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  1. June 77 It had been a long time coming. Too long, perhaps, but it was better to correct an oversight than to ignore it in favour of the status quo. Rather than a more formal dinner party with entertainment, it was a small private gathering of Aulus, his wife, his eldest son and daughter and one or two close friends and family members who took their places in the summer triclinium which overlooked the garden. The smaller number could recline on the dining couches which were arranged in the usual fashion around the table in the centre, allowing for quiet conversation over good food. There was a single space left once everyone had taken their places, which might look (in a more slapdash sort of house) as though the host had miscounted or couldn't be bothered to try to get the right number of people to come. "I beg you will indulge me for a moment before we begin our meal," he said to his gathered guests. "We have one further guest, though I think it may come as a bit of a surprise to him." He turned to one of the waiting slaves. "Tell Felix to come here." "Yes, Domine." The slave turned and departed on his errand. It was only a moment or two before Felix appeared, as quick and attentive as ever. Aulus indicated the spare place. "Felix, I would like you to join us, if you will." @Chevi @Sara @Sarah
  2. There was something that Aulus had been considering for a while now, but it would be unfair of him to put it off for any longer, especially as it was not about him, but involved someone close to him. It didn't involved his wife, either, at least not directly - but they had always discussed things with one another and this was no time to go changing that. He had long ago come to the conclusion that they were a highly unusual couple among all the married people of their status, but he was absolutely fine with that and saw no reason whatsoever to go changing that now. His wife was taking advantage of the shade and slight breeze in the garden, and was there with a slave and their newest son. His expression softened at seeing the child and he held his arms out to the nurse so that he could take him, not wanting to miss out on the experience of being a father so early as he had with his daughter. "I came to - Well, to be honest, I'm not sure whether I came to ask for your opinion, your advice or your forgiveness," he told Horatia before looking down at Quintus. "Who's a clever boy, Quintus? Yes, yes, you are!" @Sara
  3. The Temple of Juno Lucina, April 77 Aulus had felt that he should make offerings to the relevant gods for the safekeeping of his wife and infant son, and one of the most important was Juno Lucina, the person of Juno who was responsible for childbirth and motherhood. And, most relevant, in whose very temple Aulus' wife had given birth to their second son. Apparently the priestesses hadn't been amused by this, nor had they been very helpful when push came to shove. Or rather, when push led to the birth of a baby. He felt rather out of place in this sanctum of a goddess whose remit was that most womanly of affairs, but he needed to leave his own offerings and make his own prayers... and possibly to chivvy the old, holy bats into being a little more helpful the next time someone went into labour on their doorstep. Being even an ex-consul had to be good for something... And once his errand here was done, he was determined to find some small gift for Horatia that she would appreciate - even a woman of simple tastes liked to be given surprise gifts on occasion, after all. "I can't believe the priestesses of the goddess of childbirth aren't better prepared to deal with the realities of actual childbirth," he said to Felix, pausing in the walk up the hill to the temple at its summit. "Especially after they've had to walk up here." It was no wonder Horatia had gone into labour, as late on in her pregnancy as she had been, with even the moderate exertion of this walk. @Chevi
  4. May 77AD Attis had felt somewhat peckish and tried to resist giving in to the urge to find something to eat. He'd even managed to resist... for all of maybe half an hour, before giving up and going in search of sustenance. He'd come away with three honey cakes, one of which he'd deposited in Metella's hands (along with a kiss on her cheek) before wandering along to Longinus' tablinum. The relationship between the two was mostly repaired since the trip to Greece - repaired enough for Attis to slide back into old habits, though not quite so much that he'd walk straight in and deposit one of his acquisitions under his master's nose. "Domine? Are you busy?" His tone implied that he rather hoped Longinus wasn't - or that, if he was, he wouldn't mind being interrupted. @Sara
  5. Aulus had the wit to dismiss his lictors before entering the house - Horatia had despaired when she'd learned he was not only entitled to twelve lictors as a Consul, but couldn't dispense with them. He had promised to try to make it easier for her by not having them in the house when they weren't needed, although the domus was certainly big enough for them - they had families of their own, anyway, and probably appreciated being able to see them from time to time. Aulus and the new slave, Tacita, were therefore alone as the ostiarius opened the door to admit them. He caught the eye of one of the house slaves in the atrium and bid him fetch his mistress, and Felix. He hoped Horatia wouldn't mind his gift, however odd she might think it. "This is your mistress, my wife, Horatia Justina," he said as his wife made her way towards them, Felix behind her. "And my body slave, Felix." He smiled at his wife, urging Tacita forward. "Horatia, I've brought you a gift. This is Tacita - she doesn't speak, but she does write, and is learning to read. I thought she might be useful." @Sara @Jenn @Chevi
  6. "Out of my way, plebians! Make a hole!" The crowd parted like waves under the prow of a ship. Stares came Bestia's way - as they always did - and vigiles nearby reached for their implements. The woman's face was a mask of frustrated determination, her hair more tangled than usual. Old leaves trailed down to the ends of her curls, and on either side, twigs laid flat against her skull. It gave the impression of an animal with its ears laid flat, or a deer with its horns growing down. Her feet and legs were muddy to the knees and elbows, and her ragged, patchwork tunic was in ribbons at the bottom. Fresh scratches and bruises covered her face and arms, dry trails of blood streaking down. Fear and disgust painted the Roman faces around her at her state. It didn't matter. Bestia came painted in the hues of earth and body for a reason, and that reason was prophecy. In the forests outside of Rome, in shelter only known to her, a message had come amidst drinking and dance. Intoxicated and thoughtless, Bestia throwing herself into shadows brought alive, she'd heard whispers. They came between the crackles of a fire heavy with offerings and the woman's ragged panting. And then, in the corner, crowned with laurel leaves and holding the bottle of wine she'd poured, she'd seen his face. Bacchus. Her god, standing there in the skin of a leopard, half-realized and half-dream. The whispers came and drowned her then, and though his lips were unmoving, Bestia knew the words were his. Now it was time to act on those words. Bestia marched up to the steps of the Senate, a white cock under her arm squawking and kicking wildly. She'd bound its legs and body with twine, but that didn't stop it from wriggling, crowing and trying to peck at her. The praeco, crowing out the day's news as he always did, trailed off to turn and look at her from his podium. "Madam!" he called. "Madam, please, Senate is in session and no man or woman is to - " "Shut it, you fat bastard!" Bestia snarled back, looking over her shoulder at the praeco. "I have a message to deliver!" @Sharpie
  7. Immediately following on from Juno, bless us, end of January 77AD Horatia only had eyes for her son as the litter meandered its way back towards the domus. The evening was drawing in now, but she knew - despite her exhaustion - she needed to leave the sanctuary of the temple and go home. She had sipped her wine and fallen into a peaceful doze, her son curled on her chest whilst the priestesses and their slaves tidied around her. And then tidied her. No woman, immediately after childbirth was going to look presentable and Horatia was no different. As the litter deposited her down outside of the domus (as close to the door as they reasonably could get her), she saw her slave rush out to greet her - thick cloak in hand. Horatia smiled at the thoughtfulness. The pale green tunica she had been wearing had been soaked in blood and so she had stripped after washing into a thin, scratchy tunica owned by the priestesses. The baby was merely cradled in a blanket. Her hair had been combed and was braided in one simple one down her back, but she didn't look herself; the woman with not a hair out of place usually and nor should she. She let the girl cover her shoulders and her son in the cloak and then with support from the litter bearers, made her way slowly (very slowly) through the door into the domus. She breathed in deeply and as the door clunked shut behind her, she felt herself relax - the tension and panic of the preceding few hours washing out of her by the serenity of her home. She didn't know if Calpurnia or Aulus were in, or her children but the place was oddly quiet. Until she heard footfalls from the direction of the tablinum. She raised a hand pre-emptively, or her spare one anyway given the other was holding the child to her chest; "I'm fine, I'm fine." She breathed and tried to look reassuring but she winced as she walked and offered her husband a weak smile. "The...temple was more eventful than I thought it would be." She cleared her throat. This wasn't proper...but...Aulus had waited the nine days for Titus...and close to six years with Calpurnia..."Your son." She pulled back the folds of the cloak very gently so she could see the dozing, tiny baby against her chest. TAG: @Sharpie
  8. The Curia was slowly emptying of people after the most recent session of the Senate, and Aulus found that he was one of the last to leave, having been waylaid by some ancient senator who must have been twice his age if he was a day, who only wanted to talk his ear off about taxes, the grain dole, the cost of games these days and other inconsequential things. He turned to head from the august chamber, pausing before he emerged into the sunlight and the presence of his lictors (Horatia had a point about them, even if Aulus wouldn't admit it - they did rather get in the way when you wanted to be a private citizen... on the other hand, part of the thing about being Consul was that you weren't a private citizen for the entire time you were in office. It was rather the point, after all!) There was someone else taking a momentary breather in the shade of the Curia's colonnade, a young man who must be just starting out on his political career. At first Aulus thought it was his son, but Titus was still a few years short of joining the Senate. "Claudius Sabucius," he said, once he caught a better look at the other. "Good afternoon - I trust you didn't find today's session too tiresome?" @Sarah
  9. Aulus had visited the Temple of Juno where he had offered a sacrifice in thanksgiving for his wife and their marriage, and then gone on to the Temple of Jupiter to offer a sacrifice for the continued health and well-being of the Emperor, and to ask for favour in his quest for consulship - and for wisdom if he was elected (he would go and make similar sacrifices at the Temple of Minerva if he was fortunate enough to be elected). Although he had Quintus Augustus' approbation, so that was something. He wasn't about to take it for granted, though - anything could happen between now and then, of course. And of course he'd asked for the priest to take the omens for him, to find out if the gods were in favour or not of his ascending to the Consulship. He was ambitious, to be sure, but his was an ambition tempered with pragmatism, knowing that he wanted nothing further, nothing higher in Rome than that. A friend of Caesar's, not a rival - never a rival. He had supported Quintus Flavius Alexander through the grim dark days of civil war and would continue to support him, and his heirs. The omens, as far he could ascertain, were favourable, and he left the smoky darkness of the temple feeling more settled and certain. He paused on the temple steps to throw his toga back (he had covered his head with a fold of it as was usual when conducting a ritual) and rearrange its folds into something more becoming a senator and less like a priest, and took a deep breath of the clean fresh air.
  10. Late August, 76AD Summer was drifting to a close and Horatia was grateful. There was a breeze through the domus that she sorely needed as she hesitated for a moment in the gardens, letting it blow the edge of her palla and the hem of her stola. She'd been out that morning and hadn't bothered to undress again into something more informal now she was back home. She fluttered her eyes shut and took an inhale deep in through her nose, filling out her lungs until she couldn't take in another gasp and then she exhaled, trying to straighten her thoughts, trying to make this work. She had always been a woman of great composure, and even now she found that she couldn't cry - she attributed that to the shock more than anything else. She did another long, languid breath to try and draw in some of the serenity from the gardens and then when it did nothing to help the beating of her heart against her ribs, she turned on her heel and strode through to the open side of Aulus' tablinum. She lingered on the edge, choosing to lean against one of the pillars. "Do you have a moment?" It was rare he was in at this time of day - usually he was at the senate, or seeing clients or otherwise engaged with their new Caesar at the consilium. She chose to see that as a fortuitous sign from the Gods, rather than the coincidence it was. She had been unwell for weeks. It had started with a tiredness that she couldn't shake; she'd wake up in the mornings and be so exhausted she had to return to her bed by noon. It was unlike her, but she'd convinced herself and her family that it was just some ague going around that she doubtless picked up from some of the women she saw at her book club, or the new charitable endeavour she was researching with one of Tiberius' clients - a man who ran a slew of boarding houses (which Horatia had a mind to turn into something solely for women). Then, of course, the nausea had started. Foods she had used to enjoy turned her stomach but again - she had pushed aside concerns from her slaves and instead insisted that it was a consequence of the tiredness. It was only when she fainted because she'd not eaten anything until cena, that Aulus had insisted she see a medicus. The news had torn through her like an arrow to the gut. 'And your menses? Regular?' 'No,' She'd replied - because the silphium she religiously took made them erratic. 'When was the last time you bled?' 'Two...perhaps three months ago.' 'And nothing since then?' Nothing. Usually there was...something, but for close to three months there had been nothing. And the kindly old man with his gentle smile had tapped her on her hand and chuckled. Exhaustion, nausea, tenderness of the abdomen, no bleeding. She was pregnant. She was thirty-three years old, with a Consul for a husband, two teenage children, a lifetime supply of silphium stashed in her bedroom and she was pregnant. She had thrown up in the middle of his office. He'd merely laughed. She felt like she would wretch forever. Despite the precautions she'd taken, and every single fibre of her being being filled with dread at the prospect of another birth, it was happening. There was nothing for her to do. Besides tell her husband. She offered a wan smile and spoke again; "I can come back, if you're in the middle of something." TAG: @Sharpie
  11. December 15th, 75AD The villa in Baiae was a balm for Horatia's soul after a busy few months (years, really) with her family. She'd spent many happy months here during Aulus' long absence, with her in-laws and children and by herself, and always revelled in its serenity. She'd never asked her father-in-law whether he'd purchased the property himself or inherited it but either way it must have been worth a small fortune given its proximity to a sheltered beach and the lush orchards that stretched to the distance. She knew Titus and Calpurnia enjoyed it as much as her; Titus she suspected because he could pester his grandfather into telling stories from his youth, and Calpurnia because she felt like a proper grown-up in the company company of her refined grandmother. For Horatia it was the peace that she enjoyed the most. She sat in a cluster of rooms designed, many moons ago, as the womens domain but they opened up into the rest of the house not unlike her father-in-laws tablinum. She'd spent the morning with her mother-in-law in the pursuit of womanly virtue. Calpurnia, to her embarrassment, had taken to bed. Her courses had started the month before and unused to the light-headedness and aches that accompanied it, had withdrawn to curl herself into her blankets in her room. Horatia tried to ignore the knot in her stomach that the start of her monthly bleed meant her daughter was well and truly becoming a woman, and weaving with Aurelia was a perfect distraction. It was not one of her favourite pastimes (although she vastly preferred it to the monotony of spinning the wool), but it was distracting and allowed her to concentrate on nothing but the interlacing and placement of the threads. She knew her family and their reputation would be under intense scrutiny on their return to Rome if Aulus' position as Consul was confirmed and she needed to keep her mind occupied so as not to dwell on it. Aurelia had excused herself a little over an hour ago for her own respite and a lie down. Horatia, however, ever the perfectionist had decided to occupy herself with unpicking the threads that lay at odd angles and re-doing them from scratch. She worked in silence, errant strands of copper hair falling into her eyes which she had to swat away. She was dressed informally in plain stola and her hair artlessly done up, the very picture of relaxation. She suspected her husband, son and father-in-law out on some boys errand and was not expecting company when the sound of footsteps echoed and she turned her face up, her features melting into a relaxed smile. "Do not mock me," She warned with a gentle grin - she was not known for her weaving prowess and exclaimed her disinterest in it on more than one occasion to her husband, "And do not think I'm suddenly going to take up weaving every day when I'm back in Rome." TAG: @Sharpie
  12. 31st October, 60AD Athens Horatia fiddled with the stem of the goblet of wine she held in her fingers. When she was a girl, dreaming of her wedding as all good young Roman women did, she hadn't exactly pictured this. A short, sharp ceremony in Athens with few of her friends and family, and none of her husbands, followed by an intimate party. It wasn't exactly the grand affair she had planned, but she had found it perfect in its own, unconventional way. At least she'd managed to procure a suitable outfit in the six or so months since her father had agreed to the match and haggled out the details. She wore the traditional white tunica recta, tied with the knot of Hercules. It had pained her that her mother hadn't tied it, as she ought to have, but she couldn't leave Livia and Lucius to attend and so had stayed in Rome - with her best wishes sent by letter. The red veil which has sheathed her face during the remarkably short ceremony was now pinned up into the six braids of her up-do, sheathed by a floral coronet. She looked the part, even if she didn't exactly feel very wifely; being in a foreign land and with Aulus' military colleagues surrounding them at the gathering. They'd process to the house that Aulus had rented for her and a few slaves shortly, the small party gathering through the streets as they would have in Rome - but with much less fanfare, and more derision from the Greek locals, no doubt. For now though, she was content to sip her wine and make polite small talk to the men and women that had been invited; friends of her family in the province, and his most likely. Occasionally she found her eyes wandering back to Aulus - her husband - and a light flush came to her cheeks. She tried to distract herself with inane conversations; and she was currently embroiled in one with a friend of Publius' about his families villa. According to him, Formaie was far nicer than Baiae. She nodded and prayed that somebody would come over to save her from the dullness soon. TAG: @Sharpie
  13. (Takes place in the evening of Ave Imperator! and Into the lion's den) Aulus returned to his home feeling far more light-hearted than when he had left it that morning. He had almost not needed to head to the Castra Praetoria, not with Caesar's reassurance ringing in his ears, but some part of him had needed to meet the man who had unnerved his wife and threatened his children and slaves. After that meeting, he had no compunction whatsoever about leaving him to Caesar to deal with. He was still none the wiser as to why he had turned on Aulus' family, but the threat had gone and it felt as if a sweet breeze had blown through the house. One of the house slaves offered him a cup of wine and, when questioned, the information that the mistress was in her own private study. Aulus dismissed the boy and turned to find Horatia. He paused quietly at the door of her room, not wishing to disturb her if she was in the middle of something that could not easily be set aside. He smiled, the fond expression coming easily to his face as he watched her before knocking, the private pattern used just between the two of them. @Sara (Title: The situation as it was before the war)
  14. The summons to a private interview with Quintus Caesar Augustus could not have come at a more opportune time, as far as Aulus was concerned. He had news that he needed to impart, and the sooner the better, for all concerned - if he could. He arrayed himself in his Senatorial finest, reflecting that the last time either man had seen the other, they had been in far more comfortable military gear. He idly wondered if Quintus Augustus would recognise his former tribune out of his breastplate and military cloak. The Domus Augustorum was designed to impress and overawe those who approached it. Doubtless the original house, inhabited by the Divine Augustus, had been somewhat less impressive - he had been famed for the simplicity of his habits and lifestyle, after all - but it had been extended and improved upon until very little, if anything at all, could be discerned of the original. Aulus refused to be overawed; he had a previous acquaintance with the primary inhabitant of the place, which many of the visitors to it did not, and Quintus Augustus would be the same man whether Aulus met him here or in the midst of a military encampment in Cappodocia. He gave his name to the slave at the door and was allowed inside, guided within the rabbit warren to the very heart of the palace, to be admitted to the presence of the Augustus himself, a private interview without the presence of all those who wished to present petitions for this favour or that. He went forward, enough to be seen by the man seated upon the curule chair at the far end of the room, and waited to be acknowledged. @Chris
  15. 6th of October, 75 AD Given the tragedy brought on by the earthquake only a few months earlier, Titus didn't quite feel right celebrating his birthday with huge festivities or partying from dusk to dawn - besides, this was no milestone year, just the passage of time signalling that he had officially grown older. The previous day - the actual day of - had been spent with family, featuring a relaxed and pleasurable evening with far too much food including Betua's mouthwateringly good placenta cake, and only a tiny hiccough when Valeriana loudly and vehemently expressed how unfair it was that she received no gifts, skilfully ignoring the fact that it wasn't her birthday for that to happen. Tonight's celebration was simple as well, though less child-friendly. Going out for drinks with friends was also very agreeable, even more so when they had a decent-sized chamber and an own dedicated servant all to themselves. Drinking alone was no fun, though, even when it was Falernian and Caecuban, and Titus busied himself with deciphering the multitude of humorous scrawls on the walls and snacking on bread and olives before the others arrived - his stomach would thank him later. @Echo @Sara @Sharpie Feel free to ignore posting order!
  16. 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. @Sara
  17. Britannia, late 67AD Nostalgia hit him with full force as Titus entered the military camp on a chilly (for one, not rainy) morning. It was early, but the camp was alive with the hustle and bustle of hundreds of men going about their tasks... Except for a group of four off to his left, where two huddled close to the ground and two others stood and watched. As he got closer to them, the familiar sound of dice rolling inside a cup could be heard, followed by sudden silence and a mix of boastful laughter and groaning. Fasces in tow, Titus approached one of the spectating legionaries and barked a question at him. "Soldier! Where is your legate?" The man flinched and whipped round so quickly he nearly broke his neck, showing a face full of pimples. He had the presence of spirit to step away from his comrades and salute Titus. "I-I d-don't know, sir!" the young soldier managed to stammer out. Titus was unimpressed. "Then why don't you do something about it?" The legionary stared at him with an asinine look. Titus hoped Balbus Papulus was at least a good fighter, since he had neither beauty nor brains. He rolled his eyes, feeling his patience dwindle. "Go find out, then come back here and take me to him, you idiot!" The order spurred the young man into action at last, and he sprang off in search of his general. In the mean time, Titus busied himself with shooting the gambling soldiers dirty looks until the sting of disapproval - or the threat of the fasces - was strong enough to make them put the dice away and start polishing their boots with exaggerated gestures. Balbus Papulus came back surprisingly soon and lead Titus through the camp to one of the bigger tents. The young man did his best to announce that "Qua-quaestor Titus Sulpicius Rufus is he-here to s-s-see--", but Titus dismissed him with a sigh and a wave before he could finish and strode into the tent. A quick look around the tent and its occupants let him know he needn't be too formal, but proper greetings were de rigueur in case someone was lingering just outside, trying to listen in. "Salvete, legate, Aulus Calpurnius," he greeted each man with a nod, predictably ignoring the slaves in a corner. Now that that was out of the way, Titus relaxed his posture a little, but still did not smile. "Did you know you have men gambling for money this early in the morning? At least teach them to be discreet about it." @Sara @Sharpie @Chevi
  18. February, 74AD 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. TAG: @Sharpie
  19. Letter dated roughly a week after the earthquake. Titus Sulpicius Rufus to his dearest friend Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus, greetings. Hope all is well with your domus and familia after the recent event. No casualties on our end of thing except for parts of the roof, a couple of trees and a bust I never liked. To take our minds off all that's happened and because it's the right season for it, my brother and sister-in-law are travelling down to Neapolis for a while and inviting friends and family to join them for their beach parties. There will be entertainment not unlike that party you hosted a few months back, as well as more family-friendly activities. As you may remember my brother Quintus was consul in 72, and given your current aspirations (which I fully support), I took the liberty of assuming you might be interested in fostering that connection. It goes without saying that this invitation extends to your lady wife and your lovely children. Mine are also coming, so they will not be left to their own devices. We will be heading down on the 13th (I expect the Via Appia will be fully up and running again by then), and our good friend Longinus is coming with. He has been rather morose as of late, so I will be counting on you to help raise his spirits. Farewell, my dear friend. @Sharpie
  20. 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." @Sara
  21. Nones of May 75AD Longinus sat drumming his fingers against the rim of his wine cup, occasionally glancing at the door. What he enjoyed most, of course, about the Poppina Via Lata was the two-building scheme. The night would start here, in the building reserved for Rome's upper echelons before descending into the depravity with the plebs and the slaves next door. He took a sip and resumed his drumming, waiting for both Titus and Aulus, nerves eating into the pit of his stomach. Judging by the surprised reaction in their letters neither of them were none the wiser as to the true (at least initial) motivation behind the wedding which was a relief. He'd carefully considered what he'd say and it largely centred on; not being sixteen anymore so knowing what he wanted; that he likes and admires Sestia; he's not getting much younger and needs a son, and well...it is him. Longinus was certainly never a man that could be considered entirely conventional. He did hope to brush the whole 'permission from her father' under the rug as much as possible, but his friends were astute men and would likely ask. He just hoped he'd come up with something convincing on the spot to explain it, because so far his mind was coming up decidedly empty. His attention was caught by a shadow blocking his path and he glanced up from his thoughts to the face of his friend. A wide, beaming smile crossed his face as he embraced the man. TAG: @Sharpie @Liv
  22. Given it was by far not the usual way these sorts of things were done; there was no formal betrothal ceremony, no exchange of contracts, not even an inkling that such a thing was happening - really - Longinus felt it imperative that word got out on his own terms. But not to everybody. After a fairly frantic exchange with his mother, the man set down to put ink to papyri and drafted a series of letters. The first were for his cousins (the only other remaining Cassii-Longini) Lepidus and Cassia. Then came one to his old friend, and former mentee Silanus all the way in Greece - lightly alluding to the fact that he might well be visiting in person (there had to be some benefit to sailing all the way to Carthage, and a roundabout stop on the way back to see Lucius was a silver lining). The final few were for his friends. Amongst those he composed two to his two closest friends. They were very similar (he was not a man to dally with correspondence any longer than necessary, and thus copied out most of the first letter into the second), albeit there were amusing differences in tone - far more jocular with Titus, and far more reserved with Aulus. They were delivered to May the 4th, two days after the engagement by his Secretary who muttered and swore as he trekked over the city in the May sun. To Titus Sulpicius Rufus from his friend, Lucius Cassius Longinus. Greetings! I thought I'd drop you a note to a) enquire about how Attis is getting on, b) to inform you I'm getting married and c) ask if you are free for a drink next week? I suspect your eagle eye will have picked out the second point as the most interesting (although I do wish to hear about Attis and whether he still has all his fingers), and I'm pleased to say that Sestia Vaticana and I are to marry on the 1st of June given it's auspicious date. I believe you know the lady in question - she only had positive things to say about you - which I have corrected, don't worry. It'll be a small affair in the city, but obviously I would be delighted if Valeria and yourself save the date and make yourselves available. I've also sent a very similar note to our good friend Aulus, and in said note have asked if he is free on the nones for a drink or two. As always, I expect you have no plans of any consequence, or no plans you cannot cancel to ensure you can come for a drink with a soon-to-be married man. We could slum it in the Poppina Via Lata? Your friend, Longinus. TAG: @Liv To Aulus Calpurnius Praetextatus from his friend, Lucius Cassius Longinus. Greetings! I'm writing for a dual purpose today, to a) ask if you are free for a drink next week? b) to inform you I'm getting married. I suspect your eagle eye will have picked out the second point as the most interesting, and I'm pleased to say that Sestia Vaticana and I are to marry on the 1st of June given it's auspicious date. She mentioned yourself and Horatia met her at the Games not so long ago - I trust you approve? It'll be a small affair in the city, but obviously I would be delighted if Horatia and yourself save the date and make yourselves available. I've also sent a very similar note to our good friend Titus, and in said note have asked if he is free on the nones for a drink or two. We could slum it in the Poppina Via Lata? Your friend, Longinus. TAG: @Sharpie
  23. It had been a long journey but a welcome one, from Britannia's chill to the now unfamiliar sun of Italia. Ostia had never looked so welcoming, and Aulus was impatient for the ship to dock. He would take a horse for himself and Felix and head straight up the Via Ostiensis and change out of his uniform once he got to Rome - and how he hoped that his family would be there and not at Baiae! He hired two horses, one for himself and one for Felix (who had developed into quite a decent rider over the years). He would send Felix to the house to let them know, and to bring him a toga - he had a clean tunic with him, but it was forbidden to wear armour within the pomerium, the sacred limits of the city, and so he resgined himself to having to don the hot unwieldy garment that was the mark of the citizen. It felt like an eternity before he was back in Rome itself, the toga (one of his father's with the broad purple stripe of a senator) heavy around him, with the end over his left arm, and tangling around his legs in a dreamlike familiar way. He had no time for the sights of the city, and the Porta Ostiensis was the nearest gate to his home in the Piscina Publica; Felix had reported that the family were in Rome and anxiously waiting for his return. It seemed like that dream as he walked the familiar streets until he turned into the street where his father's house stood. He could not be denied entry for long; the door-porter knew him and it was mere moments before he was in the atrium where his parents and wife and children were gathered. He greeted his father first, as was only right, and then his mother and only then could he turn to his wife, who looked as he remembered her. Perhaps a little older, maybe more careworn, but still the girl he had met in Greece, in the garden of her father's house, dressed in a simple tunica. He had been enchanted then, and found that he still was, despite the stola she was wearing now as the mark of a Roman matron. "Horatia," he managed, past the sudden lump in his throat. @Sara
  24. February 75AD Aulus had been working on his proposal for a new set of baths; he needed to lay something before Caesar, after all, and a concrete plan and idea was much better than an abstract. Theories and hypotheses had their place but Quintus Augustus and Aulus Calpurnius had a common school of thought that actual concrete workable plans were much better than suggestions and ideas, and he had no wish to waste Caesar's precious time when he finally sought an audience with him to discuss this. Aulus did not have an Empire to run and therefore his time was less valuable than the Emperor's, and he wished to have as many details of this project pinned down as he could before Caesar began asked sharp direct questions about his ideas that he could not answer because he had not thought seriously about his idea. People who came to him with suggestions and merely answered his own questions with 'I don't know' and 'I hadn't thought about that' and 'I don't know' were the sort of people Aulus had always found supremely irritating and he had no wish to be one of them. So, while he had thought about it and asked the opinion of people close to him, he wanted to hear what others thought, who might see flaws that Felix and Horatia (and Longinus and Titus Sulpicius) had not. People who might care to actually make use of his thermae, once they were built and open to the public. He happened to look up from the rough proposal on his desk as someone crossed the atrium towards the front door. He recognised the shock of hair, even from the back - his son's lessons were obviously over for the day. "Cleisthenes - do you have a moment?" @Jacob
  25. September 74AD It had only been a few short months since the family had returned to Rome from Raetia. It had been an interesting few weeks, settling back into their own house (technically, it was Aulus' father's house, as he was still alive and thus the head of the family, but he didn't really bother them, allowing them to get on with things). It had been a busy day, but it was evening now and Aulus was sitting under the garden colonnade, with a wineglass to hand and a sprig of grapes, although cena was over. It was nice just to sit, watch the moonlight silvering the plants and enjoy the coolness and scents of the garden in the evening. He saw a familiar shape heading towards the atrium, and raised his voice. "Felix!" @Chevi
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