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Sara last won the day on April 6

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  1. Charis buried her neck in Cynane's, as if savouring every last moment of this embrace and her friend. She was still trying, determinedly, to think that everything would be fine and she would rid herself of the child and things could go back to 'normal' (whatever normal now was for her). Yet in her actions, her fear was evident. She couldn't stomach the thought of not seeing Cynane's face again or the poor woman hearing of her passing. What if she never saw Ardra again? Or was buried somewhere so far from home? She tried to shake the thought from her mind as best as she could and hurriedly pulled away from the embrace. "Two weeks." She affirmed and raised her hand to stroke her friends cheek in a familial way. "Two weeks and this will all be over and we will have wine and grin and laugh again, I promise." Before she got upset and the tears that were gathering in her eyes fell, she turned on her heel. By the time she reached the domus - some time later - Jocasta was waiting for her, arm on her hip and smirk on her face. Her absence had been noted, she said, but Charis only brushed past her. She needed to speak to Teutus, and she needed to do it now. TAG: @Atrice Thank you for a fab thread!
  2. Charis swallowed and kept her eyes down at the floor, her hands softly stroking the imperceivable bump on her belly. Whether you want to or not. This was possibly the most epitomising moment of slavery so far for her; she had been raped and abused, shackled and chained but that had not broken her spirit. She felt she still had options after each. But this? To carry a child for nine months and endure the rigours and very real possibility of death in childbed, against her will? Nothing could have summed up just how little freedom she had, than that. Tertius likely didn't even realise it - he was a man of class, and a man full stop. He would never understand, but she was beginning to. Her frown increased as he finished speaking and she glanced up at him - the fire dimmed in her eyes and pure confusion filling the void. "B-but it will be my child? How can I not see him?" She had a sense - an inkling that whatever grew inside her would be a boy. It was a foolish thing to think she could predict it, but it felt right. If anybody who was allowed to see her - Tertius or the evil little witch Jocasta - cared to really examine her they would see the cogs on her mind begin to slow and falter. She had lashed out initially - a sign that she was not well mentally, but this creeping dread - the realisation that everything was so far out of her control now - was something else. She sat in silence, hands over her stomach and frowning. TAG: @Atrice
  3. Calpurnia's eyes widened and she glanced across to her mother for direction, at the same time Aulus did. Her mother's lips twitched in a sly smile and she nodded her head, adding; "I think that would be very pretty, don't you?" Calpurnia beamed and forgetting herself, and her shyness, in the face of her fathers generosity - moved to wrap her little arms around his midriff in a hug. "Yes please!" She beamed and giggled before righting herself. Horatia saw the storm before it came, however, and was swiftly on her feet moving back over to them before Calpurnia would realise her unprompted kindness had knocked all of her pebbles and treasures into the grass from her fathers pallium. She knelt quickly, in between Aulus and her daughter and set to rifling through the grass with silent concentration until she had fished out four of the five treasures. Calpurnia was still distracted, talking about what she wanted her necklace to look like - mercifully oblivious to her lost stone. Horatia quirked her eyebrow to Aulus next to her and said gently, joking; "You cannot take your eyes off of them for even a moment...lest disaster strike..." She meant it not as a criticism but as a joke and hoped he'd take it as such. Now...where was this lucky stone with a hole in the middle?! TAG: @Sharpie
  4. Calpurnia grinned and bobbed her head, delighted at her father's interest. Horatia had heard it all before, of course, so for Calpurnia this was a new audience to impress with her trinkets. She snatched up her bag and began to rifle through as Horatia silently mouthed a 'thank you' over her daughters head to Aulus, amused at the scene before her. She had glimpsed his tender side, both in those few short months of marriage and with his newborn son before his departure, but it was nice to be reminded of it now. Especially as she had grown increasingly concerned, as the years had worn on, that life in military camps would roughen him. Calpurnia produced four more stones; a shiny blue one that was almost translucent, one with a hole through its centre and two that Horatia had no idea why her daughter had picked up - they just looked like pebbles to her. Nonetheless, her daughter dutifully laid them out in neat rows on Aulus' pallium. Ever the perfectionist, much like her mother. Not wishing to intrude on the moment - she glanced across at Titus who looked a little forlorn at being left out again (the perils of two children!) and moved to stand - holding out her hand to him. He did not take it and she arched her brow - suspecting now he had a male figure in his life to impress, such shows of affection were not wanted. She dropped it and indicated to a waiting slave that had finally caught up with them to fetch her a drink. "Why don't you show me the fountain whilst Tata is busy?" Titus pouted a little but nodded and turned to wander over to the fountain. She took a seat on its edge and ran a hand through the beautifully cool and clear water. She cast her gaze back to Aulus and Calpurnia and with a hint of amusement, feigned innocence, asking him; "Having fun, husband?" She felt more relaxed here and hoped to the Gods the tumultuous awkwardness would settle down, sooner rather than. TAG: @Sharpie
  5. Horatia smoothed her daughters pale blonde hair in a gesture of pure maternal love and smiled gently at Aulus, grateful he should try and take (or feign) an interest in his daughter. She had a vivid imagination, and Horatia suspected, deep intelligence but her gender largely prevented her from being seen as such. At Aulus' intrusion Calpurnia glanced up at her mother and Horatia's lips twitched, amused. She knew exactly what her daughter was thinking. The little girl - so irritated at not getting any attention - was now shy in the face of her father. Trying to coax her out, she knelt and on her knees, leant to rifle through the little pouch before producing two little stones. She deposited them in her daughters little hand with a conspiratorial wink and a sly smile. Perked up by this, Calpurnia spun round - back to her mother and facing Aulus and despoiled the two stones in Aulus' hand. "I-I found this one in the garden of Grandtata's." Horatia mouthed 'my father' over her head to Aulus, "A-and this one from here," The little girl grinned, despite her shyness, "D-do you see how spark'ly1 and shiny? Grandtata s-says the Gods made them and left them for me!" Horatia chuckled. It was a pretty story, although to be fair, she had no better explanation of how the latter rock ended up in the Gardens of Sallust - half-buried. It was beautiful, and no wonder Calpurnia wanted to show it off - even if her military man of a father couldn't appreciate it. TAG: @Sharpie 1 Calpurnia found some Pyrite, or 'fool's gold'
  6. And getting to know me, she thought in her head but didn't say anything - only smiling gently at Aulus' insistence they should go with him. In truth - the thought was a welcome one. She knew plenty of women that would loathe the idea of leaving the trappings of comfort they'd come to expect in Rome to trudge halfway across the Empire to some dismal province. But Horatia had grown up in a military family - as a girl she had spent time in Germania and Hispania and then on to Greece and was comfortable with a life away from Rome. Likewise, she was also a woman had been installed with the idea that her husbands word went and so if Aulus was to leave and desired the family move with him, she would not argue. Not unless there was serious risk to the children involved. She tried to shutter the feelings of discomfort, however, at being taken away from her family with a man she - really - barely knew. They'd come to get some familiarity in time, she was sure of it. She just had to deal with and cope with the awkwardness and the unusual in the interim. She watched with genuine pleasure as Titus heeded his father's lesson, although she was growing increasingly aware of Calpurnia's fractiousness on her lap. It came to a head, sooner than anticipated as the little girl - evidently upset about being left out of the conversation, snapped at her brother; "Tata should look at m' pebbles now! N-not swords!" in a voice that Horatia recognised was close to a tantrum. Her daughter was a well behaved little girl - exceptionally well behaved for the most part, even with her riotous imagination - but all little children were prone to bouts of tantrums and upset, regardless of their upbringing. Wishing to diffuse the tension and not embarrass Aulus (or herself and her parenting abilities!) she quietly shifted Calpurnia off of her lap and moved around to face her. "Why don't I look at the pebbles whilst Tata and Titus talk of boring manly things, hm? Or we could make some daisy chains for your hair?" She stroked a soft finger over her daughters cheek to get her to stop glaring at her brother. She knew, history had taught her, that men often favoured their sons - understanding their pastimes and their inclinations in a way they could not with their daughters. She sought to save Aulus from that difficulty by suitably distracting little Calpurnia so he could bond with his son. TAG: @Sharpie
  7. Horatia shifted Calpurnia on her lap as she leaned forward, as if to get a better view of her father. Not that she could see her daughter's face, but the little girl had a frown furrowing her brow; "Why did you not t-take Mama and me and Tit-Titus to 'tannia?" And Horatia rocked her enough to make the little girl giggle, speaking to her children rather than looking at Aulus directly; "Britannia, not 'tannia...and because it wasn't safe to and your Papa was very busy, and you," She squeezed her daughter's midriff - a grin of adoration for her children on her face, "Surprised me and were still in my tummy at the time young lady." Calpurnia giggled and Titus distracted himself suitably with handing over his sword to his father. How amusing, she thought, that even at seven years old he'd already internalised enough about the role of a man that he found such things distasteful to think about. She glanced across at Titus and noted the awed look on his face as he gazed upon his father with a sword, and then she pivoted to look at Aulus. Even with a child's toy he looked like a natural with the sword. It reminded her of those fleeting moments in Greece - both before and after their marriage where he'd still been in service and thus any moments they did get to spend together as newlyweds were in the context of stolen snatches between manoeuvres or other military matters. She had seen him, and adored him, in his armour with his weaponry then and this little moment gave her a glimpse of it now. She said nothing, however, and blushed a little to herself as she turned her face away - setting to pick at the daises with Calpurnia. Titus grinned his sweet, gap tooth smile and nodded hesitantly; "I would like that very much." Horatia coughed indiscreetly and Titus added a hurried; "T-thank you Tata." TAG: @Sharpie
  8. Sara

    To Walk Alone

    Horatia choked and her shock that accompanied the scream almost knocked her from her perch. Sense caught her at the last minute and she wound her arms around Titus - still at her breast - to keep him from tumbling from her lap. The scream had died to a mewling pain that echoed around the trees and even from this distance away she heard voices, more than one, from the place she had sought refuge with Decius. She sat rooted to her spot for a few long moments in agonising indecision. Where could she go? If she stayed where she was whoever had inflicted that raw pain on another human might find her, but to run away deeper into the forest risked her losing her way and who knew if she could find her way back to the road as night set in? Titus shifted against her chest and the motion blinked her out of indecision. Cautiously, on legs that felt as solid as the sea, she stood and as quietly as she could - she moved through the mud. It was slick against her sandals and she had to reach out to grip onto low branches and trunks to regain her balance as her other arm held her son - still latched on to keep him quiet - against her breast. She squinted into the dull light until she saw the embers flickering from the fire Decius had started moments before and immediately her spare hand came to her mouth to muffle her scream of shock. Decius lay prone on the floor and even in the dim light and drizzle the blood that swelled and bloomed from a wound at his throat was visible - soaking the leaves below him. Three men stood around although she could see four horses in the far distance in the clearing. She felt her skin come over in goosebumps and the hair at the back of her neck raise. Their conversation was muted but she could catch words here and there; they were taunting him. "Does it hurt to die?" One sneered and Horatia felt tears prickle in her eyes. Another snorted and moved with his sword to prod at the mans stomach until Horatia could look no more and screwed shut her eyes. "Let's do this again...Who was with you?" He asked and she heard Decius scream again. "N-no one was w-with me." Was his stuttered response through gargles of pain and it was in that moment Horatia realised what was happening. Whoever they were - bandits - Clemen's men -she didn't know, but she did know that they knew Decius was not alone and the wounds the man was receiving were in response to his silence. Horatia waited no longer, and before she could take stock of her surroundings, she bolted. Titus was pulled away from her breast and placed on her hip as she ran through the mud and the underbrush. His screaming intensified at the shock of being ripped from his source of food and before long she heard the sound of feet behind her. The light was fading but she had always been perceptive and remembered the route back to the road. Before long, she stumbled onto the dirt thats signalled the road and blinked. A man stood there, grinning a gap tooth smile as if he'd been waiting his whole afternoon for this moment. She had forgotten about the one man unaccounted for in the clearing. "Hello love." - Part 2 of 5 -
  9. "As you wish." She offered a light smile, slightly buoyed by his reaction but didn't go farther and say anymore than that. She knew full well that his decision was final - even if she was ultimately under her father's authority and not her husband's, within their marriage she was still duty bound to his plans and will. Even if he allowed her opinions, ultimately it would still be a significant change to her life for the last five years. Perhaps that was the root cause of this feeling of discomfort? Their new dynamic would take time to bed in. Titus looked absolutely delighted by his fathers reaction and then glanced around. There was a couple - a little way off - equites or well-dressed plebs Horatia guessed - but they were too enamoured with one another to pay the family much heed. Without much ceremony, he trotted off to a secluded spot on the grass and plopped himself down. Calpurnia wriggled free of her mother's hand and bounded after her brother, taking a seat on the grass. Horatia glanced at Aulus and then moved herself. She dropped the palla from her hair to spread out enough to sit on - the stola she was wearing might have been plain but it was expensive and she knew the slaves would mutter if she got grass-stains on it. Calpurnia moved quickly to sit on her mother's lap and Horatia winced a little at her weight but shifted her to a more comfortable position. Titus fiddled with the hilt of his wooden sword, obviously itching to get it out, but not wishing to pre-empt his father. Quietly, he asked; "D-did you have gardens like this in B-Britannia, Tata?" TAG: @Sharpie
  10. Horatia said nothing, still irked by her husbands flippancy, but tried to arrange her features into neutrality. Calpurnia, again, eased her irritation with a little grin, "Y-yes she did! She said I could be Vestal!" Horatia chuckled and shook her head, "We have a few years before we'd think about that sweetheart and it is not something to take lightly." In truth, despite the honour of being inducted into the ranks of Vestals, the thought made Horatia nauseous. She had almost given her life to her daughter during birth, and the thought of her being sequestered in the temple for a significant portion of her life made her heart ache. She hadn't been through so much with her, just to have her taken away. Glancing at Aulus and then to Titus she nodded silently and lengthened her stride, using her spare hand to gather the fabric of her stola and pulling it away from her legs so it was easier to walk. She felt tense, all of a sudden. Perhaps it was Aulus' forgetfulness at her family or the chatter of her daughter, or the feeling of...faking something, faking this that was uncomfortable. She was not the happy young wife, delighted to have her husband back as she presented. The shift in the direction of her life was disquieting. Still, she tried not to let Aulus see it and still dutifully entwined her arm in his, walking by his side. She only said, quietly, respectfully; "I will draw up a list of those in Rome that could attend and leave it on your desk." She was pleased that Titus - however - was warming to his father as he suddenly came to a stop, beaming his gap-toothed smile. "It's round the corner Tata...!" He glanced to Calpurnia, evidently a little jealous that his sister could hold his fathers hand and jerked his head; "Can I show Tata, Mama?" Horatia nodded and unlinked her arm from Aulus', reaching out to take Calpurnia's hand. She followed behind her boys to Titus' surprise spot. It was hardly a kept secret, but she could see why her son liked this spot; there was a beautiful fountain with a scene etched on the outside of sea nymphs and dolphins, and a painted interior of similar. The water was clear but the cultivated grass around the fountain was largely devoid of people - few walked this far into the gardens. "What d-do you think Tata?" Titus beamed up. TAG: @Sharpie
  11. Sara

    Salting the earth

    Longinus waved a hand; "You can speak to them with me." He wasn't the sort of man - even when embarrassed or embittered like now - to deny a man of Titus' rank his proper role in overseeing the interrogation of the men. Besides, perhaps it would be a good opportunity to diffuse some of the tension in the air? He added, however, "But I have no intention of speaking with them until this evening, I want to let them stew a little." He grinned to himself. The isolation of imprisonment (even if only temporary before a punishment) was hard on men. He was well aware that by delaying the conversations he would be risking that news of their capture would spread around the camp which could mean that any other members of the scheme would get wind of it, but he balanced that in his mind against the benefits. If others they had not discovered, did get wind, then he doubted they'd risk such an endeavour again. And besides, when he was threw with them, the others in his custody would surely spill their names. If any others had run in the interim, of course, then they could be executed for desertion as well. It was a win-win all round. "So that does mean you'll have to spend more time in our muddy little camp than I'm sure you'd like to." A few days at least, judging by Titus' determination to see this through. Absently, he called out to Attis - presuming his faithful body slave was somewhere within ears reach; "Make sure the men know to find a tent for Titus." But he didn't look up to see if his man did as he asked, presuming he did. Longinus snorted in amusement at Titus' description of the slaver and nodded, slowly. He had been thinking very similar thoughts but decided against agreeing with Titus right at this moment - letting him stew in his own idea for a moment longer. "Aulus, thoughts?" Usually he was not a man to take advice (nor was he a man to think his own word was gospel, but he had faith in his capabilities). But the older man sat across from him had been invaluable thus far, and he wanted to see just how far his wisdom stretched. TAG: @Sharpie @Liv
  12. Charis listened with a fond smile on her face, relieved at the distraction of talking of something else. In her mind, after all the loyalty her friend had shown, surely she could not be kept enslaved for much longer? But Charis - despite her protestations - was naive, and didn't understand that enslaving somebody was the best way to keep said loyalty and skills for free. "A pr...praetorian?" She frowned, unfamiliar with the word. Her Latin had improved immeasurably and she was now fluent after a year in Rome, but odd words still escaped her a lot of the time, especially when she flicked back and forth between her own language (which she was speaking now with Cynane) and Latin. She laughed gently and shook her head at Cynane's words and offered her a weak grin; "I don't blame them, if I were ever in trouble I think ou are the person I would call on above any man." She knew full well Tertius and likely Teutus too would be shaking in their sandals at the sight of Cynane in her full battle regalia and she didn't blame them. Whilst the Parisii were not as open to female warriors, those she had seen - whether her own tribe or Brigantes - had terrified her. She understood more and more now, just why they would want a woman like Cynane; beautiful, skilled but respectful, in chains. They drew to the centre of one of the paths where a great sundial lay. Charis had only just begun to learn to read them but knew from a quick glance what the shadows meant. "Shit..." She muttered and wiped a bead of sweat off her brow, "I...I thought I'd only been out a few moments." But she must have been sitting in the gardens for over an hour. Her lack of presence in the domus was surely to be noted. "I...I have to go." TAG: @Atrice I think I may wrap up if that's okay with you!
  13. Charis frowned at his refusal to allow her even the basic request of getting a little exercise and shrugged thin shoulders. In truth, she was entirely apathetic to this whole situation presently- and an outside observer (one who was not as cruel or enraged as Tertius) might see that her faculties were not all there, as if her mind had slipped off kilter. As it was, she only shrugged and returned to sit on the bed, folding her legs up under herself. "After the child is born." She clarified. The words sounded strange to her now, as if she were in a dream. She had sincerely believed her plan would work - as any desperate creature is when they are backed into a corner and yet now here she was - pregnant with a child that could well suffer the after effects of her poison, forced to endure pregnancy and childbirth. It seemed laughable to her, that she should be here in this position and a little bubble of laughter left her lips at the absurdity. "I'm having a child..." She repeated quietly, obliviously, as if she were in a trance. Her hand fluttered to her stomach and she frowned to herself. Cynane was right, perhaps Brigid was determined she should be a mother. TAG: @Atrice
  14. Horatia's jaw twitched minutely. She had not expected Aulus to remember the intricacies of her family - he had only met Publius and her father very briefly, but she had hoped he would have remembered. Gently, she retorted; "Which brother?" With an arched eyebrow before shaking her head, irritated at her own pettiness, "I have two - Publius and Lucius, and my sister Livia." Calpurnia, however, interrupted to diffuse the minute increase in tension with a beaming smile up at her father; "I-I met Aunt 'Purnia!" And Horatia grinned, nodding down at her daughter; "You did." Before glancing sideways to Aulus, "I've taken the children a few times to meet their aunt - when her duties allow it, and introduce myself. It went better than when I met your parents, I can confidently say." She smiled wryly and dipped her head back down to focus on her son as they meandered slowly through the gardens. She smiled and nodded her head at his plan to speak to Augustus. She had never met the man - why would she have reason to? - and had only seen him from afar at his Triumph and at the very few invitations she received by way of friends and her father - to attend Imperial events. Nonetheless, she knew there was little she could add by way of her presence if Aulus wished to meet the man he had served under and so stayed quiet - watching with humour in her eyes as Titus dramatically sighed, evidently frustrated by the slow pace of her parents. Watching his route, she knew exactly where he was leading them but decided not to ruin the 'surprise' for her husband or daughter. TAG: @Sharpie
  15. Sara

    Gift Giving

    The pride on Horatia's face as Felix spoke could not be accurately measured. Aulus - for all his accomplishments, both personal and politically - was still a modest man. It was one of the reasons she had accepted his suit. She was not a woman that enjoyed the limelight, and her reserved personality relished a man that could be so accomplished yet didn't need to shout from the rooftops about it. She felt a dull ache in her heart as a lurch of love came over her again, much like when she was just a teenager and had seen him for the first time. "He doesn't tell me things like that." She mused, but there was no malice in her voice, "Which is why I'm very grateful we have you." She knew full well that in a lot of marriages - at least amongst the patricians - a mans body slave was often closer to his dominus than a wife might be. Deciding against asking anymore probing questions - she did not wish Aulus to think of her as suspicious or shrewish by digging into his life where he did not share it openly with her - she just narrowed her eyes and started reciting, as they walked; "So his accomplishments...on the personal side we have to mention the children - two healthy, beautiful, respectful...for the most part children, and in his career we have the flight out of Rome, his positions across the Empire..." An idea struck her and she glanced back at Felix; "Do you think any of his comrades from that time would be willing to write testimonials for how much they value him? Or is that delving too far? I wouldn't want people to mow him for this..." She bit at her lip. To a woman, she thought, having the gushing admiration on paper from friends and colleagues would be adored - no doubt - but she didn't want Aulus to be the subject of ridicule because of her outlandish gift ideas if she wrote to Titus Sulpicius Rufus or Lucius Cassius Longinus. TAG: @Chevi
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