Once he was in the market he forced his pickpocket hands to work, placed once more in the sector he found himself most at ease with. He had already accumulated quite the collection. He had snitched a gold pocket watch, several shiny silver coins, a gold ring in the shape of a serpet eating its own tail, and a wallet heavily loaded with cash. He slipped through the crowds, blending in and yet trying not to fit, a figure that darted this way and that avoiding carts and horses. It was like pretending to be invisible.
He left at noon, sliding into an alley and moving off. His heart wasn't really into the trickery, and there was someone he wanted to see. He followed a well-known path through the winding alleys, ignoring the crushing feel the towering stone walls on either side gave off. He barely noticed the smell that lingered, like old sewage. He finally strode out onto a paved but deserted street directly in front of a house that had a large iron fence over the drive. It was a large estate, but Michael went up to it as if he owned the place.
The gatekeeper knew him at a glance, and he was through the gate in a jiffy, but he didn't go through the front door, instead choosing to go around to the back. He picked a small stone from the ground and threw it so it lightly tapped against the second floor window. The curtain was thrown back and a face framed with wavy black hair came to it. The second the girl's gaze fell on him Michael felt a strange sensation run through his heart and tried to still it.
The window opened, a slim fingered hand pushing the pane of glass away. Her other hand beckoned, adorned with a single diamond set in a gold ring on the fourth finger. The ring he'd given her. He wrapped his fingers into the strands of ivy he'd climbed only once before and lifted himself off the ground, his lithe and muscled frame slipping through the window in less than a minutes time. The window closed behind him.
"Rose," he said, turning to face her. His voice held neither affection nor pleading, neither love nor hate. She crossed her arms over her chest, sending him a glare that made him want to cringe. "I..." he tried to continue, but she cut him off.
"I told you not to come back," she said.
"Rose, I'm sorry," Michael tried, but she ignored him.
"You know what you've done," she said. "I can't believe you stole from me, even after I helped you."
Michael felt a twinge of guilt. She had helped him. He was running from the gaurd, not for the first time, and she had hidden him in the very house he stood in now, for no apparent reason except that she had thought him handsome. And they had become friends, until a month ago when his trickster instincts had taken over and he had stolen several diamonds from her. He had throughfully repented after the disappointment and rejection in her lecture, but she had no longer trusted him. He was surprised he had been able to get into the grounds under such circumstances.
"Rose..." he tried again, but she continued.
"Why I even let you come here again, I'm not sure," she half hissed. "I can't..." This time he cut her off.
"Rose! I really am sorry, and I don't want to be enemies. I promise..." she cut him off again, and he couldn't help noticing how her eyes showed that she felt half hearted in her anger.
"You promise! Do you expect me to trust the promises of a trickster?!"
"No, but I expect you to trust the promises of one who would be your friend would you let him."
Her arms uncrossed, and Michael relaxed, thinking her anger had subsided. But her arm flew out and she hit him hard across the face with the palm of her hand. He stumbled backwards, and she unexpectedly burst into tears.
For a second he just stood there, ripped between the burning pain across the right side of his face and the regret that he'd made her cry. Then he stepped forward and hesitantly and laid a hand on her arm. She didn't shrug it off, and a quick wave of relief came.
The seconds that passed like this seemd to drag on for ages, until she finally spoke.
"I lay awake thinking you had tricked me, thinking you had only befriended me for my wealth, regretting not forgiving you when you asked for it, and then you come back, and I have no idea what to think," she sobbed, her eyes meeting his. he was struck by how pretty she was even when her eyelashes were wet and her eyes red.
"I regret I ever took anything from you, Rose. I thought you hated me after that lecture." He tried to keep his tone light, but the weight of the emotions he didn't know he had crahsing down on his shoulders made it hard. And suddenly she was in his arms, her lips against his. He reacted instinctively, holding her close, almost protectively. A million thoughts washed through his head.
What was happening to him? He felt emotions that he hadn't had before. He didn't want to stop kissing her, he didn't want to know why they were. And somewhere beneath it all, he forgot that he was a thief and trickster, forgot he was supposed to be just a vagabond roaming the streets evading police capture. And for the first time he wanted to be someone who could love her, Rose Malory, without being thwarted because he was nothing more than a villain. It was she who broke the embrace, sliding away. Tears fell silently down her face.
"Go," she whispered, and her voice broke. "Just go."
It was a very confused Michael that climbed down the ivy wall and strode back out into the streets. And he strode back into the relaity that the Assassin's Creed lurked in the palace known only to him. And back to the guilt that instead of telling the authorities, he was falling in love with Rose Malory, daughter of the High Duke, courting her without permission.
And it was a very distraught Rose that was found weeping upon her bed not long after, no longer sure wether she understood herself or not.