In the year 47 BC…
After hearing news that Cleopatra VI of Egypt was with child and soon to deliver, the royals quickly made their way to Alexandria to greet her. Julius and his son Octavius were accompanied by Caelus and Vittoria while Calpurnia was to remain in Rome and tend to more official business. The late wife of Caesar was aware of his marriage to the Egyptian queen but chose to look the other way. Many of her people, however, did not and saw the relationship for what it was: scandalous.
They were greeted warmly at the gates of the temple where Cleopatra had been kept for the last month of her pregnancy in order to sanctify the birth of her first child, the successor of the kingdom of Egypt and the Roman Empire. "We are very grateful to have you here, all of you, but you may not enter until the birthing ritual has been completed," said one of the guards cautiously. The guard standing next to him did not speak. Neither wanted to anger the Queen's royal guests, but it would be inappropriate for them to disrupt the natural order.
"I must enter," said Vittoria. Caelus cast a downward glance at her from Caesar's side, wondering what she had in mind. Surely she did not think simple words would convince the guards to let them pass.
"We are very sorry, but we cannot let you pass," the second guard said firmly.
She caught his brown eyes in her hypnotic green gaze, entrancing him so he could not look away, "You will let me pass," she spoke clearly and forcefully, directing a hint of misguided anger at the innocent guard.
"Yes, you will pass," he said monotonously, as if he was under her trance. The first guard followed his companion in parting to clear the way for the group. Vittoria brushed past them, quickly making her way through the large open mouth of the temple.
Julius leaned over to Caelus while they were walking up the sandy path, "She's a witch that one." He gave a genuine hearty laugh when Caelus looked at the old man incredulously, "Better not lose her. She's good to have around," the Caesar jabbed the younger man in ribs as the sixteen-year old boy followed them looking slightly confused at the scene that had just taken place, not that it was anything unusual to expect from the enchantress.
Inside, the temple was just as luxurious as she had remembered it years ago when Cleopatra's ancestor had just become Pharaoh. There were hundreds of cushions with silk sheets and animal skins all around a large bed. Five nurses were tending the labored queen when Vittoria rushed in followed by the three men. Cleopatra screamed as baby crowned. Vittoria rushed to her side and took her hand. The queen glanced at her between gasps and hope filled her tired eyes. "You're here!" she sounded relieved, "I did not think you would," she screamed again, "make it in time." The child had been cleaned and severed from its mother's body. One of the nurses attempted to hand it back to Cleopatra but she refused to take it, asking Vittoria to take it instead. "Ramla, look into my baby boy's eyes and tell me what you see," she asked. Ramla, a typical Egyptian name meaning prophetess, signified that Cleopatra knew of the woman's uncanny ability to see the future.
"I am afraid that is impossible, my Queen," she said carefully. "A child has no future until plans are made for him, whether by himself," she paused, "or by his parents."
"He shall be called Ptolemy Caesar, after my father and after his own father," she looked at Julius lovingly. "But I shall call him Caesarion, because he is my little Caesar," she nuzzled the sleeping boy's face into her own, kissing him sweetly. "Claim him as your heir, Julius," she said lightly as her arms with the boy in them to the Roman. Julius, on the other hand, was looking very displeased. Octavius, who had also been watching the display of affection between hi s father and this woman who was not his mother, was also not smiling.
"I cannot, Queen Cleopatra," he said distantly, making everyone look from the newborn to him. "I cannot acknowledge him as my heir when I already have one," he made a sweeping hand motion towards the young brunette boy standing slightly farther away than any of the others. Without another word he quickly left the temple followed by his son, Octavius.
"I am sorry, my Queen," Caelus excused himself politely and followed the emperor in an attempt to calm the man should he attempt something irrational.
Vittoria shook her head at them all, "Men," she scoffed as she reached out to take the boy in her arms. He was unusually tiny and very red. The infant's eyes were still closed but there were several buckets of hot water used during the ritual she could sneak a peek into. Cleopatra watched the prophetess' eyes as they went out of focus. Her face always went blank; no emotions were ever visible when she was seeing into unknown events. This made her predictions, however they may have been seen, effortless to lie about. Vittoria gave the woman a toothy grin, "Never listen to men, they know nothing." Cleopatra did not speak, urging her to continue. "Little Caesar will, as I see it, be your successor as the ruler of Egypt," she handed the child back to his mother. "Congratulations, my Queen, you have birthed a king. Please excuse me, but I must find my party," she gave a small bow of her head, "Good bye." She left quickly and asked the guards where the three men had disappeared to. The guards, slightly unnerved by her presence, wasted no time in motioning her to the other side of the temple where the shade was the greatest. "Caelus," she beckoned as he stood upon seeing her shadow round the corner of the massive stone fixture, "A word please."
Once they had walked far enough away from anyone who might be tempted to eavesdrop he asked her to relay the news of what she had seen. "What is the future of Rome," he asked with a slight hint of desperation to know what few others would be eye witness to.
"The future of Rome is a mess," she said distastefully. His gaze faltered and his face fell. "During one of his last senate meeting, Julius Caesar will be murdered. This day will be the Ides of March, the celebration of their god of war, Mars. After his assassination, Cleopatra will make the son we witnessed her birth the next pharaoh of Egypt. Back in Rome, there will rise three leaders from within the power struggle. Octavius will come to share the power of Rome with two other men, one of which will be Mark Antony who will also marry Octavius' sister, Octavia Minor. However, later in their triumvirate rule he will come to marry Cleopatra. Together they will work against the true heir of Rome, Octavius. The boy, due to my example with the tiger," she paused to give him a sassy look, "will have Mark Antony dispatched. Cleopatra, having truly loved her husband, will follow him to the afterlife. Octavius will then overcome the new pharaoh, ordering his execution and claiming the land of Egypt as a province of Rome." She took a deep breath and rubbed her temples gently, "It also seems as if Octavius will take on the name Augustus. I imagine that will not cause many problems since he will retain the name of Caesar, and most certainly the title."
Caelus' face brightened, glistening with sweat in the hot Egyptian summer, "Magnificent," was the only word he was able to mutter before grabbing his lover by the waist and crashing his lips into hers forcefully.
By the time they had rejoined the Emperor and his son, the royals were already on their horses and ready to travel. Julius and Caelus trotted ahead of the ramla and the heir, who conversed amongst themselves. "What do you think of the name Augustus?" she asked casually.
He pondered his answer, not understanding the origin of the question, "I think it is sounds powerful and full of life. And the letter A is the first in the alphabet so I guess the name reminds me of being number one, or the best."