ENTITLED: She Lied About Death
FANDOM: The Borgias
LENGTH: 2,000 words
SETTING: Italy, 1498-1500
DISCLAIMER: I do not own The Borgias. I also do not own Alfonso. Or ancient history.
NOTES: Okay, much as I love this show, Alfonso's character seems to be a fusion of both himself and his father. In real life, he was actually a year younger than Lucrezia, (they were married when she was eighteen, and he seventeen) but in the show, I'm pretty sure he's like...twenty two. Or at least, not thirteen. And he had an older brother. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that while I made some paltry attempt at historical accuracy, you really shouldn't use this as a reference on your senior thesis.
NOTES2: Also, this is totally afigureofspeech's fault.
SUMMARY: Concerning the marriage of one Lucrezia Borgia to Alfonso of Naples, beginning to end. — Lucrezia, Alfonso, Cesare
She looked more human than he had expected.
Not that he had started with a clear mental image of her, forever jumping between the misty angel, the dark Jezebel, and the sunken divorcee. But her eyes were clear and light, and she stood nearly a head below him, white hands clasped behind her back. She had a knowing sort of smile.
"My bashful future husband, I presume?"
"I am not bashful," Alfonso started indignantly. Because he wasn't.
"Then perhaps you have only been over-exposed to the sun," when she smiled, her teeth were very white. Alfonso looked away before he could stop himself, and then stubbornly brought his eyes back to her face. This was mortifying. Words had never failed him as they did now. Traitors.
He made aware of the dark presence hanging discreetly in the doorway when his future bride turned towards it, calling, "Cesare, am I bullying him?"
The man—darker than her, handsome in a bleak sort of way, smiled a charming, violent-edged smile. "You do have the knack for it, sis."
"Oh, don't be absurd," Alfonso harrumphed, and held out his arm impatiently, though careful not to look at her, "Though the congregation is no doubt entertained by this bit of farce, I for one, should like to hurry the proceedings to my just desserts. Marry us, if you would be so kind."
He did not miss the stifled laughter from the pair of Borgias, but Lucrezia took his arm delicately enough, and Cesare began to recite the vows of Holy Union without further adieu. As he waited for his turn to speak, he could not help but glance at his bride, and know that she caught his every attempt at subtlety with a good-natured, mischievous grin.
Lucrezia turned to him, lips pursed around a smile, "My illustrious and talented husband, champion of our marriage bed, how might I serve you now?"
Alfonso's urgent pronouncement wheezed off as he squinted her. "You're grandstanding me. I thought I told you not to grandstand me."
Her head tilted delicately, and her mouth curved into an insolent smile, "You did."
"So you admit to your disobedience," he accused, with a rush of triumph. Punishment would be in order, of course. Terrible, awful punishment. He would brainstorm on it later.
"I admit to grandstanding," Lucrezia hummed, now sliding her arm alongside his own, tucking her delicate fingers into the crook of his elbow. She looked up at him through her eyelashes, and Alfonso suffered a sudden, terrible notion that he had just lost control and dignity. "What were you saying?"
"I forgot. You distracted me with your breasts. This will not stand. The servants will begin to think that I have been tamed."
"Oh, never tamed," she steered him toward the bedroom, exchanging smiles with a passing maid.
"No." Alfonso agreed firmly, "Of course not. But if you persist in undermining my image as a terrifying and brutish lout, we may reach a disagreement."
"I can think of nothing more terrible," Lucrezia reached for the door.
Alfonso reached with his free hand for her guiding fingers, ensnaring them and twirling her about. She laughed as she spun, the careless and bubbly laugh of a girl, catching herself against his chest as he grabbed her by the upper arms. She tipped her chin up, grinning. "Have you remembered what you were going to say yet?"
He leaned into her so that he felt the sweep of her eyelashes when she closed her eyes and pushed back against his mouth. "You stole the thought, you terror."
"Perhaps I hid it," she whispered, and he was caught again by the dangerous red of her mouth.
"Then I know where to look," he declared, and bent further to press his face against her chest, listening to the smooth drum of her heart.
Lucrezia took to pregnancy with characteristic grace, so seamless in her transformation that it was not until she was half done that Alfonso was made aware that anything was different. "Ah," he replied to her announcement, and laid a cautious hand against her stomach "I did intend to mention: your breasts, as of late, are fantastic."
Lucrezia's cheek dimpled as she smiled, "I hope he looks like you."
"She promises a son? Woman, I know your game. Enough of your sweet words, the child should be happier by far to be born as your copy."
"I want him to look like you," she said, with utter sincerity. Alfonso stared at her as gradually, his face began to burn and, flustered, he bustled away from her with his arms crossed. "I'll lock you in the dungeon, my little succubus," he vowed, and left to the accompaniment of her laughter.
Several months later, her prediction was proven to be accurate, and when he was allowed again into her bed chamber he did his absolute best not to fawn over her or the baby and mostly succeeded.
"Well done, I suppose," he remarked as his son nursed, "Got that out of the way. Not really sure what to do with the chap."
"Would you like to hold him?" she asked, with an exhausted smile. Alfonso was horrified.
"Why, he's got the best seats in the room. I could never be so cruel."
"I could," he admitted, and bent to gently kiss her breast.
"Wife," he called, "Does your brother mean to kill me?"
A little pain tucked itself into her face before she could stop it, and she looked away slightly as she demured, "So soon to the point."
"I have rather less patience with nicities when my life is at stake."
She swallowed. He waited, patient and more than a little anxious, to know if she was still a Borgia with every beat of her heart, or if she had grown to be his. "These are dangerous times," she said quietly, "Cesare is a dangerous man. There may be...some gain, to him, if you were dead."
"And he hates me," he reminded her, "We mustn't forget."
She looked down, "He has always been my brother. He will ever need me by his side."
"At his side?" Alfonso repeated, then jumped angrily to his feet. He did not know what to do with the fearful violence growing inside him, "So there is nothing I can do, then? There is nothing I can do but live until the day your brother sees fit to have me dead? I am nothing but a pawn to the Borgias, nothing?"
Lucrezia looked straight into his face, "You have never been nothing."
His breath, already shaky, caught. "Perhaps," he murmered, then went to press his forehead against hers, as he did sometimes to soothe his pounding head. "Perhaps not. But I have never been enough."
She looked up at him, her eyes very bright and very wet, "I would not have you dead," she whispered.
Alfonso supposed that this was rather better than anything else she could say to him at the moment.
The knife slid in clean and neat, so that at first Alfonso didn't feel a thing.
"Oh," he said, as it began, "Oh, dear," he giggled, breathless and dizzy. He looked straight into the dark Borgian eyes, "Should I take this personally?"
"I killed you myself, didn't I?" Cesare murmured. Alfonso laughed, then gasped as the laugh came as a red cough.
"I did love your sister, you know," he mused, clinging now to the cardinal's shoulder, "Was my crime in making her love me back?"
"You think she loved you?" Cesare questioned, a hard note of mockery ringing in his words. Alfonso giggled again at the rage in the other man's eyes, the insatiable jealousy.
"Do you know?" he whispered, "I've never known a truer thing that the sight of her with the son we made cradled in her arms."
"It was not her first or only son," Cesare snarled, his lips thinning. He wrestled with Alfonso to break him loose, and let him call awkwardly to the floor, a peculiar mixture of limpness and stiffness that was customary of an approaching death. "Dying makes you sentimental," Cesare noted with distaste, and Alfonso replied with a wet smile.
"Not death, but your sister," he corrected, "And I seem to recall your initial support."
"Initial. I had not thought you would turn out so stupid."
"No, you had not thought you might need to bear the day when I would wear a face more comely than your own."
Cesare abruptly crouched, his mouth a hard line in his ravaged face. He slid the edge of the still-bloody dagger along Alfonso's jawline, "Easy enough to fix. There's some life in you yet," he began, "Shall I take your face while you are still here to know it is gone?"
The old flutter of fear entered Alfonso's stomach, but his inevitable death gave him a strange courage, enough so that he was able to roll his head to the side in dismissal, and stare at the bed he had once lain in, to imagine the fair-haired girl who had slept beside him. "Could you do that to her?" he wondered, and closed his eyes in exhaustion and defeat.
He listened hazily, hand pressed to the wound in his chest, as Cesare removed the blade and stood without replying to Alfonso's last taunt. The door shut quietly as Cesare left, and Alfonso was left with only the sound of his own breathing, shallow and quick as it was. It grew slower. He opened his eyes again and looked towards the bed, but couldn't find it, his head was pounding so loud.
"Lucrezia," he cried, suddenly afraid, "Lucrezia, Lucrezia, where are you my love, where are you?"
"Hush now," she said, bending over him. That couldn't be right. She couldn't be real.
"Lucrezia," Alfonso whispered.
"Silly man," she murmured, "You know I am always here."
Alfonso next breath struggled, and he pushed his lips up into a last, defiant curve. It wouldn't do to be found without a smile.