the business of benefiting hussies (marketchippie) wrote,
the business of benefiting hussies

live by a light that isn't even the sun

gratia plena.
The Borgias. PG. ~1400. Cesare; Cesare/Lucrezia (brief Cesare/Ursula).

She was gone before I ever got to say
lay here, my love, you're the only shape I pray to

iron & wine {"jezebel"}

First she had come to him privately.

It had hardly been morning, the day’s first pale fingers of sunlight only just beginning to trickle into his window, but he had heard the tap of a fingernail against his door and known the sound at the first. He had opened the door to find her there, fiddling with the fingers of one removed glove, and she had looked up and smiled at him, pale and radiant as the day’s fresh sun. “Unable to sleep, sis?” he had asked lightly, and she had slipped inside and shook her head. Her hair had been tucked up into a net, weighing heavy against the back of her bare neck. A woman’s style, but for the vulnerable crook of her neck; too early, he had thought, watching her walk to the window and press her hands to the sill. She had forgotten to take off her other glove or put the one back on; it trailed useless from her curled palm as she rested her hand along the engraved frame. For a moment, there had only been her and the sunlight: she had tilted her head and her hair had caught the light.

“I feel as if I’ve slept for a thousand years,” she said, touching the tips of her ungloved fingers to her forehead. “I don’t feel married yet, Cesare. Am I truly a wife in God’s eye now?”

He had nodded, wordless, a half-lie, and she continued. “And now I am to go away and play mistress of Pesaro. I’ve never been to Pesaro, and now—” She had looked up at him, considering. “Now it is mine, is it not?”

“Yours to command, sis.”

“Command.” She had laughed. “Am I to wear plate like our brother, then?”

“I should think not.”

Command.” Her smile tucked up against her cheek. “If I can command my husband, at least, I shall be in good stead,” she said, and he felt his own smile turn empty on his face.

“God help him.”

“Oh, I shall be a kind tyrant. I shall drown him in honey—and kisses, I think. Many kisses. Giulia tells me that they are a wife’s best weapon.” She cast him a sly smile. “Do you not think as much, brother?”

He had swallowed at that; her smile had been teasing and he thought of her resting her chin on the sill of his window on countless private mornings, the way she would grin looking in. He spoke, and the words had been hollow on his tongue. “I wish you sweetness.”

The smile left her face, then, and she had looked up at him with something strange and still in her eyes. “I only wanted you to wish me a proper goodbye.”

And then she had been in his arms, her hands clasped to the blades of his shoulders, fingers clinging through the velvet of his frock. “It’s so strange,” she had whispered close to his ear, “every bit of it,” tipping up her chin as he leaned in to press his lips to her cheek. His mouth had landed instead on the bare crook of her neck, the ticklish hollow beneath the curve of her jaw. “Goodbye, then,” he had whispered with his mouth open against her skin, “if you like,” and she had shivered still for a moment against the graze of teeth and breath, pressing close before pulling away. Her ungloved hand had gone to his cheek and lingered there.

“I don’t like one bit,” she had said, “but I’ll be back soon enough,” and the smile had returned to her face. “You know Papa wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll be back soon.”

The confessional is oppressively dark and still as he waits, fingers twitching against his lap. They find their way to the rosary looped around his belt, and he taps out a count against five beads, one for each knuckle on one hand, before he remembers that a prayer is meant to accompany the motion. It’s more body than mind, he thinks, even when done right. Now that his blood and bone is property of the church rather than himself, grounded in the itch of velvet, God is meant to be found in every gesture. He has a difficult time convincing himself of the gravity of this; in any case, every peasant has a string of beads with a cross on the end.

The beads rap heavily against the bones of his hands; if he closes his eyes, it could be anything. A spare string of his sister’s pearls—he closes his eyes and inhales sharply. The air in the box smells like incense and solitude, heavy in a different way from his sister’s room. On the night of her wedding, the air had been like a second blanket around them, laden heavy as Easter with the smell of lilies. A resurrection, he thinks, a good enough metaphor for what feels like a death, though whose he does not know. The graceless bridegroom perhaps, someday—ah, that would be a far better trick. He thinks of Sforza’s impassive face made slack with shock and rictus, of his throat opening red beneath, a knife sliding against the skin like butter, and his grip on the rosary loosens slightly.

It is merely something to consider.

Indeed, he thinks calmly, thumb looping against the notches of the string, it feels like philosophy: conveniens vitae mors fuit ista suae, he thinks, a death to suit the life. Ovid is pagan company to keep here, he thinks with a smile, but good company all the same, perhaps the better for it. To be sure, life and death align in Cesare's thoughts more easily than anything meant to come before or after: theirs is a Classical balance if anything is.

(He will not think of the implications of life in the marriage bed, of consummation. Of the specificity of his sister’s limbs, the sullen stone face of the Sforza—no.)

He waits, still, counting.

Amids the courteous farewell noises of her procession, she had joked: “Pray for me, when you get the chance. Cardinal.”

He had raised an eyebrow.

“If you have an idle moment.”

“A very idle moment.”

She had been smiling, straightening her shoulders atop her horse. “Yes. Very.”

His hand had rested on her ankle until she had ridden away. Time already seemed slower as she got smaller in the distance—heavier on his hands. Idle, indeed.

To counting the beads, then: ave, ave, ave.

Ave Maria
, he thinks distractedly; there is no room for reverence in him, and the box around him is painstakingly silent.

The idea that God might whisper to him in this cramped box is deranged at best, he thinks, tapping the knuckle of his thumb irritably against a bead. Yet that leaves him alone with only the discourse of his own thoughts for company, perhaps the least religious companions fathomable. The robes itch, the box cramps, and the heavy elegant wood and iron muffles all sounds but those inside. Not meditation: a purgatorio, if anything.

But he is not sitting idle, he thinks: he is waiting, which means the time must be occupied somehow, for if nothing else, it promises to be finite.
So. To put his hands to work, if no other part of him. Ave, ave. Gratia plena, and he finds himself back with the wedding party, his sister’s hands clasped to his, her smiles and her promises of sprezzatura. Effortless grace, he thinks, and smiles, the beads ticking fluidly through his fingers. They clatter where they fall against his lap and he thinks of the time beaten in music, the rise and fall of dancers, the incandescent sway of his sister. She had been happy, he thinks, and breathes, insistently slow. She had been happy.

Ave Lucrezia, he thinks in this idlest of moments. To my sister, full of grace.

The door to the booth opens and closes. “Cardinal?” comes the swift hesitant whisper from the other side, and he smiles, then. The air lifts: the wait is done.

“Madonna Bonadeo,” he says, and the memory of dancing hands in his shifts only just so far. He presses his palm to the grille, remembering the curl of her fingers against his, the shallow musical rise and fall of her hips beneath her gown. “I hoped you’d come.”

She sucks in a breath, and the sound is sweet to the ear. “Father forgive me,” she says, and his reply comes instant and easy:

“He does.”

The swiftness of it feels like grace. He is the only speaker in this silent set of walls, after all.
Tags: fanmotherfuckingfiction, the borgias
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