Fic: For Thine is the Kingdom [1/3]
Word count: 2,200
Warnings: sexuality, incest, canon character death
Summary: In the days leading to Alfonso’s funeral Cesare hardly had a moment alone with his sister. She kept company with her ladies, in black gowns and embroidered veils, even dressing little Giovanni in a black doublet, a delicate onyx necklace fixed around her pale throat. Lucrezia remained enigmatic, her long looks revealing very little. It was maddening. He recalled the way she had spoken of Alfonso, the way she had sighed and said I grow so tired of my husband, knowing better than most how he had dispatched her previous one.
AN: This picks up right where "The Prince" left off. This is the first time I've written anything for The Borgias so I hope I've done the characters justice.
The bowl on the bedside table was filled with pink water, sticky and warm and colored with blood, wiped from Lucrezia’s pale cheeks. Her head rested in his lap, her blonde curls soft beneath his fingers, almost angelic if one ignored the cooling body of Alfonso D’Aragona next to her. His lips just brushing her brow, Cesare kissed the top of his sister’s head. He picked up Lucrezia and held her as he had on the night of her first wedding, her limbs as limp as a doll.
Cesare had the servants attend to Alfonso’s body as he carried his sister to her chambers. Trusted men had handpicked them and he felt assured that they would use discretion in this matter. It would not do for rumors to circulate that Il Valentino had murdered his brother-in-law, not when it was already known that he had killed Giovanni Sforza.
“Will you lock me up like a princess in a tower, Cesare?” Lucrezia asked hoarsely, as if her throat was raw from crying.
He had thought she was asleep, but her pale eyes caught his and he remained next to her on the bed, his tunic stained from blood.
“Why, would you like that?” he asked, hardly recognizing his own voice for how low it was. Strained, as if he were barely in control of it.
“Only if you are the one to possess the keys,” Lucrezia said, her hand twisting with his like a vine upon a lattice.
Cesare wanted nothing more than to remain at her bedside, to speak with her long into the night, to hear the words I forgive you pass her lips. When he left Lucrezia’s chambers her back was turned to him, her long hair spread across the pillow like molten gold. He resolved to let her sleep. There would be other times, countless opportunities in the future for them to speak of this.
In the days leading to Alfonso’s funeral Cesare hardly had a moment alone with his sister. She kept company with her ladies, in black gowns and embroidered veils, even dressing little Giovanni in a black doublet, a delicate onyx necklace fixed around her pale throat. Lucrezia remained enigmatic, her long looks revealing very little. It was maddening. He recalled the way she had spoken of Alfonso, the way she had sighed and said I grow so tired of my husband, knowing better than most how he had dispatched her previous one.
What had she expected from him, if not this? Borgia or not, men did not simply disappear, however much she wished them to.
His father, on the other hand, sequestered Cesare in his apartments for several hours, nonplused by the death of his son-in-law, focused instead on the two parts of Italy that would decide the future of the Borgia family: Naples and the Romagna. Ordinarily Cesare would be leading these discussions, but it had been almost four days since Alfonso’s passing and he had yet to speak with Lucrezia alone, to look into her eyes and see if she held the accident of her husband’s death against him.
“What has you so distracted?” his father asked, setting down his goblet of wine.
“It is nothing, father. The hour is late. May we continue this discussion tomorrow?”
Nodding, he said, “Yes, of course. Tomorrow.”
For the funeral of Alfonso D’Aragona, the former husband of the Pope’s daughter, nothing short of lavish could be expected, with Cesare watching the ceremony with a stony expression. His brother-in-law had been encased in a finely crafted casket, drawn by a dark carriage with mares draped in black cloth. Cesare tried to catch his sister’s eye more than once during the procession—did she cry for her departed husband?—his hands knotted into fists at his sides.
Cesare returned to his villa in Rome without speaking to Lucrezia, but another was waiting for him when he crossed the threshold.
“Micheletto,” he said, feeling unsurprised and yet heavily relieved to see his associate seated by the fire.
“My lord,” he replied, sharpening his knife with slow, even strokes.
“Do you mean to stay?” Cesare asked.
“A dog needs a purpose,” Micheletto replied, sheathing his blade.
Cesare had the servants bring in food and drink for the both of them. He took a long sip from his cup of wine before returning once more to his maps, surveying the lands of the Romagna yet again, sharing the details of his conversation with his father with Micheletto.
“The Romagna may have to wait until we have taken Naples,” Cesare said disappointedly.
“And what of Florence?” Micheletto asked, tapping the site on the map.
“What of it?”
“King Louis will never allow you to take it,” he said. “He wouldn’t knowingly permit anyone else to gain so much wealth.”
“Then we must find a way for him to unknowingly give it to us,” Cesare said.
The corridors of her brother’s villa were darkened at such a late hour, but Lucrezia felt no twinge of fear or worry at walking through the large home unaccompanied. She peaked into her brother’s bedchamber and found it unoccupied, the bed still made up, the sheets folded neatly. Could Cesare still be awake at this hour?
A modest strip of light shown under the door to her brother’s sitting room. Lucrezia quietly let herself in, only to find Cesare asleep at his desk, his head pillowed on a book with maps, letters, and scrolls spread out on his writing table. With only the fire to light the room she could not tell if he stirred at the sound of her entry. Gently, she touched his shoulder, brushing his long hair out of his face. He blinked and sat up in his chair, surprised to see her but also happy, his expression unguarded as he awoke from sleep.
“Come to bed, Cesare,” she said, taking his hand and leading him across the hall.
In that moment Lucrezia was reminded of earlier times when, as a young girl, she would crawl into her brother’s bed after a bad dream, but the death of Alfonso was no dream that could be awakened from, nor was her role in his death. The door closed behind them and Lucrezia sank down onto the bed, feeling her brother sit beside her on the mattress.
Quietly, his gaze fixed on his lap, Cesare said, “I have missed you, sis.”
She found his hand on the silk coverlet, threading his fingers between hers. Lucrezia bit her lower lip, giving a little sigh before she turned to the one person who had always been closest to her heart, no matter her efforts otherwise.
“It would be a lie if I claimed to not have missed you as well,” she confessed.
Her words must have pleased him because his mouth curled up at the corners, just a little, not the full, easy smile that she loved but something akin to it. Lucrezia remained still as he moved closer to her, her heart beating an irregular tempo in her throat. Cesare reached forward and cupped her cheek, his thumb trailing over her skin, brushing her bottom lip, tenderly bringing his forehead to rest against her own.
How was it that, after all the loss and destruction they had wrought, this pleased her more than the company of any other?
His eyes closed, he asked, “Will you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?”
She felt something in her chest contract, like a bruise that was sore to the touch. Lucrezia rested her head on her brother’s shoulder, feeling relief as his arms came around her, drawn up against him as if she could crawl beneath his skin.
“I thought that a kind husband would make me happy, a life where I could be safe with my child…”
A tear leaked out of the corner of her eye. Lucrezia wiped hurriedly at it, blinking away further tears.
“But even Alfonso could see the falseness in my desires. He said, ‘did kindness ever satisfy a Borgia?’ And we all know the answer to that.”
Cesare thumbed away the tears that fell down her cheeks, pulling her close enough that she was practically in his lap, the warmth of his body enveloping her like a steaming bath. Clutching her hand, he kissed her palm, drawing a shiver from her despite the burning in her skin, every touch from her brother making Lucrezia want to abandon this conversation and banish it to their past. And yet she knew these words had to be spoken.
“I could not withhold my forgiveness of you if I tried,” she said.
“Thank God for that,” Cesare replied, stroking her hair. “These past few days I had worried over you.”
“Why, brother? I am yours, alone, at last. Is that not what you wanted?” Lucrezia asked, a sharp edge to her voice.
Despite the pointed tone to her words she did not have it within her heart to truly chastise him. They had shared disagreements in the past, but they were rare, the few marred spots on the single gleaming, burnished thing they had.
“You know my desires, sis. But I would not have your heart broken over them.”
Her hand bound in his, Cesare brought her hand to his lips, kissing the soft pads of her fingers, his eyes trailing over her like a blaze over kindling.
“Then perhaps you should comfort me, then,” Lucrezia said, drawing in a slow breath that sank into her limbs, weighing down her spine, her breasts, settling in her belly and arching lower.
She felt her balance shift, the weight of her frame falling back onto her arms, Cesare’s form above hers, cradling her between the mattress and the line of his body. With her back against the bed linens his scent was all around her, all consuming, a smell that reminded her of safety and happiness and that unnamed, forbidden feeling of tension between her legs.
“It would be cruel to allow you to remain saddened,” he whispered, his teeth brushing over her neck.
He kissed a spot along her jaw, her clavicle, his tongue laving at the skin along her chest. Lucrezia dug her nails into his back and pulled him closer. Every swipe of his lips over her skin had her spine turning in on itself, her heart thundering against her breast, beating until her blood sang with heat. Her hands fluttered over his back and shoulders, trying to find purchase as his hands felt beneath her skirts. Lucrezia arched her back toward him, always wanting to be closer, to tear away the barriers between them and have his skin flush with her own, the strength of her own desires surprising her.
They parted and Lucrezia shed her clothing, pulling her dress over her head, her eyes squeezed shut as Cesare rubbed his hands over her form, her lower lip between his teeth. Her shift was paper-thin and the scrape of the rough cotton against her skin made her keen against his touch, exhaling forcefully when he rolled her nipple through the fabric. Lucrezia tried to remove it, only to feel her brother’s hand at her shoulder anchoring her to the bed.
“Cesare,” she whined, her skin aflame at the feeling of his hands on her legs, brushing her calves, her inner thighs.
“Yes, sis?” he asked, sliding down her body to place a kiss against her knee.
“You are a teasing menace,” Lucrezia said, but her words lacked any real venom.
He smirked at her, his eyes as dark as a wolf’s, his lips trailing over the soft skin of her thighs. She shuddered when he placed a kiss on the bones of her hips, felt herself quake beneath his hands while he teased the most sensitive parts of her. Lucrezia wanted to feel herself beneath him, that was true, but with his chest pressed against her own, not drawn away from her like this. Her body felt tight and rigid, like a sore muscle that needed to be eased.
When he pressed his lips to the secret space between her legs she felt as if the whole world had been obscured and replaced by pleasure. Lucrezia let out a long, unbridled moan that shocked her in its loudness, her hands burying themselves in Cesare’s hair, pulling it tightly between her fingers. He would brush the edge of his tongue against her until her legs were practically shaking, close as she was to her release, only to pull away and frustrate her yet again. One of his hands reached up to fondle her breast and she could stand it no longer, the heel of her foot coming to dig into the space between his shoulder-blades.
“I want,” she panted, licking her lips to relieve their dryness. “Cesare, please.”
He worked his mouth against her until her entire body was wrought with tension, her hips lifting off the bed as release curled through her. Her eyes closed, Lucrezia cried out his name as pleasure licked over her limbs, her heart beating wildly. Cesare moved from between her legs to her side, embracing her, one arm around her waist, his other hand buried in her hair.
“Have I pleased you, my love?” he asked, pressing a kiss to her cheek.
Her eyelids heavy, Lucrezia said, “You have indeed, but I shall need a great amount of comforting in the coming weeks. I’ve suffered a great tragedy.”
His lips a hair’s breath from hers, Cesare said, “You need only say the word.”