65 - The Hours

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She felt warm.

Not too warm, but not too cool, either. It was like a warm stream that soothed the body and soul. It filled her; made her skin tingle and gave her a strength that felt so foreign yet so familiar all at once. She only knew it was something she hadn't felt for a long while. She felt more like herself—whole, one could say. She was certainly at ease, as if there were no worries. Yet, there lingered a sensation; a nagging thought in the back of her mind. A whisper. A calling. An idea, even. It made her question the warmth—made her wonder, how was it so? Where had it come from? Further still, was this warmth real? Was she real? Was this body she believed to feel really there, or was this some illusion? She couldn't recall being real. She couldn't recall anything beyond this moment, truthfully. She couldn't even recall her own name.

Light suddenly appeared in her visage, and it was only then she understood she had been in darkness. Her eyes had been shut, but now she could see. The warmth came from the light, which hovered just above her, tendrils spilling forth from an orb—a sun, perhaps? It was so tiny, yet so powerful, though. It resonated with the strength she felt, and now an urge came upon her. She knew this light. Knew this warmth and power. Yes, it was very familiar, and so she lifted her arm. That in itself was an odd thing—to suddenly know she could do something so simple as lifting her arm. It was so surreal, too; like she was apart from it, but she knew she was doing it. Despite such uncanniness, she reached and reached. The sun felt so far away, so she stretched as far as she could.

There.

A touch.

A flash of light.

A flash of soothing heat.

A flash of images.

A flash of sounds.

A flash of everything.

A gasp tore from her lips as her body jerked up and she sucked in air she didn't know she'd needed. She looked down upon herself, recognized her robes and her gloved hands and armor and—everything. She knew this gear and her body and herself.

She knew who she was.

She was Catherine.

Catherine Auditore.

But where was she?

This wasn't Venezia. This wasn't Firenze, either. Or Forli. Or Toscana. It certainly wasn't home. Home wasn't darkness filled with tendrils of light and—something beneath her? Something solid. Like a table? It was a bright, golden color and reminded her of the lights, but it was physical and real, and not as warm. What was this place? This emptiness? It was familiar, she realized; like from a long, forgotten dream, yet this was real. Very real. How had she gotten here, though? The last thing she could remember was burning and then—then something else. Something awful. Something that broke her.

Catherine gasped again, a name tearing from her throat, but catching on her tongue. Her voice had not yet returned, but she spoke the name still:

Ezio.

Her husband. The love of her life. She had been right there with him, stuck in the world of the Clock. She hadn't been able to speak to him—to hold him. She had only given him a final sign and token and that was it. He would not know what happened to her, but—but he was safe. She knew that. She remembered that. She had stopped Rodrigo. She had destroyed his Clock. Yes, she had done that. She had endured the agony of the combined power after even the debilitating wait for the inevitable and all the years she had never understood! But now she knew what it had been for—that one moment. To protect Ezio. To protect them all. And she had died for it. For them. For him.

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