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PS THIS IS A BIG TIME SKIP. ALMOST A WHOLE MONTH.

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March 5, 1477

Monteriggioni, Italy

Catherine hummed a tune as she rubbed the apple she'd "stolen" from the kitchen on her white under-shirt. Once satisfied with its cleanliness she took a bite and trotted through the hallway. It was about ten, so most were off doing whatever they liked since it was their "rest" day and Mario only had the men train for a few hours—mostly just exercise. As such, even the servants essentially had the day off, which made it easier to snatch one delicious, red morsel from the kitchen under Ghita's nose, not that the woman really minded. It was a little out of boredom, too; without training she was free to do as she pleased, but all she generally did was either help spruce up the Villa some—there wasn't much more she could do without money at this point, though—work on her drawings, read and study or just trot about and "steal" apples. As such, she figured she would do the later and maybe actually try studying again since she'd been unable to for a while now. If she did, it was in the late hours after dinner, but even then she'd read most every book so there was almost nothing left to study.

'And yet you remain a pain in the ass. You activate once and then never again? Make up your damn mind,' the redheaded young woman sighed as she pulled her Clock free, glared at the single dial, and then slipped it back into her pocket. Truly, it was a fickle thing and she wasn't sure how it was supposed to help at all. It had only given her the visions twice—the dream of the Auditores being taken, and then their hanging—and then nothing more. She had pressed it for answers; to have the woman appear before her again and explain herself, but there was nothing. It was infuriating, but there was nothing she could do. She could only be glad that all the extra training with Ezio was keeping her occupied. Indeed, she rarely thought of the Clock except in the dead of night and only every so often. The young man just had a way of distracting her from it, as did his sister and now more often his Uncle.

It hadn't escaped her notice that Claudia was more cheerful than she had been before, although not too much more. She would keep up her dour mood, and would always snap at Ottavio when she came to the ring, although the Captain seemed to find it almost endearing. It was an odd thing, but Catherine and Ezio both found it amusing, too. In fact, the only who didn't seem to was Claudia, whom would always leave in a huff after her retort to him. Ezio, like-wise, was generally more cheerful than his sister. He spent most his time with Catherine, whether it was training or afterwards, but she had pushed him to go be with his sister some nights, and she liked to think it was helping. It seemed like it, anyways. Sometimes Mario would keep them occupied, too, and lately the older man had been talking with them for a while after dinner. It made her a little jealous—Mario used to talk for hours with her—but she understood. He was busy, and they were his family. Ezio was meant to continue in his father's work, and she still wasn't sure what her part was.

She had other things to think on anyways, such as training and Emilio. The bastard had, unfortunately, not really backed off. He had tried a few more times to fight her—or rather demolish her—in the ring, but Mario had begun to decline, saying the difference in strength was only causing harm and not benefiting either of them, so she was saved from that. However, he sought to harass her in other ways; subtle ones. The chatter among the men that she might be "intimate"—they has used a more crude way of saying it—with Ezio had its origins with Emilio. Calling her a tease and a whore; how she had no place among them and that she was using the young man to garner more favor with Mario. Thankfully, only a handful believed him, and Mario made it very clear he would have not have his men becoming immature, gossiping women, or else he would grant them their desire and, for lack of a better word, castrate them himself. Ezio had wanted to defend her honor as well, but she had thankfully been able to stop him. If he had, she didn't doubt men would think the rumors true, but since Mario had intervened, most of the talk had stopped. Emilio, of course, had not.

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