Hey, guys. So, where are we going for this area of the story? I'm not giving away any hints, so I can't really say anything. Garrett will be getting more "lead", as will Ash, rather than them just being "supporting characters".
Well, let's start, shall we?
It was over a week later and Katherine was not as lost as she once had been. Some questions had been answered, but others, well, not so much. Perhaps that was just how it had to be for now. It was better to have few questions resolved than none, right? Well, that's how she looked at it.
In the here and now, Katherine found herself catering to her "tiny" master, Ciel. This was not so "common", as usually Sebastian did this job. Katherine usually just helped out Sebastian, as well as keeping the manor in good shape when Sebastian was too busy to put the fear of God into the servants. She didn't question it, and was certain that either Sebastian or Ciel wanted her to serve him. According to both, she had gotten "lazy" over the recent times, though she did not see where she was ever "lazy", as Sebastian kept her quite busy.
"Here's your dessert, Sir." Katherine chimed, setting down a plate containing a dessert that looked a little odd. Ciel merely stared at the dessert as if it were something from an alien planet, "What is this...thing in front me, Katherine? Where is the parfait I requested?"
"I told you before, you're eating too many sweets. You're eating healthier. Sebastian didn't object, so I made this." Katherine heard silence in return, finally speaking to her master again, "It's only sugar cookies, a cream cheese frosting that was freshly prepared, with fruit layers that alternate, giving it a colorful look. The fruit chosen was a mix of grapes, kiwi, bananas, strawberries, oranges, and blueberries. It's a 'Rainbow Dessert'!"
"I said I wanted a parfait. Not a sea of fruit!" Ciel, once more, said, only this time with irritation in his voice. Katherine replied, "Eat it. Fruit will not kill you...Sir."
A moment later, Katherine caught the glimpse of a familiar face—one she had seen too many times, "Ciel? Why is Mr. Landers here...again?" Katherine whispered to her employer, pouring the young earl his tea.
"He is here on busy...as he was two days ago, Katherine. Stop asking when you already know the answer. It's becoming annoying." He spoke, still irritated over the dessert thing. Katherine merely gave a perturbed look at the child, "It's not my fault I don't like him..."
"He is Her Majesty's trusted butler and aide, thus he will be visiting this manor quite often. So, if you do not mind, stop complaining and do the job I assigned you to do—The Phantomhive household's Housekeeper." He began examining some document that had been lying beside his person, speaking once more, "Now, leave and stop bothering me with your completely useless questions and complaints."
So, abiding the child's wishes, Katherine walked off, passing Sebastian as she did so, Sebastian giving the female a quick smirk of amusement. In truth, he liked it when she got irritated. He knew it was too risky for her to say anything that would get her into trouble with Ciel, especially since he was the one that gave her, well, everything she needed to survive.
Not even a full ten minutes had passed, Katherine now being at the gazebo located in the garden, "It's annoying. He never tells me what's on his mind. I wish he'd confide in me a bit more...but then again, he's never actually confided in anyone, or at least not that I've seen."
Katherine laid her head back, leaning against the back of the gazebo's banister-like railing, sitting on the interior bench that she'd asked to have installed during its construction. Her head rested on her hands, which were folded behind her head, her eyes fixated on the sky, "I'm just a maid to him, I guess."
"What else did you think you were to him, Miss Hayes?" Spoke a voice she knew by now.
"You're not supposed to be out here, Mister Landers. Ciel still has business to discuss with you, or so I figure. If you are lost as to where to go, I can give some assistance." She suggested, but, in all reality, she just wanted this guy gone. She was not sure why, but he gave her the creeps.
Ash gave a smile, "I thank you for your offer, but I came out for a bit of fresh air, Miss. Would you mind if you keep me company?"
Katherine sat up, "I really should return to my duties, Mister Landers...I was just taking a small rest and-"
Completely ignoring her, Ash down beside Katherine, "So, how long have you exactly been working for the Phantomhive estate, Miss Katherine?" Katherine felt a twitch of irritation inside her, but, nonetheless, answered his question, "Umm...I've been here for about seven months. Why did you want to know, if I may ask?"
Ash gave no real response to her question, but, instead, asked another next question, "Where did you live before here?"
Katherine was surprised, and rather uneasy, about that question. She couldn't tell him the truth—she was from over 100 years in the future. Thus, she had to come up with something, a lie of some sort, "I'm actually an orphan, Mister Landers. Orphan life is not easy, and I'm not very fond to speak of its memories. I prefer to keep the past in the past, if that is okay with you."
Ash gave Katherine a glance of surprise, "Orphan-life? That's a pity. I do figure there were many moments of loneliness during those times. Many periods of anger, confusion, and doubt..."
Katherine gave a nod, the girl getting a little freaked out by the male and his meddlesome intonation, "Ah, kind of, I guess. Some days were bad...some were good." She quickly added in her next words, "I really have to go. Excuse me, please."
Katherine rose from the bench, but Ash snatched her wrist, Katherine's eyes going wide. She wanted to pull away but found herself unable to—why could she not get her body to move?! She looked at Ash, who spoke, who sounded as if he were innocent, "You seem to suspect something of me, Miss Katherine. I assure you that I fight for the greater good and that there is nothing to fear. In fact, I believe we even have a few things in common."
Ash's voice was suave, and something about it seemed to try to persuade Katherine's thinking and words, "I figure we do, but that is normal, is it not? People, even strangers, share personality traits and other sorts of things all the time, but I believe that is where it ends between us."
Ash, who merely nodded, spoke, "I know more than you think, Miss Hayes. Would you like to know more about who you are? Where you came from? And how you came here, Dear Katherine? I can tell you more than your 'lover' will."
Okay, now she was freaked out. How did he know all of that stuff? And, to add, she had to wander—did he know what she truly was? Out of the blue, Katherine felt something new arise inside, a feeling of sorts: panic. She had to get away from Ash, but Ash only held on to her wrist tighter, causing Katherine to grow instantly fearful, "What gives?! Let go of me, you creep!"
"Miss Katherine...?" Asked a familiar voice, to which Katherine only exclaimed with joy in her mind.
It was Finni to save the day, and she was so thankful to hear his voice. Ash only looked at the strawberry-blonde with a look of slight soreness, not even bothering to let go of Katherine's wrist, "We were discussing some matters and I didn't wish Miss Katherine to misunderstand my meaning. I will gladly let her resume her tasks, once I finish our discussion." Well, Finni didn't understand why Ash would have such a hold on Katherine if the two were only talking. Katherine wasn't the type to cause trouble. Then, Finni noticed the desperation in Katherine's eyes, the high-spirited boy trying to think of an excuse to pull Katherine away from the manor's guest.
"Umm...Mister Sebastian wanted...he wanted me to...uh..." He trailed off. Katherine wanted to throw something at Finni right now—he was so horrible at making up lies!
Oh, come on, Finnian! Tell him Sebastian wanted me for something, or that even Ciel wanted to speak with me! Anything! Think, you simpleton!
"Ah, so you did manage to find her, Finnian. It took you longer than I thought it would...care to explain why that was?" Sebastian appeared, now entering the picture, much to Katherine's relief. While Finni stumbled for an explanation, Katherine noticed Ash looked anything but happy with Sebastian's presence. Katherine was ecstatic for it. Sebastian noticed the hold Ash had upon Katherine's wrist. She always did manage to find trouble, didn't she? He smirked inside, but kept his composure externally.
"On second thought, I don't care why, just return to your chores. Katherine and I have this evening's meal to prepare, and, yet, I find everyone here." Sebastian gave Katherine a smirk the moment she looked at him, followed by a look of sadness, "Katherine, it seems I might have to punish you for this. I didn't know you were the type to give guests such trouble. You really should be re-trained on how to treat visitors, especially when they are the master's regular guest."
The butler paused, only wanting to further irritate his kitten, "Or, perhaps you've found him to be a note-worthy suitor for yourself? Judging by his hold on you, I doubt that but it could be true."
Katherine's eyes went wide, "That's not-"
He continued, interrupting her, "Whatever the reason, you are to come with me. The young master says he is finished with business for today, Sir Landers, thus you are to take your leave. However, you are encouraged to stay for dinner, if you wish." Sebastian took a hold of Katherine's arm, as though he was planning to punish her, making Ash release his hold on her. Katherine looked at Sebastian, a look of guilt covering her face, honestly wondering if he was putting up an act, or if he was truly upset. He was hard to read this time.
Ash gave a kind smile, "I am afraid I must decline the offer, though I am honored for the suggestion. I have other things to tend to before the sun sinks beneath the horizon. I'm sure your master will understand. Farewell."
When Katherine and Sebastian were a good deal away, she whispered to the demon butler, "Sebastian, you know that I would never 'want another suitor'...right?" Sebastian replied, giving that trademark smirk of his, "Oh, yes, I was certain of that. Though, I must admit I was amused by what your wondering what my true thoughts on the situation's scene had been."
Katherine had said it once, twice, and will say it many more times during her life—Sebastian was relentless. But, she had to admit that he wasn't himself if he did not act like that. And, too add, she really had to be thankful for his 'rescue'.
"Well...thanks, you know, for the save." She spoke, her voice very soft. Sebastian began to walk on ahead, a devilish grin upon his lips, "Oh, do not thank me. You never know if a time will come where you will wish I did not intervene."
Sebastian peered in the bathroom, but, once again, did not find his kitten, "Where is she at? Dinner is to be served in less than an hour and the final preparations had not been finished. It would seem she's seriously lacking on the true duties of a Phantomhive Housekeeper."
"Still no sign of her? It's not like her to run off." Spoke Mei-Rin in concern, the miad continuing, "Oh, I hope she's all right! If anything would happen to her, I—"
"—Wouldn't be surprised at all. She seems to find trouble just as easily as the Young Master," interjected Sebastian, the butler getting a little irritated. Katherine knew to never keep Sebastian waiting, especially when there were still preparations needing to be finished for a meal. He was, after all, all about keeping a strict schedule.
"Maybe someone should go look for her?" Finni asked in a worried tone. Bard spoke up afterwards, a sudden thought striking, "Wait, didn't she get some type note or letter...? Did anyone ask her what it was about?"
Sebastian sent a bewildered look at the trio, "What letter? Who was the sender?"
They all shrugged, Sebastian once more growing impatient, "You three are completely incompetent." They all looked like an arrow had pierced their soul, giving a rush of apologies, all the more irritating the butler, "Well, we had better find out where she is before supper is to be served."
They all nodded, starting a search. Sebastian gave a look of defeat, a smirk appearing afterwards, "My kitten definitely enjoys trying my patience it would seem." But, though he hid it well, the demon butler was worried, if only slightly, about Katherine's safety. She was foolish, but not too foolish...right?
"Perhaps the sooner she is found, the better..." murmured Sebastian.
Katherine stood before a large manor house, only a slip of paper with an address scribbled on in a messy fashion in her hand. She had a guilty feeling in her heart, speaking her mind, "Something doesn't feel right. I should have left a note, or something. I know they'll be worried that I just suddenly disappeared."
But, she had a reason for departing with no word of where she was going or even how long she would be gone. And, thus, here she was. She looked down at the address in her hand, looking up at the door before her, "Well, I guess I should go in. I came all this way. It'd be stupid to turn back now."
Sebastian entered his room, looking to see if Katherine had perhaps tried to steal a nap or a relaxing bath. But, of course, there was no sign of her. This "goose chase" was beginning to annoy the butler, needless to say.
"Where is that blasted girl at? She knows not to take off for this long. Even if she had made a random trip to the market, she would have returned by now." He spoke to himself, thinking for a second or so, "If I were my kitten, where I b—huh?"
Suddenly, he spotted something. He picked it up, glancing over the item quickly. It appeared to have been a note, and it was to his kitten from a nameless sender. This must have been the item Bard had mentioned before. But, he was curious as to why Katherine would be receiving something. She was a mere Housekeeper, thus she would not really receive mail. And, to add, she was not even from the era, so she had no family to send "love mail" containing "thinking of you" cards or gifts.
He read the note, his mind becoming alarmed immediately.
You will find that there is no sender name on this letter, Miss Hayes, for I wish only you to know who I am and wish for our meeting to be a private one. You've no need to fear for you will know upon meeting me that we have met before, as well as spoken face-to-face.
You see, I feel it's unfair for you to know nothing of where you were born and where you grew up, who your mother and father truly were, and all the questions you want answered but your lover will not answer. He has his reasons, and I wish you to know why: By telling you everything you wish to know, you will not be tied to him in ways that you are now.
Come to the address listed below, and I will promise to tell you everything your heart, mind, and soul desire to know.
Sebastian was not sure how to take this. How could Katherine even consider going to see someone she didn't even know? Was she seriously that needy for answers? Sebastian knew she was naïve, so that could possibly be a factor, too. But, either way, this was not good.
He wondered if it was Garrett trying to lure her into a trap of some sort. Whoever the sender was, he or she said that the person, also, knew the truth that Sebastian withheld from Katherine, but was willing to give her answers—the answers that Sebastian did not wish to give to Katherine at this time. It would give Garrett the perfect opportunity to lure Katherine in his direction and away from the butler's.
She truly was a handful...
Katherine found herself waiting for someone to answer the door. She had just knocked on the knocker, and now waited for a response. "Something does not feel right...but why?" She questioned inside her mind, her being truly puzzled.
The door opened, a maid standing in the classic Victorian maid uniform in the doorway of the opened door, "Do you have an appointment?"
Katherine was confused by her question, "Appointment...? Uh...kind of, if you want to call it that? I got a note and was told to come here. I don't know who sent it..."
She merely nodded, "Ah, yes, I was told about your coming visit. Come in, please..." The maid spoke in that monotone intonation that made Katherine want to yawn from boredom. This maid definitely did not enjoy her job—or it was just clearly boring to her.
"Thank you, miss." Katherine softly spoke, sitting down when she was escorted to the meeting area. It was quaint and quite fine in taste. Whoever lived her had quite the taste for luxury. She decided to look around, waiting for whom ever it was that asked for her arrival.
She spotted an Ancient Roman vase, running her finger along the design painted upon the vase's form, "Oh, wow..." She continued to look about, seeing artifacts that looked as if they should belong in a museum, not in someone's own personal home. But, she could not help but speak of her amazement, "Stunning...it's all so stunning! Absolutely beautiful! So much so, that I think I might even be in a dream world..."
"Well, it wouldn't surprise me to see you in such a world, either, Miss Hayes..."
Sebastian, standing before his tiny master, bowed as he received his orders, "I shall bring her back at once, Sir." Ciel looked extremely disgruntled, "I swear I need to have her on a leash..." Sebastian grinned at the child's words, though he had to agree.
Katherine always did end up in some type of trouble, whether she meant to or not, "If you order it, I would be more than willing at making it happen, My Lord."
"Which is why I'm not ordering it, Sebastian," Ciel paused, giving a continuation to his response, "You would enjoy it too much. It is meant to teach Katherine a lesson—not give you the chance at making some stupid mental fantasy come true..."
Another silence was exchanged between master and servant, though Sebastian had many things he could have said in response to Ciel's statement. It was best, however, to keep them to himself. And, with another humbled bow, Sebastian spoke, "We shall be back before dinner is to be served. I'm sure it will take no time in finding this lost kitten."
Ciel gave a dismissing wave, "Whatever...just go."
Well, there is chapter 26, folks. Was it pleasing? I know it's taking a long time for chapter updates, and I apologize. Things are a bit hectic in my life, so I don't get much writing time. But, know that I did not forget about this or even my Aidou story, for those of you that may follow that. Well, I'm sure it's pretty obvious who sent the letter, but some things may still come as a surprise in the next chapter. Garrett will be getting a larger role in this story than he has in the past, as well as some characters that have not really been mentioned but a few minor times, like Leigh, for example.
Well, I'd love to say that the next chapter will be out within a short time, but I don't really know. I have not stopped this story, but I want to try and work on my Aidou story, too, since a few readers from it have asked if I no longer work on it. I don't wanna let them down...
So, until next chapter, guys, I bid you adieu...