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I'LL DRINK TO THAT! (BARBARA)

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- February 73 AD

Secundus had had another unfortunate encounter with reality, having been denied another task he had tried to take on. Not even good enough to host some gladiatorial fights apparently. Secundus had even offered to do the work and pay for the events, even under someone else's name. But they had not even trusted him enough to do that, afraid that he would have another break down and mess someone else's reputation up as well as his own. Secundus had thought about leaving Rome with his tail between his legs, flee to some province far away from the bustling city. But to do that would be to admit defeat, his honor would not permit him to do that. 

He needed help, more help than any mortal could give him. To fix his mistakes, he would have to ask the help of the gods. If he could not make every Roman citizen drink the water of the river Lethe, he would at least have to outdo his mistakes by greater successes. Secundus had brought plenty of money with him, he would not scrimp on sacrifices that could change his life. 

Quickly, he walked towards the temple. Secundus did not want to get recognized by anyone. It was already bad enough to put this much shame on his family, he did not want to get reminded by it by common plebs. In his rush, he had not noticed the person standing in his way. He bumped into her and almost lost his footing. ''Watch where you are standing'' he snarled at her, slurring a bit. Secundus had gotten used to drinking and good at hiding it, or so he thought. He had not touched a drop of wine this morning yet, but he had woken up with a terrible headache that followed his night of drinking.

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Barbara was out enjoying a quiet morning with her daughter in tow. Her son was spending the day with his father and she had told them they were just going to head up to the temple and then the market. Her sent one of their household slaves with her for protection but he knew that if something did come up his wife could certainly hold her own. “Mama look” Barbara stopped to look at what her daughter was pointing at. “Ah- good catch Aelia.”

''Watch where you are standing''

Barbara was just about knocked off her feet as someone plowed right into her. The male slave who was standing nearby shot out an arm to stabilize her while she grabbed her daughter by the hand and pulled her in close. She noted the slurring, aggressive speak and the situation all happened so fast but she wasn’t taking any chances that her daughter would get lost or injured. “My apologies..” She was about to say more but then she cast a glance up into the face of the person who had bumped her and saw Secundus, one of their neigbours whose domus was located next to her father’s house. Barbara felt a tugging on her chiton and picked up her daughter who was very curious about the stranger but also a little hesitant. She settled the child easily into the crook of her hip. Remember back to one of their previous meetings she hoped he wasn’t in the mood to start anything because all she wanted to do was spend some 1:1 time with her daughter. Barbara stepped out of his way hoping he would just keep going and the situation could be diffused before anything happened.

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As he was in a hurry to get the sacrifice done before going back home to hide there, normally he would have send the person a nasty look and continued his path. But then he noticed who the person was who was standing in his way. It had been years since that first encounter, the wicked woman had brought up so many bad memories from his past and had humiliated him. Secundus had done his best to avoid contact with any Germans to the best of his abilities, eventhough they came from the same neighbourhood. He then noticed the movement near the ground, seeing the child. His nose wrinkled, looking at the child in disgust. ''Great, now they are breeding here as well'' he mumbled irritated. 

Secundus was a firm opponent of making 'friends' with Germania. The people from those lands far up north were unreliable, savage and barbaric. Only through bad luck had Rome been left with two Germans, pretending to be Romans. If it were up to him, her father would be send straight back to the dungeons to either let him rot there or feed him to whatever animals in the arena would have him. He still had to pay for his crimes to Rome. As for Barbara, the glorified pet, it did not really matter to him what happened to her as long as she was out of the city and far away from Secundus. He would not easily forgive her for the humiliation she had caused him.

He had heard that Barbara had gotten married, to a Roman nonetheless. Her children might not inherit the looks of the Germans, there was no way escaping their forefather's temperament. No amount of Roman blood could right that wrong. The child seemed intimidated by Secundus' angry glare and her lip started to tremble.

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“Great, now they are breeding here as well” While he muttered to himself she looked down at Aelia who was trembling in her arms. God help him if he made her daughter cry. “Mama?...” She gave her daughter a kiss on the forehead. “It’s alright Aelia, mater can handle him.”. 

“Hello Secundus, still a charmer I see. This is starting off very similar to the last conversation…and we both know how well that happened. Let’s just simply end this before it gets started.” Barbara would have loved to say something stronger than charmer, but seeing as she had a very impressionable 5 year old girl in her arms she was going to once again take the high road. “Sorry that my daughter pointed out something she was excited to show me-obviously you haven’t spent much time with young children. They enjoy pointing out random things.” She took a step past him and went to take a step past him.

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When Barbara spoke about the last time they had a conversation, Secundus could feel his head turn red with anger. No sense of propriety at all. But that was to be expected, you could dress up a monkey but not make it act like a human being. But Secundus might have let it slip this time, if she had only just walked away without insulting him any further.

He had been looking for a wife for years, unable to find one. Everytime he had sunken so low as to lower his standards even further, a new scandal had erupted around his family and name, scaring off potential brides. Secundus was not even sure he would be able to find a woman willing to marry him in the Aventine. The lack of a wife also resulted in a lack of heirs. Which Barbara so eloquently rubbed under his nose. Frustrated by the situation, aggravated by the German and unrestrained by the alcohol, Secundus lost his temper for a moment and roughly pushed her aside as she tried to pass him. The girl in her arms started to cry, tears streaming down her cheeks. ''Shut it!'' Secundus snapped at the girl, unsuccesful in silencing the child making it only wail harder. 

The crying made his headache from last night return. ''If it cannot behave itself, don't bring it out in public'' he accused. ''Do us all a favor and take it back where it belongs, preferably with the whole extended family''

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Just as she was about to pass him he roughly shoved her to the side and she would have lost her balance, sending both herself and Aelia to the ground, if it wasn’t for a quick stabilizing hand from the slave who was accompanying them. Barbara gave him a nod and regained her balance and was checking to make sure her daughter was alright- which clearly she wasn’t as the trembling lip had become a river of tears. “Shut it! …If it cannot behave itself, don't bring it out in public. Do us all a favor and take it back where it belongs, preferably with the whole extended family'' 

It? He was calling her daughter an it? Barbara handed her off to the slave who walked away from the scene with the child, confidently strode up and smacked him across the face. Quickly ducking back out of his reach it was clear to anyone around that she was pissed off. “It as you so delicately phrase it is my daughter. While you obviously have a problem with me, my daughter has NEVER done anything to you. You are a hell of a lot bigger than she is and need to learn to pick on someone your own size.” 

With that said Barbara turned and went to rejoin her daughter and the slave. She found them nearby sitting quietly and Barbara took the little girl in her arms again. She could see the terror in the girl’s eyes but at least the audible crying had ceased to be more of a sniffle again. “Like mater said, its alright sweetheart.” If Secundus chose to follow them she wasn’t sure where the situation would end but he should know not to pick a fight with a mother.

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