And the dagger fell to the floor

Obrázek uživatele Urrsari

She has lived for forty-six years and it was a life of leisure and luxury. She had been happy with her husband, a feat even rarer than her longevity, or the fact that six of the nine children she bore for him survived.

Now, her husband was long dead, her children and her dying - her and Nero in exile, Drusus in prison, and Caligula in the house of the one who allowed it all to happen.

Tiberius.

She was almost entirely reconciled with it - although her hands went to close into fists, she resisted. Instead, she tried to run her fingers through her hair. Once rich locks were now dry and bristle. Starvation did this to her. They didn’t feed her, they beat her - now, she hoped to see the stars one more time, but even if she hasn't lost her eyesight due to that brutality, she could no longer see the distant light.

She was weak. She survived the beating, she survived the loss, and here she is, like a mangy stray, kicked out and kicked down, alone, and she can not not protect herself or her beloved sons.

She did not hate him. Not anymore. She might have, she could have after he refused to punish the murder of her husband and the best man that she ever met just to spite her. The thought that he might have been the one to utter the words that lead to her husband’s death now felt like an ice-cold hand around her heart.
But she was rarely warm these days.

And now it was her children who were dying by his or Seianus’ hand.
It was him, she was sure of it, for, despite all Tiberius’ suspiciousness and secrecy and coldness and the distance between them, he would not raise a hand against his own heirs.

It was Seianus who pitted Tiberius against her, aided from beyond the grave by Octavian, who banished her mother and now she was here, at the same place as Julia, at the command of the one he entrusted with Rome.

But it was Seianus who made the spark burn like a flame. Sighing, she wondered how different things could have been had Tiberius not trusted him when the snake warned both of them of each other’s poison.

She could see in Tiberius’ eyes that when she could not have made herself eat at the dinner party, he arrived at the correct, yet incorrect conclusion. She did think her food was poisoned.But she would never have thought it was by his making.
She used to know him. He was shy and recluse, rarely smiled and never laughed, his face serious almost always even when he was young, making him seem older. She could not believe the tales people spun about him - she knew him. She used to know him.
She threw herself at his mercy when she asked him for permission to re-marry. She gifted him the most exquisite masterpieces of art. She never gave him a reason to hate her, and the people and the Senate loved her for her love she gave them. Was that it?

And, she thought, feeling the breeze cool her burning cheeks, the only fault they could find to put her to trial was her attitude. How pathetic! Was that the best they could do?!

Accuse Nero of misconduct, and Drusus of treason, and take her little boy away…
She would cry if she could, but her lips were chapped and eyes just as dry.
The years on Pandateria did her little good. But she was old and she was ready to die. She was not ready to outlive her sons, not after all she sacrificed for them.
She knew. She knew they were being starved, and mocked, and beaten and she knew how scared they were even if they put on a brave face - none of them lacked the will to live. They loved life and they were raised to believe they had command of it. Now, they lost it all and she wasn't there.

She knew Nero fought them and was treated worse for it. Drusus surely did what he had to survive, he kept his mouth closed.

Did he? Did he just stand there and take the abuse, while his brother was being done things they accused him of? Each of them in a prison of their own scattered across Italia like the last strands of hope, vanishing.

Absentmindedly, she rubbed her wrists, feeling skin, bone underneath, and old bruises.

And Caligula, was he waiting, knowing he was the next in line? Did he sleep lightly and jumped at the slightest of sounds, or did this living nightmare not allow him to close his eyes at all?

What punishment would Tiberius’ twisted mind design for him?

At least her daughters were safe.

For now. Never for long.

She didn’t hate Tiberius, she reminded herself. She hated Octavian, who taught him, and Seianus, who lead his hand since he retreated to Capri, the only friend to the lonely caesar.

She hated the fear that was stricken into her veins like ice when she was called before the hesitant senate.

Hearing the words that condemned her, while she stood there, within an arm’s reach of her son, but unable to touch him, because the centurions tore her away from him. All alone in a spider’s web that caught them all, suddenly, she was so small against the world.

She hated the dread in which she yelled at them that the letters are not from Tiberius, last-ditch attempt she desperately latched onto as she was escorted away and away and away, from the leisure, form the luxury, from the life she knew.
Powerlessly knowing it was the beginning of the end they deprived her of because Tiberius needed her. Until…

The door opened. Heavy footsteps of a centurion sounded so distant even as they came closer. She didn’t bother to turn her head.

“They are dead. It’s time.”

At last.

-

Tiberius stood in the aviary. Dawn made his silhouette black and the sky golden and orange and pink, the birdsongs strangely shy against the new day and his presence.
Caligula came to a halt. The sound of his own ragged breath was deafening, throb of his heart against his chest aching. It annoyed him that his hands were sweaty.

Caesar’s head was low as he cradled something in his hands.

It’s time.

But as he approached him, he saw that he was holding a bird.

A dead dove.

-

Historical facts:

Agrippina, and Nero and Drusus who Tiberius adopted after his only son Drusus died, were imprisoned or exiled. The accusations were attitude, sexual misconduct, and treason respectively. The Senate refused to act upon these accusations until the second letter arrived - at that time, Tiberius resided on Capri, and it was Seianus who decided what news did and did not reach Caesar. He pit Tiberius against Germanicus’ family. Both Augustus and Tiberius seem to have hated Agrippina, who is described as too excitable and ambitious, but loving and pure.

Agrippina was exiled to Pandeteria, an island on which her own mother, Julia the Elder, daughter of Augustus, was held. She either was or starved to death, and it is said she lost an eye in a beating. Drusus was also starved and either killed or killed himself like Nero. They were abused. Tiberius brought records of this to the Senate and had it read out. Supposedly, it amused him.

Seianus was eventually revealed to have been the one that orchestrated Tiberius’ son Drusus’ death and was sent to the Senate under the pretenses of receiving further honors due to his service to Tiberius. He was, in fact, executed, as were his allies and friends.

Caligula is said to have survived by mimicking Caesar’s moods and attitudes. He attempted to murder Tiberius once but didn't carry it out - though he brought a dagger into Tiberius bedroom with the intention, he had a change of heart, dropped it and left. Tiberius knew about the attempt but never acted on it.

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