"To whom does your mother bow, my son?"

She is as graceful as she is deceitful; all knowing and wrathful.

The serpent incarnate bows before him, a serpent disguised as a swan.

Her eyes are dangerous in their trepid mirth. She smiles wryly at him from across the solid oak table, just as solid as Caterina Sforza would stand, bearing her womb before men and war. She knows what Cesare has come for, knows her place in this world, yet instead indulges as king.

She is the king of her castle; her walls are built on lily white stems and guarded by neatly coiled ropes of red. He tells himself, he's the one with the power. (Even if he's heart deep inside her fortress.)

But on earth, if the man is the head of the house, and the woman is the neck, then Caterina Sforza is the gallows.

His sweet sister is the only part of him that's whole and pure and the absolute love he feels for her shouldn't leave him wasted in her chambers.

But Caterina is careful and careless, while she kneels so knowing and vicious.

It sparks some part of him, the part of him he hides so vivaciously from Lucrezia, for a moment he feels as though he is lost to her forever.

When she is dragged to Rome in chains she catches his eye and smiles that wry smile that catches the darkest part of him.

"I am an aberration, Cardinal; A free woman in a man's world."

She wears her chains like papal garb, seated on her chair of St. Peters, in her head she is laughing. She is laughing and waiting and calculating.

In his head he feels he has liberated her, given her the opportunity to prove her honor, her man's pedestal. Let her bare her naked body to Rome, let her bleed as a man.

She is still smiling, even when Cesare visits the dungeon she resides in.

"You cannot free what was never trapped."

But Caterina Sforza is a fortress, and as her body burns beneath him, she doesn't cry; doesn't even scream.