47 - All You Never Say

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March 10, 1481

Venice, Italy

After a week on the water, the waves moving the ship this way and that, and the rooms below cramped and musty, the freedom of dry land was a reprieve Catherine never thought she could know. She gladly sighed with relief and then stared with awe at the beauty that was Venezia—the city on the water. Its buildings were grander than even that of Firenze, sporting warmer, more vibrant, and more eclectic taste in colors. Gondolas ran along the outskirts of the cities or through the canals, moved by attentive rowers; some with supplies, others with people. The streets were set with light-colored stone that was kept rather clean, albeit looked wet in a few places—to be expected, of course. Yet, any dampness hardly detracted from the grandiose nature of the place, and the redhead knew she would do a great deal of gaping and ogling as she slowly learned every nook and cranny of the city.

A task, she knew, she would also greatly appreciate—if only as a distraction.

Her discomfort over the last week had not just been from cramped quarters. No, her mind had been flooded with what had gone on between her and Leonardo; her confession to both him and herself; of how she had finally accepted she was in love with Ezio. She supposed she had always known, or at least that it was inevitable she would admit to it, but now that it had happened—now that she could no longer deny it—it was all so different. It shouldn't have been, and she told herself that every night she let herself get lost in the muck of it, but still it was changed. She could no longer look at the young man the same. Any time she did glance his way, her heart raced and she ached to tell him; to not let the chance slip. She would catch him looking, too, and she couldn't help wondering if she didn't need to worry after all, but her cowardice was not yet conquered. Her caution was not yet quieted; it still silently urged her to wait for a sign—to be sure.

It had made things a little awkward on the boat, especially when they were so close to each other all the time, but Leonardo had made it bearable. He kept any unusual silence at bay with talk of what was to come. He also gave her consolation when they were alone, and encouragement, but never pushing her. It served to improve her confidence and make her feelings swell even more. Certainly, not only did her heart race when she thought or saw the young man, but her chest would fill with a warmth she only vaguely recalled feeling before. It was love, she realized, and also anxiety—that fear of it being unrequited. She knew she would have to make good on it somehow soon, although not then. Not on the boat.

In Venezia, however?

Maybe.

For now, though, the redhead took in the sight of the city before her and behind her as she and the other passengers emerged upon the stone street. She breathed in deeply, and couldn't help noticing there was a stench to the place that was none to pleasant. Her nose scrunched up slightly as she adjusted to it, but then was able to relax some. Still, the remnants lingered, and she only hoped she would become inured by the end of the day. It did little to take away from the beauty of the city, though, and if it bothered her companions, they didn't show it. Leonardo especially seem unaffected as he smiled brightly at the grandeur while he carried some of his things. Men on the boat carried the rest, and the three of them made their way over to where the luggage had been set down.

"So," Ezio hummed, gazing out from under his hood, "this is Venezia..."

"It's amazing... and... wait—you've never been then?" Catherine inquired, brow raised, and the young man shook his head. "Huh. Would have thought you had with how you talked like you've been there."

"My father came here before on business, and he described it in such detail it was almost like I had gone with him. Of course, now that I'm here in person... it's definitely far better than he told Federico and I as children," he chuckled as he rest his hands on his hips.

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