53 - Bless the Broken Road III

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Every long lost dream led me to where you are
And others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know it's true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

April 5, 1481

Monteriggioni, Italy

Catherine almost couldn't recall a time she had felt more relief seeing the sight of the city as they rounded the bend. But then she remembered it was only a few days ago when they'd arrived in Forlì and she'd felt the same relief there, too. Still, home was now in sight, looking glorious with the sun setting behind it, and she was more than elated from her spot in front of Ezio. Normally, she'd ride her own horse, but he'd insisted, and she honestly didn't mind. She was plenty tired from the journey, although thankfully only the normal kind—she had fully recovered from her ordeal now beyond feeling like she'd lost a bit of strength and endurance. Being back home meant she could regain it, though, and she knew Mario would know just how to help her do it.

"I can smell Annetta's cooking already," Ezio sighed, briefly tightening his arm around her waist, which brought her closer to his chest.

She tilted her head to look up at him, grinning, "Now, now; no need to insult Fontina even if you're safe from your spoon of wrath."

"Fontina is a wonderful cook—but you and I both agree Annetta is better. You can't deny that."

"...True. Hurry the horse then. I want to finally be home and eat a hot dinner. That, and we need to see if you're an uncle."

"Indeed we do. Hold on," the young man smirked as he tightened his hold on her waist yet again just before urging his horse into a canter. Their second horse followed in suit, and they covered the remaining distance in a matter of minutes. They were greeted by the stable hand, who was both surprised and glad to see them. His assistants took their horses while he professed his happiness at their return, and something about the others going to be even happier. The two didn't doubt it, and so hurried through the gate where the family's insignia set on a flag against the Assassin sigil flowed strongly in the wind.

Their sojourn through the cobbled streets of the city was filled with even more surprised faces, but all were glad to see them, too. Many called out, waving and professing their gratitude. Some even offered goods and treats or special services, but all were declined politely. They had to head to the Villa after all, and not just to eat, although their stomachs were rumbling quite loudly. Thankfully that was a fairly short walk, and although their fellow mercenaries wanted to stop them for a reunion, they slipped through their grips with promises to spar soon, and continued up the final flight of stairs.

The Villa was as beautiful as ever, and Catherine was all too happy to breathe in deeply as they stepped into the marbled front halls. Ezio chuckled as they set their things down in the front entry way for one of the servants to take. The redhead happily rolled her shoulders and stretched, free of the burden, and stood in the center of the main place to take a look at things. There wasn't truly much to note, though; it was just as they had left it, which was fine by her. It was home, and it was good to be able to come to back to a steady place. Although, she supposed it was changed a little.

"What?" Ezio asked when he looked up and caught her smiling at him.

"So... are you going to stay in my room, or me yours?" she inquired

He laughed as he folded his arms, "That is a good question... hmm... I'd have to say mine."

"But—all that climbing."

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