Chapter 1: Scarlet Bronte McAnders
He ran his fingers down my body as we lied beneath the stars. His lips ghosted mine making me ache for them to touch mine.
“You’re the love of my life Scar,” he whispered against my lips.
“And you are mine,” I said smiling up at him. That’s when he finally connected his lips with mine.
“AH AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” I shot up from my bed and nearly fell off it. “FUCKING SON OF A BITCH!” I punched my alarm of shutting up Roger’s heart attack inducing high note.
“You okay Scar?” Bronte asked peeking her head in through the door. She was my best friend and flatmate who frankly gave more shits about me than most of my family.
“I’m fine,” I said. “Roger just scared the shit out of me.”
Bronte laughed. “If you don’t like it just change the bloody ringer!”
“Roger’s the only one who can get me out of bed though,” I said.
“It’s your funeral,” she said walking down the hall.
I sat in my bed taking deep breaths until my heart could go back to its normal rhythm. After a few minutes, I was calm enough to get out of bed and into the shower. I thought about my dream all throughout my morning routine. Note to self: don’t listen to Queen before bedtime it’ll only give you a dream so good that your waking life is a disappointment in comparison...and lord knows life is shite enough without me wishing he was here with me. My space guitarist, singer man.
Once I was dressed I made my way to the kitchen which smelled like heaven. “I fucking love you, you know that?”
Bronte rolled her eyes. “I know,” she said handing me my coffee mug. I poured myself a cup of deliciousness, added some sugar and creamer, and was all set. I took a drink and sighed. “So what’s on the agenda for today?”
“I dunno,” I said. “Perhaps we can marathon EastEnders or..?”
“Oof that is perfectly miserable,” Bronte said.
“EastEnders is the shit,” I defended.
“I know but it’s our last day before Uni officially begins,” she reminded me. “We should be having fun.”
“So what’s your idea then?” I asked.
“There’s a new band playing tonight at the pub,” she said.
“The last group we saw there sucked,” I said.
“This one’s better I promise,” she said.
I sighed. “Fine.”
“Until then we can marathon EastEnders,” she said. “Lord knows I can never get enough Peter Beale in my life.”
“Amen,” I said following her into the sitting room.
We were only a couple episodes in when my phone rang; the familiar Darth Vader theme filling the air. I groaned and answered. “Hi, dad.”
“Hello, deary what are you up to today? Studying hard I hope,” he said. Dad was an Astrophysics Professor at the Uni I was attending. To him a life outside of academia was pointless and he was doing his damnedest to ensure my sister and I believed in his twisted philosophy. His dream was that we would earn doctorates in the sciences and go on to make scientific breakthroughs that would result in having our family name in lights. That would never be me though…
“Yeah, dad.” Not that I would ever admit it to him. “Bronte and I just started a study session in fact.”
“Good, good,” he said. “Don’t forget tonight is THE night!”
“I know, I know,” I rolled my eyes. A few days ago dad predicted there would be some astronomical event this night. Yeah, I dunno. He wanted my sister Dot and me to watch and take notes even though the chance of this prediction coming true was very slim. His predictions almost never come true, and when that happens there’s only one way for him to cope.
“I was thinking maybe you can come over and we could watch it together,” he said. “You, me, Dot, and your mum.”
He sounded hopeful but I would rather die than be there for yet another disappointment. Not even Dot wanted to be there; she told me so a couple of days earlier. She was gonna sneak out and stay with her best friend Becky for a while...until dad’s had a chance to cool off.
“Sorry dad I can’t,” I said. “Bronte and I are going to the library tonight.”
“The library closes at nine love,” he said.
“And we’re going to be dead tired by then,” I said. “Might turn in early.”
“But you’re gonna see it right?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Alright well I guess I’ll talk to you later then,” he said.
“Bye, dad,” I hung up.
“What did that dick want?” Bronte asked.
“Oh you know,” I said. “Just looking for support for tonight's astronomical letdown. Thought we could all watch it as a family.”
“Well fuck that sideways,” Bronte said.
“Amen to that,” I said.
That night we left for the pub at around eight o’clock. Bronte in her small black dress, silk cardigan, and ‘do me’ heels, and me in my peasant skirt, Queen t-shirt, and converse sneakers. Bronte walked the streets with such confidence and grace. Meanwhile, I was looking over my shoulder every few steps thinking he might spot me there even though I knew he wouldn’t. I trembled slightly as we approached the pub.
That’s when a movement caught my eye. Not on the ground but in the sky. “BRONTE LOOK!”
She stopped mid-step and looked up at the brilliant lights that filled the night sky. A meteor shower only...they were far too bright to be meteors.
“Whoa,” Bronte giggled. “Make a wish.”
I chuckled and closed my eyes. Take me away from here. Take me somewhere where I don’t have to be afraid...somewhere where I may find love and happiness. Take me and don’t ever bring me back.
I felt a tingle run through my body; almost static like and it made me awfully dizzy.
“Ugh what the hell we aren’t even inside the pub yet,” Bronte said groaning with her hand at her head. “Come on maybe a drink will help.”
Somehow I highly doubt that.
Inside the atmosphere was loud. People were either abuzz about the band or buzzed from drinking far too much. I assumed the pub was having a sort of theme night since everyone was dressed in old fashion clothes. Bronte, oblivious to anything but the drink, dragged us to the bar.
“What can I get you two ladies?” the bartender asked.
“Just a couple beers please,” Bronte said. “What happened to Flynn? He didn’t get sacked did he?” Flynn was Bronte’s favorite bartender. Think Robb Stark but with longer hair and some slut constantly flirting with him (the slut being Bronte).
“Who’s Flynn?” the bartender asked.
“You know, Flynn?” Bronte pushed. “Tall lad, Scottish accent, insane bedroom eyes?”
“Darling I’ve worked here close to thirty years there has never been a Flynn here,” he said.
Just then the band walked out...and it sure as hell wasn’t the band Bronte had brought me to see.
“HOLY SHIT!” I exclaimed making Bronte look at me like I was mental. I just motioned over at the stage and she looked over and saw the same damned thing that I saw.
“HOLY SHIT!” she exclaimed.
On the stage were a young Roger Taylor, Brian May, John Deacon, and Freddie fucking Mercury.
Chapter 2: March 3, 1971
Wibbly wobbly timey wimey. :)
“How...just...how?!” I sputtered.
“I-I dunno,” she said staring wide-eyed at the band who was now addressing the audience.
“Hello,” Brian said dazzling the audience with his laid back smile. “First of all, we have a couple of new faces joining us tonight. First, we have John Deacon on bass,” he motioned at the boyish bassist who smiled nervously. “And our new singer Mr. Freddie Bul...sara?” He questioned. Freddie gave a single nod. “Freddie Bulsara.”
“Come on,” Bronte started pulling me towards the front of the stage.
“Are you mad?!” I hissed at her.
“No darling I’m smart,” she said. “It’s a bloody Queen concert and there is only ONE way to truly enjoy a Queen concert!”
And just like that, we were up front and the music was just starting. I thought back to my knowledge of the legendary band and of that first show they performed once the band was complete. And I remembered…
Almost as if on cue Freddie started struggling with the mic stand. He needs to pull harder. I thought to myself as the crowd started to laugh at him. That’s when I made the most rash decision.
“Psst!” I tried getting Freddie’s attention. “Psst! Freddie!”
He looked up at me then confused.
“Pull it harder!” I said.
He blinked a few times then gave the mic stand one great big yank breaking it. He looked at me wide-eyed; I smiled and gave him a reassuring nod. He then smiled and began to sing.
“And you call me mental?” Bronte said.
I just smiled excitedly but nervously. I couldn’t believe what I’d just done. I couldn’t believe where we were...when we were.
Bronte and I cheered and danced throughout the show. When the band took its final bow and walked off the stage all of the panic from earlier (which seemed to have faded away) came back in full force and not just for me. Bronte looked at me wide-eyed.
“Come on,” she pulled me towards the door.
Once we were outside I stopped her. “Wait where are we going?!”
“To The Coffee Hole to regroup and...and just think of a plan or something,” she said starting to walk again. Unfortunately, there was something about our regular haunt, something that she didn’t. You see The Coffee Hole is a cafe we frequented that had booths for those seeking privacy. The owner was basically my second (and better) father. And another thing…
“WAIT! WAIT!” I shouted at her before darting towards the newspaper box outside the pub. I dug some change from my bag and got the first paper I touched.
“Scar this isn’t the time to catch up on the daily⸺!”
“BRONTE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT UP AND LOOK!” I held up the paper so that she could see the date. March 3, 1971.
“Scar I think we established we’re not in 2018 anymore,” Bronte said. “Now let’s⸺.”
“We can’t go to The Coffee Hole!” I exclaimed.
“What? Why not?”
“Because it doesn’t exist yet Bronte,” I said. “Lemme told me…” Lemme was the owner. “He said he saw it in a dream and a few years later he finally saved up enough money to break ground. That was in October 1997.”
“So you’re saying..?”
“We’re fucked Bron,” I said.
“FUCK!” she screamed into the night sky. “What are we going to do?!”
“I dunno,” I said pacing back and forth tossing the paper into a nearby rubbish bin. “How the hell did this even happen?”
“Like hell if I know!” Just then I saw four familiar figures walking up from behind her. I froze. My eyes must have grown wide because she was looking at me confused. “What?”
My voice caught in my throat and I could only stand there shaking. Bronte turned around.
“Hello there darlings,” Freddie said.
“Holy…” was the only word Bronte managed to get out.
“Are you feeling okay there love?” Roger asked right before Bronte collapsed. I managed to catch her but damn was it hard to keep hold of her.
“Whoa let me help you out there, love,” Roger said scooping her up in his arms.
“Th-Thank you,” I muttered.
“I take it she had a little too much to drink tonight?” he asked.
“Uhhh…” Why the hell can’t I talk? Oh right...because it’s FUCKING QUEEN!
“Um did you need a ride home?” Brian asked. “We’d be happy to take you.”
I suddenly felt calmer and I finally found my missing voice. “I-I’m afraid we’ve nowhere to go.”
“What do you mean?” Freddie asked.
“We’ve recently lost our home,” I said not technically lying. “All we really have are the clothes on our backs and whatever we have in our bags.”
“I’m so sorry,” Brian said.
“It’s not your fault,” I said.
“Still if you both need a place to stay our guestroom is always open,” Brian said.
I shook my head. “We wouldn’t want to impose. I’m sure we’ll be able to⸺.”
“Darling with all due respect your friend here is passed out drunk and frankly we don’t feel comfortable leaving you two out here on the streets alone. There are some right dangerous gits out there and if anything happened well…” Roger broke off shaking whatever mental image he’d given himself out of his head.
“We wouldn’t be able to live with ourselves knowing something happened to you that we could’ve prevented,” Brian finished for him.
I sighed. “Thank you.”
“I’m Brian May by the way,” he said holding out his hand for me. I know. I thought silently placing my hand in his.
“Haha, that rhymed!” Roger said smiling that dazzling smile of his. “I’m Rogah.”
I smiled at him then turned to the others.
“I’m John but my friends call me Deacy,” said John who was standing quietly nearby.
“And I’m Freddie,” Freddie said bringing my hand to his lips. “Lovely to meet you, darling.”
I giggled nervously hoping to God this wasn’t a dream; or that if it was that I would never wake from it.
“And you are?” Brian asked.
“I’m Scarlett,” I said. “Most people call me Scar. And that there is Bronte.”
“Like the writers?” Brian asked.
“Yeah,” I said. “That’s actually the reason we became friends in the first place. My middle name is Bronte.”
“Scarlett Bronte,” Freddie said. “What a lovely ring it has.”
“Well it’s lovely to meet you both,” Roger said. “But my arms are getting really fucking tired so can we go?”
“Oh yes, of course,” Brian said. “Come along Scar.”
I walked beside him in silence all the way to where they parked their van. I didn’t say anything during the entire car ride either. I just kept thinking it had to be a dream. That I wasn’t really there; in that van with the greatest musicians to ever live. That Freddie wasn’t there riding shotgun while humming along to the radio; young and healthy. That John wasn’t sitting beside me, supporting Bronte’s feet; a sweet boy with a smile on his face. That Brian wasn’t sitting on my other side young and happy. That Roger wasn’t driving; the wind blowing through his dirty blonde hair. That they weren’t all unaware of what awaited them...what awaited Freddie.
We arrived at the flat where all four lads lived in the early days of their brotherhood. Roger carried Bronte to the bedroom at the end of the hall and placed her on the bed.
“I have some more comfortable clothes you can change into,” Roger said. “Just give me a moment yeah?”
“I have some things too if⸺,” Brian said even though he already proved well enough that chivalry was alive and well.
“Bri,” Roger cut him off. “Mate I love you but there’s no way in hell your clothes are ever going to fit them. You’re 80% leg, no ass, and lanky. They are not.”
“Uh, thanks?” I said confused.
“I was just trying to be nice is all,” Brian said.
“You’ve already done more than enough for us Bri,” I said reassuringly. Roger left the room and came back a minute later with two large t-shirts and boxer shorts.
“Just washed them the other day,” Roger assured me. “Do you need any help with um…” He motioned at Bronte.
“Oh no I’ve got it,” I said taking the clothes from him. “It’s nothing I haven’t done before so…”
“Right well, we’ll just leave you to it then,” Brian said dragging Roger out of the room.
I dressed Bronte first then changed into the borrowed clothes myself. I dug my hair tie from my bag and tied up my dark curls into a bun. Once I was all set I decided I was far too awake to go to sleep so I turned out the light and stepped out into the hall. I followed their voices to the sitting room where they appeared to be having a nightcap.
“I-Is it okay if I join you?” I asked. Brian looked over at me and smiled sweetly.
“Yes, of course, make yourself comfortable,” he said.
“Brandy?” Roger offered as I made myself comfortable on the sofa between Freddie and Brian. John was stretched out on the loveseat with his legs hanging off one of the arms; looking like the most gorgeous model.
“Eh what the hell,” I said. Roger handed me my drink and I took a sip.
“Tell us about yourself Scarlett,” Freddie said.
“Please call me Scar,” I said. Scarlett reminded me too much of my father...and right then he was the last person I wanted to think about.
“Ugh, why? Scar is such a ghastly name,” Freddie said.
Well, he wasn’t wrong. “It is kind of an upsetting joke.”
“How so?” Brian asked.
“Well,” I took a sip of Brandy. “People started calling me Scar on account of well...my scars.” I placed my glass on the coffee table and brushed my hair from my forehead. “This one in my hairline is from a beer bottle when I was sixteen.”
“Wild party or asshole ex?” Roger asked.
“Neither,” I said. I lifted my left leg and pointed at a faint scar on my thigh. “That’s from surgery to mend my broken leg when I was twelve.” I held up my right hand to reveal a thin line going down my wrist. “That was to repair a broken wrist when I was nine.”
“How did that happen?” Brian asked concerned.
“I-It was twisted until the bone snapped,” I said. “I have loads more but I think you see the point.”
“Who the hell would twist the wrist of a nine-year-old girl?” Roger asked with pure disgust.
“Someone you would call a monster,” I shuttered. “But I...I called him dad.”
They all gasped.
Freddie put his drink down and wrapped his arms around me as I continued to quiver. He brought his lips to my forehead and continued to soothe me the way only Freddie ever could. “I officially dub thee Hope,” he said gently. “Hope Bronte.”
“W-Why?” I asked.
“Because you, my dear, are living proof that there is hope out there,” he said. “Because you’re here, and you’re alive.” He wiped away a tear that was falling down my cheek. “A toast to Hope.” he picked up his glass again and held it out.
“To Hope,” the others followed. I burst out in tears.
“Oh no none of that now lovey,” Freddie said rubbing my back.
“S-Sorry Freddie,” I said. “I-It’s just that I’m finally realizing what it’s like you know?”
“What what’s like?” he asked.
“Having a family,” I said my voice cracking. Freddie smiled and continued to hold me.
We continued to drink and talk after that; until a yawn managed to escape my lips.
“I think we best call it a night lads,” Brian said.
They all gave a sleepy ‘yeah’. I stood up leaving the comfort of Freddie’s arms. “Goodnight boys.”
“Night love,” Brian said followed by the others.
“Oh, and Hope,” Freddie said just as I reached the hallway. He walked up to me, smiled and pecked me on the forehead where my scar was. “Welcome to the family lovey.”
“Thanks, Freddie,” I said pecking him on the cheek.
Back inside my room, I slipped under the covers beside Bronte and let sleep overcome me.