Summary: Lucrezia sits vigil at Cesare's beside, watching, waiting, and praying.
Notes: Beta'd by dorothydeath, with my thanks. Any remaining errors are my own responsibility.
Lucrezia sat, and waited, and prayed.
Cesare, her beloved brother, lay unconscious. No explanation could be provided. He'd been found slumped over beside the confessional box, his Cardinal red robes a splash of colour against the grey stone.
The robes had been stripped away of course, replaced now by a white linen nightshirt. The physicians had first probed every part of his naked body, searching for an injury. Lucrezia had been banished from the room, but she knew where to stand and not be seen, knew places to watch from.
Assassination was not uncommon, and even clergy were not safe from the threat – quite the opposite, given the power they commanded – but who would dare strike at the Pope's son? But no cut nor bruise marred his flesh, no blood nor tenderness found on his scalp when fingers were run through his long, soft, hair.
Poison was suggested and every one who had so much as breathed in the vicinity of anything Cesare had eaten or drunk within the last day was rounded up to be interrogated. Juan, angry and hurt, took charge of this, not only due to his position as head of the papal armies, but because this was his brother, and woe betide anyone who laid hands on a Borgia.
Some sudden illness, someone proposed. There was no fever, however, nothing to give some clue as to the ailment and thus suggest a remedy. Sometimes people just died for no discernable reason save God's will, a physician said. He'd fled the room under the Pope's furious gaze.
While the healers argued amongst themselves and left to consult their books, the Pope had stayed behind. He had sat in the seat Lucrezia currently occupied for some time, praying, and clutching at Cesare's limp hand. Mother had sat on the floor, her head in Father's lap. He'd leaned over and kissed her hair sometimes, the only physical comfort he could now provide to the mother of his children.
But the Pope had duties, and those duties were of more importance than even a son who might be dying. He'd pulled Mother to her feet and she'd taken the vacated chair. Lucrezia had slipped into the room and watched as she spoke softly to her son, telling him how much she loved him, how proud she was of him. Lucrezia wept silently, convinced that this was her way of saying goodbye, that Mother believed Cesare was already lost to them.
"We must have faith," Mother had told her. Lucrezia had merely nodded.
Darkness drew in and Gioffre had come to find his mother. These events were both confusing and overwhelming to him, and he had refused to go to bed. Mother held him on her lap for a few minutes, something he'd not tolerated for years, considering himself too grown up for such affection. Finally she took her youngest son away, telling him there was nothing more they could do here, that Cesare was in God's hands.
Finally, Lucrezia was alone at last with her brother, the one person who truly understood her. She kissed his forehead, but he did not stir.
"You must not leave me," Lucrezia said desperately. "Dearest Cesare, I cannot imagine my life without you. I cannot bear to."
It must be midnight now, but keeping vigil was easy, for sleep would not come to her until Cesare awoke or passed from this life. She knew her heart would break if he died.
"Do not take him from me," she begged. "Please. Dear Lord, please, choose someone else to sit at your side. Let Cesare live and serve you here on Earth. I would be lost without his strength and comfort."
Lucrezia bit her lip hard against fresh tears. Cesare would tell her to be strong, she knew. She would give anything for him to brush gentle fingers against her cheek and say, "Hush, Sis, do not upset yourself so."
She had already wept so much these last few hours that her eyes and throat were sore, and it was this that finally made her steel herself against further weeping. She turned her thoughts to darker ones, knowing that anger would always overwhelm other passions, even grief.
If someone had hurt her brother they would pay, she swore. If it were poison, then she'd find the most agonising toxin and administer it to the poisoner herself. Father might be forced to show papal mercy to a repentant man, but she would gladly watch them die. She would savour their cries for pain, listen as they begged for death, but she would not be merciful. They would suffer as her whole family suffered now, the endless of torture of not knowing if Cesare would live, and the pain of being helpless to save him.
Truth be told, she wanted it to be poison, because that, at least, she could understand. That someone hated their family, that someone was jealous of Cesare's position, that someone wanted to hurt Rodrigo; it was horrific to her that these were motive enough to strike at her brother – not only a prominent cardinal, but who was also the son of the Pope - but motive they were. Which meant that, behind this tragedy, there would be someone who could be punished.
If not, if this were some cruel trick of Fate or nature, then there was no sense to it. If this affliction proved fatal then Cesare would have died for no reason. God's will, the physician had said; how could this be God's will? She could not countenance such a thought.
If Cesare died like this, there was no God.
But she was the Pope's daughter and she could not long entertain such blasphemous thoughts. Surely He would hear the prayers of the Pope, His representative on Earth, and show compassion?
The moon moved past the window, bathing Cesare in her pale light. He looked so peaceful, Lucrezia thought, merely sleeping. She could only hope he wasn't in pain. It was a small comfort.
Blood red fingers of light across a grey sky heralded the dawn. She hoped it was not a sign and pressed her palm to Cesare's cheek. He still lived, still breathed. She sat back in the chair and shook her head fiercely. He would recover.
He had to.
Lucrezia sat, and waited, and prayed.
Note: This is my first time writing in this fandom and concrit on characterisation is very welcome.