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Tying up loose ends (Volusa)


Julia Valeria
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Shortly after Saturnalia, 73 AD

Following the death of her husband, Julia got a crash course in what was required to prepare a body for cremation. Alaric, had come to pay his respects to Canus and make sure she was taken care of. Julia had been grateful for his visit. Following his cremation and a suitable mourning period she felt she had one more thing to do. Following Canus’ involvement in the Clemens uprising and Quintus coming out of the ‘war’ as the victor, Canus had been forced into a period of servitude to the Imperial Family. His period of servitude came to an end when he was finally released due to poor health. Julia sat down at her desk and penned a very short letter informing Caesar that he had passed. She wasn’t looking for anything from him, simply felt that he should be made aware. Julia sealed the letter with her family seal then set it aside to take to the Imperial Palace.

 

A few days later Julia arrived at the Imperial Palace and handed the letter to Caesar’s secretary. She informed him it was for Caesar’s eyes only, but it was not urgent. After this was done, she decided to say a quick hello to Claudia if she was available prior to returning home. Julia headed through the Imperial Palace towards Claudia’s quarters.

@Sharpie

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There were times when Volusa herself was sent on an errand rather than her mistress sending one of the numerous other slaves in the place. Volusa was rather glad of those instances - not because she disliked her mistress, she didn't, but because she liked the chance to just be by herself for the few minutes it took to run those errands.

There was someone else in the corridor, heading her way, a woman who looked vaguely familiar, and she stopped. Was this a threat to her mistress? Even now, even here, that could not be ruled out, of course - Volusa had been only a child during the civil war and upheaval that had seen Quintus Caesar Augustus finally take the purple as Emperor, but there had been dark mutterings in the slave quarters that had made Volusa wary of people she didn't know.

But she did know this woman, though she hadn't seen her in... how long? She'd been the mistress' governess or something, when Volusa was still a skivvy, doing the jobs that slave children did.

She drew to one side to allow the other to pass, expecting to be ignored as slaves usually were.

 

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As Julia headed through the palace towards the Cubiculum Pueri where Claudia’s room still was, she was stopped by the occasional guard but she wasn’t held up. When she neared Claudia’s room she saw Claudia’s young body slave coming down the hallway towards her. She noted that Volusa drew to one side of the hallway to let her pass, but Julia figured it made sense to quickly check in with Volusa regarding whether Claudia was accepting company today.

“Salve Volusa, I hope you are well today. Is Claudia accepting visitors today? I had hoped to say hello to her before I headed back home.”

@Sharpie, @Gothic (if you want)

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And instead of just passing her as Volusa would expect any free person to do, Julia stopped to actually address her... by name. Volusa managed not to gape but bent her head politely, a slave in the presence of the free. "Salve, Domina. I am sorry that I don't know whether my mistress is seeing visitors today - but I'm sure she would see you, Domina."

After all, the older lady was hardly  a 'visitor' in the strict sense of the word. She had been part of the household until recently, and was still part of the familia, she pretty much had the freedom of the Imperial house, as far as Volusa knew.

"I am well, thank you, Domina. I hope that you are, also?"

There was something perhaps a little sad about the other woman - but then, there had always been something slightly sad to her, in Volusa' mind. She would never dare to say so, of course, and nor would she dare to confess that she thought the Lady Julia seemed more sad today, though it was an indefinable thing and she couldn't quite work out why she had that impression.

 

@Jenn @Gothic(if you want to join in!)

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Julia knew she was an oddity when it came to social rules & decorum- having once been forced to be in the same position as Volusa she knew what it was like to be looked down on for your position. Since being restored to her former station, she should have adopted the view that slaves were there to be ordered around and ignored unless you needed something but that was something that she hadn’t been able to wrap her head around. To her they were still people with names and feelings, and it didn’t hurt anyone to at least use a name. Julia was sure the young woman was surprised that she had used her name, but Volusa managed to hide her surprise. "Salve, Domina. I am sorry that I don't know whether my mistress is seeing visitors today - but I'm sure she would see you, Domina. I am well, thank you, Domina. I hope that you are, also?"

Julia gave a nod of her head in confirmation of what Volusa said. She hoped Claudia would see her- things had been a little tense after her marriage, but that was no longer an issue. That being said, Claudia still outranked her so if she did not wish to see Julia that was her decision. ”Thank you for answering my question. I will leave it up Claudia whether she would like a visit today.” When Volusa went on to say that she was well and hoped that Julia was also doing well, this is where Julia hoped she wasn’t wearing her heart on her sleeve. Generally she was pretty good at shielding her ‘emotions’ but it had certainly been a stressful period so wouldn’t have surprised her if she wasn’t hiding it as well. ”I am doing well…Do not let me keep you from whatever task you were doing.” Julia did not wish to get Volusa in trouble- the life of a servant was come and go at their owner’s will. 

@Sharpie @Gothic

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"I was returning to my mistress' rooms, Domina," Volusa replied. She had not been kept from her duties, at least.

It was unusual, extremely unusual, for any free person to be so considerate of a slave's duties and wellbeing, even to asking after their health. Volusa was well used to being as little regarded by the free as a table was, except when being ordered to 'Come here' or 'Go there' or 'Do this'. She looked at the older woman with interest, as much as she could from submissively lowered eyes, anyway.

She knew some of Julia's history, enough to know that she'd been a slave (well, served as a slave) for some years but it had been an unjust sentence, and now she was restored to her previous rank, her years of slavery erased, although perhaps not from her memory. Almost certainly not from her memory, in fact, judging by the way she had treated Volusa as a human being rather than an object, simply because she was owned by someone.

"I shall go and see if my mistress will see you - if you will wait a moment, please, Domina?"

It would only take a moment to make the enquiry, which turned out to be that yes, the mistress would, though she sent a lower-ranked slave to convey the message and invite Julia in.

 

@Gothic @Jenn (Sorry for the delay in posting!!)

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Claudia had been seated and was reading messages from her friends who had traveled to different parts of the Empire. Naturally, it would take time for any of the messages to reach her and that did not bother her. She imagined the vivid story of walking through the ruins of past powerful empires, long forgotten and the only thing that remained were the large structures. She sighed happily, closed her eyes and the descriptions by her friend were so detailed that she could picture walking along the pathway along the ruins. Away from her life at the palace and on an adventure. It was unlikely to ever happen. The flight during the Civil war was quite the adventure and one she never thought she would forget.... yet... slowly it happened. The memory of her paternal half-sister, Claudia Livia, had slowly begun to fade away. 

It was Isis, another of her slaves who opened the door and saw both Volusa and Julia Valeria there. She recognised them both and walked back into the room to inform Claudia that they were there. "Domina, Julia Valeria is here. Should I let her in?" Isis asked. 

Claudia was yanked from her dreamworld. 

She remembered the conversation that she had with Julia previously, the loss she felt and the anger at Canus. She would never forgive that man. Although overtime, slowly but surely, she had found her anger subside. Besides, Julia had been there for her during her childhood. 

"Yes, send her in." 

@Jenn @Sharpie

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"I was returning to my mistress' rooms, Domina," 

Good she was glad that she wasn’t keeping Volusa from her duties. Claudia was a good mistress but slaves still came and went at her orders, and she would never want someone to get in trouble because of her. Volusa offered to go in and see if Claudia was accepting visitors and Julia followed along a few steps behind her pausing only when she arrived at the threshold of the door. Isis, another of Claudia’s slaves recognized Julia and informed her that she had come to visit. Isis returned a moment later and said she could enter.

Julia took a breath to calm her nerves- she hoped this visit went better than the last time she had been there. As Julia was ‘tying up loose ends’ she hoped that her and Claudia could patch up their relationship. Although Claudia was far from needing someone as a governess anymore Julia had promised to remain a close ally and that had soured with her marriage. She entered the main part of the chamber and saw Claudia sitting nearby. Julia gave a cautious smile and a quick curtsy out of respect for Claudia’s elevated position. “Salve. I just wanted to pay you a quick visit as I had come to deliver a message to Caesar. I hope you are well.”

@Sharpie @Gothic

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Volusa stepped back. She was only a slave and had no right to involve herself in the conversation between free people, something which had been drummed into her ever since she was old enough to be allowed out of the slave quarters into the rest of the house. Which wasn't to say that she wouldn't speak up if told to, just that she would hold her tongue until then.

She stepped behind her mistress, ready to do or fetch anything her mistress wished, and allowed her focus to wander a little.

They did look similar, Mistress Claudia and the Lady Julia, although Volusa didn't think that they were related in any way. They had the same dark hair, though she thought that there was silver just beginning to make itself known in Julia's hair, where the mistress' was as dark as ever, a beautiful glossy colour far darker than Volusa's rather plain chestnut.

 

@Gothic @Jenn

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