The young French witch who opened the door at the Assassin's knock was completely thrown by his appearance, though she recovered quickly enough to invite him in and fetch her headmistress. He thanked her and took a seat. He smiled at the other students
The inside of the Beauxbaton Academy carriage was quite charming, with warm hues of green, red and brown. It was a large circular room, with many comfy couches and chairs scattered around. Along the circumference of the room, twenty one ornately carved doors stood with the name of their occupants inscribed in flowery script on a nameplate. Interspaced between the doors, several non-magical paintings hung, depicting several former headmasters, headmistresses, and alumni.
Madame Maxine stepped out of the largest door, directly opposite of the entryway, to find an Assassin perched on the arm of a chair, quietly discussing magical theory with several students, conjuring magical equations with his fingers to emphasize his point where necessary. A few of them were taking notes as he spoke animatedly of how the magical force put into the spell determined the outcome, though it was easier to cast if the user put the same force into it every time.
"Master Assassin?" asked Madame Maxine, coming to stand behind him. "Was there something you needed?"
He quickly swiveled around to face her, an arm raised behind him with an extended finger to pause his interrupted conversation. "Madame Maxine! Lovely to see you. How are you?"
"I am well, Master Assassin. What can I do for you?"
"I am searching for one of your students, a Fleur Delacour, in particular. Master Altaïr has said she has been asking of me."
"Would this be a private conversation or something for the common room?"
The Assassin frowned for a moment as he pondered this question. "Um…I believe she will decide when she sees me."
"Very well. Follow me," she said, already walking towards one of the doors as he turned back to his conversation and bid everyone a good day. "She's most likely in her room."
"I had assumed, but I thought it rude to walk into your house and approach a student without your permission."
The half-giantess nodded in acceptance and knocked on Fleur's door, her fist making a large boom with every strike. She paused mid knock and turned, a question she hadn't thought of on her lips.
"Who should I say is asking for her?"
He smiled as Fleur opened the door and stopped dead at the sight of him. He brought both hands up to his face and slowly brushed back his hood, revealing a face that had been on her mind for the last year.
His hair was black, long and tied low at the base of his neck with a crimson ribbon as it was months ago. His eyes, a deep emerald green that saw all and gave away very little. His lips smiled, twisting that familiar scar that went from upper lip to an inch underneath his lower one.
"Ezio Auditore da Firenze."
Fleur was curled up on the corner of the couch in her room, reading a large tome made up from copied sections of other books, all mentioning men and women in white who did amazing things throughout the years. The passages were small and vague, mostly useless in as far as leading her to anything new on the order of Assassins that had sent a member to her home and a team to a school.
There were many sentences and paragraphs in the books she read that hinted to their presence across the world and time, from the Crusades, to the Italian Renaissance, to the Golden Age of Piracy, to the American Revolution and further. Tales told around fires of men who would emerge from shadows, cast down evil, and retreat back to the safety of their anonymous darkness before any could ask them where they came from or why they do what they do.
It's a maddening mystery, she thought as she flipped to the next page, reading an ancient tale of a man who had ended a siege with a dagger and his bare hands. Hundreds had died at his hands before the enemy had fled, siege weapons reduced to splinters and towers reduced to ruins of ash and fire by a single gesture. All that was known of the mysterious savior was that he had worn a white cloak with a red sash.
She sighed and put the book aside, her head aching after several hours of non-stop reading. She'd approached masters of history with her own findings and, for a few hundred galleons per story, they sought out more. Each new story frustrated her, for they never seemed to get any closer to the truth behind the cowls and cloaks. For all she knew, the people in the stories could be random individuals who were only grouped together because they had similar fashion sense…
Her door shook suddenly, several large booms echoing through her room. Her headmistress was knocking, a sound she knew quite well. Madame Maxine had come by several times for tea in the past, usually to check in on the only other student who shared a portion of her blood with a magical being. She'd even shared a story of her own about white wearing warriors, one of which had saved her when she had been assaulted by a large group of blood purists and extremists. She wasn't sure if her saviour had been of the same order as the temporary guardians of Hogwarts, but it was a story nonetheless.
Hoping for a new story or even a nice tea to break up the tedious repetition of going over stories she'd long since committed to memory, she opened the door.
Her headmistress stood just outside her door, looking back at the cloaked and hooded form at her elbow. Fleur barely caught the sounds of a question trailing off from her headmistress before she recognized the garb of her second visitor.
The cloaked man moved his hands slowly as she froze, fear flooding her system. His hands were empty, which kept her from going for her wand, and they bypassed the impressive armory strapped to his chest to slowly push back the hood that held his face in shadow.
"Ezio Auditore da Firenze," he said, smiling as he answered the headmistress' question.
"Ah, Fleur," Madame Maxine said with a smile at her friend. "Monsieur Auditore to see you."
It was quite interesting to see her try not to panic…on the outside. He knew she was scared on the inside, but her outward appearance betrayed none of that to the untrained eye. Her headmistress may have seen some signs, as she looked between the two with a concerned look in her eye.
"Is everything alright?"
"Y-yes, Headmistress," stammered Fleur, putting on a smile. "I met Monsieur Auditore at my birthday party in May. He's a… friend."
Ezio's smile grew at her, his memories surfacing of that particular day. Given more time before the Templar's entrance, I think we'd have been a bit more than just a 'friend'.
The only thing that still bothered him was the sudden burst of attraction they both seemed to share when they met in the library. It hasn't happened since the library and never happened before. None of the Masters he'd talked to had ever even heard of this before, so they were of no help to him.
As much as he'd prefer to find this out on his own about this problem, he was grasping at straws and he had nowhere else to go.
"May I come in?" he asked, still smiling at the frightened girl. "Or would you prefer to talk out here?"
He made as if to step away and, as if panicked, she latched onto his arm before he could even attempt to step out of reach. He raised a brow at her reaction, wondering if she thought he'd disappear again if went too far.
"No!" she cried, and dragged him close with strength he didn't know she had. She'd surprised him, utilizing muscle power her slim physique did not outwardly display. She's not a full Veela, but obviously enough to be a lot stronger than I would expect of a girl her size, Ezio thought with a curious glance at her arms.
He blinked as she blushed, suddenly aware of her actions and the look her headmistress was giving her.
"Please…excuse us, Madame Maxine," said Ezio as he slid around the half giant and into her student's room. "Private discussion, it seems."
Fleur's room was not as opulent as one would have imagined. Two couches sat on either side of the room, pale cream to the crimson walls. Between them, a long black coffee table, papers and books cluttering the surface. A four poster bed sat against the wall opposite the door, wood stained black against pale sheets. A pair of book cases sat against either side of the door, filled with an assortment of photo albums, scrapbooks, diaries and textbooks. A small window sat in between the post of the bed, letting a good amount of early evening light, making the room bright enough to avoid gloom. Several unlit candles floated in mid-air around the room, which he'd assumed would ignite once the room got dark enough from lack of natural light.
Ezio sat down, looking over the papers with an amused grin on his face. He knew several of these stories from reading old reports during his shifts in the archives, back as a Novice Assassin. Several were unfamiliar, so he filed the information to look up later. It'd be interesting to see how many actual Assassin sightings she'd uncovered. Quite a few, though, were simply men acting as an Assassin would, rather than being of the Order.
He glanced back to Fleur, who was still by the door, arms wrapped tight around herself as she watched him make himself at home on her couch. Perhaps he was making himself too comfortable around her. After all, he was a trained killer alone in a room with a girl who knew she was no match for him…
"I assure you, Mademoiselle Delacour, I am not here to kill you," said Ezio, leaning back on the couch with his hands behind his head. "You have nothing to fear."
"Your other Assassins are more standoffish than you… Master Altaïr and one of the novices were all I could talk to. The rest just walked away and vanished."
He chuckled lightly at that. "We don't have many friends outside the Order. Fewer still outside the small circle of contacts we keep in magical and mundane law enforcement. Plus, we're rather protective of our own, so we keep each other's secrets to ourselves."
Fleur left the door, eyes never moving from him, and sat on the couch across from him. She hurriedly stacked all the notes and books into a pile on one side, a slight blush on her cheeks at the mess.
"You've been doing quite a bit of research on us, despite the very few sources we leave around."
"Why do you leave them around? Wouldn't it be better to be completely anonymous?"
He leant forward at that, hunching down and putting his chin on his clasped hands. His eyes turned dark and dangerous, which had her recoiling slightly. "For the same reason we are here, calling ourselves by our true names and wearing older and more recognizable gear: to let our enemies know we are out there. We are waiting, watching, learning, and striking where they least expect it. They claim not to fear us, but even a whisper of the word 'Assassin' has them flinching, reaching for a weapon or fleeing like the cowards they are."
"And you Assassins aren't cowards?" she asked, raising an eyebrow as she leafed through her paper collection. She held up a few, smirking victoriously. "I have several reports of white clad combatants running from the field of battle, sometimes after only dealing a single kill amongst the thousands that died on that land."
Ezio looked affronted for a second or two before schooling his face back into a smile. "Tactical retreat. Your notes only go so far. Perhaps they were outmatched and went for reinforcements?"
"'That was the last we ever saw of them,'" Fleur read aloud, eyes skimming the last lines. "'The man fled, after killing half a dozen men.' 'Three white clad men, ran after killing a single man each atop the battlements.'"
"Ah, I know why they did it, then," Ezio crowed. "Easily explained, if you think about us."
"What?" she asked, confusion plain on her face. "What's easily explained?"
He looked at her with a patient look on his face, his eyes conveying a confidence in her ability to derive the truth. After a short time of him and her staring at each other in silence, his face grew more and more incredulous as the moments stretched on.
He threw up his hands in exasperation before standing up, bringing his hands to his hips with a scowl. He tapped the center of his belt. The steel stylised capital 'A' winked at her in the candle light.
The symbol of the Assassin Order…she thought, staring at the belt buckle. Assassins…oh, mon Dieu.
"You're not there to fight other people's wars," she whispered, realization dawning on her face. "You were hunting someone."
He smiled. "Our enemies use others to further their own causes. We are not so…inefficient."
"We don't need to lie and omit several details to get others to do our job for us. Everyone who is allied with us or in the Order knows the truth of what we are and what we do," he said, sitting back down on the couch, sweeping his coattails beneath him and arranging his sword for an easy draw should the need arise.
"Then why tell me?" Fleur asked, leaning forward to almost mirror his position from earlier, her eyes growing dark in thought. "Why even come here to meet me?"
"Your father could be an interesting asset to our cause, should we need him or his connections." Ezio looked thoughtful for a moment, as if pondering the validity of his own statement. "But that's not what I am here to talk with you about…"
Fleur was not amused by his admission. She threw her arms up in the air and stalked off to the bed, pacing. She spun on her heel and glared at him, her stance angry. 'Well? Why did you come here? Why seek me out now? Why not after the party?"
He smiled at the mention of the party, particularly their… heated exchange in the library.
She was not amused by his sudden grin.
"Oh, you remember the party, do you?" she semi-screamed at him, walking close as she did so. "The party where no one remembers you, despite being introduced? Where you left a corpse in the library that disappeared as soon as I looked away?"
He stood up, his nose an inch away from hers. His voice was low and confused, but with a note of curiosity in it as well. He whispered one sentence, one single question that had been plaguing him and his thoughts for months:
"Where I kissed you?"
Well...new chapter? Yay?