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A Relaxing Day in the Villa


Echo
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March, 74 CE

 

Caecina sighed, letting the tension fall away from her shoulders. While she loved the time she spent in the city, there were times when it could get stressful, and there was no greater cure than coming out to the countryside and her family's beautiful villa. She had arrived yesterday but it had taken a day of relaxing away from the sounds of the city, walking in the garden, and letting the cool breeze wash over her before she could let the strain of the city go. Now, she was feeling much better, standing on the verandah overlooking their well-kept gardens. Astraea, pitying her charge's stress, had left her to her own devices. It seemed the villa allowed the clever old Grecian woman the chance to relax as well, if only because she knew there were fewer chances for the young woman to misbehave out here. 

 

Caecina returned to her seat on the verandah, taking a sip of the light wine that had been set out for her. Yes, while the city held its charms, there was no better place to relax than in the villa. 

 

@Gothic

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Juliana had received word that Caecina, her step-daughter, and she had not come to greet her when she had arrived from the city of Rome. She was not impressed. She wore a woolen palla around her shoulders to keep the cool air away from her body. Still, she was pleased to know that Caecina was here, and it would give her some time in order to speak with her about what was happening in the city. She knew Caecina's personality, and was determined for her to grow into a proper Roman matron. It was her duty and her obligation to ensure this. Therefore, Juliana had Caecina watched to ensure her safety. 

It did not take her long to find Caecina in the garden and approached from behind her along the garden path. 

"Well, well, well, looks like somebody is back from Rome without a single word to me," She said, the tone suggested she was angry yet her eyes twinkled and she smiled. As Juliana approached, she gestured with her hand for Caecina to rise and embraced her before she placed a kiss on either of her step-daughter's soft cheeks. "It is good to see you, my dear." Juliana added fondly. 

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Caecina looked up, her eyes having been closed, to see her stepmother. She was unstartled by the sudden approach of the older woman and unphased by the apparent anger: she knew Juliana was not actually mad. The younger woman stood and allowed the kisses, returning the embrace. "I swear I was going to tell you I was in the villa! I just hadn't got around to it. I supposed Astraea would do it for me." Caecina was joking, really. "It is good to see you too. I missed you in all my dreary days in the city. Care to sit with me a while?" Caecina settled back down in her seat. 

 

Caecina knew that she had eyes on her at all times, even when Juliana wasn't around. It was obvious why Astraea kept such an annoyingly close watch over her all the time. The clever old Greek never let Caecina out of her sight for more than a few minutes in the city, making it hard for Caecina to have any fun at all. But Caecina knew that someone had to curb her bad temper and immature urges, and while Juliana was gone, Astraea was the best she had. 

 

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"Hm," She said, a hint of disapproval in her tone at the excuse.

Juliana raised an eyebrow. "Should I not have been greeted when you arrived?" Juliana asked, chuckled, and was happy to see Caecina. She was curious about what she had been getting up to in the city proper. Juliana sat down besides her step-daughter, relaxed in her home and her gaze moved over Caecina. She looked well, the colour was nice in her cheeks and she looked to be in good health. The city of Rome itself would often bring Juliana late nights and nightmares from the night of the purge. The Gods would not let her forget that night, nor the pain that followed. 

"Now, what have you been getting up to in Rome?" She asked, interested. There was a time when she had been immature in a similar way to Caecina and understood her better than her father did. Yet she had grown into a respectable matron, Caesar's niece and waited. 

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Caecina detected the disapproval but ignored it, determined to remain in a good mood. It was a large villa, she figured a slave would have alerted Juliana to her presence, and if they hadn't, that was no concern of hers. She felt a twinge of guilt but managed to set it aside. "I apologize, Juliana," she said with as much grace as she could muster. 

Juliana inquired about her exploits in Rome and Caecina let a little smile play about her lips. "Oh, the usual," she said luxuriantly. "The most wonderful parties and wearing the most lovely clothes." She fingered a golden bracelet on her wrist, styled like a serpent, which had been a gift from her father. She was coming around to his latest gifts. Perhaps she was beginning to mature and realize her actions in the past were not the path to a good relationship with her living parent. 

 

@Gothic

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She smiled and remembered the parties in Rome. The movement had attracted her focus and her eyes dipped downwards to the bracelet around Caecina's wrist. It was the serpent, and the one that Quintus had sent his daughter as a gift. Slowly, Caecina's behaviour towards her father had gradually begun to become more amicable and Juliana was pleased. Discord between family members was not ideal. She smiled, ran her fingertip over the bracelet and for the moment said nothing about it. Eventually she would write to her husband to let him know, and hopefully bring a smile to his face. 

"I will be speaking with Astarea to see how you were behaving while you were in Rome," She said, there was a time when parties would come to an end and Caecina would need to focus. "Did you meet with any members of my family?" Juliana asked. It was important for Caecina to make connections and be introduced to proper members of society. 

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Caecina glanced down at her wrist as Juliana brushed her fingers against the gold. She was uncomfortable with her acceptance of her father's kindness, and moreso it being noticed by her stepmother who was the most aware of anyone of her rocky relationship with her father. But she brushed this thought off, a skill she was quickly honing. She rationalized her wearing the bracelet as simply enjoying how it looked with her chiton and palla, and that it matched her other jewelry. She knew her father would hear about it, though, and seriously doubted the impact it would have on the man, ever distant. 

The girl let out a laugh as Juliana warned that Astraea would be interrogated on her every move while in Rome. "You always do, Juliana," she said with a teasing, good-natured smile. "And I am sure you will find that I have been on my best behavior. You aren't the only one who wants me to get married." Juliana queried as to members of her family that Caecina had met and she shrugged. "I briefly met Octavius, your uncle, the other day, just before I left for the villa. He asked about you." She cast around as if not sure who else, though of course, she knew exactly every person she had met recently. "Oh, I have spoken to Tiberius a few times as well. Such a nice young man, it's been lovely to see him grow up alongside me."

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Juliana smiled innocently and nodded in response. She had not forgotten what it was like to be younger once before, and to have those with fewer concerns willing to attempt to take advantage. She laughed and shook her head in amusement, it made perfect sense to her that uncle Octavius would wish for her to marry, and he always took an interest in his family members. It did not matter how distant or whether they were related by blood or by marriage. "I am happy to hear that you have been speaking to people and gradually becoming more of a Roman lady, I will need to write to uncle Octavius and see how he is," She answered, and she may have wished to know how Caecina went. It was good Caecina had somewhere to go when she was in Rome, and had family to look after her. 

Now Tiberius was interesting. Both one of the Roman Princes and a cousin of hers. For the moment she did not go into any detail about her thoughts about it.

"I'm happy to hear it, have you made any female friends in Rome?" Juliana asked. Caecina was jealous when it came to most other women, she had seen it in the past, and while many of the noblewomen in Rome were spoiled to the core. Women had their own power separate from men and could be an ally during a time of crisis. It beautiful to watch Caecina begin to mature. 

@Echo

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Caecina inclined her head as Juliana laughed and commented that she was becoming more of a Roman lady. Recently, she had wanted to start emulating some of the better qualities of the Roman lady, though she had no interest in being the most pious or chaste. It was a bit suffocating to be entirely modest, though Juliana didn't need to know all of that. "I am sure he would be delighted to hear from you. And, yes, I have been trying." Caecina wondered what Juliana thought of her visiting Tiberius, though her face was inscrutable at the news, other than her comment that she was glad. 

Juliana asked if she had made any female friends and Caecina shrugged slightly. Juliana was aware of her feelings toward other women, though of course matrons didn't count, or older women. Simply other girls her age. "Not so many, though I did attend a party hosted by Oriana Laecania. I liked her well enough." Sometimes Caecina wished that other women were not seen as competition as much. It would be nice to have a close friend or two. Perhaps that was something that she could start looking for.

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She did not know the name right away. Juliana was not as well-versed in the names of the noblewomen in Rome as she used to be. Too much time spent in her villa out in the countryside. Fortunately, if she needed it, she would be able to reach out to her family members for any assistance for names. "It is good you are socialising, and keep an eye on the young women of Rome. I know how you get when you feel the need to compete," She answered kindly, Juliana wholeheartedly emphasised with her. At one time she had been equally determined to make her name in Rome, never wishing to come second, and later matured. She was valued within her family. There were many women who would only be too happy to learn another's secrets in order to use them for ill gotten gains. 

"Friendships, healthy ones, are important and valuable to have in Rome. There will be a time when Astraea and I will not be there to help and guide you," She added, it was the grim reality. Hopefully by the time that happened. Caecina would be married, have children, and be connected to a good man who would be able to protect her through the course of history. 

"Your father did something strange." She began, smirked and waited to see what Caecina would respond with. 

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Caecina nodded as her stepmother advised her to find friends. It was hard sometimes; she was simply better at relating to young men. Of course, there were the shallow pursuits of women that she could relate to other girls with: clothes, cosmetics, jewelry. But men had such interesting thoughts about politics and if she couldn't step into politics in the way of a man, listening to them speak about it was the next best thing. A girl Caecina was friends with would have to entertain her in ways other than the base pursuits of her contemporaries. Sometimes, Caecina felt lonely. She had no one to connect with as a friend, and while Juliana and Astraea as a team served in motherly roles, Caecina still felt the hole her mother might have filled in her heart. But Caecina firmly put the thought away in the interest of her good mood. 

Juliana mentioned Caecina's father and it took all her willpower not to make a derisive sound. She merely looked interested in passing and said, "He's so good at that sort of thing," taking a sip of her wine. Secretly, she wondered what Juliana was going to disclose to her. 

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Juliana gave Caecina a look that reminded her to respect her father. 

It was not a surprise to her though. She had her own misgivings and was tempted to write to one of the family slaves living with him to keep an eye on him to ensure he had not lost his mind. She rested her goblet on her lap, paused and her browline was narrowed in concern. Normally she was concerned for Caecina getting into mischief yet now she had to wonder whether it ran in the family. 

"Your father sent a woman dressed as a man here as a tutor. She served as an interprex in Britannia with him," She said, perplexed and knew her husband would not send someone who was a threat willingly into their home. It was still incredibly strange, she knew of the castrated priests of Cybele yet this was entirely different. "She will be here as a tutor for both yourself and little Quintus, although she predominately speaks barbarian languages besides Latin." 

Juliana took a sip of her wine.

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Caecina noticed the look but didn't comment on it. Caecina would respect her father to his face but she rarely saw him, what with him being away so often. But Caecina was interested to see what Juliana was talking about. And soon she revealed that her father had sent a woman dressed as a man to tutor her and her little half brother. She raised an eyebrow and sipped her wine again. "Will she be tutoring us in languages?" 

The teenager was not delighted to have a tutor. The only lessons she enjoyed were the ones where she learned to play musical instruments or weave; languages held no interest for her. It wasn't like she was ever going to have to talk to barbarians who didn't speak Latin. It seemed to the teenager to be time wasted that could be put better to other things. 

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Juliana nodded, "Yes, although they are primarily barbarian languages. No doubt your father wishes for your brother to learn them for when he serves in the army," She continued, sighed irritably, and she had no issue with Aia (Aius?) personally. It was still strange for her. Camp women were a regular part of life yet they were supposed to be kept outside the army encampment. 

To have one inside was baffling. 

"She knows some Greek and will teach you that. A woman should know how to speak and write in Greek," She said, there was a time when it was considered strange for a woman to speak Greek. Yet over time, the culture changed and a desire for a well-educated woman became the norm in Roman society. A woman with an education was able to educate her sons, before they reached their tutors and schooling to grow into powerful Romans. "Although, you still have your other tutors to assist you." 

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Caecina listened, interested slightly in this strange woman who would be teaching. How had she become an interprex, and how had her father noticed her enough to entrust the education of her children with her? She would have to get to know her enough to question her about it. She wondered, too, if she would also get a chance to learn some of the barbarian languages, or at least hear her brother's lessons in addition to her Greek lessons. "Well, I'm sure that will be an interesting lesson. Greek is a lovely language." 

Caecina shifted in her seat. "So, how are my siblings? I have not seen them while I have been here." 

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"It is, and it is expected for you to know it." She answered. There was a time when it was strange for a woman to know Greek and now? It was expected for any noblewoman born to be educated in this manner. Juliana did not think that Caecina needed the education in this area. Although it could benefit her to learn of different dialects or versions of the language. Why on earth did her father put her in this position? It still made no sense. Already she was thinking of all the different ways to chide her husband in her letter. 

"Good, and you should see them," She reminded her. An older sibling had a duty to the younger ones. Admittedly, she did not see her younger siblings as often as she would have liked. Juliana still wrote to them to ensure that they were okay, and to help them if they required it. "Little Quintus often asks about you. Always," She smiled, "and your little sisters miss you, too." 

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