Face claimMichelle Ryan
As more women filed into the domus, Marcella took care to memorize every name she heard, Horatia Pulvilla, two Septimas, Pinaria, and of course their hostess, Horatia Justian. She still did not know the name of the mother and the woman whose presence delighted one of the Septima so greatly, but she was confident that she would learn of their identity's by the end of the meeting. In addition to that she hoped to learn the full names of ever woman present and the occupation of their husband, brother(s), father, and son(s); one could never have to much information in her opinion.
"It's a pleasure Marcella,"
She smiled warmly in response before Horatia moved on to greet the next woman and her daughter. Marcella couldn't help but feel the corners of her mouth momentarily twitch downward as Horatia offered to lend the child her daughters dolls. In her opinion, children had no place at a book club unless they were prepared to participate, she had no qualms with children, just so long as they had some worth. She hoped that the girl would at least stay quite and make herself scarse if she was to be playing with toys during their discussion.
"I have us set up in the triclinium for now, but we can always move to the garden if the weather holds."
She smiled in recognition of the statement and followed her into the triclinium, she was impressed by how utterly perfect everything looked. "This all looks beautiful" she commented, before sitting down. She waited for some of the other ladies to sit before she did, that way she could choose who she would be sitting next to. She chose to sit next to the woman she didn't know, not the mother, if her daughter was stay the whole meeting would be dreadful, instead she chose the one who the Septima girl was so happy to see.
After sitting she unfurled the top if her scroll, it look as if it were brand new even though she had owned it since she was a child. This was both because she took exceptionally good care of her books and because in he life she had only read it twice. She read it as a girl and had decided that she didn't care for the story, it was very well written but the plot seemed to unrealistic to her, and Penelope annoyed her. Until reciving the invite to this very club, she hadn't bothered to reread it. Once she was situated she turned to face the woman whose name she didn't not know and introduced herself "I'm Marcella" she said with a smile, "I don't believe I caught your name?"
@Anna @Lauren @Sara @Chevi @Atrice
I figured we might as well use the order we already had going
Marcella had been practically glowing since her recent engagement, from the moment she meet Titus she had felt as if she had no reason to continue avoiding others. That was perhaps the reason why she had decided to go to this book club in the first place, as much as she enjoyed literature she was not a fan of the women typically found in book clubs. From her experience they tended to be pompous and cheeky little prudes who feigned virtuosity when she was sure that they all had more than a few skeletons in their closets. Of course, Marcella couldn't condemn them for that, she had her fair share of bones but the way they all gossiped about the others, she believed it to be pathetic. Of course, while she didn't participate, she did always listen and take note of anything that could be useful to her in the future.
As the domus came into view she began questioning if going to this book club was such a good idea, she never would have RSVP'd yes if she hadn't been in such a good mood when the invite had arrived. It wouldn't be hard to get out of it, she could always explain that her father had taken a turn for the worst that morning or previous night. She pushed those thoughts out of her mind, this would be a good opportunity to make some valuable connections. She straightened her dove grey palla as she reached the entrance of the domus and adjusted her grip on her copy of The Odyssey. She was hoping to make a good impression, she had never meet this Horatia Justina but from what she knew her husband was a well respected senator, she would almost certainly be a fountain of valuable information.
Upon entering the domus she removed her palla and handed it to a waiting slave, reveling a dark blue chiton. Her hair was twisted into a deceptively simple style that was securely pinned in a braid at the top of her head. She looked rather plain but compared to her usual attire she was dressed up. She matched Horatia's smile when she came to greet her, "hello, I'm Marcella Laelia" she said introducing herself "I would like to thank you so much for hosting this club, literature has always been a passion of mine."
"I will take the odds of one in four. That said - and I apologise if I offend - but it would not matter to me whether none did. Courting public opinion is not something I have shown much interest in before. They will like me or they will have to get used to it."
She smiled and said, "I admire that about you, but I'm sure they will like you." And like he said, even if they didn't they would just have to get used to it. She could hardly believe herself, after so many years she was finally discussing plans to get married. Part of her was thrilled at the idea, despite everything she still knew that a good marriage was all that was expected of her. Another part of her was terrified that she was making a mistake, after years of running her household and father's business exactly as she liked it she was now going to throw it all away in hope that she wouldn't loose her independence. She knew that it had to be done, her father wouldn't keep forever and if she didn't marry now than her brothers would give her to the first man who wanted her. This was her best option, Titus seemed to respect her and didn't care that she wouldn't be a proper Roman matron, it may not be love but that was never a requirement for her. Love was never a necessity, it was merely a troublesome emotion that caused more problems than it was worth.
"It is a difficult burden that the gods have afflicted him with and I feel for you, truly. We must speak with him then when he has a good moment but, if not, there are ways around it, I would not be concerned."
She was jolted form her thoughts when he spoke of her father's condition, "thank you" she was touched by his statement. She looked up and saw that the sun was starting to dip further behind the horizon, she sighed and said, "I think I should get going now unless I want to be walking home in the dark." She stood up, brushed off her chiton, and grabbed her purse, she then opened it and took out her scroll of the play Medea. "Here" she said handing it to him, "you said you wanted to borrow it, you can return it to me next time we meet" she gave him a copy smile before sauntering out of the domus to walk home.
"Not in his right mind?"
She saw the intrigue in his eyes when she mentioned her father's condition. She explained further saying, "he fought in the civil war and hasn't been the same since he returned. He is convinced that my mother is still alive and is constantly getting himself confused."
"He is ill? I am sorry to hear that but I can assure you that I would approach him with nothing but respect and honor. Besides, you have brothers, do you not? The entire menfolk of your family cannot be uniformly against me, can they? They don't even know me! If it is the uniform that they have a problem with I can also assure you that this is just a stepping stone on the way to bigger things. Do they think I'll be like one of Clemens' mad dogs and put all their names on a prescription list?"
She laughed at the prospect of all four of her brothers agreeing on something for once, how awful it would be if it were this. She answered saying, "no not all of them, but the oldest, Albus, might. He has always had a prejudice for preatorians, regardless if it is merely a stepping stone for you." She knew that even so, she had the ability to convince him so he would still agree to the marriage, even if he refused to trust Titus. She laughed again and said, "I have four brothers and they have never agreed on anything, I'm sure that at least one of them will like you."
She practically breathed a sigh of relief when he accepted her kiss, she had been a bit worried that he wouldn't. She noticed that his kiss, while gentle, was not shy at all.
When she finally pulled away her thoughts wandered to wedding preparations, it wouldn't be to difficult to procure the proper legal documents, and they could always figure out their living arrangement later. The real issue would be getting her father to agree to it, latley he had been losing his grip on reality. She honestly didn't know what he would say, it all depended on who he though she was; sometime he thought that she was still a little girl, at other times a household slave, most recently he would think that she was the ghost of her long dead mother, come back to haunt him. "I should warn you about my father" she said, "He hasn't been in his right mind for a while now, I honestly haven't the slightest idea how he's going to react." If he said no for whatever reason, she could always attempt to have Albus step in as the Paterfamilias so he could approve their marriage. Of course, she didn't know if he would approve, as much as he wanted her to marry he was never a fan of praetorian's, and might deny them because of that. She decided that while he was going loony, it would be their best chance asking her father.
She was positively elated, she wasn't sure what sort of reply she had been expecting but the conformation that he still wanted to persue her despite what most would consider to be her flaws. This man was unlike any she had ever meet, in a good way of course. "I don't think I need to write them into a marriage contract, your willingness to do so is all the confirmation I need. I too think that we would make excellent partners and I cannot deny that you intrigued me also."
While her tone was formal she wanted nothing more than to jump up in down in celebration, a thing she hadn't done since she was a girl. Finally, after years of her brothers nagging and worrying she had found someone.
An idea entered her mind and she took a moment to consider it. Sje then looked up at Titus and tiled her head to one side, she blinked up at him as if daring him to guess at what was going to happen next. Finally, she extended her neck to kiss him. It was very forward for their first time meet but what with all that had been said, she didn't think subtlest was exactly expected anymore.
"It is a big commitment and should be approached properly."
She was glad that he agreed, it showed that unlike so many others, he was the type of person to take marriage seriously. She wasn't the type of girl to hold out for love, she knew that it often caused more trouble than it was worth. She was much more practical than that, all she needed for a happy marriage was a friend.
"Well, I can safely say that you, Marcella Laelia, are not at all what I expected. And I mean that in a good way, just for the record. So perhaps I can be more forward? I do not like little games. I do not have time for that. I want to know whether you would be amenable to me getting to know you better? To me pressing my suit for you? If that is something you would not like then let me know. I would not force my presence on you. I do not think you are the sort of woman who rejoices in playing suitors off against one another so you presumably would not want to waste your own time. I am sorry if that sounds blunt but I thought you would appreciate honesty."
So they were finaly going to talk about why they were both here. She appreciated his forwardness, even if it wasn't what she was expecting. She turned to face him and said, "I do appreciate your honesty, and would not protest to any attempts you make to learn more about me." She paused, considering her next words before saying, "but before you decide you if you should want to, there are some things you should know about me. I don't get all dressed up unless I have company coming over or if I'm going out, often in my home I'll be wearing a simple tunica and have my hair hanging loose, I do not intend to change this once married. I expect my marriage to last until death, I do not mind casual sex but I will not be divorced for another woman. And I don't want children, I do not mind having some but being a mother is not a necessity for me." She could hardly believe she had done this, everything was out in the open now. She waiting for his response, hoping that she wasn't to forward by revealing these things. If he still choose to persue her then she would know for a fact that he was the one she was meant to be with.
"The men of Rome are bigger fools than I have given them credit for... Cowards too if they run from battle. I would find it an honor to spar against a worthy opponent such as yourself."
She laughed and replied saying, "thank you, most see me as a nuisance rather than an opponent." She was honestly suprized that he was any different, pleasantly surprised but suprized none the less. She had dreamed that someone like him would exist, but now that she had actually meet him she was having trouble wrapping her head around the fact that he did exist, and he did want to hear what she had to say. It was exhilarating, for once she didn't have to watch her tounge for fear of offending whomever she was with for having the audacity to disagree with them.
"As for me, well, what can I say? I doubt I scare anyone. I suppose my fault is that I have been too picky."
She thought for a moment before saying "I don't think you can be to picky, after all, it's the person that you are committing to spend the rest of your life with." She whole heartedly belived this, she often thought that her friends who had married so young would have been happier if they had waited until they found someone that they could have a companionship with. She couldn't understand the girls who knew that their fate was to be hidden away and to have their husbands children, and didn't care. Marcella was determined to not let that happen to her, she at least needed some who respected her, and she couldn't help thinking that she had meet that someone today.
So they could agree on something, she also thought that the best course of action in any situation was to feign kindness and find someone trusted, but expendable, to dispose of any of those who would oppose you. "I think you're absolutely correct" she replied "it's always best to keep people in line, and it's easiest to do that by being well liked." This was incredible, being able to have an actual conversation where she felt listened to. She knew that of all the men who she had ever meet this one was the only one that she could even consider marrying. She knew that she couldn't afford to loose him, men like him didn't grow on trees. For the first time in her life, she was unsure of how to do that, usually she focused her efforts of chasing suitors away, never trying to charm one.
"Close calls, you say? If you don't mind me asking, I am assuming you are in high demand. A woman cannot be both beautiful and intelligent and be unmarried long in this City."
She laughed and said "I'm afraid you're wrong about that, women don't tend to be desired for their intelligence, and to be perfectly honest I've been known to scare them off" she was unsure of why she reveled this to him, it certainly wouldn't help her when it came to winning hin over. "What about you?" she asked, "surely there must be a reason why such an accomplished and attractive man is not yet married."
"Oh, nothing in the slightest, still, I could see how I might conceivably change that opinion if I had a wife I genuinely wished to please."
She laughed and said "how very sweet of you, most men would just send a slave out." She really did think it was admirable, doing something you hated just to do something nice for the one you loved.
"Thank you for your luck but I believe a man makes his own."
She smiled at him and caught his starting into her eyes, she didn't look away. They held each other's gaze for what fealt like quite some time until Marcella finally looked away.
I understand where you are coming from but I think you must give people some credit. Also, and for the record, I don't think I have ever before been referred to as an optimist!..."
She laughed with him, she could see why, it wasn't that he was overly negative, he just didn't fit the bill of a typical optimist. From what Marcella could tell he most certainly was though, he knew that he would become even greater than he already was, and not because the world was backing him, but because he had complete faith in himself.
"Sometimes you don't need to convince people to follow you. You make them follow you. In my experience, it does not pay to give people a choice. Offered a choice, most people will not think properly and will choose the wrong thing. Quick gratification instead of thinking long term, thinking tactically. It is why the Republic didn't work. Too many good intentions. They gave people a choice. Expected them to choose wisely. When people got smart and realized that it didn't matter which way people voted if you had an army at your back and were happy to splash cash around, suddenly they realized that choice wasn't necessary after all. So, no, Marcella. I am not a great believer in the inherent good in people. If anything, I am a realist. People will do what they think will serve them best."
"Once again I think you're over simplifying things, you cannot force people to follow you anymore than, well," she looked around for an example and laughed when another curl of her's fell in front of her face. Brushing it out of the way she continued by saying, "than my hair can be styled, it just dosent last. Eventually the ones you have forced to join you will revolt, even if what you have done is in their best interest. People are sadly just stupid that way, they're set in their ways and forcing enough of them to join you with bribery or black mail or other means will only end in disaster." She honestly believed this, most people were sheep yes, but all it took was one brave enough to lead them and suddently theres a whole army to deal with. Still, she couldn't help but agree that with the average intelligence of Romes common citizens, it made the most sense to not let them have any say. One of her hands twitched, she had almost moved to take one of his but though better of it, hence the twitch. It had felt nice when he was holding her hands.
"I don't see you as a woman who would be well suited to a life of weaving and managing household accounts. I am going to stick my neck out and say that I don't think you are the good sort of woman who stands behind a man and backs him up, like a proper Roman wife. No. I think you are the sort who stands right next to him, aren't you? A partner, not a pawn?"
"You would be absolutly correct, but goodness knows I've had enough practice managing accounts and weaving to be a proper wife if I wanted to. The problem is that I don't think I could live that way, I know that I would snap if I spent my days spinning for hours on end and looking forward to gossiping a dinner parties every night. I need to feel like my opinion is valid and listened to, I can't support one person on everything. I know that whomever I marry, he and I will have things that we disagree on because no two people are alike, and I know that I wouldn't stand having my opinion discredited just because I'm the wife." At the end of her spiel she noticednotic color had risen to her cheeks just talking about it. The fact that she had gotten herself all worked up embarrassed her some, only causing her cheeks to redden further. "Sorry for that" she explained, "I've just had a couple close calls."