06 - Disparate Youth

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July 13, 1476

Florence, Italy

Catherine sighed and rubbed at her eyes, the lids heavy and tired, but sleep would not come to her. Normally it was so easy for her to nod off, but lately it had been hard. Even sore limbs couldn't make it come fast, and the anguish of the Clock made staying in the bed unbearable. She needed to be away from it, and since it was safe in her room, she had taken up a candle and ventured out into the main hallway. There were wooden shelves along the wall, all lined with books or some kind of ornament. She didn't know if it would do much good, but she had pulled one down to read. It turned out to be the Divine Comedy, and she couldn't help seeing the humor in that. It did not ease her mind, though, or let her sleep.

'I guess at least it's nice to read the original and not modern day school version,' she rumbled, turning the page lazily. She glanced over to her candle, the wax about half-way gone. How long had she been out here now? The stick had definitely been taller before. God, she didn't know anymore. She was exhausted—potentially delirious, she wouldn't put it past that—but she just couldn't fall asleep. Oh, she knew why. She was too stressed. Every night her stupid worries and anxieties came rushing back with nothing to stop them. In a way, she was used to it at this point—it had been almost ten days since she'd been with the Auditore's after all. She didn't cry anymore, but the weight of it all was still too much.

Another sigh escaped Catherine as she shut the book and leaned her forehead into her palm, nestled on the arm of the chair in the corner of the hallway. Hadn't she been punished enough already? The least the stupid Clock could have done was make it certain she could have a peaceful night's rest. She was no good tired. She might push through, but she hated feeling sleepy. To make matters worse, she had to work with Federico tomorrow, which was a little ironic since she actually loved running around with them. It was a blast, and she was glad to finally get back with them since she'd practiced being a lady the last three days with Maria. It just wasn't as fun when she was so tired, and it also made it harder to improve.

"Catherine?"

The redhead looked up, and was just as surprised as Ezio was to find him there. She could just barely make him out in the dark, but she knew his voice by now. Even if there had been doubt, he solved the mystery himself by coming closer. She held her candle up to see him better, and noted he was in a rather disheveled state. His hair was a slight mess, and his shirt was even worse off. His vest was unbuttoned some, and his belt was buckled sloppily. It didn't take long for her to figure out what he'd been doing, and she just hoped he wasn't planning on being childish tonight.

"What are you doing up? Reading?" he inquired, smiling a bit coyly. She ignored him as she stood and headed for the shelf she'd obtained it front.

"No. Just going to bed—as should you."

"I am quite tired," he hummed, to which she snorted. He grinned, "But I might have a bit more energy to spare for you, my Lady."

"Oh, I'm sure, but I wouldn't want the other ladies of Firenze to start writhing in despair. So, if you don't mind, I am going to bed," she snapped. The young man frowned and opened his mouth to make some kind of retort no doubt, but closed it a moment later. Good. Maybe he would leave her alone then.

"Are… you alright, Catherine?"

She sighed for the third time that night, rubbing at her eyes, "Yes. I'm just tired and I want to go back to bed in peace."

She expected him to be foolish, stubborn, and his usual self. She expected he would continue to try flirt with her until she shouted, which would end up waking up the whole house and getting them both into trouble. It was bound to happen.

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