Disclaimer: I don't own Assassin's Creed. It's a shame really.
Dreams of Venice
Being an assassin was one thing Ezio Auditore was exceptionally good at. Being a lover, on the other hand, was not.
He'd been a transient lover on multiple occasions, of course. He was a handsome man, and when one was handsome, one was more likely to be propositioned by various lascivious women. Physical love – that was another thing he was exceptionally good at. He found loving much similar to swordsmanship; he knew just the right moves that would have the most desired effect.
He'd never been with one woman for more than one night. His travels meant that he did not stay in one place for long, so prevented him from being able to commit to a proper relationship with someone. He wasn't one for commitment, anyway- he enjoyed having fun with his women. During the day – target-depending – he was completely professional and maintained a degree of stoicism, and then, during the night, he allowed the hedonistic part of him take control and he would eat fine food, drink fine wine and enjoy the company of a woman in the bedroom. He didn't need commitment. He didn't want to commit.
And that was one of his principles. He would not commit to anyone, and he would continue to have his many night-time conquests.
But there was one woman who had made him change his mind.
Venice was exquisite. He'd been there often as a younger boy but couldn't remember much of the place. The city, or at least in the upmarket areas, was beautiful. He was perched on the edge of a parapet eating a roll of bread he'd purchased earlier in the day during his stroll around the markets. He admired the way the sun reflected off the water in the canals below, streaking the rippling surface with ribbons of gold. Gondolas drifted by, some carrying passengers, others completely unoccupied save for the gondolier. A group of pigeons were huddled on the rim of the roof just above him, so he tore off a few pieces of the bread and threw it up to them. He chuckled when they all scrabbled for the food, friends suddenly becoming enemies and pecking at each other to try and get their share. He finished the last of his paltry meal off and stood, balancing adroitly on the thin ledge atop the parapet before leaping across the gap and grasping hold of a window ledge on the opposite building. He pulled himself up onto the roof and started running, the vermillion tiles clacking beneath the soles of his leather boots as he went. He jumped from roof to roof, not once misjudging the distance of a gap or losing his footing as he ran, despite the tiles being rather slippery. He paused at one point to survey the area since every roof looked the same, and for all he knew he could have been running in circles. He found it easier to travel by rooftop than by ground-level streets where throngs of people milled about and clogged up the passageways. He was forced to walk instead of run for fear of colliding with someone who could call for the guards. He didn't want to get into any unnecessary trouble.
He wished he was down on the ground when an arrow whistled past his head, vanishing from his sight just as soon as it had arrived.
"Get down from there, stolto!" he heard someone shout. He turned around to see a guard on a rooftop to his left notching another arrow for him.
He had two choices: fight, or flight.
He decided on the latter; he wasn't in the mood for bloodshed that morning. As soon as he set off at a sprint, the guard yelled after him and took pursuit. Ezio was certain he'd outrun him in no time, but he was mistaken when the guard, who didn't look to be much of a runner at first glance, began to gain on him. He pushed himself harder, growing close to the edge of the rooftop he was racing across, and dove. The sparkling azure of the canal came up to meet him and he plunged beneath the surface, the coolness welcome against his warm skin. He emerged, only for a rock to strike him on the side of the head from the hand of the ever persistent guard who was making his way down from the roof. Without another moment's hesitation Ezio swam to the edge where the stone street met the water and pulled himself up, darting towards the wall of a building and catching sight of open doors on a balcony above. He began to scale the wall, the guard's shouts following him and growing louder, and when he reached the balcony he threw himself through the doors and out of the guard's sight.
"What are you doing in here? Get out before I call the guards!"
Ezio, who had landed in the room in a crouching position, only then registered the pair of bare feet he was staring at, and his gaze travelled up the crimson dress of the woman and settled on her face. She was one of the most beautiful women he'd ever laid his eyes upon; and he'd laid his eyes upon many women. However, unlike these many other women, she did not swoon at the sight of him, nor did she wantonly bat her eyelids behind an intricately designed fan. Her hair fell around her shoulders in ebony curls and her chocolate-brown eyes were staring furiously into his. She swiped at him with the roll of parchment she was holding in her hand, "I thought I told you to leave! Guar-!"
She was unable to finish as Ezio had grabbed hold of her and covered her mouth with his gloved hand. She started shouting, something reminiscent of 'let me go, beast!' but that only came out as a muffled squeal.
"I mean you no harm," he said gently.
His words didn't seem to comfort her and she continued to struggle, elbowing him sharply in the stomach so he loosened his grip on her and allowed her to manoeuvre out of his hold. She spun around, her fists raised in a combat stance, ready to fight.
"I'm not afraid of you, estraneo."
He held his hands up in surrender, pushing his hood back to reveal his face in the hope he'd look less intimidating to her. "I don't want to fight you, signora. You have my apologies for trespassing."
A look of puzzlement crossed her face for a brief moment, and she peered at his head curiously. "You're bleeding."
He grazed the side of his head where the rock had hit him, and looked at his bloodied fingertips. "So I am." He turned towards the doors to go out onto the balcony again and leave the beautiful woman in peace when she touched his arm.
"That wound needs cleaning, otherwise it will get infected," she said, all trace of annoyance gone from both her face and her voice. "Allow me."
He studied her for a moment, searching for any trace of a lie. Some women were incredibly shrewd, he'd found on occasion, and she could well offer to help him and then return with a dozen guards ready to seize him and lock him away for numerous misdeeds. There wasn't anything indicative of whether or not she was telling untruths, and so he nodded his assent. "Grazie."
She gave him a hint of a smile before she left him alone in what he guessed was her bedroom, by the large four-poster bed against the eastern wall. In her absence he took the opportunity to poke around, admiring her wealth. The sheets on her bed were made out of what Ezio could only think was the finest silk, and were cream in colour. Upon her dressing table were an assortment of perfumes, incense and an open jewellery box, in which sat a beautiful gold necklace with an emerald jewel hanging from the chain, a selection of rings with various different gemstones in them, and at least seven bangles made of gold and engraved with delicate geometric patterns. Next to her bed was a small table with a candle sitting on top, beads of wax trailing down its sides, frozen mid-descent.
His trained ears caught the sound of light footsteps approaching so he moved swiftly towards the open doors to the balcony just in case he had to make a quick escape. To his surprise, the woman returned alone, bringing with her only a bowl of water, a cloth, some ointment, and gauze. He could have told her he could quite easily go to a street-doctor's stand for medical aid, but there was a chance his rebuffing of her proffer might have sparked offence and so he remained silent. She pushed the glass bottles of perfume and the jars containing the incense sticks aside, making room for the bowl of water.
"Come," she said, beckoning him to her with a flick of her wrist. When he seemed to hesitate, she said amusedly, "I don't bite, you know."
Ezio couldn't help but grin and moved to stand next to her. He was at least a full head and shoulders taller than her, and so was forced to stoop in order for her to reach his head wound. She soaked the cloth in the water and wrung it out, dabbing it lightly on the gash.
"Do you often jump through women's bedroom windows, then?" she asked, the gentle lilt of her voice a sweet music to Ezio's ears.
He chuckled, "only the most beautiful ones."
She continued wiping the blood from his head and dipping the cloth in the bowl, the contents of which had now turned from clear, to scarlet, her expression unchanging. Idiota! Ezio mentally exclaimed. This woman was entirely different to the others. Usually when he said something charming like that they fanned themselves and sighed dreamily, but not this one. He thought perhaps she was married, or at least being courted by someone. But then again, that never stopped him. Quite a number of women he'd slept with had been married. To them, he was just a one-night butterfly, a means of getting pleasure without having to worry about anything long-term that might harm a relationship.
Finally, she said, "windows, or women?"
"Oh, windows, without a doubt," he replied.
He watched her lips carefully as they curved into a smile. "I think it is only fair that I know the name of the man who jumps through my apparently beautiful window."
"Ezio," he said. "And it should only be fair that I know the name of the woman whose beautiful window I jumped through, no?"
"A beautiful name for one with such a beautiful window."
Her laughter rang like little bells around the room, the sound just as beautiful as her voice as she spoke. "Grazie, assassino."
His smile immediately vanished and he suddenly became wary of her. How did she know he was an assassin? Perhaps his array of visible weapons gave it away, although no one else in the city seemed to notice. "What?"
"Don't worry," she said calmly, dropping the cloth back into the bowl and picking up the small vial of ointment. She took the stopper out of the neck and tilted his head to the side. He winced as the salve seeped into his wound and stung painfully. "I'm not going to report you to the guards, if that's what you're worried about." She pushed the bung back into the opening of the vial and tore off a strip of gauze, which she then wrapped around his head tightly three times and then tied the ends together. "My father was murdered by un assassino ten years ago. I recognise one when I see one."
"Why aren't you calling the guards?" he asked, perplexed. Shouldn't she hate him? Hate what he did? Shouldn't she want him dead, like her father?
"I have my reasons."
Though he desperately wanted to know more, he knew it was best not to pry. He reached behind his head and pulled his hood back up so it concealed his eyes. "I must go," he said. "Grazie for your help," she did not resist when he took her hand and kissed it tenderly. "Ciao, Caterina."
He had already leapt off the balcony's parapet, but he heard her voice as a gentle whisper. "Ciao, Ezio."
He had not wanted to leave. She intrigued him. A strange feeling tugged at the back of his mind; he wanted to know more about her. He wanted to know her.
A/N: The meanings of the random Italian words I threw in just in case you didn't know:
Stolto - fool
Estraneo - stranger
Signora - woman/lady