Did Tertius expect Teutus to be over the moon about yet another promise to free him soon - this one in front of the entire household - when he'd so far failed to keep every previous iteration of the same promise? Teutus could not drag up the will to fake ecstasy over the news - it was old news by now, and he'd believe it when he had his manumission in his hand and the pileus on his head. (At least Tertius had actually bestirred himself to purchase a pileus, he supposed. One tiny step closer to actually fulfilling the promise of a lifetime.)
He managed to summon enough care from somewhere to smile at his master, though the expression didn't reach his eyes. Tertius seemed almost wilfully blind where other people's thoughts and emotions were concerned - and Teutus had neither the standing nor the desire to enlighten him as to what anyone else felt or thought about any of this. How he expected anyone to get along with Hector when Hector seemed to delight in not getting along with anyone else was something only Jupiter knew, and he wasn't telling Teutus (well, 'anyone else' who was Teutus, anyway, he conceded, begrudgingly; he seemed to get on all right with Rhoda - maybe because Rhoda had access to all the tasty things in this house!).
He'd been caught whispering to Charis, too, Hades take it. He made sure that he wasn't standing too close to Charis, and took up the position of the well-trained, docile secretary that was the role he'd played for the last... however many years it had been. If he had to be the perfect slave in order to win his freedom, he'd do it. He just hoped that he would win his freedom, and hoped that 'eventually' didn't mean in another ten years.
He had no questions about his master's arrangements in the bedroom, and would really rather not know anything at all about them - the man was his father, after all, whether or not Teutus was free! He had absolutely no clue why he'd been dragged into this, unless it was to be hauled over the coals for telling Charis the tiny insignificant fact that he'd had promise after promise made to him so far, and not seen any sign of it being kept, yet.
He was not about to display his ignorance in front of Hector, though, and remained silent.
Teutus couldn't celebrate the announcement - from his expression, it seemed that Tertius expected him to, though. Doubtless, if Tertius had received as many broken or delayed promises as Teutus, he'd have just as little reaction to yet another one.
"He's been promising it for years and it hasn't happened yet," Teutus muttered to Charis in answer to her question. He wouldn't honestly be surprised if the next month passed with no change to his status in the household - right now, he wouldn't be surprised if he was standing here next year with his freedom just as out of reach as ever.
He glanced at Hector. Out of all of them, he'd received the most unwelcome news (well, on the surface of it; Teutus knew that her own change in status was just as unwelcome to Charis). He didn't particularly like his father's bed slave, but that was more to do with Hector himself than anything - but even Hector didn't deserve to be summarily demoted in front of everyone.
Oh,this was just getting better and better! Yet another promise of freedom, this time in front of the entire rest of the household. Teutus had heard so much about it now that he no longer really believed it would happen - he would only believe it once he heard the magistrate pronounce him to be free.
And if Charis ended up pregnant - which was practically guaranteed, given that nobody wanted it to happen - what would that mean for him? And her, and the baby? Because if Tertius decided that it was too much trouble to free Teutus or didn't get around to it before the baby was born,and Charis had a boy, the only thing Tertius needed to do was pick the infant up in the tollere liberos for it to be free, and then he'd have his heir and Teutus could kiss goodbye to any hope of manumission.
He felt wrung out, like an old dishcloth, but squeezed Charis' hand back - obviously she hadn't worked all this out. Then again, she was still getting used to Rome and its customs and traditions, and probably wouldn't know any of the customs regarding slavery and freedom. He mustered a smile for Charis. None of this was her fault, after all.
Teutus fell silent as Tertius scanned the gathered household. He had no further answers for Charis, anyway, at this point in time.
He felt himself stiffen as Tertius made his announcement. So, they were all exactly equal, including himself - the lowest skivvy on a level with the son of the master, the master's secretary. He wasn't going to say anything but couldn't help thinking that Tertius had no real clue about running his household.
And to top it all, Hector and Charis would be sleeping in one of the actual family rooms in the house, while he was still expected to remain in the slave dormitory. Hector wouldn't hesitate to rub his face in all of this, he was sure.
He didn't react, couldn't react, as Charis seized his arm, obviously seeking reassurance for herself. Reassurance that he needed himself and couldn't offer her.
@Joaquin @Atrice @Sara
Teutus had just been told to gather the other slaves in the household together in the atrium, with (predictably) no explanation as to why. He managed to evade or escape questions to the best of his ability until Charis found him. They hadn't spoken, for whatever reason, in several days.
"No idea. I know as much as you do," he told her. Chances we're good that even if he did know more, he'd be forbidden from saying anything, of course. "Your guess is as good as mine."
The whole thing between Hector (who didn't like him, for reasons!) and Charis, and his father, was just complicated and painful, with Teutus caught between his father and his fellow slaves in general, because he was a slave yet with the promise of freedom at some unspecified point in future. A promise none of the other slaves in the house had at all.
Teutus bundled his cloak in his arms, grateful that at least he had not (and was not likely to!) endured the indignities of the slave market- he avoided such places as much as he could, though it was impossible to walk through any market and not see slaves for sale, alongside pots and pans and woodwork and everything else you could buy.
"You go and get some sleep. I will... I will try to get your yarrow, though I don't know if I'll be able to today." Probably the stuff had a short window when it would work, probably he only had a day or two before it wouldn't do what Charis needed it to. He resolutely did not think about what might happen if she did get pregnant, and Tertius found out about it.
It was a shame that sweet innocent Charis would end up as cynical and hardened as any other person in Rome. Teutus wished it would not happen, but it was surely inevitable - for her own protection, as much as anything.
"If you need to talk, I'm here. Only - not about women's things, all right?" He hadn't the first clue about those, except to know that he didn't want to know anything about them.
He would try to run interference between Charis and their master, but there honestly was not likely to be much that he could do because Tertius was aware of her now - more than aware of her.
Oh, Juno, why couldn't she have gone to any other household? This is far too complicated a place for her!
"All right, all right - I can ask, it's alright." Teutus found himself rubbing her back as the panic rose again. She wanted to prevent a pregnancy, which he could totally understand - he wouldn't wish his life on anyone, let alone any sort of sibling.
At her further words, he glanced around. "You don't want to do that - the things they'll do if they catch you. The things they'll do to all of us if you - if any of us - take a knife to him."
He sighed. "I'm sorry about yesterday, I'm sorry about last night - I want us to be friends." If they couldn't be anything else, Teutus wanted her to know that she could still rely on him as a friend. Jupiter knew she few enough of those around here, after all.
"I'll do my best to get you your yarrow, Charis, I promise."
"No, Domine, I..." He hoped he wasn't about to embarrass the older man - if there was one thing Teutus was aware that Tertius Quinctilius Varus did not appreciate, it was being a laughing-stock. Thankfully, the natatio was not very full right now. There were some other patrons present, but they were more concerned with their own leisure than with what was taking place between Teutus and his father.
It would take practice to perfect the technique, he thought, but he felt confident enough to say, "I think... I think I understand how to do it, Domine."
There was very little chance Tertius had enough patience to coach him properly; he looked as though he was itching to go and swim on his own while Teutus splashed around trying to get his arms and legs properly coordinated.
"Thank you," he added, the way a slave should be grateful to his master for giving him a little bit of positive instruction, and a son should be grateful to spend time with his father.
"An adventurer, sir? I don't know if I'd go that far." He shrugged. Perhaps he was, but it was surely a far cry from exploring the greatest city in the world to exploring... anywhere else. He didn't think he would take too kindly to roughing it in the wilds of Germania or Britannia - and as a slave, it would be roughing it. He didn't think Tertius would willingly up sticks and head back to any of those wild places, and if he did, the chances he'd take Teutus with him were slim indeed.
"I read... Oh, almost anything, if the staff don't mind. I like history, though, and Vergil, though he can lay it on a bit thick sometimes. But then, he was writing to please Augustus, wasn't he?"
Or perhaps he wasn't; Teutus knew that his knowledge of such things was atrociously spotty sometimes, especially in comparison to the freeborn youths of his age.
"They do serve to teach what kind of men we must be, though - what kind of men built the city we live in," Teutus added, and had the grace to look embarrassed. He might be born and bred Roman, but he was not free - and the other did not have the countenance of one born and bred in Italy (or at least, his parents may not have come here of their free will, whether he was born in Italia or not).