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Through the years

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Anthony had known true happiness for four years.

And the first three, he couldn’t even remember.

He just remembered that all the attention and love was on him, that he was an only child, the precious son that his parents adored.

And then, he came.

Benedict.

And his parents had decided to add to his misery with Colin.

Of course, Anthony loved his two brothers. But he hated how needy, they were. They were thieves, and their parents only had eyes for them, Anthony left alone to his own device. The worst part of it all was that his mother was expecting another child and that Benedict was old enough to attend his school. And, misery loved Anthony so much, that Ben loved to follow him around everywhere. He was always behind him, trailing behind, blabbering away. His mother found it endearing and kept cooing at them. Anthony hated it. Every night, he prayed for aliens to come and make his brothers disappear.

It never worked.

And that’s how he found himself pushing Benedict into the mud, after a fight. He had told him to leave him alone with his friends, but Ben didn’t listen. He never did. And Anthony had pushed him in anger, in a puddle full of mud. Before Anthony found himself, head first, in the puddle. Huffing and puffing, he wiped his face clean and looked at the girl who had pushed him. He recognized her from his own class, even though he never really talked to her before. But he recognized the colorful dress and the braids she seemed to love so much.

Her hands were clenched in fists and she looked at him with pure anger, which he found fascinating. Never he had seen a child, looking so much like an adult.

 

“You leave Benedict alone, you bully!”

“He’s my old brother, Kate…” replied Benedict, taking Kate’s hand.

“He’s family? What’s your problem?” yelled the girl named Kate.

“Shouldn’t you be playing with dolls instead of meddling?” said Anthony, standing up.

 

Kate looked scandalized.

And pushed him again into the mud.

This time, Anthony grabbed her arm and dragged her with him, dirtying her yellow dress.

 

“Like that you look like a muddy sunflower!”

“And you look like a worm!” she answered back, before throwing mud at him.

 

And it’s fighting, Benedict on the side looking at them with wonder, that Sister Danbury caught them, before dragging them into her office.

 

 

“Oh, Anthony, what did you do?” sighed Violet, as she arrived in the office, Edmund behind her.

“She started it, mum!” cried out Anthony, as Kate rose an eyebrow, not impressed.

“He pushed Benedict, I had to defend him. Sister, didn’t you say we have to stand up against bullies?”

“Kathani…”

 

They all turned towards the voice, and Anthony frowned at the sight of the man, who looked dreadfully tired. His eyes glided over Kate, who was looking at her shoes, suddenly shy.

 

“I’m really sorry for my daughter, she can be…” he gestured to her vaguely, not finishing his sentence.

“Mum would be proud of me!” fought back Kate, tears pooling in her eyes.

“Kathani, not now.”

“I already gave a punishment to the kids,” started Sister Danbury. “Still, I want the two of you to apologize and shake hands.”

“We’re not waiting for your wife?” asked Edmund, looking at Kate’s father.

“Oh, uhm… She died 6 months ago.”

 

Anthony stilled and looked at Kate, who now had tears rolling down her cheeks. He gave her his handkerchief, embroidered A.B, before shaking her hand.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely.

 

Kate shook his hand as well, before apologizing, and went to retrieve her hand, but Anthony kept holding it. His parents had never broached the subject of death, until recently, when a cousin passed. Anthony had not understood it, just knowing that it meant that the person gone was in Heaven while being missed by the people left. He remembered the cries of his grandmother and his heart broke a little for Kate.

 

“I can share my mum, if you want,” he said. “But you’ll have to share my siblings too.”

“You can let go of her hand now, Bridgerton,” admonished Sister Danbury, but Anthony and Kate kept holding hands for the rest of the meeting.

 

And they became a unit. Always bickering or downright fighting. But everybody quickly learned that if Kate was somewhere, Anthony was right by her side, and the contrary was as true. Kate went to his house several times, Violet always taking time to talk to the girl and learn more about her and even giving her advice. She became a part of the family and slept over several times, allowing some free time for her father. And Anthony stayed over, at her place, a lot of time too. He loved the spicy food her dad would make and how full of it he’d feel. He also loved the fact that her dad always wanted to strengthen the bond with his daughter, and Anthony when he was there, allowing them to cook with him and sharing recipes and stories linked to the Indian culture.

He never told Kate or anyone, but Anthony loved these moments so much, that he’d ask him to write everything down, every recipe, every story, sometimes asking Kate’s father for more details or clarifications. He didn’t know why, but Anthony had felt the need to keep a trace of these moments he loved so much, to maybe pass them on to his own children.

 

 

Kate had close to no memories of her Amma. She had no recollection of her love or tenderness, no memory left, but the fear of thunderstorms. Her Appa had told her bits of stories, never finishing them, because his pain took over. But Kate knew that her Amma loved her very much and had always adored the sight of her daughter in braids and colorful dresses. A habit that Kate had kept since her death.

The doctor had told her Appa that she needed to take on an activity to deal with the grief and go back to her normal life. Especially since it seemed that she had locked away her memories of her mother. So, she had chosen the Art Club at her school, knowing how much Amma loved painting. The first few times she had hated it. She kept messing with the colors, her drawing skills were close to non-existent and the other kids were too joyful for her. On the fifth week, a boy, younger than her, with dark hair and blue eyes, had sat next to her, shared his snack, and painted with her in silence, sometimes correcting her colors, or erasing a part of her drawing to make it look better.

Benedict Bridgerton had been her first friend since Amma’s death, and probably the best. And it pained her terribly that he’d never meet her. She looked with envy at Benedict, especially during pick-up, when one of his parents would come up, kiss him and ask him about the day’s session, while Kate was sitting on the concrete steps, waiting for her Appa, who was always late. Soon enough, Benedict stayed with her at school too, realizing that Kate was alienating herself from the others. And he told her how his big brother absolutely terrorized him at home, one time, shaking him until he threw up. But Kate noticed that Benedict was still full of love for his brother and she wondered how it’d be if she had one sibling too.

 

 

Benedict had half a mind to introduce her to Anthony, but he liked Kate and liked the fact that she cared and minded about him. Anthony didn’t care much about Colin and him, and being the middle child was sometimes tough. But Kate always took time for him, and they both loved the arts, a passion he didn’t share with any of his siblings. If he was being honest, Benedict also knew that Kate and Anthony would butt heads, but they would absolutely adore each other. Both were competitive and had this particular sense of humor, that everybody loved.

And Anthony being Anthony had pushed him into the mud, and immediately, Benedict knew that it was bound to end up badly. And it did. Anthony ended up in the mud, next to him, looking at Kate with a mixture of awe and anger. Benedict was just in awe of her and wondered if Kate might have been a superhero in another life or his guardian angel.

And his biggest fear happened.

He joined his parents in Sister Danbury's office and saw Anthony and Kate hold hands, a soft blush on their faces, and the usual red ears for Anthony, which he only had when he was angry or flustered. And he didn’t look angry at that moment. That evening, forgetting his shyness in front of his big brother, he had knocked on his room and loudly told him to be careful and not hurt Kate, because she was an actual angel. To his surprise, Anthony had only nodded before apologizing and hugging him. It was the first time Benedict saw the influence Kate could have on his brother.

He breathed a sigh of relief, when Kate, mainly argued with Anthony, and still considered him her best friend. Even as the years passed, and she grew closer to Anthony, she still made time for Benedict, and the boy was truly relieved about it.

 

 

“You two, again,” sighed Sister Danbury. “Do you think you can last a month before being summoned to my office? Explain yourself. Sharma, first.”

“Of course, Kate, first, as if she was going to say the truth,” answered back Anthony.

“I’m always truthful! We were about to play croquet in P.E and I took a mallet, and Anthony here threw a tantrum.”

“It was my mallet and you know it!”

“Your name wasn’t written on it!”

“I licked it, Kate! That means that it was mine!”

“You licked it because you’re dumb, and you’re lucky that you’re not sick.”

“If I am, I am going to vomit all over your stuff!”

“You’ll have to play in the Nativity, this year, as a punishment” sighed Danbury, as the two children groaned.

“Can I be the King of Rock?” asked Anthony, looking serious, a small crease between his eyebrows.

“There’s no King of Rock in the Wise Men, you idiot.”

“We can move away from the original material, Kathani. Aren’t you supposed to be creative, I thought you were in Art Club,” sighed Anthony.

“Fine, I want to be the King of Glam, then.”

“You cannot!”

“I can!”

 

Danbury sighed again as the kids kept bickering on their way out, not even minding the people around them.

That year, the Three Wise Men were followed by the King of Rock and the King of Glam, who wore glittery suits and sang a David Bowie song.

It was considered to be the best Nativity play in years.

And this Christmas Holiday was also the best in years, because he spend every moment with Kate, teaching her Pall Mall, as she taught him chess, and they would spend their days and evenings like that. Playing Pall Mall during the day, cheating and laughing at every moment, and playing chess during the evenings, calm and soothed.

Kate had become a pillar in his life that he appreciated, and Anthony often wondered if this is what love felt like. And if it was, he didn’t mind spending his life like that.

A week later, Kate told in class that she had spent the best holidays and she wanted to play Pall Mall and chess forever with him, and Anthony was secretly pleased that Kate mirrored his own desire and imagined a future with him.

 

 

Anthony looked at his baby sister. Daphne, they had called her. Something stirred in him at her sight. Something different than when he saw his brothers for the first time. ‘That’s called having emotions’ sniggered Kate, when he told her the day after. But she had understood what he had meant.

Mainly because he started to feel the same thing for Kate, which led to another fight and another week of punishment.

Anthony cared for this little new being and had the burning desire to protect her. She seemed so defenseless, precious, and fragile that he knew he had to be a protective older brother to her. Kate had pushed him when she had heard that before Anthony had to say that he didn’t find her as fragile. Much more as a nuisance. But he never mentioned the fact that he felt compelled to defend her because she had no mother. Kate would have killed him if she knew.

Anthony had asked her once, as she was staying in his room for a sleepover, how it felt to lose a parent. He listened to her as she recounted how she didn’t have many memories of her mother as a healthy parent. She remembered her only as her sick mother, who passed away during a rainy and stormy summer. With a small voice, in the middle of the night, she admitted to Anthony that now she was terrified of thunderstorms, how they left her breathless and frightened, and how her father – or Appa, as she called him – had to read to her. In the morning, Violet had found them sleeping together in Anthony’s bed, hugging each other.

And even if Kate didn’t tell him to keep it quiet, Anthony had kept the secret, cherishing it almost. For the first time, someone had chosen him and willingly shared a secret piece of themselves. And he treasured it. He went as far as checking the weather forecast, every day, bringing her his favorite books the day before, and her favorite snacks, the day after.

 

 

“Oh, Anthony. Did you two fight against each other once again?” sighed Edmund as he sat down in the office, next to his wife.

“Actually, they fought together against someone, M. Bridgerton. We’ll wait for M. Sharma, before going any further.”

 

Kate didn’t even acknowledge her father when he came in, followed by a woman. She looked nice and a bit shy to be here, as she greeted the Sister and his parents.

 

“That’s your new mum?”

“I don’t have a new mum,” seethed Kate, before leaving the office, not caring about her father's calls.

“Go make sure she’s fine, Anthony. You already know your punishment.”

 

Anthony nodded at the Sister before he left her office to find Kate, sitting outside, kicking rocks.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“There’s nothing to tell. Appa replaced Amma… As if he didn’t miss her at all… And he’s marrying Mary.”

“Does she want to be your mum?”

“She said that she wasn’t going to replace Amma, but she’ll take care of me nonetheless, and love me like her real daughter.”

“I think it’s cool, Kate. She chose to be your mother. She chose you… My parents have four children, and they never choose me, anymore…”

“I chose you to be my second-best friend, Anthony. After Benedict, of course.”

“Oh, am I your second-best friend, Kathani? Am I not the best of your friends? The bestest of your life?”

“Shut up, you idiot,” smiled Kate.

 

Anthony smiled at her, his heart beating a bit faster as her pinkie brushed his.

 

 

“I can’t believe I’m going to have a sister! This is going to be great!”

“Pray that they’ll only have one baby. Mum is pregnant again. I’m going to have four siblings, Kate. I can’t deal with that.”

“Do you think it’ll be weird to have a 12-year gap with them? I mean… It’s not like we’ll have the same interests.”

“I am four years older than Ben, and we already have nothing in common. He’s 8, Kate, and I saw him kiss a girl, yesterday. A girl. I never kissed a girl and I’m 12.”

“Because I’m the only girl you know, Anthony. Ben is more of a social butterfly than you.”

“I don’t need tons of friends when I have my best friend.”

“Alice is in love with you,” said Kate, a minute later, as they worked on their maths homework.

“From our class?”

“Yep…”

“How do you know?”

“She told me. You could kiss her. She won’t mind, I’m sure.”

“I don’t want to kiss Alice,” huffed Anthony.

“Who do you want to kiss, then?”

“No one,” he replied, blushing.

“Your ears are red. You can say it if you want to kiss me, Anthony. I want to kiss you too, sometimes. Mainly to shut you up.”

 

 

They decided on the next day, since they had all afternoon free, with no parents and no siblings. They both brushed their teeth several times, before chewing gum as they looked for tutorials for kissing on his dad’s computer. After compelling some data, Anthony had erased any proofs, and both went back to his room. Sat on the bed, they faced each other, keeping their hands to themselves, and tried to emulate what they had seen.

 

“It’s… underwhelming,” concluded Kate, wiping her mouth, as Anthony licked his, covered in her raspberry lip balm.

“Maybe I should have put a bit of tongue.”

“Say that again and you’ll kiss your pillow, Bridgerton.”

“What if I’m bad at kissing, Kate? What if, for all my life, I’ll be unable to kiss girls? I’ll be known as bad kisser Anthony!”

 

Kate laughed, before cupping his cheek to smooth the crease in between his eyebrows.

The gesture was familiar, Kate doing it a million times a day. Yet this time, her hand lingered on his face, brushing it softly. Anthony’s hand slowly came around her, hugging her softly, before they leaned over and brushed their lips together, one, two times, before he deepened the kiss, clumsily capturing her upper lip in between his. After a minute, they looked at each other, in silence, before Kate exhaled loudly.

 

“The future girls you’ll kiss will be happy, Bridgerton.”

“I don’t want to kiss any other girl, Kathani…”

 

He cupped her face and kissed her once again, gaining more and more confidence with each of her sighs of pleasure. It was with a massive grin that Kate and he, went to Danbury’s office after one of the Sisters had caught them snogging in the toilets. And it was at this time that they weren’t allowed anymore to stay door closed in a room.

 

 

He heard the soft knocks on his window, waking him up. Anthony woke up groggy, having been awakened an hour before by Eloise’s cries, and now, he was awakened again, by weird noises.

And he saw her.

Kate was dangerously standing on one of the tree branches, holding on to another one, as she threw stuff to his window. Anthony scrambled out of bed quickly, registering that he was only wearing shorts, and opened the window, helping Kate come in. Without saying anything, she hugged him tight, burrowing her head in his neck.

Anthony had been the one having mood swings this past year. His parents had been worried about his outbursts, to the point where they took him to see a therapist. But he had only smiled at them after the session, telling them that Anthony was just becoming a teenager. Kate was the one who was always smiling, joyful, and ready to do things outdoors, forcing Anthony to go out with her.

Anthony took her to his bed and kept her in his arms until she was ready to speak. Which took an abnormally long time, since she always had been outspoken, even pushing him to be more out with his feelings, instead of keeping it all in.

 

“They forgot Amma’s birthday, Anthony…”

“Oh, Katie…”

“He just forgot about her, as if she was nothing. As if she meant nothing. What if they forget about me too? They had Edwina now, why would they bother with me?”

“Kate, don’t say that… You mean so much to Miles. He loves you so much… Eddie is a screamer and doesn’t sleep at night. My parents forgot to take us to school the other day because of Eloise… They are overworked and tired. Nobody could forget you, Katie… You are too precious and unforgettable, trust me… It’s truly embarrassing how much I think of you, for instance…”

“You do?”

“Of course… Must be the teenage hormones. Apparently, I’m an early bloomer.”

“You’re thirteen. You’re right on time, Bridgerton.”

“I still feel like a child… Maybe 14 is going to be the age something shifts in us.”

“Maybe…”

“Kate? Why don’t we go see your Amma tomorrow? We could do things she liked and visit places she used to go to… If you want. We’d the one keeping her memory alive…”

“You’d do that for me?”

“Honestly, I don’t think I could refuse you anything…”

“You’re the best, Anthony…”

“I have my perks…”

 

Kate smiled at him as he wiped her tears, before kissing him softly.

 

“I’d really like to kiss you more, you know, for training, but I’m actually knackered…”

“Sorry… I’ll see you tomorrow, Bridgerton.”

 

The next day, Anthony woke up a bit late but feeling happier than he had been in weeks.

 

 

Kate huffed and puffed as she took off her dress and stayed in her underwear in front of the mirror. She looked at her round cheeks and flat chest and covered herself with her arms. She had never really focused on her body before, as long as she was healthy, everything was okay. Until two weeks ago, in P.E, when all the girls changed into their uniforms and started to talk about their breasts, Alice talked loudly about how her breasts were so round and big, and how lucky she was while looking pointedly at Kate. Before switching to her favorite subject, how fit Anthony Bridgerton was. Before once again, pointedly laughing at Kate when she said how ‘Kate is one of the boys for Anthony’. Kate had refrained from telling her how the night before she had Anthony’s tongue down her throat, and just left for class.

But since that moment, Kate had examined her body and hated it. She hated her long limbs, and her height, cringing when she realized that she was the same height as Anthony. She found herself too lanky and hated how small her breasts were, even if Mary had assured her that she still had time to grow and change. Kate had hated even more her body after that, wondering about how her life would be if she didn’t change. As she looked at herself, she wondered how Anthony could find pleasure in kissing her. And she knew it brought him pleasure from his broken moans and the way he often had to adjust his pants.

 

“Katie, what are you doing?”

“I’m trying to find an outfit.”

“Why don’t you put on your green dress? You look lovely in it. You’re doing something special today?” smiled Mary.

“I’m spending the day with Anthony,” answered Kate, bitter that still, nobody remembered her Amma.

“Anthony already fancies you, darling, no need to stress yourself.”

“He doesn’t. We’re friends.”

“Oh… We thought you two were dating…”

“Not at all, Mary… Do you think that I’m pretty?”

“Of course, Kate! The prettiest!”

“Ugh, don’t say that, you make it sound like I’m a child. I hate my colorful clothes, I hate the braids, I hate my body… I still have baby fat, Mary, and at the same time, I’m lanky and flat, and I hate everything.”

“Kate, look at you. You’re beautiful. You will struggle with it because your teenage years are looming, but you are truly so beautiful, Katie. You have the eyes of a Disney Princess, and a dazzling smile. Your body nurtures you and carries you, every day. You should cherish it. If you want a more mature style, we can go shopping if you want. And for today, we can see if I have a top for you. And you could let your hair down… Anthony never saw your curly hair, am I wrong?”

“Thanks, Mary…”

“Let’s get you ready, baby! Anthony is going to be in absolute awe!”

 

Anthony had said nothing when he saw her but had softly touched her hair with a smile before they caught the bus to the graveyard. For the first time, he met her Amma and Kate talked animatedly to both of them, Anthony still smiling at her, and humored her by talking to her Amma. Then, he took her to her favorite Indian restaurant, where Anthony, feeling brazen, had tried spicy food, before almost fainting on the table, under Kate’s giggles. Then, she suggested a movie and in the cover of darkness, as a loud, stupid action movie rolled, Anthony complimented her.

 

“I didn’t want to say it earlier, but you’re so beautiful today, Kathani… Though I’m sad you’re not wearing one of your colorful outfits. I think I am used to seeing you with colors and it makes me deliriously happy. I don’t miss the braids, though… Your hair is so long and beautiful… You’re so beautiful, it leaves me breathless, Kathani…”

 

On the cusp of crying, Kate threw her arms around him and kissed him. Anthony responded with enthusiasm, slipping his tongue through her lips, for her great pleasure. Feeling confident, Kate took his hand and put it on her small breast, Anthony tore his lips from her, and looked at where his hand was resting. He gave it a tentative squeeze, weighing the flesh in his palm, before brushing his fingers where her nipple was. The movie was blaring around them, but they didn’t care in the privacy of the last row.

 

“I think this is a sign from God, Katie… You fit perfectly in my hand…”

“You make me feel… adequate,” cringed Kate, not looking at him.

“Kathani. You are not just adequate. Please believe me when I say that you’re the most beautiful girl and anyone who says differently is a fool. And if you believe that you’re not the most beautiful then you are the biggest fool in the universe…”

“Kiss me, Anthony…”

 

 

“I can’t believe we got kicked out of the theatre, Ant’. This is mortifying.”

“It’s your fault, why did you moan this loudly?”

“My fault! Anthony, you yelped loudly before saying “again”. And when I mean saying, I mean screaming.”

“You touched my… I got excited.”

 

Both looked at each other, before laughing loudly until they got home.

 

“Thanks for the day, Bridgerton… It was nice.”

“Do you think your Amma would have liked me?”

“She loves you. I’m sure of it.”

 

Anthony broke into a proud grin, before hugging her.

 

 

Anthony looked at his parents in disgust as they presented Francesca to the family. Born a year after Eloise, he cringed thinking about the fact that his parents had sex this soon after his mother had pushed a baby out. He had almost retched at the thought. It still made him queasy. He was thirteen and had five siblings. He wondered when his parents would stop. At least, Miles and Mary seemed content enough with two children.

He looked with envy at Benedict, who was getting his supplies ready for the art class he attended with Kate. His relationship with his brother had calmed down since Kate had stormed into their lives, but Anthony still felt a bit of jealousy at the fact that Benedict was her best friend first, and still her closest friend. Of course, Anthony knew he meant more to Kate since he doubted that Benedict could touch her boobs or kiss her, but he still hated every boy, which Kate smiled at. And both shared a passion for art, which Anthony couldn’t, having no artistic leaning.

His only solace was that tonight, one of them would sneak into the other house. And Anthony’s mood lifted quickly before he greeted and carried his new baby sister.

 

 

“Do you think that I should go to the gym?”

“No,” answered Kate, not lifting her eyes from her book.

“Katie, you didn’t even look.”

“Anthony, you’re shirtless since this morning. I know your chest. I like your soft body. Moreover, it stops your growth, the whole muscle thing.”

“Don’t say my soft body, Kate.”

“Anthony, you have a soft belly, which is totally okay. You’re thirteen, what did you expect? You’ll get muscled later in life, and that’s it.”

“But if I don’t, you’ll still find me charming, right?”

“You’re handsome, Anthony.”

“Thanks, Katie…”

“It’s funny. I went through the same phase weeks ago. Alice made me so insecure…”

“She’s dumb, don’t mind her. I love your body.”

“Thanks, Anthony…”

 

Anthony didn’t add that he might be in love with her as well, but he knew that deep down, she was already aware of it. They had been even closer these past few weeks, especially after he had been invited to her house, as Mary’s parents were there. The Sheffields. Anthony had hated them on the spot, as they only cared and brought gifts for Edwina, not even looking at Kate. And during the whole dinner, they had pointedly ignored her and Miles, as if they were nothing. Anthony had asked them coldly if they had been raised with animals for lacking such respect and manners, Kate gasping at his outburst. But she had thanked him for defending her and making her feel important. That night, Anthony had realized the extent of his love for Kate, and how ready he was to defend her against the world.

He didn’t know if she loved him, but he noticed how she smiled and looked at him, and he noticed that she never looked at anyone like that. And it made him warm and fuzzy. It had been a relief for him when she had accepted to go on holiday with him and his family, as they stayed at Aubrey Hall, enjoying the lake and playing Pall Mall. Anthony hoped that every summer would be as good as this one.

 

 

Colin never saw such anguish on his brothers’ faces.

Anthony was his hero, always smiling and making jokes, even if sometimes he liked to torture his younger siblings. And Benedict was his best friend, so soft and always nice. It had been like that for as long as Colin remembered, and for the first time, he saw them experiencing new emotions and it left him uneasy.

Benedict looked pained and sad, powerless as he hovered on the threshold of the Sharma’s living room. His other siblings were not here, staying at home with the babysitter, so Colin could talk to no one. He kept his gaze on Benedict, who looked so small in his black suit, holding Edwina’s hands, who looked equally lost, but less in pain than Benedict. After all, she was only two, barely old enough to remember anything.

Anthony was sitting on the stairs, in a black suit as well, his arm around a sobbing Kate, dressed in a white dress. Colin had never seen his brother in pain, and he hoped to never see the sight ever again. When they had got the call, Anthony had broken down, sobbing on the floor, the phone clutched in his hand. And since then, his eyes were always full of tears, his whole being irradiating with pain, and he always stayed with Kate.

Colin had not been close to Miles Sharma, but he knew that his two brothers were. Anthony always cooked with him, and even planned a trip to India with him, thinking of going there after his A-Levels. And Benedict, being Kate’s best friend, was always around, talking art with her father. Colin had never witnessed death, and he hoped to never live through something like that ever again. Kate seemed absolutely destroyed and Colin couldn’t imagine the pain of losing a parent, let alone both.

 

 

Kate had lost everything, even the light inside of her. Anthony had tried to lighten up her mood, to take her out a lot, but she seemed to slowly wither, day after day. She went to the graveyard every day before school and was silent all the time. She seemed gone, shut down, and Anthony felt powerless in front of such pain. He could only help her with Edwina, making her food and taking her to school, while Mary grieved, sleeping in her room all day long, leaving Kate in charge. And Anthony could only do much, his heart breaking for Kate and her family.

 

 

“You asked for me?”

“Kate, have a seat! Do you want a cup of tea?”

“That’d be nice, Sister Danbury. Did I do something?”

“I just wanted to have a little chit-chat with you. It’s your last day here, after all.”

“You’re probably relieved to see me gone,” tried to smile Kate.

“You were a tough nut to crack, Kate. But it was truly a pleasure to see you grow up and become a nice young lady,” smiled Sister Danbury.

“Fortunately, you still have Anthony to wreak havoc”

“I’m not sure, Bridgerton will feel the same without you around. Seeing his peaceful demeanor, he is not aware you’re moving, I suppose?”

 

Kate shook her head before tears spilled out of her eyes. Sister Danbury held her in her arms, as Kate sobbed, even more, the motherly embrace breaking her down. And she cried her heart out, the Sister letting her sob, holding her through it, until Kate sagged in relief, suddenly tired. She thanked the Sister, before wiping her cheeks and asking her if she could write to her while being gone.

 

“It’ll be my utmost pleasure to be your pen pal, Kate.”

 

 

“What do you mean you’re going to see the Sheffields? They’re morons, Katie.”

 

Anthony kept working on his homework, half-listening to Kate, who stilled, looking at him, trying to contain her tears.

 

“Anthony, I’m not going to see the Sheffields. I’m moving to Sheffield. Appa had some family there and they want to help us…”

 

Anthony dropped his pen, unable to answer. He frowned at the mix of emotions he was feeling. Anger mainly, because she was leaving him, but also pain, as she was breaking his heart. And he remembered their conversation the year before when he had told Kate that the year of their fourteenth birthday would be the year of big changes.

Oh, how right he had been.