Dream of me, Leonardo
A re-upload of a fic I originally posted last night with few edits on the grammar. This is my first full length fic written in English and I apologize for possible typos and grammar mistakes. I'd be glad to hear your thoughts.
Pairing: Ezio and Leonardo da Vinci
Summary: The road to Masyaf is long and lonely. When the worst happens Ezio seeks comfort from his lover's letters.
Major angst and injury.
The road to Masyaf was a long one. Of course Ezio had known that before mounting his horse and heading to the snowy mountains. Perhaps it was his old age and solitude that had finally gotten to him but he was tired.
He had been riding for three days now, letting him and his mount rest as little as possible. The journey had been uneventful so far and of that the old assassin was glad. He had already spilled more than enough blood for one lifetime. Being so close to the answers he felt exhausted. The freezing breeze shot snow and ice on his face that clung to his beard and eyelashes. His muscles ached from riding and even his horse seemed drained. The poor thing had barely rested and the amount of food Ezio had given it on the road wasn’t nearly enough.
It was getting dark again.
Hours would pass Ezio’s mind wandering to distract him from the cold creeping its way into his fingers. He would think of summer and Monteriggioni and spring in Firenze and how the streets would flood with flowers and laughter and singing. How sweet wine would taste on his tongue. How warm was a touch of his lover on those long nights they shared in secret when the floating city was asleep.
So deep in his fantasies he was that he almost didn’t notice when the mountain side they had been climbed flattened into a hill top and finally the spiky shape of Masyaf castle appeared from behind the mountain. His mount slowing down to catch its breath got his attention and laying his trained eyes on the view in front of them made him almost jump up and sing out of joy and relief. He settled to pat his mounts neck for a celebration before encouraging it onward.
“Just a little bit more, old girl,” he told his mount, pulling the furs tighter around his shoulders as a sudden breeze caught them. Ezio was still so excited at the sight of the castle right before his eyes that when his horse stepped on a loose rock hidden underneath a fresh layer of snow he completely froze pulling the reins upward as if he could somehow prevent the animal from falling. Before he could register what had even happened he found himself lying on his side cheek against the frozen dirt, the weight of the horse crushing his lower body underneath it. Everything happened so quickly he could barely hear the whine of his horse as it fell mixed with his own yell of surprise, a thud as two bodies hit the ground and a bang when bones broke like a leaf under a boot. Then the pain hit him.
He had been hurt before. Countless times. He thought he had felt it all but he couldn’t contain a cry of agony as his legs felt like they had caught fire. He tried to push the horse off him, gloved hands shaking.. The horse made no effort to move, it’s own leg bent in an unnatural angle. It gazed at Ezio, dark eyes calm and gloomy, snow falling on its dark fur. It looked like it had already given up.
The assassin let out a shaky breath and took a moment to close the pain from his mind. He knew enough of human anatomy to know that the weight on him was enough to shatter both his legs, possibly even his spine. The warm wetness signaled open wounds, maybe broken bones sticking through skin. Suddenly he was glad the horse covered the injured area. His lower body felt burning hot and then freezing. The sensation came and went and soon he could partially close it to the backroom of his mind.
During his struggle the night had fallen and all he could see was the distant silhouette of Masyaf starry night sky as its background. At some point it had stopped snowing. Blanket of fresh snow covered the ground, making everything seem dreamy and soft. The sky was clearing and the stars provided just enough light for Ezio to see his horse licking it’s injured foot and the clouds his and its breathing turned in the cold air. He might’ve found the sight beautiful if his mind wasn’t filled with agony and a thought that had, for so many long years, seemed so distant to him:
His own mortality.
Laying on the cold hard ground he wept. From exhaustion and pain and fear. Fear of the cold the night would bring, that had already nibbled at his ears and fingers. He had come a long way to rediscover the secrets of Altair and of his creed, from Florence to Venezia and Rome all the way here, throwing his own life and loved ones aside for the greater good, for the absolute truth. Right then none of it felt too important. Without hesitation he would’ve given up all years of success to have his mamma to tuck him in for once more.To kiss his temple and tell him that everything was going to be okay and he would feel much better in the morning.
He cried until there were no more tears and the streaks on his face started turning cold, sticking to his beard like icy pearls. The temperature was going down quickly. Some snow had slid down his collar and he did his best to scoop it out with his free hand. Some of it had made its way into the hidden pockets inside his robes and feeling few objects he instantly grabbed everything he could, his frost bitten, leather gloved fingers stump. His heart was pounding as he retrieved the two items hoping to discover food or medicine or a hidden away flask of water. Of course he could shovel snow in his mouth and wait for it to melt but even the thought made his body feel cold.
Instead of essentials he was holding two leather pouches. One of them he knew contained flint and steel he carried with him but it was no use without anything to burn. The other one was tied neatly with a ribbon that Ezio pulled open using his teeth, his other hand still stuck under him.
There were letters.
Aged, wrinkled, some of them stained or faded illegible. Seeing the yellowish papers Ezio remembered why he had carried the pouch all these years and he smiled like a fool. After fishing out a letter he knew just from the handwriting he began reading. It was dark but even without his eagle vision he would have remembered the words eyes closed.
Ezio, caro mio. I hope you are in as good health as you were when we last parted.
I am about to leave for Monteriggioni- your uncle, Mario, invited me to visit his villa and I’m taking the opportunity in hopes of seeing you. You are a hard man to reach, you know that? I miss how you used to show up on my doorsteps with a new Codex page to translate. I assume there are still few more to find, as Altair’s story is yet to be finished.
I dream of you. Of us.
Sometimes Antonio or La Volpe stop by and they tell me of your new achievements and targets or your failures and agony. It all pains me to hear. You grew up so quickly, Ezio. You were just a boy when we first met but only months later you showed up to my door with a broken heart and a burden heavy enough to force you into the man you are today. You had a wonderful life full of beauty ripped from you at such a young age and I know that all of it I cannot give back to you, but I must tell you of my dream.
We could run away, just the two of us. Claudia and Mario are there to look after your mother and we could just go. Leave Italy and travel far and lead a normal life. I know it sounds silly and you have your oath but I have made my decision writing down these words. And my decision is you
Tracing the words with his fingers Ezio smiled sadly.
“You knew I would say no,” he sighed, eyes fixated somewhere far away where it wasn’t dark or cold. Somewhere where Leonardo would kiss him with tears in his eyes and tell him he understood, this wasn’t the time. Back then everything came after avenging his family. Revenge, which had never satisfied Ezio’s blade or given him peace.
He struggled before getting the letter to lit. He placed the burning paper in front of him and added a few illegible letters to the flames. The flames provided only a little heat in the coldness of the night but the light landing on the assassin’s face gave him a little comfort. His horse had fallen asleep. At Least it wouldn’t feel like it was going to die, Ezio thought darkly running his hand through the mount’s thick fur. It didn’t move but he could feel it breathing steadily. The throbbing pain in his lower body had faded and replaced itself with total numbness. The little sense he had left in his legs just signaled cold cold cold, over and over. He tried moving his toes in his leather boots but it felt like they had turned into ice. EIther he couldn’t feel it or they just moved none.
Happy thoughts, happy thoughts, Ezio reminded himself. He couldn’t let the exhaustion get to him. Sleeping meant death, of that he was sure.
“Sleep well, bellezza,” he told the silently breathing horse before picking up another letter of that same, wonky handwriting. Leonardo’s mirror writing had been difficult for him to learn but it had assured no templar could easily figure out their biggest secret, even if the letter between two of them had ended up in the wrong hands.
La mia bella aquila
When I am writing this, you are still asleep. It is barely morning but my body is restless and the sun is laying its first rays on your golden skin. How could I sleep with a view like this? Sneaking into an abandoned house to make love like horny teenagers? You animal! That is exactly why I adore you so, your passion and courageous heart. You look so young asleep like that and I wish I could stay with you.
I’ve thought of what you asked me last night- the very same thing I asked you, many years ago- and words cannot tell how it pains me to stay in my decision. Ezio, you have Rome. You are so close washing the streets clean from the Borgia scum and your Brotherhood needs you. And I have my work. I think my art might have actually made a breakthrough. And when you free Rome -and me- of Borgia I can fully focus on my paintings. And then, then I will be waiting for you in our shared dream.
Think of me when you wake
Ezio crushed the letter in his fingers before tossing it into the fire. The flame grew for a second and in the flash he thought he had seen a glimpse of the eternal city. Ezio had never felt it home. It was another Templar infested hole and it was on his shoulders to make things right. Losing Monteriggioni, the only home he had had after Florenze had already felt crushing but finding Leonardo there, tired and hollow cheeked Leonardo with bags under his still brilliant eyes telling him he was spying for the Brotherhood, for Ezio, made it feel like the hole Rome had become was sucking Ezio and everyone he loved, deep, deep into the abyss.
That’s why he had asked Leonardo to come with him.
That’s why Leonardo had refused.
The inventor’s good nature and high morals were right of course. Without Ezio’s help Rome might’ve still suffered under Borgias’ influence. But they had stayed and years had passed.
He passed a few more letters into the flames. It had started snowing again. The cold numbness of his legs had started climbing its way to his stomach, the cold fingers tightening its hold around his body. The side of his face that was pressed against the ground felt like it wasn’t there. His hood was somewhere behind his head and he couldn’t find the strength in him to pull it over his head and under his cheek. He tried to warm his face by pressing his hands on it but the leather was so cold, he ripped the gloves off in a fit of rage and tossed them somewhere over the horse. Not like they could warm his fingers anyway. With his bluish, exposed fingers he reached for the last letter. It was completely dark outside the little ring of light the flame provided. Storm clouds had covered the sky stripping the snowy mountain of the little light stars had provided. Slowly everything, the road and the hours old hoof prints, every evidence that they had ever even came there, were concealed under an untouched layer of snow. The flames were dying.
i miei sogno, mia cara
The years have not been kind to you. I thought that after Rome your suffering would end but it seems like your journey has just begun. God must be cruel, making the most beautiful of his creations suffer so much. I’ve been by your side for so long, my friend, and I am old.
Tomorrow you will sail across the sea. I will not follow you. If you had told me a few years ago, I would have gladly followed you anywhere. But Ezio, my love, I am tired. My mind is still sharp and my hands still master the pencil but my soul is old and tired. Of fighting and fearing and losing.
So with the greatest sadness in my heart I must let my eagle take its last flight. I will think and dream of you but I won’t ask you to stay or come with me, for I know your heart is not ready to settle down with a quiet life somewhere far away.
So long, my friend.
I will be waiting for you in a dream.
Come home soon.
Ezio read the letter over and over.
What a funny word.
The fire was dying and snow piling cold against his back. He couldn’t feel his fingers as he reached to grab another letter but the pouch was empty and dreams broken, hollow words on paper and somewhere warm and bright sat a man made of sun with a broken heart and he was waiting for his eagle to come home.
The paper caught fire and in the spark Ezio could see the red roofs of Florence and the canals of the floating city and vineyards on Monteriggioni, his mother’s hand holding his smaller one and his father and Frederico and Petruccio, and Leonardo and his excited smile as he opened his arm to embrace him and-
Last words Ezio could make out before the fire had swallowed the whole letter were ‘my love’. Then the fire was out.
He stared at the ashes on the snow until the wind carried them away. He couldn’t feel anything, his body long cold. He didn’t hear the wind crying its song as it slowly buried him into his cold grave. As his frozen eyelashes shuttered shut he was sure he saw a figure dressed in white standing over him, golden eyes staring at the castle not far from them. Or maybe it was an eagle.
As he slipped into a sleep he hoped to dream of a home, somewhere far away where it was warm and bright. With someone made of sun and everything good in the world.
When he finally slept, he did not dream.
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