"I don't know," Teutus told her, and shrugged. He was probably still thinking like a slave, really, but faced with this, what else was he supposed to do?
He was never going to sleep with a slave-girl he owned, that was for certain. And if he did, he'd deal with it a deal differently from how his father had; he did not want to emulate his father in the way that he delayed things and pretended everything was all right when it wasn't. "It's all a mess, you don't deserve to have been dragged into such a mess."
He could wish that Tertius didn't hang onto his slaves so long, or deal with them the way he did. He was likely to see this as some huge act of disloyalty, but Teutus could completely understand Charis' unwillingness to bear a child in her situation, in this household, to this master. "I'm sorry you ended up here, with all of this."
"I wouldn't want anyone to... go through what I have," he told her. He didn't think that any other child would get even the promises Tertius had made him for so long, either. And no, he wouldn't want to be served by someone he knew was related by blood. If he were still a slave, maybe it would be different, but he wasn't.
"I don't know - but you are very pretty. Perhaps you could take a look in Antonia's mirror when you polish it - how else are you supposed to know it's properly shined, of course?" He sighed. "If he asks, I know nothing at all about this, I don't want to know... but oh, I hope you will be safe." He knew almost nothing of women's matters like their courses and pregnancy and everything else that went along with it, but of course he knew enough to know that things were not always safe, especially the deed she was contemplating.
"If he loses interest, you will be able to go back to the gardening and everything, as before."
There was one way for Charis not to be mother to a slave, but it had taken years for Tertius to free his own son, he was unlikely to free Charis on the spur of the moment just so that he did not have a second child born into slavery. It was not the first time Teutus would have liked to wring Tertius' neck for him, though he never would, of course. Tertius seemed to know precisely how to exasperate people with the least amount of effort possible exerted on his part.
"I do not want you... do anything that would put you in any danger, of any sort," he told her, reaching to squeeze her hand. "I don't... I don't know why he took you to his bed - he hadn't for so long. I think my mother was the last."
"I'm probably a bad master," Teutus said. "You must know that doing this is dangerous, though. I would not want you to... I don't want anything to happen to you, and not just because I am..." he gestured at the room around them, signifying his freedom. "I don't think masters and slaves can be friends, not really, but I hope that you and I can be friends, as much as possible."
He sighed. "Do you have someone to go with you?"
He hoped that she did, because she would need someone - she would probably need someone to help her get back to the house, afterwards.
"You know that Tertius will want you at some point, so he will have to know that you've been ill," he added, not much liking keeping things from his father, but still more-or-less used to it because of just how this household worked.
"This house is a very long way from being 'normal' even without..." Teutus told her. The whole thing was dangerous - whether she had the child, or successfully prevented carrying to term, it was dangerous for her. He was glad she had his good luck charm, now, though he had no idea how efficacious it would be for her. Hopefully it would bring her more luck than it had him.
"If you think I would tell him..." Well, if she could get it all sorted out without running into any of the inherent dangers, he would not - but to know that one of Tertius' slaves was potentially risking her life so as not to carry her master's baby... Teutus did not want another child to end up with the life he had lived - and any child born now would have even less chance of being freed because Tertius now had his heir (which Teutus was glad of, from purely self-preservation).
"I wish he'd stuck with Hector," he muttered, though he couldn't wish that more than Charis was, probably.
"I think you need this, at least for now," Teuts said, scooping up his good luck talisman from where it had fallen to the floor, and dropping the cord loop over Charis' head. "You can always give it back later - just leave it under my pillow or something. And if you're not ill, there has to be something the matter. People aren't sick like that without a very good reason, after all."
Something occurred to him, then, and he paused, looking at her more closely. If she was not ill, and yet 'it was all such a mess' and she didn't want Tertius or any of the other slaves to know... Oh Juno, it couldn't be.
He sat next to her, rubbing her back, wishing he knew what to do to comfort a crying woman and wishing for the millionth time that his father was a different sort of person, who did not have such a complicated household. Perhaps Teutus could find some reason to head to Hispania or somewhere to get away from this whole mess.
"Don't worry about it," he told her. He would get more, as his father's son, and Charis would need every as she got for herself.
He was about to say something more and was interrupted as she grabbed en empty wine jug and doubled over, retching.
"You are ill," he said, chafing her wrist worriedly. She obviously had not wanted Tertius to know, though he would have to, eventually. "Stay there," he said, going to the door and looking into the atrium to see if any of the house slaves were around.
One was and he sent him for a cup of water, and some milk - the former for Charis to rinse her mouth with and the latter for sustenance and to settle her stomach.
"Come and sit on the bed, it will be more comfortable than the floor," he added, returning to her.
There was a chest in the corner in which Teutus kept his clothes, some few small things, and his money. He knelt to open the lid, and paused to ask how much she needed. His peculium would cover it - he had not saved to buy his freedom with it, as many slaves did, but had not spent all of it, not by a long shot.
He closed the chest again and stood, approaching her - she had stayed by the door, and looked nauseous for some reason.
He held out the purse with his savings in, and fumbled at his neck as a thought struck him.
A leather thong hung from his outstretched hand a moment later, a pebble with a hole swinging from it.
"I meant to give you this, earlier," he said. "You might as well have it now. From... a friend."
"I didn't say you had done anything wrong," Tuetus said. "I was just worried for you, in case you had got into trouble with some bad people." He was not about to get into the intricacies of explaining Rome's criminal underworld to her, something he knew more from hearsay than actual experience (thank all the gods!).
"Come with me,"he said, standing up, his decision made.
She looked so utterly alone and helpless, somehow, a similar look to when he had first seen her in the kitchen that day. She still needed a friend, and Teutus could no longer really be that friend, though he would like to - but he was aware of the gulf between them. More aware than she was, probably.