the borgias. lucrezia/cesare. pg. 1100 words. They have learned long ago to know each other only by touch.
notes: based on new promo stuff for the second season. masks! siblings! catharsis! spoilers for the last season, etc. argh, i miss this show and i need it to come back to me.
It is her first masque since she has returned to Rome. She feels somewhat displaced in the crowd now - she is neither virgin nor widow. By title now, she is uncertain now and in this place, this capital of revelry and reverence, titles mean everything.
On a night like this one, she chooses only her mask, dropping all other connections in favour of anonymity but even that game goes dull after a while (what pretend name can live up to a Borgia) and she feels the creep of discontent. She begins to seek the room for a familiar face, keen to draw her brother's from the throng, the blazing fires and glittering masks. She finds him standing in the midst of it, the sea of people parting around him, making an empty circle that she navigates the crowd to reach.
There are no preludes with Cesare; she presses her hand into his and he starts for a moment but knows her the moment he looks up. Back when they lived with their mother, they would sneak out of bed at night and make their way through the winding corridors with only each other to guide them. They have learned long ago to know each other only by touch. He grins, flipping over their hands till the fingers twine together and allows her to drag him out of the room to small balcony, following the shape of her gathering skirts till they reach and stop, night air filling their lungs.
She squeezes his fingers in her own, their flesh melding together painfully as the bones and the metal bite together.
"It has been so long," she breathes, staring back into the swimming figures, molten gold and bright, "Since I have been anywhere quite so splendid."
Cesare scoffs, rolls his eyes a little; "Our father does everything in style." His gaze settles in across the room, on their brother, as he stands with a troop of young ladies and a young Florentian whom neither of them recognize. No doubt another painter, another costly commission.
Beside him, Lucrezia loosens her grip on his hand, brushes the hair out of her flushed face. "Yes, of course."
"No such delights in Pesaro?"
"Oh, that - well, I suppose my lord husband's land was pleasant enough but - "
"But nowhere is Rome, brother," she responds, tartly, looking up into his face, "You know that."
"Is that so?" he smiles.
"No place on earth to match it," she promises.
"And here," he says, taking both of her hands into his and drawing her into him, "I thought you'd have missed me."
Lucrezia wrinkles her nose impatiently, a quick childish gesture. She seems almost a girl again when she does that, as if the months between her marriage and this day had never passed, as if that nightmarish spell in the nunnery were just that - a nightmare.
"Oh, my foolish brother," she whispers, giggling as she straightens her body on toes, presses her mouth to the rough curve of his cheek, "But of course."
Cesare catches her around the waist as she moves to draw away, drops his hand to the base of her spine and holds the length of her body against the length of his; like this, she almost feels a girl again, a child reborn. The sensation should not be so foreign as it is. After all, she is a mother in neither name nor occupation, only the brief, fleeting fact of birth.
"That is always a comfort to hear."
"Enough of this," she says, nipping lightly at his chin with her lips and drawing back her head to look him full in the face, "Is Papa even here? I believe Madonna Giulia said my presence was - quite necessary."
"He believes" she drops her voice to a mock conspiratorial tone, "That there may be some suitable noblemen I may be paraded before."
He laughs, a full throated sound that reverberated through her body from the proximity, his breath, smelling heavily of wine mingles with her own. She has missed the comfort of this, her brother's warm arms and the feel of his breath on her forehead.
"You are mistaken, darling. I can promise you that if our father has any thought of your marrying again, he will not think to settle it at an occasion like this. I fear you've been swindled," he grins, lowering her to leans against the marble balustrade, "I suppose you have been rather withdrawn of late; Giulia must have thought it best to draw you out of yourself."
"I do not require the company of others when I have my family."
"No?" he asks, "You don't wish for relief from us sometimes? Not even Juan?"
She laughs, "No. Not even Juan. I suppose the distance made me value you more."
"Very wise," he comments, approvingly, "Any other lessons, sis? What else did they teach you in Pesaro?"
"That marriage is a game."
"But," he corrects, "You were never truly married."
Lucrezia curls around him, hands on her brother's shoulders and maneuvering their bodies around till he is half sitting and they are leveled, of a height and she can dip down her chin and look him straight in the eye.
"Married enough to learn that."
"And what kind of a game was your marriage, madonna?" he teases.
"A savage one."
The line of his mouth tightens, just enough that Lucrezia regrets, regrets having forgotten that he is like this her brother, quick to rise to the anger that is in their blood. She brushes the tips of her fingers along his jaw, coaxing out the grim set of it.
"All marriages are savage in one way or the other, Cesare. Such is the nature of the game."
He catches her wrist, fingers tucked into the warm expanse of her palm. He kisses it, slow and reverent and when he meets her eyes again, there is a flicker of worry there. The youth, for a moments, feels transferred to him.
"And do you find yourself - prepared to enter it again?" he asks.
"Now, more than ever," she swears, "We are the same, you and I, brother. We can win what we like, can we not?"
There, in the darkened balcony, all the words they speak sound half a lie but while the room breathes sin, the breezy air offers some approximation of redemption. Lucrezia kisses her brother again, softly this time on the side of his face and swallows all the things she is afraid to say.