Dedicated to Georgia, my number one inspiration. Thank you for everything you do for me and this story. Safe and Sound wouldn't exist without you.
Disclaimer: This story was published in 2012, a full 6 years before Red Dead Redemption 2 came out. I will warn you that the beginning of this story is now, sadly, deemed non-canon. However, it does get back on track. I'm leaving the story as is because again, I started it 6 years beforehand and had no idea of the true canon at the time.
1906, Blackwater, West Elizabeth
It was nearing sundown when Edgar Ross and his wife's dinner was interrupted by a knock on their front door. Annoyed at his dinner being disrupted, the agent planned to give the intruder a piece of his mind. Annoyance turned into confusion when he opened the door to reveal his brother and his niece. When Philip asked for Edgar to take in his child, the annoyance returned.
"Edgar, please. I'm in no possible shape to be the kind of father she needs. I have no other options, brother." Philip Ross didn't like to beg anyone for anything but as he looked down at his eleven year old daughter, he knew that he would get on his knees and plead for his brother to take her in. The small, redheaded child looked up at her father and gave him a small smile. Philip sighed, running his fingers through her hair. He was going to miss her sweet, freckled face. "She's my little girl, Edgar." He moved his hands to cover the girl's ears. "The bank's about to take the house. I still haven't paid the costs of laying Annabelle to rest. I'm lucky the Church is letting me pay them back."
Edgar sighed. "What will people say? She's…" He glanced at his niece's bright red hair. "She's different, Philip."
Philip tried to not let the anger he felt at his brother insulting his only child get to him. He needed Edgar to take her. "They would say you're a hero for taking in a girl that would not be properly cared for."
The older Ross sighed and opened the door wider to allow them inside. "I'm only doing this because you're my brother, Philip."
"I understand, brother. I appreciate this more than you'll ever know." Philip placed a hand on his daughter's shoulder and gently pushed her inside.
"Is that my sweet little Catherine?" Edgar's wife, Emily called from the doorway to the parlor. The older woman walked into the room beaming at the small girl.
"Aunt Emily!" Catherine replied, a smile on her face to return her aunt's.
Emily moved past her husband and kneeled down to envelop the child in her arms. "I've missed you, darling." The older woman pulled back far enough to look her niece in the eyes. Unable to help herself, Emily ran the back of her hand along the girl's face. "How are you holding up, sweetheart?" The girl's mother had passed away only days ago, it had to be hard losing your mother so young.
"I'm okay, Aunt Emily. Daddy says Mama is in a better place." Catherine looked over her shoulder at her father. "Right, Daddy?"
A strained smile was given to the girl. "That's right, baby." Philip locked eyes with his sister in law. "You think it'd be alright for her to stay with you and Edgar for a while? I don't want to put her through what I've gotta get done."
"Of course, Philip! We'd love to take care of our sweet little lady." The woman grinned at her husband. "Wouldn't we, sweetheart?"
Edgar Ross gave nothing but an eye roll in response. "How long will she need to be here?"
"A year. A year and a half at most."
Giving a nod in understanding, Edgar looked out to the wagon his brother and niece had arrived on. "Very well, we can deal with her until then. Does she have her things?"
Looking startled at Edgar's abrupt words, Philip nodded. "They're out in the wagon. I'll go get them!" Without another word, Philip took off to get his daughter's things.
Edgar glanced down at his niece and frowned at her hair. Redheads were seen as Satanic. What would people say when they saw that he, Edgar Ross, had a redheaded niece? "This is going to be a problem." He told the child, examining a lock of her hair.
Catherine frowned. "Mama said that it makes me special."
"It makes you different. Folks here don't like different."
The girl's frown deepened. "Mama always told me that being different was good. She said to always be myself."
"Your mother was wrong, Catherine." He scoffed.
"Could you call me, Cat? Mama called me that."
"Absolutely not." His firm voice scared Catherine a little. "You are not an animal. You're a human being and a member of the Ross family. We are a dignified people. Your name is Catherine." His tone left no room for argument.
Gaze falling to the floor, Catherine nodded. "Yes, Uncle."
The couple and child stayed in silence for a few moments longer before Philip returned with all of his daughter's things. "All of her clothes and anything else I thought she might need. Where will she be staying, Edgar? I can take care of her things for her."
Edgar sighed, suddenly feeling very tired of this whole situation already. "Just leave them. I'll carry them to her room." He took the chests his brother brought in and made haste in taking them to where the child would be staying. Emily followed behind her husband, commenting about tidying up the space before Catherine slept in it. The father and daughter were now left alone.
"Daddy's gotta go, Catherine. I love you, baby girl. I'll be back for you as soon as I can. I'll see you for Mama's funeral." Leaving his only child behind pained Philip in the greatest possible way. He couldn't believe he was actually going to do it. Wrapping his arms around his daughter, he held her closely.
"Okay, Daddy. I love you, too." Her small arms were tight around his neck. She didn't want to leave her daddy either, but she had been told it must be done.
"I'm sure Uncle Edgar will help you learn to read better, if you ask. He can even teach you to write, I'm sure!" Philip pulled away from his daughter. "I'll bet he's gonna turn you into such a lady that I'm not even going to be able to understand your big fancy words."
"I'll get real smart, Daddy. I promise." She vowed.
Philip gave his daughter a smile. "I know, darling. I know." He cupped her chin in between his index finger and thumb. "Make sure you listen to Aunt Emily and Uncle Edgar, okay?" When she nodded, Philip gave a sigh. "I better be off, now." He told her, giving her one last hug. The two parted and Catherine watched as her father walked away from her and out of the house.
"Bye, Daddy." She whispered, tears forming in her eyes. She was going to miss him fiercely.
"Catherine, let me show you where you'll be sleeping." Her Uncle's voice said from behind her. With a nod, she turned and followed her Uncle. They climbed staircase after staircase it seemed, until they finally came to the attic. "This is the best we have on such short notice. It's warm, dry, and spacious. Enjoy." Edgar commented.
The room itself wasn't what Catherine had expected an attic to be. It most definitely wasn't like the attic at her house. The wooden floors were hard and sturdy, not a speck of dust to be found on them either. A vanity with a mirror was placed in the corner of the room, a small bed near the only window and a large bookcase rested against the wall to her right. The girl smiled. While it wasn't like her room, it would do. "I love it, Uncle."
The man scoffed. "It's hardly fit for someone to live in, but if you insist, you can stay here." He glanced out the window and noted that it was now completely dark outside. "It's time for bed. I expect you to be up in the morning. We'll begin your studies."
"Grammar, Arithmetic, History, etiquette. I will not let you leave this house speaking like a buffoon." He paused for a moment to make sure she understood. "Now, goodnight." Without another word to his niece, Edgar left the attic, making his way back downstairs. Catherine was now by herself. She walked over to where Uncle Edgar had put her chests and began to search for a nightgown to wear for bed. Once she was dressed for sleep, she climbed into bed and was pleased to find it comfortable.
She laid her head on the pillow and gave a small sigh. "Watch over Daddy for me, Mama" The girl whispered before letting sleep overtake her.