cathy sent her a sad look, “Or maybe…”

 

A hand was held up to stop her, Anne never liked hearing about her cousin’s life, “I’ll believe what I believe.”

 

Could Katherine truly have been happiest knowing she was going to be…?

 

Mary shut down the though, Anne had been right - best to believe the happier option. That was a whole other lifetime. A lifetime which Mary had continuously forced the poor girl to think back on. Ever since the fight, despite them being able to sit in the same room, Katherine had been visibly more distressed. Occasional nightmares were now up to once or twice a week and those were just the ones loud enough for the house to hear. Had Mary caused them to get so bad? By reminding her of what happened all those centuries ago?

 

She groaned and slammed her head into her hands, “I am worse than a fool.”

 

“You are.” Elizabeth confirmed, “But you couldn’t have known. Based on the knowledge you had, added to the Tudor attitude of such things it’s no wonder you thought so lowly of her. Plus, now that you know you can fix it.”

 

“How!?” Mary asked, visibly upset, “How can I make up for what I said…what I called her?”

 

“You’ll find a way.” Elizabeth told her, “You’re nothing if not tenacious.”

 

She sighed and looked over the pamphlets again. Trying to find some way to make herself feel better for being so awful. If that were even possible. Then one captured her attention, they had vetoed this particular one earlier as Mary didn’t know how she would fair around the vulnerable. It was for a women’s abuse survival charity. It was a charity in which they supported single mothers or victims of domestic abuse through opening safe houses and offering group therapies or day cares. If she wanted to be a good support for Katherine and even Elizabeth, maybe getting to know more people who had been survivors would help.

 

Maybe it would allow her a better understanding of what they had gone through?

 

At the very least, perhaps Mary could find a way to support them in her own way.

 

Gain a sense of empathy that she had never had before.

 

“What about this one?” Mary asked, showing her sister,

 

Elizabeth smiled.

 

“I think it’d be a good start.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

 

Stay quiet, Love. You don’t want his Majesty to find out do you?

 

“No, please - get off of me!”

 

“Shhh…”

 

“No…”

 

“NO!”

 

Katherine sat up in bed panting. Visions of her past life still dancing in the shadows of her dark room. She blinked trying to ground herself in the real world, but she can still feel the hands grabbing and tugging at her body. Whispers in her ear, telling her over and over to stay quiet. Ordering her to stay still, that it would all be over soon. Vaguely through the fog she could hear herself sobbing out into the empty room. Trying desperately to cling to that sound, Kat tossed and turned - nearly falling out of bed in her struggle. She just wanted to grip on to something real, use it to pull her into the real world.

 

But she couldn’t.

 

She’d always had nightmares, a side affect of the trauma in her past life. Occasionally, they would lead to bouts of hysteria upon waking. Those were more common in the beginning, over time they had lessened substantially…at least they had until Mary brought all those feelings rushing back. Usually it was okay, someone would come in and talk her down. Anne or Jane would be awoken by her sobs and screams, they’d come in to reassure her that she was okay. That she was in the 21st Century with them. She was safe.

 

But lately they’d been coming in less and less. Not due to a lack of care, but instead due to being more exhausted than before. With their own children back they were spending every spare moment doing activities and getting to know them. They’d be out all day with them doing whatever and by the time they went to bed they were exhausted and passed out straight away. Whilst she knew that they had waited so long for this opportunity, it still somewhat hurt that they weren’t as available any more. The disconnect hadn’t been instant either, just over time her cousins had less and less time for her.

 

Kat reckoned she should have expected it. Her experience of family was that they tended to disappear when you became an inconvenience.

 

It started with the Boleyn/Seymour/Howard Friday Film Festivals. They had been working their way through the Harry Potter series. The first few weeks after Lizzie and Eddie’s reincarnation the regular event had been cancelled so that they could spend time with their kids. This had been fine, Katherine had been the one to reassure them that they could go without for a few weeks. Only, when they were ready to start the movie nights up again - Jane and Anne wanted more time. Kat had decided this was also fine and instead spent Friday evenings playing the virginal in her music room.

 

Then about a month ago she had gone down on a Friday night to get a drink and found her cousins and their children all sat in the living room watching ‘Order of the Phoenix’. Given that the last film Kat had watched with them was ‘Chamber of Secrets’, she knew this meant they had watched ‘Azkaban’ without her too. They had resumed the Boleyn/Seymour/Howard Friday Film Festivals but dropped the Howard. Kat, being Kat, decided against asking them why she had been left out. Instead she just returned to her music room and found solace in the keys of the virginal.

 

Every week it was the same, their little group would sit downstairs and watch movies. Kat would stay upstairs in the meantime and play her instruments, trying not to think about things too much. Chances were they had just forgotten and would have more than welcomed her if she reminded them, but Kat felt there wasn’t a place for her any more. So she stayed in the music room. She could lose herself in music, it had been the only positive thing she’d gotten from Mannox. For all his faults and blatant paedophilia, he had been a talented musician and before he got creepy Kat had learned a lot from him. Too much in some ways. But the virginals had always been her favourite to play.

 

Once upon a time, the other queens loved to hear her play. Most of the songs she knew were ones they would have danced to during balls at the court. They used to dance and spin around the room as she played, revelling in the comforts of the past for a moment. She even learned ‘Greensleeves’ to annoy Anne at one point which thankfully was taken good naturedly (even if she did swear vengeance). But now there was no laughter, no dancing - just Kat’s soft playing echoing around the room.

 

It hadn’t just been her cousins whom had pulled away either. Catalina was now at a distance too, but this time Kat knew the elder woman was aware of it. When Mary had swooped in and began attending church with her mother in Katherine’s place, Catalina had realised how fraught their relationship was. She couldn’t risk upsetting the daughter she had missed so much. So she pulled away, praying the relationship would heal and she could go back to caring for Kat guilt free. The last thing Katherine wanted was to make things difficult for the first queen and so she hadn’t put up a fight.

 

Once again silently withdrawing before someone could tell her to go.

 

With Cathy now trying to learn to be a mother all over again, Katherine couldn’t go and sit with her any more. Whenever she tried drawing another book character, Mae would fuss or cry and Cathy would have to tend to her. Leaving the pink queen alone with her thoughts. Kat didn’t like her thoughts, they led to dark places that she wished to keep locked away forever. Thankfully, she would always have Anna. The older woman had made a point of checking in with Kat when she noticed the girl withdrawing from the group.

 

They had continued their regular runs and now Kat could do the entire route without dying halfway. She understood why Anna liked running so much, it was very freeing to just switch off and let the world blur by. It was the same feeling for Anna that Kat got playing music or drawing. They never talked on these runs, the younger never wanted to voice her thoughts and the elder would never pry. But Anna had been worried about her, she knew this from the looks her friend sent her. Kat was reverting back to the shy young thing that she had been when first reincarnated. It was upsetting, all that hard work just thrown out like it was nothing. But until she asked for it, nobody could help her.

 

Even Anna slept like the dead, leading to Kat’s nightmares continually going unnoticed. Which is why she was all alone, in her dark bedroom, trying to remember how to calm herself down. What was is Jane always told her to do? Four seconds in, four seconds out. Attempting to gain control, Kat focused on her breathing and nothing else. She had no idea how long she lay there, breathing in and out whilst tears trickled down her cheeks and on to the pillow. But eventually, she felt the fog lift and she was in her room. No longer feeling the hands or hearing the whispers. Her body felt racked with fatigue and her chest was still heaving from the panic.

 

As tired as she was, she knew she wouldn’t get any more sleep tonight. Raising a shaky hand to her forehead she found she had been sweating. It would be too gross to lay here in her own sweat but she wasn’t in the right head space to change her sheets. There had to be a way to take her mind off of that dream she had just been through. It was too late for music and drawing didn’t seem like it would be wise this late/early. Anna had always said she could wake her if she had a bad dream but Kat didn’t feel right doing that. Doing that might have been what pushed Jane and Anne away.

 

Kat sat up, reaching over to turn on the light so that at the very least she was no longer in the pitch black. Who knows what could happen in the dark after all. She looked around the room, searching for a distraction and her eyes landed on the pair of trainers by her door. Maybe a run would do her good? Checking the clock, it was nearly 5am - it would be light soon and she could always get back way before anyone else woke up. Plus she needn’t leave the grounds, she could just run round the perimeter for a while until she felt calmer.

 

So she got dressed. Quickly changing into her running clothes but adding her hoodie over the top to protect her from the early morning air. Leaving her room silently, she went to brush her teeth in the dark, being extra careful not to wake anyone. Then Kat snuck downstairs to the door, stopping briefly to connect up her headphones. As she was still a little distracted by her nightmare she hadn’t noticed the light in the kitchen until it suddenly turned off and footsteps sounded behind her. When someone cleared their throat, Kat span on her heel quickly.

 

“Mary!” She yelped, immediately lowering her voice, “You startled me.”

 

Said girl raised an eyebrow, glass of water in hand, “I can see that.”

 

The other woman was clad in her dressing gown, holding a glass and looking just as surprised as Kat felt. It was a little awkward, the last time they’d been one on one it had been when Katherine was apologising for hitting her. That had happened a while ago and both had made a point not to be alone together since. Katherine avoided her because she thought Mary hated her and Mary avoided Kat because she knew she didn’t. Hate her, that is. Mary was pretty sure by now that, whatever she felt for Katherine, it wasn’t hatred.

 

Though she didn’t know what it was just yet.

 

“Are you going for a run?” Mary asked, trying to make things less tense,

 

“Uhh yeah,” Katherine confessed, “I couldn’t sleep.”

 

Mary knew that already. She had to pass Katherine’s room to get to the stairs and had heard her crying. Deep down she wanted to reach out, say something comforting but it was not her place to do so. Instead she could only stare back, making sure to leave her face impassive. Knowing how much she herself hated pity, she assumed Katherine would also dislike it. As a reward for her effort, Katherine sent her a small smile. The one she usually gave when she caught Mary staring. The older girl wanted to voice her concern for the pink queen going out at the crack of dawn alone but again…

 

…it wasn’t her place.

 

So she silently let Katherine turn away to plug her headphones in and head out the door. But as she watched her go, Mary felt a pit grow in her stomach at the idea. It wasn’t like she had any right to stop her, so instead she did the diplomatic thing.

 

“Katherine!” She called,

 

Katherine turned round and looked at her, “Hmm?”

 

Mary hesitated.

 

“Stay safe.”

 

A short sentence, riddled with unknown meaning. To Mary such a show of care was very telling of how she felt but it was probably lost on the younger queen. So she was unsurprised when Katherine only nodded with a smile and left through the door.

 

Leaving Mary staring after her.

 

Now also thinking she wouldn’t be able to sleep.

 

Resolving to sit up until she heard Katherine come back through the door.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

 

Mary was sat in the living room, reading her book.

 

It was one Cathy had leant her after she voiced discomfort over having little to do within the home. Many of her old hobbies were no longer as readily accessible as they were before, things like horse riding or hunting. Jane took care of all the household chores and Anna did any manual labour, having apparently decided to become a body builder in this life. Everyone seemed to have something to do. Even her mother regularly helped out with church events and they seemed to have multiple every week which kept her away from the mansion.

 

This meant Mary had nothing to do most days. Lizzie was often with her mother “bonding”, otherwise she’d bully the girl into spending time with her. They mostly hung out in the evenings when the “adults” were watching TV after dinner. So eventually she approached Cathy about recommending a book for her to read. The blue queen had offered to give her books that the modern day deemed ‘classics’ as they were quite frequently mentioned in pop-culture. It would help Mary adapt through knowing them.

 

She had started with ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as Elizabeth had voiced her enjoyment of Shakespeare’s works towards the end of her reign. His plays made quick reading and she had soon been bored, wishing for something more substantial. So Cathy had given her ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley. Mary had found this darker narrative far more interesting than the sickly romantic notions of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Sure, they died at the end but the rest of it was far too sweet for her tastes. ‘Frankenstein’ held a quality which appealed to Mary. Namely the part she was on at the moment, in which Frankenstein’s Monster was talking with a blind man.

 

As the man could not see the monster before him, he did not turn him away and instead was happy to converse with him. Then the blind man’s family returned and attacked the monster, forcing him to give up on humanity. Mary found herself resonating with the creature. She too was a monster in the eyes of many. Having learned that she would get nowhere through kindness due to her upbringing. Her father ruled with an iron fist and cared little for whom he hurt in the process. He was cruel and ruthless and so, to Mary, she believed she needed to be the same to earn respect. It somehow felt as if her father were Dr Frankenstein and she was his monster.

 

Yet truthfully, she knew she could not hold anyone else accountable for her actions.

 

Nobody was in the mansion at the time, everyone was outside enjoying the sunshine leaving Mary to her own devices. She had been sat for a while contemplating the meaning behind the book, planning to discuss it with Cathy to see if she had viewed it the same. It had been her in with the resident book worm, discussing the secret meanings behind what they’d read. Mary quite enjoyed their conversations. Plus, Cathy had some drawings up on the walls of various book characters. Apparently Katherine drew them, they were really good and Mary liked looking at them.

 

Katherine would hide images in what she drew, usually a reference to the book itself. Mary had spent some time trying to find them when alone in the library. Maybe one day she would be able to ask Katherine to draw her one? She doubted they’d get there, but you never know. Lost in her thoughts she didn’t notice a new sound drifting through the house. When she did hear it, a sense of familiarity washed over her. She knew that sound well. There was no intercom system within the mansion, so it must have been coming from upstairs.

 

Music. A soft, sad song Mary recognised from a distant memory.

 

Standing, she followed the sound to the staircase. Pausing for a moment, Mary couldn’t help but feel like it sounded live. Not like someone was playing a CD but like they were playing an instrument lost to time. Mary had never explored the mansion fully, especially not the queens’ private rooms. They all had one and Mary, Elizabeth and Eddie had them too but had yet to decide what their uses would be. Her mother’s was a study, she would sit in there when she wished for private time. Occasionally, Mary would find her reading or knitting. Jane’s was a comfort room used for knitting and crochet, she liked her arts and crafts. Anne had dragged in some bean bags and a record player, she would go in there to de-stress. Laying back in the seats and just vibing.

 

Then of course, Anna had her gym and Cathy her library. The room Mary found herself approaching was Katherine’s private room. They often referred to it as the music room so Mary assumed there were instruments in there. She had never been inside, for reasons that by now should be obvious, and the room was sound proof so she could never hear anything from outside. Only today, for whatever reason, the door had been left cracked open and the most beautiful sounds were released from within.

 

Kat was playing a sad, yet beautiful tune on the virginal. An instrument that had been popular during her first life. She hadn’t realised the door had not closed properly and had no time to notice, submerging herself into the music. Her hands flew over the keys with practised fluidity. Never known to be the smartest or the bravest, growing up Kat’s only talent had been her artistic nature. Though memories of music lessons had been tainted, she still found a comfort in playing. She was good at it. The music never changed, it would forever remain the same. It made it the one constant in Kat’s life.

 

Watching her from the doorway, Mary was in awe. Katherine had always been pretty, but when she played it was something else. Something indescribable. She had a focused look on her face, one that Mary had never seen on the girl before. She looked so…adult. It was unfair to say but the pink queen had always been bubbly and youthful. Mature had never really been the word to describe her. But in this moment, Mary could see it. She could see the woman beneath the rumours and allegations. This, she realised, was the Katherine without her mask.

 

And she was beautiful.

 

The music slowed to a stop and as the final note rang out, Katherine finally looked up and met Mary’s eyes - jumping slightly at the observer.

 

“Pardon me,” Mary was quick to apologise, “The door was open and I heard you from downstairs. I haven’t heard the virginals in…a very long time.”

 

Katherine let go of the breath she was holding, “They’re hard to come by these days. I have a keyboard somewhere, but the virginals have a special place in my heart.”

 

“Mine too.”

 

“That’s right,” Kat remembered, “Henry said you played. I think he hoped it would bond us together.”

 

Mary nodded, “Maybe if we’d had more time it would have.”

 

She winced at her own words.

 

“I didn’t mean…”

 

“It’s okay,” Kat smiled, “I know you met it sincerely, believe me - I can tell when you’re trying to insult me.”

 

“Ah yes…about that…” Mary felt uncharacteristically nervous, beginning to play with the door knob rather than look at the other woman, “It has been pointed out to me that my version of an apology is not substantial.”

 

Kat held up her hand, “Please, we’re passed it. You needn’t apologise.”

 

“But,” Mary looked up to meet her eyes, hoping her sincerity showed, “I want to.”

 

Kat did see the honesty on her face and it definitely surprised her. Never before had Mary appeared so vulnerable. It was endearing, in a way. Finally seeing her mask slip. It was a strange moment, one that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone on the outside. But for that moment, both women stared at each other with no masks. No masks, no pretences, no fake smiles or dishonest words. Just Mary and Kat, both finally allowing themselves to be vulnerable.

 

“Do…Do you want to play?” Kat asked, extending the olive branch by sliding along the bench to make room,

 

“W-Would you mind?” Mary cursed at how timid her voice sounded,

 

Kat nodded, her smile on her face, “Just make sure to close the door. I’d love to hear you play.”

 

Mary closed the door softly and walked over to sit beside Katherine on the bench.

 

“I must tell you Katherine--”

 

“Kat.”

 

“Pardon?”

 

“Please, call me Kat or Kitty.” Kat explained, “There are too many Katherine’s in the house.”

 

Mary nodded, “Okay…then Kat, I must tell you it’s been a while.”

 

“A few hundred years.” Kat smirked, “It doesn’t matter, just enjoy it.”

 

Mary took a deep breath and tapped a few keys experimentally. Kat noticed the usually tightly wound girl began to relax, as she pressed each key she became more and more at ease. The song she had chosen was more uplifting than Kat’s had been, it sounded light and even hopeful. Such a vast contrast to the serious, stern Mary Tudor. Like Kat, she was extremely talented. Hands playing the song expertly despite her initial nerves. As she played, it was as though the duo became wrapped in their own bubble. Mary became conscious of Kat being sat so close and yet, in many ways, not close enough.

 

And as the song came to an end they both took note of their sides touching.

 

Mary looked up and noticed Kat was smiling at her. Not a small smile either, a big toothy grin that Mary had been sure the girl had never shown to her before.

 

For once in her life, Mary found herself smiling back.

 

Neither moved, both happy to stay wrapped in their bubble until the sunset.

 

And after..

 

…they continued to meet every day following.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

Mary had been sure she would have made an excuse not to come today.

 

But despite her nerves, she knew it had to be done. After promising her time to the ladies in this survivor centre, it would have been rude to pull a no show. Besides, Mary’s budding friendship with Kat always felt as though there was this dark shadow looming over it. She knew eventually it would be addressed and it would be good to know how to navigate that conversation once it was out there. Kat still didn’t know Mary had a strong idea of what happened in the past. That Kat’s supposed affairs or trysts had been a lot less than consensual.

 

Mary wanted to be able to support her, show that she cared about her new friend. The more time the duo spent together in the music room the more the elder realised Kat hadn’t been with anyone else. She never had plans with Anne or Jane whom she was supposedly close to. When Lizzie was free, she was usually with Mary or Eddie and Cathy was still focused on Mae. From when Mary woke up to when she went to bed, Kat would be alone in her music room. Sure, she had Mary for most of the day now, but it was still worrying. Not to mention the early morning runs in the dark before daybreak. If she had no one else at the moment, Mary felt she needed to step up.

 

However, Mary was never one for emotional situations. She never knew the right words to say or correct actions to take. Her resolutions usually involved setting things on fire or screaming into the void. Both of which she had come to realise were probably less than helpful. Especially with Kat, who had always been more for quiet processing than outward explosions. Ignoring that one time she had backhanded Mary, quite rightfully, across the face. But even then, rather than embrace the anger that had caused it, Kat pushed the emotion down and apologised to Mary despite not having to.

 

The elder girl had never apologised to anyone in her life and could not even fathom why someone would offer an unwarranted apology. Lizzie had probably been right in her assumption, that Kat had only apologised because she knew Mary was far too proud to do so herself. Part of her wished she had that same humility, that she could set her ego aside for the greater good. There was a lot to learn from Kat and the only way to start things off right was to learn how to approach her without the elephant in the room.

 

So there she was, stood in front of what appeared to be an average house on an average street. However, unlike those surrounding it, it had a tall gate out front which she would have to buzz at to be let in. No men were allowed on the property due to all the women living there being vulnerable so the extra security was important. As she approached, Mary tried to envision something like this back in her day. From the leaflet it looked to resemble the idea of high born ladies taking in wards, only back then being vulnerable had different connotations.

 

The vulnerable were ignored in her society. Women’s issues were viewed as taboo as they could “ruin the reputations of good men”. Kat and Lizzie…both had been forced to silently endure because nobody took such things seriously. Now it was nice to see how things had changed in the modern day. She couldn’t help but wonder if Kat would have ended up somewhere like this had her…incidents happened in the 21st Century. Would she have felt safe here? Mary’s stomach turned, she didn’t want to think Kat didn’t feel safe at their mansion.

 

Shaking off the thought she pressed the buzzer.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hi, my name’s Mary Trastámara - I’m here for volunteering.”

 

With the infamy surrounding the Tudor name, Mary had dropped it in favour of her mother’s.

 

“Ah yes, come on through!”

 

Thankfully, Kat had talked her through how electric doors worked just in case and so she knew to wait for the buzzing noise. Once Mary heard it, she pushed through the gate and made sure it closed properly behind her. She walked up to the door and it was opened by a kind looking older woman who smiled at the sight of her.

 

“Hi, Mary?”

 

“Yes,” Mary nodded, shaking her hand, “You must be Joan?”

 

“That’s right,” Joan told her, waving her through, “Thank you for volunteering your time today.”

 

“It’s my pleasure.” Mary smiled, hanging her jacket up on the peg Joan pointed out, “I’ve been looking for a good cause I could contribute to.”

 

“Can I ask why you chose this one?”

 

“Umm..,” Mary hesitated,

 

“It’s alright if you don’t want to say,” Joan reassured, “Everyone in this place has their stories as well as a right to privacy. That includes you.”

 

Mary felt relieved. She was given a brief tour of the house, though not permitted into any rooms which was fine. Her jobs were simple, she’d help clean the living area and make lunch for the inhabitants of the house. Mary had wanted to protest being made to clean at first. She had been Queen of England once. One of the most feared queens in history for that matter! And this woman was asking her to clean the mess of others? However, every argument died on her tongue as she remembered Kat’s words.

 

You are not the queen in this house. You are not in charge here.

 

So with that reminder, Mary did her best. Buckling down and getting the work done. It wasn’t as hard as she initially thought, in fact she rather enjoyed being so focused on something other than her constant introspection and psychoanalysing. Actually, she did a really good job - even if Joan did have to hold her hand a little during the cooking. She was not safe around open flames, be it pyromania or accidentally burning water - Mary was a liability.

 

During the lunch she got the chance to talk to a few of the women who lived in the house. Nothing special, they just thanked her for the lunch and talked about some of the activities that the house ran. It felt...normal. Like an average conversation Mary could have had with anyone. Though, in a few ways it was strange, holding a similar atmosphere to the one she got when talking with Kat. This whole unspoken tension caused by a common knowledge. Mary knew why these women were here, they knew she knew and yet nobody talked about it. It was their right of course, she knew that. It just seemed strange to avoid the topic.

 

“Can I ask you something?” Mary finally asked,

 

She and Joan were washing dishes, the last job Mary had to complete before heading home.

 

“Sure.”

 

Swallowing her nerves, Mary voiced what had been on her mind, “You asked me before, about why I chose to volunteer here.”

 

Joan hummed, she remembered.

 

“A…friend of mine,” Mary said tentatively, “She had a few difficult experiences, shall we say, with men.”

 

“I see,” Joan nodded, “And have you talked with her about these things?”

 

“No,” Mary sighed, “I only know of them through rumour and we just recently became friends. But she never talks about it and I’m not the most…empathetic.”

 

“And you were hoping that by volunteering here you’d know what to say when that conversation happens?”

 

“Exactly.” Mary huffed, “I want to be supportive.”

 

Joan finished drying the last dish and turned to her, “First of all, I think you doing this to get an insight into what your friend went through is noble. Though I do have to tell you not to go prying into the lives of the women here--”

 

“Of course!” Mary was emotionally dented, not stupid,

 

“Good.” Joan smiled kindly at her, “I wish my friends had the same forethought you did.”

 

“Oh…”

 

“Yeah,” The older woman sighed, “My husband was a piece of work. I’ll spare you the details but I did end up in the hospital.”

 

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

 

Joan stared at her.

 

“Why?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Why are you sorry?” Joan asked, seriously,

 

“I…” Mary stammered, “I don’t know, it felt like the right thing to say.”

 

Joan chuckled, “I assume that’s your question. You want to know how to have that conversation when it comes?”

 

“Yes.” Mary breathed, “I just don't know what to say.”

 

“It’ll be hard for her to tell you,” Joan began, “It’ll also be hard for you to hear but please try not to emotionally overreact. Most people’s instincts tell them to react by threatening violence but that’s not really comforting.”

 

Mary turned to lean on the sink, listening and trying to commit every word to memory.

 

“Talking about these things in detail it’s…intense. Sometimes it’s not about what you say, it’s just about someone listening. When I was in my situation, he had me so convinced nobody would listen or believe me. They make you feel so isolated, lonely. Like they’re all you have and they can take everything away in a second.”

 

She quickly bit back an insult aimed for whoever Joan’s ex had been.

 

“If and when she talks to you, just validate her feelings. Let her know it’s okay to talk to you. Make time when she feels she needs you. If this is a rumour then she has probably already talked to others about it, she wont need advice or opinions. In fact they can come across condescending.”

 

“So I just say nothing?” Mary asked,

 

“Not nothing, just let her talk.” Joan clarified, “That’s all. She’ll just want to confide in you.”

 

“Huh…” Mary hummed, “Thank you, for talking to me about this.”

 

“There you go,” Joan grinned, “That’s all you have to say!”

 

Mary then let herself sink into her thoughts as the duo returned to the washing up. Joan let her, realising the girl probably had a lot to think about following their talk. Would it really work? Just letting Kat talk at her and explain what happened for herself. Mary wouldn’t need to know the perfect thing to say or action to take, she just needed to prove that she was there. That she was listening and not planning on turning away. She was there for Kat through thick and thin. Mary worried that she wouldn’t be able to keep her anger in check if Kat told her something even close to what Elizabeth alluded to.

 

But she would have to.

 

Because if Kat trusted her enough to tell her anything about the trauma she had suffered…

 

…then the least Mary could do was listen when she did.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

 

“NOO!”

 

Mary shot up in bed, startled by the scream.

 

She rubbed her eyes, trying to adjust to the darkness of the room and ground herself in consciousness. Casting her gaze to the digital clock on her dresser, one of her favourite things from this modern age, she noted it was just after 2am. After waking up a little, she heard another scream ring out from down the hall. Realising it could only be Kat, Mary quickly got to her feet and pulled on her dressing gown. Making her way to the hall, she was surprised to see that she was the only one awake.

 

Part of her wanted to turn around and let the “adults” handle it, but Kat sounded so distressed. She couldn’t. This might be her chance, the moment she could prove to Kat that she would be supportive. So taking a deep breath, Mary began making her way down the hallway. The closer she got to Kat’s bedroom the louder the sobbing sounded. It actually hurt to listen too, like Mary could feel her pain. She almost wished she could take it from her, lessen the load. But she couldn’t, instead she just had to be supportive.

 

Nothing could have prepared her for what she saw when she reached the room, however. Softly opening the door she was met with a heart shattering sight. Kat was shaking, in a little ball on her bed. The moonlight from the window glistened on her skin, showing the sweat that covered her. She was sobbing loudly, begging invisible attackers to stop and leave her alone. And Mary felt tears prick in her own eyes as she watched her. Happy, bubbly Kat looking so broken. So small. Maybe she should go and get Anne? Or Jane? Anybody who would know more about what to do.

 

But she didn’t.

 

Mary could do this. She could rebuild a support system for her friend. It surprised her, the realisation that she would rest at nothing until Kat smiled again. Another deep breath and she was ready, walking towards the bed and trying to remember what she’d overheard from the others. That time she had suffered, what Mary now knew to be, a panic attack in the supermarket, Jane asked before touching her. So it was probably a good idea to not make direct contact. She decided to kneel next to the bed, close enough but not too close.

 

“Kat? Katherine?” Mary called tentatively, “Can you hear me?”

 

Kat still shook in her ball, still in her nightmare.

 

“Katherine?”

 

Shit…what was it Anne called her? That seemed to work…

 

“K-Kitty?” Mary tried, “Kitty, it’s Mary - you need to wake up.”

 

At the nickname, Kat seemed to stir. Screams stopping but eyes remaining closed, sobs echoing around the room.

 

“Good girl, Kitty.” Mary continued, “You’re home, you’re safe.”

 

Suddenly, Kat’s eyes snapped open and she curled further in on herself. Leaving Mary slightly lost.

 

“Make it stop…please…why wont they stop!?”

 

“Kitty,” Mary took yet another deep breath, “I’m going to sit you up okay, it’s just Mary.”

 

“M-Mary…” The name seemed to cut through whatever visions she appeared to be having,

 

“Yes, Kitty. It’s just me.” Mary told her, “Can I touch you?”

 

For a moment, Mary thought she had been ignored or unheard but after a while Kat finally responded, “W-Where will you t-t-touch?”

 

“Uhh…” Think Mary! “Under your arms, I’m only going to help you up.”

 

Kat’s sobs were violent, almost sounding as if she were choking on her breaths. Mary decided that she could sit Kat up first, then work out the breathing techniques she’d seen her mother use to stop herself blowing up on Anne for a prank. It may not work as well in this context but Mary was proceeding by the seat of her pants here.

 

“O-O-Okay.” Kat choked out,

 

Moving slowly, Mary hooked her hands under Kat’s arms and slowly moved her up into a sitting position. She ended up sat on the bed, if Kat noticed she didn’t react so Mary assumed it would be fine to stay there. Kat’s choking was loud, sobs even increasing in volume now that they were no longer muffled by her knees. How had nobody heard them? It wasn’t quiet, Kat was suffering loudly. And yet Mary was the only one who came.

 

“Alright Kitty,” Mary said, “I’m not sure what to do here but we’ll work together okay? Can you focus on your breathing?”

 

Kat shook her head, desperately.

 

“Yes you can,” Mary tried to reassure, “Breath in for four and out for four, okay. In - one, two, three, four. Out - one, two, three, four.”

 

Mary repeated it like a mantra and, by some miracle, Kat began to follow her instructions. Slowly, by focusing on her breathing, Kat managed to calm down from her hysterics. She was panting slowly, following her breathing pattern. She was still crying, but the sobs had subsided and she seemed more and more relaxed.

 

“Would…” Kat whispered after a while, “Would you hold me?”

 

“Huh?” Mary thought she had misheard,

 

“P-Please,” Kat begged, looking at Mary, “Anne…usually…”

 

Swallowing the gay panic that bubbled up, Mary wrapped an arm around the shaken girl. She was shocked when Kat cuddled into her side, still shaking. If the situation were different, it might have been nice. Sat together like this. Mary couldn’t focus on that now though, right now she was going to sit quietly until Kat felt better. She let Kat cry into her neck, even bringing her arm up shakily to pull her a little closer.

 

Kat sniffled, “Thank you for coming.”

 

“Of course.” Mary replied, voice betraying nothing,

 

Neither voicing how conscious they were of Kat’s arms wrapping around Mary’s waist.

 

“Nobodies come in a while.” Kat whispered,

 

Mary didn’t know how to respond, she couldn’t make excuses for others.

 

“Well, I’m here now.” Mary told her, “Do you want to talk about it?”

 

Kat was silent for a moment.

 

Suddenly, Mary regretted asking, “You don’t have to, it’s just if you wanted---”

 

“If I do, will you leave?”

 

Kat’s voice sounded so small.

 

So timid.

 

It broke Mary’s heart.

 

“Of course not.”

 

“Annie did, Janey did.” Kat said, “Everyone does.”

 

Kat was always her most vulnerable after nightmares and panic attacks.

 

Mary gripped her a little tighter, “I wont.”

 

“Don’t you hate me?”

 

“Would I be here if I did?”

 

A pause.

 

“Promise me.”

 

“I promise.”

 

Kat sighed and sat up, immediately missing the warmth from Mary’s embrace. But she wanted to see Mary’s reaction, the girl already thought her a slut - if her story made anything worse she didn’t want to be in a headlock when it did.

 

“As you know,” Kat began, staring at the bed spread, “There were four men I was linked to. Mannox, Dereham, Henry and Culpepper.”

 

Mary nodded.

 

“Mannox was my music teacher.” Katherine explained, “He was nice at first, handsome. That was enough for a young girl to be smitten by him. He used my innocent affections to talk me into…performing acts on him as payment for lessons. I was thirteen.”

 

Mary seethed, but remembering Joan’s words she could say nothing.

 

“He…uh…” Kat felt the lump in her throat and forced herself to keep in the tears, “Sorry, this is stupid…he convinced me that I was doing something grown up. That I was so mature for doing these things for him. I never said no or showed signs of telling anyone, so he pushed further.”

 

Sensing her discomfort, Mary couldn’t help but reach out and grab her hands. Knowing it helped ground Elizabeth when she thought back too far.

 

Kat looked up briefly and sent her a tiny smile, “It uh…it hurt. I told him I didn’t like it but he wouldn’t stop. After, I told my dad but rather than do anything he called me a whore and sent me away to live with my great aunt.”

 

Mary squeezed her hand, not for Kat’s benefit but to stop herself from interrupting. Now was about listening.

 

“Whilst with her I met Dereham.” Kat continued, blinking back tears, “He also stayed there and was super strict. Again, he was attractive so I would gossip with the other young girls about him and lucky me, I was the one who caught his eye. He asked me to work for him, as an assistant almost. I’d file or take notes for him, he made me believe I could have a life beyond being a home maker.”

 

Kat’s expression then was almost fond, then returned to a harsh scowl at the bedsheets.

 

“But like Mannox his requests increased. Until one day he held me against the door and…took advantage. Mannox found out, sent a letter to the Dowager Duchess and she caught him in the act and sent him away. All she said to me was that I should take better care of myself, lest my looks fade.” Kat sounded bitter at that, “My father had me sent to court. Said the least I could do was start rebuilding the Howard name, as opposed to getting good men into trouble. Which is how I met your father and…you know how that went.”

 

Ah yes…she did.

 

“Culpepper hurt the worst though, of all of them.” Kat confessed, “I thought I had found a real friend in him, y’know? I thought he’d be different. I had never had anybody in my corner so Thomas was like…a breath of fresh air. But again, I was stupid and didn’t realise what was happening until it was too late. He behaved inappropriately and Dereham found out what was going on. Rather than let it go, he declared we were married and blah, blah, blah decapitation.”

 

Mary tried not to wince at the harshness of that last part.

 

“So many people could have stepped in, but they didn’t.” Kat scoffed, “My father, the Dowager Duchess…hell any of the people who lied about our relationship being out in the open. It wasn’t. I never wanted it, any of it. And because little boys wanted to play with the shiny toy they destroyed everything in the process. I was almost grateful, seeing Culpepper and Dereham’s head on the gate. It was the first time I’d seen justice.”

 

Kat looked for a second like she had when she slapped Mary. That fire in her eyes. But as quickly as it was there, it was gone. Leaving only a broken emptiness behind.

 

“So that’s it.”

 

That’s it…like she hasn’t been through hell.

 

“...”

 

Poor Kitty…

 

“Please say something.” Her small voice interrupted Mary’s mini breakdown,

 

Mary blinked, “I was just processing.”

 

“I know, it’s a lot.”

 

Mary squeezed her hands, waiting until Kat looked up and met her eyes, “Thank you for telling me. I owe you so many apologies for things I’ve said and done. For you to trust me with this information…it means a lot.”

 

Kat squeezed back, “It was nice getting it all out, I haven’t really talked about it since we were all just reincarnated.”

 

“How did they all react?”

 

“As expected.” Kat hummed, “Shock, horror…Anne threatening to dig them up or desecrate their graves.”

 

Mary chuckled slightly, “Well I can’t say I wouldn’t help her do it.”

 

At that Katherine finally smiled, “Thank you for coming to help me.”

 

Mary smiled back, deciding to take a risk. Opening her arms and inviting Kat for a hug. As could be expected, Katherine hesitated a moment but then slowly entered the embrace. She really wanted a hug right now as she didn’t know when she would get another. So they cuddled up together and for the first time in a while, Kat was able to feel safe and secure. Mary was happy she could provide that for her friend. And that’s what Kat needed right now, a friend.

 

Someone with no ulterior motive. Someone who wouldn’t misuse their position to hurt her.

 

So Mary would ignore the pounding in her chest, as well as how much she really liked holding the pink queen like this. She wouldn’t address how the mere thought of Kat made her smile or how furiously she wanted to destroy those who had wronged her. Instead she just held her close, even after they had both drifted off to sleep. For once, Kat didn’t dream of the terrors from her past. Phantom hands didn’t grab and pull at her, nobody whispered in her ear. She was finally able to get some sleep.

 

When Anna looked in on Kat in the morning, having heard the nightmare last night, she would be shocked by the sight. Mary and Kat cuddled up together, fast asleep in each others arms. By the time she had awoken to Kat’s screams last night, Mary had already been in her room. Anna had heard Kat’s cries quieten and decided Anne or Jane had gotten to her. The last person she expected was the woman whom all thought hated the girl most. Still, Kat looked fine there, wrapped up in Mary’s arms, so rather than wake the duo Anna chose to sneak back out.

 

Leaving them to sleep soundly.

 

Because it seemed like they both needed it.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

 

“So do these kids ever go to class or…?”

 

Kat giggled, popping another piece of popcorn into her mouth. The duo were sat in the music room watching some show on Netflix that Kat liked. Mary had grown to love this room. Nobody ever came this far down the hallway and because it was sound proof, they had complete privacy. A few weeks ago, Mary had decided to investigate Kat’s college to see if there were any courses she found interesting. There weren’t, but while the younger girl was in class Mary had become trapped in this huge furniture store. She wandered the halls of it for hours, lost.

 

But this mystical building, later known to be called ‘IKEA’, worked its magic and by the time she finally found the exit she had bought an uncomfortable amount of blankets and pillows. Kat had laughed harder than Mary had ever seen at the sight of the ex-queen lumbered with various soft items. Getting them into a cab was difficult, as was sneaking them up the stairs to the music room but ultimately it was worth it. Kat had moved some of her art supplies so that Mary could set up a comfy corner for her to sit in and read while Kat sketched or painted. Allowing the pink queen to bring some of her stuffed animals for the corner too.

 

Sure, Mary did have her own private room but both liked this arrangement more. It didn’t feel quite as lonely. Sometimes Mary would play the virginal, trying to remind herself of the songs she used to know. But she much preferred hearing Kat play. So for most of the day, she’d settle into her corner and pretend to read while secretly watching the pink haired queen in her element. Mary’s corner, as it had been dubbed, was where the duo were sitting at that moment on Kat’s laptop. It was Friday and Kat had been sad that she had been yet again not invited to the Boleyn/Seymour/Howard Friday Film Festival.

 

When she realised Kat was upset about it, Mary had wanted to go and tell them to involve her. But Kat had been adamant about not bothering them. She had let it go but opted to speak privately with Elizabeth about it at some point. So instead, Mary was poking holes in each plot point of the show and Kat just laughed at her annoyance.

 

‘Riverdale’ wasn’t known for its brilliant dialogue or plot points to be fair.

 

Mary groaned and shielded her eyes, “What is it with this century and sexualising teenagers!?”

 

“Like ours was any better?” Kat smirked,

 

“At least we had some sense of subtlety.” Mary then remembered who she was laying with, “Do..Do you want to change the show?”

 

Kat hummed, eyes on the screen, “No, why?”

 

“Just…uhh…”

 

Kat looked at her and smiled, “When I started college I learnt that sex as a concept isn’t evil. Those who use it to feel powerful are. Scenes like this don’t really bother me any more.”

 

“Oh,” Mary blinked, “Sorry for assuming.”

 

“It’s okay, I like that you’re asking questions.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Uh-huh,” Kat nodded, “It’s better than everyone walking on egg shells around me.”

 

“Then,” Mary began, “Can I ask one more thing?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“Okay, so…when Lizzie and I went to read our biographies we noticed our mothers had made amendments in theirs.” Mary explained, “I may have…broken the rules and opened yours.”

 

“I see.”

 

“I know I shouldn’t have but at the time I was still angry,” Mary sighed, “All I wanted to ask was, why did you not put any of your story in there?”

 

Kat paused the show, leaning back into the pillows, “Because I never read the book.”

 

“At all?”

 

“I didn’t want to.” Kat told her, “There’s a saying; ignorance is bliss. If I don’t know what historians say about me then it can’t hurt me. I know the truth and that’s all that matters.”

 

“That’s actually a smart thing to do.” Mary conceded, adjusting the blanket that lay over them both better, “I wish I had never read mine.”

 

“Yeah?” Kat asked, “Why is that?”

 

The elder girl sighed, “Because maybe if I’d never read about what a monster the world thinks I am, I could move on from what I did in the past.”

 

Kat reached out and grabbed her hand comfortingly, gaining a smile from the older girl.

 

“Have you been able to move on?”

 

Mary shook her head, “Sometimes it feels like the weight of all their corpses are laying on my chest. The guilt so heavy that it almost shackles me.”

 

Not able to find the right words, Kat only squeezed her hand.

 

“Do you…” Mary trailed off,

 

She looked so nervous.

 

“Do you think I’m a bad person?”

 

Mary turned to meet Kat’s eyes and the girl hesitated for a second. Trying to think of the best thing to say.

 

“I don’t know,” Kat said, choosing to be honest, “I don’t really know what makes a person good or bad in the grand scheme of things. But you’re good to me, so if I go off that - I think you’re a good person.”

 

Mary huffed, trying to hide her reddening cheeks, “Everyone keeps saying I should view this as a second chance, that I can work my way to excusing my behaviour. But I don’t think I ever could.”

 

“Then don’t view it that way,” Kat shrugged, “Take it from me, your past does not define the person you are today. If you want to atone then do so, if you want to move forward and forget about what happened then do that. Whatever we were brought back for, I doubt it was to build a redemption arc. It’s a fresh start.”

 

“But I can’t just walk away from what I did,” Mary couldn’t believe it would be that easy, “I killed so many people.”

 

“That was Mary Tudor,” Kat told her, simply, “You’re Mary Trastámara. Two completely different people.”

 

Mary rolled her eyes, unable to prevent her small smile, “Agree to disagree.”

 

Sensing this was her way of ending the discussion, Kat let it go, “Fine. Do you wanna pick a movie?”

 

With a chuckle, Mary sat up to click off this ridiculous teen drama and look through the list of films. From her experience with films, Mary had found she enjoyed the ones people found scary. Like horror movies or thrillers. But she also knew Kat hated them, so maybe not tonight. She scrolled through the list trying to find something worth her time. Eventually, she clicked on ‘Mean Girls’ after Kat said she was surprised to see it on there. Mary didn’t really care what they watched. She found the company to be more important.

 

They kept their hands entwined, neither really noticing that they had yet to let go. However, both did realise they had suddenly been sat extremely close. Cheeks heating up at the fact their sides were pressed together. Throughout the course of the movie, Kat ended up with her head leant on Mary’s shoulder. It was nice. They watched the movie in silence, neither wanting to break and shatter the bubble they had made. Mary didn’t know when Kat fell asleep. It was only once the film ended and she had braved a look down to ask what they should put on next that she noticed.

 

Kat looked so peaceful, not like the last time Mary had seen her unconscious during her nightmare. She almost didn’t want to move her, but they couldn’t sleep in there. However, she did take a little time to watch her for a moment. Mary had already begun to recognise that her feelings for Kat may be slightly less than platonic but she refused to dig deeper into them. For now she was fine to watch the girl from afar and be the friend she required. But eventually she knew she would have to start dealing with them. Start processing what things meant, what she wanted to happen. Whether Kat would feel the same…

 

…but not tonight.

 

Tonight, she would put Kat to bed and go see Cathy about getting another book. Then tomorrow, she’d read said book in her corner whilst Kat played music or painted. So with that in mind, she carefully scooped up the sleeping girl and carried her out of the room - kicking the door open in the process. However when she got into the hallway, she was surprised to see Anna leaving the bathroom. The red queen looked amused at the sight but said nothing, letting Mary blush under her gaze at being caught.

 

“Want me to grab the door?” Anna asked after a tense moment,

 

“Yes…thank you.”

 

Anna did as asked, opening the door to Kat’s room and letting Mary carry the sleeping woman inside. Settling her into bed, Mary draped the blanket over her and tried to ignore Anna at the door. Anna, for her part, took note of Mary looking at Kat so fondly. It was then she realised she would probably have to say something before Anne or Catalina found out about this sudden friendship. The German was definitely the lesser of about three evils. She waited for Mary to step back into the hall and close Kat’s door before addressing her.

 

“Mary, can we talk a second?”

 

“Sure.” Mary looked nervous,

 

“Listen, I don’t know what’s going on between you and Kat.” She stated clearly, “But Kat is my closest friend and I’m going to warn you, if you do anything to hurt her there is a houselode of people who will be out for your blood.”

 

Mary wanted to ask where these supposed people were because they hadn’t been around Kat lately, but she bit her tongue. Recognising that Anna was just doing what she thought was in Kat's best interest.

 

So instead she nodded, letting Anna know she had understood.

 

“Good!” Anna’s usual grin returned and she clapped Mary on the back as she passed her,

 

As she walked down the hall though, Mary actually unpacked what Anna had been alluding to and quickly spun round to face the direction she’d gone.

 

“But we’re just friends…you should know…” Mary called,

 

Anna nearly laughed, “Okay, Mary.”

 

“It’s true!”

 

Sure, everyone looks at their sleeping friends with heart eyes.

 

“Whatever you say!”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

 

“Hold still!”

 

“Sorry it tickles!”

 

Kat wasn’t quite sure how she ended up here. It had started with her own pink tips needing a touch up. Mary had offered to go into town with her to buy some more dye and while in the store she had asked if Kat thought she would look good as a brunette. With nothing better to do that day, they had bought the dark brown hair dye and opted to try it out. Returning home, Kat had done her tips first - deciding to get them out the way so that if their attempt at Mary’s hair destroyed the bathroom she wouldn’t have to wait to do hers.

 

So they ended up here, sat in the unfilled bath wearing old ratty t-shirts Anna had donated to them. Kat was knelt behind Mary, making sure each hair had enough dye on it. She was currently doing the hair that came down the back of her neck, or at least she was trying. Surprisingly, Mary proved to be extremely ticklish and kept squirming every time Kat so much as brushed her neck. They would have been done a lot sooner, had Mary not kept moving away every five minutes. Or if Kat hadn’t found her adorable giggling contagious.

 

Wait?

 

Did she say adorable?

 

She meant humorous.

 

Yeah…humorous giggling. That was a thing.

 

“So,” Mary said, thankfully bringing Kat out of her thoughts, “You ever thought about going pink all over.”

 

“I considered it.” Kat admitted, “But nobody in the house dyes their hair and I don’t like the idea of having it professionally done.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“It’s kinda stupid...”

 

“I doubt that.”

 

Kat sighed, “I don’t like the idea of someone accidentally touching the back of my neck.”

 

Mary was silent for a moment. Kat supposed she didn’t need a further explanation.

 

“Is it true you practised with the block the night before?” Mary couldn’t stop herself, “That you requested it?”

 

“Yeah,” Kat nodded, still focused on Mary’s head, “The world thought me to be a young, weak little girl. I wanted to prove them wrong and die with dignity.”

 

“I see…”

 

“But then, y’know, your father hired an idiot who got my shoulders twice before finally finishing me off. So it’s safe to say my composure disappeared by the end.”

 

“Understandable,” Mary replied, “I can’t even imagine how that would have felt. Knowing that the next day you would die.”

 

“It wasn’t as sad as you’d think.” Kat’s tone was far too relaxed, “I made my peace with it.”

 

“But…”

 

“I think you’re all done!” Kat swiftly interrupted, “We should wrap this up and then you can wash it out in an hour!”

 

“I…uhh…okay, Kitty.”

 

Kat smiled, ever since Mary talked her through her nightmare the nickname made a comeback every so often. They’d been together a lot. At first Kat feared it was due to pity or that Mary still felt guilty for their fight. But after a while it became obvious that she had just wanted to hang out with Kat. Mary never pushed or pried but she still asked questions rather than walk on egg shells. Even when Kat didn’t answer she appreciated that the other girl was trying. Mary never pitied her or coddled her, if she thought Kat was wrong she’d straight up say so. Most people only saw the pink and the hyperactivity, immediately thinking that was all there was. But Mary saw more than that, which was a new dynamic for Kat.

 

Even with Anna, while the girl never treated her than less than an equal, it was still less of a friendship and more of an older/younger sister dynamic. Kat adored Anna, but sometimes it was nice to be a little bit reckless without someone feeling as though they needed to play parent. For example, when in the store buying hair dye - Mary pushed her around in the shopping trolley. Going round the corners so fast they nearly ran over an old lady. Kat could never have imagined Mary having a childish goofy side but now that she’d seen a glimpse of it, she had a mission to bring it out as often as she could. It was fun watching Mary have fun.

 

The older girl stood once her hair was wrapped, getting out of the bath and offering a hand to help Kat out too. As the pink tipped queen stepped out the duo ended up stood almost nose to nose. For a tense second they stared at each other, until both snapped out of it and stepped away. They quickly made their way out of the bathroom, hoping to leave any of the unmentioned tension behind them as they did so.

 

Their plan had been to go to the music room for a while, play around on the virginal or maybe watch more ‘Riverdale’ (Mary hated to admit it had grown on her...or at least #Choni had). Only they were stopped by a bickering Lizzie and Eddie in the hallway.

 

“Pleeease, Liz!?” Eddie whined, little hands clutched together in his pleading,

 

“No,” Liz rolled her eyes, “I’m too old for those games now Eddie. Go ask your Mum!”

 

“But I want to play with you.”

 

Kat knew they had some time before needing to wash off the dye, so she decided to cut Eddie a little break.

 

“Play what?” She asked, gaining the attention of the remaining Tudor siblings,

 

“Aunt Kat!” Eddie cheered, running over to her, “I want to play hide and seek but Liz is being boring!”

 

“Because it’s a baby game.” Was the teenagers dead-pan response,

 

“She has a point, Eddie,” Came Mary’s bored tone, “It is a game for infants.”

 

Eddie’s little pout broke Kat, she always was a people pleaser and so she decided to fight his corner.

 

“Come on, guys.” Kat chirped, “It’ll be fun, when was the last time we had a laugh together?”

 

“Yes!” Eddie cheered,

 

“Seriously, Kat?” Mary smirked, “You really want us to run around and squeeze into teeny tiny corners in the name of fun?”

 

Kat nodded, turning to face Mary, “Yup. Why not?”

 

Lizzie looked between the two, noticing something seemed different.

 

“I’m not demeaning myself in such a way.”

 

“Why, scared you’ll lose?”

 

Kat lay down the gauntlet and Mary stepped into her space, the duo once again practically nose to nose.

 

“Me? Scared? Please…”

 

“Prove it.”

 

“Hey, you two,” Lizzie interrupted, “Stop flirting, we playing or not?”

 

Both were taken aback, not expecting the accusation. Kat stammered a little, trying to voice a response which only increased the incredulous look on Elizabeth’s face. Mary was silent for a moment. Then…

 

“One…two…three…!”

 

Eddie cheered and bolted down the hallway, closely followed by a smug looking Kat and an amused Elizabeth. With an eye roll, Mary turned her back so that they could hide. Kat watched as the younger two went down the stairs, probably to hide as far from the start point as possible. She instead chose a different route. Running into her own room and squeezing in amongst the clothes in her closet. In hindsight this was probably a good metaphor, but at the time she was more focused on winning than psychoanalysing. She could still hear Mary counting in the hall and so used this time to position herself properly. From her spot she could look through the slight crack she left in the wardrobe door and out into the room.

 

“COMING READY OR NOT!”

 

Kat held her breath, hoping that Mary would go straight downstairs. The stairs weren’t quiet so she would have definitely heard her younger siblings thundering down them. However, one thing about Katherine Howard was that luck was almost never on her side. So when she saw the door to her room open, all she could do was silently curse.

 

“I know you too well.” Mary said with a smile,

 

Goddamn it!

 

“Kitty~” Mary sung menacingly, “Come out to playyyy~”

 

Kat wanted to laugh, Mary had been watching too many movies lately. Maybe teaching her about Netflix was a mistake. The older girl walked into the middle of the room, stopping to look under the bed. When she saw the bed was Kitty-less, Mary stood back up with a frown. Once again looking around the room as Kat desperately tried not to laugh. Then Mary’s eyes met Kat’s own that had been peaking through the door. Realising she had been spotted the younger tried to bury herself further back as Mary walked over and opened the door.

 

“Come on, Kitty.” Mary laughed, “Game over!”

 

“Nobody’s in here!” Kat replied, teasing, “Please leave a message!”

 

Suddenly, a hand began tickling her side and Kat began giggling hysterically. This had been a risky move, given that Kat didn’t like being touched when not expecting it. However, she knew it would only be Mary. She could trust Mary. That was the good thing about the older woman, she didn’t do head games, she said what she thought - no holding back. It meant there were no ulterior motives. No secret plans or upcoming betrayls. Therefore, rather than panic, Kat only laughed hysterically as Mary continued tickling her. Slowly, she got out of the wardrobe and fell to the floor of her room. Mary keeping up her onslaught, also laughing along with her.

 

"Do you surrender?"

 

“Okay! Okay!” Kat got out between laughs, “Stop! You win.”

 

At the word ‘Stop’, Mary immediately ceased her tickling. However, the duo kept laughing as they laid on the floor. But as the moment passed, they became increasingly aware of their position. Kat was laying on the carpet with Mary hovering above her. It was different than the tension in the bathroom or the playful banter in the hallway. Something about this felt…intimate. Being so close and so relaxed. Kat swallowed, suddenly feeling hot all over. For a second she saw Mary’s eyes drift to her lips and she felt herself begin to lift her head. Almost in a trance. If she didn’t know better she would have thought Mary’s own head was moving closer too. But then…

 

CRASH!

 

“EDWARD! THIS IS MY SPOT FIND YOUR OWN!”

 

The couple sprang apart like they had been burned. Wait, no…not a couple! The totally platonic, non-emotionally involved, BFFs distanced themselves in a totally normal, platonic, straight way. After calming their breathing (obviously due to the crash downstairs startling them and absolutely nothing else) Mary stood and helped Kat get to her feet. Both laughed awkwardly, unable to meet each other’s eyes. They didn’t know what had just happened between them but they couldn’t worry about that right this second.

 

“We should go find the other two…” Kat said,

 

“I agree. We’ve a game to win…after all.” Mary trailed off awkwardly,

 

Yeah, she was right. No emotional soul searching until after they found Liz and Eddie!

 

“Let’s go!”

 

Is it bad Kat wanted those two to stay hidden?

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

 

“Come on, Mary - please?”

 

“I don’t know, I’m not the most imaginative…”

 

“That doesn’t matter.” Kat reassured, “Just give me random details.”

 

Mary rolled her eyes, taking a long sip of her iced tea. Kat had finished her class for today and so Mary offered to meet her in town to grab coffee. A few weeks ago they had found this quiet spot in a back street when looking for a short cut to the bus stop. They were sat in a back corner, Kat with her sketchbook out while Mary sipped her drink. She had never cared for coffee, having tried it once on the assurance from Cathy that it was a lifesaver. She found the taste bitter and not worth the time waiting for it to brew. Kat had been the one to suggest iced tea, it was sweeter and Mary found the taste far more pleasant.

 

Kat herself was never too fussy, happy to eat or drink whatever was waiting. Including Cathy’s already brewed coffee when she came down for breakfast in the mornings. Breakfast was the only meal Kat and Mary really had with the group any more. Lunch was always whoever was at the house and nobody ever ate it at the same time. Dinner was usually spent all together, but Kat and Mary would always get caught up in some activity or misadventure. Missing the usual mealtime and having to heat up left overs later.

 

They were conscious that they seemed to be monopolising on each others time. While they enjoyed being in the company of one another, they were also aware that it wasn’t healthy. Luckily, Katherine had her classes at the college and her now nightly runs with Anna, while Mary would go to church events with her mother and spend time with Lizzie. They made sure to break up the time as both knew only having a one-person support system, however well intentioned, could grate. Still, for Mary it just meant times like these were all the more special.

 

“Fine.” Mary sighed, “Red hair…chubby cheeks. Umm…I don’t know, blue magic wizard woman.”

 

“Thank you, now was that so hard?”

 

“Yes. Yes it was.”

 

Lately, since Cathy was busy, Kat had been going to Mary and asking her to create imaginary characters for her to try drawing. Mary hated the exercise, not having the most prominent imagination but it made Kat happy so she caved every single time.

 

“Y’know,” Kat smiled, focusing on her sketchpad, “Red hair and chubby cheeks remind me of that one baby portrait of you.”

 

“Ugh,” Mary groaned, “Shut up, it’s bad enough my mother insists on having that photo on the mantelpiece.”

 

Kat snorted, “I think it’s cute.”

 

“Yeah well, it’s not a true representation of my beauty.” Mary muttered, “Plus, I’m brunette now.”

 

“Oh yeah!” Kat looked up, “You never told me what your mother said when she saw your new hair!”

 

“She cried actually,” Mary confessed, “Jane said it made me look more like her. I think they were all just relieved it made me look less like my father.”

 

Kat frowned, “I don’t think you ever looked like your father.”

 

“It was the red hair more than anything.”

 

“Ah yes, you do have the same colour beard. I didn’t want to be the one to tell you.”

 

Mary scoffed, “Shut up…”

 

“You’re too pretty.” Kat said, matter of factly as she returned to her drawing, “Your father was a pig. Fat, ugly…diseased.” She shuddered at the memory, “You have more of your mother’s features. I’ve looked at you a few times and seen Catalina in you. But never your father.”

 

“That’s actually very reassuring, thank you.” Mary said,

 

“How’s it look?” Kat asked,

 

She turned round her sketchpad and once again, Mary marvelled at how much detail Kat could draw in such little time. It was just as Mary had described. A red haired woman, dressed in a blue wizards robe, looking as though she were casting a spell.

 

“Wow…”

 

Kat blushed, “Oh don’t flatter me.”

 

“I wasn’t trying to,” Mary told her, “You’re so talented, Kitty.”

 

“Th-Thanks.”

 

“Can I keep this one?” Mary asked,

 

“Of course!” Kat grinned, “I can redo it on my tablet and--”

 

“No, I would rather have the original.” Mary smiled, “If that’s okay?”

 

Kat’s grin got impossibly bigger and she nodded. Putting the sketchpad away so that they could keep the picture safe from any falling liquids (Kat had a clumsy side) they settled into an easy conversation about what Mary had done that day. Kat felt herself special, with most others (barring Catalina and Liz) Mary would only speak when spoken to and in short sarcastic bursts. But with Kat, she smiled and laughed and even babbled at times. Turned out Mary had quite the affinity for charity work, whenever she would begin talking about the women’s survivor home she would talk for hours. About the women she’d met, the activities she’d arranged, meals she cooked. Sometimes she would repeat tales or embellish too much in her excitement. But Kat didn’t mind, she just liked hearing Mary speak.

 

“...it’s just so peaceful too!” Mary sighed, “I think you’d like it.”

 

“Planning to check me in?” Kat joked, “I think explaining my five hundred year old trauma will be well above any therapists pay grade.”

 

“Not like that,” Mary rolled her eyes, “I mean you’d like the people. They’re very kind.”

 

Kat chuckled, smiling sweetly, “It’s nice seeing you so passionate.”

 

Mary smiled back but before she could say anything they were interrupted. Two boys had decided they liked the look of the couple and so obviously it was their God given right to slide in their booth and trap them both there. Mary schooled her expression, not showing how startled she was and Kat froze after grabbing Mary’s hand. The duo were pressed together on the bench that wrapped round the booth. The Lynx smothered males smiling at them in a way they obviously thought was sexy. It wasn’t sexy. It was creepy.

 

“Hello ladies!” Douche 1# greeted,

 

“What are a pair of fine young women doing out unescorted?” Douche 2# asked,

 

“We were enjoying our afternoon,” Mary growled, “That was, of course, before we were interrupted.”

 

She took note of Kat staring at the table, not wanted to move an inch. Douche 2# had his arm draped around the booth and by extension over Kat. It made Mary’s stomach twist, pulling the girl closer. How dare he even think about touching what was hers? Who did this petulant boy think he was!?

 

“Aw come on, babe!” Douche 1# reminded Mary of his presence, “Don’t be like that!”

 

“So what are your names?” Douche 2# asked,

 

“Why on earth would we give you our names?” Mary asked, getting angry,

 

“It’s polite sweetheart.”

 

“Don’t call me, sweetheart.” Mary growled,

 

"I'd happily call you by your name if you gave it!"

 

Sensing Mary’s aggression, Kat squeezed her hand, “C-Can you l-l-let us out, please?”

 

Her voice was so quiet, even Mary struggled to hear her.

 

“What was that baby girl?” Douche 1# asked, looking past Mary,

 

“We’ll let you girls out,” Douche 2# agreed, “If you come with us. We’re going to this really cool spot, I’m sure we can give you both a good time.”

 

The way his eyes moved up and down Kat’s body fuelled Mary’s rage further. Bubbling up from somewhere deep down,where she had been trying to keep it ever since she blew up on Kat. These boys were working on her last nerve.

 

“We’re not interested.” Mary got out through grit teeth, “Goodbye.”

 

“Come on~” Douche 2# hummed, reaching out his hand to place on Kat’s tight fist on the table, “You’ll enjoy it love, I swear.”

 

It’ll feel good soon, love - I swear.

 

Mary felt it, Kat going from still to impossibly tense and then she spied the boy’s hand on her Kat. That was the final straw.

 

“Listen here you ridiculous pair of little boys,” Mary spat, “We wouldn’t touch you with a barge pole, let alone choose to go ANYWHERE with either of you. I suggest you let us out of this booth and be on our way because if you choose not to, I promise neither of you will escape with all your limbs in tact. Am I clear?”

 

Douche 1# laughed. He actually laughed at her.

 

“And who’s going to make us, sweetheart?” Douche 2# asked, having the gall to look amused,

 

Now, Mary had been a traditional Tudor woman. She enjoyed the viginals, poetry, needlework. She was fluent in many languages and always made sure to conduct herself with decorum. However, when Douche 2# made the mistake of wrapping his arms around a hyperventilating Kat and trying to pull her from the booth all of that was forgotten.

 

Instead she ripped her own arm free from Douche 1#…

 

And punched Douche 2# in his fucking face.

 

_____

 

Anna came to get them from the station.

 

Mary had been let off with a warning, though sadly the man that had grabbed Kat had been given the same leniency. It took a while for the pink tipped queen to calm down, not delving into a full blown panic attack but instead inwardly processing. Mary had learned the difference between the two. Panic attacks were when Kat flashed back and relived her trauma, but processing was when Kat completely shut down to prevent herself from panicking. The elder girl had called her mother, who understandably freaked out at the concept of her daughter in jail and sent Anna (the only one with a car) to come and get them.

 

Until then, Mary and Kat were sat in silence. Mary waiting patiently for Kat to come back to her. When Anna arrived, Mary had waved her off trying to help. Instead, she wrapped an arm around Kat and led her out to the car. Her hand hurt really badly, never having thrown a punch before, but her face hurt more from the punch she had recieved in turn. Luckily, they had been pulled apart before it could escalate any further. Mary yelling insults the entire time, her favourite being “impotent, ill-bred man-whores” but that was her Tudor side coming through.

 

Her mother went insane when they walked through the door. Rapid fire Spanish leaving her lips as she threatened everyone in existence. She’d kill Mary if she were stupid enough to do something like this again. She’d kill those boys if she ever found out who they were. She’d kill the police officer who had bruised Mary’s wrists with those handcuffs. It had to be taken with a pinch of salt, Catalina was Spanish and therefore had a flair for the dramatic sometimes. It all stemmed from worry, so they all let her get it out of her system. Mary allowing herself to be checked over until her mother was satisfied.

 

Kat stood silently by the door, behind an amused Anna. When Mary caught the movement out of the corner of her eye, she turned to catch Anne going to hug her cousin. When Anne got too close Kat flinched, taking the green queen off guard. Mary felt heat rise in her gut. How dare Anne ignore her for weeks and then try and swoop in? Moving away from her mother, Mary approached Kat carefully. She took her arm and led her into the living room, sitting her down under the confused gaze of the household.

 

Then she looked up and met Anne’s teary eyes.

 

“She’s just processing.” Mary told her, keeping her voice low as to not make Kat feel worse,

 

“R-Right.” Anne stuttered, “She’s never flinched like that around me before.”

 

Mary couldn’t keep back the bite in her voice, “Perhaps she’s forgotten that you’re not a threat. You haven’t really been around lately.”

 

“Excuse you--”

 

“Maman,” Liz spoke up, “I think now is not the time to argue this. We should wait until Aunt Kat feels better.”

 

Anne glared at Mary, “Of course.”

 

“I’ll go make everyone some tea,” Jane announced, trying to break the awkwardness, “Then we’ll find out what happened.”

 

It took another hour before Kat became reanimated. Mary stayed by her side the entire time. During this period she explained what had happened in detail, as well as how she knew Kat was going to be okay. The tea Jane had prepared from them all was consumed, leaving only Kat’s cup to go cold. One by one everyone trickled off to do their own things. Cathy went to feed Mae, Catalina went to call her priest and tell him she would not be at whatever function it was that evening, Anne and Jane went to talk privately about whatever and Anna went for her run.

 

Only the “children” were left in the living room, the younger two quickly putting on a film and Mary sitting guard next to the motionless Kat. When Kat finally relaxed, she unconsciously cuddled into Mary’s side. Seeking comfort. She didn’t say anything, but did offer a small smile when Mary asked if she was okay. Elizabeth took note of their closeness but given the state of affairs, deemed it best not to mention it for now. Eventually, though Kat felt her stomach rumble.

 

“Mary.” She whispered quietly,

 

“What’s wrong Kitty?”

 

“I’m hungry, do you think there are leftovers?”

 

“I’m sure Jane kept something back.” Mary told her, their conversation unheard by the other inhabitants of the room due to the film, “I’ll go make us up some plates.”

 

“Can we eat in our corner?”

 

Mary smiled, “Of course.”

 

Later, when they were both bundled up in their corner eating the reheated dinner, Kat would finally relax and tell Mary that she was stupid. That she shouldn’t have put herself in harms way like that. Then she would fuss over Mary’s eye and express her guilt at not being able to stand up for the two of them. Mary would shush her and say it was all fine. That she didn’t mind. In fact the exact phrase she used was enough to sum up the whole event from Mary’s perspective.

 

“I’d do it again in heartbeat, Kitty.”

 

And she honestly would.

 

Every. Single. Time.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

 

Catalina had grown tired of the little jabs Mary had started directing at Anne and Jane.

 

It wasn’t like Jane or Anne were blameless, for whatever reason Mary had gotten awfully protective of Kat and even she had noticed the chaotic cousins (and Jane) hadn’t been together much. Honestly, Catalina had assumed they’d had a bust up until Jane told her otherwise. Look, she understood the feeling of wanting to spend every minute with her child. Hell, Catalina had practically glued Mary to her hip that first week. But the way Anne and Jane had discarded Kat was cruel. Sure, it hadn’t been a conscious act but that didn’t make it right.

 

Now the trio were stuck in this weird void. Jane felt so guilty she didn’t even know how to make things right, Anne was too stubborn to admit there was an issue and Kat was…well Kat. She would never tell them their actions hurt her. So yes, Catalina intervened. As the eldest in the home she held a certain amount of unquestionable power. Therefore, when she declared it ‘Family Game Night’ nobody was to be exempt. No matter how much Anne people complained. They were playing charades when it happened.

 

Anne was at the front of the room doing dramatic movements while her team (Liz, Jane, Eddie, Cathy and little Mae) attempted to guess. Well not really Mae, she was just watching and giggling. Not really knowing what was happening. The opposing team were on the other couch, watching the show in amusement. It had been raining all day, the heavy droplets pounding against the window as they played. The heavens appeared to have been opened with no intention of closing any time soon.

 

Before we continue, it would be wise for any reader to remember that Mary was a women of many secrets. Her biggest was her love for ‘Riverdale’, followed by her secretly enjoying music by one K-Pop band that she would NEVER disclose. But there was one that she had clung to all her life. She would even go as far as to call it her biggest weakness, the thing she was most ashamed of. This would be discovered tonight. And Kat would never let her forget it.

 

It went unnoticed at first, Mary was too wrapped up in whatever macarana-esq move Anne was doing. Happy and content, sandwiched between Kat and Anna. But then she heard it, the tell-tale rumble from the skies above. Her entire body went rigid at the sound, like the lightning bolt itself had turned her to stone. Initially, nobody took note of the girl’s sudden nerves. Her increased breathing pattern. Her wide eyes. Until another flash reached across the sky and dragged with it an echoing boom. Then Mary snatched Kat’s hand, causing her younger friend to look at her.

 

“Mary?” Kat whispered quietly, earning Anna’s attention also, “Are you okay?”

 

“Th-Thunder.” Was all she got out,

 

“You’re afraid of the thunder?” Anna asked, not quite believing it,

 

At the sound of another crash, Mary kept in a whimper and screwed her eyes shut. She felt embarrassed. Was she not one of the most feared Queen’s in history? Now look at her, brought to a quivering mess by aggressive weather patterns. But the problem with fear is that even the most logical thinking does little to stave it off. So all Mary could do was inch ever closer to Kat who in turn kept a tight grip on her hand.

 

“Mary?” Elizabeth suddenly called, gaining everyone’s attentions,

 

“Mija! What’s wrong?” Catalina asked,

 

In her panic, Catalina separated Mary and Kat to care for her daughter. It was an act of motherly love, she would have torn through a pack of wolves to get to Mary at this point.

 

“She’s always been scared of storms.” Elizabeth explained, “Back in the castles, the lightning would light up the rooms and when she was a child she thought she saw…”

 

“Saw?” Catalina asked,

 

Liz looked down at her hands, “Your ghost. I think she started mixing the fear of the moment with grief and ever since she’s hated storms.”

 

“I-I’m fine, just startled.” Mary told them, putting on a brave face, “It took me off guard that’s all.”

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you scared of anything.” Anne spoke up, eyes betraying worry, “But at least you’re not in the pitch black right?”

 

“Yeah,” Kat added, catching Mary’s eyes from over Catalina’s shoulder, “Things could be worse!”

 

Then there was another crash and the room was submerged into darkness.

 

“I swear Henry’s ghost does this shit to fuck with us.” Anne growled,

 

“Language.” Jane snapped,

 

“Chill out, lightning probably just hit the power-lines. They’ll fix it soon.” Anna sighed,

 

Catalina began barking orders, sending everyone off to find candles and matches and snacks or whatever. Mary wasn’t listening, each crash drawing her further and further into her panic. When the room lit up, anticipating the next rumble, her eyes frantically searched for Kat’s. For whatever reason her mother’s embrace wasn’t helping. She wanted Kat, needed Kat. Needed to lay in her arms and hear her say everything was okay.

 

And she knew why too.

 

Why she wanted to protect Kat, why she wanted to keep her safe, why she wanted Kat to hold her. Hell, she may have even figured out why she had hated her with the fire that she had during their first life. With her mind racing a mile a minute in her panic, she was able to piece together the feelings she had for the pink tipped queen. They had been on the tip of her tongue for a while now but slowly the puzzle was fitting together bit by bit. All it needed was that final push. A push Mary couldn’t decipher in her current state.

 

“Kitty…” She called into the darkness, cursing the meekness in her voice,

 

Unable to see the confused looks sent towards her in the dark.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Can we go to the music room?” Mary asked, “I’d feel safer there.”

 

“Do you want me to go with you, mija?” Catalina asked,

 

“No, Mama.” Mary said, “You’re needed in charge down here. Kat can manage.”

 

BOOOM!

 

At that one Mary let out a yelp. Sensing that wouldn’t reassure Catalina about letting her daughter go upstairs, Kat approached. They had developed a code for whenever Kat was having a panic attack and couldn’t open her eyes, two taps on her arm meant it was Mary. She could only hope the elder girl would recognise its meaning the other way round. Gently, she tapped twice on what she hoped was Mary’s forearm and to her luck the woman managed to blindly find her hand and take it.

 

“I’ve got her, Lina.” Kat told the matriarch, “We’ll just be in the music room.”

 

“I…” Catalina huffed, “Fine. But anything happens Kat I swear to our good Lord--”

 

“Yeah, yeah.” Kat chuckled, gently pulling Mary up,

 

By this time Cathy had lit some candles, providing a little light in between the flashes of lightning. She handed one to Kat on their way to the stairs, allowing them to illuminate their route up to the music room. If Mary had been in her right mind, she would have commented on the nostalgia surrounding the use of candlelight. But all she could do was clutch Kat’s hand like a needy toddler as they made their way to their little corner. The room lit up and the sudden crash that followed caused Mary to bury herself in the pillows.

 

Kat fell down next to her after placing the candle on the virginal. Laying on her side she could see tear tracks on Mary’s face through the dim, flickering candlelight. She had never seen Mary like this. The usual logical, straight faced, sarcastic woman was now crying shamefully to herself. Kat knew the face well, Mary was trying to keep in her sobs as to not make her worry. She herself had spent many nights like that. It devastated her in a way she couldn’t explain. Was this how Mary felt whenever she had a nightmare?

 

“Hey…” Kat whispered,

 

Mary took a second before rolling to face her, “Hello.”

 

“What can I do to help?” Kat asked,

 

The older girl melted slightly, hearing the concern in Kat’s voice, “Just stay with me.”

 

“Of course. I owe you one,” Kat joked lightly, “Or twenty.”

 

The room lit up again, followed by another crash which made Mary wince. Kat pulled her closer, letting Mary cling to her until the rumble ended. She looked up afterwards, aiming to thank Kat only Mary was taken off guard when their noses brushed against each other. Trying to clear her head and pretend to be straight normal, Mary took a deep breath.

 

“You don’t owe me anything.” Mary’s voice came out softly,

 

“Still,” Kat replied, also refusing to speak above a whisper, “It’s nice that I get to help you for once.”

 

“I feel weak.”

 

“You’re not weak.” Kat told her, “Fear makes you human.”

 

Mary could see the sincerity in her eyes. Then before she could think it through her eyes dipped to Kat’s lips and back. She was entranced, the pink tipped queen was calling to her like a siren’s song and all Mary could do was stare back at her. Kat’s eyes swam with a flurry of emotion, their lips so close that the slightest movement would meet them.

 

Kat closed her eyes, moving foward and prepared to take the leap…

 

And Mary turned her head.

 

“Wait…”

 

“Oh, God…I’m sorry.” Kat groaned, “I was…uhh…”

 

“No, no!” Mary interrupted quickly, “You’ve done nothing wrong. I…I just don’t want to take advantage of you.”

 

“What?”

 

Mary groaned, “I want to be here as your friend, Kitty. I want to support you, protect you. But my feelings have been less than platonic recently and I don’t…I don’t want you to feel as though I have an ulterior motive.”

 

“...”

 

Once Mary started talking she couldn’t stop, “I like you, Katherine. In a way that terrifies me and I think I have done for a long time. Only before, in our first life, I took the strong emotions as hate rather than lo--like.”

 

“There is a thin line between the two.”

 

“Yes…” Mary sighed, “Just, please can we forget that.”

 

“Mary.”

 

“Can we pretend that never happened and I didn’t just spill my heart out?”

 

“Mary.”

 

“I want to go back to the way things were before and--”

 

“MARY!”

 

Mary jumped a little, “Sorry.”

 

I suppose this is that famed ‘Gay Panic’.

 

Kat smiled, “I like you too.”

 

RECORD SCRATCH.

 

“I…you do?”

 

“Of course.” Kat nodded, “Ever since I heard you play the virginal, you looked so content and relaxed. I know your intentions are honourable Mary, you’re too straightforward to hide anything untoward away.”

 

“You like me too…”

 

Kat nodded, biting her lip.

 

“...You…You like me too…”

 

That time earned a giggle, “Yes. I do. That’s kind of why I leaned in.”

 

An awkward air fell on the two and they giggled, not quite sure where to go from here. Neither of them were used to having to make the moves, back in their day the men did all that.

 

“Should we--”

 

“Do you--”

 

Oh God, it was painful to watch them. Both with red cheeks trying to think of the ideal next move. Well, they both knew what they wanted…but neither had the balls to go for it. After a silent moment of staring, the giggles subsided and they were stuck once more in their own private bubble. Then Mary got a hold of herself. She finally had a chance to choose for herself. She could decide who she ended up with. No father, no advisers, no fucking Philip. It was just her and she could decide for herself. Mary could also protect Kat from the demons in her past, she could give her the love and the life that had once only been a dream.

 

It was only the two of them now. Nobody else mattered.

 

So Mary moved forward and closed the gap.

 

The last piece of the puzzle clicking into place.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

 

Knock, knock, knock.

 

Liz was laid on her bed, reading a magazine. It was the day after the thunderstorm had blown the electrical grid and they still had no power. This left little to do. Though as Catalina rightly said, it’s ridiculous that people born in the 1400’s couldn’t get along without electricity for a few hours. But Anne had also argued the point that most things in this day and age required power to work and a lot of their outdated ways were no longer possible.

 

So Liz had gone with her mother to the store this morning and picked up a magazine to leaf through. Mainly to seem busy so that Catalina didn’t attempt a round two of ‘Family Game Night’. She hadn’t expected the knock on the door and it had taken her slightly off guard. Everyone was usually busy this time of day. Jane would be doing the housework and Anne had started teaching French online for some extra money. Though without power, her mother was still possible. Only she wouldn’t knock. As for Mary, Elizabeth was used to her sister spending the days with Kat. Though, if Kat was at her classes it wasn’t unheard of for her sister to leave the mysterious music room and come find her.

 

Knock, knock, knock.

 

Ah yes, the door. In all her wondering, Elizabeth had forgotten the point of it all. Sitting up in preparation to go and open the door, Liz continued puzzling over who it was. Until…

 

BANG, BANG, BANG!

 

“Come in, Mary.” She called with an eye roll,

 

Mary walked into the room, looking irritated, “About time.”

 

“Hello to you too,” Liz greeted, sarcastically, “Little Miss Crabby.”

 

Despite their tones, Liz moved up her bed and made room for her sister to sit down. They had easily adapted to a modern sibling relationship. From insults hidden as complements to complements hidden as insults. Before they had fought head on, especially in later years about the religion of the state. In their childhood, Mary had been bitter about the line of succession changing. Nowadays, none of that mattered any more. They could just have fun and tease each other without having appearances to keep up or their own agendas to push. Still, something about Mary playing with her hands made it clear this was not a social visit.

 

“So what can I do for you?” Elizabeth asked,

 

Mary took a deep breath, “Imayhaveadatewithkatandidontknowwheretotakeher.”

 

For a moment, Liz had to replay the sentence in her mind to be able to decipher if Mary was speaking Spanish. After a moment she realised that no, Mary was speaking English. She had just randomly decided to became the Usain Bolt of speaking.

 

“What was that?”

 

“I may have…” Mary began, before proceeding to panic slightly, “…askedkatonadateandimagaymessanddontknowwhattodo.”

 

Elizabeth blinked, “Right, run that by me one more time. Normal speed or I swear to God I will call your mother and tell her you started talking in tongues.”

 

Not wanting to be exorcised by her loving mother, Mary swallowed her nerves one more time.

 

“I may have asked Kat out on a date and she said yes and now I don’t know where to take her.”

 

She kept her gaze on her hands as they nervously picked at the blanket, waiting for Liz to say something. Back in their first life, being LGBTQIA+ wasn’t really a thing. Actually, that was untrue. It was a thing, only known in a different way and mainly only focused on gay men. Mary’s father had made ‘buggery’ between two men punishable by death in 1533. When Edward got to the throne he tried to make it a bit more lenient for the spouses of anyone found guilty but…then Mary herself had repealed all his laws back to her father’s way including this. Part of her felt that someone up above must really enjoy forcing humble pie down her throat. Anyway, point is - nobody in the mansion had been pro-gay rights back then and though the world was different now, that didn’t mean the others had also changed.

 

What if the reason Liz hadn’t said anything was because she was disgusted by her sister being…dating a girl?

 

Mary got more and more nervous as each second ticked by.

 

But Liz stayed silent.

 

“Can you say something please?” Mary eventually growled out, masking her fear the only way she knew how, “I’m already humiliated at having to ask my LITTLE sister for help.”

 

“Who you calling little?” Was the snide response,

 

Mary looked up and met her sister’s eyes, thankfully they were filled with amusement. Her lips curled up in a grin, alleviating all her worry.

 

“I knew there was something going on with you two!” Liz shoved her playfully, “The fleeting glances, the teasing, the flirting. You’re both so obvious!”

 

“Oh, hush.” Mary tried to fight the blush heating her cheeks,

 

“So how’d you ask her?” Elizabeth asked, excited,

 

“Last night,” Mary couldn’t help but grin at the memory, “She calmed me down in the music room and then we kissed--”

 

Elizabeth squealed at that and then again when Mary looked embarrassed.

 

“--then I kind of blurted out that I wanted to court her.”

 

“Court her!?” Liz snickered, “Jesus christ, you really are from the 1500s.”

 

“Which was exactly what she said,” Mary snorted, “So she told me she’d let me take her on a date instead and we’d see how it goes.”

 

“Aww!”

 

Mary studied her, looking for any sign of discomfort on her sister’s face, “Are you really okay with this? I know back in our day this sort of thing wasn’t common place.”

 

“Mary, you’re my sister and despite our history I love you.” Elizabeth told her, sincerely, “I’ve never seen you this happy. If somebody is able to take the miserable out of you, man or woman or other, I will support that. Your happiness is all that mattered.”

 

Mary smiled, “Thanks, Lizzie.”

 

“Any time!” Then the mischievous look came back, “Soo….how was the kiss?”

 

Rolling her eyes, the eldest Tudor sibling decided to entertain her sister, “It was everything you read about in books. Sparks, tingling, fireworks…just perfect.”

 

“You’re blushing.”

 

“Shut up.” Mary glowered at her, “I really like her, okay?”

 

“Awww!” Elizabeth cooed, “I’m happy for you.”

 

“Thanks, Lizzie.” Mary then sighed, laying back on the bed, “But I don’t know where to take her, you know more about what’s in town than I do.”

 

“Don’t you go with Kat all the time?”

 

“Only to sit in a café whilst she’s in class.” Mary admitted, “Minus that one time I got lost in IKEA.”

 

“Ah yes, the Swedish Devil Maze.”

 

Suddenly, Mary sat up again jabbing a finger at her sister, “You have to help me.”

 

“Sorry…I have to? That’s not a nice way to ask.”

 

Mary glared at her, she knew what the younger girl was waiting for. She rolled her eyes, the things she’d do for Kat…

 

“Please, Elizabeth - help me plan my date. I can’t do it without you.”

 

“And?” Liz grinned,

 

“And you’re the real Queen of England.”

 

She spat it out through grit teeth but it was all Lizzie needed. Standing up she ran to the door.

 

“Wait, where are you going?”

 

“This may take a while and get super involved,” She explained, “We’re going to need a whiteboard, erasable markers and snacks.”

 

Then she took off downstairs, leaving Mary to stare after her.

 

Wondering what sort of ginger horror she had released.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

 

Kat was nervous.

 

She was stood in front of her bedroom mirror, trying to assess how she looked. Tonight was the night. Mary had planned, with Lizzie’s help not that she knew Kat was aware, a date for the two of them. Part of her worried over the endless possibilities that Mary could have chosen to do for their date. In all honesty, they could do anything. When they were brought back they were each given a bank account with a large sum of money. Since they didn’t pay anything on the house apart from utilities (which when split between nine accounts was barely noticeable) they had the money for anything. So with money being no object, there was no idea too far out of reach.

 

But, Mary was still somewhat old fashioned. In their day, when you courted someone it was mainly done through brief walks in which your parents ensured to be timing them. Once, Mary had told her the story of when her father had arranged for her to meet a suitor. They had gone for a walk through the gardens and had become side tracked by a stray dog running past meaning they were back ten minutes after they had been due. Henry had thrown the boy out for the disrespect. Literally, the fat old man had flung him through the palace doors.

 

Rather ironic if you thought about it. The man who had forced six women into marriage was weirdly protective of his daughters. Or at least he was once, that faded overtime. Anyway, the last thing Kat wanted to think about was her sadistic ex-husband and father of her date tonight…yeah focusing on specifics would just over confuse things. Tonight wasn’t about him anyway, it was all about Mary and Kat.

 

Knock, knock, knock.

 

“Who is it?” Kat called, sitting at her dressing table to finish her make-up,

 

“It’s Jane,” The voice replied, sounding nervous, “Can I come in?”

 

“Uhh…sure.” Kat replied, trying to remember the cover story.

 

She and Mary knew it was unlikely they’d get out the house tonight without questions being raised. Therefore, they’d figured out a cover story that should keep them safe from suspicion. Now, with Jane opening her door and walking in, Kat had a chance to test their white lie.

 

Jane took in her appearance confused, “You look nice, Kit.”

 

“Thanks, Janey!” Kat smiled, catching her cousin’s eyes through the mirror, “What’s up?”

 

“Well…” Jane began, sitting on the bed, “Anne and I were thinking of having another Seymour/Boleyn/Howard Friday Film Festival tonight. You haven’t joined us for a while.”

 

Something bubbled up in Kat, but she swallowed it down. She never could get mad at Jane, the older woman was too well intentioned to get cross with.

 

“I didn’t know they were back on.” Kat lied, smoothly, “Besides, my college friends invited me and Mary out tonight so we’re heading off in a bit. Sorry.”

 

No matter how she tried she just couldn’t make that ‘Sorry’ sound believable.

 

“Oh,” Jane got out, sounding disappointed, “Well what about next week?”

 

Kat finished putting on her lipstick and then shrugged, “Yeah, maybe.”

 

“Kat, listen I--”

 

Knock, knock, knock.

 

“Come in!” Kat called gratefully,

 

The door opened again and in walked Mary, wearing a stunning black dress that managed to turn Kat to jelly for a moment. She had always thought Mary was a natural beauty but seeing her all dressed up was something completely different. It made Kat’s heart do weird back flips and her mouth went all dry. Mary, for her part, also froze as she finally got a look at her date for the evening. However, the elder girl had always been better at hiding her innermost feelings and so snapped out of her stupor first.

 

“You ready?” She asked, side glancing Jane who was once again confused,

 

“I’m just finishing my make-up.” Kat decided to turn back to the mirror,

 

Because staring at her date in front of Jane would make things way too obvious.

 

“A-Are you coming Jane?” Mary nervously asked, trying to sound normal,

 

“Oh me?” Jane stammered, “No, no. I’ll leave the partying for the youth.”

 

She stood and smiled at the couple.

 

“I’ll leave you two too it!” She told them, “Let us know before you leave and be safe!”

 

“We will.” Kat replied, knowing Jane was a worrier,

 

Once Jane had closed the door behind her, both breathed a sigh of relief. Kat finished off her make-up and then turned to look at her date whom was not even hiding her leering anymore. She giggled and stood up, walking over to Mary and wrapping her arms around the older girls neck.

 

“You look beautiful.” Kat told her,

 

Mary gave a shy chuckle, bringing her own arms round Kat’s middle, “I doubt I look half as good as you. With your legs up to your armpits.”

 

Kat laughed, she had deliberately chosen a dress that accentuated her legs because she had caught Mary staring at them whenever she walked round the house in shorts. For a moment, they stayed in the embrace with big smiles. Eyes locked. Then Kat decided to close the gap and pecked her lips softly, having wanted to do so all day. They hadn’t had a chance to be alone recently, not with Mary and Lizzie extensively planning this date.

 

“We should get going.” Mary said, quietly,

 

Kat nodded and lets go, not before giving her one more peck and a cheeky grin, “So where are you taking me?”

 

“Well, Lizzie suggested we skydive into a field. In which I would have set up a picnic beforehand. But I didn’t fancy dying…again.” Mary began, earning a laugh, “So I thought you would like to get something to eat somewhere fancy and then we could go dancing at this pretty high-end gay club I found.”

 

“A club…I don’t know…”

 

When she went to a club with Anna and Anne that one time a man had made her feel uncomfortable and it ended with Anna breaking his nose.

 

“I promise,” Mary reassured, “That if you want to go home, we will. But I remembered how much you loved dancing and so…yeah, well plan b is a salsa class so we have options.”

 

Not wanting to ruin all of Mary’s plans, Kat smiled and nodded.

 

“Let’s get going!”

 

_____

 

The meal had been delicious.

 

Mary had taken her to this small French place, it had authentic French menus and décor. Kat loved it! After the reincarnation, Anne had wanted to share her French heritage with her cousin and they had both held a deep love for anything French. Because of this Mary’s first idea had been to take her to France for a meal, but that would be an overnight trip and that came with a lot of modern day pressures or expectations that she didn’t want to think about yet. Their waitress had been lovely and earned a rather large tip while the couple had talked about anything and everything.

 

See, this was the best part about them being friends first. They knew all about each other, nothing felt awkward or forced. There was no obligatory small talk. Just their normal conversation, mixed in with some light teasing and flirting. Now they were at the part that Kat felt less happy with. They had queued for the club. Mary, with Kat’s permission, had asked if the female bouncer could frisk Kat as opposed to the male one. Both had been fine about it and the man had checked their IDs instead.

 

Once inside, though, it wasn’t like that same club Anne had taken her too. They left the queue and ended up immediately stood by the bar. The bar was in a separate room from the dance floor so it was relatively empty. Mary had gotten them both drinks and was happy to sit on one of the benches to drink them before going in. They people watched, giggling at some the more eccentric looks that walked through and being in awe of the drag queens that wandered around. Some of them were absolutely stunning. The more they watched, the more Kat seemed to register that they were in a gay bar. Most of the men who came in wouldn’t be interested in her and any of the women that approached were frightened off by a glare from Mary.

 

“I think I’d be okay to go in.” Kat said after a while,

 

It helped that the two drinks she’d had whilst sat there were starting to kick in.

 

“Are you sure, Kitty?” Mary asked, “We’ll dance in a corner so that I’m facing any crowd, okay?”

 

Kat smiled, leaning forward to peck her cheek a little sloppily. Suddenly, she felt all the more excited about finally getting to dance again. In her past life she had loved singing and dancing, as a child she had twirled around her room as though dancing with a strong man. Now she would be with a beautiful woman but she didn’t think her younger self would mind that technicality. Mary did make a face at the blasting sound they walked in to, but she led Kat through the crowd on the dance floor. As promised she found a corner and made sure she was closer to the crowd then Kat was.

 

There was a drag queen on stage and both girls watched with excitement as she danced around their in the highest heels either of them had ever seen. When they death dropped, Mary had a near heart attack and almost dropped dead herself. Kat was bouncing up and down, the music, the lights, the entertainment - all of it just fed into the energetic girl. She began to dance, following the music with her body with fluid motions. Kat span round and when she turned back towards her date, she met Mary’s eyes. Mary was stood stock still, not being a fan of dances in her first life and having no clue how to dance to the music nowadays. She looked a little awkward which Kat found endearing.

 

A cheeky grin spread across Kat’s face, she reached out and took Mary’s arms. Pulling her close to dance with her. Mary tried her best to mirror her moves, trying to shake the idea that she must have looked ridiculous. It was all worth it to see the beaming smile on Kat’s face. Sensing her date’s discomfort, Kat decided to cut her a break. She put Mary’s arms on her hips and wrapped her own around her neck. Resting their foreheads together, she led them into a swaying motion. It didn’t really match the music but that didn’t matter. They were lost in the crowd, nobody looking at them too distracted by their own fun.

 

That left Kat and Mary, once again alone in a corner. Swaying too and fro, eyes locked. Focusing only on each other.   

 

As it should be.

 

_____

 

“Shh…shh…shhh!”

 

“Kitty,” Mary tried not to laugh and she all but carried her date through the doorway, “You have to help me here!”

 

“But my legs are tirreedd~” Kat whined, “Carry meeee!”

 

They were trying to be quiet. Kitty had a few more drinks through the night and it turned out the pink queen didn’t have the highest tolerance. Mary, in order to make sure she could keep an eye on her girl, hadn’t had nearly as much and so was still relatively sober. Hence why she was now walking into the hall with her arms round a very drunk Kat, trying to keep her upright. It was late and they thought everybody would be in bed.

 

Oh how wrong they were….

 

“And what time do you call this?” Catalina asked,

 

Stood with Anne and Jane just outside the living room, arms crossed.

 

“Shh!” Kat hushed, loudly whispering, “Don’t move or they’ll hear ush!”

 

Mary tried not to laugh, drunk Kat was incredibly amusing.

 

“Is she drunk?” Jane asked, not sounding happy,

 

“Only a little bit,” Mary defended, “She was a little nervous about the crowds.”

 

“Everyone looks soooo sparkly!!”

 

Mary wanted to facepalm.

 

“OnLy A lItTlE bIt.” Anne mimicked,

 

“Right,” Catalina sighed, visibly tired, “We stayed up to make sure you two got home safe and now that you have, get to bed. We can talk about this in the morning.”

 

Mary frowned, “We’re adults…”

 

“I know mija,” Catalina reasoned, “But Kat being out with just you and getting this out of it is worrying. Nobodies in trouble, we just need to talk.”

 

Mary fought the eyeroll but agreed, helping Kat upstairs to bed. Reaching Kat’s room, she helped her inside and dropped her on her bed. Laughing as Kat whined at the loss of contact. Mary wondered briefly if she should help Kat into her pyjamas but the thought made her far too nervous to carry out. So the pink queen would have to sleep in her dress tonight if she couldn’t get changed herself.

 

“Goodnight, Kitty.” Mary chuckled, heading for the door,

 

Suddenly, a very unstable Kat rushed to her feet and nearly fell into Mary’s arms.

 

“Wait!” Kat whined,

 

She pulled Mary down into a kiss. It was longer than the previous pecks they’d shared and Mary hummed a little at the tingles it sent down her spine. Kat tasted slightly alcoholic, but it didn’t make it unpleasant. Mary kissed back, feeling Kat smile into it. Then they parted, Kat staying close enough to rub their noses together.

 

“Thank you for tonight.” She said, “I had a lot of fun.”

 

“Looks like it,” Mary smirked, earning a light shove, “I’m glad you had fun.”

 

Kat then pouted, “Don’t go.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“To your own room - don’t go.”

 

“I…I need to sleep Kitty.”

 

“Sleep with me!”

 

Cue Mary’s internal breakdown. Literally at this moment a noise not dissimilar to the dial up modem sound was playing in her head.

 

“Not like that!” Kat giggled, smacking Mary’s chest gently, “Just hold me. I sleep better when you hold me.”

 

“I…” Mary faultered at the puppy dog eyes, “Fine.”

 

“Yay!”

 

“But I’m going to get in my pyjamas.” Mary said, trying to prove she was still in charge here, “Are you okay to get changed?”

 

Kat smirked, swaying a little from the alcohol, “Why? Do you want to help me get out of my clothes?”

 

In Mary’s panic at that statement she managed to stammer out, “No, no - I think you’ve got it!” and promptly ran into the door. Forgetting she had closed it when they came in.

 

Once she’d stood and bolted out, she could still hear Kat laughing at her down the hallway. They both quickly got changed (in separate rooms) and then met back in Kat’s. Burrowing into her bed together, they easily fell into their default position.

 

Kat cuddled up with her head on Mary’s chest and Mary on her side with her arms wrapped round her girl.

 

A perfect end to a perfect day!

 

Almost worth the bollocking they got the following morning.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

 

Mary woke first that morning.

 

Unsurprising, given how drunk Kat had been when they’d gone to bed. But Mary didn’t mind, being up first meant she could stare as much as she wanted without drawing attention to herself. They were in the same position they’d fallen asleep in. Sometimes when they had naps in the music room she’d find Kat having rolled away from her at some point. It usually meant she’d had a nightmare but not one bad enough to wake her. When she would wake up afterwards, Mary would be tackled into cuddles for as long as the younger girl required. Not that she minded obviously.

 

Though, as much as Mary liked the idea of Kat pulling her close the current state of affairs wasn’t far off. Kat’s hand was loosely gripping her shirt, eyes closed as she remained snuggled into Mary’s chest. The older girl tightened her own grip a little, rubbing her thumb over her shoulder. She looked so peaceful, fast asleep without a care in the world. Mary could get used to this. Waking up the the beautiful, serene face of her Kitty. Even just the fact she could call Kitty ‘Hers’ meant everything to her.

 

Unable to stop herself, Mary leant forward a little and pecked Kat’s forehead. She just looked too cute, drooling slightly on Mary’s chest. It would probably embarrass her when she woke up but Mary didn’t care much about it. It dawned on her that this is what a relationship was meant to be. Waking up in the arms of someone you lo--liked very much, all warm and cozy. Content to stay there all day if they requested it. Not like with Philip. Back then it was commonplace to have separate rooms in the palaces for the King and Queen. They only joined together for the means of copulation and just the thought of those rare times she and Philip shared made her feel ill.

 

She could never imagine waking up to him holding her like this, she wouldn’t have wanted him too. But she liked this, she liked holding Kat like this. Looking forward to her waking up and getting a good morning kiss. As she gently ran her thumb over Kat’s shoulder she felt the bump of the scar tissue there. It made her angry, the scar. It was like a permanent reminder of everything Kat had gone through in her short life. As well as a reminder that Mary had hated her so much due to the lies told before the swing. In all honesty, it was inspiring how happy and upbeat Kat always was. How happy she always seemed to be, despite everything that had happened.

 

Mary really admired her for that optimism. Maybe it could rub off on her too?

 

“Mmmm…” Kat mumbled, eyes fluttering open before immediately wincing shut again, “Ugh…light burns.”

 

Mary chuckled, “Morning, drunky.”

 

“Morning.” Was the horse reply as Kat tried to bury herself further into Mary’s shoulder,

 

“How you feeling?”

 

“Rough.” Kat sighed, “Never let me drink again.”

 

“I don’t think I could have stopped you if I tried.” Mary told her,

 

Kat lazily swatted her stomach before risking the light to look up at her, “How long have you been awake?”

 

“A while,” Mary replied, “I was thinking about you.”

 

“Yeah?” Kat asked,

 

“Yes,” Mary chuckled, “About how much I liked this. Waking up with you, day dreaming about my morning kiss.”

 

The younger girl giggled and waited for Mary to look down at her before moving up and gently kissing her lips.

 

“Something like that?”

 

“The real thing is much better.”

 

“Smoooth!”

 

Suddenly, the door slammed open effectively giving both the girls in bed a heart attack. Lizzie’s smirking face appeared and Mary couldn’t help rolling her eyes. She had a feeling she was about to be severely teased and it would not be fun for anyone involved. One day, she knew Lizzie would find a boy or girl of her own. Then Mary would get her vengeance, she would make her sister’s life hell. Kat just groaned, head pounding. Stupid hangover.

 

“I knew it!” Lizzie cheered,

 

“Shut up,” Mary snapped, “We didn’t do anything.”

 

“Mmhmm, sure.”

 

“We really didn’t,” Kat assured, sitting up to reveal they were clothed, “Sorry to disappoint.”

 

Elizabeth sighed, “That’s disappointing. Anyway - you two need to come downstairs. You’re lucky I offered to come get you both, Maman or Lina would hit the roof if they caught you all snuggled together.”

 

“Don’t tell them!” Kat said, looking panicked,

 

Mary rubbed her back and glared at her sister who, to her credit, looked guilty for scaring her.

 

“Of course I wont, Aunt Kat.” Liz told her sincerely, “I just like messing with Mary, I’d never out you guys - I promise.”

 

Kat took a deep breath and smiled, “Sorry for the panic, I’m a little fragile this morning.”

 

“Eh, it’s all good! Now you two better get down there before Lina comes up to drag you down.”

 

And that very real threat was enough to get both the women out of their warm blanket burrito.

 

Even the fearless Mary knew to fear the wrath of her mother.

 

_____

 

Kat mentally thanked Cathy as she slid a glass of water and painkillers over to her.

 

They had just walked into the kitchen, Anna immediately noting aloud that Kat looked like hell. She certainly felt it, the curtains were open and the daylight caused her head to vibrate in her skull. Hangovers were the worst. Though she rarely experienced them due to the other women in the house not letting her drink too much. It wasn’t due to coddling, more due to drunk Kat being a lot more hyper and erratic and if she were to go missing in the crowd anything could happen. And had nearly happened. Luckily that time Anna had got to her and broken the dudes collarbone before it got really dangerous. But ever since then they had made sure that Kat never got that drunk.

 

With Mary and Kat’s “bond” being something that had grown during private moments, the others had no idea if Mary could or would put up with her in that state. Surely, since the older girl had brought her home in one piece it would be fine, but all anybody could remember was the massive fight they had all witnessed where Mary had slung insult after insult at her. They were aware of a reconciliation, as nobody was blind, but how deep this new relationship went only Lizzie was fully aware. Anna had her suspicions, but she knew better than to confront Kat. She knew the younger girl would tell her when she was ready.

 

Anyway, they were well and truly reamed out by Catalina. The eldest of the house was just as protective of the younger queens as any of the others, though she was always more ‘tough love’. Given that Mary was her actual daughter, it made everything more personal. Thankfully the talk didn’t last too long, Mary reiterating over and over that they were legally adults and Kat was never in any danger. She had wanted to confess they’d been at a gay bar but didn’t know if Kat would want her divulging that.

 

“--What if you got into a fake taxi? Or got snatched off the street? Or Kat got alcohol poisoning!?” Catalina rattled off,

 

“She only had like four.” Mary grumbled,

 

“Kat is a lightweight, Lina.” Anna added, reckoning someone should fight the duo’s corner, “I doubt she’d need her stomach pumped.”

 

“Thanks guys,” Came Kat’s gravely voice, dripping with sarcasm and self pity, her head resting on her arm on the table, “Feeling the love.”

 

“We just wish,” Jane swooped in with a more gentle tone, “That one of you would have let us know that you were okay, that’s all. Neither of you stay out that late normally.”

 

“Especially not you, KitKat.” Anne added,

 

Kat groaned, lifting her heavy head up, “I just wanted to have fun, I’m young - let me live. Besides I’m paying for it now.”

 

“She really is.” Mary agreed with a smirk, “Plus last night she did smack her shin on one of the stools by the bar so it wasn’t like she could run off.”

 

“Is that why my shin hurts?”

 

Mary shrugged, “Either that or when you fell out of the cab.”

 

“Okay, okay.” Lina sighed, hands up in surrender, “I think the less I hear the better. Just let us know if you’re going to be out that late again, okay?”

 

“Yes, Lina.”

 

“Yes, Mama.”

 

“Good.” Lina nodded, “Meeting adjourned.”

 

Everyone began going their separate ways, including Mary and Kat who planned to go sleep off the younger girl’s hangover in their music room. But as they tried to leave someone called out to stop Kat in her tracks.

 

“Kitty?” Anne called, “Can we talk a minute?”

 

Mary studied Kat’s face, silently asking if she needed her to stay. Kat subtly shook her head and said she’d meet her upstairs. Then she span on her heel and walked back to Anne, now the only two in the kitchen.

 

“What’s up?”

 

Why did it feel so awkward? Even when they first came back it never felt this uncomfortable.

 

“I need a favour.” Anne sighed,

 

A h, so she doesn’t want to talk to me she just needs something. That seems familiar.

 

“Sure.” Kat masked her disappointment with her usual chipper look, “What do you need?”

 

Anne ran her fingers through her hair, “I know you know about the whole Liz-Cathy thing.”

 

Kat nodded, that had been a hard thing for her to get over. She remembered when it all came out, how Anne had nearly killed Cathy and had to be restrained by both Anna and Lina. Kat herself had refused to be alone with Cathy for a while after, even once everything had been ironed out. She knew Cathy, as a Tudor woman, had no say in her husbands actions and couldn’t just send Liz away without the provisions to. Provisions that her husband was in charge of. But it still reminded her of what she herself had gone through. It was the bookworm’s greatest shame, the whole house knew that. Kat wonders if that was why Anne was eventually able to forgive her for the part she played. Lord knows Anne could hold a grudge, something must have changed that.

 

“Lizzie and Cathy have talked and opted to move forward,” Anne said, “But Liz still hasn’t…talked about it openly with anyone. I think she’s scared I’ll take it out on Cathy, and Mary…is well Mary. I don’t think she’s the emotional type.”

 

Little does she know…

 

“I was hoping….” Anne took a deep breath, “That maybe you would talk to her? It’s why I wanted you to join us last night, I didn’t want to just land it on you like this. But...seeing as you've been through it, she might talk to you.”

 

That stung more than Kat could admit. Part of her had hoped Jane extending that olive branch had been due to them being distracted and finally remembering she existed. But no. Anne’s focus was still solely on her daughter. And Kat, being Kat, justified this to herself as it being obvious that she wanted to prioritise her previously estranged daughter. This was Kat’s vice, she would always justify the behaviour of others. She would always make excuses for them. It all went back to her fear that she would be left behind, ever the people pleaser.

 

So she just nodded, faking a smile as one of relief spread across Anne’s own face.

 

“I’ll talk to her tomorrow.”

 

“Thanks Kitty!” Anne beamed,

 

She looked so happy that it made Kat feel guilty for being upset with her.

 

Kat turned to walk out, headache doubling with either the light or the tension.

 

Anne once again called out to her, “Hey Kitty?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Be careful around Mary.” Anne told her, “I don’t like her monopolising all of your time and getting you drunk. Something feels off.”

 

Who else would I hang out with?

 

“Okay.”

 

She could see Anne wanted to say something else and so waited for her cousin to organise her thoughts.

 

“We’re…okay, right?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Me and you,” Anne elaborated, “We’re good right?”

 

Kat wanted to say no. Wanted to tell her about how much she had missed her big cousin and how neglected she had felt. But once again, that was just not Kat’s way.

 

“Yeah.” She chirped, looking innocently at the green queen, “We’re good.”

 

I'm too hungover for this.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

 

Knock, Knock, Knock.

 

Kat stood outside Elizabeth’s door, mentally preparing for the conversation she was about to start. Truthfully, she didn’t know what sort of thing Anne wanted her to discuss with Liz. But she had promised to talk to her and talk she shall. Elizabeth and Kat seemed to have a pretty good friendship, obviously Lizzie being so supportive of the budding relationship between herself and Mary really helped with that but even before. It had been nice having someone around her own age. Even in their first life the duo had been known to get along on the rare occasions they saw one another. With Eddie kept pretty much under lock and key and Mary hating her existence (boy had that changed), Lizzie was her only step-child who cared for her.

 

“Come in!”

 

Kat took a deep breath and slowly pushed the door open, “Hey Lizzie!”

 

Liz was sat at her desk when she came in, sending her aunt a smile when she saw her. It was slightly confusing, since Kat never normally popped into her room looking as nervous as she currently did. But Liz was sure the elder girl had her reasons. Kat asked to sit on the bed and the red head nodded, face growing somewhat concerned. That was not what Kat had wanted. She had made sure to keep herself calm, the last thing her fellow teenager would need is for Kat to drive herself into a panic attack when the focus was meant to be on Liz.

 

“Everything okay, Aunt Kat?” Elizabeth asked,

 

“Yes! Yes…” Kat sighed, “Sorry, your mother asked me to talk to you and I’m trying to channel my inner grown up.”

 

Liz cocked her head, “She wanted you to talk to me?”

 

Kat nodded, “Umm…this might be kind of a hard conversation so is now a good time?”

 

Suddenly a look came over Elizabeth’s face. One Kat hadn’t expected. Guilt. Clear as day and surprising Kat at the sudden appearance.

 

“Is this about the movie nights?”

 

Kat blinked, “Huh?”

 

“About your lack of an invite recently.” Elizabeth started playing with her hands, nervous, “Did Maman tell you?”

 

“Tell me what Liz?”

 

“...nothing.” She was starting to tear up,

 

“Elizabeth,” Kat sounded weirdly stern, had the situation been different it would have been amusing, “Tell me.”

 

“Please don’t be mad.” Liz sniffled, “I was just feeling insecure after the resurrection and I…”

 

“Liz. Please.”

 

Taking a deep breath, guilty eyes moved up to meet Kat’s, “I saw Maman helping you through a nightmare one night. The way she flew into your room to look after you. I…I wanted that. I wanted to be the one being comforted, being coddled by my mum. So when she suggested we have a family movie night I asked if it could just be us and Jane and Eddie.”

 

Kat sat up straight.

 

“I didn’t know you’d get left out! I thought it would just be for that week whilst I got over whatever I was feeling.” Elizabeth tried to assure, “But then one week became two...it just got harder and harder to invite you back because I felt embarrassed.”

 

Kat took a second to calm down the knee jerk response she could feel winding up. Elizabeth had felt insecure, she couldn’t be faulted for that.

 

“Why didn’t you talk to me?”

 

“Because I knew you and Mary were having this weird…intense, whatever.” She explained, “I didn’t want you to think I agreed with her.”

 

“Right…”

 

Silence.

 

Kat dissected everything she had just heard. It certainly hadn’t been the difficult conversation she had imagined but she supposed it was good to know. At least now she knew how her being kicked out of the Boleyn/Seymour/Howard Friday Film Festivals had happened. But it didn’t excuse it. While she understood Lizzie’s feelings surrounding it, why hadn’t Anne come to tell her? Or why didn’t Anne talk to her once Liz seemed to feel better? Kat knew Anne loved her daughter. That Anne would fight hell on earth for Lizzie at a moments notice! She just didn’t realise that Anne had a limited amount of love to give. That if her daughter occupied that part of her mind, Kat no longer could.

 

“That wasn’t what you came to talk about was it?” Elizabeth asked after a moment,

 

“No…no it wasn’t.” Kat confirmed, “But thank you for telling me, it answers some questions I had.”

 

“A-Are you mad at me?” Liz asked, tentatively,

 

Kat shook her head, donning her fake smile with practised ease, “I don’t think I can be mad at anyone Liz.”

 

She was hurt, sure. But Liz’s reasoning made sense, Kat just needed time to process.

 

“Anyway,” Kat moved on, “Anne’s worried about you.”

 

“Me? Why?”

 

Now it was Kat’s turn to be nervous, “The whole you and Cathy thing.”

 

“Oh…but I forgave Cathy.”

 

She nodded, “I know, your mum told me. I think she’s more concerned that you’ve never talked about what happened and she just wants to make sure you could let it out.”

 

“So she sent you…”

 

“Because I know how you feel so maybe you’d feel better talking to me or something.” Kat shrugged,

 

Liz paused to think for a moment.

 

“But our situations were different. You were…” Liz trailed off, not wanting to use the word, “And he never got that far with me. Cathy sent me away when she heard him telling a friend he planned to.”

 

Kat winced, “Men suck.”

 

“Agreed.”

 

“Look,” Kat sighed, “I’m here. There’s literally nothing you could tell me that would shock me, nothing that you would ever need to feel embarrassed about. Believe me I’m the last person who could judge you. Be it now or whenever, I’ll listen.”

 

“I do have one question.” Elizabeth said looking sheepish,

 

Kat nodded, giving her time to figure out the best way to ask.

 

“D-Do you ever forget how it feels?” Elizabeth shook her head, deciding that didn’t sound right, “I mean, sometimes when I’m falling asleep I feel him…tickling me. Does that ever go away?”

 

The older girl on the bed knew what she was talking about. Wrapping her arms around herself at the memory of all those times phantom hands had grabbed her.

 

“They never have for me.” Was what she offered, ruefully, “I don’t think any of it really does. You just have to kind of learn to shake it off and move forward. I know that’s probably unhelpful.”

 

“How do you get through it?”

 

Kat thought a moment, “I play the virginal or paint, go on runs if I can’t sleep. I do things that distract me. I know that when Anne has her bad days and feels the pain in her neck, she reads children’s books in French.”

 

“Why French?”

 

“She speaks and reads English all day every day,” Kat explained, “Switching her head back to French takes a little more brain power which helps with the distraction.”

 

“I used to like translating books,” Elizabeth recalled, “I’d read the English versions and translate them into various languages.”

 

“That would work.” Kat nodded, “And if you find it doesn’t help I’ve been given a number of tips over time - that’s just the method that works best for me. All you need to do is ask.”

 

Elizabeth nodded, “Thanks Aunt Kat.”

 

“No problem, kid.” Kat smiled,

 

“Kid?”

 

“Hey! There are very few people in this house younger than me, let me have this!”

 

Elizabeth laughed, happy that Kat didn’t seem angry at her, “Are we okay, about the whole movie night thing?”

 

Kat thought a moment, “I’m not happy with the turn of events, but you are not solely to blame. I too should have addressed the topic with Anne or she should have explained it to me. I appreciate how you felt and in the future I wish you’d speak with me personally. But any quarrel I have is with my cousins, not with you or Eddie.”

 

Elizabeth wanted to point out that Kat’s use of serious language reminded her of how she spoke in their old life. That it made her sound more guarded than her usually bright tone did, but she decided to let it go. Instead they began discussing lighter topics, namely all the ideas she had given Mary for dates that got vetoed. It managed to break the tension and soon Liz and Kat were both sat on the bed giggling at the thought of forcing Mary into an escape room. Both agreed the ex-monarch would probably break everything after ten minutes once she’d lost her temper which would probably prove hilarious but also expensive.

 

“You’d be thrown out so quickly!” Liz laughed,

 

“Oh God,” Kat winced, “I can just see her arguing with whoever was running the thing. Telling them her answer was right and they were wrong.”

 

Liz nodded, calming herself down, “Y’know, you two are really good together.”

 

“You think?”

 

“You make her less miserable. Softer.” Liz offered, “She makes you happy. Not your usual chipperness, but actually happy. I like you two for each other.”

 

“Thanks, Liz.”

 

BANG, BANG, BANG!

 

“Hey Mary!” Elizabeth called, sounding bored,

 

The door opened and sure enough, in walked Mary. Lizzie nearly laughed at how Kat’s face lit up at the sight of her. They were cute.

 

“Hello, I have come to steal Kat from you.”

 

“Aww,” Liz teased, “Want to spend time with you’re gIrLfRiEnD!?”

 

Mary blanched, “I…you….we….Shut up, Lizzie!”

 

Kat for her part just laughed, looking back at the younger Tudor sibling, “Remember what I said, okay?”

 

“I will, thanks Aunt Kat.”

 

“Any time, Kid!”

 

“Stop calling me kid!”

______

 

Back in their corner, Kat explained to Mary her conversation with Elizabeth.

 

She left out some parts, making sure to keep Liz’s privacy, but she told Mary about how nervous she had been beforehand. It would never cease to amaze Mary, the amount that Kat would do for those she cared about. Going as far as pushing away her own personal feelings and trauma to help Liz simply because her cousin had asked her too…she was amazing. They lay there together for the remainder of the day, talking about when they would want to go on a second date. Mary had forced the conversation about the escape room from Kat and had started pouting as she was teased.

 

“I dislike that you have ganged up on me with my sister.” Mary muttered, “No loyalty any more, I swear.”

 

Kat giggled and pecked Mary’s pout away, managing to switch it to a smile.

 

“How ever could I make it up to you?” Kat asked sarcastically,

 

“Forgo running with Anna,” Mary declared, wrapping her arms further round the pink haired girl and pulling her closer, “Stay laid here with me this evening.”

 

“Hmmm…” Kat pretended to think, “I can’t disappoint Anna, besides - don’t you want to kill Lizzie?”

 

“True.” Mary sighed, plotting her revenge for the ‘girlfriend’ comment, “Then I do have one other request…”

 

“Okay?” Kat asked curious,

 

Mary looked down at her, eyes shining in seriousness, “Come with me to the survivors home tomorrow.”

 

“Really?” Kat asked genuinely,

 

“Really. I want to introduce you to the people there,” Mary explained, “It has become an important part of my life and I wish to share it with you. Even if you only come the once. Of course if you do not wish too I shan’t force it…”

 

“I’ll go.”

 

Mary blinked, surprised at the ease in which it had been decided.

 

“You will?”

 

Kat nodded, “If it means that much to you then of course I’ll go.”

 

Mary smiled, pecking the top of Kat’s head, “Thanks Kitty.”

 

Kat moved away slightly, worrying Mary that the peck had triggered something. She always preferred Kat instigating their kisses because she was afraid of dragging up some unwanted memory. But to her relief, Kat sent a playful glare and pointed to her lips.

 

Mary laughed and did as asked.

 

Whatever her lady wanted, she would get.

 

As Lizzie had often said…

 

She was whipped.

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

 

Kat was a little nervous, she couldn’t lie.

 

Mary had promised her that nobody would pry, but part of her was still afraid she would end up confronting something she wasn’t ready for. Kat had never been in a situation in which she would be around people that understood. That had been through what she had gone through. Sure, the other queens could understand the Henry part and Liz had some idea about what the rest was like. But nobody knew that feeling. That feeling that forever sat on her soul, flaring up whenever she was sat in a moment of quiet reflection or even just a gap in conversation.

 

Knowing Kat probably wouldn’t want to get roped into cleaning, Mary had arranged for them both to sit in on one of the group sessions. Obviously she had gotten permission from the other women in the group. Over her time there Mary had earned their trust and therefore they would trust Kat too. They didn’t know Kat’s life or history and Mary would never have divulged the information. But she assumed Joan had guessed that the invited guest was the same person Mary had asked for help with before. If it was the same person then Joan had absolutely no issues with letting her join the group session. She knew from experience how isolated this sort of emotional trauma made you feel.

 

As Mary buzzed them in, Kat kept a tight grip on her hand. She gave it a comforting squeeze as they approached the front door where Joan was waiting for them.

 

“Hello, Joan!” Mary greeted with a smile, “This is my…Kat!”

 

“Hi.” Kat greeted shyly,

 

Joan, who'd picked up on Mary’s slip, smirked a little, “It’s very nice to meet you, Kat. Mary talks about you a lot.”

 

Mary went pink and Kat giggled, relaxing a little.

 

Joan sent them both a smile and led them through to the recreational room where the session was to be held. As they walked in they were met with the sight of three women all talking whilst sat on chairs in a circle. There were three seats spare, all next to each other which Kat assumed were for herself, Mary and Joan. She began to get nervous again, her grip must have tightened on Mary’s hand because the girl turned to her with a concerned look.

 

“Kitty? You okay?”

 

“Y-Yeah…just nervous.”

 

Luckily, Joan to the rescue, “It’s alright to be nervous. Nobody will make you say anything and if you need to step out just go - no one will be offended.”

 

Kat nodded, “Sorry.”

 

“Don’t apologise, dear.” Joan told her, “Just take a seat ladies, we’ll start in a moment.”

 

Mary made sure to keep a grip on Kat’s hand even as they sat. She was beginning to wonder if this was a good idea. The last thing intended was for Kat to be triggered by something and get upset. But she supposed if there was anywhere for it to happen, here wasn’t the worst place.

 

“Mary!” One woman called happily, “How are you dear?”

 

“I’m very well,” Mary replied, “Kat this is Maria, she’s my favourite.”

 

Maria nodded at Kat who swallowed her nerves to greet her, “Favourite, huh? Do I have competition?”

 

“Please,” Maria laughed, “I’m twice her age. Are you her girlfriend?”

 

“Umm…” Kat tried to ignore the gay panic attack Mary was now having, “We’re seeing each other, though the 'g' word hasn’t been thrown around yet.”

 

“I see.” Was the amused response, “Well I think you two look sweet.”

 

Mary was turning blue at this point and the younger woman had to clap her on the back to get the oxygen flowing again. She choked out a gasp and thanked her before scolding her for laughing. By this time Joan had taken her seat on the other side of Kat and everyone else settled down to begin.

 

“Okay ladies!” Joan smiled, “Before we start this meeting I just need to say a couple things. As you can see with have Mary helping me in here today, just a reminder that she is a volunteer and as such will not speak during the meeting. She has also brought her friend along with her, this is Kat.”

 

Kat gave an awkward wave with her free hand.

 

“Kat, if you would like to contribute anything you can. Or if you would rather not talk, that’s fine too. But this is a safe space, anything said in this room stays in this room - understand?”

 

“I understand.” Kat nodded,

 

So they began, everyone discussed their weeks and for a while it was just small talk. Everyone seemed nice enough, speaking plainly and openly with one another. Eventually, Mary felt Kat’s grip on her hand relax and, despite her not letting go, she knew the younger girl was no longer afraid. That made her happy, knowing Kat was invested in something that meant a lot to Mary personally. These women had really opened up to her about a lot of things, she wanted Kat to feel the same level of welcoming that she’d had.

 

She wanted Kat to feel like people supported her.

 

“I had a nightmare last night,” Maria said, peeking Katherine’s interest, “It was the usual, I was trying to clean a stain off the floor but no matter what it did the mark wouldn’t lift. I could hear him coming to the front door, see his silhouette through the glass, but no matter how hard I scrubbed I couldn’t clean it up. Then the door opened and I woke up.”

 

“Nightmares are sadly quite common symptoms of past trauma.” Joan said, “Does anyone else suffer from them?”

 

Voices from around the room gave agreement and suddenly Kat felt her own voice come out.

 

“I do.”

 

All eyes turned to her, but not in a way to make her feel as though she were encroaching on a private moment. They were all smiling at her, waiting for her to talk. Waiting for Kat to talk, not talking over her or talking for her. They wanted to hear what she had to say.

 

“I..err…have a troubled history.” Kat awkwardly began, “I get nightmares a lot, but when they’re really bad I wake up with panic attacks.”

 

Mary squeezed her hand.

 

“Those are the worst,” Another woman, Bessie, groaned, “I hate the idea of lying there in my sweat but I’m too freaked out to get changed.”

 

Kat smiled as the other women in the room began talking about their own nightmare stories. It made her feel…normal. She wasn’t alone in her worries, these women were taking her seriously.

 

“Can I ask what you went through?” Maria asked her,

 

Kat hesitated.

 

"Maria! You can't just ask that!"

 

“By all means, you don’t have to tell us!” Maria quickly added, “But while your here in a safe space it might be good to get some advice.”

 

“Yes from us trauma pros!” Bessie added with a cackle,

 

Kat looked at Mary who shrugged, squeezing her hand again to let her know she wasn’t going anywhere.

 

“I’ve had a few negative experiences with men,” Kat sighed, “But the first was when I was thirteen and he was in his thirties. He’s the one I dream about the most, I think it’s because when it happened I didn’t realise it was abuse. I thought I was being a grown up. It made the realisation all the more...horrific.”

 

Joan nodded sagely, “Abusers have this way of getting into peoples heads and convincing them to believe what they want them too. Don’t blame yourself for that. You were young.”

 

“I thought I was doing better with it all,” Kat continued, “But recently my support system fell through and I’ve been struggling. More nightmares and panic attacks, I try to surround myself with people so that I’m not alone with my thoughts but it doesn't always work.”

 

Mary raised an eyebrow, she hadn’t realised things had been that bad. But she said nothing, knowing better than to interrupt.

 

“I just feel…” Kat paused to think, “Icky. Like…I can’t explain it.”

 

“Like there’s dirt somewhere deep inside you and no matter how long you bathe or hard you scrub, you can never be completely clean.” Maggie spoke up for the first time,

 

Kat’s eyes shone, “Exactly. And Mary’s been a great help but I can never articulate what I'm feeling. And I would never want her to know that feeling.”

 

She looked at Mary then, the older girl sending her a reassuring look. She knew Kat didn’t mean anything bad by her comment. Just that she never wanted Mary to experience what she had.

 

“I’m glad Mary’s been a good help,” Joan smiled, “But what’s happened with your old support system?”

 

“A couple of them…had a baby.” Kat sighed, “They have no time for me any more, which is fine. I get it.”

 

“Doesn’t stop it hurting though, right?”

 

She shrugged, “Family have always let me down before. I’m okay with it, really.”

 

Maria studied her a moment, “Y’know, before I left my husband the hardest part for me was recognising that what he was doing was abuse. He could have done anything and I would have justified it to myself, blamed myself. Even now, I know he was a terrible person but with my friends or family, if they do something shitty to me I justify it. It’s like a gut reaction. Took me a long time to realise that sometimes people are just assholes.”

 

Kat sat back, appearing deep in thought, “Hmm…Oh! Sorry! This is your support group, I shouldn’t--”

 

“It’s fine, Kat.” Joan smiled, “It’s nice to be able to talk to those who know sometimes. If you would like, we’d happily open these sessions to you. They’re designed for the people in the house, but these meetings are for everyone.”

 

Kat thought a moment.

 

“I’d like that.”

 

Mary smiled to herself.

 

Happy that Kat found people who would understand.

Chapter Text

Chapter 22

 

Mary and Kat were getting ready for bed in Mary’s room.

 

Ever since that first night, they had continued sharing a bed to sleep. It helped with Kat’s nightmares and Mary was always looking for an excuse to be near Kat. The younger girl still wasn’t comfortable changing around Mary, at least not in the way her drunk self had joked, so they would get changed individually and then rejoin in one of their rooms. Kat had been really quiet ever since they left the survivor house. She was only processing, the way she always did when she wasn’t sure about what to feel or how to react. All Mary could do was silently stand by her and wait for her to come off of auto-pilot.

 

They crawled into bed together, but Kat didn’t cuddle up like she usually did. Instead opting to lay on her back and stare at the ceiling as she thought. Mary knew she wouldn’t be able to sleep until Kat was back to herself again, so she kept the lamp on and grabbed her book off the bedside table. After a while, Mary heard a shuffling and two arms wrapped round her middle. She put her book on the side and let Kat snuggle into her. Content now that her silent reflection was over. Mary would never admit how much she hated when Kat went into her ‘processing mode’. She hated not knowing what the girl was thinking, but Mary would never tell her that. It was how Kat coped with things and until a healthier option arose there was nothing she could do.

 

“Mary…”

 

“Yes, Kitty.”

 

“Do you…do you think Anne and Jane are mistreating me?”

 

“Yes. I do.” Mary answered honestly, “They could have spoken to you at any point about what was going on, yet they didn’t. Instead they just pulled away with no explanation. That to me is unacceptable. In fact, I’d call it cruel.”

 

“...right.”

 

“Sorry, Kat - just being honest.”

 

“No, no! I appreciate the honesty,” Kat sighed, squeezing her tighter, “I just don’t always see these things.”

 

“You’re too kind.” Mary told her, “I love it about you, but it makes me so angry when others take advantage.”

 

Suddenly, Kat sniffled and Mary immediately regretted saying what she’d said. Had she stepped too far? They were still Kat’s family after all…

 

“I’ve been feeling so guilty for being mad at them.” Kat explained, crying gently into Mary’s shoulder, “They’re my family. Surely I should be a second or third priority. But they…they forgot about me. Shouldn’t they love me?”

 

Mary swallowed her rage, knowing Kat wouldn’t want her to start ranting.

 

“You’ll always be my first priority.”

 

Kat laughed a little, but the tears didn’t stop, “You’re just saying that.”

 

“No, I’m not.” Mary told her, meeting her eyes and praying the sincerity showed through, “I love you, Kat.”

 

Kat was stunned.

 

“I…you don’t need to say it back.” Mary told her quickly, “I just needed to tell you.”

 

“Mary,” Kat sat up and looked down at her, “I’ve had a lot of people claim that they loved me.”

 

“I know Kat, but I swear--”

 

A finger landed on her lips, hushing her.

 

Kat met her eyes and smiled, “This is the first time I’ve ever believed it. I love you too, Mary.”

 

Unable to help herself, Mary sat up quickly and kissed Kat hard. Nearly knocking her backwards. It wasn’t a long kiss but it didn’t need to be. It was more than enough to show the elation both felt in this moment. When they parted, Mary kept their foreheads together.

 

“So…what do we call ourselves?”

 

“Mary and Kat?” Kat half joked, “Or Kary as Lizzie has dubbed us.”

 

Mary rolled her eyes, “I mean, are we dating?”

 

“I’d hope so.”

 

“Stop!” Mary whined, a rare sound from her, “You know what I mean.”

 

Kat giggled, “Well I would like to call you my girlfriend, but if we’re not there yet---”

 

“Girlfriend is good!” Mary cut her off before blushing, “Sorry, I would just really like that. Girlfriends. You. You being my girlfriend. Am I talking too much? I feel like I’m talking to much.”

 

Another giggle, “You’re cute.”

 

Mary groaned, “How do you manage to turn me into such a babbling mess?”

 

Kat winked, “Talent, babe.”

 

After another eye roll, Mary pulled a laughing Kat back down to resume cuddling. The tension from Kat’s earlier upset had well and truly disappeared as they lay there content. Neither girl could remember a time they had felt so happy. Both were laying there with big smiles on their faces. Girlfriend. Kat was her girlfriend. Officially! Something about it just added this new level of security to whatever they had and suddenly Mary felt like Kat would always be there. Just like she knew she would always be there for Kat. As they basked in this moment, however, one question still hung in the air for Mary. She was a logical thinker, she liked knowing what to expect. So it was no surprise that she wanted to plan how support Kat with this new label.

 

“Hey, Kat.” Mary called,

 

“Hmm?”

 

“I have a question,” Mary began, “It doesn’t warrant an immediate reply but I’m just trying to find the boundaries.”

 

“Okay…?”

 

“Obviously, our new label comes with an added level of intimacy.” Mary began, “And believe me, I love the way things are now and do not wish to rush anything. But eventually we will reach a stage where we want to take things…further…”

 

“Soo sex?” Kat asked for clarity,

 

Mary choked a little, “Uhh..yes.”

 

“When we’re ready we can talk more,” Kat said, “But for now, I don’t think I’d do well with being touched like that. If I was the one doing the..err…stuff at the beginning, it would be better for me. But we can jump that hurdle when we come to it. Fact is, I don’t know what could trigger a flashback or panic attack and I don’t think me having a breakdown and drawing the entire house to the door would be wise.”

 

“Of course.” Mary said, “I just wanted to know because as our relationship grows, needs arise.”

 

Truthfully, Mary didn’t care about when she and Kat took that leap, if ever. But hearing Kat’s thoughts wasn’t a bad thing. Though, part of her wondered if she’d be okay to let Kat control the situation. From her recollection such intimacy left both parties in quite a vulnerable state. Mary was a control freak. She was known to get defensive or aggressive when vulnerable, so she didn’t know how that would translate in this regard. She trusted Kat with her life, but it was far too early to tell how she would react. Kat was right, they could have more of a discussion when things got that far. Mary was in no rush to get there, if they did then they should reach that decision together and organically.

 

“Are you okay waiting for a while?” Kat asked after a moment,

 

“It’s not just up to me. I will wait until we’re BOTH ready and if neither of us ever are then that’s fine too.” Mary told her, “I like what we have now. But if things progress naturally I just wanted to know where you stood on it. That’s all.”

 

“So conversation to be continued?”

 

“To be continued.” Mary confirmed,

 

They fell into silence for a while after that. Eyes closed as they both searched for sleep. However, just as Mary was about to doze off - Kat made an observation.

 

“You do know when Anne finds out about us she’s going to hit the roof.” Kat said, not opening her eyes, “She’s already warned me to stay away from you.”

 

“Really, now?”

 

“Mmhmm, you’re shifty apparently.”

 

Mary scoffed, closing her eyes again, “I do not fear Anne Boleyn, she should fear me.”

 

Kat hummed.

 

“You’re not the one with a sword in their room, though.”

 

Mary’s eyes snapped open.

 

Well, Kat’s lucky she’s worth dying for!

Chapter Text

Chapter 23

 

Things had been perfect.

 

Over a month since the duo had made things official and things were going really well. Kat kept going to the group therapy sessions and out of respect Mary switched the day she would volunteer so that Kat could talk about whatever without worrying about her reaction. They had turned Friday into their date night and always came up with a new excuse so that the other queens weren’t suspicious. Liz had helped where she could, letting them know when her mother was distracted so they could escape. It helped that Lina had forced Anne to help her organise the basement. The basement was as big as the mansion’s ground floor and filled with crap from both their first life and their current, so it had been a big job. Keeping her too busy.

 

Mary had also been trying to improve her temper. She had been inspired somewhat by Kat’s own resilience and wanted to better herself in the same way. Not just doing it for her girlfriend but for herself too, it wasn’t healthy to blow up over the smallest things. Kat joked that it was her fiery Spanish heritage, Catalina was known to have the same level of rage when pushed. But after going off on Eddie for spilling coke on her during another forced family game night, she recognised that no matter where it came from Mary had to deal with it better.

 

It had been during that moment she made the decision. Mary was sat next to Kat when Eddie got over excited and threw his drink everywhere by accident. When it splashed all over his big sister she had stood up to yell at him, noticing mid-rant how tense Kat had gotten. She looked scared. Then, after remembering that loud noises upset her girlfriend, Mary tried to calm herself. She hadn’t want to scare anyone, she just couldn’t contain her temper. I mean…her parents were a fiery Spaniard and one of the most hot tempered Kings in British history. Truthfully, she stood no chance but she had to at least try.

 

Eddie had been used to her tempers, of course, having known them from his past life. He had merely rolled his eyes at her apology and make a joke at her expense.

 

Kat had been evolving too, learning to cope with the new label she and Mary shared as well as talking with her support group openly about what happened to her in full detail. The group had allowed her to discuss things she’d never mentioned before. Talk about exact moments during her trauma that she had never been able to tell Anne or Mary in fear it would upset them. Their relationship began to thrive, both playing their parts and enjoying each moment. Mary began talking through her feelings with Kat, rather than her silent introspections. Kat was eventually able to change in the same room as Mary, knowing that it was safe to do so. They were well on their way too their Happily Ever After.

 

However, life always managed to throw a spanner in the works.

 

And this one wasn’t something they could blame on Henry’s ghost like the household usually did.

 

It happened at the breakfast table, the only meal of the day that saw everyone eating all together. The usual chaos ensued. Anne was making jokes with Anna to the amusement of Liz and Eddie, with Catalina rolling her eyes and scolding them now and again. Jane was finishing the pancakes, while Cathy moved around her trying to prepare a bottle for Mae. For their part, Mary and Kat just sat quietly awaiting their food. They never risked openly conversing in front of the others, Kat wasn’t one for drawing attention and Mary was still nervous about anyone realising she was dating a girl. Especially her super Catholic mother.

 

So they opted to keep their heads down and get through the meal with limited conversation.

 

Yeah…that’s not what ended up happening.

 

“Lizzie…” Anne muttered, elbowing her daughter gently and nodding towards Kat,

 

“Aunt Kat?”

 

“Yeah, Liz?” Kat looked over, somewhat surprised that she was being addressed,

 

“We were thinking of having a movie day today, Jane’s letting us skip lessons for passing her test.” Elizabeth said,

 

“Reluctantly - might I add.” Jane called over from the stove,

 

“Do you want to join us?”

 

Kat was shocked, definitely not expecting that. She could see by the way Liz’s eyes were shining that she was hoping this olive branch would be accepted. However, much like Jane’s attempt it came at an inopportune time. Today was Wednesday, this was when she went for her meetings

 

“I would, Lizzie.” Kat began gently, “But I have plans today. Can we do it tomorrow?”

 

“Doing anything nice Kat?” Cathy asked,

 

“Just…going out.”

 

Anna immediately noted how cagey she was being so decided a joke would lighten the mood a little. She really hadn’t intended for what followed to happen, but she couldn’t have known.

 

“Oooh, hot date there Kätzchen?” Anna nudged her side with her shoulder,

 

Catalina chuckled, “If she did the poor boy wouldn’t make it out the door without being interrogated and threatened in both French and German.”

 

Liz, who had just been handed her pancakes and was therefore only half listening, then made her big mistake.

 

“Nah, her date’s are always on Fridays.”

 

Kat’s head snapped up whilst Mary’s stayed glued to the table. Everyone’s eyes went to the queen in question and completely from for a moment. Safe to say that particular news had taken everyone by surprise.

 

Liz then seemed to realise what she said, “I…oops…sorry Kat…”

 

She looked extremely guilty but that wasn’t the focus right now. Kat’s eyes immediately went to Anne who had been in the middle of shoving a fork full of pancake into her mouth. The elder cousin expected Kat to laugh it off, to deny it. But the sight of the terror now in her eyes as they stared at each other confirmed what Liz had said. Her fork then clattered on to the plate. Jane was the first to snap out of her stupor at the sound, coming to sit in her seat to address Kat.

 

“Kat…are you seeing someone?”

 

“I…uhh…”

 

Mary tensed next to her. Kat knew she could out them right now and then just beg for forgiveness but she couldn’t do it. Mary wasn’t ready for that yet and it wouldn’t be fair for Kat to just pull her kicking and screaming out of the closet. So instead she decided to take the heat, not thinking it would be all that bad.

 

“...yes. I am.” Kat admitted,

 

“Who is it?” Catalina asked, raising and eyebrow, “Someone from college?”

 

Kat stuck to half truths, she never lied unless she really needed to.

 

“It’s someone I meet up with after college.”

 

“Older or younger?” Anne asked, in monotone,

 

Kat felt nervous, “O-Older.”

 

She knew as soon as she said it that it had not been the best answer to give. She should have specified that by ‘older’ she meant by a year or two, not like the men from before who had been twice her age.

 

Anne sighed, burying her face in her hands, “Katherine…”

 

Uh oh…she never called Kat by her full name.

 

“Well,” Her head snapped back up, eyes like fire, “Who is he? How do you know him?”

 

“Just…from around?” Kat tried,

 

“Kat how could you be so reckless!?” Anne snapped, “Even with your history put to one side, you’re a reincarnated Queen of England. We have to keep these things on the down low - how could you risk all of our safety on one guy?”

 

Kat began withdrawing into herself, Anne definitely had the family temper and she was tapped into it now.

 

“You should have brought him home, introduced him!” Anne continued, “And for that matter how did Lizzie know?”

 

Mary noticed Kat’s hands clench into fists.

 

“Did you bring my daughter around some random man? Kat, I thought you knew better than that!” Anne didn’t even sound angry, she sounded disappointed,

 

Kat trembled lightly and Mary felt her blood begin to boil.

 

“Mamon, relax! Aunt Kat would never put me in danger.”

 

“Do you know who it is?”

 

“Yes! But I promise they’re good for Kat, I like them together.”

 

Mary desperately tried to stay calm, but all her methods were failing her.

 

“It doesn’t matter!” Anne growled, “What does matter is that my baby cousin has been running around with some guy and hasn’t said anything about it! Why didn’t you tell me? I have to find it out from MY DAUGHTER.”

 

And with that…

 

Mary. Lost. Her. Shit.

 

She slammed her hand on the table and rocketed to her feet, chair clattering to the ground behind her.

 

“BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T BEEN AROUND!” Mary shouted, matching Anne’s rage with a fire of her own, “Because ever since we came back you have been drifting away from her. Maybe she neglected to tell you because she thought you had forgotten about her!”

 

Anne scoffed, “How dare you speak to me like that!? I think I know my cousin better than you do!”

 

“No.” Mary snapped, confidently, “You know a whole lot less than you think.”

 

“That’s not--”

 

“When did she last have a nightmare?”

 

“W-What?” Anne stammered, question throwing her off guard,

 

“Her last nightmare - when was it!?”

 

“Her death day.” Anne answered, “I went in and comforted her. Not long after you arrived.”

 

“Nope.”

 

The whole table looked up at that, bar Anna who had clicked a few things in her head during this argument. She remembered seeing Mary in Kat’s room after that nightmare not too long ago, the one she had pretty much slept through. It made her feel guilty that she’d missed more.

 

“It was last week.” Mary snapped, “And three more last month. NOBODY in this kitchen was anywhere to be found. I had to talk her down because none of you cared to.”

 

“That’s…that’s not true.” Anne stammered,

 

“Kat, why didn’t you tell us?” This time it was Jane, tears running down her face,

 

Kat’s gaze stayed on the table, fists clenched. She had tears rolling down her cheeks as she shook her head.

 

“How could she?” Mary continued, “You four had your perfect little family unit. Friday movie nights, outings, bonding. Kat was never invited to that. Had she and I not started to get closer she would have had NOBODY during the day. The only people who have made ANY effort recently are myself, Lizzie and Anna.”

 

“But she could have come to me!” Anne tried, tearing up herself, “She always could--You always could have come to me Kitty!”

 

“Anne Boleyn,” Mary spat, voice mocking, “The big protective cousin. The only conversation you have had with Kitty in MONTHS was because you needed a favour.”

 

“Mary…” Kat whispered,

 

“Look, I get more than anyone how it feels to get reunited with someone you thought you’d never see again,” Mary said, “But you completely threw her away. Like her father threw her and your father threw you. You’re no better than either of them.”

 

“Mary…stop…”

 

“Do you know where Kat is really going this afternoon?” Mary was on a roll now, unable to stop, “A support group. Because it’s the only place where she can talk about her fears openly. BECAUSE SHE CAN’T TO EITHER OF YOU ANYMORE!”

 

“ENOUGH!”

 

Mary’s eyes turned to Kat and suddenly the fire within her was warring with the guilt at how frightened Kat looked. Stood, crying with her hands balled at her sides - gaze switching between Mary and Anne. Mary felt awful.

 

“Please…just stop.”

 

Then she turned and bolted. Mary made to follow but Anne’s pride was wounded and she was determined to get the last word.

 

“LOOK WHAT YOU DID!” Anne shouted,

 

Mary turned back to her and huffed, fight gone from her voice as she pitied the green queen, “If you think I caused this, then you’re just as selfish as I thought you were when we first met.”

 

She then went to follow her girlfriend, praying that she still had one after that display. Mary just couldn’t help it, she couldn’t see Anne talk to Kat that way. Especially, since she was protecting her at the time. But, where had Kat gone? The stairs weren’t quiet, Mary would have heard her go up to the music room. A sudden hand on her shoulder made her jump, probably due to the adrenaline rushing through her. When Mary turned round Anna was stood there, eyes swimming with an unknown emotion.

 

“Look if you expect me to apologise--”

 

“No, no. I think you were right with what you said.” Anna told her, “I don’t agree with how you went about it but that’s neither here nor there.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“I know where Kat will be,” Anna explained, “She always runs to the same place when she’s upset, I’ll take you to her. But you need to calm down.”

 

Mary nodded, “Thank you.”

 

“Yeah, yeah.”

 

______

 

Sure enough, Anna led Mary along the forest trail surrounded the mansion’s grounds to a particular tree stump.

 

Kat was sat there sobbing into her hands. It broke Mary’s heart to see and she all but ran over to her, dropping to her knees by her feet. Not knowing what state Kat was in right now, Mary tapped Kat’s knee twice and waited for her reaction. Kat immediately launched herself forward into Mary’s arms. Crying into the older girl’s neck. Anna, who still stood out on the path, felt as thought she were encroaching on a private moment. Still not entirely sure what was going on between the duo but knowing it wasn’t any of her business, she opted to leave them and turned to head back to the house.

 

“I don’t like it when you shout.” Kat whimpered,

 

Mary squeezed her tighter, “I’m sorry, Kitty. I’m so sorry. I just couldn’t bare them attacking you like that.”

 

They stayed like that for a while, awkwardly embracing on the floor of the forest. Kat sobbing into Mary’s neck and the older girl feeling so guilty for causing it. When they eventually walked back, they would discuss that next time Kat would deal with her family. Mary would try her best to offer silent support. It wasn’t that Kat disagreed with what was said, she just didn’t like her father being mentioned nor did she appreciate Mary telling them about the support group. They would talk it through in length and Mary would apologise over and over.

 

But they were okay.

 

They talked through it, they moved forward and that was that.

 

Even Kat was somewhat glad that someone had finally told Anne and Jane what they hadn’t been seeing.

 

Only time will tell if they listened.

Chapter Text

Chapter 24

 

Catalina had noticed something was up ever since Mary’s blow up on Anne.

 

She didn’t really know why it had only been then that she had taken note of her daughter’s behaviour. Sure, the little jabs and insults had prompted her to try more bonding techniques. But it had been lost on her the level of actual hatred she seemed to have for Anne. It was this new level of fire she had never seen Mary reach before. Even scaring her slightly and of anyone, Catalina was the least likely to fear her own child. Mary could scream at her and Catalina would scream right back. But something about how fiercely Mary had defended Kat…it was scary.

 

So ever since, she had kept more of an eye on her daughter. It was relatively easy, given that Mary was usually only with Kat or Liz so she knew the girl wouldn’t be getting into trouble. Despite the fears that had been voiced surrounding Kat’s apparent mystery man, she knew the pink queen wouldn’t drag Mary into danger. It was nice in a way, how Mary and Kat had seemed to resolve their differences and had developed a pretty good friendship. Catalina had even heard them playing the virginal together on occasion. Part of her had wanted to poke her head in and see her daughter play, but she didn’t want to interrupt.

 

Whenever Kat and Mary were together it always felt like everyone else was intruding, even if they happened to just be sat nearby.

 

One thing that hadn’t changed was Mary attending church with Catalina. It was something the mother looked forward too, spending time with her daughter away from the house in somewhere familiar. So much had changed over the years since her first death, but the church stayed the same. While the language had been adapted and evolved with time, the messages and sermons were near identical to the ones she would hear back then. It was a comfort to the devout woman. Like Anne had her sword or Kat had her virginal - these church trips were something Lina could cling too to remind her of her past.

 

However, she had noticed Mary had begun getting distracted during the mass. She would zone out halfway through and get fidgety towards the end, this was very unlike the Mary everyone knew. Catalina had thought it was probably something to do with what she had asked before, about being evil. So she hadn’t pushed the topic, instead waiting for Mary to talk to her. But when she eventually did, it hadn’t quite been what Lina expected.

 

“Mama?”

 

“Yes, Mija?” Catalina asked, keeping her eyes on the road,

 

They were driving home from mass, Anna kindly donating her car for the trip. Nobody, bar the red queen, really enjoyed driving but the church was quite far so Lina sucked it up and drove on Sundays.

 

“Do you agree with everything the bible says?”

 

“Of course I do.” Catalina told her, somewhat thrown by such a random question, “I believe in forgiveness and kindness. I believe that there’s someone up above who loves me unconditionally and that one day I will be welcomed into the kingdom of Heaven. I may have already been there but had the memories erased upon reincarnation, or at least that’s what I choose to believe.”

 

“But drifting away from the bare bones concepts,” Mary continued, frowning, “Do you agree with it word for word?”

 

“Not everything,” She admitted, “Mainly, I disagree with the parts about women needing to be subservient to men. I think parts like that are more tailored to societal views at the time and no longer translate to modern life. Our old views were extremely hard to shake when we first came back, as you well know.”

 

Mary blushed at the memory of her past actions.

 

“Most of it, however, I do agree with and stick to in my own life.” Catalina concluded, “Why do you ask?”

 

Mary thought for a moment, gaze drifting out the car window.

 

“No reason, Mama. Just curious.”

 

Catalina didn’t believe her but remained silent.

 

Mary would tell her when she was ready.

 

_____

 

Anne had noticed the changes in the house too.

 

She wasn’t blind, she knew that Kat had distanced herself from both her and Jane after the kids were brought back. Anne was also aware that it was her own actions that had caused it. She had taken Lizzie’s insecurity and built it up into a fear. Using that fear as an excuse for pushing away the cousin she genuinely loved as a sister. Truth was, when Lizzie had approached her and explained her jealousy of how Anne treated Kat, she had panicked. Taking this to mean that any love she showed to Kat would only hurt Liz. After longing for so long to have been able to foster a relationship with her only child, Anne couldn’t afford to screw up.

 

Even if it meant sobbing into her own pillow trying to drown out Kat’s screaming at night.

 

Everyone had their baggage from Henry. Anne’s was a crippling fear that everything she loved could be taken away. She couldn’t risk losing Lizzie. Not again, never again. So she had done what she thought was right, focusing on her daughter in lieu of her cousin. Thinking Kat would understand, that she would be able to magically read her mind and know that Anne didn’t mean anything cruel by it. But obviously, this was not what happened. Jane had warned her, Catalina had warned her, even Lizzie had warned her. But Anne was stubborn, she twisted the interactions in her head to prove she was doing the right thing.

 

Even when her daughter had approached her and said she wanted Kat to join them at the film festivals again, Anne had still felt unsure. What if Kat rejoined and Liz felt pushed aside? What if they fought? What if they hated each other? So she had decided to create a situation in which Kat and Lizzie would have to openly talk and then be able to work through anything that had caused tension between them. That’s why she had asked Kat to speak with Lizzie. Again, in hindsight this had been a stupid thing to do. Making her cousin feel as though Anne had only wanted her around for a favour. That really had not been how she meant for it to come across. But Anne was never the best with emotions and feelings. She was book smart, not emotionally intelligent.

 

But her pride and her stubbornness couldn’t hold up any shields when Mary of all people finally put her in her place. Mary, who last she’d heard HATED Kat with intensity, was the one to tell Anne how Kat had been feeling. She felt ashamed. After promising to be there, to support her baby cousin, to protect her - Anne had let her down. But now she didn’t know how to continue. She didn’t know how to approach Kat without getting defensive. Plus, Kat was never open about her problems. She had always thought them a burden, something that had taken a lot of time to get over in regards to Anne and Jane. All that progress was lost now.

 

Now, rather than talk to Anne, Kat was always with Mary.

 

Anne hated this. Every time she saw the duo together, all she could think of was what Mary had screamed in the pink queen’s face on the stairs. After that display, Anne had wanted to kill her. She had wanted to beat her to a pulp because NOBODY spoke that way to Kat. Especially when they didn’t know the full story. She didn’t deserve Kat’s forgiveness and yet somehow this friendship had blossomed. Now Mary was the one to hold Kat through her nightmares, the way Anne should have been.

 

Not to mention this mystery gentleman Kat was apparently seeing. This scared Anne. Once again, fear caused her to react in a way that had not been correct. When she looked at Kat she could still see the vulnerable little thing that had hidden in the wardrobe and cried the first day they were brought back. That had refused to let anyone touch her for a month before finally trusting them. Again more work that had been undone, given from her shying away the last time Anne had tried to hug her. Men had hurt Kat in ways Anne hated to think of. The idea that it could happen again was too much. If this man did ANYTHING to hurt her, Anne would take her sword off the wall and run him through.

 

No questions asked. No second chances.

 

While that was Anne’s motto, she hoped Kat would be more forgiving. That she would offer Anne a second chance to prove that she would always be there for her cousin. Problem was, every time Anne walked into a room…

 

“Hey, Kitkat.”

 

Kat walked out.

 

“I’m going running with Anna, don’t wait up.”

 

“I’m going out with Mary, don’t wait up.”

 

“I have therapy, don’t wait up.”

 

Anne had really fucked up…and she didn’t know how to fix it.

 

But she would.

 

She had to.

 

_____

 

Jane had been oblivious to all changes.

 

All she had wanted was for Edward to return to her. The silver queen had grieved her son ever since rebirth, unable to fully get over that she hadn’t been around to watch her beautiful boy grow. When this opportunity was finally given, she had developed tunnel vision. Unable to think of anything else. Not focusing on anything that wasn’t to do with her Edward. It wasn’t good. Now she knew that her distraction had come with a price. It was awful and Jane felt endlessly guilty for it. It hadn’t been intended, she wished Kat knew that. But Jane was always a follower and so wanted Anne to take the lead in apologising so that she could…well, follow.

 

It had been Anne asking her to invite Kat to their movie nights again that had reminded Jane of her absence. Horrifying Jane that she had forgotten her younger cousin and immediately prompting her to bring Kat back into the fold. But Kat refused. She had plans. With Mary of all people! Occasionally, Jane’s mind would cast back to that moment. The awkward staring contest between the duo when Jane had been sat in Kat’s room. Something about it felt…strange, like Jane should have taken more notice. But instead she had focused on how grown up Kat had looked. How adult she was when you stripped back all the pink and bubbly energy.

 

She didn’t know why that moment stuck to her so. Like one of those ‘Where’s Wally’ books Anne and Anna competed over. It was like she was searching the image for something that wasn’t readily visible. Safe to say she was really struggling to find it. Unsurprisingly, it was hard to find what you’re looking for when you don’t actually know what it is. So instead, she pushed it to the back of her mind. Deciding that the moment was just a fluke and didn’t warrant any more agonising over. That was until she experienced it once again. Completely by accident of course, Jane had a way of just being in the wrong place at the right time.

 

Hell, that’s how she ended up married to Henry.

 

After spending her afternoon cleaning Edwards room (he was every bit the modern boy and so if Jane didn’t do it nobody would) she had been on her way downstairs. Walking down the hallway, she could faintly hear the light sounds of the virginal being played in the music room. Not an uncommon sound, the door was a little stiff so didn’t always close properly. However, the light giggling over the top of it was new and peaked the motherly queen’s interest. She knew it was wrong to pry but it had dawned on her that she hadn’t heard Kat laugh for a while.

 

Peeking through the open door, Jane was surprised by the sight. Kat and Mary were both sat on the bench by the virginal. Kat was playing and singing silly sentences over the music, making Mary laugh and roll her eyes at the ridiculousness. It made Jane smile, seeing the duo looking so free. Something about this moment felt so intimate and sincere that part of her wanted to sneak away. But she had missed hearing Kat play. Something about seeing Kat in her element always warmed Jane’s heart and she wanted to see it again. So when there was a gap in the music, she knocked.

 

“Hello?” Kat called,

 

Jane walked in with a smile, “Sorry, I just heard you playing and wondered if you’d let me listen. It’s been a while.”

 

Kat smiled, “Sure! Come in.”

 

Jane didn’t notice how Mary and Kat moved away from each other a little and instead walked in and went to sit on the stool by Kat’s easel. Kat leant down to pick up one of her music sheets from the floor, searching for any song that picked her fancy. Mary looked a little stiffer now that they weren’t alone, which Jane did pick up on.

 

“Am I interrupting?” Jane asked, genuinely, “I didn’t mean to!”

 

Mary turned and shook her head, “Not at all, forgive my nerves - I never know how to conduct myself in a group.”

 

Jane smiled kindly, “I always tend to smile and nod.”

 

Mary smiled and nodded, earning a chuckle from Jane.

 

“Perfect.” She told the younger woman, the laugh Mary gave boosted her confidence slightly, “Kat…before you begin…”

 

Kat looked over in question.

 

“I’m really sorry for being so distracted by Edward lately.” Jane bit her lip, “It wasn’t intentional but I completely understand that you felt pushed out and that was unfair.”

 

Kat shrugged, “What’s done is done, we can’t rewrite what happened. Just don’t do it again!”

 

The last part had been said in a joking way, Kat just happy to hear ANY apology. But Jane was sincere though. She knew she wouldn’t make the same mistake. Kat would never be left by the wayside again, that was something Jane was sure of. If Kat needed time herself to believe that then it was fine, because Jane would definitely prove it to her. She would earn back all her trust. This was the silent promise.

 

As Kat began to play a familiar song, Jane felt a smile stretch across her lips. Listening quietly as the younger queen’s hands flew across the keys.

 

Not noticing the look on Mary’s face as she also watched the musician.

 

Jane didn’t notice much, but she would always make it right in the end.

 

That, she promised.

______

 

Anna knew SOMETHING was going on.

 

Kat and Mary weren’t as subtle as they thought they were and since Anna knew them both well, they couldn’t hide anything from her. Now, she didn’t know exactly what had been established between the two but she knew for sure something was brewing. It wasn’t her place to bring it up though, so instead she opted to wait silently for one of them to tell her. But believe you me, she caught every look and flirty giggle the duo risked in public. She remembered the look on Mary’s face after putting Kat to bed that one time and how they had been all snuggled up after her nightmare. Anna figured at this point if Kat’s ‘mystery man’ wasn’t actually a ‘mystery violent queen’ then they were both blind.

 

She understood why they would keep things quiet. Anne would fly off the handle, which had already been proven, and there was no inclination as to how Catalina would react. So Anna settled on being silently supportive. Though after Lizzie outed that Kat wasn’t single, the duo had shared a few knowing looks when they caught a #Kary interaction. If Lizzie knew then there was only a matter of time before Kat told her. They were best friends after all. After Anna had been so cold towards her in their first life, she had really stepped it up in this one.

 

It was on one of their nightly runs that Kat finally confirmed what Anna was thinking. Mary had Lizzie to go to about relationship things, Kat wanted to be able to confide in Anna the same way.

 

“Anna,” She called about halfway through the run, “Can we stop a second?”

 

Anna slowed to a stop, “Sure, Kätzchen. You okay?”

 

“Yeah,” Kat looked nervous, “I just need to tell you something.”

 

“Is this about your so-called mystery man?” Anna asked with a knowing smile,

 

“Maybe…” Kat sighed, “I just need to know…would you care if it wasn’t a mystery man. If it was a m-mystery woman?”

 

Anna melted at how scared Kat looked. She understood the tension, back in their first life Anna would probably have a very different answer. But times had changed, as do people and the views back then were not ones she shared now.

 

“It wouldn’t change anything for me,” Anna told her sincerely, “Man, woman, other, neither, one-eyed one-horned flyin' purple people eater - it doesn’t matter. Do they make you happy?”

 

“Yes…”

 

“Then that’s enough for me.” Anna smiled, deciding now was the time to push, “So it’s a woman, huh?”

 

Kat nodded, looking bashful, “Y-Yes.”

 

“It’s Mary, isn’t it?”

 

Kat’s head snapped up in worry, “I…you…how did you know?”

 

“Because I’m not blind!” Anna laughed, “Calm down, Kätzchen. Nobody else knows, apart from Liz apparently. Which, by the way, little hurt she knew before me but it’s whatever.”

 

Kat allowed herself to giggle, knowing Anna was kidding, “Mary went to her for advice early on, she’s like our honorary third wheel.”

 

“It’s cool, I’ll have someone to complain about you both being adorable to.” Anna said,

 

“Oh God…you’re both going to be unbearable.”

 

“Yes. Yes we are.”

 

Kat laughed, looking far more relaxed but still a little tense. However, Anna was the super best friend and knew what she was thinking.

 

“Everyone else will be fine, I promise. Even if their not - you have me and Liz and Mary in your corner. Liz and Mary can be terrifying but I’m German, I don’t play nice like you British Roses.”

 

“Thanks Anna.”

 

“No, thank YOU for telling me.” Anna grinned,

 

Kat pulled her in for a hug and it was happily returned.

 

It didn’t matter how anyone else reacted.

 

Anna would always fight Kat’s corner.

 

Unless Mary got there first…

 

…then the two would work together and be doubly terrifying.

 

_____

 

Cathy…was also in the house.

 

Being the only one completely separated from any of the drama that had been going on, she had kind of just caught glimpses here and there. However, it could be argued that, even with baby brain from taking care of Mae, Cathy was probably the smartest person in the house. She noticed that there was this huge unspoken energy over everyone and she didn’t really know how to address it. Really, it wasn’t any of her business. So instead she left everybody else to deal with their own thing privately. Because really, it was not her place to pry and she was looking after a young toddler for the first time ever so she deserved some slack.

 

She loved her daughter, like an unbelievable amount. But Mae had just learned to walk and was pretty fast. She was still at that stage where Cathy needed to keep an eye on her and therefore she was exhausted.

 

Which was probably why, when she walked into Kat’s room uninvited to ask Kat to watch Mae for a minute, she didn’t notice how close Mary and Kat had been laying. Completely oblivious to their red faces and breathlessness. Ignoring Mary frantically trying to right her shirt as subtly as possible and Kat adjusting her own hair to look presentable. To the run-down Cathy, all this didn’t click into place. Instead she just asked if Kat wouldn’t mind making good on her promise to watch Mae and upon receiving confirmation, put her daughter down with the teen and went to make herself some coffee to wake up a bit.

 

However…

 

After she had her cup of coffee and sat in her armchair to quietly drink it, her brain began to kick start itself again. Whirring to life and replaying what had just transpired. She remembered the duo moving apart, Kat holding up her hands in surrender and…was…was that a hickey on Mary’s neck? Her eyes widened when she put it all together, rocketing forward in the chair so fast she nearly spilt her precious coffee.

 

Had…had they been making out?

 

No…

 

No.

 

…maybe?

 

Cathy sighed. She could deal with the family drama, the history drama, the random sibling drama, baby drama, first vs second wife drama and drama revolving around who got the last slice of Jane’s chocolate cake. However, Cathy had a limited set of fucks to give and that had become further reduced by the introduction of her hyperactive toddler. Therefore, she refused to add lesbian drama to that list. Cathy had a toddler and little patience for this shit, so y’know what?

 

They could sort that out them fucking selves!

 

She was going to get another cup of coffee.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 25

 

Kat was at her weekly group therapy session.

 

She’d been attending every week for the last couple months and it had really started to help. It was like nothing was too much, even things that would usually trigger her wouldn’t when she was sat in the circle. Kat felt safe there, safe enough that she knew she could talk about her trauma without flashbacks or panic attacks. But it wasn’t just getting to talk either, most sessions Kat would sit quietly and listen. Listen to these strong women talk about how they had been able to move forward with their lives. She learned what helped these women cope. They told her what they had been through and how they had gotten to where they were today.

 

The main thing these women had taught her was to take every day one at a time. Take everything step by step. Usually, Kat’s mind went to the future. Mostly, she would long to reach the point where she could live normally. No fear, no panic attacks, no trauma. But even if she would reach that point, which was unlikely, the frustration that she wasn’t there yet would only hold her back. It made her all the more thankful for Mary though, with Mary she always focused on a different future. Her and Mary together with their own room, no longer alternating between two. Out in the open together, with a dog or two running around.

 

Maybe there would be no life beyond the trauma, but there would be a life with Mary and Kat found that was all she truly wanted.

 

Which in turn had led Kat down some surprising avenues. She and Mary had now been official for some time and as they were both still young, they had obviously delved into the more physical side of their relationship. Not all the way, but they had pushed the boundaries now and then (including one time where Cathy had suddenly walked in and interrupted a particularly heavy make out session). But lately, Kat had found herself hoping for a little bit more. It had surprised her. Part of her had always assumed her past experiences would have tainted the act all together. But she just felt ready. Ready to take that leap.

 

Which led here, to her daydreaming in her therapy session about how to bring up the topic to Mary. Safe to say, Mary was a little too overly careful with Kat when things got all touchy. When Kat reached her limit she didn’t even need to say ‘Stop’ any more, Mary recognised the signs that they were going too far. While Kat deeply appreciated this, it did worry her that if she were to voice her request to Mary the older girl would just wave her off. That she would think Kat was lying or just trying to please her. But that wasn’t what it was at all, she knew Mary would be more than happy to wait. The thing was, Kat didn’t need to wait any more.

 

Of course, if Mary wasn’t ready then that would be completely different. Kat would also wait for her to reach that same point, no questions asked. But unless she broached the topic, Kat wouldn’t know where they stood at all apart from their very brief conversation in the beginning.

 

“Kat, are you still with us?” Joan asked, cutting through her daydream,

 

Kat blinked, “Sorry, I’m a little distracted today.”

 

“I can tell!” The older woman smiled, “Would you like to talk about it?”

 

“I…I don’t know if I should,” Kat sighed, “It’s to do with my relationship with Mary and I don’t know if she’d appreciate me talking about it with you guys.”

 

“Okay, if that’s what you want - but you know we would never tell Mary anything you’d said.” Joan reassured, “If it’s bothering you then we’d be happy to give advice or talk it through with you.”

 

Kat chewed her lip for a moment.

 

“You don’t have to.” Bessie added, giving a small smile,

 

“Well…I…” Kat began, “H-Have any of you had…you-know-what post your trauma?”

 

“You-know-what?” Maggie asked a little amused,

 

“Are you and Mary thinking of having sex?” Maria asked, more bluntly,

 

“I have started to,” Kat went pink under their gazes, “But I don’t know how to bring it up to Mary. Like as a hypothetical it’s one thing but saying I’m ready…what if I’m not?”

 

“The only person who knows the answer to that is you, kiddo.” Bessie told her, “Do you feel ready?”

 

“Yes.” Kat said confidently, “I do.”

 

“Then there’s your answer.”

 

“But what if I….trigger.”

 

“I triggered the first time I had sex after leaving Jonathan,” Maggie said, “It was nearly a year later and the guy was nothing like he was but it still...gave me memories.”

 

“Did anything help?” Joan asked,

 

“I found keeping the lights on helped,” Maggie thought back and small smile crossed her face, “Making sure I could see where he was touching. It helped stop my mind filling in the blanks.”

 

Kat took mental notes of that, taking a sip of water as she did so.

 

“Plus,” Maggie’s usually serious face suddenly turned to mischief, “Never hurts to be on top.”

 

Kat then proceeded to spit said water all over the carpet.

 

______

 

“Hey, Mary?”

 

It was a few hours later when Kat finally decided to bring it up. It was late and everyone else had gone to bed, allowing Mary and Kat to lay in Mary’s bed without fear of being interrupted. They were cuddled up in their usual way, watching something neither of them really cared about on TV since neither were really tired yet. Mary had noticed Kat had been quiet all evening, not in her usual processing way either. She’d respond if Mary spoke with her, but not of her own volition. This was slightly concerning, but she knew her girlfriend well. When Kat wanted to talk about it she would and if it was this time tomorrow and she still hadn’t, then Mary would ask.

 

But given that Kat had finally broken her silence, none of that mattered.

 

“Are you okay, Kitty?”

 

“Yeah, just…” Kat took a deep breath, “I wanted to talk to you about something.”

 

“You’re not about to break up with me are you?” Mary joked,

 

Kat laughed, feeling the tension ease slightly, “Oh no, definitely not.”

 

“Well, that’s okay then.” Mary pecked the top of her head, “So what did you want to talk about?”

 

The younger girl sat up, looking down at Mary with a nervous look in her eyes. It worried her a little, how unsure Kat looked. She began fearing the worst. Had someone said something cruel? Done something?

 

“I…I’ve been thinking,” Kat began shakily, “That we’ve been together a while now…and I trust you more than I’ve ever trusted anyone. And…if….if you’re ready, I think it’s time we t-take the next step.”

 

“Okay,” Mary leant on her elbows, pushing herself up a little and placing a gentle hand on Kat’s lap, “In what way?”

 

Kat was quiet again, trying to muster the courage to ask. Silently repeating to herself that it was okay to want things, to have control over her own body. It was okay to ask.

 

“Do you remember what we talked about after you asked me to be your girlfriend?” Kat asked, “Our to-be-continued conversation…?”

 

“The one we had about boundaries?” Mary tried to think back and then realisation came over her face, “Ohh…that.”

 

“Yeah…”

 

Mary was definitely taken off guard, not having expected this to be the topic. But she stayed quiet, letting Kat control the conversation. She may not know a lot about how to navigate this situation but she knew letting Kat lead it would make the younger girl feel more secure. Kat needed to know that she could voice her thoughts on everything and anything and Mary wouldn’t judge her for it. Ever. Besides, Kat hadn’t been the only one that had been thinking about taking this step. Mary had just waited for Kat to be the one to address it as she was the more vulnerable between the two surrounding this matter.

 

“I’m ready to take that step with you.” Kat’s voice sounded a little quiet, “That is…if you are too.”

 

Mary sat up, closing the gap to kiss her gently - hoping to alleviate her nerves a little.

 

“I’ve been thinking about it too.” Mary confessed when they parted, “But I wanted you to be the one to bring it up.”

 

Kat nodded, “So…what do you think?”

 

“If you’re ready,” Mary chuckled, “And I’m ready then why not?”

 

Their eyes met and suddenly they both became akin to shy schoolgirls again. Giggling and unable to meet one another’s eyes. Kat reluctantly told her about the conversation they had in group therapy. Not any of the stories shared by the other women, just the advice they gave Kat to help fight against triggers. Mary had laughed at Kat’s expression when she got to the comment that had prompted her spit take. But all her requirements were easy to agree to, as well as the assurance that the moment one of them felt uncomfortable they would stop.

 

“What about you?”

 

Mary blinked, “Me?”

 

“Is there anything I can do to make you feel…more comfortable?”

 

Mary sighed, “Honestly, I am somewhat nervous about giving up control. I don’t know how I will react to being told what to do.”

 

“Then we can just take it all slowly.” Kat decided, “One step at a time.”

 

Mary nodded.

 

Another awkward silence.

 

“I…I don’t know how to start.” Kat admitted,

 

“Me neither.” Mary agreed, “How about this? We lay back down, keep watching TV and if something happens naturally we just follow. No need to put any pressure on it.”

 

“That sounds like a good idea.” Kat nodded, “Soo….cuddles?”

 

“Cuddles.”

 

They fell back into their default cuddle position and Mary changed the show to something they deemed more interesting. For a while they just lay there, enjoying each others warmth. When something happened on screen, Mary suddenly gave a little chuckle. Kat looked up and caught her smiling at the show. Focusing on the way the light from the TV flickered across Mary’s face, letting Kat see all the curves and shadows of her features. She was beautiful. Like something an artist would carve out of marble. Kat could never quite put into words how she felt about Mary, at least not as well as Mary could. But it was moments like these, wrapped up nice and warm together, which made Kat fall more and more in love with her.

 

Mary felt the eyes on her and looked down, still smiling slightly, “What?”

 

Kat didn’t say anything, just stared at her. As though she was trying to commit Mary’s face to memory. Then she leaned up, connecting their lips together for a long slow kiss. Mary made a noise of surprise, but didn’t pull away, leaning into it with as much passion. It was different to what their kisses had been before, as it built it became something more needy or desperate. Like if they were to part, it would cause them pain.

 

As Kat rolled them so she was on top, her loose hair fell around them like a curtain.

 

Shielding them from the outside world.

 

And it was perfect.

Chapter Text

Chapter 26

 

Sunlight streamed through the window, lighting up the couple that still lay in bed.

 

Mary stirred, the missing a weight on her chest waking her as she groggily wondered where her girlfriend had gone. The lack of clothes was making it all the more obvious that her usual source of warmth was missing. Blinking at the harsh light, Mary turned to seek out Kat. Her girlfriend had rolled away from her during the night, so the sight she was met with was that of Kat’s bare back. Relief washed over her as she realised she hadn’t been abandoned in an empty bed after the night they had shared. However, it was short lived as Mary remembered that Kat only rolled so far when she had a nightmare.

 

Hopefully, it wasn’t one brought on by the night’s exploits.

 

Usually, Mary would just roll her back. Kat had assured her that unless she awoke screaming, her nightmares weren’t really a problem. It was only the one’s about previous events that got her into a state. The dreams that just made her restless were usually of the more mundane variety. Like all her teeth falling out or being in a play and forgetting the lines. However, rather than just bring her back into an embrace, Mary took a selfish moment to take in her girlfriend’s back. At some point last night Kat had pulled her hair into a bun meaning it left the skin uncovered. The blanket was still covering from her waist down, leaving only her upper back visible.

 

Almost immediately, Mary’s eyes went to the vicious pink scars that defaced her beautiful girlfriend’s shoulder blades. She hated them, Lord how she hated them. Sure, the stories were horrific to listen to and knowing what Kat had been through just…killed Mary inside. But seeing those scars, knowing what they represent…the visual reminder of what they had done to her - ALL of them. It was almost too much. But the one thing that could ground Mary whenever she saw them, was what they meant in this life. How Kat herself had described them. They were the scars of a survivor. They meant she was strong.

 

And Kat was the strongest woman Mary had ever met.

 

Unable to stop herself, tentative fingers reached for the markings. Running themselves softly over the scar tissue, following the jagged pattern as lightly as possible. Feeling herself begin to tear up, Mary froze. She was never the one for emotions. Ever. But something about these scars, about her how her father cared so little for this beautiful woman that he didn’t even give her a decent executioner - it broke her. He didn’t know what he had. At all. As was apparent by his ‘rose without a thorn’ comment. Her father was naive, Kat had thorns. Smaller, better hidden - but just as sharp as any other.

 

A slight mumble brought Mary back to the present. Kat awoke and shivered, quickly turning to seek out warmth with her eyes closed. The elder girl giggled as Kat grumbled and cuddled into her side.

 

“Morning, sleepyhead.” Mary greeted,

 

“No…morning implies waking - I refuse to wake.”

 

“Tire yourself out?”

 

A lazy hand swatted her stomach and Mary laughed, moving her own to hold it.

 

“You cannot go back to sleep,” Mary told her, “If we are not down for breakfast someone will come get us and…well…”

 

Kat raised her head a little, “We all kinds of naked.”

 

“Yes, exactly.” Mary replied with a chuckle,

 

There was a whine, “I don’t want to get up - I’m warrrmmm!”

 

“Fine. But just prepare to hide in the wardrobe if someone knocks on the door.”

 

“Deal!”

 

Kat settled back down on Mary’s shoulder and the chatted idly about what their plans were today. It was a Thursday and that was one of Kat’s free days from college. Her course had three sessions a week on Monday, Tuesday and Friday’s. This meant neither she nor Mary had anything planned. Shame really, if they didn’t have to go down for breakfast they could have just laid in bed for the rest of the day. Recently they’d been getting into ‘Gotham’, both enjoying the series by yelling at Jim Gordon through the screen. Not fans of hero-complexes. They’d probably end up in the music room watching that all day.

 

“So last night was…a development.” Kat said with a smile,

 

“It was, wasn’t it.” Mary replied,

 

Kat sat up, sending Mary a teasing look, “You certainly enjoyed yourself.”

 

“Shut up!” Mary blushed, “I’m just glad we BOTH had fun.”

 

Kat laughed at her, which flustered Mary even more in a way only her girlfriend could. So to counter this, she quickly sat up and kissed the laughter from her lips. She could still feel Kat smiling into it, but at least she was no longer laughing. Given their state of undress and memories of the night before flashing through their memories, it quickly got heated. Mary sat up and pulled her girlfriend on to her lap, letting the blanket pool around their waists. So lost in heat of the moment the world seemed to fade into a blur around them. They no longer felt the chill in the room, they ignored the smell of the breakfast cooking downstairs…they didn’t hear a knock at the door…

 

Nor did they notice it begin to open.

 

“Mary? Breakfast is ready sweetheart,” Jane began as she opened the door, “Is Kat with you? She wasn’t in her roo--AHHHHHHHHH!”

 

Both girls completely froze, Kat’s head snapping towards the door in terror. Jane was stood wide-eyed, mouth agape for a second before coming to her senses and covering her eyes with her hand. Apologising over and over for interrupting. Now Jane was never loud, it wasn’t her vibe. So to hear her of all people screaming at the top of her lungs was a rare sound. One reserved for a jump scare video Anne had shown her or a particularly large spider. So the moment everyone downstairs heard it, they left Eddie to watch Mae and flew up the stairs to investigate. The first on the scene was Anna who just burst into hysterics, she would later apologise but the scene was just too funny. Or as she put it:

 

“That’s just schadenfreude, my dear Kätzchen!”

 

Next was Lizzie…

 

“MY EYES!”

 

She had just immediately run in the other direction at the sight, followed by a still laughing Anna who had decided she was probably not useful in this situation. That just left a paralysed Jane, a stunned Cathy and…the other two. Anne was the next to step into view, her eyes widening a fraction before her face returned to neutral. Disappointment shone in her eyes when she met her cousin’s fearful gaze but all Kat could do was stare back. After a moment, Anne grabbed Jane’s free hand and stormed down the hall.

 

This left Catalina.

 

The matriarch of the house had an unreadable expression. Staring at her daughter in an unthinkable position. Mary felt ice grip her chest at her mother’s look and frantically tried to cover them more with the blanket. She wanted to say something, anything to get her mother to speak her feelings right now. But she couldn’t. Her mother just stared them down, putting all the pieces together in her head. Rolling her shoulders to fight off what would be her usually dramatic reaction, Lina kept her face impassive and her voice level.

 

“Get dressed. Get downstairs.” She ordered, “We WILL be talking about this.”

 

And then she slammed the door closed.

 

Kat rolled off Mary and buried her head in the pillow.

 

“mmfmmgmskngsknjak.”

 

Mary blinked, coming back to life, “W-What did you say?”

 

Kat lifted her head up a little and repeated:

 

“Someone get the block, even that was less painful than what just happened.”

 

Mary sighed, running a hand through her hair.

 

“Well it was fun while it lasted.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 27

 

“Okay. Before they get down here, we need to know who knew about this.”

 

Catalina had been the one to ask the question. The group had all returned to the dining room, breakfast laying forgotten on the table. Edward and Mae had been put in front of the television in another room, not needing to be there for the upcoming conversation. Everyone had been silent, the tension in the room felt unpredictable and nobody knew what anyone else was thinking. Well…except Liz, they were all aware that she was currently trying to burn the memory of her aunt on top of her sister from her brain. Wow, that was a weird sentence out of context.

 

Liz sighed and put up her hand, looking a little nervous, “I did…not the like mutual nudity - but I knew they were dating.”

 

“I thought they were after I walked in on them looking hormonal and guilty.” Cathy shrugged, “As a side note, I think we should invest in locks.”

 

“I think Catalina’s probably more inclined to take the doors OFF,” Jane told her, “I don’t think lack of privacy is the issue.”

 

Anna raised her hand, “I also knew.”

 

All eyes went to the red queen.

 

“Kat told me ages ago, but I’d suspected it for a while.”

 

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Lina asked, throwing her hands up,

 

“Because I wasn’t going to out them.” Anna told her, not backing down from the eldest queen’s glare,

 

Catalina broke the stare first, sighing and massaging the bridge of her nose to soothe the oncoming headache. Suddenly, the conversation she and Mary had about the Bible made a lot more sense at least. Now she didn’t know what she was going to say when they came downstairs. She didn’t know how to feel. Catalina was definitely angry, but she needed to place the origin of that anger before any confrontation. Nothing would ever make her hate Mary. They had been apart too long for Catalina to push her daughter away. But what she had just witnessed had caused a war to rage within her.

 

Her religion was her one constant. It was something she had always used to guide her way and the Bible was a big part of that. Before, upon the discovery of Mary’s bloody reign, Catalina had been able to brush over her daughter’s actions. Truly believing that since she had done these things in the name of the Lord she would be forgiven. She could atone and be redeemed in the eyes of God. But this…this was something Catalina couldn’t justify. Not immediately anyway. Yet, she didn’t know which part bothered her. For once the all knowing queen was completely lost. Trying to make sense of it all but each time she turned one corner another appeared until she was running in circles.

 

Footsteps on the staircase notified her that her time was up, she needed to address this without triggering Mary’s temper or Kat’s insecurities. Maybe she should cut her losses and just request they all forgot what they saw? That whatever happened behind closed doors remained there, never to be addressed. But that wouldn’t be right either. The oldest queen was torn. Between her daughter and her religion. Her dear friend and her values. It was all just a mess.

 

The duo awkwardly appeared at the doorway, thankfully dressed but noticeably holding hands. At a first glance they believed it was Mary’s way of comforting Kat. But Catalina knew her daughter well, that nervous look in her eyes made it equally likely she was the one needing comfort. Vaguely, Lina remembered Mary pushing her away during the thunderstorm. Wanting Kat to calm her nerves instead. How long had this been going on?

 

“Sit.” Was all she managed to say,

 

Both girl’s did so, taking seats directly opposite Anne and Catalina with Anna and Lizzie either side of them for support. Mary wouldn’t look at her, that hurt Lina somewhere deep, eyes glaring holes into the centre of the table. Kat, however, surprised them all by looking straight at them. It took a moment for the yellow queen to make sense of it, but when she did it fascinated her somewhat. Mary was afraid, so Kat had stepped up to protect her. The same way Mary had done when she blew up at Anne.

 

“Okay, girls.” Jane began, sensing nobody else was going to speak, “We just want to begin by saying nobody is mad--”

 

Catalina made a noise, like a choked laugh to signify that this wasn’t true. She didn’t know why she was angry but she most definitely was.

 

“--we were just…surprised.” Jane finished, sending Catalina a look,

 

Lina rolled her eyes and sat back in the chair, folding her arms, “How long has this been going on?”

 

She took note that Kat looked to see Mary nod before talking, making sure that she was ready.

 

“We’ve been seeing each other since the night of the thunderstorm.” Kat explained, matching Catalina’s gaze with one of her own,

 

“And the s-intercourse?”

 

Kat didn’t waver, “That only started last night. After we BOTH agreed we were ready for that step.”

 

If the situation were different, Catalina would have been amused at the little licks of fire that stemmed in Katherine’s eyes. Much like her cousins, she too had a fire in her that she would willingly let out if she sensed an attack. It was almost admirable, but was also not the point of this conversation.

 

“A-a-and you were ready?” Anne’s hoarse voice spoke up,

 

Kat’s eyes switched to her and wavered, only slightly. Lina didn’t think much of this. While Kat had always respected Lina, she loved Anne. Anne was her family, her real family. Even if she hadn’t been around much lately, the chaos cousins had once been inseparable. Rejection from Anne, further rejection that is, would probably kill Kat but she couldn’t back down. Not when Mary couldn’t look up from the table. Part of it made Lina proud, seeing the quiet and innocent Kat prove that she could be just as formidable as any of them. Her protectiveness over Mary gave Catalina a warm feeling.

 

“Yes. I was.” Kat told her, sincerely,

 

Anne went to say something more, but instead closed her mouth. Looking away from the younger queen. Now, Catalina had known Anne the longest. She knew the woman would not be having the same religious debate that she herself was having. The disappointment on her face, tears brimming in her eyes, they weren’t directed at Kat. Hell, Kat could kill someone and Anne would just help hide the body - there was nothing the younger girl could do to disappoint her. No, what Anne was feeling was internal. She was upset that her cousin had turned this huge milestone and hadn’t spoken to her about it. Anne was devastated that her baby cousin was growing up and that she was missing it. And that it was nobodies fault but hers.

 

Kat didn’t take it this way, however, and so began pre-emptively defending them. Catalina assumed Kat was just fed up of Anne’s bullshit recently, added on to the tension in the room and KABOOM.

 

“We’re adults, Anne.” Kat told her, “I’m an adult. I know you only want to protect me…or at least whenever you feel like wanting to protect me and I get why. I get why you would be worried but for ONCE can you just trust me?”

 

“That’s not fair--” Anne began,

 

“Isn’t it!?” Kat scoffed,

 

“...”

 

When it became clear Anne had no response, Catalina took over again. Though she was planning to talk to Anne or Jane later about the three cousins getting together to ACTUALLY talk soon. Otherwise, she'd be forced to bang their heads together herself.

 

“We have no arguments over the consent,” Catalina said, “It’s the act itself. Girls, there are children in the house. Such illicit actions will not be acceptable under my roof, I’m sorry. Even if you were…even if it…if one you was male it wouldn’t be allowed. Adults or not - we all live here.”

 

Kat gave a nod, understanding where Catalina was coming from, “I get that, but again - we’re adults. We have a relationship and what we do in the privacy of our rooms is our business.”

 

“A relationship…” The yellow queen repeated trying to get her head around it, “So this is…serious then.”

 

An uncharacteristically small voice spoke up.

 

“¿Es eso un problema para usted?”

 

Is that a problem for you?

 

Catalina looked at her daughter, noting the fear in her eyes. How she trembled. This was not the usually strong, self assured Mary. Lina sighed, standing in her chair and slowly walking around the table so that she was on Mary’s side of the room. Then she held up her arms.

 

“Ven aquí, Mija.”

 

Come here.

 

Mary shot out of the chair and into her mother’s arms, forgetting herself for the moment. Catalina cradled her daughter, more and more aware that her own tears were now rolling down her face. But Mary sobbing into her neck, left vulnerable and afraid in front of everyone, left Catalina to be the stronger one of the two. As she should be, being the mother. After a moment, she gently separated them enough to look into her daughter’s eyes.

 

“I love you, you are my daughter. You are my blood and the last thing I would ever do is turn you away. I refuse to lose you again.” Catalina said, making sure Mary knew that she would never send her away, “There is nothing you could do to disappoint me, mija.”

 

Mary smiled a little.

 

“But this…”

 

Her smile dropped.

 

“This…type of relationship with another woman. I am having a hard time getting my head around it. Do not blame me, I was raised to believe such things were sinful and wrong. None of that influences my views on you, okay? But you are my child and Kat is a dear, dear friend. It’s a lot to process and…and I need some time to do that.”

 

Mary stepped out of her embrace, trying to work out what that meant.

 

“Can…can you give me some time to get my head around it?” Catalina asked, her own tears still rolling,

 

Mary thought for a moment, then gave a solemn nod, “I can give you time. It took me time to make myself right with God on this subject too.”

 

Catalina finally smiled at that and pulled her daughter in for another hug, making sure to smile softly at Kat over her shoulder. They weren't the issue here, Catalina's previous outlook was and that needed to be rectified. Anna, finally finding a use, had wrapped her arm around Kat in the meantime. Sensing her friend would also need some support. Kat smiled back at Catalina, understanding that the older woman had her own processing to do and respecting that asking her to change something she had always believed was a big ask. But she would try and that was the first step to acceptance.

 

“Obviously, I offer you both my full support!” Anna spoke up, trying to show the girl’s they weren’t alone,

 

“Me too,” Added Lizzie, “Providing I never have to see EITHER of you naked again.”

 

A soft hand landed on Kat’s, prompting her to look up at Jane. The silver queen smiled and squeezed her hand lightly.

 

“As long as you’re both happy.” Was all she said, before adding, “And I will learn to knock louder.”

 

“I remain indifferent,” Cathy shrugged, “But if you guys find a comfort in one another then go for it.”

 

That left one.

 

Kat’s eyes went to her oldest cousin, partly wishing Anne would hug her the way Lina hugged Mary. But the green queen still wasn’t looking at her. Lost in her own thoughts.

 

“Annie…”

 

Anne looked at her.

 

“...say something, please?”

 

Kat’s request came out more of a broken question. Now that Mary was being comforted elsewhere, Kat’s earlier fire had fallen to a dim flicker.

 

Anne sighed, running a hand through her hair, “I…I don’t care that Mary’s a girl.”

 

Well that was something at least.

 

“You just have to understand,” Anne continued, sounding somewhat desperate, “Whenever I see you both together, all I can remember are the vicious things she yelled at you. What she accused you of. How she treated you. I can’t just forget that Kitty.”

 

“I love her Anne.” Kat told her, voice sincere, “She makes me feel happy and warm and safe. I don’t remember the last time I felt those things.”

 

Anne studied her eyes a moment and then only nodded.

 

“In lieu of what happened,” Catalina finally said, allowing Mary to return to her seat beside Kat, “Adults or not, there are children in the house and they cannot see…this. So new house rules are as followed: No PDA around the house until I figure out what’s acceptable, doors stay OPEN and you both must sleep in your own beds.”

 

“But Mama,” Mary quickly protested, “Kat gets nightmares - I don’t want her to have to deal with them alone.”

 

“I’m sorry, that’s final.”

 

“But--”

 

“Final.”

 

And with that the meeting was adjourned.

 

Nobody knowing if it went well or not.

Chapter Text

Chapter 28

 

The next few weeks were hard.

 

Mary couldn’t explain how difficult things had gotten. Her mother ensured Kat and Mary were kept apart at the breakfast table, Elizabeth being made to sit in between them. Catalina was still unsure whether Edward or Mae would really understand the concept of two women dating. Whether it would be appropriate for them to witness. Mary knew this wasn’t intentionally bigoted. Once her mother realised there was nothing wrong with what they were doing, then she would realise it was just as appropriate as a straight couple. But until then, they were stuck being forced apart. It had begun to take its toll too. Every time Kat came downstairs, Mary noted how exhausted her girlfriend looked. Like she hadn’t been sleeping.

 

Luckily, they were still able to spend their days in the music room. Only now it usually consisted of Kat napping in Mary’s embrace as they stuck to their corner. Door wide open so that anyone could look in and see them. They couldn’t even play the virginal any more since it would echo throughout the house, taking away the joy and privacy of the moments and trading them for self-consciousness. So they were stuck there, waiting for Catalina to go out somewhere so that they could cuddle up and Kat could nap.

 

Anna had tried talking some sense into the eldest queen, as had Anne. But she wasn’t budging on the separate rooms rule. Eddie and Mae were still young and she was positive that they wouldn’t understand Kat and Mary’s relationship. Until she herself knew what her own feelings were regarding the matter, how could Catalina explain it to the younger members of the house? Mary thought it was stupid reasoning but she would never be able to step to her mother. Catalina was the only person, apart from Kat, who the bloody queen could never get angry with. She was her mother.

 

But Mary was reaching the end of her tether. Seeing Kat so tired, being well aware that her girlfriend had been suffering with nightmares again - it broke Mary’s heart. The number of times she had laid awake and considered sneaking out just to check Kat was okay was infinite. It hurt to see the person she cared most for in this life suffer. It wasn’t fair and that pissed Mary off. She knew eventually things would go wrong. That sometime soon she would be forced to rush into Kat’s room to offer comfort and if things did indeed reach that level NOBODY would be able to stop her.

 

That night came on week three of their separation.

 

It was around four in the morning when the screams started. Loud, viscous, blood curdling screams that echoed through the hall and into every room in the house. Mary immediately woke up upon hearing them and felt her blood run cold. Kat had woken up screaming before, but not quite like this. It sounded like she was in pain. She was screaming at invisible figures to get away from her, to get off her. The bloody queen shot out of bed and ran out to the hallway, forgoing her dressing gown or slippers. To her surprise, however, this time she was not the only one to have awoken. It seems that Kat’s terror filled screeches had also woken the rest of the house.

 

Cathy, Anna and Liz were at their doorways. Looking out towards Kat’s room with pity on their faces. Mary wanted to shout at them, scold them for directing such an expression at Kat. The pink queen never wanted to be pitied and she shouldn’t be. She was far too strong to be viewed that way. Kat’s bedroom door was open, increasing the volume of her wails once Mary was in the hallway. Catalina, Jane and Anne stood directly outside the door looking forlorn. From what Mary could hear as she approached, Anne had tried to go calm her and Kat had nearly rolled off the bed trying to escape. It seemed as though she no longer could find comfort in her cousin, instead she saw another threat through the goggles of her panic.

 

“Mary.” Catalina acknowledged when she got close enough, “You should be in bed.”

 

Mary settled her mother with an icy look, in no mood to argue right now, “No.”

 

“No?”

 

“Mama, I can’t lay in bed and listen to her like this.” Mary told her firmly, “I’m going in there and I will calm her down.”

 

“...”

 

Before Catalina could find a reason to say no, Jane swooped in with the save, “It’s worth a try. Kat trusts Mary.”

 

Catalina looked between them before another set of screams rang out making her wince, “Fine. Anything to calm her down…I hate seeing her like this.”

 

“We all do.” Anne placed a hand on the first queen’s shoulder, a rare show of comfort,

 

Anne appeared to be crying too, frustrated that she had been unable to talk Kat down.

 

That was all Mary needed to storm right past the trio and go into Kat’s room. Kat was laid in the centre of her bed, rolling this was and that with her eyes closed - trying to escape phantom hands. Long scratches across her neck showed she had been clawing at it in her sleep and for a moment Mary could only look over her and try not to get upset. After taking in the scene, she carefully sat on the edge of the bed. Kat moved away from the weight which told Mary that she was probably awake but in the middle of an intense flashback. Reaching out her hand, she gently placed two firm taps on Kat’s arm. The girl swiftly pulled it away but Mary knew it would register eventually, so did it again - this time calling her name as she did.

 

Tap tap.

 

“Kitty?”

 

Tap tap.

 

“Kitty…it’s me. It’s Mary.”

 

She tried one more time and repeated herself, this seemed to finally get through and suddenly Katherine’s eyes snapped open and she propelled herself into Mary’s arms. She was sobbing and pushed herself into the crook of Mary’s neck. The older girl positioned her on to her lap and cradled her gently. Trying to soothe her. The screaming had now stopped, but was replaced by heart wrenching sobs.

 

“Kitty…Kitty, you need to breathe okay?” Mary whispered, “In for four, out for four - ready?”

 

Kat didn’t respond, but that was fine. Mary knew she heard.

 

“In 1…2…3…4,” Mary counted, “Out 1…2…3...4.”

 

She repeated this over and over. Continuing to count until eventually she felt Kat begin to follow the pattern, sobs beginning to calm into light crying as Mary gently rocked her. After Kat finally appeared calmer, Mary placed a gentle kiss to the top of her head and felt her girlfriends arms wrap around her tighter. As if she thought letting go would cause Mary to disappear. Catalina watched the scene with interest. Mary had calmed Kat so quickly and seeing them in this embrace was like observing the calm after the storm. It didn’t make her feel the way that she had the last time she had seen them together.

 

It didn’t feel…wrong. It didn’t look like anything abnormal. It looked like any other couple. They were any other couple. Kat was clinging to Mary like a lifeline and Mary was demonstrating a level of love and care Lina had never seen her show before. Maybe the disgust that Catalina had felt before was more to do with the act they were caught in rather than it being with each other? Looking at them now, the clear love between them…how they clung to one another - what God would call this sin? Something so pure and gentle as their want to support and love each other. How could it be wrong?

 

“Mary.” She called gently,

 

Mary looked over her shoulder at the trio stood by the door, eyes fearful of being forced away from Kat as she still cried softly into her shoulder. It actually hurt Catalina somewhere deep that she had made her own daughter fear her judgement.

 

“Stay in here tonight.” Catalina told her, “Kat needs you. We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?”

 

“Okay.” Mary replied quietly, trying not to disturb Kat,

 

Catalina nodded, bidding goodnight and closing the door to the room. Leaving the couple to their privacy.

 

Eagerly awaiting the chance to apologise tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Chapter 29

 

Catalina had let them sleep in the next day, sensing Kat would need it.

 

Mary had been grateful for this, being able to wake up in bed with her girlfriend on her shoulder all warm and cozy. She took the extra time to really hold on to Kat, just in case someone changed their mind and ripped them apart again. It was obvious that the younger woman had the best sleep that night, after being calmed down, than she had in weeks. So a little extra time in bed would only do her some good in the long run. When she did wake up, the duo had gone to the bathroom so that Mary could tend to the nasty claw marks on her neck. It was kind of surprising how easily Kat let her rub the ointment in and bandage the nastier ones. The level of trust she had in Mary being shown through that simple act.

 

Eventually, both knew it was time to go downstairs and prepare for some difficult conversations. Mary needed to iron things out with her mother and Kat needed to finally be honest with Anne and Jane. It was early afternoon when they finally went downstairs to face their demons. Catalina was probably in her study, it was where she always went for silent reflection and Mary assumed she would have needed it today. Kat had asked Cathy, whom had been playing with Mae in the living room, where her cousins were and she directed her to the back garden. With a quick squeeze of encouragement on their conjoined hands, they parted. Planning to meet up again in the music room to swap notes after.

 

Mary walked down the hall towards her mother’s study, taking her time to get there. Part of her worried over what the outcome of this discussion would be. Whether her mother’s views had changed or if she were planning to double down. Mary desperately didn’t want last night to be a one off. An occasional ‘if Kat has a nightmare’ exception. Honestly, part of her still didn’t want to know and entertained the thought of booking it back upstairs to wait for Kat. But she couldn’t. This was something she needed to do, she needed to know where she stood with her mother. For her own wellbeing over anyone else’s.

 

Swallowing her nerves she tapped gently on her mother’s study door. She took these extra seconds to build some confidence, unaware of Catalina doing the exact same on the other side. Eventually, both knew they had to have this conversation no matter what and so Lina told her to come in. Mary opened the door and shuffled in like a naughty school girl being summoned to the headmasters office. Refusing to look at her mother yet, Mary’s eyes searched the room for anything else to focus on. Instead she caught sight of that stupid childhood portrait of herself and winced. Man she hated that picture.

 

“Good afternoon, mija.” Catalina greeted,

 

Mary finally met her eyes, “Morning, Mama. You wanted to talk?”

 

“Yes…I did.” Catalina took a deep breath, “I feel like an apology is owed. To both you and Kat but I’m sure I’ll catch her later.”

 

“An apology?”

 

That was not what she had expected.

 

Lina nodded, “I’m sorry, mija. It was wrong of me to try and force you two apart. You tried warning me what would happen and I, in my own stubbornness, refused to listen.”

 

“It’s okay, Mama.”

 

“No. It’s not.” Catalina was adamant, “Truthfully, I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know how to support you or protect you from this. Wait, I phrased that wrong. I don’t know how to protect you from what others might say or do to you and Kat and that terrifies me.”

 

Mary nodded, “We don’t really know what we’re doing either, we’re just exploring this new part of life together. We don’t expect you to protect us, we just want you to accept us. Accept me.”

 

Catalina looked heartbroken, “Of course I accept you. You’re my child. I just don’t know a lot about this topic and that scares me - but that is for me to work out on my own and not for you to fret over. I’m sorry for making you feel like that.”

 

“So…what changed?” Mary asked, genuinely,

 

“Seeing Kat like that last night.” Her mother explained, “You weren’t here when we all first came back. All the arguing and fighting and screaming, it was terrible. Then Kat’s nightmares started and suddenly we were presented with this…this young woman who needed help. She needed to be loved and supported. It bonded us, truly. We all realised our fighting wasn’t good for Kat so we stopped. To see her last night, nightmares as bad as they were at the very beginning and, worse, nobody being able to calm her down…it shocked me. How did everything get so strained? How didn’t I notice? Then you came in and soothed her. I’ve never seen you be so gentle.”

 

“I never thought I could be that gentle,” Mary admitted, “Kat brings that out of me.”

 

Catalina smiled, “How did you two get from hatred to naked canoodling?”

 

“Mama!” Mary whined embarrassed,

 

“I’m asking.” Catalina’s eyes sparkled with mischief, “Seriously…I want to know.”

 

Mary felt a grin spread across her features and she finally took a seat at her mother’s desk. It was kind of a long story and so she started from the moment everything had changed.

 

“It started when I heard her playing the virginal.” Mary began, “But I think I’d felt something long before that…”

 

_____

 

Kat went out to the gardens as Cathy had directed.

 

She knew Jane and Anne would be out by the pool since it was a nice day. Anne liked to sunbathe and Jane just enjoyed dipping her toes in the water. She could hear Eddie and Lizzie giggling as water splashed. Kat assumed they were having a water fight and a small smile graced her features at how irritated Jane would be if they got her wet. Part of her was worried about how this conversation would go. Whether either of them would listen is a different argument, but by this point Kat no longer cared if they did or didn’t. She was doing this for her, giving Anne one more chance to go back to how things were. Or at least as close as they could given everything that happened.

 

The pool area was surrounded by large hedge walls. It left the entire area sectioned off towards the back of the property. This allowed Kat some time before being spotted to work out what she wanted to say. It was hard for her to be vocal about her feelings, to voice how she truly felt. Sure, she had managed to let it out a little when getting defensive over Mary during the coming out fiasco. But Anne had never given her reason to be angry at her before and Kat had no idea how to address it. So her plan was to just say everything she felt and let them respond. Let Anne do the work to fix the relationship based on what Kat said. It would take pressure off a little but wouldn’t make it easy.

 

“Aunt Kat!” Lizzie called when she rounded the corner,

 

Everything looked the way she expected. Anne was stretched out on a sun lounger, Jane wading her feet in the pool and the kids in the water splashing each other. It warmed Kat’s heart a little, seeing the scene in front of her reminded her of her childhood dreams of family. How much she had wished any of her siblings or her parents had been able to have moments like this. No agenda or image focus - just fun. But that had never happened. Not in her first life anyway.

 

“Hey Lizzie!” Kat greeted, slipping on her fake smile, “Can you guys chill in the shallow end a minute, I need to talk to your Mums.”

 

Lizzie sensed she knew what this was about, “Come on, Eddie!”

 

They swam away and Kat looked at Jane, not ready to face Anne directly right now, “Can we talk?”

 

Jane smiled and patted the spot next to her. As she walked round to take the spot, Kat took note of Anne getting up to sit on the other side of her. Once upon a time, sitting between her cousins would have been where Kat felt the most safe. Now she just felt claustrophobic. Copying Jane, she decided to remove her shoes and dip her feet into the pool. The cool water giving her something to ground herself to whilst she prepared to talk.

 

“So what’s on your mind, Kitty?” Jane asked,

 

Kat took a deep breath, “I…I’m mad. At you guys.”

 

She felt Anne stiffen beside her, obviously not expecting her to be so direct.

 

“Okay,” Jane decided to take the lead here, since Anne seemed too surprised to speak, “Why are you mad?”

 

“Because…” God Kat hated how meek she sounded, woman up! “Because you two ditched me.”

 

“Oh…”

 

“I see.”

 

“I understood at first,” Kat began, confidence building at the fact they were listening, “Your kids were back and you wanted to spend time with them, I get it. But then…”

 

Kat felt herself begin to get angry.

 

“...then you just started completely forgetting about me. I went from having a family to being alone again and it sucked.”

 

Her mind went back to that loneliness she had felt before she and Mary started getting close.

 

“I spent every day all by myself and you…you didn’t care.” Kat told them, “Jane - you apologised, I know. But Anne…”

 

She finally turned to look at the green queen.

 

“You PROMISED you would always be there for me when I needed you. And I did. I NEEDED you.” Kat seemed to realise just how much she resented the abandonment, voice raising as she spoke, “I had the worst nightmares of my life, I was alone all day, school was getting hard and…and I had no support. Then I come downstairs every Friday to see that you’d taken the Howard out of the Boleyn/Seymour/Howard Family Film Festival and the only time you invited me back was because you wanted me to do you a favour.”

 

Anne, to her credit, took the verbal bashing. Knowing she deserved it.

 

“It was selfish!” Kat was on a roll now, “You ditched me for your new family. I love Liz and Eddie, I really do but I didn’t know you’d replace me with them. That you loving Liz meant there was no love left for me.”

 

“That’s not true…” Anne whispered,

 

“It feels true.” Kat wiped away a stray tear, “I’m still constantly scared Mary will leave me because if you guys did anyone could.”

 

“Oh, Kitty!” Jane sounded upset herself, “We didn’t mean to make you feel like that.”

 

Anne swallowed her pride for the first time in her life.

 

“I’m sorry KitKat.” She said, honestly, “Don’t blame Jane - it was me and my pride that got in the way.”

 

Kat was positive she’d never heard Anne apologise for anything.

 

“At the start, Liz was jealous and I didn’t want to do anything that would risk her disappearing.” Anne explained, “I think it’s something left over from Henry, the constant reminder that anything can be gone in the blink of an eye. I should have explained it to you but I just…I didn’t want you to think I was weak for being scared.”

 

“Weak?”

 

“I’m supposed to be your support, I’m meant to be the strong one.” She elaborated, “I recognise that’s ironic but that was my mentality. My pride got in the way and eventually I got to the point where I didn’t want to admit I’d fucked up. So I made up some excuse as to why I wanted you to rejoin us, I hoped it would make me seem more in control. That wasn’t right, I’m so sorry it made you feel as bad as it did.”

 

“Me too,” Jane added, “Anne’s not alone in this, I was too blinded by Eddie to see what was happening. That’s on me too.”

 

Kat felt somewhat relieved, this seemed to be going well, “Okay, well I suppose I’m not the best at articulating how I feel. It’s something I’m working on in my group sessions.”

 

Anne hummed, “That’s good. We love you, Kitty. And I can promise we wont forget to show it EVER again.”

 

Kat finally smiled, feeling a lot better now that everything was out in the open. To show she had forgiven them she leant her head on Anne’s shoulder, unable to see the big grin the second queen shared with the third. Jane grabbed Kat’s hand and the trio sat there for a while, watching the children playing in the water. However, there was one more thing that needed addressing.

 

“So…about Mary.” Anne began,

 

Kat stiffened, “Uhh yeah?”

 

“I’m not still keen on her,” Anne stated in her blunt way, “But if she treats you well then that’s fine with me.”

 

“And does she?” Jane asked, “Treat you well?”

 

Kat smiled and squeezed her cousin’s hand, “She treats me very well. I’ve never felt so…loved before.”

 

“Then I’m happy for you.” Jane smiled,

 

“If she hurts you, I will get my sword out.” Anne threatened lightly, resting her own head on Kat’s, “Lizzie will forgive me eventually.”

 

Kat chuckled, “I have warned her about the sword.”

 

“Good.”

 

Kat smiled…

 

Yes. Everything was good.

Chapter Text

Chapter 30

 

“Sooo what did you mean to do?”

 

Liz was currently stood in the doorway to the kitchen watching the chaos unfold. Her sister was stood in the centre of the room, looking dishevelled and defeated. Coated head to toe in flour and batter. In front of her, the counter was covered in white foam that had been doused out of the fire extinguisher. This had been required when Mary had accidentally flambéd the pancakes she was attempting to cook. Seriously, what was it with her and fire!? The fire alarm had been what alerted Liz to the anarchy in the kitchen and boy was she glad to be there to witness it in all its glory.

 

“I was attempting to cook some heart shaped pancakes, it’s mine and Kat’s first anniversary.” Mary explained through grit teeth, “However, I appear to have severely overestimated my cooking abilities.”

 

Liz bit back a laugh, “Yeah…I would say so.”

 

Mary sighed and looked around the kitchen, “Be honest with me…”

 

“Always.”

 

“Do you think Jane will be mad?”

 

Liz wiped some batter off the wall with her finger, bringing it to her mouth to taste and immediately wincing at how salty it was.

 

“I think this might be the thing that makes her snap.” Liz answered, “Congratulations! Maman has been trying to do that for MONTHS.”

 

Mary groaned, this was not how today was supposed to start. It was meant to be all cuddles, kisses and I love yous, not Mary haphazardly waving a tea towel under the fire alarm to try and make it SHUT UP! She had deliberately woken up early this morning to run downstairs and make her girlfriend the best damn pancakes of her life. Jane had even given her a recipe and she still managed to mess it up. Now she had no time to go and get a back up gift because she had to clean this mess up. Mary very much suspected Lizzie was here to laugh at her inadequacy rather than help her. This couldn’t possibly get any worse!

 

“Is that the fire---WOOAHHHHH!”

 

Famous last words.

 

Neither Mary nor Liz had time to warn Anna before she came barrelling in and slipped on some floor batter. Due to the floor being smothered by various goos and glops, there was no friction causing poor Anna to slide feet first into the back door with a thud. Liz covered a laugh with her hand while Mary sped up her tea towel flapping and thankfully managed to shut the alarm off. In the blessed quiet that followed all that could be heard was mild tinnitus and muttered German swear words from the floor.

 

“That’s it!” Anna declared, trying to stand up without slipping again, “You are banned from being in the kitchen alone.”

 

“That’s…” Mary made to argue but she didn’t really have any moral high ground here, “…valid. That’s valid.”

 

“Next time just…buy her jewellery or some shit.”

 

“We both just buy the stuff we want when we want it,” Mary explained, “We agreed to make presents because then it’d be special.”

 

Anna looked at her knowingly, “Kat’s idea?”

 

“Kat’s idea.” She confirmed,

 

Footsteps alerted the trio to the doorway, a groggy looking Cathy walking in. She froze at the sight of the carnage, from Mary’s still smoking chef’s hat to the batter coating Anna’s running shorts. With a sigh she turned and walked back the way she came, opting to get coffee later - it was far to early for this bullshit. As Cathy walked away, she nearly collided with Kat whom was walking in the direction of the kitchen.

 

“Morning, Cath---”

 

“Your girlfriend blew up the kitchen.”

 

Kat blinked, running into the room in question to check the scene. She slipped a bit as she stopped beside Liz and sure enough it looked like a pancake bomb had gone off. Her eyes widened, trying to take in everything. How did Mary manage to get half an egg shell buried in the ceiling?

 

“Uhh….surprise?” It sounded more like a question but the jazz hands helped,

 

That was all it took for Kat to begin hysterically laughing, Liz following immediately and Anna chuckled lightly as she found the humour in the situation. Mary looked a little sheepish, pink cheeks shining through the flour on her face. Deciding to show some mercy, Kat carefully crossed the room and wiped off enough crud on Mary’s cheek to place a kiss there.

 

“Awww, I assume this was breakfast for me?” Kat asked, not caring about getting messy and hugging her girlfriend,

 

“It was supposed to be pancakes but Jane’s stupid recipe failed me.” Mary grumbled,

 

“It’s the thought that counts.”

 

“Yeah, yeah…” Mary sighed, “I’m sorry, I thought this would go better.”

 

Kat giggled and pecked her lips, ignoring the gagging sounds Liz was making, “Let’s clean this up and then you can take me out for breakfast instead, fair?”

 

“Fair.” Mary smiled,

 

“By the time you finish it’ll probably be lunch.” Liz quipped,

 

Mary glared at her, the teenager merely laughing and walked off back upstairs. Probably clearing the area before Jane came down and had an actual stroke. Anna just rolled her eyes with a fond smile and went upstairs to shower the batter off of her legs. This left the couple alone to try and clean up the mess before anyone else came down. Unfortunately, fate had never been on their side and so they should have expected to be caught. Luckily they’d gotten almost all of it off the ceiling and the counter top. Mary had been focused on a particularly stubborn spot of gloop on the wall before a strangled choking sound startled her.

 

There was Jane stood beside a cry-laughing Anne Boleyn.

 

“My…My kitchen….” She stammered, “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY KITCHEN!?”

Mary met Kat’s eyes from across the room and they knew what needed to be done.

“It was all Liz.”

“Elizabeth did it!”

_____

They didn’t finish cleaning until well after lunch.

Anne had been forced to lead Jane away to prevent her from having a full on meltdown. They grabbed the others and went out for breakfast, leaving the couple to clean. It had actually been kind of fun, Kat had put on the radio and danced along as they cleaned. They spent the morning finding the fun in the work and enjoying each others company. Once they finished, they went to lunch at their favourite café. To make up for the breakfast disaster, Mary called ahead and told the manager (whom they knew on a first name basis at this point) to prepare her. With the manager being a legend she had their usual orders ready and waiting. When they arrived their usual booth was reserved. The staff had even covered the table with heart shaped sequins they had left over from the last valentines day.

 

Then when they got home they went to their corner and watched a couple movies. But that evening was when the real romance started. Kat got a picnic blanket and set it up towards the back of the gardens. It was far from the house with a huge willow tree for her to set up a picnic under. Total privacy where they could sit out under the stars and watch the meteor shower. They knew the others would be watching the event themselves from the back porch but given how vast the grounds were there was no risk of anyone interrupting them.

 

The food was long gone and now they were both laid back on the blanket, looking up at the stars. Hands tightly clasped together between them, just below the present Kat had given Mary. She had phrased it as ‘nothing special’ but Mary had seen it very differently. It was a drawing of the two of them in some cutesy chibi style that the older girl usually found too sickly to enjoy. It showed them embracing with the pink haired character smiling and sparkling and the brunette looking straight faced with a blush on her cheeks. Mary refused to admit she ever blushed but deep down she knew it was probably accurate. Her pretending to be aloof whilst melting. “Whipped” as Lizzie called it.

 

She loved the picture though. Kat had even put it in a little frame and Mary fully intended to hang it up on their bedroom wall. That’s right - after alternating bedrooms for a few months they decided to just move Mary into Kat’s room. They kept her old room as a spare bedroom and sometimes Mary would read in there when she wanted some quiet time (they loved each other but being around people 24/7 for an introvert like Mary was still a little taxing). Kat understood that sometimes Mary liked her own company and so usually she would hunt down Anne to cause some chaos during this time.

 

But that didn’t mean they didn’t love moments like this. Just them in their own little bubble, watching the world go by.

 

“There’s a theory,” Kat said, breaking the silence, “That if aliens were to look at our planet from theirs with like a huuuuge telescope, they wouldn’t see us laying here. In fact they’d be more likely to see us in our first life.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Mmhm, it’s due to like time and distance or something.” Kat told her, “But in the same way, most of the stars we see now are long gone.”

 

“We could be looking at the stars that shone over us back then.” Mary stated,

 

“Not just us, imagine everything they’ve seen.” Kat’s voice sounded so whimsical that it made Mary smile, “I wish I could be a star, just watch the earth turn from far away and see history unfold.”

 

Mary squeezed her hand, “You can’t be a star, you’re staying right here with me.”

 

Kat giggled, “Let me dream.”

 

“It is weird to think about how things have changed though, isn’t it?” Mary observed, “How we’ve changed…”

 

“You don’t hate me any more for one.”

 

“And you don’t bottle up your emotions to the point of explosion.”

 

“Touché.” Kat sighed, turning her head to look at her, “I like things as they are now. It’s better this way.”

 

Mary smiled and turned to look back, “Me too.”

 

“I love you, Mary.”

 

“I love you too - Happy anniversary Kitty.”

 

They closed the gap and enjoyed a chaste kiss under the aged stars, forgoing the sight of the meteors as they zoomed across. They were too wrapped up in enjoying this moment to really care. Eventually they did look up and the older queen would happily listen to Kat’s cooing over how pretty the “shooting stars” were and demanding they made wishes.

 

But what could they really wish for that they didn’t already have?

 

Mary would never know for sure if she could atone for the sins of her past. Just like how Kat wasn’t sure she would ever truly be able to move on from the pain in her own. But as they lay there, hands clasped tightly and staring up at the stars, one thing was clear…

 

They would move forward together.

 

Mary and Kat - together forever.

 

And it would be perfect.

 

 

THE END

Chapter Text

Bonus 1# - First Fight Part 1

 

“Ladies!”

 

Kat winced at the sudden noise of her cousin bursting into the music room. She and Mary had swapped places that day, Kat drawing some coursework on her tablet in their corner and Mary playing the virginal to fill the quiet. Over time the rest of the house’s inhabitants had gotten used to infiltrating the couple’s personal space. It was the only way to get through to them sometimes, especially around their anniversary or Valentines Day. Well over a year on and they could still be just as nauseously wrapped up in their little love bubble as ever. Ergo people like Anne had to learn to crowbar their way inside. It’s not like they would COMPLETELY ignore the others, it was just that they were (as Liz put it) annoyingly in love. Anyway - point is that Anne had no more reservations about bursting into the music room unannounced.

 

This unfortunately led to a few very awkward encounters, worst being catching Mary with her hand up Kat’s shirt, but she only tried to kill Mary the once. After that she just accepted that her baby cousin was a grown up and only came in when she could hear someone playing an instrument. The more hands on instruments the less hands on each other.

 

Mary glared, hands crashing down on the keys hard in shock, “For God sake Boleyn, you’re like a bull in a china shop!”

 

“Cheer up misery guts,” Anne rolled her eyes, “I came to invite my dear Kitty to a night on the town! And I suppose by extension you can probably come too…”

 

“Gee thanks.”

 

Kat giggled, happy to see the two of them getting along in their own special way. There had been a week or so after they were outed in which Anne got extremely protective in regards to Mary around Kat. Nothing overly serious or aggressive, but she did threaten to get her sword down to skewer the Bloody Queen if she ever hurt her baby cousin. It had caused somewhat of a weird tension since the two of them had never HAD to get along before. They went from outright mutual hatred in their first life to tense civility for Lizzie’s sake in their second. Now because of Kat they were forced to find some way to be around each other. She wanted them to get along and refused to settle for the bare minimum. Therefore, the duo eventually settled on slinging insults and sarcastic comments at one another. They weren’t mean spirited, just banter between the two of them that allowed them to bond without feeling insecure or vulnerable.

 

It worked for them so who was Kat to argue?

 

“It depends who’s going,” Kat told her cousin, “I love you Anne, but if your going to ditch us to hustle pool again--”

 

“No, no, no!” Anne stepped towards her, “Everyone’s going! Even Cathy!”

 

Mary snorted, “How did you swing that one?”

 

“Lizzie wants to get a part time job, so she’s thinking of baby sitting.” Anne explained, “I convinced Cathy to let her practice with Mae.”

 

“You’re leaving Elizabeth in charge? Of the whole house and the lives of two children?” Mary raised an eyebrow,

 

“Hey! She ran a country!”

 

“We all did.”

 

“I--Okay good point well made.” Anne huffed, “She can always call if there’s an issue and c’mon - Cathy NEEDS to get out of the house. If she throws one more passive aggressive comment at me I will strangle her.”

 

“I suppose we have to go then,” Kat sighed dramatically, “If only to stop you murdering Cathy.”

 

“Atta girl!”

 

Anne moved to hug her cousin, only to pause and let Kat stand up and come to her. Now, like previously said, everyone had gotten used to forcing their way into the bubble Mary and Kat liked to create. However, there was one rule that had been made abundantly clear. NOBODY is allowed to sit in Mary and Kat’s corner. It was their special spot. Like a safe space only they were permitted to take comfort in. In their bedroom they didn’t mind Liz or Eddie sitting on their bed whilst they talked and letting one of their house mates sit in the music with them from time to time was fine. But not their corner, never their corner.

 

Letting her cousin pull her into a hug, Kat sent a look over her shoulder to smile at her girlfriend, “You coming too?”

 

“Someone needs to keep you both out of trouble.” Mary smirked back,

 

Anne suddenly pulled out of the hug, “No! I just realised that there are three of you now!”

 

“Three of what?”

 

“Catalina, Jane and now you - the three kill joys!”

 

Mary glared at Anne, “I can have fun.”

 

“Sure, Jan.”

 

Mary blinked, “My names Mary?”

 

Anne turned to stare at Kat, horrified at that revelation.

 

“You forced her to watch Riverdale but have yet to introduce her to memes? Who are you!?”

 

_____

 

“Can we all agree not to drink too much?”

 

The group were stood outside the local pub. They couldn’t remember the last time they came here all together, it would have been long before the kids came back. To be fair, none of them would come too often but for things like birthdays and celebrations they would make the trip and get drunk. It was always the same formula, Anne would hustle some guys at pool and then bet Anna she could drink her under the table. Inevitably Anna would out drink the chaotic woman and be forced to carry Anne home afterwards. Jane would have one or two fruity cocktails and spend her night keeping watch on everyone (she HAD too following the Great Pub Brawl of 2018). Catalina usually brought a deck of cards and would set up a game with Cathy and Kat. Cathy was pretty hot and cold with drinking - sometimes she’d stay completely sober and other times she would get PLASTERED. Kat just drank what she was given, satisfied that one of the girls would get her home safe if she had too much.

 

“C’mon Jane!” Anne whined, “Live a little!”

 

“To be fair Jane, I’ve been in Mummy mode for the last year - I need to get full on wasted tonight.” Cathy sighed, “I’ve earned the right to be carried home on Anna’s left shoulder, too drunk to remember my own name.”

 

“Dibs on the right!” Anne hollered, pulling Cathy through the doors,

 

Anna exchanged a look with Kat before following them in, “Good thing we added weights to the training regime.”

 

Catherine and Jane followed with linked arms and mutual misery on their faces. Kat squeezed Mary’s hand to get her attention, the older girl met her eyes and realised she was asking if Mary was ready to head inside. After a nod, in they went. Heading to the corner where the rest of the group had set up for their evening. Anne was getting the first round at the bar whilst Lina started dealing cards. Sliding into the booth next to Anna, Mary happily pulled her girl into the seat beside her. Immediately enquiring about which game they were planning to play.

 

“Did anyone tell Anne not to get shots?” Cathy asked,

 

Silence from everyone else made her wince.

 

“Tonight’s going to be rough.” She hummed,

 

“Not for me - I learned my lesson. The last time Anne bought shots I woke up in a….” Catalina trailed off when she remembered her daughter was sat opposite, “in my own bed, nice and cozy and indoors.”

 

The beaming smile she sent made Mary uncomfortable so she decided to take her mother’s answer as the truth. She side eyed Kat who was now giggling at the memory of what really happened. Mary caught her eye and raised her eyebrows in question, but the younger girl just pat her arm softly.

 

“You don’t want to know.”

 

“Noted.”

 

“I bring shots!” Anne declared, slamming the tray on the centre of the table, “One each come on.”

 

Everyone grumbled and picked up a shot of the mysterious green liquid. Mary eyed it suspiciously but sensed no threat given that the others seemed to be more frustrated by the alcohol than concerned for its effects. Anne grabbed an extra chair to fling herself down on before grabbing her own shot.

 

“To a kid free night!”

 

They rolled their eyes but all chorused a less enthusiastic version of that sentence. Kat stopped to laugh at the expression on Mary’s face as she tasted Sourz for the first time. Mary sent her a playful glare and nudged her with her shoulder.

 

“Okay if you two are going to flirt the whole time we’re going to leave you guys here.” Cathy quipped,

 

Kat turned to retort, only her eyes caught the sight of something over the bookworm’s shoulder. Putting the, still full, shot down on the table, she slowly began to stand.

 

“Oh my God!” Kat was stunned, barely glancing back at Mary, “I’ll be back in a second.”

 

“Everything okay?” Mary asked, a little worried,

 

“Yeah…just seen an old friend.” Was all Kat replied as she left the table to approach a girl by the bar,

 

Mary’s gaze followed her girlfriend as she quickly made her way over to this mystery girl and tapped her shoulder. Now, Mary had been doing a good job at maintaining her temper recently. She had learned a ton of tricks and tips to keep herself in check and make sure she stopped flying off the handle. So far it had all worked wonders. No more raging over little inconveniences or shouting rants that made her throat hurt. Mary had worked hard to learn to channel her anger in healthier ways. However, all that was about to be tested as the mystery girl turned round and recognised Kat. Pulling her into a hug. Mary didn’t like them hugging. Didn’t like Kat being so close to someone that Mary didn’t recognise. It was silly, she knew she had no control over who Kat was friends with. But this girl was extremely attractive and immediately matched Kat’s energy as they began talking. Why didn't Kat want to introduce her to her 'friend'?

 

It all made Mary a little insecure.

 

“Lina, I think your daughter’s trying to laser beam Kat’s friend to death with her eyes.” Cathy’s sarcastic tone sounded,

 

Mary glared at her, “I am just keeping an eye on my girlfriend, is that a problem?”

 

“Not at all…” Cathy held up her hands in surrender,

 

Anne laughed, “Awww is wittle Mawy jealous?”

 

Mary's glare intensified and she opened her mouth to inevitably start an argument, but luckily for everyone Jane cut her off.

 

“Mary, relax.” Jane said gently, “You know Kat loves you, that’s probably someone she knows from class. They’re only talking, no need to get upset love.”

 

Mary grumbled, sure what Jane said made sense but it didn’t do much to quell the bubbling jealousy when she looked over at the mystery girl gently shoving her girlfriend’s shoulder.

 

“I’m going to get another round.” Anne chuckled, “More shots?”

 

“No!” Lina snapped,

 

“I can’t.” Jane whined,

 

“I’ll take another - but tell the bartender to pour proper shots. Those last ones were baby sized.” Anna stated,

 

“Me too.” Cathy conceded,

 

“Mary?”

 

Pausing for a moment, Mary suddenly grabbed Kat’s discarded shot and threw it back in one gulp. It burned her throat as it travelled down and she coughed slightly in an attempt to clear it.

 

“Hit me.”

 

“WOO! Mary came to play!”

 

For the nth time that evening, Lina and Jane exchanged a look - this would not end well.

 

_____

 

They were right.

 

Kat was stood talking to her friend for nearly an hour. Grace, the apparent mystery girl, had taught a kids dance class at the Youth Centre. They had met when Kat’s college offered a volunteer scheme there. The pink haired queen had taught some music classes and Grace had approached her one day about playing live piano for her class’ recital. After that they had become quite good friends until Grace got a job offer for some West End show and moved closer to the city centre. They spent some time catching up on their lives. Grace told her about the show she was in and promised to set some tickets aside for her. Whilst Kat told her about Mary and how her course was going. It was nice, seeing someone she had once been so close to. After promising to meet up before Grace left town again, Kat decided to head back to the table.

 

But it was not how she had left it.

 

Anne was looking very woozy, surrounded by empty bottles and looking up at a still put together Anna like she was superhuman. The German had just as many bottles around her but appeared unaffected by them, still playing cards with Lina, Cathy and Jane while she drank Anne to a second death. Cathy also seemed pretty tipsy, arguing with Jane that she had not in fact just asked for a 3. She had asked for a 3, she was just a little too far gone to remember. Insulted by the concept of being asked to ‘Go Fish’. Jane and Lina themselves seemed unphased, which was to be expected. However, the main change came in the shape of Kat’s own girlfriend. The moment Katherine was back in sight, Mary propelled herself up and pulled her into a hug.

 

“Kittyyy!”

 

Kat blinked, Mary wasn’t usually the clingy type, “Woah, sorry I took so long…”

 

Suddenly, Kat was shoved back and Mary went from happy and clingy to cross, “You was talking too long to her - who is she?”

 

Kat tried not to laugh, drunk Mary was an EXPERIENCE, “Someone I met volunteering at the Youth Centre ages ago.”

 

“Pfft…I volunteer places too talk to me instead!” Mary whined, pulling Kat back into the booth and sitting on her lap,

 

At that point Kat did laugh a little, wrapping her arms around Mary’s waist in hopes of calming her down. She locked eyes with Lina who looked just as amused. This was not a side of Mary anyone had seen before, including Kat. Clingy was usually her thing, Mary was never the type to admit she needed somebody. Nor was she the type to introduce PDA, even Kat didn’t do that, so for them this was very much out of the ordinary. Even in the house, the couple only really held hands or an odd peck on the cheek. Partly due to them not wanting to gross anyone out, but mostly because they didn’t want to risk someone remembering that time they walked in on them canoodling.

 

But now, Mary was sat confidently on Kat’s lap with her arms wrapped loosely round the younger girl’s head and her heels digging into Anna’s leg a little since she was sat side on. The others all carried on with what they were doing while Kat watched the girls playing cards. After a few hours and a lot more drinks, Mary decided she didn’t like the lack of attention she was receiving. But rather than vocalise it, she leant up and nipped Kat’s ear softly. Immediately, Kat flushed red at the sudden affection and turned her head to stare at her girlfriend in surprise. Mary’s mother was sat directly opposite them. But rather than get deterred, the older girl whined slightly and moved to nip again.

 

“Stop it.” Kat muttered, smiling at the clingyness,

 

Mary huffed and buried her head in her neck, “Mine.”

 

“Okay, baby.” Kat chuckled,

 

“Hey, Kat?”

 

Everyone looked over at the new voice. It was Grace, now wearing her coat to signify she was probably on her way outside.

 

“I’m heading home,” Grace smiled, “I’ll give you a call and we’ll meet up soon, okay?”

 

“Sounds good,” Kat smiled, “Nice to see you.”

 

“You too!”

 

She then turned and walked away. Kat thought nothing more of the interaction, that was until Mary slid off her lap into her own seat again and started to pout.

 

“Oooh Kat’s in troubleee!”

 

Kat couldn’t help but feel Anne was right. Luckily, that was when the group decided it was probably time for them to go home too. They all got their stuff together and, as promised, Anna draped a very drunk Anne and Cathy over her shoulders to carry them back to the mansion. Mary stumbled over to her mother, not walking with Kat like she usually would. It hurt the younger girl’s feeling a little but Mary was drunk so most of her behaviour wouldn’t make sense until she was sober and could vocally rationalise it. Instead Kat stayed beside Jane as they stepped out on to the street. The group stopped a moment so that Anna could readjust Anne on her right shoulder.

 

When she looked across the street Kat spotted Grace getting into a cab and waved at her. Grace waved back before getting in. Suddenly, two firm hands were on her face and Mary pulled her forward for a kiss. Staking her claim. Kat’s hands flew up to hover by her head in surrender so that everyone could see she wasn’t the instigator here. Vaguely she heard Catalina gag and Anne beg Anna to carry her away from the ‘horny lesbian and my baby’. After a moment, Mary pulled away and stormed in the direction the others had escaped in. Leaving Kat very confused.

 

_____

 

It took some effort getting Mary up to their bedroom.

 

She was fighting Kat every step of the way, still really angry at whatever it was she was angry about. This side of Mary was rather amusing to everyone else. Seeing poised regal Mary reduced to something akin to a tantruming toddler was utterly fascinating to them. Poor Kat had to try and get Mary up the stairs all by herself because the others were laughing so much they were physically unable to help. On her end, Kat didn’t know whether to laugh or be concerned by Mary’s antics. Now, Mary was definitely the jealous type but that didn’t mean it happened often. She had met plenty of Kat’s friends from the college and not felt the need to drink herself silly. But obviously something about Grace had struck a nerve and now Kat didn’t know what to do.

 

Finally getting the drunk woman into their room, Kat dropped her on their bed and went to close the door. Mary sat up, holding herself up by her hands as she stared at her exhausted girlfriend.

 

“We should have the shex.”

 

Kat blinked, “What?”

 

Mary shrugged, “ ‘m mad at choo.”

 

The younger girl gave an amused smile at that, “And that leads to sex how?”

 

“Make-up sex.”

 

“You’re drunk.” Kat smiled,

 

“I’m hot.”

 

“Equally true.”

 

Kat turned to the drawer to pull out some pyjamas.

 

“Hotter than that girl at the bar?”

 

Ignoring her little comment, Kat got out the sleepwear for herself and began searching for Mary’s. Apparently, her girlfriend didn’t like the lack of response and so pulled herself up. She stumbled the short distance to where the drawers were and tapped Kat’s shoulder. Usually this wouldn’t have affected the pink queen, she trusted Mary and knew that they were the only two in the room. However, when alcohol was involved Kat’s anxiety would spike slightly in general. Be it if Kat was drunk or someone around her was, all she would think about is when Henry used to stagger into her chambers reeking of ale. For the most part it wasn’t a problem but the thought stayed at the back of her mind. Adding the extra anxiety of someone touching her when she couldn’t see them still made her, no wonder she freezed for a moment.

 

She reassured herself it was only Mary, but still turned her head to make sure she could SEE her girlfriend. A pair of grey pyjamas belonging to the ex-bloody queen clutched tightly in her hands. Unfortunately, Mary hadn’t noticed the effect of the tap because the alcohol had completely clouded her judgement.

 

“ ‘m hotter than her right?” Mary asked,

 

Kat took a breath, exhaling a chuckle, “Yes, Mary. You’re definitely hotter.”

 

“Good.” Mary pouted, “You’re mine.”

 

Leaning over to kiss the pout away, the younger girl couldn’t help but find her adorable, “Of course I’m all yours, don’t you trust me?”

 

It was meant as a light joke, teasing if you will, but what Mary said next would cause a huge misunderstanding that led to the first fight Mary and Kat ever had as a couple. One of those things where Mary said something with no context and Kat thought she meant it completely differently. So after Kat teased her by asking:

 

“Don’t you trust me?”

 

Mary responded by saying:

 

“Well it’sh happened before…”

 

That sentence hit Kat harder than the slap she’d given Mary the last time she brought up the past in that way. Replaying it in her head to try and register what she really said, Kat felt her guard go up. Did…did Mary seriously just throw that back in her face? Sure, she was drunk but it couldn’t help but raise the question of if Mary still thought of her as some kind of cheating whore. Kat could remember the fury and hatred her girlfriend had for her when she was first brought back. It had hurt. The things Mary had said had hurt but they had never brought it up. Not really, only an apology for what was said. She thought they had moved past it but now all Kat could think was that Mary was still scared she’d cheat.

 

Kat hadn’t even cheated! Culpeper had taken advantage of her! Mary knew that…didn’t she?

 

“W-What did you say?”

 

“Huh?” Mary’s eyes were glazed over, far to drunk for cohesive conversation,

 

With a scoff, Kat flung the pyjamas at her girlfriend and stood up.

 

“Forget it, I’ll stay in Anne’s room tonight.”

 

It may have been an overreaction but Kat was still not used to openly expressing how she felt in the moment. All she could do was remove herself from what was upsetting her until she felt ready to discuss it.

 

And right now what was upsetting her was drunken Mary.

Chapter Text

Bonus 1.5# - First Fight Part 2

 

Mary felt like she’d been hit by a train.

 

Waking up on your bedroom floor, hungover and slumped on a set of balled up pyjamas was never ideal. Between the pounding headache and the crick in her neck, Mary’s life was pain. Rubbing the back of her neck, she looked around the room. The harsh light made Mary wince but through her squint she noted Kat was nowhere to be seen. Their bed didn’t look slept in. Had Kat left her to sleep on the floor all night? That wasn’t like her. Sure, it wasn’t often that either of them got black out drunk but the few times they had the other would usually dress them for bed and put painkillers out for the next morning. But today there was nothing left out for her and she was still in last nights attire.

 

After a few tries she managed to stand up, leaving the pyjamas forgotten on the bedroom floor. Shuffling over to close the curtains and stifle the light that was blinding her. It made the pain in her body lessen substantially, at least enough for her to tug a brush through her hair and change into one of Kat’s hoodies and some sweatpants. Her next move was to rummage through the bedside table and take out a pair of bright pink sunglasses with little cat ears on the sides. The scent of pancakes wafted up from somewhere downstairs and the growling of her stomach declared she needed something fat filled and sweet. Stumbling her way downstairs, Mary tracked the scent of the pancakes to the kitchen.

 

Upon walking in, the chattering of the others sounded ten times as loud as it probably was. Mary had never felt this bad in her life and judging by the look Liz sent her she looked it.

 

“Morning sunshine!” Liz deliberately shouted,

 

“Aishhh….” Mary hissed, “Shhh, no loud noises.”

 

As she slammed herself into a seat, Jane kindly dished her out some food and poured a cup of coffee.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Elizabeth, ever the annoying little sister, snorted. Mary wanted to glare at her but sugary goodness proved more important and she ungracefully shovelled fork after fork into her mouth. After a while she began to feel more human and with this came the realisation that something was missing. Looking around the table, she realised that Kat and Anne weren’t there. This wasn’t like them. Anne was never one to miss pancakes and Kat wasn’t in their room so where was she?

 

“Hey, Mary!”

 

Had they gone out somewhere?

 

“Mary? Mary!”

 

Did Kat not come home last night? Had something happened?

 

“Maryyyy!!!”

 

Wouldn’t everyone be panicking if it had?

 

“Earth to Trastámara!”

 

WHY WASN’T ANYONE PANICKING!?

 

“MARY!”

 

“WHAT LIZ!? WHAT!?” Mary roared, immediately wincing as her head protested,

 

Liz remained unphased, “I’m surprised you even get hangovers.”

 

“I….what?”

 

“Well y’know what they call a hangover cure right?” Liz smirked, “A Bloody Mary!”

 

Mary blinked, “Wait, really?”

 

"Tomato juice, vodka and celery!" Liz smirked, before it dropped suddenly, "Uhh don't tell my mother I knew all that."

 

Huh…the 21st Century has weird ways of honouring people. Anyway, moving on from that brief revelation.

 

“Where’s Kat? She wasn’t in bed this morning.”

 

The room went quiet and an awkward look was exchanged around the table. At first everybody looked at Lina but the first queen just continued to sip her coffee. As Mary was her daughter and Kat was a dear friend, she had vowed to stay out of any issues regarding their relationship. She could remain impartial if need be but she didn’t want to risk hurting her relationship with either. Since she was out everyone sent looks to the next point of contact, Jane. The blonde sighed and looked at Mary with a conflicted expression.

 

“You and Kat had a little argument last night,” Jane explained gently, “She spent the night in Anne’s room and was still upset this morning so they went out for breakfast.”

 

Mary was stunned, “We fought? What…why did we fight?”

 

“I don’t know that,” Jane held up her hands, “I think she told Anne last night but she wasn’t too chatty this morning.”

 

“Did you say something to upset her?” Anna asked,

 

“I don’t remember.” Mary tried to think back, “I can’t even remember leaving the pub last night.”

 

Catalina put down her cup, “So you don’t remember frenching Kat outside the pub to mark your territory?”

 

Mary’s eyes widened behind the glasses, “I…uhhh…”

 

“It wasn’t that bad.” Jane tried,

 

“She tried to swallow poor Kitty’s face.” Was Cathy’s unhelpful interruption,

 

Mary began wracking her brain, desperately trying to remember what on earth happened last night. She remembered doing one too many shots whilst watching Kat with that girl at the bar. It was slightly embarrassing, how jealous Mary had gotten over what was definitely an innocent interaction. The more she thought, the more came back to her in bits and pieces. Most of it was humiliating. Glimpses of her ranting about Kat to the table, seconds of her placing herself in Kat’s lap glaring daggers at the mystery girl. The fact she did that infront of her MOTHER was horrifying and she missed the sweet ignorance she had awoken with that morning. This feeling increased when Mary remembered the before mentioned kiss outside the pub.

 

God she was a mess.

 

She kept thinking back, trying to remember the walk home. But that part wouldn’t come to her. Trying to sort through the fog in her aching head, she took another bite of her pancakes. Kat had helped her up the stairs…then put her down on their bed. So they were fine then, what happened next? Everything was so jumbled, it was hard to pick out what was important. Glimpses of different moments from last night all beginning to clear up but not quite slotting together in order. Then something came back that caused Mary to panic…

 

“We should have the shex.”

 

Kat blinked, “What?”

 

Then the next memory was just Kat kneeling by the drawers, turning to look at Mary with shock on her face. But that was it…

 

Had…Had Mary done something unforgivable?

 

Ice ran through her veins at the thought. She would never hurt Kat like that, never would she even try. But last night she had been so drunk and clingy and jealous. What if all of that had grossly crowded her judgement causing her to do something truly evil? If she had hurt Kat at all, especially in that way, Mary would never forgive herself. Hell, she wouldn’t even give Anne a chance to run her through with her sword - she’d sooner turn it on herself. Feeling herself start to panic, Mary tried to control her breathing. Suddenly, the sunglasses felt too claustrophobic so she ripped them off. This drew attention but she didn’t care, because at the same moment she heard the front door close.

 

Before anyone could stop her, Mary was on her feet and all but running out to find her girlfriend. Hoping she still HAD a girlfriend. Kat and Anne had just walked in and were talking about something as they hung up their coats. Anne spotted Mary first and her smile dropped, she took one strong step towards the younger queen. Looking furious and further damning Mary in her own mind. Thankfully, a gentle hand pulled the older cousin back and told her to go join the others. Anne looked conflicted but did as asked, shoulder checking Mary as she went for good measure.

 

“Upstairs.” Was all Kat said, turning to go up to their room,

 

Mary followed quietly.

 

_____

 

They entered their bedroom.

 

Mary decided it was best to say nothing, walking silently over to their bed and sitting down. Watching as Kat paced the room, probably trying to decide how to start. Her fists were clenching and unclenching at her sides as she paced, a nervous habit the pink queen had when she felt overwhelmed emotionally and didn’t know how to let it out. Mary would usually reach out and hold them, running her thumbs smoothly over the backs to calm her. But if her earlier fear proved true, touching Kat right now was not a good idea. Mary had to know. She needed to know what she had done that had upset her girlfriend. She needed to know that…well, Mary needed to know it wasn’t the reason she was thinking of.

 

For Kat, she was still hurting. After knocking on Anne’s door last night, she had immediately burst into tears after her cousin asked if she was alright. Obviously the green queen demanded to know what had happened, inviting her baby cousin inside to sleep. Knowing the reaction would most likely be violent, Kat had initially refused to admit what Mary had said. However, the more she replayed the conversation the more upset she got and in the end spilled everything. Unexpectedly, Anne hadn’t immediately turned to murder. Instead she had calmed Kat down as she had many times before and listened again to Kat’s account of the conversation. Afterwards, she voiced her anger as calmly as she could and promised to take Kat out for breakfast to give her time to think about the eventual confrontation.

 

Mary may not be Anne’s favourite person, but even for her throwing that back in Kat’s face was cruel. She chose to believe there was a more comprehensive explanation. But Kitty was still her baby cousin and Anne would protect her forever, hence the shoulder check.

 

“Kitty…” Mary called, voice gentler than intended, “Before we start I need to know something.”

 

Kat stopped pacing. Turning to look at Mary, stone faced.

 

“I have…limited memory of last night.” Mary admitted, “One memory that sticks out is me asking you to be intimate and then the next you looking scared. I…I…didn’t try and hurt you did I?”

 

Maybe it was how small Mary’s usually regal voice sounded. Perhaps it was how terrified she looked. How the idea of herself hurting Kat was killing her. She didn’t know, but as soon as she had asked her question Mary saw Kat’s gaze soften into her usual gentleness.

 

“Of course not.” Kat told her,

 

Mary breathed a sigh of relief, a blink sending a lone tear rolling down her cheek, “Thank the Lord. Sorry I didn’t realise how scared I was…”

 

She awkwardly wiped the betraying tear from her face, feeling foolish. Despite herself, Kat came to kneel in front of her and took her hands firmly. Her eyes searched Mary’s face for any sign of dishonesty as she asked her first question.

 

“Do you remember anything else you said last night?”

 

“Not really,” Mary admitted, “I may have had slightly to much to drink.”

 

Kat huffed and stood, running a hand through her hair, “You did.”

 

“Do you want to tell me why you’re angry?”

 

“I’m not angry, Mary.” Kat said, “I’m hurt. You were unbelievable last night.”

 

Mary felt herself getting defensive, after letting that tear slip she was feeling weirdly vulnerable. The two of them weren’t used to being at odds like this, they had never had to navigate a fight during their relationship. Before, Kat would be content to walk away and keep her distance while Mary seethed to anyone who would listen. They couldn’t do that any more. They were in a relationship, they had to talk through these things and take the confrontations head on. Still, that didn’t mean emotions wouldn’t get in the way.

 

“I was drunk. It wasn’t like I was in total control of my actions.” Mary snapped defensively,

 

“Well whose fault was that!?”

 

“I don’t know!” Mary scoffed sarcastically, “You were the one who spent most of last night with that girl.”

 

Kat rolled her eyes, “Grace is my friend. JUST a friend. Nothing to warrant you getting blackout drunk over.”

 

“How would I know that when you hadn’t deemed me worthy of an introduction?” Mary huffed, “I was left relegated to the sidelines to watch you with her.”

 

“All I did was talk about you to her!” Kat argued, “And believe me - if she hadn’t known before, you definitely proved who I belonged to by the end of the night!”

 

“I resent that accusation of possessiveness.”

 

“You were possessive! And jealous! And that’s fine, I was okay with all of that because to be honest it was amusing at the time.” Kat told her, sounding angry now,

 

“Then why were to so mad at me!?” Mary shouted, standing up, “What did I do to force you to seek refuge in Anne’s room last night!?”

 

Kat swallowed the bubbling fury, lowering her voice so that she didn’t draw the attention of the whole house to their argument, “It wasn’t something you did…”

 

“Then WHAT Katherine!?” Mary continued shouting, losing her temper slightly due to the confusion surrounding this matter, “I’m wracking my brain here and I can’t think of anything that would have caused this…this mess!”

 

“It was something you said!” Katherine raised her voice slightly, only so that Mary could hear it over her own yelling,

 

“And what did I say!?”

 

“You seriously don’t remember!?”

 

“NO KATHERINE, I DON’T AND UNTIL YOU TELL ME I WONT HAVE A CLUE SO SPIT IT OUT!”

 

“YOU THREW CULPEPER BACK IN MY FACE!”

 

Silence.

 

Both women took a moment to collect themselves. Each could admit, their emotions had gotten the better of them and they had overreacted a little. Things needed to calm down before they continued. Mary swallowed, all fight leaving her as she heard her crime, while Kat took a seat beside Mary on the bed. The emotions were too overwhelming for the younger girl and she felt herself beginning to tear up.

 

“I did…?” Mary whispered, trying to remember,

 

“You did.” Kat replied, monotonously, “You were being jealous of Grace, I asked if you trusted me and you said ‘Well it’s happened before’.”

 

“I can’t believe that,” Mary desperately tried to remember,

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Kat, you know I don’t think of you in such a way. You would never cheat on me, I know that.”

 

“You believed it once,” Kat frowned, “You used to think me an adulterous whore. I flashed back to our argument in the kitchen and just…had to leave.”

 

“I don’t still think that! I know none of that was your fault, at all. I was feeling insecure about that girl! Believe me, Kitty - I would never….wait….”

 

Something was coming back to her.

 

She was knelt near Katherine on the floor asking her about Grace. Kat was trying to reassure her that she was all hers and that Grace wasn’t a threat. Unfortunately, during Mary’s drunken state the sight of her beloved girlfriend being close to some strange, beautiful woman made old memories resurface. Memories that shouldn’t hurt, but did. Many men had rejected the chance to be wed to Mary back in the Tudor era. Refusing her for trivial things. Her looks, her manners, her father swapping her and Liz in the line of succession. Even her eventual husband liked her as a political ladder as opposed to as a wife.

 

“ ‘m hotter than her right?” Mary asked,

 

Kat took a breath, exhaling a chuckle, “Yes, Mary. You’re definitely hotter.”

 

“Good.” Mary pouted, “You’re mine.”

 

Kat leaned over and kissed her softly, making Mary’s insides warm and not from the alcohol. Deep in thought, Mary remembered the only other person to kiss her in a romantic sense. Philip was a disgusting man. He had never truly loved Mary. His eyes wandered from pretty thing to pretty thing. He did not think her a ‘pretty thing’, instead he viewed Mary as a status symbol. Even attempting to trade her for her sister after she had passed away. She suspected now that part of her hatred for Katherine had come from Philip’s wandering eye. She was a pretty thing after all, in a way Mary never thought herself to be. So when Katherine said:

 

“Don’t you trust me?”

 

Mary responded by saying:

 

“Well it’s happened before…”

 

It wasn’t about Katherine and Culpeper. It was about Mary and her disgraceful ex-husband.

 

“Katherine, it wasn’t about you.” Mary said, turning to face her, “I promise, it’s a misunderstanding.”

 

Katherine looked sceptical.

 

“Really.” Mary took a deep breath, “I was talking about Philip. He had a wandering eye sometimes and before I died I heard rumour that he plotted to wed Elizabeth after I was gone. He failed, thank God, but it hurt. It hurt more than I care to admit.”

 

“So when you said ‘it happened before’ you meant someone cheating on you?” Kat’s face morphed into horror, “Oh God, Mary I’m so sorry - I completely misunderstood.”

 

“No, it’s my fault.” Mary sighed, “I shouldn’t have gotten so drunk, or at least I should have been clearer.”

 

“Still, I didn’t have all the information and that was up to me to ask for.”

 

“Can we agree that from last night until now, we both made mistakes?”

 

Kat nodded, “God, I feel terrible.”

 

“To be honest, I see how you got there.” Mary sighed, putting an arm round Kat and letting the younger girl rest her head on her shoulder, “So are we okay?”

 

“Yes, but we need to work on arguing without getting so….”

 

“Emotional?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Mary chuckled, “I guess emotional outbursts are just something that comes with love.”

 

Kat snorted at that, “You’ve been watching too many telenovelas with your mother.”

 

“I….shut up!” Mary rolled her eyes, not really angry any more now that everything was cleared up,

 

Kat’s giggling subsided and she leant up to kiss Mary’s cheek softly, “You know what, Philip didn’t deserve you.”

 

“You think so?”

 

“Yeah, he didn’t know what he had.” Kat said confidently, “Now I get to have this beautiful, smart, confident, perfect woman all to myself!”

 

“You’re pretty good too, Kitty.” Mary smirked, “Sooo I also remember the mention of make-up sex?”

 

That earned a full on belly laugh. But hey? What better way to celebrate them getting through their first fight?

 

____

 

Outside the room five women stood eavesdropping in the hallway. They had all run up when the yelling started, a little concerned that the couple weren’t going to make it through. But as usual, they both defied expectations and worked through the hard parts. Hearing Mary’s explanation had soothed Anne’s rage and she decided she would go and put the sword back in it’s holder in a moment. Catalina was thanking the lord that nobody was hurt and no further emotional damage had been done. After hearing said explanation, Lina had begun ranting about digging up Philip’s body and desecrating his grave in rapid fire Spanish. Knowing he had his sights on Lizzie too, Anne raised her sword and offered to help. Jane gently calmed the violent eldest queens whilst the others watched on, amused.

 

“At least those two made up.” Anna shrugged,

 

“God, I couldn’t deal with them hating each other again.” Cathy groaned, “If they break up I’m moving out. I don’t deal with lesbian drama.”

 

“You’ve said that before - many times. We get it.” Anne quipped,

 

“Just making sure.”

 

“What are the happy couple doing now?” Jane asked,

 

Anna leant towards the door, listening for a moment before freezing. Eyes going wide.

 

“We should go downstairs…”

 

“Why?” Catalina asked,

 

“...I heard bedsprings.”

 

Anne raised the sword, ready to charge in and slay Mary for real this time. Luckily Jane, Anna and Catalina intervened and managed to drag her downstairs. Cathy rolling her eyes as she followed.

 

I’m too caffeine deprived for this shit.

Chapter Text

Bonus 2# - Soft Mary

 

When one thinks of the infamous Bloody Mary there are a few adjectives that come to mind.

 

Bloody is probably the most obvious. Strict and possibly the word devout could be added to the list. Cold, hard…basically if it could be used to describe a stone it could be used to describe Mary. However, these were old descriptions. Constructed by people that did not know her true nature, whom based her entire personality off of the sins in her past. Once upon a time that filled the ex-queen with fury when thinking of historians and their snap judgement. But now she had learned to accept that her past actions had left a stain on her time on the throne. One that would never fade and was left to be accepted as it was. Something to be learned from, the idea that ones actions could cause irreversible consequences.

 

Anyway, the Mary Tudor that history painted was a far cry different from the Mary Trastámara that now lived in the 21st Century. The brutal and vengeful queen, now replaced by a humbled and well intentioned young woman. While she was still a force to be reckoned with, this new life allowed for a gentler side of Mary to show. Though only regarding select people. One was her mother, another was Kat and finally her siblings. Anybody else could still only view her through her guarded wall of sarcasm and apathy but to those select few, Mary could show her vulnerable side.

 

As soft Mary is still known as the ‘Sasquatch’ of the mansion, Anne’s name for Mary’s gentle side, the narrating entity known here on as Story God has decided to reveal some of these moments. So please enjoy three small examples, titled: Mary Goes Soft.

 

Popcorn not included.

 

_____

 

Catalina and Mary were understandably close.

 

After being ripped away from her only surviving child when she had been so young, this second chance saw Catalina clinging to Mary as tightly as she could. In the beginning, though Mary would never admit it, she had slept in her mother’s bed. It was only for the first few nights, but the two of them would snuggle up and bask in each others company. Catalina would make sure to wake up first, just to check that Mary was still there. That nobody had stolen her away during the night. Eventually, they both began sleeping separately. Both had independent natures and once it was assured that the ‘kids’ were here to stay they no longer felt the need to cling together for 24hrs a day.

 

Even when Mary began seeing Kat, she always made sure to delegate a lot of her time to her mother. Her girlfriend always thought it was sweet, the way the mother and daughter duo interacted. Lina was probably the only one besides Kat that saw Mary’s softer side unrestricted. It was nice that someone else got to see what a cuddly, mushy, nerd the ex-Bloody Queen could be. With Kat now taking a couple opt in classes that ran alongside her college course, Mary and Catalina had been spending their daytimes together until Liz and Eddie finished their school work. During the day they had found many activities to keep them entertained. Though the latest was what everyone else in the house found most amusing.

 

What is this hobby, I hear you ask?

 

Telenovelas.

 

It had started with the two of them wanting to learn more modern Spanish. Since their day a lot about languages had changed with the times. English alone was hard to grasp at first, slang still pretty much lost on the both of them. But since they were the only ones who spoke Spanish regularly, they had never really been exposed to how it was spoken in the modern day. The best way to learn, besides jumping on one of those flying metal death traps and going TO Spain, was to watch some of the Spanish shows on TV. It started innocently with Money Heist. A television show about bad-ass bank robbers and their various robberies. It was violent and both loved the drama. Then Nairobi got killed and they were so distraught they opted to look for something more light hearted to get over their grief.

 

Now they were watching this run of the mill Spanish soap opera which they both found themselves way too into.

 

“¡No Miguel! Se supone que debes casarte con María, no te dejes engañar por ella!” Catalina shouted at the television, sniffling into a tissue matching all the others littered around the duo on the couch,

 

“¡Martina no te amará como lo hace María!” Mary sobbed,

 

It was embarrassing how emotional they got over fictional characters. Like really embarrassing. To the point that if someone were to walk in right now they would probably find themselves horrified. Neither woman were deemed emotional types but dammit they were invested in the lives of these telenovela characters.

 

“He is a foolish man!” Catalina spat, sitting back on the sofa,

 

“Indeed, he had such a good thing with María.” Mary observed, “Why would he willingly throw that away for a brief fling with his ex?”

 

Her mother chuckled, taking a sip of her tea, “It almost hits too close to home in a way.”

 

Mary winced, “I never forgave father for that.”

 

“I heard,” Lina sounded amused, “Anne used to tell me the stories of rebellion. It was good to know you kept my memory alive, though I’m thankful Jane brought you back into the fold.”

 

“Jane was my favourite step-mother. She was truly kind.”

 

“Don’t let your girlfriend hear that.”

 

Mary cringed, “Please don’t bring up that complicated part of history.”

 

Her mother laughed and landed a couple soft pats on her knee, “Sorry, mija. So, how’re things going? I like to hear updates about when I’ll be getting grandchildren.”

 

Mary choked on a well-timed sip of tea, taking a moment before even dignifying Lina with an answer, “Somehow I don’t think children are in our future. At the very least not our near future thank you very much.”

 

“It’s fine, I’ll help Cathy raise Mae to want kids. I’ll be a proxy Abuela - I can survive.” Catalina sighed, then sent Mary a meaningful look, “Really though, how are you two? I know things got a little tense last month after that night at the pub.”

 

“We’re okay,” Mary smiled fondly, “It was a misunderstanding. Besides, it has highlighted a part of my own history we have yet to broach together so I’m just waiting for the best time to discuss it.”

 

“Philip?”

 

Mary nodded.

 

“Pendejo.”

 

Motherfucker.

 

“Mama! Language.” Mary chided, using it as a distraction, “Either way, we’re happy and that’s all that really matters.”

 

“You’re both very sweet, mija.” Catalina said, “Ella te trae babeando.”

You’re whipped for her.

 

“MAMA!”

 

Catalina gave a loud, cackling, laugh at the pure indignation on her only child’s face. It wasn’t her usual polite chuckle that she let out around anyone else, it was a booming laughter reserved only for these quiet moments of hilarity with her daughter. Sudden shouting on the screen drew their attentions back to the telenovela. María had just discovered Miguel and Martina together and yelling ensued, sucking the duo on the sofa back into the drama.

 

“Maritina? Miguel? ¿Qué estás haciendo?”

 

“Oh no!” Mary whispered, “What’s she going to do!?”

 

They watched María break off the engagement to Miguel leading to the both of them having one final confrontation in the rain. He begged for her back whilst standing on her doorstep, soaked through.

 

“Why is it important that these vital moments happen in the rain?” Catalina asked,

 

“I’m not sure,” Mary answered, taking a handful of popcorn from the bowl, “Probably so they can get the soaking wet v-neck to cling to the actors abs.”

 

“Actually that part I do not mind…”

 

“Mother! Please!”

 

Lina hummed, not taking her eyes from the screen, “We all have urges mija. Don’t think I don’t know why you and Kat sometimes join us late for dinner with red faces and ruffled hair.”

 

“That’s not true,” Mary scoffed, face turning a damning red, “We would never do anything of the sought with you all still home!”

 

“Mary, yesterday Kat’s trousers were on backwards.”

 

The younger woman spluttered, “I…I hate this.”

 

“Maria te amo! ¡Sólo tu! Por favor, dime que tú también me amas.”

 

The infamous telenovela slap made both women wince.

 

“Oh my God…they’re really breaking up.” Lina whispered, shocked,

 

“But he loved her so much,” Mary felt herself getting choked up, “How could he just throw it all away?”

 

“She just wanted her father to walk her down the aisle before he died of that rare blood disease!” Catalina began crying, “Was that too much to ask!?”

 

“They both deserved better!” Mary followed her mother and also began sobbing,

 

As previously stated - they were very invested in this storyline.

 

Suddenly the living room door opened and Anna walked in, planning to watch the football. She froze at the rare sight before her.

 

“Are you two crying?”

 

“GET OUT!”

 

Anna leapt a foot in the air, “Teufel Frauen!”

 

Devil women.

 

_____

 

“MARY!”

 

Mary snapped up with a start as two bodies leapt on top of her, pushing her back down on the bed. It was disorientating at first, such a sudden wake-up call. But when she heard Kat merely groan and not begin panicking, Mary decided whatever it was couldn’t be a threat. Opening her eyes, now frustrated at being woken up so abruptly, she saw a mix of ginger and blonde hair. Liz and Eddie. Of course it was. Thank God she was wearing pyjamas at least, that would be an extra layer of humiliating. Usually the duo would never dream of bursting in like this, but Mary had promised to take them both to the zoo. Back in their day they had so many wild animals in their own personal collections to go and see when they wished. It was something they rather missed in all honesty. So Kat had taken Mary to visit a nearby zoo a few weeks ago and her siblings had voiced their jealousy.

 

To be honest the trip had been bittersweet. Both Kat and Mary found it amazing to see all these animals up close but at the same time the small enclosures made them both sad. Next time they decided to look up sanctuaries, where animals were able to roam with more freedom. However, most of those places required you driving through them and neither could drive yet. So when Liz and Eddie begged to go, Mary was given little choice but to take them to same zoo they had been to prior. Apparently, Mary and Kat were having a lay in since Liz and Eddie deemed it necessary to clamber all over them to wake them up.

 

“Get up! Get up! Get up!”

 

“Let me up then you heathens!” Mary snapped,

 

The duo scrambled off, choosing to bounce excitedly next to the bed and allow Mary to sit up properly to glare at them.

 

“First of all,” Mary glowered, “Don’t jump on us like that. I get that your desire is to be annoying but remember I don’t sleep alone and the last thing we need is for poor Kat to have a panic attack.”

 

Elizabeth winced, “Sorry, Aunt Kat.”

 

Kat just groaned in response head buried in her pillow - refusing to stir any further.

 

“Secondly, it’s only…” Mary looked to the clock, “Six in the morning, why the hell would I be taking you to the zoo THIS early?”

 

“Because we wanted to make sure you were awake.” Edward told her, saying it like it was obvious, “We want to plan our route round the enclosures so it’s best to start early!”

 

“At 6am.”

 

“Yes at 6am.”

 

Mary stared at Eddie with one eyebrow raised. Eddie, never one to submit to either of his sisters, stared right back. With a sigh, the eldest sibling let her resolve crumble. Despite her hard exterior, she would always cave to the will of her younger siblings. In the case of Elizabeth, part of it was to make up for how she had treated her in their past lives. For Eddie…well she would give that boy anything. When Edward died the first time, Mary and Elizabeth both grieved for him. The three of them may not have always seen eye to eye but Edward’s death still had an affect. It was something nobody in the house ever openly talked about. The pain of that time still feeling as fresh as it did 500 years ago.

 

It was all ancient history. Eddie was now alive and stood before her, therefore there was no point ever thinking of that dark period. Still, she could never tell that boy no for too long. So rather than tell them both to go away so she could sleep more, Mary just rolled her eyes.

 

“Fine, you both go and start breakfast then and I’ll get dressed and come down.”

 

“YES!”

 

They ran back out of the room. Bulldozing their way downstairs and probably waking the whole house.

 

“And don’t burn anything!”

 

“WE PROMISE NOTHING!” Liz yelled from somewhere down the hallway,

 

Mary groaned and heard a light chuckle from next to her. Kat looked up, amused.

 

“You know you’re going to have to supervise.” She said,

 

Mary sighed, “I do, don’t I.”

 

Leaning down she pecked her girlfriends lips gently.

 

“Morning Kitty.”

 

“Goodmorning.” Kat replied sleepily, “Quite a wake-up call, huh?”

 

She gave an amused huff, “Don’t fancy heading downstairs for free breakfast do you?”

 

Kat laughed, “Nope. They’re your problem - I’m going back to sleep.”

 

With that the pink queen lay her head back down to snuggle back into her pillow. Unhappy at her girlfriend’s lack of support, Mary grabbed her own pillow in hand.

 

And gently thumped Kat on the head with it.

 

That’ll show her!

 

______

 

Mary was softest with Kat though.

 

Whilst she never wanted to admit it, her mother was correct in saying that Mary was unbelievably whipped for her girlfriend. When it came to Kat, in those quiet moments when they were laid in their corner quietly, there was no need to joke or talk. No need to do anything but lay there and hold each other. There are probably millions of examples of Mary being ridiculously in love with her girlfriend. And equally as many of Kat being just as besotted by her too. However, there was one moment in particular in which Mary would always think of herself as the most vulnerable. One small moment in which Mary would always think back to when someone teased her about how much she adored her girlfriend.

 

It was late one night, everyone in the house had been asleep for hours. This included Mary and Kat who had wrapped up warm together just before midnight to settle into sleep. Now, whilst Katherine had certainly been suffering less with her nightmares since she and Mary began sharing a bed, they hadn’t gone completely. Occasionally, Mary would wake up to whimpering and crying from the girl laid on her chest. The answer they found best was for the older girl to gently rub the younger’s back until she settled or woke herself up and grabbed Mary for comfort. There had been a few times, especially near her death day, in which Kat had woken Mary up by screaming as she used to before. But these times were getting rarer and rarer. To the point Kat was beginning to think she was over the worst of her night terrors.

 

That was until tonight.

 

Mary, ever the light sleeper, awoke with the first scream. A flying hand thumping her chest hard as Kat unconsciously tried to push herself away. She was sweating a lot, hyperventilating between screams like she couldn’t breath. Mary was immediately sat upright, moving herself over slightly to give Kat some space in case she fell off the bed in an attempt to get away. The screaming was deafening and for a moment Mary found herself overstimulated, Kat had never had a nightmare like this whilst Mary had slept next to her. If they happened at all, it was usually if Kat had gone to bed before her and was alone. Snapping out of her own panic, Mary began the usual routine of trying to gently wake her up.

 

“Kitty!” She called, “Kitty, wake up sweetheart - it’s Mary.”

 

Kat didn’t stir, instead she started mumbling between screams, “No….no! Get off me…I said no!”

 

Swallowing the bile in her throat, Mary persisted. Gently calling Kat over and over, begging her to wake up. Telling her she was safe.

 

“Kitty…please…” Mary felt lost,

 

Should she go get Anne or Jane? This nightmare seemed worse than any she was used to.

 

“Kitty!” Mary kept trying, not wanting to leave Kat alone to go find anyone else,

 

After a while, Kat’s eyes did snap open but false images still danced before them as she was launched from nightmare into panic attack. Kat was clawing at her neck, leaving red scratches littering the larger scar that decorated it. As she had done many times before, Mary tried to coach Kat through her breathing. It took longer than usual for Kat to register it and follow along, but she did eventually and  slowly became calm enough to recognise Mary’s voice. When she did, Katherine launched herself into Mary’s arms - sobbing into the crook of her neck as the older woman held her gently.

 

“Mary, make him stop,” Kat begging, voice muffled in her neck, “Make him stop, it hurts.”

 

Mary just held her, trying to keep her own tears at bay, “It’s okay, sweetheart. You’re safe. I wont let him hurt you I swear.”

 

“Please, Mary. Please!”

 

Gently, Mary rubbed her back softly. Letting Kat cry herself out and simply holding her close, whispering sweet nothings into her ear. When choked sobs became quiet sniffling, Mary breathed a sigh of relief. Allowing Kat to detach herself slightly so that they could lay down. Something that they found helped Kat following a panic attack was, shockingly, feeling warm and enclosed. Being held or wrapped in a blanket, something about it made her feel safe. So the moment Mary could, she tucked them both under the covers. Letting Kat cling to her as tightly as possible. The couple lay in silence for a while, Kat focusing on Mary’s heart beat while Mary herself stared at the ceiling.

 

Eventually, Kat loosened her grip a little. Prompting Mary to look down at her.

 

“Hey…” She whispered,

 

Kat looked up, puffy eyed, “Hi, I’m sorry for waking you.”

 

Her voice sounded screamed raw, it was croaky and hoarse.

 

“It’s fine.” Mary told her, placing a kiss on the top of her head, “I’ll always wake up for you.”

 

Kat was too tired to argue, instead she shuffled up so they were eye to eye.

 

“Who was it tonight?” Mary asked,

 

She always asked, it was her way of giving Kat the chance to talk about it. Usually she would, knowing that Mary would listen and comfort her. Sometimes she’d just shake her head and say she would tell her in the morning. However, when she hesitated…well…that always made Mary feel sick.

 

When Kat hesitated, as she did after Mary asked that question this time, it meant she had dreamt of Mary’s father. It was no secret that they all hated Henry, everyone in the house did for various reasons, but he was still Mary’s dad and so Kat was always hesitant about speaking ill of him. Even if it was just a flashback of one of his most evil deeds.

 

“Oh Kitty…” Mary sighed, squeezing her tightly,

 

“It’s okay.”

 

“No it’s not,” The unshed tears that had gathered when Kat begged Mary to help her began to fall, “I hate him, I hate what he did to you. I…”

 

Her own sob interrupted her, but she pushed through it.

 

“I should have intervened, I should have spoken up in defence of your character.” Mary whispered, more to herself than to Katherine, “I should have---”

 

“There was nothing you could do.” Kat told her, reaching up a hand to brush the tears away, “He wouldn’t have listened.”

 

Unconsciously, Mary’s hand began tracing the scars on the back of Kat’s shoulders. The younger girl let her, glad to be focusing on Mary as opposed to herself.

 

“I hate him.” Mary said, “I hate him so much it burns.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Sorry,” Mary sniffed, using a free hand to replacing Kat’s and wipe her own tears away, “Sorry, I should be comforting you. I just…”

 

She trailed off. Kat kissed her softly, trying to prove that they weren’t there any more. They weren’t in Henry’s court playing political mind games or deciphering friend from foe. They were in the 21st Century, they were together. Wrapped up nice and warm in their bed.

 

“It’s a lot,” Kat said, trailing patterns on Mary’s stomach to try and comfort her, “But we’re here. We’re together.”

 

“He can’t hurt you any more.” Mary said, voice hardening, “No one can.”

 

Kat gave a little smile at that, pecking Mary’s cheek and repeating, “No one can.”

 

Mary held her close and they just lay there, waiting for sleep to take over again but not trying to rush the process. Nights like tonight proved how their relationship worked. On the outside it could seem like Mary was always playing the knight in shining armour, that she was the one constantly providing emotional support for Kat. But this was not always the case. For them everything was fifty-fifty. They both had baggage, they both had trauma and anxieties. But at the end of the day they also had each other to help them fight these things. No matter what faced them or what came their way, at the end of the night it always ended the same.

 

“I love you, Kitty.”

 

“I love you too.”