Which Is Caesar's
Spoilers: Rome s1 and um, history?
Author's Note: I blame falena84 for this, utterly and fully. Happy birthday, babe! Thanks to lyricalviolet for beta.
A Roman man may cry, but Gaius Julius Caesar does not, watching the funeral of his father with dry eyes. It feels almost a joke, that a man may die putting on his shoes, by seemingly no other cause than the gods willing it so.
Rome is a city where anything may happen suddenly – demise and rise alike. Even a praetor may die quickly.
He will remember this, young Julius vows to himself. He will remember, now that he is a son no longer and a patriarch instead. He will remember it and beware it. He must.
His family, he thinks. His now. He is the head and he will be the ram, and fortune and rise will be theirs.
The gods may favour a man in many ways, and Julius has known for a while it has favoured him with oratory. He speaks, and the men of Rome listen. Even Cicero compliments it, and Cicero is is considered the master of the art by all, including himself.
The gods may curse a man in many ways, and Julius is beginning to suspect he must carry one too. He does not speak of it aloud, for a friend today may be an enemy tomorrow in these times. Weakness is best kept silent and endured, and so he does.
His gift and his curse, and he is not sure yet which will carve his life.
Cornelia. It is a good Roman name and a good Roman wife she will be. Julius does not love her, but she is inoffensive to the eye and has already the grace of a patrician, despite her young age. She will do very well and love, love a Roman man may always find elsewhere.
He marries Cornelia, his first wife and she bears him a daughter, his first. Julia, daughter of Gaius Julius Caesar.
The son will come. He is certain. He has a good Roman wife, after all.
War. All Romans know it and Julius learns it. How to fight in it, how to survive it, how to win it. How to use it even in peace.
War is a ladder upwards. Rome loves a victor and loves the spoils it brings even more.
He just has to find his war to spoil with.
Servilia has a smile she gives only him. He feels it against his lips the first time he kisses her, and sees it in the corner of his eye when she looks at him across a room.
She is a widower, he a married man. It is of course improper, and cause for scandal, but the right kind. The kind that shows Julius Caesar for a man, and not a man's man, which his enemies whisper about.
Servilia is a marble statue in flesh, every inch of her seeming sculpted. She carries the air of one too, at least in public where he might not rouse her passion and give her the glow of a woman in love instead.
But he has her smile, even surrounded by all the men of Rome.
Gaul will be his. Riding across it, shedding blood onto it, carving his name into it, he can feel it call to his ambition and will. He will conquer it all, as none have before, and it will push his name into history more than legions of sons would do.
(Still only one daughter, even with three good Roman wives. One daughter he has used to bind him and Pompey, but she will bear Pompey's children first and with Pompey's name.)
This is a good war, this is his war. His Gaul.
Afterwards, it might even be his Rome.
Mark Antony is in many ways what Julius is not – excessive, reckless, lacking subtlety and tact, but never lacking women at all. But they both see war with a clarity others lack, and common victory can create a very lasting and devoted bond.
Caesar wins Gaul; Mark Antony enjoys the spoils of Gaul women.
Caesar sets foot upon Britannia; Mark Antony thrusts into her women.
Caesar's proconsulship is expiring; Mark Antony goes to protect it.
Mark Antony is wounded by Pompey's mobs; Caesar marches to war.
Pompey is his enemy. Deep down, Julius supposes they both knew their alliance would not be one for eternity. With one seeking power and one holding onto it, it could no more be peace between them as it could between a wolf and a sheep.
Still, crossing the Rubicon fills him with a great sense of loss. For Julia, partly, who at least is spared a war between her husband and her father, but just as much for what is to come.
A civil war is not a good war, but now he and Pompey will have one nevertheless.
The die is cast.
An empty Rome is not his victory. Oh, the people are there, and he will win them, but Pompey and the Senate is not, and many patricians with them.
Brutus with them, but Servilia not. Atila and Octavian not, and as it turns out, Pompey's gold did not go with him either.
Casear's gold now.
Octavian might not be his son, but he is of Julius's blood and something in him reminds Julius of himself – perhaps it is being fatherless at a young age, perhaps it is ambition encased in a quick mind.
"All those who have gone with Pompey, what will you do with them once you win?" the boy asks one evening, and Julius has to smile at the directness of the question.
"I will pardon them."
"Why would you pardon your enemies?"
"Because they make the best friends," Julius says. "They know what it is like not to be one."
"I see," Octavian says, and Julius wonders if he really does.
Servilia is a love of his, but she is not his master and he will not let Rome see her as so. She doesn't understand – she can follow her heart, but he has much more than heart. He has ambition and an enemy and he needs Calpurnia – her family though, not her heart.
Hearts are fickle. War is not. It demands sacrifices.
His is Servilia.
Cicero and Brutus are his again now, a strange sort of symmetry – lose the mother, gain the son. It is not a heartfelt deflection, but rather one driven by defeat. It does not matter. They've come to Caesar, who forgives and offers new beginnings. Others will hear of it, also those among Pompey's following.
There are more ways to win than just through battles, though they help.
Pompey's life or death becomes not Caesar's to grant, instead some Egyptian pup thinks it proper to kill a Roman to please another.
A consul of Rome, to be so murdered. If Pompey can be, so can any of them. So can Caesar.
A very poor death to a great man, and Julius genuinely grieves it, surprising even himself.
"I'm glad you're so confident," Antony tells him as Julius orders a return to Rome. "Some might call it hubris."
Julius smiles faintly. "It's only hubris if I fail."
His words to live by, he thinks.
Egypt is his. And so is her Queen.
Cleopatra is young; fire and passion and agility, but she smells of ancient Egypt, sand and scented oils that seem to envelop him as well as her limbs. He has not been with a woman since Servilia, and Cleopatra matches his impatience and pace, as if she cannot wait to have him.
Some might call it a seduction. He's too used to conquests to let go of the word.
4,000 against over 20,000.
Julius has had many victories and many impressive numbers. He still ranks this one high.
4,000 of Caesar defeating 20,000. Rome will hear of those numbers and remember them, he is certain. Mark Antony will ensure it, if nothing else.
It is always good for current friends to know how well you can defeat current enemies.
Cleopatra walks up to him one morning, her eyes dark with emotion.
"Your name shall live on," she says, her voice one of regal command. "I am with child."
He looks at her with astonishment, she at him with pleasure.
"It is a boy," she says with certainty. "I shall name him Ptolemy Caesar. Caesarion."
When he kisses her, he can feel the curve of her growing belly against the flatness of his, and he wonders at the irony of the gods, finally giving him another child with a woman he cannot marry.
Zela. Thapsus. Munda. His victories, and as if to punctuate them, word from Rome has him elected consul and dictator for ten years.
His rise is almost complete now.
In Egypt, he has a son. In Rome, he is watching Octavian.
Young Octavian, who shares his blood. Young Octavian, who is growing to be a fine young man and Julius learns to appreciate how fine.
Antony, Antony is devoted and loyal, but he has no politics in him and Rome cannot be governed by a soldier alone.
Octavian has politics in his blood and a mind to use it. Granted, he is not a soldier, but he can always befriend one. Can always make a ram if not born with one.
In Rome, Julius intends to have an heir and a son too.
There are only so many honours a man can take and stay humble. Especially a Roman man.
A month named for him now too, July of the new calender he has established. With Rome truly his, he could merely stay to enjoy the fruits of his labour.
He will not. He is already thinking about his next campaign, probably Parthia. He shall not simply hold on to what he has. No. He has seen what that brings.
He shall not become a sheep to be eaten by young wolves; Rome will always give birth to them.
For his triumph, they (almost) all come.
Senators, patricians, common people, even slaves (if they can be spared), taking in the Gallic Triumph of Gaius Julius Caesar.
Cleopatra come from Egypt, staying in his villa across Tibus. Still, Rome is not blind, and sees, but it is not as with Servilia. Now he is seen as a consquerer – of a Queen also. Cleopatra plays well at the submissive, and there is control in that too, he suspects, but does not mind.
Vercingetorix is brought out of a rotting dungeon to be displayed and then killed, also reminding the people not all the wars have been Romans against Romans.
Still, Julius suspects there is at least one not there.
No victor likes to consider his losses, but sometimes it seems unavoidable, late at night in a heat no one can sleep in.
His father. His aunt. Cornelia. Pompeia, by choice. Julia. Servilia. Pompey. Sons not had.
There are losses he could still endure.
He does not wish to lose Brutus, not to distrust and suspicions. That is a poor enemy to bow to and he will not.
He does not wish to lose Antony either, even if his dear friend's personality quirks could test the temper of any god. It does test the love of Caesar, but he will not let it fail.
There are still victories to be had, he decides, and thinks of those instead.
His own blood is strange to see spilled. He's seen so much blood the colour of it should be the most natural in the world, but it feels all too red still.
They're killing him. All his enemies turned to friends turned to murderers. Even Brutus.
Brutus, his Brutus and yet not, Julius now knows, and that pains as much as the knives slicing through his flesh.
He's dying, he thinks almost detatched, watching himself try to speak. He is dying. How quick even the demise of Caesar may be.
He hopes Octavian will not cry at his funeral.
He hopes it very much.