Chapter One; Arno
Florence, Republic of Florence
Maria De' Mozzi
"Maria, my child, you are ten now?" My mother asks me sweetly. We are inside a marketplace, watching the stall owners trade with the citizens. My mother and I sit on a bench next to a fountain. The light breeze brings mist to us, cooling us down from the unforgiving summer heat.
"Yes, mother." I sigh. The only thing I wish to do right now is to jump off this bench and walk along the streets of Firenze.
"You should be becoming a woman quite soon." My mother nods in approval as she looks me over. I try not to squirm in my seat. "As soon as you become a woman, your father will create a dowry for you. Since you are a beautiful girl, surely suitors will be at your feet in seconds." My mother stares off into the distance as if she could see a vision of me and my husband in the future.
This time I don't bother to hide my discomfort. I shift in my chair and bite my lips to keep from protesting. When my mother notices, she only smiles slightly and beckons for me to stand up.
"Come, my sweet daughter, let us walk a bit." She tells me. I nod and follow her as she gracefully strides through the marketplace. Whenever my mother would take me to visit friends of the family, I would always hear them saying how we look exactly alike. I don't see the similarities. She is tall and quite skinny for a noblewoman, has long black hair which she pins half of it up into a small decorated bonnet. She wears a lavish pink dress with elaborate embroidering along the skirt and sleeves.
My mother keeps her head parallel to the ground, holds her hands in front of her, and takes each step with pride. When the shoppers notice her, they look to her as if she's royalty. When we exit the market and walk along a road with houses crammed together, my mother finally decides to talk.
"Do you know the duties you will have as a wife?" My mother asks me. She still walks in front of me and talks without looking to me.
"No…" I mutter. I really don't care on the matter. I don't intend to marry anytime soon. I don't want to give up my youth for a husband.
"You will bear children for him." My mother doesn't say it as a list, but more like a necessary order that will happen. "Were you taught of how children are conceived?"
"No…" I repeat sheepishly.
"Oh, my daughter, you are too innocent." My mother laughs and turns around to gift me with a genuine smile. "Perhaps you will learn later. You are expected to bear plenty children, else the marriage will be useless."
"Isn't marriage supposed to be of love?" I ask. At least that's what I read from the tales and poems in our library.
"You may come to love your husband after a time, but marriage is for the purpose of children. If you do not love your husband one day at least it is guaranteed you will love your children." My mother sighs as a light summer breeze passes through us.
"And what if I don't love my children?" How can you guarantee that love if you didn't even love their father?" I ask, utterly confused.
"Trust me, my dearest Maria. No matter what, you will love your children. Motherhood is a splendid experience." I sigh as well this time. As much as my mother guarantees it, I am not looking forward to married life at all.
Florence, Republic of Florence
Maria De' Mozzi
I smile in amazement as I look over the River Arno. With the sun just beginning to set, a beautiful array of colors reflect upon the shimmering water. I sit on a stone bench overlooking the beautiful river. I place my elbows on my legs and rest my chin on my hands. I laugh at the thought of my mother seeing me right now; unaccompanied in the streets of Firenze in the nighttime, not to mention her posture! What a sight my mother would make.
With the sun setting, most of the gondolas are strapped in the docks so that they won't move while the owners rest for the nighttime. Only one gondola remains in the river. A lone young boy is piloting the gondola. He wears the robes of a Florentine nobleman even at a young age. Unlike all noble children, he remains unaccompanied at nighttime.
I stand up at the sight and try to study the boy more. What a peculiar sight. Despite his round baby cheeks for being young, he is only a little shorter than I. He wears a blue robe fit for a nobleman and an orange cape along his shoulder. Upon closer inspection, I notice the boy's cape bears the House of Medici Symbol.
"Lorenzo?" I ask in disbelief. The Medici family is another noble family in Florence, but our families never conversed much. I never met Lorenzo De' Medici before, but I overheard my parents discussing the family some nights before, mentioning their youngest son, Lorenzo.
Lorenzo's head perks up after hearing his name. When I smile and wave to him, he waves back as well. When he waves, he seems to lose balance while standing to pilot the gondola. He stumbles a bit, causing the gondola to shake from the unbalance. Lorenzo then falls completely from the gondola, losing his balance.
"Dio mio!" I shout. I run to the docks and try to get closer to the boy. He seems to be flailing in the water, barely being able to remain on the surface. Before I could jump in to save the boy, I remember that I don't know how to swim either. I then shout louder, trying to gain anyone's attention, "Aiuto! Qualcuno mi aiuti! Help! Somebody help!"
Out of nowhere, a boy some years older than I jumps from the rooftops and dives down into the river after Leonardo. The drowning boy is now sinking lower into the water, and makes choking noises. I hastily get out of the way as the savior's splash from his dive hits the docks. I stare at the water where both of the boys dived, wanting to find a trace of either.
"Merda!" I curse and shake my head. "This is all my fault!" If both of the boys die now, the sin will take me to the grave. After a few moments which feel like years, both of the boys rise from the river. The older boy, the savior, has a tight arm around Lorenzo's stomach as he drags him up onto the docks. I let out a sigh of relief and profusely thank the savior. "Grazie! Molto grazie!"
"You saved my life." Lorenzo coughs but ends up breathing normally after a while, much to my relief. Lorenzo then places an arm on his savior's shoulder. "Molto grazie, signore. I am in your debt. However can I repay you?"
"That isn't necessary," The savior begins to say. Before he could continue, I feel somebody tap my shoulder. Out of surprise and the tension built up inside me, I let out a small shout. I then turn around to see a tall and muscled man maybe as old as Lorenzo's savior, maybe even older, in front of me with a wide grin.
"Maria! I definately did not expect to see you here, mi amore." The man says. 'Mi amore'? The two words that come out of his mouth alone give me the sudden urge to strike completely ignores Lorenzo lying soaked on the docks and his savior huddled over him, yet they both stare at us.
"Piero," I try to act at least the slightest happy to see him. According to my parents, Piero has asked for my hand in marriage. Unlike the other suitors, Piero just doesn't know when to give up. Piero has been wanting to flatter me ever since I came of age. Because of Piero's roots being noble, my mother has been urging me to accept his hand.
"Bambina di De' Mozzi, what are you doing here all alone in the nighttime?" I clench my jaw when he calls me 'bambina'. Despite him wanting to marry me, he only sees me as a child. Piero is definately many years older than me. He offers his hand to me, wanting me to place mine on his palm for him to kiss. I reluctantly and slowly extend my hand. As soon as his lips grant me a kiss, I hastily retract my hand away from him.
"I saw how my dearest friend Lorenzo," I turn my head to Lorenzo still sitting on the docks. Apparently his savior has vanished without me noticing. I then continue, "fell into the Arno river."
Piero pretends to care and quickly tends to the boy. When I see Piero has taken his attention off of me, I grab the chance to slip away. When I am out of earshot, I start sprinting home and curse myself silently. Perhaps when my mother noticed I wasn't home she sent Piero off to find me. When I finally arrive at the Palazzo De' Mozzi, I take a moment to collect my thoughts and catch my breath.
It is now completely nightfall. The only people outside are the Florentine guards. I have never been this careless as to not return home before night. My mother will be sure to yell at me for my behavior. She might even forbid me of going through Firenze without supervision ever again.
When I finally believe I am ready, I take a deep breath and enter the Palazzo De' Mozzi. The hallways seem deserted, which is a good sign. Perhaps my mother and father are already sleeping, and didn't even notice, and Piero happened to be there by chance. I then go through the dining room in order to enter my own chambers. Sure enough, my mother is there sitting on the front seat of the dining room.
"Pleasure for you to join us, Maria." My mother says. She has her arms crossed in front of her chest and her face is like stone. As my mother aged through the years, slight bitterness came as well. I still love my parents more than anything in the world, they just don't understand what it's like. Strands of gray hairs are now mixed with her black hair tied into her bonnet.
"Yes, mother, I was just..." I frown when I am unable to come up with a legitamate excuse. For the past weeks I have been completely desperate for explorations of Firenze. Ever single excuse I could've used has already been used the past several days.
"You were just out about in Firenze? In the nightfall?" My mother's voice rises, "Maria, you could've been killed!"
"Mother," I say, wanting her to give me a chance to talk. "Walking around of my own birthplace wouldn't get me killed."
"Yes, it will! You were walking about unaccompanied in the night time! You might as well join a brothel if you want to be raped so badly!"
"Mother!" I shout, suprised of her straightfowardness. "Nothing happened! I am fine. Walking around the streets of my own birthplace wouldn't get me raped. Firenze isn't like that! Why are you so overprotective of me?"
"Maria, when you have children you will understand." My mother's eyes shift from rage to love so quickly. I groan inwardly. My mother and I have had the same conersation for eight full years. I hav ememorized my mother's oral speech as if it's lines for a play. I could even recite it myself.
"Where is father?" I arms are crossed together as well, and I couldn't help but show a little bitterness in my voice.
"I am here, bambina." My father retreats from his office to kiss my forehead. He then examines me and lightly turns me around. "See, Lucia? I told you; there are no scratches. She is all well and safe." He then winks at me. "Hope you had fun, but tell me before you leave next time, capisco?"
"Marcello!" My mother protests.
"Right," My father waves away my mother's demands. "It was very wrong of you to sneak off like you did. Now return to your chambers and have Tullia get you into your night gown so you can reside for the night."
I try my best not to laugh as my father reassures my Tullia, our live-in handmaiden, hears her name being called, she scurries over next to me, gently takes my hand, and guides me back to my chambers. She then sits me down in front of my vanity and combs through my hair.
"You are beautiful, Maria." Tullia whispers. Tullia might be a few years younger than me herself. She has milky white skin and brown hair always kept up in her bonnet. When I was a young child, my father found Tullia abandoned in the streets. Not wanting to leave her alone to die, my father offered Tullia a place to stay and a job to work as my handmaiden.
"Grazie, Tullia." I smile back to her. "You are too kind to me."
"You really made your parents worry tonight." Tullia sighs as she helps me out of my gown and into my night slip. Despite Tullia being younger than me, she acts as my older sister.
"They worry too much. Everyone thinks me as a weak little girl." I frown and remember how even Piero, the man who wants to marry me, called me bambina.
"It is because we all love you too much." Tullia then brushes my hair away from my face. "If anything were to happen to you, we would never forgive ourselves."
"Grazie, mia amico." I smile to Tullia. She returns the smile and I glance out of my window and realize how late it is. "I will be residing for the night. You should as well, Tullia."
"Buonanotte." Tullia smiles back to me one last time before she exits my room. I blow out the last of my candles illuminating my room and slip into bed. Despite my lack of energy, I couldn't fall asleep. Too many things are racing through my head. Lorenzo could've drowned and died tonight all because of me. Who was that strange man who saved Lorenzo? If I'm not mistaken, I believe the man jumped from the rooftops and into the Arno! I shake my head in disbelief and shift the other way in my bed. The entire notion is impossible. I am just too tired right now that I can't think straight.
"Maria, when was the last time you have seen Perio?" My mother asks me as she waits for Tullia to serve us our breakfast. We sit down in the dining room around a large table with many empty tables. Because my father is always busy with his work as a Broker.
"I spoke with him the other evening." I reply noncholantly as Tullia arrives with our morning broth.
"Magnifico!" My mother beams and claps her hands together. I frown and look down at my bowl of broth, not wanting to watch my mother get excited over a future she chose for me."I expect you are ready to accept his proposal now?"
"Madre..." I look up from my broth and back to her. When I interrupt her happiness of the thought of me finally marrying Piero, her eyebrows furrow together and she puts on an innocent sad face. "Prego, madre, give me more time."
"Your father and I have given you a lot of time to think about it, Maria. In fact, most families make the engagement without even consulting their daughter. Piero has been waiting for you ever since you came of age. Hasn't that been time enough?" My mother looks to me as if she's disappointed in my own choices.
"Please, mother." I beg her and put my hands in front of me as if I'm praying. "Only lend me a little more time!"
My mother frowns and we stay in that position for a while. I continue to beg while she silently contemplates in her mind. Finally she replies, "Va bene."
"Molto grazie, mother!" I stand from my chair with the intentions to hug her.
"Sit down, Maria." My mother tries to act serious, but she can't help but show a little amusement in my reaction. Her smile then completely fades away as she says, "Do heed my words; this is the last time I am going to give you a renewal date for the acceptance. Should you not find another husband willing to marry you by the end of this month, you willmarry Piero."
"Si, madre." I sit back down obediently. So the only way to get out of this marriage is to find another one by the end of Augustus. "Capisco."
"Now finish your broth, bambina mia." My mother tries to smile to me, but my mood is instantly dampened by the way she calls me a child. "I will not have you be a skinny bride too weak to even walk to her husband."
I lazily spoon broth into my mouth not fully wanting to eat until Tullia brings out fresh bread.
"Mi dispiace. I did not expect the idiota baker to almost burn the bread! I had to help him! There aren't any proper bakers here in Firenze, Maria. They are all pezze de merda!" Tullia groans as she places the freshly baked bread on the middle of the table between my mother and I. Even though Tullia just cursed in my mother's presence and Tullia is supposed to be my handmaiden and not say anything unholy, my mother laughs along with Tullia. If only my mother would be like that around me as well.
"I wouldn't have burnt the bread." I whisper under my breath as I grab a loaf of bread from the center of the table and eagerly chew a piece. The burnt crust gives me a slight dissatisfaction, but it's doable.
"What did you say, Maria? Mi dispiace, I didn't hear you." Tullia asks kindly as she tries to collect her breath from laughing along with my mother.
"I wouldn't have burnt the bread." I repeat as I take another bite from the and Maria look to me with astonishment.
"You have never taken an interest in baking before." Tullia remarks.
"It would be nice to open a bakery. You said all the bakeries in Firenze were... bad anyways. I can help cleanse the city one loaf of bread at a time!" I smile at the thought. And also it can be an excuse to meet the civilians and converse. My mother laughs and brushes off the thought.
"Maria, you already know that you are to-" My mother starts to say, but I cut her off.
"-to provide children for my husband and care for the family when I get married. I know, mother. It was just... a bad joke." I sigh and go back to slowly chewing the burnt bread.
"Bene." My mother says, "You better eat your breakfast faster, Maria. Your tutors will be here soon."
"Capisco." I chew even slower now jut to annoy my mother.
A/N: Thank you for reading! Please everyone, give me feedback! Please review or follow or favorite. This is very new for me; not writing about the Kenway's at all... this is a new experience! EADF's story "Assassin's Creed: The Rising" inspired me to get attached to the Auditore's all over again enough to write a new fanfiction about them. :) Please check out the story!
Since Maria's family wasn't really spoken about or elaborated on in the Wiki, I decided to put more character to them and fill in the blank spots. Sorry if Maria sounds like a moody depressed teenager at the moment :/ I swear character development is soon to come!
I would love to continue this story, but I also have tons of other ideas and other stories to finish :3 if this doesn't get much of a response then I won't continue this. So please, if you like it or think I should continue, review favorite or follow. PM me even if you wish to give me advice or insight. I tried to make this as historically accurate as well, if anyone else has any helpful tips/knowledge they'd like to share about the beautiful Renaissance Period, please PM me. :)
Have a happy and beautiful summer