It had been a full year since Rukia came to Rome, and she had never bothered to witness an event. From the descriptions from her sisters, it all sounded like a bit of a barbaric, sweaty affair. Plus, she wasn't the biggest fan of crowds as of late. She had begun working closely with a woman who was soon to give birth at any moment, which meant long, long nights away from home. Her second eldest sister, the one that even married, still carried on with her crushes on a few of the fighters, finally begged her to come. And of course, Rukia being Rukia, could never turn her sister down. Even if she was certain she was going to resent every minute of the spectacle.
Pushing through crowds of bodies and loud people, she and her sister finally found a spot that was perfect, even by lower class standards. "Rukia dear," her sister said, "Could get us some olives and maybe some wine? It's far more fun to watch with a snack."
"Of course." She smiled, but inwardly, it took a lot out of her to keep from rolling her eyes. So, here she was, pushing through body after body, and deeply annoyed. All for her sister, and her determination to keep her mind from work. Pushing through a crowd is awkward, so when she made the wrong move, one of her hands accidentally slapped into the shoulder of some other person, of which she quickly started to apologize for. "Oh my goodness... please forgive me... I didn't see where I was going!"
Honestly, she would have rather being delivering crying, squalling newborns over this.
She was a mix of emotions. Rukia never felt the need to act as if her personal story was anything special. In fact, there were some parts of her life that she had regretted. One of those being the reason she was in Rome in the first place. Graciously, she sat next to the friendly codger, and almost instinctively offered him some fruit or bread before she started. “My name is Rukia.” She thought for a moment, and spoke again, “But in Abyssinian, it's more pronounced like Ruqqayah. I’ve gotten used to being Rukia in Roma, however Ruqqayah is my real name.”
Her eyes glanced up at a statue as she tried to reminisce, “My father is Greek and my mother is an Abyssina, my grandparents didn’t like that very much, since they wanted her to marry a boy in their village, instead.” It was difficult to explain the story her mother told in Latin, but she tried the best she could, “So they left? Ah, eloped. For a year in Greece, and when she returned, she had my sister in her arms!” She smiled, her was a woman that believed in a child’s obedience, but to learn that even she rebelled for love was... intriguing. “My father’s family was different. They loved her.”
Their reaction, their sweetness. She almost yearned it in a way. Especially, Gauis' response as she woke him. When he hugged her, her own smile finally grew and patted him on his shoulder as they broke. "It's no trouble, Dominus," Her expression ever so gracious at his offer of wine. It wouldn't have hurt to be their guest, after all, she had a bit of a walk ahead of her.
"Of course, I'd love some." Rukia answered, still curious about the elder's family life in Rome. She almost wanted to ask him about where he came from, but decided against asking him so soon. "Lead the way." @Gothic
The announcement of a new arrival was always a grand thing in her mind. The way an expectant mother or father's face would light up at the news always seemed to warm Rukia's heart. 'Maybe one day,' Rukia thought, 'I'll be just as happy.' When she felt the tell-tale knot in Petronia's belly, even she smiled. "Thank you, in advance, for praying for me. I'll make sure to pray for your child's health in these coming months." If the child was conceived around this time, Rukia surmised that this child was meant for winter. "It will be cold around the time of your delivery, so be mindful and eat plenty of fresh things." Seeing that Petronia would probably want some time to herself, she stepped out to find Gaius, resting against the wall not far from his daughter's room.
She cleared her throat, "Dominus Gauis, I have an announcement." Rukia said, "Your daughter is indeed pregnant. Depending on the time, she'll deliver in the winter." He was snoring so loudly, that she wondered if he could even hear within his dreams! @Gothic
This Gaius was certainly, interesting. She understood him for the most part, and shook her head when he offered to speak in a language she could understand a bit more. "No need, Gaius. I need to learn to speak the local language better, either way." She laughed when he told her an excerpt of a story he'd experienced in the past, "I hope that didn't sour you to the people of Nubia. We're usually far more hardworking and honest than that!" She smiled sweetly once introduced to his beautiful Petronia, she almost thought she must've been his young wife the way she carried herself within their home. She sat so tall and regal. Only the tribal queens of the West and north of Nile seemed to carry such beauty. Yet, granted, her mother Neferat is also such a beauty.
"It's nice to meet you, Petronia." Rukia said with a slight nod. Eyeing her father, however, she was glad she didn't have to say anything to get him to leave. Moments like these were better spent without an audience. She waved him off before she moved towards Petronia and began her work, "Domina Petronia, if I press your belly like so, let me know if you feel any pain..." With how nice this family appeared, she hoped that this would be an easy visit!
OOC: It's okay if we skip! I'd just say that it's possible she might be feeling some early stages of pregnancy, just in time before her morning sickness settles in. @Gothic
"I only want what's best for all. If I can make a choice that can keep all from harm, I'll do it." Which was true. Because they crossed paths, she felt responsible for his safety, even if they were merely strangers. "Keep it." She patted his shoulder, "Maybe you'll be in less trouble when you present it. I'll pray for you." She moved away from him, finally tying the necklace back on before she hid the sparkling gem underneath her dress. She didn't have much time to braid her hair, so she let it all fall down once she was done.
Rukia almost wanted to roll her eyes at him calling her Domina, as if she deserved any title other than Rukia , but she let it be. "I promise, Helenus. I may be foreign, but I am learning more and more. Keep me in your prayers." Was this goodbye? She wasn't sure, a part of herself felt a little pained that they'd probably never see each other again, but she wasn't sure why. She'd met many that have walked in and out of her life the short time that she'd be here, but this meeting would be one to affect her the most. She'd think of him often.
Quickly, she grabbed her sister's belongings and left him, but not before looking back to smile, and say "Take care, Helenus. "
And with that, she was gone. @Atrice
"So, it was her." Rukia's expression fell, still conflicted at the idea of reporting someone else in a similar position. "I had a feeling. In fact, I wanted to question her right before I caught you." Her fingers fiddled with her purse again, until finally, she decided to remove the necklace... but leave the rest inside to gift to him, "Here. It's not much, but consider it something to offer to whoever asks." It was small and made of leather, and beaded on the side was a symbol, similar to a marking that was etched into her left wrist. "If you're ever seriously hurt, find me. I'm a healer and I don't live far from here."
She wanted to reassure him. To tell him that everything would be okay and that all was forgiven, but even she was unsure of where his fate lied. "This may be out of our hands, but you shouldn't shoulder it alone. I help many slaves, some at no cost." Her eyes met his, possibly hoping to find some indication of calm or... something... anything to keep her from worrying about the young stranger, "I hope that the next time I'll see you, it will be under better circumstances." And she meant that, truly. @Atrice
Rukia Agda was the daughter of a sailor and a midwife and grew up in a small village where everyone knew everyone. Life was never perfect, but what they all prided on was honesty and protecting each other. Maybe that's why she still didn't understand the Empire's ways or the desire to hold the life of someone else between the palms of your hand. She couldn't bring herself to put Helenus into harm's way, not over a necklace, at the least. She didn't press him further for explanations on his behavior. What he said, while still vague, had to be enough.
"Well, if it's what you have to do... it's what you have to do." Carefully, she slipped the necklace from his hand, and instead of placing it back on, she slipped into her purse. As far as her forgiveness goes, she finally smiled at him, "I couldn't live with myself if I decided to hate you for what you've done without hearing you out. I'm glad I have. " She wasn't sure if she was supposed to do the next thing she did, but it was a habit that was hard to break. She decided to embrace him, squeezing him tight in her hug, and patted his head as a way to reassure him that she did forgive him. "Life is hard for us all, I suppose. It wouldn't be right of me, in my mind to have you hurt. I hope you can forgive me for yelling."
She stepped away from him, and nodded. "I hope you find yourself someplace where you won't have to do such a thing." @Atrice
He seemed very kind, which was a reprieve from her day to day interactions with the locals. It did help, somewhat, that his features were far more familiar to her. She had met some people with hair as red as fire or as gold as wheat, but admittedly, she felt a bit more at home with those looked more like her own family. This home also seemed to echo the light and airy nature of their meeting. It was a beautiful home, something she almost wanted to comment on, but felt it a bit rude to simply blurt it aloud.
She walked in step with him, still smiling sweetly as he mentioned her patient's moods. "Ah, well most ladies tend to be if they're expecting. If she's truly with child, I'm sure her moods may lighten a little with the news." And while Rukia never experienced it, from examining enough women, there were other things that could make a pregnancy far more difficult than being simply 'fussy'.
When he offered his hand, she hesitated a little, but shook it. The Romans had strange customs, but she would manage well just as long as she was determined and respectful. However, when he introduced himself as the Dominus or lord of the home, she stammered. "O-oh! It's a pleasure, Dominus Gaius?" Domina. Dominus. So many fancy titles and names, it could make her head spin. But this Gaius seemed so sweet and understanding, she only hoped she wasn't butchering his name. "No worries, Dominus. Your daughter is in safe hands, I promise. Now, could you direct me to her?" @Gothic
If she were more cruel, she would've screamed at the top of her lungs to have him captured or struck down. She knew enough of what fate lied for a disruptive slave; tortures, worse conditions, reselling, or even death. But when she saw the pendant in his hands, all she could feel was relief. "Helenus," She walked closer to him, just enough to take his hand to close it around the her father's necklace. "How much does your livelihood matter for this?" The whole situation felt so wretched. She didn't know what his fate would be if he kept it, or she took it back with her. Was he going to sell or give it to someone else? She had so many questions to ask him.
Rukia's heart was already broken. And as she spoke it began to shatter into even more pieces, but she never let on. "Life as a slave, it's hard, is it not?" That necklace meant the world to her. It still did. But it pained her even more to see the man grovel. "Why steal in the first place?" Her hand squeezed his. "Why not be honest working?" The answer to that question felt so obvious, but it was better to hear someone else's story than to judge. Concern painted over her light bronzed features, he seemed so young, too. He probably wasn't much older than her younger brother. "I forgive you." @Atrice