"I bet they'd look good on you too. Not that you need improvement."
Felix chuckled as Alexius fell into his usual easygoing habits. It was hard not to like him, the way he talked to people, Felix among them. Even the girl selling the flowers was making eyes at him. Felix wondered if that was left over from his gladiator days. One needed a certain amount of charm to make his way out of the arena. And now he was standing here, and both of them were properly garlanded with fresh-smelling flowers.
"There you go. Now you're officially a part of this festival. Should we find something to drink?"
"Yes please" Felix nodded cheerfully "Drinks are always good. Let's find some good wine and... however else you usually celebrate this day?"
"And how did it end then?"
"The women tore the men apart" Felix summarized the gist of the story. It was best not to mess with the rites of Bacchus. But today was a whole different kind of festival: it was for everyone. And it involved drinks and merriment and flower garlands.
"Sure, let's! I bet we can't avoid it anyway."
Alexius found a pretty young woman selling garlands for coins, and headed her way. Felix chuckled and followed. He had some money saved. Spending it in honor of Fortuna sounded like a good thing to do. He also glanced around, wondering where they could get something to drink...
"I think the cornflowers and daisies look good together" he noted with a smirk. Alexius was not looking at the flowers much.
"I like Bacchus too. One of my old friends named her tavern after him. I heard though... that there's a secret society of worshippers and that they only accept women... What I wouldn't give to watch their ceremonies and find out what they do!"
Felix chuckled. Of course Alexius was interested. He seemed like the kind of man who would absolutely try to find out where the secret Bacchanalias were held, just to join the party. Some people were just too lively for their own good.
"I think, historically, that would not end well." he noted. Callista had introduced him to the world of Greek plays a while ago. "This woman at the household... she reads plays. There was a story about the rites of Bacchus." And how people got shredded by maenads if they did not respect the mysteries.
Walking down towards the river, the crowd grew thicker and more flowers appeared. Felix grinned, feeling the spirit of the festival. "Should we get garlands?"
“Yes, garlands… even on the boats. I just bet we’ll be decorated too.”
Felix chuckled at the idea. He was kind of looking forward to it. Romans had a way with garlands, they looked and smelled nice. And they made him feel festive, just by looking at them. Fortuna was definitely a goddess to be celebrated right.
“Gods, yes! Don’t tell Jupiter, but she is the one above them all. Fortuna blessed me with my survival of the arena… and all the benefits of that. She blessed me with freedom and last year, I met my son. Trust Fortuna, worship her and she will bless you.”
Felix grinned at Alexius' enthusiasm. For someone who had been in the arena, he had such enthusiasm for divinity, as if nothing bad had ever happened to him. Felix liked the goddess too; he had his fair share of fortunate turns in his life, some of them fairly recently.
“What about you, do you have a favorite among the divine?”
Felix mused over the question.
"I respect them all, one way or another. I always thought Dionysos... Bacchus was one I'd follow if I had the chance" he chuckled "I never had the fight in me to be useful to Mars, and I'm not an artist for Apollo."
"That's good, at least. You do look well."
"You too" Felix smiled. At least they would leave it at that. The rest of the day was for freedom and a festival, and it was good to leave the household and not worry about his safety anymore. Especially at Alexius' side. The man had already saved him once.
"My plan is mostly to drink plenty of wine and enjoy myself. There are usually some that have made floral garlands to offer anyone to wear and people also sail on the Tiber on decorated boats. I suppose it's almost romantic... Some also play games and it's common to place bets, because well, Fortuna... she may also bless you with good luck in gambling."
"Sounds like fun" Felix agreed "I don't have much to gamble with, but merriment is always good. And garlands." he added with a chuckle. He tried to imagine Alexius wearing flowers. Wine would be welcome too, for once, to set the mood. "You worship Fortuna then?"
"Making thinks can be impressive, it all depends on what you make. What would you make?"
"I'm not sure" Felix admitted with a sheepish smile and a shrug. It just felt like making things with his hands... something that carpenters and bakers and other people did day after day, was something that made for a good life. He was not sure how that could be explained in words, though. So he asked Callista instead.
"I don't know what I'd do career wise, but I do know that I would want to start a family."
Felix nodded. A family was nice. It was good to have one, even when someone had precious little else in their life. "You'd make a good mother."
“I see… are you alright?”
Felix knew Alexius probably had questions, but he also knew he couldn't answer them, because his master's secrets were his to keep. So he just gave Alexius a warm smile, letting him know he was grateful for the concern, and nodded. "Yes. I'm well. It is all done now."
For the better. For the first time in a long time Felix was free to go out, and enjoy the festivities. He sighed and relaxed as they walked on. "So... did you have any plans, for today?... I haven't really been to this festival before."
"well, what do you enjoy?"
Felix wondered about that. In fact, he had been wondering about it for a while now. He didn't expect to get his freedom any time soon, and certainly was not planning what he'd do after, but the thought had been there, and the answer was, he really had no idea. He was not learned or scholarly enough to be a scribe or any sort, and while he had practical knowledge and a decent grasp on numbers, he'd need to learn a lot to be useful in that capacity.
"I... think I'd want to do something with my hands" he said finally, looking down at his hands "You know... make things? It's... not very impressive." he added with a small smile "What would you do?"
There was a long pause, long enough for Felix to sense that Callista was hesitant about her answer. Not like she didn't know what she want - but she was probably considering how much she should say. He understood that. It was always a dangerous conversation.
"not like this, but yes." she finally admitted. Felix nodded. He knew she had been free when she was a child. It was not surprising she wanted that back.
"Would you want it one day?"
Not it was his turn to pause.
"Maybe?... Yes, I think. It's just... I am not sure what I would do." he shrugged. Stay in Aulus' service anyway? Likely. "Sometimes... I feel like I don't really have anything else I would be good at."
Callista considered the question for a moment, then made a decision.
"I don't think I need to look anymore"
"Very well then." Felix smiled "Let's pay, and go find some wool."
She paid for domina's book, and he paid for the play. He was feeling cheerful about the whole thing. Shopping for wool was not exactly fascinating, but now he had some reading to look forward to. It was definitely going to be a learning experience.