Gaius knew that she was thinking the same thing he was, about the ostracism faced by Briton women who got into bed with legionnaires. Really, Gaius hadn't ever fooled around with any of the girls he came across due to his focused loyalty to the legion as well as his urge to rise through the ranks. Who had time for silly girls and their silly concerns then? But now, Gaius was more a man than he had been then and was ready for a woman, not a girl.
Charis assured him that there was someone for everyone and he smiled softly. "I hope that is the case." He wondered if the slave girl had found her one, since she was with child. But then he reminded himself of the all-too-often dalliances of upper-class Romans and put the thought off. It wasn't his place. Charis then seemed to notice the time and explained that she should be going. He thought she was about to say something else about her master, but she changed course at the last second and explained he didn't like her out after dark. "Certainly." He thought of offering to escort her home, but she surely couldn't be far from home in her condition anyway. "It was pleasant speaking with you, Charis. Have a good evening."
Charis said to think of her in September and he smiled slightly. "I will certainly be thinking of you. What an honor, to bring forth new life..." He had never really thought about birth before, except for thinking about how much pain it must be. He could take a sword to the arm or leg and live through it, but he had no frame of reference for the type of pain she would have to go through.
Charis spoke about her understanding why he hadn't settled down and he gave a chuckle. "I don't think any of the local girls would have been falling over each other to have me. But I suppose I stand a better chance here in Rome." He had been hoping to have a chance to settle down when he arrived back in Rome, but so far, that had been to no avail. Even as a child, most of his time had been spent with his father and brother, though there were some girls from other farms he had fancied as he grew up. Now, there were many more options and his eyes were even more open to the attractiveness of women. Charis's wish for him was heartfelt and he smiled. "Thank you, Charis. That is very kind of you." Perhaps the perfect woman would stumble by soon.
"That... doesn't sound pleasant, if I may say so," he said with an ironic grin. He wondered what it must feel like, holding a new life within yourself, one that so depended on you. He thought it would be scary, having all that responsibility. But then, was it that different than leading a platoon of men into battle, knowing that your decisions as an officer would determine whether they lived or died? It was a bit different, he supposed, but it was his only frame of reference. "I hope it goes alright and that you are blessed by the gods." It was a genuine wish.
He was a bit embarrassed to admit he was unmarried and had no children (that he knew of). He had yet to find a woman he even wanted to settle down with, let alone have children with. But he had often thought of bringing his new wife to his family's farm and living out a large part of his life quietly working the land there. Could he ever truly leave the military for that life? "No, unfortunately. Consider me the perpetual bachelor!" He laughed. "I haven't really had a chance to think of settling down, let alone finding someone to do so with."
She had a point; it must be difficult to not understand anyone or be understood, so learning was the only alternative. Gaius was lucky that he had all his fellow legionnaires to talk with in Britannia, and between his own grasp of the language and the interprex, they had managed to communicate with the locals. And in battle, speaking wasn't really on your mind much.
As he suggested she sit down, Charis seemed hesitant. He recognized a flash of fear, or something close to it, in her eyes. But after a moment, she nodded and walked to a bench. Gaius walked with her, but not too close, in case he accidentally made her uncomfortable again. She thanked him and then smiled, speaking about pregnancy. His face reddened a little, but he was more than a little fascinated. The powers of the female body were not really in his wheelhouse, having spent most of his life surrounded by men. "Oh, no, that's okay." He looked at her belly, a little embarrassed. "Your baby... does it kick a lot? Does it hurt?"
The woman laughed at his attempt at Britonnic and he glanced down at the ground, shifting with a grin. "Well, it's been a while since I had an occasion to speak it," he explained, though he managed not to be defensive about it. This woman made him feel he didn't have to be ashamed of himself, which was often his feeling around women. But she complimented him instead which made him feel a little better. "I've heard Latin isn't either. I guess it's easier when you learn a language from birth."
Charis pressed a hand into her back and he gazed at her in concern. He had heard that pregnancy was quite uncomfortable sometimes - it must be, having all that weight on the front of you! Like carrying a rucksack on your front for nine months. He did not envy her. "Do you need to sit? Can I help you?" He wondered if she was in a hurry to get home, but surely her master would understand tardiness if she couldn't walk comfortably? She was pregnant, after all.
She seemed surprised and he chuckled slightly. "Give or take some." Really, it was probably more than that, though for at least two parts he hadn't been fighting, having been almost fatally wounded by an ax. But he had made it back safely and proved himself to have the mettle of a praetorian guard. But she remarked that she was glad he had made it back safely. "That's very kind of you. I am too!"
He saw that he had made her blush for a change and he wondered if he had said something wrong. But she still seemed happy and explained that she had had a head start, learning Latin before arriving in the city. He wondered briefly who her master was. "It shows! You speak very well." Then, she switched to Brittonic, using a slow and clear tone (which he was glad for - he had barely spoken it since returning to Rome!) "Hm... happy, yes," he replied, laughing at the loss of vocabulary he had experienced. "Can not speak much of your language."
Gaius thought about it for a moment. "My whole military career, actually. A decade or so, I think." Honestly, he had spent so much time there, it had begun to be like a second home, though one he wasn't particularly fond of. "I came back about two and a half years ago, which is when I started in my current job." He didn't want to bore her too much with military matters, or scare her (since she still seemed tense), so the topic went on.
She seemed excited about it, too, grinning enthusiastically at the topic of Britannia. He imagined she must miss it a lot, but that was the price of progress. "Yes, Italia is pleasant. My family owns a farm in the countryside. I don't live there, I live in the barracks - but visiting is very pleasant. And hot." He laughed a little. Next, Charis said that she had only been here a year and that she wasn't used to the weather here. "Only a year! Your Latin is excellent," he complimented. Many of the Briton brutes he had met flatly refused to learn the language, making things all the more tense with them. "I speak a fair bit of your language, but not very well." After all, he hadn't been an interprex.
Gaius gazed at her as she frowned again, feeling a little guilty that he couldn't think of simpler terms to use. When he had been in Britannia, speaking with the natives was often difficult when words didn't translate precisely, leaving both parties frustrated and confused. When he urged her just to call him Gaius, he noticed that she looked a little uncomfortable. "Call me whatever you like," he said diplomatically, hoping that she would know from his tone that it didn't matter to him either way.
Charis complimented his ear and he shrugged modestly. "Yes. I guess it's easy to recognize the language of the land you spent years in," he said. Her arm wound around her bump in a protective motion, much like what he had seen when his unit marched into a new town: women drawing their children closer. Gaius had never engaged in any extracurricular cruelty in Britannia. He was an honorable man and only fought those who tried to harm him or his men. But he felt bad that he was suddenly making her nervous. "It's a beautiful land, Britannia. So green."
Gaius had, of course, noticed her accent, recognizing it as Britonnic, which he would know, having spent years quelling rebellions and speaking to the locals when they were peaceful. "Sorry... no, I'm a member of the praetorian guard. We guard the palace and the imperial family." He had actually been promoted recently to optio, but women didn't generally find the military interesting, so he didn't bother mentioning it. He had a natural impulse to be up in arms about her heritage, since he had been injured several times by the brutes on that cursed island. But how could he blame such a sweet and gentle woman for the brutality of her countrymen? He couldn't.
"Oh, please, just Gaius is fine..." he said with a crooked smile. He came from humble beginnings, didn't even own any slaves or property, since his parents were still living on the farm that he was slated to own. He had never been comfortable with anybody calling him 'sir' - except his soldiers when he was an officer, of course. But this woman was no soldier, that was clear. "It's nice to meet you, Charis. You are from Britannia, aren't you?"
Gaius blushed again as she suggested he just wanted to get away from her, a nervous laugh on his lips. "Oh, no, of course not!" He scrubbed a hand through his hair and smiled again. "I mean, I'm not desperate to get away from you, that is." Gods, curse his tied tongue. Beautiful women always made him nervous and forget how to talk. But he didn't mind talking to her, even if he was nervous about it; she seemed pleasant and sweet as well. She explained that she was on her way home, asking whether he was there to enjoy the flowers. "Not quite. I'm a praetorian, just got off duty and... well, the gardens are pleasant enough, and quiet." He glanced down at her. "Not that I mind your company, that is. My name is Gaius."