Face ClaimLotte Verbeek
Horatia was relieved, and presumed the mention of Juliana would be the end of this particular track of conversation. She had no desire to educate Caecina on the intricacies of sex and marriage f it wasn't needed, but then she posed a question and Horatia stalled herself. She saw the way the girls face changed and the slight wobble in her voice, and she gently reached out a hand to softly squeeze the younger woman's forearm.
"I'm so sorry Caecina." She knew what had happened, of course, it seemed too often that news travelled to the wives of Rome's greatest - another woman or her child dead on the birthing chair, and it always shocked her how quickly normality seemed to resume to those not directly impacted. Perhaps it was her own difficult birth with Calpurnia that made her see it differently. She had been informed, and been perfectly aware otherwise, that she had been on the precipice of life and death herself and only managed to claw back her health through the careful ministrations of a talented medicus and midwife. Not that anybody, not her husband or siblings or in-laws knew. It was her deepest secret, or one of them at least.
"It...does happen. How often," She sighed and pushed back a strand of fiery auburn hair from her face, "I don't know. Men will never understand," She sighed, "I've heard childbirth compared to a battle before, but that doesn't do it justice, does it? Men can choose to turn and run from a battle, save their lives, no matter how shameful. Women who are with child have no such choice, we just have to...get on with it." She sighed and released her gentle hold on Caecina's forearm. "But just because your mother passed in such a way, it doesn't mean you will. You can afford the best midwives and medicus' should you want them when the time comes, and you're young, I'm told that helps." Why, she didn't know. "And there are different reasons women pass in childbed..." She sighed. Maybe having the facts would make her company feel a little better? "And some can be helped, and some can't, but that's the will of the Gods. Not that it makes it any easier, I know." She bit at her lip. "It is...terrifying, to be quite honest, and any woman who says anything different hasn't been scared or is naive."
Horatia chuckled and shrugged, "It needs some paint but it's fine for now, and it's nice to escape some of the...more raucous activities of my family up here." When her husband, son and father-in-law (when he was in residence) got into one of their animated conversations about this campaign or that, she could politely excuse herself up here and take solace in her books.
"You're welcome." Horatia smiled over her shoulder at the girls politeness and then sensing a change in the atmosphere, stopped her pursuing and came to join the younger woman on another couch. "You are welcome to tell me if I'm overstepping," She cautioned and adjusted the stola over her knees, "But...I know some young women are worried about more than just learning about the history of Britannia and being left whilst their husbands are on campaign overseas." She swallowed, "Things such as..." Oh Gods, why was this so awkward? She dreaded the fact that one day she'd have to have the same conversation with her daughter, "Marital relations and children and such...without a mother, I hope you've been...educated on such points?"
Hell hath no fury like Horatia embarrassed. Her cheeks flushed red as Livia's giggles echoed around the room. Her nails ground into the arms of the wooden chair until she felt splinters prick the skin and lodge themselves under her nails. "You're a foolish, foolish girl Livia." She said in a measured tone, although it was a great struggle not to scream in frustration. "Your jokes aren't funny, what if somebody heard? Other than my slaves?" Her eyes flashed with fury, and as she pulled her fingers away from the chair to rub her temples, they throbbed in pain.
"You need to-" She was interrupted from her lecture by the entrance of Livia's body slave. She cast the woman a derisive glance, irritated and riled now. "I tire of your immaturity, and drunkenness, not you." She retorted as she watched Livia stand with a little wobble. She merely glanced at the slave at her compliment and waved her hand as if to say 'it's nothing', before she approached Livia. She leaned in to kiss her sisters cheek but managed to whisper in her ear before she pulled back. "You need to find peace." She pulled back so her face was close to Livia's and glanced into her eyes for a long, drawn out moment.
"I'll be seeing you in Tibur." She asserted as she took a step back and began walking to the atrium. "And Alglaea, send word that you've gotten her home safely please? I don't need to spend half the afternoon worrying that she's stumbled drunkenly into the Tiber."
TAG: @Liv @Echo
Horatia merely rolled her eyes at Livia's barb. Honestly, it was something she would have expected from Calpurnia, not an adult woman. The slave flicked her eyes nervously at the pair and Horatia placed a hand over the rim of her cup, signally she didn't wish for any more. She merely kept her eyes on her younger sister as she sipped and seethed and seemed to be, at least in part, mulling over Horatia's sincerely meant offer. When, however, her sister did speak, Horatia choked.
The slave glanced up - equally as shocked, although the girl composed herself well enough and kept her head down. Horatia ground her jaw, trying to recover. "Rubia, fetch my sisters body slave, I fear she is out of sorts and needs to return to her own domus." The girl nodded hurriedly and quickly placed down the wine jug, leaving the sisters aloe. Just long enough for Horatia to reprimand Livia, and get her out of her hair. She flicked her eyes, now animated and full of fury, back at the petite woman, "What on earth has gotten into you? Do you know what they do to women who murder their husbands? Senatorial husbands?" She choked. She ground her jaw again. Rubia would be a few minutes, and so Horatia ventured forth, "I would help you with anything you asked of me, almost anything, but I won't t-take another person's life." She shook her head, her face now falling into genuine upset, "What's happened to you?"
Horatia thought about the question, pursing her lips as she mused. "I'd start with topics related to your family, your father is the Proconsul of Britannia, isn't he?" She knew he was, and she stood then, gesturing with her head. "Come, I have a few things which might be of help." She left the peace of the quiet garden to move through the domus until she came to the back stairs. Their domus had scant rooms upstairs, but some, and one was her private sanctuary - newly gifted to her.
She climbed the stairs and walked down the corridor until she came to a room, separated by a heavy curtain. She pulled it aside and inside was a room in the very image of Horatia. On one wall were neat shelves with hundreds of scrolls organised by name and genre, perfectly in place and organised just how she liked them. There was a desk, everything set in perfect lines and neat, and two couches richly decorated and covered in cushions for comfort. She gestured for Caecina to follow her in and to take a seat on one of the couches.
"My husband surprised me with this, a study of my own." She had been delighted. Aulus knew how much she valued her solitude and time to read and organise their affairs, and so had gifted her a study of her own - upstairs, and smaller than his own naturally - but a space just for her own affairs. She went across to the shelves and narrowed her eyes until she found a scroll that she needed. "Ah! This one," She selected it and held it out for Caecina, "A history of the people of Britannia. It contains the names of the tribes that live there, and the forts and such, it might help contextualise your fathers letters a little."
Horatia was relieved he didn't seem offended at her slip of the tongue and instead, got up to rummage for something. She had no idea what his miming was, but a wider smile beamed on her face as he picked up the tablet, expecting him to write. Why hadn't they done that in the first place?! But as he started scratching something into the wax surface, she frowned. That wasn't lettering, of any sort, not even foreign by her eyes.
She took the tablet as he offered it and glanced at the crude drawing. She traced her fingers over the edges and glanced up at him, "Your home?" It looked like a tent of some sort. She'd seen them described in some works she'd read, and Aulus had described the military ones but this looked nothing like it - at least not the image she had in her mind.
"How...how did you get here?" She glanced up at him, "Sarmatia is miles and miles from here and not in the Empire..." Perhaps it was a bold question, but she needed further distraction from the dying riot outside and she was sick of games and miming.
Horatia nodded, realisation dawning on her. Panic and fear had taken over her senses, but now she was calming down she remembered she had heard of him, and from the horses mouth - as it were - directly.
"I know Calpurnia," She admitted weakly and wrapped her arms around her waist protectively, "And you." She narrowed her bright blue eyes on him. "I'm her sister in law." She finally admitted. What was a freedman going to do with the information that she was out here alone? She considered lying, stating she was some random equite, but what good would it serve, and besides, she was intrigued. "She wrote to my husband about you, and to me, but I hadn't realised she'd freed you." She looked at him, from the top of his head to the tip of his toes.
"Fortuna smiled on you today, Eppitacos," She finally managed with a more relaxed smile, "Had you stumbled upon a woman who did not know Calpurnia or that she rated you highly, she would have likely screamed bloody murder." Horatia wouldn't, not now, not unless he did something to warrant it - but she didn't full fully calm yet. This was an awkward encounter, given where she was and what she had been doing.
"I...just needed to stretch my legs," She said by way of an explanation, a lie of course, "That's why I'm here...not that you asked."
Horatia let out a wide smile, despite the ache in her face, as he nodded and did an odd little smile. He had seemed so irritated when she hadn't guessed correctly, but now he seemed just as irritated that she had? She couldn't understand it, and frowned a little.
"I...don't know much about it," She admitted candidly and tried to trawl through what memories she could muster in the recesses of her mind. She knew the name because it had been included in a biopic she had read not too long ago of a man with a Sarmatian slave. The author had detailed in a few lines about the place but besides that description, and a few hazy passages from some long-ago read works of the borders and countries on the outside of the empire, she was drawing a blank.
"I know horses are important there, and archery?" She added, almost for confirmation. "What...what else is it like? If you don't mind talking..." Or not talking, "With me about it?"
Horatia was pleased with the girls reaction as she gauged it. Some of the young women she'd met (and if she was being honest, she feared Caecina was made in their mould- at least when they had first met) seemed to dismiss any notion of reality over how hard a marriage could (and likely would be). They reminded Horatia of her sister, Livia, whose naivety had come crashing down around her in most destructive ways now the real world had bitten her. It was a shame, and if she could give some girl the honest but positive take over what marriages entailed, then she'd consider it a job well done.
"Oh there's too much for one conversation," She chuckled and smoothed the folds of her stola over her knees. "But things I wish somebody had told me about..." She thought to herself and narrowed her eyes as she did, "You should perhaps try and educate yourself in subjects that interest men," She eyed the girl, "I'm not sure what your father would make of it but it doesn't hurt to ask; books on wars - famous ones if you're not that interested in reading," Not all women were after all, "Conversations with male relatives on the military or politics...pick up as much as you can, but don't be overt about it." Few men enjoyed the nagging of women in areas where they really had no business nagging at all. "I think the best marriages I've ever seen are the ones where the husband trusts his wife to talk of things that he's facing; whether in the senate or the legions or wherever...When I was younger I had a fascination with the army," Her lips twitched and then a wide grin unfold itself on her face, "Odd I know, but it came in handy in my courtship with Aulus and all the years that followed."
It took all of Horatia's self restraint not to either slap her sister or scold her with all the weight of a woman who had sat silently for years on the periphery. Fortunately for both of them, the older sister had spent most of her youth and adult life crafting and honing that self-restraint and so instead of lashing out she merely sat, eyes hawkishly narrowed, face stony and impassive, watching Livia's outburst with little more reaction than if this was the most natural, dull conversation in the world. When her sister was done, and had made her half-hearted apology, Horatia held out a hand to the slave who was just about to refill Livia's cup; "Add more water to the wine. My sister needs all the senses she has left, she shouldn't pickle them in wine strong enough to sink a ship."
The slave merely nodded and left to the side to fix the ratio of water to wine as Horatia flicked cool blue eyes back to Livia. She had expected her sisters naivety and her brashness, she hadn't expected her to feel so...mean though. Had Horatia not written letters every day when she could to enquire after her sisters welfare, after the loss of the child and her husband? And here they sat now, Horatia having divulged one of the most intensely private secrets she held - her own miscarriage - and Livia couldn't even summon the energy or politeness to comment on it. How dare she sit there, mumbling a weak-willed apology. How dare she.
She didn't say anything else. She merely sat there, hands folded in her lap, wine abandoned (Livia should take note) - seething and feeling overwhelmingly sorrowful in equal measure. It was spats like this that made her wonder how the two of them could be related, or why she spent as much energy as she did worrying over her younger sibling. But it was also omissions like Livia's about her husband that made that worry increase in leaps and bounds. When the silence had lingered long enough, and Horatia had discretely filed away her anger and her sadness in separate parts of her mind, she glanced once again at her sister. She only said; "You have my help. Whatever you wish to do, and whether you believe me or not. You do."
Topics I Participated In
Horatia sipped her wine, eyeing the dancers with amusement and interest. It was different, for a party, she'd grant their host that. Usually there were poetry recitals or dramatic performances and such and she had to admit it got a little...dry after a while. She was pleased that Antonia had spared no expense tonight. The dancers were from some Eastern province judging by the music that accompanied them and were mesmerising. She stood alone in the sea of people invited tonight; many she knew, others she did not. Aulus was sequestered away somewhere by the husband of their host discussing politics or his upcoming (potential) appointment to the Consulship and she cast him a wry, amused smile every now and again over the heads of other people gathered in the circle to watch the dancers.
She'd also, much like Antonia, spared no expense for this evening. She was wearing a stola as befit her rank and marital status, but it was fine garment of silk in the colour 1, almost akin to a burning sunset and it was left open at the arms - being held together by ornate gold clasps instead of stitched shut. Her vibrant red hair had been intricately braided and set up although not in the hyper-fashionable way some ladies piled it atop their heads. Her palla, draped over her shoulder and and arm, and the tunica she wore underneath her stola were a paler yellow. She wore minimal jewellery, as she customarily did, but the bracelets she wore glinted in the lamp light being cast across the triclinium. Whilst she didn't necessarily enjoy these sort of functions the way some social butterflies did, she always made an exceptional effort. She was the wife of one of the most powerful men in the city, and she had to look the part. Besides, she wasn't an old woman by any means and it was nice (in an odd sort of way) to have aspirational or a few longing looks cast her way.
She tried to ignore said glances as she stood watching the dancers, her back leaning against a pillar that opened up into the garden. She smiled to herself at the spectacle and murmured a positive comment at the lady stood to her side, unknown to her. It was only when somebody called her name did she pull her eyes away from the rhythmic movements. She recognised Pinaria Gaia, they moved in equivalent circles although she wasn't a close friend by any means. She offered a gentle smile. "Pinaria, it's lovely to see you." She leant in to kiss the woman on the cheek, "You look lovely."
1 The colour of her stola is this colour dress from Horatia's face claim in the Borgias, when they dressed up as Romans!
Early August, 75CE
Why was Caecina plagued with forced visits with people she didn't care to know? It was nothing personal against those she had to meet - she just had a million other things she'd rather be doing! And Juliana had an amazing ability to make connections for Caecina while being miles away at the villa. Today's visit was no different. She had been introduced to Horatia Justina before, and had attended a social gathering, a book club, at her home as well (also spurred on by her stepmother) but had never had a visit with the woman one on one. At the book club meeting, Caecina had made the appropriate niceties and then retreated to spend the rest of the evening with the one young woman she'd known there.
Because she'd never interacted one on one with the older woman, Caecina was going into the meeting today with little to no context or knowledge about her personality, and that intimidated her. The young senatore lady was of the notion that all older women were simply out to get their younger counterparts, to judge their new fashions and hair styles, to judge their adherence to the proprieties. Caecina was absolutely better at interacting with women her age than older women. But at least she had some knowledge about how to appease the old cats, so she was at least prepared on that front.
Caecina dressed especially carefully, choosing a more modest chiton than she usually wore. The fabric was a light blue, Caecina's favorite, and embroidered along the edge's by the girl's own hands, something she could brag about if she needed to defend herself. Her palla was also blue, though darker, and sparingly decorated. Her jewelry was tasteful and not too garish, and she brought along a bottle of fine wine from her father's cellars as a hostess gift. Upon arrival, Caecina was shown into the entryway to wait for her hostess.
December, 74AD - the Via Latina, a day's walk/half a day's ride from Rome
As was customary, Horatia lit the sprig of incense in front of the marker, erected some way back from the dusty road that drove south to Naples. Unlike many of the funerary monuments constructed on this route, the one she came to visit was set back into the forestry - concealed from travellers, and secluded. Her arms were covered in a thin film of goosebumps at the memories that flooded her mind in this place, and why she had deigned to visit, in secret. It had been twelve years but everything was as vivid as if she were reliving it yesterday; the wight of the toddler Titus in her arms, the ear piercing scream, the smell of blood, the feeling of fingers working under her tunica1. She swallowed the lump in her throat and wiped her eyes on the back of her hand. This was an evil place, full of awful memories, but one she had to visit.
A year after the incident she had erected the stone to Decius, the man that had lost his life here. He was a slave, his absence hadn't been commented on or noticed by her parents in law, or Aulus when he had returned home some seven years later, but Horatia keenly felt his loss. He had protected her, even in immense pain. He had been kind. And so she visited every year she could, on the anniversary of his passing, of that fateful day. She never told her husband or own family where she was going; insisting that she was going to visit a friend in a villa and so needed a horse and her freedman; employed for her protection. Said freedman stayed well back from her, standing with the horses on the road. Neither did her husband or her family know about the little monument she had erected; she used funds from her father which she had informed him was for repairs to a women's respite home in the Aventine. She had then told her parents-in-law a similar tale to get double the funds so she got her stone and the women got their home. Everybody won, but poor Decius.
She sniffed back her upset as she crouched in front of the marker, until she heard a twig snap; somebody walking through the clearing. She spun around on her heel and blinked, trying to figure out who it was.
1 Horatia is thinking about her flight from Rome to Baiae in the civil war, as recounted here.
November 59 AD; Greece
The slave hadn't been very forthcoming when Aulus said that he was here to meet with his master, but had admitted him, at least. There seemed to be little reason to have admitted him because he was led past any areas of the house where either Marcus Horatius Justinus or his son Publius might reasonably be found, and taken to the garden. It was not the first time that Aulus had been admitted to the garden - he was a close enough friend of Publius' that he had been allowed access to a relatively private part of the house before.
He was not alone; there was someone sitting on one of the marble benches and Aulus stopped, unwilling to intrude further. And yet, as he began to make his apologies, he came to a stop, captivated by what he saw. He had met Publius' sister before, but she had not really caught his eye, among everyone else, with her hair done up in what must be the very latest style in Rome, and weighed down with jewellery, the very height of elegance. This simply-dressed woman was far more elegant in her simple clothing and with her hair artlessly done up.
"I beg your pardon, I had come to see Publius," he managed. "I am sorry to have disturbed you." He would offer to go, but remained frozen in place, utterly captivated.
The early summer sun was out, brightening the city’s white columns and terracotta, and with good weather came the endless prospects the outside world had to offer. While Valeria was often content staying at home with her wax tablet and scrolls, she also found herself in need of stimulation and company outside her family. Because the high-end bathhouse was a place of both leisure and a cultural hotspot with the occasional theatre or music performance and a collection of literature housing reading rooms and a library with shelves for scrolls. Despite having the litter brought to the baths where she intended to enjoy a warm soaking and massage, Valeria was gowned – for the journey – as an artist would express herself: in bright colour, with a thick, styled wig, and kohl.
She made sure to have Horatia accompany her. “Think of the fun we’ll have,” she promised. After all, the weather, and an excursion anywhere put her in good spirits.
As they left the heat of the sun in the front gardens of the bathhouse, they were welcomed by the coolness of the bathhouse interior. Although music or the projection of dramatic lines were not yet filling up the frescoed walls, the high domed ceiling compensated for it with the sounds of echoing footfall on marble and the flapping of birds that had found their way inside through the skylights.
“Oh, I was hoping they would be here,” Valeria gasped eagerly as her eyes caught the set-up of stalls near the entrance, each were brimming with colourful trinkets and perfumes. The woman made a quick beeline towards them, pressing her fingers with their polished and coloured nails here and there as she pulled one thing out after the other followed by a “how much?” before she put it back. It was never a question of money as it was that Valeria simply liked the victory of a good bargain.
After having some perfume sprayed on to her wrist, Valeria took a whiff before turning to Horatia, holding it out for the woman to smell. “What do you think? It doesn’t smell too much like a centurion’s sweaty ass, does it?”
2nd July, 75AD - Porta Absidata
Horatia had many hobbies; foremost amongst them was reading, but besides from her book club which was flourishing, reading rarely offered the opportunity to better her family. Charitable work, on the other hand, was a noble pursuit for women of her class and it was something she genuinely enjoyed. It was why she found herself in the lowest of the low regions surveying the damage caused by the earthquake of two days ago. She was not alone, of course, it would have been suicide for a patrician and a woman to wander freely around the porta absidata without some accompaniment and the freedman employed for her protection trailed behind her, along with a slave of her husbands who had menace on his face and in his gargantuan frame - even if he had the gentlest heart underneath it.
She was here largely to survey the damage before putting plans to her father for money to repair this insulae and shops damaged. Not anything degenerate, of course, she didn't want her charitable deeds to go toward rebuilding a brothel or the like, but a herbalist? A baker? She would be more than willing to impart coin and procure an architect to help.
Her own domus, or Aulus' as it was, had survived fairly unscathed besides a few unseemly cracks that were already being plastered over. To see the devastation of some of the dwellings here though made her almost nauseous. People were still being pulled out from the rubble and she had to turn her head when a woman - of her own age and with bright copper hair so like her own - had been pulled out without life's breath. But being a sheltered woman, she was largely oblivious to the Plebs here. She rarely dealt with them, and had rarer still entered their domain in times of trouble. It was why the murmurs and the shouting passed her by. It wasn't until a stone, followed by a cup of foul smelling liquid were hurled past the small group that she realised something was brewing.
Her freeman glanced at his charge - dressed simply (no need to be ostentatious in times like this) but still obviously wealthy and murmured to her; "We should leave, my lady, it's not safe." But it was too late. The shouting became a chorus of bellows - not directed at her, of course, but at the situation as loved ones were pulled moaning in pain or still completely from collapsed buildings and children wailed in hunger as supplies had ceased arriving into this district. More things were thrown and Horatia felt her heart quicken. She allowed herself to be tugged away from the small riot that was forming from the depressed and the downtrodden, as their shouts grew louder. But her freeman and the slave were not quick enough to pull her out of the mess that the earthquake created as something was thrown, hitting her square next to her eye. The light around her grew dimmer and she fell like a sack into the waiting arms of her freedman.
When she woke up she blinked. Her right eye wouldn't open fully and she could smell acrid smoke in the air, somewhere distant. Somebody was sitting above her and she blinked her good eye and recoiled. Where on earth was she?!
Aulus had dismissed Felix and Callista and spent a little while considering the situation, turning options over in his head, before coming to a decision. Gods knew whether it would be the right one or not, but it was one for better or worse. He opened the tablet up again, memorised the list of names that it held, and calmly erased the list with the blunt end of the stylus before standing.
He had been married for over a decade. He and Horatia had faced trials and troubles of all kinds, separately and together, and weathered them. Yet he could only recall once when Horatia had had that look on her face - the night he had taken Felix and slipped out into the madness ruling the streets of Rome, to try to get out of the city, leaving her with a young child who'd barely taken his first steps, and another growing inside her. They had not known that last then, but the knowledge or lack of it would have made no difference to what Aulus had needed to do.
His wife would be in the garden - it was her safe space in the house when she needed peace, calmness and to be alone.
He found her, sitting on the marble bench in the exedra overlooking the garden, sitting very still, her hands folded in her lap, and with a look on her face that tore at his heart.
Horatia smoothed down her stola and glanced at herself in the mirror. She was not nervous, per se, she was mostly quite an unflappable woman, but this was the first time she was hosting some of these women, and certainly the first time she'd done so without Valeria Flacca's exuberant personality to outweigh her more reserved, composed demeanour. She just hoped it would be a success; the family could use some of that. Whilst her husband might busy himself with political schemes and dealing with the troublesome Praetorian's in his own way, she knew better than most that men were made and fell at the whispers and words of women. To be seen to be hosting something for the great and the good of the City's women was valuable, especially given the diverse names on the list for today. Nobody could call Horatia Justina a snob given the equite girls that had made the cut.
The house was vacant; Aulus and Felix had left the women to it and taken her son to the baths, and Calpurnia was with her maternal grandfather on the Caelian. It meant that the domus; usually filled with life was oddly quiet today and that only made her perfectionism spiral. She strode from her rooms silently and set about adjusting everything to within an inch of its life. No food was out of place on the richly decorated table in the triclinium, the copies of the Odyssey (picked for its ease for novices or those not interested in literature) for those that had forgotten their own (there would always be one!) lay on a table to the side. Couches were furnished with rich throws and slaves stood diligently by waiting to serve the guests.
She had not forgotten herself, either, although in true Horatia fashion had opted for traditional reservation in her clothes. The shade of amber of her stola complimented her bright auburn hair and contrasted with her eyes. Her hair was neatly, and properly, swept up into twists and turns but it wasn't overzealous or overtly fashionable. She wore little jewellery save for her betrothal ring, a simple gold bangle (a gift from her husband) and a fine pendant with a ruby in. She didn't wish to seem as if she was promoting the families wealth, after all.
As she finished adjusting everything to within an inch of its life to make it perfect, one of the slaves silently announced the first guest and Horatia put on her best, beaming smile and moved to the atrium to greet them.
TAG: Open! Open to all Senatorial or Equite women who want to join a book-club with Horatia!
The Praetorium in Augusta Vindelicorum, Raetia
The Praetorium was abnormally quiet. Well, it was never quiet, it was obviously far more vast than their family domus in Rome and her father-in-law's expansive villa in Baiae and so the Governor's palace hummed with the sounds of slaves diligently working or visitors going about their business. But her quarters - sequestered in the private space of the building, at least, were silent today. Titus was at his lessons and Calpurnia was attending to some matter or another with her slave. Her daughter was no longer the sweet little girl she had once been, but her rapidly evolving interests in the arts and music were a balm for the creatively minded Horatia. Straining her ears she could vaguely make out the jarring notes of her flute. She hoped her daughter would find something a little more pleasing on the ears to learn soon.
So she stood, quite alone in the rooms that made up her's and the children's quarters. It was too cold to sit in the gardens, she mused sullenly, winters in Raetia were harsher than Italia. She sighed and padded aimlessly until she ended up outside her husbands study. She would usually not disturb him in the day, but afternoon was well and truly on its way and his associates and men had left for the day.
She considered, for a moment, going back to her own rooms to read or sew, or perhaps dedicate some time to planning whatever function Aulus was next required to host. The latter thought lit a smile on her face. She missed her husband when he was busy or absent, even if it was just for a few hours, and gently enquiring about an engagement she would be required to organise was a perfect excuse to linger in his study, was it not? She knocked on the doorframe and leant through, a light smile on her face. "Do you have some time to talk?" She queried gently. One never knew with Aulus; she suspected her husband would look as unmoving and unflappable as he ever did, even if there was some major crises occurring that she was not privy to. Stepping into the room and smoothing down her stola, she studied him, forgetting the purpose (and what a loose purpose it was) entirely. "You look tired, you work too much." She said with a wry smile.
The letter was delivered by a professional courier, not one of the household slaves, two days after the events of People Watching, and unfortunately one day after Tribune Sabinus' own letter was sent to the Praetorian Prefect. This letter was received before the events of Every Man Has His Price.
The script was impeccable and the papyrus it was written on of excellent quality.
Horatia Justina to Titus Cornasidius Sabinus, Praetorian Tribune,
Tribune, it is with my most sincere apologies that I send this letter of personal thanks so late. I have likewise, today, sent a letter of my esteem to the Praetorian Prefect to enlighten him of the invaluable help you offered me. A copy of this letter is written below, for your own reference.
I am pleased to say that following your heroism and great favour in both keeping me company and procuring me a litter, my ankle is feeling much better. The medicus who tended me at my family's domus has said that swift action - and the novel use of ice - prevented the worst of the swelling or bruising from occurring. You have my sincere thanks for all you did to ensure I remained unmarred and in good health during my brief, but eventful foray in the taverna's of the Forum.
I recall I mentioned I would also write with a list of appropriate houses, from which, you may source a bride. Unfortunately - in my haste to draft this letter - I have not had the time to consider the matter, but you have my assurance I will.
Once more I extend my thanks, and hope our paths will cross again in the future - although I pray in better circumstances.
Horatia Justina respectfully to the Praetorian Prefect,
I am writing today to express my thanks, and the gratitude of my family, for the benevolent actions of your Praetorian Tribune - Titus Cornasidius Sabinus. I foolishly injured myself during an excursion in the city to purchase gifts for a friend and were it not for the swift actions of your Tribune, I would have fared much worse.
His kindness ensured I was comfortable and that my offending ankle was soothed. His men, likewise, must be commended for their respectfulness and responsiveness as they sourced me a litter when mine became indisposed.
Your Tribune exemplifies the virtues of kindness, loyalty and intelligence and should be commended for it. He most assuredly, has my enduring gratitude.
Horatia felt no relief having sent the letters. The conversation still drummed on again and again in her mind since it had happened, but social etiquette dictated she send them, and so send them she did. Even if she felt the uneasiness of something rupturing, something beginning, as she slipped them into the hands of the courier.
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