The next date with the earl came up, without Jack and Pete coming back. Although she didn't spent much time with them, Katherine missed them already. Sadly, the replacements didn't want to tell her were they went or when they'll be back. Was it some kind of mission? She'd question the earl about it later just to make sure they were alright.
As for the date, Katherine had everything prepared. Her dress was simple this time, because the last one hadn't caused a good reaction and she needed to have more freedom of movement today. In white and with a straw-hat she looked innocent and pure. Picking up the thing she'd made with Hazel's help, she strode to the entrance hall.
Nathaniel was already there, waiting for her. He'd donned a red shirt and his usual black gloves. He didn't put in any extra-afford, but that shirt high-lighting his eyes was enough to exclude a devilish charm. Counting in his soft white hair... Katherine bit her lower lip. She really wanted to know how it felt, shimmering lightly under the chandelier.
Danger! Danger!, an alarm rang in her head, and she closed her eyes shortly, before opening them again as she heard his impatient voice.
"If you're not a statue, you should keep moving. Stop wasting my time."
These harsh words totally killed the mood. All hopes of a pleasant hour together were thrown into the trash-bin. If it weren't for her aims she wouldn't even think about searching him out again and again. Yet, she was forced to. Through clenched teeth Katherine shot back: "You're even more rude than your brother! It's my hour, isn't it?"
It was a test of sorts, to see if her suspicion was on point. If the patient wasn't his brother, he'd hopefully be irritated by her words.
Yet he wasn't. To be precise, he didn't show any emotion on his face, aside from a slight annoyance. That decided it. The patient had to be the earl's brother.
"So you want to keep drooling at me for an whole hour?", he voiced out venomously and raised his brow. "And to think you criticized my manners... really a shame."
Instantly, Katherine flushed red. "O-Of course not! I was just about to come down!" As fast as her legs could carry her, she rushed down the staircase, stopping right in front of him. "See? I'm not drooling! I wouldn't drool at someone like you! Don't overestimate yourself!"
Courageously, she stared in his red eyes, wanting to prove that she wasn't fl.u.s.tered.
Nathaniel's mouth twitched. Slowly, his gaze wandered to her red and glossy lips, emphasized by her slight pout. "Who are you drooling at then? Because I clearly see the result."
"What?!" Hastily, she covered her mouth, rubbing at the edges, before her expression darkened as she felt nothing but her smooth skin. "You're lying!"
There was a mocking glitter in his eyes but her imagination transformed it into wickedness and cruelty. "Wasn't it obvious?"
Not giving her time to retort, he strode out of the mansion.
"You - you - !", she stuttered speechlessly. He was just too mean! Teasing her only because he could!
"I what?", his cold voice sounded from the outside.
Katherine puffed out her cheeks, but only gave a "hmpf!" in the end, and chased after him. She'd already realized that arguing about it would just lead to him saying she was childish. Although obviously he was the childish one this time. Quite unexpected.
In reality, Nathaniel only walked outside to hide his wide smile. Courage and innocence made a quirky mix in this girl. It urged him time and time again to see her exaggerated reactions.
That is really amusing, he thought, something simple and without consequences. Her angry expression wasn't nearly as dangerous as the heart-felt smiles. It didn't hurt in his chest when she growled at him or flushed red with rage. And she wouldn't try touching him then.
"What did you bring there?", he asked after walking silently for a while. In her hands was a bulky construct out of fabric and wood strives, but using all his imagination he still couldn't see what it should be.
"This?" She raised it and a long tail made out of a line with colorful bows fluttered behind it. Although the sun was shining, it couldn't compensate for the cold wind, which was blowing fervently today. Katherine was glad that her dress had long sleeves and her shoes were warm and comfortable. Nevertheless, this weather was perfect for her project.
"It's a kite! I made it myself." It wasn't that hard to make a kite, but to Katherine who didn't normally do technical things, it was a challenge. Still, she'd wanted to do it herself, because it was connected to one of the precious memories she had of her father.
They'd build one together when she was a kid. One of the rare occasions they'd exchanged more than just a few words at the dining table.
"A kite?", the earl asked, his curiosity waning. "These things you use in wars to frighten the enemy?"
Katherine stopped in her steps, stupefied. "What? To frighten the enemy? How would you use a kite to frighten the enemy?" They were just toys, alright? How could a kite frighten anyone?
"Well, the troops need to be either stupid or at the end of their lines for that to work.", The earl judged, and explained willingly: "You would tie something making noises on the kite and send it over to the enemies position at night. Hopefully, they will be to exhausted to fight well the next day."
Katherine shook her head in amazement. "I didn't know kites can be used like this. Quite cruel to convert a toy into something so mean."
"How can you be sure it wasn't the other way around?", the earl asked. His face was expressionless. There wasn't a big reason behind his question. He just thought of the wooden swords children used to play with and how they were replicas of real weapons, not the other way around.
"A weapon converted into a toy? Hmm... It's a gut feeling. Because... let me show it to you. It's easier than to explain. Okay, hold onto this. Not too tightly, just make sure to not loose the end."
His body jolted backwards nearly unrecognizable as she grabbed for his hands. Luckily, he was wearing his gloves so he let her do what she wanted in the end. What is she up to, he thought, as she pushed a long rope into his hands and gave her instructions, her hands resting on his longer than necessary.
This was one of Anni's tips, too. If you touch him, hold onto him a bit longer than usual until he can feel your warmth. Though because of the gloves, feeling each others warmth became impossible, she still wanted to try out this tip, feeling a bit nervous while doing so.
Just as she was about to let go, the earl's hands already struggled out of her grip. With a slight blush she looked up at him. Obviously he noticed her ploy and wasn't happy about it.
Glaring coldly, he ordered: "Stop doing this."
The pressure she hadn't felt so clearly today, crashed down on her again. With wobbling knees, she met his glare for a few seconds unwillingly, before blushing harder and looking away.
Without a word she picked up the kite, breathed deeply to stabilize her knees. Then she began running, holding the kite wide over her head. Behind her, her black hair fluttered wildly contrasting with the dress. A second later, the hat flew off her head but she didn't care.
The fabric catching the wind soon ballooned outside and when she felt it had the right drive, she let it fly. Like a dragon freed of it's cage, the kite shot up into the air. The rope in the earl's hands tightened, stopped the raise too soon.
"More! Give it a bit more rope!", she shouted, rushing back to his side. On her way, she picked up the hat and put it back on her disheveled hair. Her eyes were glittering, the lips formed into a little smile, although this pessimistic, rude earl had been trying ruin her fun again today. She was almost used to his jabbing now.
Just how long was it since the last time she'd let a kite fly? Five years? Seven? The joy and feeling of accomplishment was still the same, and she didn't want her mood to go bad because of his whims.
The earl looked like he didn't hear her call, though, staring at her intensely. The kite was on it's way down already, pulled to earth by the tightened rope.
Impatiently she called: "Nathaniel! It'll crash if you don't let it free! Just a little!"
Hearing his name shook him awake, and he let go of a part of the rope, fixing his red eyes on the kite now.
As Katherine reached his side, the dark-blue construct was flying safely. Satisfied, Katherine stood beside and watched the kite drifting next to the clouds. "Now look at this! What do you think was the constructor's aim by building something like this?"
The earl didn't look at the her, following the movement of the kite with his eyes. Slowly, he answered. "To fly."
Katherine nodded. "Exactly. To fly. To be free. Do you see now why I say it is cruelty to convert it into a war machine?"