Love Will Change a Man

An alternative ending to ROME Season 1 without messing with the actual history.

He looked at the kitchen knife, felt his fingers grip the handle.

"Lucius," her voice barely broke through the swirling rage that leaped and danced in his veins.

He would be within his rights as the Pater Familias. No one would question or doubt him. In fact, they would probably question him if he did nothing.

"Lucius," she seemed farther away than ever before, her distant whisper reminding him of her emotional distance when he first returned.

But they had gotten past that, hadn't they? Of course, she hadn't betrayed him then – or she had, and he simply hadn't know about it.

"Lucius," finally he looked up and saw her sitting on the balcony ledge.

"No!" The knife clattered as it bounced from the table to the floor, chasing his hurrying feet.

"the boy is blameless," and she released her hold, embracing the air that enveloped her.

"I said no!" Lucius reached through the window and grabbed her by the wrists. "Damn you! Listen to what you're told!" He hauled her back into the safety of their home and took her to their bed, where he sat her down.

Niobe sniffled. "I should kill myself."

In a second, Lucius was at her side, his face an inch from hers. "You won't." His eyes filled with water, his warm breath brushed her cheek.

"And what about," she swallowed, "my son?"

Lucius closed his eyes and stood again, pacing beside the bed. "I would have killed him and you both if you had told me. And probably your sister's husband, too." He stopped moving, dared to look into her dark chocolate eyes. "But that was years ago. I am no longer that man. I am a brother of the thirteenth, but I am no more a heartless soldier."

"Then," Niobe spoke softly, holding her breath, "what will you do with us?"

"Well, that man is dead, so that's done." He watched her for a moment, the beading sweat on her forehead, the curling frizz in her hair, the spot where her stomach pinched the fabric of her dress. When he continued, his voice came in a whisper, defeated but proud, "I am angry. But I will not have you dead or unhappy. Just as we told our daughter, we had our differences, but I have come to love you, and I will not have you dead or unhappy."

She released her air in a rush, sobbing once or twice as she allowed herself to breathe again.

Lucius Vorenus sat beside his wife, "We will go on as if he were my grandson. You and I will speak of this no more, but you must know this," he took her chin between his thumb and finger, and turned her face so that she would look him in the eye, "you say you thought I was dead, and at the time we did not truly love each other. Now that we do, things are different, and death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while. So, the next time I leave, know that I will return to you."

Niobe's lips flickered in and out of a smile.

"I've been away from Cesar too long." Lucius Vorenus stood and attempted to redrape his red-striped toga properly.

Niobe stood automatically and took handfuls of the fabric from him, reworking his attempt to dress himself. When she finished, he caught her fingers and kissed them. She whispered, "Lucius, I am afraid."

"What of?"

"Someone knows."

Lucius Vorenus considered this, "and someone chose today to tell me." His eyes widened, he dropped his wife's hand, and ran from his home, shoving his way through the streets of Rome, hurrying as quickly as he could past the stinking bodies of hard-working Romans, until he came to the steps of the Senate and saw the streams of men in white cloth rushing from the doors.

"Hey!" He grabbed at elbows and shoulders, "what's happened? Someone tell me what's gone on!"

Finally, a Gaul stopped and panted, "Caesar's dead. The senators, some of them, daggers." Vorenus released him and started toward the senate. "No, sir! There is nothing you can do! I know you are Vorenus, the hero of Roman brotherhood, but you must do nothing or they will kill you as well."

"I must see this for myself." He took the steps slowly, pushing against the tide of fleeing senators. Antony held his gaze for a moment and then Vorenus lost sight of him.

Inside the large room, Vorenus saw the body of Caesar and his betrayers stained with blood, standing around him. They all looked at him. A few glanced at Brutus, others at Cassius, who lifted a foot to move toward him. Brutus held out a hand and stopped him.

Vorenus stood there a moment longer, looked at his hands, at his clean white toga, and removed the toga. The cloth pooled on the floor, soaking in puddles of bright red blood. Lucius Vorenus turned around and walked out of the Senate house, returning back home to his wife and three children.