"Keep the handkerchief," Henry told her as he released her hand.

William saw Henry talking to Katherine and approached him. "Is there a problem, your majesty?"

"A little accident, William. She injured her hand with one of the thorns from the rose bush," Henry replied.

"It's all right, Sir William. It's not even hurting that bad," Katherine played down what had happened.

Henry gave her a smile and his cute moment came to an end. He told William that he would handle the affairs of the kingdom in a small building that stood at the end of the garden. "But you haven't dispatched there for a long time," William told him.

"No problem, William. I will receive the commander of the soldiers there."

"Okay, your majesty. I'll clear the room." William walked away and left Henry and Katherine alone again.

"I'll get back to work, your majesty. Thank you for the handkerchief," Katherine told him.

"You're welcome. I'll try not to scare you next time," Henry spoke again softly.

Three months later...

Katherine was sorting the flowers that would adorn the royal family's dinner table when the gardener returned from a meeting with the Queen Mother. He was nervous.

"Katherine!" He called out to her when he was still a great distance away from her.

Katherine looked at him and waited for him to come closer.

"Katherine, we will be very busy this week. There will be a ball at the castle on Saturday and we will be providing the flowers for the decorations."

"All right, Sir William," she replied and stood thoughtfully for a while. "What is the ball like, Sir William?" She was curious.

"Well, the young ladies of the kingdom will be invited and the king may choose one of them to court."

"Oh, I get it," Katherine was sad and disappointed. She could never go to that ball and she felt jealous of Henry. The king always went to the garden just to talk to her, complimented her work, was kind, and Katherine always thought of him when she laid her head on her pillow to sleep.

"I will never be able to go to a ball like that," Katherine thought. She wondered if her cousins would be invited. What if Henry chose one of her cousins? "My life would become hell," she thought as she discreetly dried a tear.

"Katherine, Jacinta told me you can read, is that true?" The gardener asked.

"Yes, Sir William. My parents have always been concerned about my education," Katherine replied.

"Could you teach my granddaughter to read? I will pay for your work."

"Of course you will, Sir William. I can do it twice a week, it will be nice to leave the castle once in a while. And you, sir, don't have to pay me for it."

"Thank you, Katherine. Only the children of nobles are entitled to an education, and poor children are not entitled to anything."

"That's not fair, is it? The king could easily change that," she said and was surprised by Henry's sneaky arrival.

"Change what, Katherine?" Henry asked and Lord William didn't want Henry to be upset with her. "We were just talking, your majesty," the gardener replied.

"I asked the question for her, William."

Katherine felt no fear from him despite his serious tone of voice. "I said that it is not fair that the poor children of the kingdom cannot study, and that you could easily change that. You are the king, you can."

"And who would do that? Do you think nobles would teach commoners to read? That's very naïve of you, Katherine."

Katherine was upset by Henry's response and he understood. "William, let me talk to her alone," he asked the gardener.

"I'm not fighting with you, Katherine. You don't understand how things work in the kingdom," he said in a softer tone of voice.

"I understand very well how things work, Your Majesty. It takes courage to change reality."

"Is she calling me a slacker?" Henry thought and laughed.

"Your majesty is laughing at me?" She asked.

"No. I am laughing at your audacity. But it's a good audacity."

"You changed my reality, got me out of slavery in my uncle's house, and I probably wouldn't even be alive if I were still there. There are so many people outside the castle walls who need help. Why not help them?" She said dropping the formalities and being even bolder.

"I will think about it, Katherine."

"You won't think about it. I know you won't. You will be too busy thinking about the ball and the young women of the kingdom. But did you know that even that is unfair? Only the daughters of the nobles will come. Have you ever thought that your happiness might lie in a commoner?"

"Are you scolding me?" Henry laughed again.

"No. I'm just telling the truth."

Henry touched her hair affectionately. "That's good, Katherine. Always tell the truth " He left the garden and walked towards the castle.

"Katherine, you called the king you. That's not right," William told her after Henry walked away.

"Listening to other people's conversation is not right either, Sir William."

William smiled. "You have an answer for everything, young lady. He wasn't upset about it and I don't know why, but never do that in front of the guards or the royal family. The Queen Mother would have the guards take you to the dungeon."

On the day of the ball, Katherine, William and the kitchen staff worked very hard and by the end of the day they were very tired. Katherine was in her dirty dress and was going to her room but could not resist the urge to spy on the ball. She hid behind a pillar and observed the ballroom. The young ladies were very well dressed and her cousins were there too. Henry was on the second floor and watched the ballroom before going downstairs. He didn't want that ball to happen, his mother had planned the whole thing and he felt obligated to attend. He saw Katherine watching the ball and remembered her words about injustice. She couldn't attend the ball because she was poor. "I'm sorry, Katherine," he whispered before going downstairs.