mdseiran: (Default)
[personal profile] mdseiran
Title: The Colour of Magic
Fandom: Assassin's Creed
Warnings: Crack/Disney.

- Huge, huge thank you to [livejournal.com profile] lyntek, who held my hand throughout this monster and put up with me while I was writing furiously.
- Written for the Assassin's Creed Kink Meme for the following prompt:
Fantasy/Fairy Tale AssCreed goodness. I want to feel like I'm reading a Disney Classic movie. :l

Ezio/Leonardo please.

Bonus Points:

-Leonardo trapped in the highest tower of a fortress, castle, etc.
-Leonardo calling to song birds for company like a princess
-Royal Auditore. King Giovanni, Queen Maria, Prince/Princess Auditore siblings etc
-Evil sorcerer Cesare Borgia (who most likely kidnapped Leo in the first place)
-A curse on our beloved captive princess Leonardo.
-A daring, dramatic rescue with sword fights.
-Incooperate a fire breathing dragon. Somehow.
-Talking animal friends.
-Singing. All Disney classics need it.





In all the fairytales Leonardo had read in his childhood, the one thing they forgot to mention was that the worst part about being a captive was the utter boredom of it all. He really thought he was dealing pretty well with the rest of it – he was fed, clothed, and he was still allowed to bathe. Cesare Borgia was evil, but aside from his daily attempt at convincing Leonardo to help him in his quest for world domination, he left his captive to himself for the most part. There was no whipping or raping or anything of the sort. Really, as villains went, Leonardo thought Borgia probably wasn’t so bad.

Well, except for the part where he put a curse on Leonardo. Which was part of what led to the boredom.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Ever since he had been old enough to hold a brush, Leonardo had loved to paint. His family had been poor, but his parents were so delighted with his talent they always managed to find the funds to buy him paper and paints, even if it was just one colour. By the time he was five, his art was hanging all around their small farmhouse.

And then his father died, and for the most part of a year, Leonardo couldn’t find it in him to touch his brush.

He had been twelve when his father was suddenly hit by a severe illness, and even though they had managed to gather the funds to bring a doctor to see him, the medicine given to him ended up being of no use. It had all happened so fast, really; one day his father had been working the fields, and the next he had been lying in a wooden coffin, covered by a white cloth, daisies scattered around him. And then suddenly, Leonardo was the man of the house.

So Leonardo took it upon himself to become his father. His mother was a strong woman who had always helped his father out with the chores, he knew that. But his father had always taken care of them both, and Leonardo would be damned if he would let his mother carry the weight alone. So for a long time, Leonardo forgot about his passions, and put all his energy into keeping their small farm up and running. He spent his days from dawn to dusk in the fields, first just doing the same chores he had often seen his father do. After a while it became just another routine, one he even improved on a little by modifying some of the tools his father had used after all the work was done. He didn’t think about the brush buried in a dirty piece of cloth at the very bottom of his chest.

His mother didn’t talk about the change in her son at first. Leonardo thought she was probably still too stunned by everything to notice something as small as that. But then he caught her one morning when she was preparing their breakfast in the kitchen, brushing her fingertips along the sides of one of his long-faded childhood art. “You should draw some new ones,” she remarked wistfully. Leonardo simply ducked his head and concentrated on his bread and eggs, hoping that she would forget about it and not ask him again.

Of course, wishing had never gotten him very far before, and his mother was a very persistent and very clever woman.

“Leo,” she said one day, and every instinct Leonardo had instantly made him wary. He knew that tone of voice.

“Yes, mother?”

His mother sighed softly, staring at the walls he had repainted a few weeks ago. “Don’t you think these white walls look a bit depressing?”

Leonardo slowly chewed his bread. “I could paint it a different colour next time, if you want?”

She sighed again. “I don’t think that would help much, love.”

“Mother, if you have something specific in mind, just tell me.” He pushed back his chair and picked up their empty plates. When he leaned over to pick up hers, she put her hand on his arm. “Couldn’t you paint pictures on them?” she softly asked, and Leonardo’s heart sank.

“There’s too much work to do,” he mumbled as he gently dislodged her hand. He took the plates to the kitchen sink and quickly washed them . His bottle of water was already filled, so he picked it up and headed for the front door.

“Your father wouldn’t have wanted you to give it up,” his mother told his back, sounding as sad as she had the day he had died. Leonardo hid his flinch and stepped outside.

As his mother, she knew exactly which buttons to push. But Leonardo had inherited her stubbornness, and he resisted every single attempt she made to lure him back to his paints -- until the day she placed a wooden carving in front of him and made Leonardo choke on a mouthful of soup.

“Where did you find that?” he sputtered, running his fingers almost reverently over the smooth edges.

“I was looking for socks for you, since you’ve torn so many holes into yours I can’t mend them anymore.” She was smiling when he sat down, he noted absently, in a very pleased, smug sort of way. “It was stuffed in one of your father’s socks.”

Leonardo remembered the day his father had carved this. They had been clearing the fields together and trimming the few trees they had on their land. One of the branches they had cut off had been pretty thick, and his father had cut it into smaller blocks and given one to Leonardo. “How about you draw something and I carve it?” he had suggested, and Leonardo had grinned and agreed.

His mother had been horrified when she had seen the mangled mess of animal carcasses the piece of wood had ended up resembling, but his father had laughed and laughed when he had seen the design Leonardo had come up with. “It’s like the chimera from your book,” he had said with a grin. “A dead one!” Leonardo had retorted, setting his father off again.

He ran his finger along all the carved lines, retracing his design while his mother watched him from under her lashes. In the end, he abandoned his soup, claiming exhaustion, and kissed his mother’s cheek before finding his bed. That night, he slept with the carved statue curled in his hand, hidden under his pillow.

The dreams he had that night were strange, vague, glowing, and those feelings were all he could remember of them when he woke up. He felt lethargic, ate his breakfast listlessly, and when he stepped outside he found his feet taking him towards the village instead of the fields. Some part of his mind was frantically babbling at him, asking him what on earth he was doing when he bought a new brush and spent too many coins on a set of paints in more colours than he had ever owned in his life. The babbling became more frantic when he bought several sheets of white paper, but he ignored it all the way home, purchases tucked securely under his arm.

He had enough sense left to avoid heading straight home, so he took a detour to the field of wild flowers he had taken such delight in as a child. Once there, he settled down on one of the flat rocks scattered on the land, picked up his brush, and stopped trying to think.

His brush flowed easily over the paper, his fingers still knew what to do even though it had been such a long time since he had last tried to paint anything. The feeling of utter joy overwhelmed him, coursed through every part of his being . It almost felt like someone was flooding him with light, with warmth, with all that was good in the world. For a moment, he could almost feel his father’s hand on his shoulder, watching his hands as they produced the art he had loved so much.

When Leonardo finally stopped drawing it was almost dusk, and the painting on his lap was unlike anything he had ever drawn before.

He had drawn the wild flowers under a clear blue sky, with birds swooping down and butterflies gently perching on the petals. And as he stared at his art, the flowers began to sway, the birds flapped their wings, and a butterfly left the flower and flew out of the paper and smacked right into his nose.

Leonardo fell off his perch in shock, and watched as the butterfly seemed to flutter its wings indignantly and flew off towards one of the real flowers in the real field. He scrabbled for the painting and stared at it long and hard, but while everything still moved nothing else tried to fly out of it. He gathered his things in a daze and headed home.

The sound of the door closing behind him and the sight of his mother seated alone at the table, hands folded in front of her, snapped him out of his stupor. “I went to bring you lunch today,” she said, eyes downcast. “You forgot to take it this morning, and I thought you’d be hungry after all that hard work.” Leonardo felt the guilt coiling heavily in his stomach when her eyes finally met his. The fear and anger and relief were written all over her face, plain for him to see. “Do you want to tell me where you were today?” Leonardo mutely shook his head, staring down at his feet. His hands tightened around his jacket and the secret hidden inside it.

The chair squeaked as she pushed it back and stood. “Eat something before you fall over,” she said, and before Leonardo could apologize she had left the room. He did eat, because he really was starving, but the food was tasteless in his mouth. He had never liked it when his parents were angry at him, but when he went to her bedroom to beg for her forgiveness, he found her already asleep. He closed the door again with a sigh and climbed the rickety stairs to his room and collapsed face-down on his bed.

The jacket and its contents were prodding uncomfortably in his side. He rolled over and unfolded the jacket with a sigh, eyes instantly landing on his painting. He stared at it pensively for some time, and then picked his brush up again.

He woke up earlier than usual the next morning and prepared breakfast for his mother. He placed a folded piece of paper under her plate and waited for her to come out of her room.

Her eyes landed on the cheery sunflowers he had placed in an old cup on the table first, and she came to stand behind him and gave him a one-armed hug before she sat down. Then she noted the sheet peeking out from under her breakfast and cast him a questioning glance before slipping it out and unfolding it. Leonardo would savor her gasp for a long time to come.

He had drawn their family, as it had been a year ago – they were sitting in the middle of the field of wild flowers, laughing together, all three of them, surrounded by birds and butterflies and even a couple of kittens frolicking in the grass. He continued to stare at his plate as she looked at the small gift, and then he suddenly had his mother sobbing on his shoulder. He curled his arms around her and gently stroked her hair, the way he had seen his father do many times before, and from the painting lying on the table, his father smiled at them both and gave Leonardo a wink and a thumbs up.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

By the time Leonardo was seventeen, the mysterious power he had woken up with one strange day had evolved into – well, it was magic, plain and simple. He was a magician, albeit a strange one who could only cast spells when he was painting. Slowly but steadily, he had worked out how to harness the power he generated when he was drawing and put it into something other than art. He had even developed a bit of a reputation, and their financial status had most definitely changed for the better as a result. He glowed with pride whenever he was able to buy his mother a new dress or piece of jewelry, and she was always delighted with every new spell he learned to cast.

Of course, that is where everything started to go horribly wrong.

Unbeknownst to Leonardo, his fame had spread far beyond his village and all the way to the ears of Cesare Borgia himself. It was no secret to anyone that Borgia was probably the most powerful sorcerer in the world, and that he had his heart set on conquering all the lands. What was a secret, at least to Leonardo, was that Borgia had been snatching up all the magicians and sorcerers that he could find and recruiting them for his growing army, intending to use their powers for his personal gain.

They jumped him in the fields one day, stuffing a foul-smelling cloth against his mouth and nose. Leonardo gagged and started to feel dizzy and within seconds, everything went dark. The next time he opened his eyes, he was staring up at a dark blue canopy and the sheets he could feel under his palms were most definitely silk. He sat up quickly and came face to face with the smiling Cesare Borgia.

“Welcome to my castle,” Borgia said pleasantly, and Leonardo muttered his thanks, not a little confused. “I trust my men weren’t too rough with you?” It all came rushing back to him then, and he frowned at Borgia.

“You kidnapped me!” he said accusingly, indignation growing when Borgia only smiled wider. “Well go on then, tell me what you want so I can get back home,” he snapped at the sorcerer.

“My dear Leonardo,” and Leonardo wanted to smack him, because no one got to talk to him like that except his mother, “I already have exactly what I want.” All this was said while Borgia was staring fixedly at him, and Leonardo quickly understood.

He sighed. “You want me,” he said, and Borgia gave him a small nod. “You want me to cast a spell for you?” Leonardo guessed, and Borgia chuckled.

“Not just one spell,” he corrected. “I want you to join me in my quest.”

Leonardo raised one eyebrow. “And what quest would that be?”

Borgia spread his arms wide and grinned. “Why, world domination, of course.” Leonardo continued to stare at him.

“You’re quite mad, aren’t you.” Borgia shrugged. “What if I refuse?”

“Dearest boy, nobody refuses me.”

Borgia wasted no time in locking Leonardo up in the tallest tower in his castle, “Until you change your mind.” Which wasn’t likely to ever happen, really, but it didn’t seem like Borgia cared about that.

He had spent the first few days trying every way he knew of to escape. He even managed it with the help of his magic a few times, and by the third time the guards had to drag him back kicking and screaming, Borgia was growing irritated. “If you refuse to paint for me, then you won’t paint at all.”

The hands holding Leonardo tightened and held him upright while Borgia began to chant. Leonardo struggled harder, but it was no use, and after a few seconds the pain made him go limp in the arms of the guards. Something, some glow, was seeping out of every inch of him, gathering itself in a floating globe in front of Borgia’s eyes. When all the light had left his body, Borgia cast a second spell, and Leonardo watched as his powers melded into Borgia’s armor, a glowing ball of light held by the putto etched on his breastplate. “Take him back to the tower,” the sorcerer commanded, and, for the first time, Leonardo didn’t put up any resistance.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Which brought him to his current predicament. The tower was really dreadfully boring without his painting to entertain him. He could only read books for so long until he went mad, and Borgia’s library didn’t really have a lot of diversity. The man was pretty fixated on just the one topic.

Remembering one of the tales from his childhood, Leonardo decided to grow his hair out. He calculated that it would take him 1584 days for his hair to grow long enough for someone to use it to climb up to his window. Maybe, if Borgia let him make a special herb shampoo, he could speed up the process a bit and shave off 300 days or so. Borgia seemed pretty amused by his request but instantly denied it. “I’m not stupid, Leonardo. You can grow your hair out if you want, but it better not get any longer than your shoulders. It would be all too easy to make you bald.” Leonardo was pretty attached to his hair, so he sulked for a bit but obeyed the limit Borgia had set. Bald would not be a good look for him, he felt.

His attempt to seduce the guard posted at his door actually went pretty well, until Borgia found out and replaced the guard with a rather large, fire-breathing dragon. Leonardo didn’t try to seduce the new guard.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It started in such a random manner, really. The sky just looked so bright and blue that day, and the sunlight was warm without being scorching hot on his skin, that Leonardo found himself humming part of one of his father’s favourite songs without thinking about it. It was an old song, simple melody, about the beauty of nature. He couldn’t remember all the lyrics but he sang the ones he knew. And then they came.

It was just one, at first, a small robin that perched on his windowsill and peered at him through small, black eyes. He stopped singing and stared at the bird with delight, fingers itching to draw it. The robin tilted its head this way and that and chirped something at him. He hummed to it, and had to repress a loud laugh when the robin chirped back its own version of a song. ”I wonder,” he sang softly, “I wonder, I wonder why each little bird has a someone, to sing to.” The robin hopped excitedly along the windowsill, eagerly twittering in perfect harmony, and another robin swept down from above and landed next to the first.

Before Leonardo knew it, there was a small flock gathered at his window -- his very own choir. He felt happier than he had been in weeks. They weren’t shy either; the first robin easily jumped to his fingertip when he held it out and wasn’t afraid to eat a few breadcrumbs off his open palm. He gently stroked the lovely orange and white breast, admiring the softness of it. “You’re a gorgeous little thing, aren’t you,” he murmured, and the robin preened.

“You’re not so bad yourself,” it twittered, and Leonardo let out an undignified yelp that startled the little bird and caused it to fly to a bed post. “What was that for?” it tweeted indignantly, but Leonardo could only stare at it in shock. “Have you never seen a talking bird before?”

“Um,” Leonardo cleared his throat and took a step towards the robin, “I can’t say I have, actually. Do all of you…talk?”

The chirruping from the window sounded suspiciously like laughter. “Of course we do,” one of the robins said, “silly humans, always thinking they’re the only smart ones.”

Leonardo hastened to apologize, and his offering of fresh water and more breadcrumbs soon appeased their ruffled feathers. “What’s your name then?” the first robin – their leader, most likely – asked, and Leonardo introduced himself. “Ooh, you’re that one!”

“Excuse me?”

“The magical artist. The forest talks about you a lot,” the robin informed him. “I’m Paige, by the way,” she continued as she dropped onto his shoulder, “and if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to ask.”

Leonardo cast a hopeful gaze at her. “I don’t suppose you could get me out of here?”

Paige rubbed her tiny beak against his hair in sympathy. Leonardo sighed. “Oh well, at least you can keep me company every now and then.”

She affectionately nipped at his ear. “I think we can do that, yeah.”

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“You have a very beautiful singing voice,” someone told him from outside his window one day, and when Leonardo looked up, he spilled the scalding tea all over his legs. Pain won out over fear and he rushed for the sink and the cool water that would ease the burn. The dragon’s rather large head was hovering outside his tower, regarding him with some amusement.

“Sorry,” Leonardo stammered once he had splashed sufficient water over his trousers, “you just startled me. I didn’t know you could…”

“Talk?” the dragon supplied when Leonardo could only flap his hands wildly. “Yes, I do get that a lot.”

Feeling embarrassed over his reaction (even though he really felt it was warranted – the dragon was supposed to be guarding him, after all), Leonardo carefully ventured closer to the window. Up close, the dragon’s black scales gleamed in the sun, and its dark brown eyes shone with amusement. The creature was beautiful, and Leonardo once again thought wistfully of his brush and paints. “I would have loved to draw you,” he murmured, and the dragon blinked at him.

“You flatter me,” it said, and its head bowed down slightly. “You are different from all the other prisoners I’ve guarded, Leonardo da Vinci.”

That piqued his curiosity. “Have you guarded many?” The dragon made a gesture that Leonardo interpreted as a shrug. “How long have you been working for Borgia?”

“A couple of years now, I think,” the dragon replied. “It all blends together after a while, you know? Guarding isn’t very interesting.” Leonardo could sympathize with that.

“Why do you stay then? I’m sure that you could find better employment with your…skills.”

The dragon snorted and flapped its huge wings, flying up until its claws were visible. Leonardo regarded the heavy and obviously magical chains with horror. “You poor thing,” he said, reaching for the dragon with one hand, “you’re every bit as trapped as I am.” The dragon obligingly hovered closer and allowed Leonardo to touch its hide, a pleased sound emerging from its chest when the artist’s hand ran over its neck. Leonardo smiled and did it again. “You really are a gorgeous creature,” he said. “Do you have a name?”

The dragon blinked. “No one has ever asked me for my name before. I admit, I never thought of one.”

Leonardo tsk’ed. “We can’t have that,” he exclaimed, “everyone needs a name.”

The creature looked amused again. “Do you have any suggestions then?” he asked, and Leonardo’s mind immediately started to recall dragon names from books and stories.

“How about Puff?” he asked, and then blushed a little when the dragon didn’t seem to be able to stop laughing. “I suppose not then,” he mumbled bashfully, as the dragon bared its huge, very sharp teeth at him in a grin.

It turned out to be quite difficult, finding a name that the dragon liked. Leonardo thought the dragon was possibly more picky than anyone he had ever done work for in his lifetime. After his first eleven suggestions were rejected, Leonardo fell silent while he thought, absently running his hand in a circular motion over the dragon’s smooth neck.

“I read this story when I was a child,” he murmured, and the dragon made an encouraging noise. “It was about a dragon that was captured when it was still young, torn away from his family. The men who captured it tried to force it to do their bidding, but the dragon was strong and spirited and refused to listen to their commands.”

“What did they want the dragon to do?”

Leonardo smiled a little in recollection. “Oh, you know, the usual. They wanted to use it as a weapon. They even tried to torture it, but despite the pain, the dragon continued to refuse. Then, one day, an enemy army attacked the village where the dragon was being held, and set several buildings aflame. One of the buildings was a school, and there were several dozen children stuck inside. The dragon managed to get free in all the confusion.”

“And then he finished setting the village on fire and flew off?” the dragon flying outside his window guessed, but Leonardo shook his head.

“The dragon shook off its chains and dove straight for the school building. It used its powers to dislodge the roof, and then removed the children. The lord of the village offered it as much gold as it wanted, and the lives of the men who had tortured it to boot, as thanks for what it had done. But the dragon decided to forgive them, and finally returned home.”

A companionable silence fell over the man and the dragon after Leonardo finished reciting this tale from his childhood, but then the dragon butted its head against Leonardo’s still hand. “This dragon,” he began, “what was it called?”

Leonardo had to think about it for a moment. “I think he was called Scur,” he finally said.

“Scur,” the dragon repeated, sounding thoughtful. “That’s a nice name. I quite like it.”

Leonardo fairly beamed at him. “I quite like it, too. It suits you.”

And thus, a new friendship was born.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“I’ve been very lenient with you,” Borgia stated as he entered Leonardo’s prison. “My guards have left you alone, even though,” and he leered, “quite a few have shown interest in an hour or so alone with you.” Leonardo stiffened his back and refused to flinch, to show fear, even though his heart was beating faster than ever.

“I still won’t help you,” he told Borgia, as he had for the last…he couldn’t even remember how long it had been anymore. But unlike every other day, this time, Borgia didn’t leave the room after his answer.

Instead, he nodded to one of the guards that had entered with him, and the guard gave him a smart salute and quickly left. “It’s time you learned that there are consequences to refusing me, boy.”

Keeping the frantic expression off his face, Leonardo tried to sound calm when he asked, “What do you mean?”

Borgia’s grin was pure evil. “Let’s just say someone will be paying your mother a visit very soon.” And then he marched out of the room and slammed the door behind him.

Leonardo remained frozen where he stood for a few seconds, but then he rushed towards the small writing desk and snatched the first piece of paper he could find. Hands trembling, he scribbled a short message and rolled it up into a small scroll as he ran for the window. “Paige!” he cried out, desperation growing when he received no response. But then, finally, he heard the flapping of wings, and one of the robins landed on the windowsill.

“What’s wrong, Leonardo?” Rocky asked, tilting his head in concern.

“Please, I beg you, you have to help me.” Leonardo held the small scroll out to Rocky, blinking back tears. “Please take this message to my mother, before Borgia’s men reach her. If she dies, I-“

Rocky flew to his empty hand and held out his right foot. “Hurry up then,” he twittered impatiently, and Leonardo quickly tied the scroll to the thin leg. Rocky gave his hand a reassuring little nip and flew off, winds flapping furiously, quickly disappearing from sight.

No matter how hard he tried, Leonardo couldn’t calm his heart. He tried to sit down, tried to read, even sleep so the time would pass faster. But then he would remember the look on Borgia’s face and he’d be up on his feet again, pacing the room that had never seemed so small before. The guards continued to bring him food, but he couldn’t swallow any of it.

Most of his time was spent by the window, squinting at the horizon, half-hoping to glimpse Rocky on his way back. He knew that even though Rocky could fly fast, faster than most horses, he most likely wouldn’t have reached the village yet. But still, Leonardo prayed, and hoped, and waited.

Paige had obviously been notified by one of her minions, because a few hours after Rocky left, she came to perch next to Leonardo on the windowsill, enduring the wait with him. Neither of them spoke, but Leonardo could sense her worried eyes on him. After a while, she tried to get him to speak, but he resisted her efforts until she finally rubbed her small cheek against his and flew off.

The sky grew darker and darker until Leonardo couldn’t see anything. The lack of food was finally hitting him and this time, when he curled up on his bed, sleep was swift in coming.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

It was the sound of someone hissing his name that woke him up in the middle of the night. Leonardo turned bleary eyes towards the window. Paige was fluttering anxiously next to Scur’s head, and when Leonardo squinted, he could see she was carrying something in her beak.

He lurched quickly out of bed, hoping that she was carrying some sort of message from his mother, but instead she dropped a small silver key into his hands. “What is this?” he asked in confusion.

Paige looked smug. “It’s the key to your door. We have, as you might say, taken care of the guards posted around the area for you.” Scur grinned at that. “Hurry up, we’re waiting for you at the base of the tower.” Leonardo wasted no time in running for the door and out of his cell.

They really had cleared the way for him, as the guards that usually patrolled the stairway were suspiciously missing. He was still careful to make as little noise as possible, just in case they were nearby (although, considering Scur had something to do with taking care of them, he really doubted he would see any of them again). The door at the bottom of the stairs squeaked when he pushed it open and he froze, half expecting someone to grab him and shove him back upstairs. But outside, he could hear the excited chirping of his friends, so he pushed the door open further and stepped out into the open.

Three robins were instantly upon him, grasping his shirt in their small beaks and forcefully tugging him towards Scur. “Hurry up!” they urged, and so he hurried, although to what he didn’t know.

“Do you still have the key?” Paige asked him as soon as he was close enough to hear her, and he nodded and held it out to her. “Okay, perfect. Now, be a dear and go unlock that chain around Scur’s claw so you two can get out of here.”

It took him a few minutes to find the keyhole in the huge cuff, and when he did, he feared that the key was too small to unlock it. But when he inserted the key into the hole, the key grew in his grasp until it fit the lock perfectly. The cuff didn’t make a sound when it sprang open, but Scur made a small sound of victory. His large wings started to flap at a furious pace and Leonardo stumbled backwards, shielding his eyes from the dust stirring all around them. But then the wind stopped and, when Leonardo lowered his arms, Scur was kneeling down in front of him. “Get on then,” the dragon commanded him, butting Leonardo with his head when the artist hesitated for a second.

Using the wings as a step, Leonardo slowly clambered on top of the smooth back, curling his arms around the neck he had so often admired and stroked. Scur got to his feet and once more began to beat his wings. Leonardo could see the sand stirring around them, a miniature whirlwind. Then, Scur let out a fearsome cry, and a few seconds later they were soaring through the sky, finally free from captivity.

His heart grew lighter with every beat of Scur’s magnificent wings, and he could tell that the dragon felt it too. He was taken up high, above the clouds, the full moon shining down on them both and turning Scur’s scales from the darkest black to cobalt blue. Scur was cutting swiftly through the air. “We’ll save her,” he told Leonardo after informing him that they were halfway there. Leonardo could only cling to his neck and hope that he was right.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

They landed in the midst of chaos.

The fires had been obvious even from above, but it seemed so much worse on the ground. People were screaming, running away from the flames and from Borgia’s guards, sometimes running away from one only to fall straight into the arms of another.

Scur had landed at the edge of Leonardo’s field of flowers. The flowers were gone now, burning orange, but he didn’t even have time to mourn their loss. He starting running faster than he ever had, not even aware of Scur rushing after him.

The door to their house was wide open, and one of Borgia’s men was guarding it. Before he could utter a cry of alarm, Scur sent a scorching globe straight at him, and the guard dropped, a blackened corpse. Leonardo carefully stepped over him and entered the house.

The kitchen chairs were upturned, some of them broken. The cabinet that held their plates and cups was open and more than half the plates were shattered around it. His mother’s room, when he reached it, was a worse mess, and he could tell that the men had raided her small jewelry box. But of his mother, there was no sign.

Scur made a soft, questioning sound from outside, and Leonardo exited the house with a forlorn shake of his head. “We’ll find her,” Scur told him fiercely. “Is there any specific place she would go to hide? If your message reached her in time...”

The thought gave Leonardo renewed hope. “The fields, maybe, but we passed those on the way here. I don’t know where else...” And then it hit him and he was off with a small cry.

The graveyard lay at the very edge of the village. It was far away from the blazing areas and there were no guards around. It was hard to find his way in the dark, but Scur breathed fire on the end of a fallen branch and gave Leonardo enough light to see by.

His father’s grave was located at the east end of the cemetery, close to a tree that bore pink flowers in the spring. He could see a bulky shape sitting by the gravestone and hope surged up in him. “Mother?” he whispered, and the figure moved slightly. “It’s me, mother, it’s Leonardo,” and then the figure was rushing at him with a cry and his mother’s arms were around him, warm and safe and comforting. He dropped the branch and clung to her, buried his face in her neck, gently stroking her back while she sobbed into his shirt. He was aware of Scur retreating into the shadows, giving him this moment before reality intruded again.

He was finally, finally home.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Except, of course, he couldn’t stay.

“You know Borgia will send more men once he finds out what happened,” Scur told him reasonably, and Leonardo sighed. “I know a safe place, I can take you both there.”

Leonardo glanced at his mother, who was still plastered to his side, but she seemed fairly calm considering her initial panic when Scur had finally shown himself. “Alright then,” he agreed, and Scur knelt down once more. Leonardo helped his mother up first and settled behind her, then showed her how to hold onto the dragon’s neck. He gave the scaled wings a soft pat. “Take it a little bit slower, please?” he asked softly, and Scur cast him an amused glance.

Their journey towards safety was less frantic than their first trip had been. Leonardo felt exhausted, but his mother was asleep in his arms and he was afraid to doze off and cause them both to fall off Scur’s back. So he was awake when the night gave way to day, and was witness to the most beautiful sunrise he had ever seen. The loss of his talent hit him fiercely then, but this was not the time to mourn. He could do that later.

It was early in the afternoon when Scur began to descend. They were passing over a fairly large town, filled with tall buildings and people bustling in the streets. There was a large building straight ahead, a villa, Leonardo thought, and it was quite a surprise when that was where Scur landed. “Where are we?”

“We’re on the outskirts of Florence,” Scur informed him as he knelt on the green grass. “This villa belongs to the Auditore family. It’s their summer home.”

Leonardo stumbled off Scur’s back in shock. “We can’t just stay here!” he exclaimed. “You said you knew a safe place, I thought you meant a cave or something.”

Scur snorted at him. “Really, Leonardo, a cave? Those are never safe.” Leonardo continued to sputter at him, but his mother was making noises about wanting to get down, so he ignored Scur long enough to help his mother. “We’re not staying here,” he said, with what he thought was a fair amount of insistence, but his mother swatted his arm.

“We’re here now, we might as well catch our breath for a while and think this through properly.” She straightened her skirt. “I am going to see if they have a well somewhere in this garden. I think we could all do with some fresh water to drink. And maybe to wash up a bit.” The last was said while she pointedly looked at Leonardo, who felt himself flush. She made it better by grabbing him in a tight hug before wandering off in the direction of what could possibly be the stables.

“You can stay here you know.”

Leonardo turned back to Scur. “And what if they find us here? They are royalty, they could have us imprisoned, or sent back to Borgia, or even beheaded!”

The dragon flopped down on the ground, lowering his head to his claws. “The Auditores have been fighting against Borgia for some time,” he told Leonardo. “And I have it on good authority that they will neither imprison nor behead you.”

Raising his eyebrow, Leonardo placed his hands on his hips. “And whose authority might that be?” he demanded, but Scur just twinkled at him and remained silent. Leonardo sighed in defeat. “We can stay here for a few days, maybe,” he finally allowed, and Scur let out a pleased sound. “This doesn’t mean you’ve won, mind,” he added rebelliously.

“Of course not,” Scur replied smoothly, eyes already sliding closed. The dragon looked exhausted, and Leonardo imagined he must be, considering the distance they had covered and that they hadn’t even stopped to rest on the way. When he thought of what he had put his friend through, and that the beautiful creature had helped him without hesitation despite everything, he felt an overwhelming surge of love. Quickly taking the steps towards the dragon, Leonardo brought his arms tightly around Scur’s head and placed his cheek next to his. “Thank you,” he whispered, “I can never repay you for this.” He turned his head a little and placed a soft kiss on the black scales.

There was a rumbling sound coming from Scur’s chest, almost a purr, and his scales had started to glow a bright gold. Scur’s eyes flew open and the noise became a shriek when the dragon was lifted up into the air. Leonardo fell back to the floor, gaping up at the dragon hanging suspended in front of him. There was silence for a moment, and then Scur glowed brighter and let out a last scream before everything went blinding white.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

When Leonardo woke up, the first thing he saw was a pair of concerned brown eyes. He closed his eyes again, certain that he must be dreaming. A large hand gently brushed his hair back behind his ears and Leonardo blinked them back open, staring up at the stranger who, apparently, was cradling Leonardo’s head on his lap.

“Um,” Leonardo remarked eloquently, and the stranger smiled in relief.

“I was half afraid you wouldn’t wake up,” the man mumbled, still running his strong hands along Leonardo’s cheeks. For his part, Leonardo could only gape up at him in shock.

“Do I know you?” he finally managed to stammer, and the man laughed in delight. He had very striking facial features, he thought, and when he smiled the already handsome face was transformed into something even more beautiful.

The thought sent a blush to his face and he started to struggle out of the embrace. The man readily removed his arms and even held out a hand for Leonardo to grasp as he tried to get up. He looked around the area while his hands brushed the dirt off his clothes. He could remember a flash, but nothing in the garden suggested that lightning had struck. But then again, the lightning had seemed to strike someone very specific.

He turned to the stranger in alarm. “Did you see what happened?” The man tilted his head slightly, wearing a quizzical expression. “There was a dragon here,” Leonardo gestured wildly, “and then there was lightning and it hit him straight on, and now he’s gone and I’m sure he’s hurt-“

The flow of words was stopped by a hand placed gently over his lips. Dark brown eyes were dancing, smiling at him, a very familiar set of eyes that he was sure he’d seen before...

“It’s you, isn’t it,” he whispered, and the man – Scur, he thought hysterically – nodded. “You were human all along?”

Scur nodded again. “I was cursed, much as you were, my friend.”

Leonardo lifted his hand and touched the dark, almost black, hair in wonder. There was a small scar running over Scur’s lips and he traced it with a single finger. His dragon had had a thin silver line, just there, he thought. “It really is you,” he said dazedly, finally letting the improbable truth sink in.

His mouth stretching in a grin, Scur opened his mouth to retort but was then interrupted by a very unlady-like shriek, coming from Leonardo’s mother. “You!” she stuttered, gaping and pointing at Scur. Really, Leonardo thought crossly, it was like she had never seen a handsome man before. “But you were missing!” she exclaimed, and he was right back to being bewildered.

“Would someone mind explaining...” he started to ask, and the answer to the question he hadn’t even fully asked yet came in the form of a sharp smack against his arm.

“Honestly, Leo, you can be so blind sometimes! Don’t you recognize him?”

Leonardo turned his head from his over-excited mother to Scur, who was staring sheepishly at the ground and scuffing the dirt with his boot. “Um,” he said, and his mother hissed in annoyance.

“And to think people once called you a genius,” she said with a roll of her eyes, and hey, that wasn’t really fair was it? Just because he couldn’t remember the face of someone he had probably only met once, maybe a former client or some such – “You’re standing before Ezio Auditore, you blockhead.”

Ezio Auditore, long lost Prince of Florence, smiled shyly at him from under his lashes, and Leonardo abruptly discovered that his life was actually more bizarre than any fairytale he had ever read.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Prince Ezio – “Stop calling me that! It makes me feel very uncomfortable.” – didn’t actually seem to know how he broke the curse. “You were there as well as I, Leonardo,” he repeated for the fourth time, this time with an edge of annoyance in his voice. Leonardo hastened to apologize and Ezio buried his face in his hands with a groan. “I think I liked it better when you didn’t know,” he muttered mournfully. Leonardo heartily agreed; this whole situation really was very confusing, and he had to constantly bite his tongue to keep himself from calling Prince Ezio – “Leonardo, please!” – Scur instead.

“I didn’t even know Borgia’s curses could be broken. I mean, he never told me how to break mine.”

There came a snort from the armchair by the fireplace. “That is because Borgia is much smarter than the villains in every fairytale you’ve ever read,” Ezio said dryly. Leonardo supposed that was true. “It could have been anything. Maybe,” he continued wickedly, “it was that eager hug you gave me, or even the kiss…” The artist promptly flushed bright red, and Ezio laughed in apparent delight.

“For a prince, you aren’t very gentlemanly,” Leonardo informed him, sulking just a little bit.

Ezio’s laugh melted into a warm smile when he stood up and tugged Leonardo into a hug. “It must be the dragon in me,” he teased, finally making Leonardo laugh as well. “That’s much better,” he murmured in the blond hair. “We’ll break your curse as well. That, I promise you, on my name.” Leonardo’s hands tightened a little in the prince’s shirt as he nodded against the broad shoulder. He felt a soft gust of breath against his ear and turned that way. Ezio was staring at him intently with heat in his eyes, and Leonardo’s breath caught in his throat. There was a moment of hesitation, Ezio brought his face closer, and then the door blew open with a bang.

“How sweet,” Borgia drawled, as his men quickly entered the lounge and surrounded them. Ezio took a step towards the sorcerer and Leonardo frantically latched onto his arm. “I really regret interrupting that lovely little moment, but unfortunately, the world is waiting for me to conquer it. It isn’t very polite to make it wait any longer.” Someone grabbed Leonardo’s free arm and pulled, ripping him away from Ezio’s side. The prince made a grab from him and snarled at Borgia when his hands met thin air.

“You will let him go,” he bit out, and Borgia raised his eyebrow politely. “I swear on my life, Borgia, that if you don’t let him go right now-“

He didn’t think villains were ever truly happy with anything, but Leonardo thought the sorcerer looked pleased enough with Ezio at that moment that it sent a chill down his spine. “My dear princeling, I am thrilled you mentioned that,” and he nodded at his guards. Within seconds, both Leonardo and Ezio had a circle of swords pointed right at their throats. Leonardo swallowed. “Now, I am sure you are both smart enough to deduce how this will go,” and yes, it really was quite obvious. Leonardo glanced at Ezio without moving his head, and Ezio shook his head at him firmly. The movement caused one of the swords to graze his neck, and Leonardo flinched and shivered at the thin trail of blood it left behind.

“I’ll do it,” he croaked, ignoring Ezio’s cry of denial. “Just, let him go, you don’t really need him do you? And I’ll be a lot more cooperative that way, truly.”

Borgia regarded him thoughtfully. “Seems such a waste though, since I do have the both of you here. Plus, the little princeling makes for some nice leverage over the royal family. No, I am sorry my boy, I really think I will have to keep you both.” He did look regretful (just the slightest bit, which was mostly overwhelmed by his glee), and then the guards were shoving them out the door and towards separate carriages. Of his mother there was no sign, and Leonardo fervently hoped she had hidden herself away somewhere safe. He glanced back just once, sending Ezio a look that he hoped conveyed how very sorry he was for everything. And then they were pushing him into the carriage, Borgia climbing in as well. He rapped the front of the carriage smartly and then they were moving, back to Borgia’s castle and Leonardo’s tower.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The shouting reached them before the sound of clashing swords. Risking a glance at Borgia, he could see that the sorcerer was growing increasingly angry, and some part of him, deep down, danced gleefully. Borgia parted the curtain separating the inside of the carriage from the driver’s seat and snapped at them to ride faster. And that’s when the carriage came to a shuddering halt.

“You imbecile!” Borgia snarled, reached one hand through the curtain to slam the driver’s back into the carriage. “You will keep on driving or I swear on my mother’s grave-!“

The driver gurgled in response, but they remained stationary. “Give it up, Borgia!” a voice floated towards them from the front. Borgia cursed and released the driver, parting the curtain just enough for them to see outside.

The sight of an army clad in bright red and white blocking the way of Borgia’s carriages made Leonardo gleeful inside. On the outside he maintained a neutral expression, but he couldn’t keep his lips from twitching a little when the shouting from behind them grew louder.

Borgia let the curtain slide closed again and deftly stripped off his leather gloves. “Lord save me from those foolish Auditores,” he muttered, and then he was grabbing Leonardo by his upper arm and roughly pulling him out of the carriage. A blade was instantly placed at his throat, and Leonardo repressed the urge to sigh. That move was really getting quite old.

He may not have recognized Ezio, but even Leonardo knew what King Giovanni Auditore looked like. It was somewhat surprising, to find that the king himself was leading the assault on Borgia’s procession. Or perhaps not, considering who was in the other carriage.

“You honor me, Majesty,” Borgia drawled, sketching a small bow with Leonardo kept carefully in front of him. “But I assure you this is quite unnecessary. I am not here to do any harm, merely retrieving some deserters. If you could just remove your blockade, I’ll be on my way, and nobody will come to any harm.”

King Giovanni failed to look impressed by Borgia’s speech, and the army remained where it was. The blade pressed closer against his throat. “It is time to fulfill your promise, boy,” Borgia hissed in a low voice, and Leonardo was wise enough to nod.

“My power,” he mumbled quietly, but just as Borgia placed his free hand over the putto, a shadow fell over them.

“I would strongly advise you to lower that knife,” Ezio drawled, and Borgia hesitated for a second before swinging the knife upwards. Sparks flew when the knife hit the blade peeking out of Ezio’s cuff, the swing easily blocked and countered. Within seconds, the knife was lying under the carriage, and Ezio’s blade was poised over the crown of his head, ready to pierce it if Borgia so much as blinked. “Head over to my father, Leonardo,” Ezio commanded him. Leonardo took a few steps away from Borgia, watching the look of hate the sorcerer was directing at the prince. Some instinct made him stop in his tracks, and he ignored it when Ezio once again repeated his order. His eyes remained fixed on Borgia, and it was this that enabled him to call out a warning when Borgia’s hand started to glow.

Borgia’s spells were fast, much swifter than Leonardo’s, and Ezio didn’t manage to avoid the bolt of blue, crackling light completely. He stumbled and rolled off the carriage, landing hard on his knees at its back. Borgia was on him in an instant, sword drawn and swinging, and the tip caught Ezio’s shirt as he frantically rolled away to evade the blow. Leonardo regarded them with growing fear, watching Ezio stumble under the onslaught. From the corner of his eye, he glimpsed the king’s army trying to get closer, but something was barring their way. He hadn’t even noticed Borgia throwing up the barricade, and he realized with a sinking heart that Ezio would not be receiving any reinforcements.

Making the quickest decision of his life, Leonardo dashed for the carriage and squatted down. His hand frantically searched underneath until he finally felt something metal touch his hand. He grabbed it gingerly and pulled Borgia’s knife out. He had never really been one for weapons (he most definitely agreed with “make love, not war”) but the knife fit naturally in his hand, and his knees only trembled a little when he headed for Borgia with the knife stretched out before him.

He was fairly sure that Borgia could disarm and kill him long before he could stick the knife in, so Leonardo decided his best bet would be to throw the knife at Borgia’s back. He kept a wary eye on Ezio, worried that they would turn around suddenly and it would be Ezio with his back to him. Just then, Borgia raised his leg and jammed his iron boot into Ezio’s stomach. Leonardo bit down on his lip until it bled, keeping his outrage and fear contained. Ezio was clutching his stomach, but he was still struggling to his feet, blade already up and ready to face the next attack. Leonardo knew he would have to act fast.

He adjusted his stance and the position of his arm, tightly gripping the knife, and pretended there was a red target on Borgia’s back that he had to hit. He probably wouldn’t hit the centre, he decided, but even if the knife pierced the sorcerer at the very edge of the target, it should still hit something vital. He closed his eyes tightly, took a deep breath, then wrenched them open and launched his knife towards the sorcerer, waiting for the moment of impact.

The knife sailed cleanly through the air and landed, very neatly, beside Borgia’s foot.

More frustratingly, Leonardo didn’t even have the satisfaction of his attack distracting Borgia just enough for Ezio to go on the offensive. He searched the area with his eyes once more, but the only weapons he could see were several medium-sized rocks. Repressing a heavy, hopeless sigh, he picked one of them up and took aim once more.

His second attack was more successful than his first. The rock smacked solidly into Borgia’s shoulder, hitting it with just enough force to divert the path of the blade. Leonardo watched with satisfaction as the attack missed Ezio entirely, but Borgia quickly rectified his mistake with a well-aimed spell. Once Ezio was down on the ground, the sorcerer turned on Leonardo, who gulped and took a step backward.

It was over very quickly after that. Borgia started to make his way towards Leonardo, arms pulled back and sword raised. Behind him, Ezio quickly got to his feet and jumped onto the roof of the carriage. From there, he jumped once more, hanging suspended in the air for a moment and reminding Leonardo sharply of how Scur looked mid-flight. His blade glinted in the sun and then he was descending, sticking the weapon into Borgia’s back before landing gracefully on his feet.

Borgia’s eyes were wide with shock as he stumbled. The blade had pierced all the way through his armor, right through the face of the putto etched on the front. Mixed with the blood, a soft light seeped from the wound – just a trickle at first, snaking over the ground as if searching for something. The light touched Leonardo’s boot and started to flow into it, more of it flowing out of Borgia’s armor until he was covered in it from head to toe. The glow became brighter and Leonardo gasped when his power sank back into his skin, culminating with a tingling in his fingertips.

Then the tingling turned elsewhere when Ezio grabbed him in a fierce hug, hands roaming over his hair and back. “You’re alright?” he murmured, and Leonardo could only nod. “I’m sorry I couldn’t stop him from taking you,” he said then, sounding so pained that Leonardo found himself placing a finger on his lips to keep him from uttering further stupid thoughts.

“You saved us both, didn’t you?” He smiled at the distraught prince. “And,” he continued excitedly, “I think you broke the curse! My power, I can feel it again! Oh, I can’t wait to paint, I have so many ideas in mind. I’ve been itching to paint Paige and Rocky, and the drag-umf!”

As far as ways to stop people from talking, Leonardo thought he might prefer this one. Ezio’s lips fit perfectly over his and he sighed softly into the kiss, wrapping his arms around the prince’s neck. Ezio’s hands were buried in his soft hair and they were tilting his head further back as he deepened the kiss. Leonardo willingly went along with him.

A polite cough coming from behind them made Leonardo flush down to his toes and try to disentangle himself, but Ezio kept him firmly stuck to his side. “Father,” he greeted the king, who was regarding them with amusement, “I’d like you to meet Leonardo da Vinci.”

King Giovanni’s warm eyes settled on Leonardo. “Your fame precedes you, Leonardo. We are very pleased to make your acquaintance, and are honored to have you among us.”

Leonardo sharply thrust an elbow into Ezio’s ribs and bowed down before the king when the strong arm fell away from his waist. “The honor is mine, Majesty,” he murmured, eyes downcast. “I am so sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused…”

“Nonsense, nonsense!” the king replied with a chuckle. “It was your courage that turned the tide of the battle, was it not?” Leonardo really didn’t think so, but the king wasn’t listening to him anyway. “My son, it is good to see you well.” Leonardo got to his feet and tried not to look when the father hugged the son that had been missing for so long. It felt like he was intruding on a private moment, and the awkwardness he had felt before was nothing to how he felt now.

He occupied himself with observing the actions of the Auditore army, who were busy cleaning up the mess Borgia’s men had left behind. He resolutely did not listen to the conversation taking place beside him, and was, in fact, so engrossed in the bustle around him that he startled when Ezio’s hand touched his shoulder. “Ready to go home?” Ezio murmured, only for him to hear, and Leonardo’s heart promptly felt heavier.

“I- I suppose so,” he replied quietly. “If you wouldn’t mind letting me ride with you back to the villa so I can find my mother, we can be on our way home within-“

Ezio stemmed the flow of words with a fierce kiss. “You really can be quite stupid,” he told Leonardo fondly. Leonardo tried very hard to be indignant, but it was difficult when Ezio wouldn’t stop kissing him. “Did you really think I would just let you return to your village?”

Leonardo blinked at him. “Oh,” he replied, “I…suppose not?”

“Most definitely not,” Ezio whispered against his lips. “You promised to paint me, remember?”

The prince really was very confusing, he thought. “Yes, I did promise that.”

“Then it’s settled,” Ezio said smugly, already tugging Leonardo towards a gorgeous black stallion. He cupped his hands to give Leonardo a leg up and then settled in behind him on the horse, one hand on the reins and the other settled on Leonardo’s stomach, which fluttered in response. “You will stay with me, and you will paint until your heart is content, and I will never let you out of my sight again.”

Leonardo smiled and tilted his head to brush his lips over Ezio’s chin as they rode off into the sunset. “Well, when you put it like that,” he demurred, “I suppose that’s not such a bad idea.”

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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December 2015

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