Face ClaimMichiel Huisman
A letter was returned the next day by a brawny Dacian slave.
Lucius Cassius Longinus to his dear friend Titus, greetings!
Alas I am refusing to celebrate this year, I still have a headache from my thirty-sixth and so I thought I would do the mature and sensible thing and have a quiet night in at home. Or that was the plan until your gift arrived. You already owe me a small fortune for the amount of furniture the little one has chewed through - including my mothers favourite chair. I shall invoice you shortly, when Vitus has the time.
That being said, I do have to thank you heartily for the gift. He has indeed lifted my spirits and I've named him Rugam1 on account of his very sweet, but very smushed face. I shall endeavour to be a better dog-owner than a father, and will try my best to stop him chewing your sandals or clothes when you next come to visit.
And the gossip mill never stops turning, does it? The search is indeed afoot and nearing a conclusion, I hope. Dust off your toga dear friend, there might well be another wedding for you to attend on the horizon but I am not going to jinx it and announce it to the world this time. Just in case.
Do you want to go for a drink at the next ides? I'll bring Rugam, so you can see the chaotic, destructive power he possesses for yourself.
1 Latin for 'wrinkle'
Longinus chuckled and ran a hand through his hair which could do with a crop. "I'm flattered you think me so young." His thirty-seventh birthday was rapidly approaching, which he tried to ignore. When did he get so old?
He only grinned at Tertius' comment on having a reason to stay in the city. He had hoped for as much with his first marriage and whilst his late wife was achingly beautiful, her personality and their clashing temperaments had driven him firmly into the embrace of the legions. He hoped it wouldn't be the same with Sergia...if it got that far. But Secundus and Tertius, despite their oddities, were doing an admirable job of selling her as a prospective spouse. He'd been warned by friends that this was to be expected, and he wouldn't really know whether to pursue it until he met the lady in question herself, but for now he was content enough to continue to pursue her. Although part of him bristled that he needed to; he was a decorated, well-respected, wealthy ex-legate from an ancient family and she was a woman unwed in her early twenties. Shouldn't the chase be the other way around?
Finding it curious he arched a brow, keen to press on - no need to beat around the bush. "So this dinner then," He said in between sips of wine. "Do you have a date in mind? I can rearrange things on my end to attend the villa, and even if it doesn't pay off - I hear the hunting around Tibur is excellent so hopefully it won't be a wasted journey." He grinned.
TAG: @Járnviðr @Atrice
Longinus narrowed his eyes and glanced between the men. What he had done to offend Secundus was beyond his skills of deduction, but judging by his clipped words and sparse sentences, he'd done something. You see? This is precisely why he needed a wife, so she could get him out of traps he accidentally barrelled straight into. It was odd, but he let it rest. No point devolving the conversation into an argument when he had no desire for one, nor any particular gripe against Secundus other than considering him a bit boorish.
He offered a dimpled smile at Tertius, grateful that one of them seemed to have the sense to steer the conversation to safer pastures. "I've not had the pleasure of your wife's company, I don't think Secundus," He said with a quizzical frown - trying to dredge back through memories of parties and such like, "But I know she's the sister-in-law of my good friend Aulus," Who was a good friend - but he was also useful, not many men could count themselves a close personal acquaintance of (fingers crossed) a future Consul.
But at Tertius' question he scratched the stubble on his jaw and considered; "To be honest, a bit of both. I find Rome a bit dull," He shrugged utterly without pretence, "I was away from Italia for...Gods," He tried to count it out, "Fourteen? Fifteen years?" Fourteen sounded about right. Maybe fourteen and a half, "So I'm still getting used to it. I like it for a time but nothing beats a bit of fresh air and the countryside." He grinned, "I'm sure I can win Sergia around to its benefits." He chuckled and sipped his wine. God he hoped he could, he did not want for a wife who spent all her time fussing over having the latest fashions in their domus and spreading gossip around the city of Rome like it was her full time job. Antonia, his late wife, had done quite enough of that for one of his lifetimes thank you very much.
TAG: @Járnviðr @Atrice
Longinus stifled a yawn as Attis set down a variety of goods for him to break his fast. His forehead fell into a frown though as his body slave sighed and informed him his overnight guest had already departed.
"Oh." He blinked. He hadn't told her to go...but then again, he hadn't told her to stay so he supposed it was a fair assumption for her to make, to make herself scarce without a goodbye. It was a shame, he'd enjoyed her company - in more than just the obvious way.
"Maybe I'll invite her round later, apologise for my rudeness in departing when she was still asleep." He kept odd hours and didn't require much to feel rested. "And stand where you like, I'll imagine you like a statue - a judgy one, but one nonetheless."
Longinus nodded and stood with a groan of exertion that befit a man far older than him. The years and exertions of his daily life and unbending schedule sometimes took their toll.
"Please." He nodded affirmatively and made his way to another set of chairs in the garden where a marble table had been set up, for external dining. "And find Lutatia as well. I don't want to have another meal alone with you hovering over me looking concerned I'm not eating enough like some middle aged nanny." He grinned sardonically at his slave.
Longinus was not astute at reading body language, otherwise he might have caught the obvious increase of tension in the room. As it was, they continued to chatter as the host took up a cup and sipped at the fine wine that had been decanted for the occasion.
The offer sounded genuine to Longinus, at least at first until the man continued and let a question hang in the air that Longinus would rather not answer. The failed engagement with Sestia was one of his biggest shames, and would likely be a regret he took to his grave both for his actions and the bitter disappointment he still felt that it did not work out. He swallowed the lump in his throat and glanced at each man in turn. He was not somebody easily riled but he took offence at being questioned in his own home and he sat up straighter, letting his gaze linger on his guests.
"The lady in question was a match on paper, at least initially, but familial woes and - not to be indiscrete of course - reconciling monetary affairs became a battle I could stand no longer." He shrugged and sipped his wine in thought before glancing at the brothers before him, "And it was a momentary misjudgement. You cannot be a decorated legate with riches," He wafted a hand to gesture around the room, "Single, and in Rome without overzealous mothers and fathers foisting their daughters on you." His lips twitched in amusement, "I've become quite skilled over the years at separating the wheat from the chaff and gauging who is..." He frowned, pondering the right word for a moment, "Who is suitable as a potential bride." He set the cup, almost still full back on the table as tension flared in the room, "But I'd welcome advice from both of you, about whether you think Sergia really is suitable. And if so, I'll happily pay call on your villa Secundus." He put the ball back in their court and took up his wine again.
He would not be vetted by a family that had been through such dishonour as the Vari. Who did they think they were?
TAG: @Járnviðr @Atrice
Oh great, not awkward at all. Longinus smiled politely at both the brothers and nodded in the appropriate places. Is this what poor Aulus felt like? Being so good at politicking that he could mask his boredom or confusion? It certainly wasn't a skill Longinus himself readily possessed. "Ah siblings squabble," Longinus said with a waved hand, "Or at least I heard they do. I'm an only child, so never had the worries you both do I'm sure." He offered a warm, friendly smile as if to brush over the awkwardness that filled the room.
"And I hope I'm not forced to partake in a parade," He grinned, obviously joking, "And you have nothing to worry about Secundus, your brother did a more than admirable job at singing her virtues - I just fell for an unsuitable lady that wasn't her." He shook his head, growing a little more serious, "But things fell through and here I am." He'd claimed some vague reason - dowry or a fall out of money (the usual) to save his face in the wake of his failed engagement and mercilessly the gossip and rumour mill had turned again and he was no longer the topic of the moment for the bored housewives of Rome.
"So..." He glanced between the brothers, "Do you have any ideas for when I can meet your lovely niece?" Surely, if they were invested in him as a potential match it should be on them to suggest a time and an appropriate place?
TAG: @Járnviðr @Atrice
Maturity and caution. Longinus tried to disguise his wince. Those two words were about the farthest things away from descriptors of himself. His militaristic prowess that had led to him becoming a legate at twenty three and serving in the role thrice over was in large part down to the risks he bore and his boundless, unflappable energy. Maturity - likewise - was not a personal strong point of his. Even reading wasn't a preferred past time for him - he struggled to concentrate (delegating his correspondence to his Tribune in the legion and secretary now he was a civilian).
"They say opposites attract don't they?" He chuckled when it became evident he was dwelling a little too hard on the description Sergia's uncle had bestowed. "And no, I can't say I've met her - at least not if memory serves." He ran a hand through his hair (note to self - visit the odd little barber Barbatius for a cut and a shave), and sighed - depositing down his grape stem in favour of picking up a cup of wine.
"My first wife was neither mature or cautious, Gods preserve her soul." Antonia was many things; a beauty, vivacious, immature, combative, caring, and all at once. He missed her though he never admitted it, "She passed a year and a bit ago, and I had thought I'd found another but alas - squabbles over money, on her end I should add," He continued with a low - barely believable chuckle, "Meant it fell through and so I'm turning to potential brides I may have overlooked the first time around." He sipped his wine. It was wholly unappetising just how much this felt like bartering for a pitcher of wine at a bar, or a slave at the market but such was their class and rituals for marriage. He tried to shake off his discomfort.
He equally tried to ignore the evidently ravenous Secundus stuffing his face. He was no prude, nor did manners really matter much to him but it was beyond even him. He shot Tertius a curious look as if to ask; 'is he quite alright?' before ploughing on; "Your brother did a fine job of talking her up," He chuckled and gestured at Tertius, "I should have perhaps considered her first and saved myself the bother of my last engagement." He sipped again at his wine and then set it down on the table.
"Though I do have to ask, of course...is there any particular reason why she's still unmarried?" He quirked a brow, "She's what? Twenty-three? Twenty-four?"
TAG: @Járnviðr @Atrice
Longinus dismissed Attis' very pertinent observation with a wave of his hand, "Yes, yes but Metella's different isn't she. You know what I mean, you're just being contrary." He smirked.
Nodding his head he shrugged off Attis' grip on his shoulders and shifted around to face his slave. "I know you're just trying to help, and I do appreciate it but alas, I think I just need to...get over it all. And get over the notion that love at first sight is a real thing, especially in a marriage." He chuckled.
"No, I haven't." He disguised a yawn in the palm of his hand. "But I am famished. Is Lutatia up?" He queried, not realising his bedmate of last night had already discretely slipped out of the house.
Longinus couldn't disguise his wince as the two guests came eye to eye. He knew of Secundus' reputation but hadn't counted on it impacting his relationship with his own brother. As an only child, Longinus didn't really have any sense of what sibling relationships could be like or their complexities yet faced with said complexities right here in front of him, he now understood his error. He swallowed the lump in his throat as Secundus delicately made a comment on Tertius' latest offspring before the man turned his attention back to his host. Right. Straight to business then.
He swept his arm aside and gestured for the brothers to follow him through to the triclinium where assorted foods and wines had been prepared and arrayed around the three couches. "Your family." he replied with a buoyant smile over his shoulder to the elder Varus as they finally entered the space. Taking a seat on one of the couches he looked at each man in turn before sighing, running a hand through his hair. He'd never had the best ability to speak delicately and ran through his words in his head one more time before he spoke, just to try and mitigate any bad reactions from either brother.
"It concerns your niece, actually, the lovely Sergia. Whilst I've never had the pleasure of meeting her myself," That he could recall - although he wouldn't put it past himself to have met her and forgotten, the beauties all looked the same at their classes parties, "Your brother, Tertius," He dipped his head at the younger brother, "Has spoken highly of her in the past." He reached forward to pick off a few grapes and tossed them into his mouth, continuing to speak after he'd munched them down, "I suppose I was wondering what your family's plans were for her?" He flashed a warm grin, his meaning implied.
TAG: @Atrice @Járnviðr
Topics I Participated In
Saturnalia had come and gone with the fresh winter winds that whipped about the city. Although it didn't get nearly as cold as Britannia here, Longinus' body was unused to the cold after a summer spent outdoors, basking in the heat of Italia and Greece. The hypocaust was at full steam (literally) for the occasion and the paterfamilias Longinus had spent the early afternoon chivvying slaves to make his domus look presentable. It was an odd place; half-decorated in his late wife's style, a quarter under the influence of his mother with her love for garish frescos and vivid mosaics, and the rest was left up to his tastes. Tastes which bordered on the downright odd. A British battle axe on the wall in one room, some pottery he'd found en route back via Gaul in another. It was an eclectic place that had none of the polish of other Senators and Patricians his rank, but it indubitably suited him.
The slaves had done their work admirably though and it was at least tidy. After he'd waved his mother goodbye (thank the Gods) to spend the late afternoon and evening with his cousin Lepidus, Cassia his daughter going with her, Longinus was left alone with the slaves. He didn't know why he felt nervous, he'd come to his decision without much fanfare after a disappointing few months looking into the impossibility of adoption, and unsuccessfully musing over other eligible women. Maybe he was nervous because of the family? They didn't have the best reputation around, and his mother had curtly reminded him as she departed that Tertius - who'd seemed at least affable, and nice enough - had recently had a bastard born son by a slave, a son whom he'd recognised. Longinus had resisted the urge to tug at the neckline of his tunic at the remark, given he'd been in the same situation some months ago with Sestia, although that was a secret he'd take to his grave.
He'd invited both Tertius and his eldest brother here today though, and perhaps that was why he felt oddly ill at ease. He found Tertius pleasant enough but his brothers reputation preceded him. Unfortunately for Longinus, his plan required the paterfamilias and that meant Secundus himself. He hoped Tertius could temper him a little though, hence the dual invitations. Poor Longinus wasn't to know of the discord between the brothers.
A slave disturbed his thoughts and announced one of the brothers was here. "Yes, but which one?" He asked with a frown and the slave girl merely sighed and shrugged, "I don't know domine, he's tall, dark haired..." Longinus had to suppress a chuckle, "Yes dear Merula, that's very helpful." He shooed her away with a wave of his hand and jumped to his feet from where he'd been sat in the garden. Bounding through the house with his customary energy, he drew to the atrium and slapped on a wide grin he didn't quite feel. "Welcome!"
TAG: @Járnviðr @Atrice
6th of October, 75 AD
Given the tragedy brought on by the earthquake only a few months earlier, Titus didn't quite feel right celebrating his birthday with huge festivities or partying from dusk to dawn - besides, this was no milestone year, just the passage of time signalling that he had officially grown older. The previous day - the actual day of - had been spent with family, featuring a relaxed and pleasurable evening with far too much food including Betua's mouthwateringly good placenta cake, and only a tiny hiccough when Valeriana loudly and vehemently expressed how unfair it was that she received no gifts, skilfully ignoring the fact that it wasn't her birthday for that to happen.
Tonight's celebration was simple as well, though less child-friendly. Going out for drinks with friends was also very agreeable, even more so when they had a decent-sized chamber and an own dedicated servant all to themselves. Drinking alone was no fun, though, even when it was Falernian and Caecuban, and Titus busied himself with deciphering the multitude of humorous scrawls on the walls and snacking on bread and olives before the others arrived - his stomach would thank him later.
@Echo @Sara @Sharpie
Feel free to ignore posting order!
Late July, 75AD
Longinus stifled a yawn behind his palm, and tried to ignore the disparaging look the slave waiting with him, shot in his direction. He hadn't spoken to Claudia Corinthia much besides passing pleasantries before her retreat to Greece, and the infamous Imperial Banquet - the memory of which still brought a smile to his lips. Poor Lucius. Yet, even if they weren't friends (barely acquaintances really), it was good to be polite and he had so few connections in Greece that it would appear odd if he didn't reach out to them whilst he was here on his 'holiday'. Besides, he was hoping the news of his failed engagement hadn't reached these corners of the Empire, and he could have a conversation on something other than his miserable love life, and he had an invitation to extend to the small soiree he was due to host.
He'd dressed for the occasion - in respect of her rank and standing - in a light blue tunic with a darker blue pallium. He'd even shaved for the occasion! Although his hair was probably still too long to be considered proper and every so often he had to run his hand through it to push it out of his forehead. The finery he had arrayed himself in and the grandeur of the villa made him feel...oddly constricted, and he couldn't help fidgeting. The slave shot him another withering look and Longinus arched a brow, which quietened him down and the man reverted his eyes to the floor. He might serve his mistress, but Longinus was still a patrician and a decorated legate at that.
He was a man, however, with boundless energy and waiting and waiting and waiting to be admitted was beginning to grate on him. When a flurry of activity at the other end of the atrium signalled something was happening, he felt himself relax, and a broad, buoyant grin spread on his face. The lady approached and he inclined his head in respect. "Claudia," His grin filled out, "A pleasure as always - thank you for seeing me, I was going slightly out of my mind in boredom with so few friends in Greece!"
Late August, 75AD
Longinus was mulling. He didn't like these sort of parties at the best of times, but certainly not since his return from Greece where the news of his failed engagement was less fresh than before, but still simmered beneath the surface. He saw the pitying looks from friends, the preying glances from unmarried girls and the scornful look of the married matrons that milled through the party. So he'd retreated, as he often did in these instances, outside. It allowed him the fresh air he needed on these hot summer evenings, and a chance to stretch his legs. It also gave him space from the other party goers. Bliss.
The sound of music and chatter and laughter filtered from the triclinium through into the garden and he sat on the bench, kicking stones with his sandalled feet. He'd made the effort tonight at least, given he knew Titus and or Aulus would comment if he didn't. Fairly clean shaven (with his perennial stubble not budging...), and cut hair at least. He'd dressed in one of his more formal blue tunic and pallium, but despite dressing the part, he didn't feel ay real mood to party. He continued to kick rocks as the laughter intensified and a couple came into the garden to join him, taking a seat on another bench with giggles - utterly unaware, or uncaring, that he was sat only a few feet away.
Another figure drew out into the garden and he glanced up, hoping it was one of his friends and not another stranger. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, but he tried to effect a polite smile on his face.
Mid July, 75AD, Port of Piraeus
Longinus disembarked the boat with a grumble. The crossing hadn't been bad but it had been irritatingly long. He hadn't been to Greece since he was a boy, and the ten day journey - down the coast of Italia and then through the mare nostrum into Greece had been mind-numbing. For a man that had too much energy at the best of times, being contained to a small boat was torturous. At least he didn't suffer from the sea sickness as Titus did. Small mercies.
Now they were in Greece, it...was not what he had imagined. Where were all the grand buildings and beauty that the writers wrote about? All he saw was a fleet of ships, warehouses and the pungent smell of fishing vessels that turned his stomach. He glanced at Attis, displeasure in his eyes. "This is a shithole. If it wasn't another ten days to get back, I'd suggest we get back on the boat." His mood had barely lifted in the few weeks he had been back from Formiae in Rome, and whilst he was no longer cocooned in the depression he had been, that depression had been replaced by bouts of anger and snappiness. Poor Attis.
This trip to Greece had supposed to be with his wife, before their child was born. Instead, it was with his faithful body slave. He liked Attis, a tremendous amount, but it wasn't comparable. His mother had nonetheless urged him to still go, suggesting that the fresh air and change of scenery would lift his spirits (and keep him out of her, and Cassia's hair). He looked around at the slaves unloading baggage and then back to Attis. "How far to Athens?" They'd need to get horses, and then find somewhere to stay. In typical Longinus fashion, he hadn't even considered renting a house, musing that he'd strike lucky once he was here. But if this was all that Greece had to offer, then perhaps he was mistaken.
Annis groaned as she woke up, her wounds a dull ache. Her head pounded - had she been struck in the head during the battle? The memories of the battle were fleeting, scattered around her mind like a flock of birds. She remembered the emotions though - adrenaline-charged fury, coupled with the effect her woad paint had on her, and then the fear as she realized how badly outnumbered they were. Her flight through the trees, her eventual capture. Where did that leave her? Oh yes. In a cell in the very outpost she and her resistance group had tried to overthrow. She sighed. It was only a matter of time before this happened, captured, perhaps to be killed. Come what may, she wouldn't go quietly. Her warrior spirit wouldn't allow it.
Eventually, her head stopped hurting so bad, and she tried to sit up to gauge her surroundings. It was a small cell, dingy lighting, somewhere without windows. She couldn't sit up very well, though - she had a cut across her stomach that thankfully hadn't spilled her insides, but was still not comfortable. Plus, her arms and hands were covered with injuries as well, and therefore couldn't support much weight. She lay back down, until a moment later, she heard a door opening. Who was this, now? She tried to keep her face neutral. Andrasta protect her.
Formiae, late June 75 AD
After close to three days on horseback, Titus would have been lying if he said he didn't fancy a nice long walk to stretch his legs, and maybe even a massage. Attis had kept pace surprisingly well and without much complaining, or perhaps he had complained but Titus was riding too far ahead to hear it. His shoddy hearing helped with that, too - blessings in disguise, such were the gods' mysterious ways.
The villa in Formiae was very nicely kept, and not a thing seemed to be out of its proper place - testament that the master did not live there full time, as its current state would have been impossible to maintain had that been the case. The slaves, on the other hand, seemed displeased that yet more visitors had come to disturb their existence with even more needs to be attended to.
Ignoring the doorkeeper's repeated excuses that his dominus was unavailable, Titus gave the man a look that could have made a legionary wet himself and brushed him aside to walk past, not bothering to wait for his friend's body slave to explain the situation to the doorkeeper. Attis could stay behind and elucidate the other slave or he could follow and help find his master quicker.
"Longinus!" he called out as he made his way to the atrium, ignoring the scandalised glances some slaves shot him. Good thing most villas had a very similar layout. "I'm here to return Attis to you, I can't stand him anymore!" And find out what in Jupiter's name has got into you.
10th June, 75AD
Longinus sat in silence on the beach, down the cliffside path from his villa just outside of Formiae. It was deserted, even at this time of year by virtue of the setting sun which cast long shadows over the sand and reflected off the water. The villa itself was no more populated with a skeleton staff of people he had forgot he even employed; a girl to cook in the kitchen and a few odd-job slaves that crept around him with thinly veiled annoyance in their eyes that their dominus was suddenly intruding on the peace and serenity of having run of a patrician's villa without oversight. He'd left everybody else behind in Rome; Vitus his secretary had been left with instructions not to disturb him for anything (save the health of his mother or daughter). Attis was still at Titus', despite the fact the morning he had found out he had been due to go over and collect him. He couldn't face his body slave's smirks or even worse his concern or gods forbid his pity. His mother and daughter were left with run of the domus, and all of his other attendants were left behind. He needed to be alone.
It had happened so quickly Longinus only now had time to breathe. On the morning of the 23rd of May he had received a flustered, tear-stricken slave girl into his house who breathlessly informed him that her domina, his betrothed was on a ship bound for Carthage - escorted by her fathers men. Abandoning his trip to collect Attis, he instead had, without a moment's thought, taken a horse to Ostia, only to find out the ship had sailed at first light and was long gone by now. The rest of the day had been spent trying to barter passage on a ship to follow it, and it was only the insistence of his mother - finally - late that night, that made him relent. He would wait, he thought, to find out exactly what had happened. He would wait to be summoned by her father, and then make his amends in the proper, dignified fashion.
The letter he received on the 30th of May, the day before his wedding - when all the preparations were set, when nobody had been informed that anything was awry - was almost unbelievable. The graffiti that had gone up around the city - that he'd seen and largely ignored - had been sighted by those close to the Proconsul of Africa. He had sent his men, as quickly as good winds would allow, to collect his daughter and her sons - sweep them back into his aggressive, controlling arms. Yet that was not the worst of it. She didn't describe what happened, or how it happened, but the child was gone. Miscarried, lost forever. Gone. With no ties to him now, and her fathers rage, she - the woman he had been due to marry tomorrow had signed the letter;
The last few weeks, months had given me more pleasure or happiness than I ever thought to experience. But it is not enough. I see the folly in thinking I could have so much, for ignoring my father, for ignoring my duties as a mother and as a widow. I was wrong. Please do not come here, please do not write back Lucius. This is over - even if it is not the way we ever envisaged it to end. My children - those still with me - must come first, and I can no longer tarnish their reputations via my actions. I am sorry. Goodbye. Sestia.
Throughout his life he had experienced loss - as many do. His father, his mentor and friend, his men in war and in peacetime, his wife and now his betrothed and his child - who the Gods never even allowed to draw a breath. Yet the sting of this loss was so acute he could not cope. Not this time. He had packed that night and instructed Vitus to send messages to his friends on his behalf, saying merely that the wedding was cancelled and the engagement broken off. Should anybody pry, the reason was that the dowry could not be agreed. It was something simple - clean and neat that expunged them both of the dirtiness that had befallen them. He had left for Formiae the next morning after a brief, cold farewell to his mother and a challenging goodbye to his daughter. He did not know when he'd return. What was left for him in Rome now to bring him back? A daughter that barely knew him? A mother that was content to live her life as she'd always done in his absences? Friends, of course, but they would move on. It wasn't as if he had a great desire for politics or glory. No. He'd be better off in Formaie he thought.
So there he sat, on the waters edge. The wine he had drowned himself in that evening gave him pleasant, muddled sort of thoughts. It took the edge off of the wound that stung like a British axe to his chest. He cried. He didn't know the last time, certainly couldn't remember the last time he had cried but there he sat, sobbing into his hands. In the space of two weeks he had gone from a man of ambition; a decorated thrice-serving legate seeking a praetorship with a beautiful woman whom he loved (he begrudgingly admitted) about to be his wife, with a child on the way, to a man sat sobbing in the sand, alone.
He wondered if the Gods were laughing or sobbing with him.
Nones of May 75AD
Longinus sat drumming his fingers against the rim of his wine cup, occasionally glancing at the door. What he enjoyed most, of course, about the Poppina Via Lata was the two-building scheme. The night would start here, in the building reserved for Rome's upper echelons before descending into the depravity with the plebs and the slaves next door. He took a sip and resumed his drumming, waiting for both Titus and Aulus, nerves eating into the pit of his stomach. Judging by the surprised reaction in their letters neither of them were none the wiser as to the true (at least initial) motivation behind the wedding which was a relief.
He'd carefully considered what he'd say and it largely centred on; not being sixteen anymore so knowing what he wanted; that he likes and admires Sestia; he's not getting much younger and needs a son, and well...it is him. Longinus was certainly never a man that could be considered entirely conventional. He did hope to brush the whole 'permission from her father' under the rug as much as possible, but his friends were astute men and would likely ask. He just hoped he'd come up with something convincing on the spot to explain it, because so far his mind was coming up decidedly empty.
His attention was caught by a shadow blocking his path and he glanced up from his thoughts to the face of his friend. A wide, beaming smile crossed his face as he embraced the man.
TAG: @Sharpie @Liv
Given it was by far not the usual way these sorts of things were done; there was no formal betrothal ceremony, no exchange of contracts, not even an inkling that such a thing was happening - really - Longinus felt it imperative that word got out on his own terms. But not to everybody. After a fairly frantic exchange with his mother, the man set down to put ink to papyri and drafted a series of letters. The first were for his cousins (the only other remaining Cassii-Longini) Lepidus and Cassia. Then came one to his old friend, and former mentee Silanus all the way in Greece - lightly alluding to the fact that he might well be visiting in person (there had to be some benefit to sailing all the way to Carthage, and a roundabout stop on the way back to see Lucius was a silver lining).
The final few were for his friends. Amongst those he composed two to his two closest friends. They were very similar (he was not a man to dally with correspondence any longer than necessary, and thus copied out most of the first letter into the second), albeit there were amusing differences in tone - far more jocular with Titus, and far more reserved with Aulus.
They were delivered to May the 4th, two days after the engagement by his Secretary who muttered and swore as he trekked over the city in the May sun.
To Titus Sulpicius Rufus from his friend, Lucius Cassius Longinus. Greetings!
I thought I'd drop you a note to a) enquire about how Attis is getting on, b) to inform you I'm getting married and c) ask if you are free for a drink next week?
I suspect your eagle eye will have picked out the second point as the most interesting (although I do wish to hear about Attis and whether he still has all his fingers), and I'm pleased to say that Sestia Vaticana and I are to marry on the 1st of June given it's auspicious date. I believe you know the lady in question - she only had positive things to say about you - which I have corrected, don't worry.
It'll be a small affair in the city, but obviously I would be delighted if Valeria and yourself save the date and make yourselves available.
I've also sent a very similar note to our good friend Aulus, and in said note have asked if he is free on the nones for a drink or two. As always, I expect you have no plans of any consequence, or no plans you cannot cancel to ensure you can come for a drink with a soon-to-be married man. We could slum it in the Poppina Via Lata?
To Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus from his friend, Lucius Cassius Longinus. Greetings!
I'm writing for a dual purpose today, to a) ask if you are free for a drink next week? b) to inform you I'm getting married.
I suspect your eagle eye will have picked out the second point as the most interesting, and I'm pleased to say that Sestia Vaticana and I are to marry on the 1st of June given it's auspicious date. She mentioned yourself and Horatia met her at the Games not so long ago - I trust you approve?
It'll be a small affair in the city, but obviously I would be delighted if Horatia and yourself save the date and make yourselves available.
I've also sent a very similar note to our good friend Titus, and in said note have asked if he is free on the nones for a drink or two. We could slum it in the Poppina Via Lata?
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