The nights were getting warmer. Summer was almost upon Italy, and with it plans were being set in motion. After gathering the last of the codex pages, The Apple had revealed the location of The Vault; The Vatican City where Borgia would be.

This had been disturbing news indeed, though it was not a surprise that Borgia would be guarding the entrance. Perhaps he was waiting for Ezio to bring him the final piece of the puzzle: the Apple of Eden. Somehow it was the key to opening this Vault, though Ezio did not yet know how it would be done. In a few short days he would be leaving for Rome, and the anxiety of it all had been weighing on him.

Ezio's eyes flickered open to stare at the empty spot in the bed beside him. He released a heavy sigh as he closed his eyes. It had been far too many nights that he had woken up in an empty bed. With the blankets wrapped snug around him, Ezio began to feel suffocated.

Crawling out of bed, he pulled on some loose clothes before walking over to an open window in his study. The night air was humid and the full moon bathed all of Monteriggioni in a bright glow. As he had done so many nights before, Ezio carefully ducked out through the window and stepped out onto the roof.

Inhaling deeply, Ezio felt a small amount of tension fade away. When his mind was not worrying over the future, Ezio dwelled on the past. As an Assassin, it was bad for business, but on nights like these he could not help it; Ezio missed her.

Walking to the edge of the roof, he sat down, dangling his legs over the side. Despite all of the blood on his hands, it was the mistakes he had made with Aria that pained him the most. Ezio wondered if things could have gone differently all the way back when they had first met in that dark alley in Venice.

Perhaps he could have convinced her, then and there, that revenge was a hollow promise that would only bring loneliness. She could have lived free of the knowledge of Templars and Assassins. He had led her down a dangerous path on his selfish quest to make amends.

That was how it began: Ezio got involved in hopes of bringing peace of mind to himself, though his intentions had changed as he had gotten to know her. Perhaps that still had been selfish of him; to try to force her into this life because of his desire to keep her close.

But on the other hand, Ezio would not have changed a thing. The time that they had spent together had been some of the happiest of his life. Before, he had been so focused on his quest to stop the Templars that he had forgotten what it was like to have someone to care for.

Ezio had thought that it was he who had been helping Aria, but she had helped him too. She had reminded him that he did not have to sacrifice love for his mission, and most importantly, how to open up again.

Not many were as lucky as Ezio was, to have so many friends and family who loved and cared for him, and for a long time even he had not seen it. Despite the helping hands, Ezio had felt alone, but not anymore. He knew better, and vowed never to take his loved ones for granted.

Ezio looked up at the moon, floating lazily in the sky. The last time he had seen the full moon there had been fireworks and music, though he had not celebrated that day.

Staring into the distance, Ezio caught sight of a fast moving object outside the city walls. He got to his feet, squinting to try to see what it was. As the shape grew closer down the road, Ezio realized that it was a rider; a courier perhaps?

As the rider neared the city gate, the horse did not slow. When the rider entered the city Ezio could hear the horse's thundering hoof beats echoing off the tall stone walls. He spotted the rider again making his way up the steps to the villa, cloak billowing in the wind.

Ezio wrinkled his brow as the rider steered the tall horse toward the stables outside the Villa. Heart racing, Ezio ran to the other side to get a closer look, but the horse disappeared into the barn too quickly, and Ezio could hear the faint sound of boots hitting the ground.

Peering over the edge of the roof, Ezio spotted a wagon full of straw and quickly jumped down. He landed in the pile, covered completely with pointy strings of hay, but he did not care. Ezio leapt from the pile and raced to the stable door, nearly tripping over his own feet in his haste. Stopping in the doorway, Ezio felt his heart leap; he had hoped with all his might, but he had not truly believed that it would be her.

Aria fumbled with the buckle of the saddle before pulling it off her horse. She hadn't seen him as she turned to set it aside, and Ezio took the opportunity to strike.

Walking quickly up behind her, Ezio saw her body turn rigid and heard the trigger of her hidden blade, but he was ready. Aria turned and swung her blade, and Ezio snatched her wrist before pulling her into a fierce kiss.

Aria squealed in surprise as Ezio crashed his lips against hers, kissing her hungrily. She quickly relaxed into the kiss and wrapped her arms around his shoulders, only pulling back once her breath ran short.

She panted quietly, but frowned as she scrutinized his appearance. "Why are you covered in straw?" she snapped, raising an eyebrow.

"I jumped from the roof," he answered, slightly out of breath as well. "How was your trip to Sicilia?" he asked, not releasing his hold on her waist.

Aria's lips twisted in a small frown as she shrugged. "Fine," she replied shortly, "I don't want to talk about it right now."

Ezio tucked a stray lock of hair behind Aria's ear, earning him a dirty look. "Fair enough," he chuckled before leaning in and stealing another kiss.

Aria sighed in annoyance, but obliged. Ezio was sure that she didn't mind all that much. He would never tire of kissing her, and he was happy that she was home. He had nearly lost her in Venice, and when she had said that she was going to Sicily once she recovered, he had been rather apprehensive. Part of Ezio had feared that she would never return and would disappear on him again, despite her promise not to.

Aria finally broke the kiss and pushed Ezio back. "Are we going to stay out here all night or are you going to invite me in?" she smirked.

Grinning like a fool, Ezio scooped Aria off her feet and into his arms. She let out a small shriek of surprise, clinging to his shoulders. Ezio chuckled, earning him a sharp punch to his chest.

Despite the dark stables, Ezio could see the blush in Aria's cheeks as she glared up at him. "Put me down," she warned in a low voice.

Ezio sighed, letting her down to her feet. "And here I thought I was being chivalrous," he grinned.

Aria rolled her eyes as she walked past him to grab her pack from the floor. "If you want to be chivalrous, you can carry my bag," she smiled wickedly, tossing it into Ezio's chest.

Ezio saw the mischievous gleam in her eye as her gaze darted from him to the door. Suddenly, Aria bolted and Ezio dropped her bag as he tried to grab her, but she danced out of his reach and ran out the barn door, laughing as she went.

Quickly retrieving her bag from the floor, Ezio shouldered the light pack before chasing after her. Running out into the courtyard, he saw that Aria was already halfway up the Villa wall, bound for the roof. Ezio followed suit, leaping to grab a ledge high above him.

He tried to snatch her foot, but she quickly disappeared over the edge as his fingertips brushed her boot. Grumbling in defeat, Ezio soon pulled himself onto the roof but Aria was nowhere to be seen.

The rooftop was strangely quiet. Ezio walked to the window of his study, peering in, but she was not inside. He tossed her pack through before resuming his search of the roof. Ezio could feel his heart racing, waiting for an ambush, but as he rounded the corner to the opposite side he spotted her at the edge of the roof, staring over the countryside beyond the city wall.

Ezio let himself relax as he walked up behind her. Her eyes were distant, but she wore a content smile. Her hands fiddled with a small white bandage wrapped around her left ring finger. Ezio took her hand and kissed the spot rubbing her hand with his thumb. She tried to give him a disproving frown, but the blush flowering across her cheeks betrayed her.

Standing close behind her, Ezio nuzzled against her shoulder as he wrapped his arms around her waist. Aria kissed his cheek before turning her gaze back to the rolling landscape. There was still much that they had to accomplish, but both Ezio and Aria knew that they would finish this together.

Thank you all for reading! I could never have finished without all the encouragement and positive feedback I've received. I also need to thank my wonderful roommate for editing my massive story since day one, she is the best!

I think the ending is a little cheesy, but we all need a little Parmesan on our spaghetti, don't we? ;)

Thanks again, and please leave me reviews because I love to hear from you all. Just try not to leave spoilers for the newbies.

Arrivederci miei amici! :D 3