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Titus was a stoic man. He had not cried, not once - since the first moments when it became clear that the bleeding was sucking the life from his poor wife, until the moment Caesennia's ashes were gathered up, to be placed in a funerary urn and buried beside the marker he had commissioned. He had not cried, but he had grieved, and he grieved still. It had been a week to the day since his twin sons had come into the world, hale and healthy, bawling lustily and hungry for life, while their mother fell deeper and deeper into a lassitude that would never raise. As he held first one and then the other, his eyes had glanced only briefly at their red, wrinkled, squalling faces, and then returned to fix on his lovely wife, her beauty drained and fading, as the physicians and mid-wives tried in vain to staunch the hemorrhage brought on by the birthing process. There was as much blood as he had ever seen, flowing from dying men on the battlefield. He had known almost right away that she was leaving them, that fate was taking her from him, and their children. Little Attia had not even a chance to say good bye, Titus choosing to keep his young daughter from the sight of all that gore, as the others worked to try to save her. All in vain. She had exchanged her own life to bring two others into the world. That was the lot of women, and the men who had participated in the beginning of their end, by creating life, could only watch and mourn.

 

Titus sat in the atrium, a cup of wine held idly in his hand, unconsumed. He had eaten very little in the past seven days. He had kept busy with making what arrangements were needed. Now Caesennia was truly gone from the house, except for the new tablet in the small alcove dedicated to his ancestors. Tia, his daughter, was off somewhere with her nurse, still uncomprehending and almost inconsolable for missing her dear mother. His sons were in the care of a nurse and a wet nurse, a slave hastily purchased for having a baby at her breast and seeming ample milk to spare for two more mouths. He would rouse himself, soon. It was not within him to sit and despair. He had loved his wife dearly. She had been a treasure. But he was not given much to outward displays of feeling.

When the slave came to announce that his cousin had appeared, Titus lifted his head and nodded, saying to bring Octavius there, to the atrium, and giving order for more wine and another cup to be brought. He set his own, untouched, on the small table beside him, leaning forward, eyes fixed on the spot where his cousin would soon step through under the covered porch. It was a sad time indeed. But he welcomed Octavius' company. He had news to share beyond what was already known - news he'd not had the chance to relay to his cousin, although he suspected Quintus would have already filled his younger brother in on the appointment which had occurred literally the day before Caesennia had gone into labor.

@Gothic

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He had felt the pain his cousin was in before. It had been months past when he was serving in Dacia with Honorius Caesar in what felt like a lifetime ago. Three lines on a piece of parchment had been enough to hurt him. Julia and the child had both died during childbirth. Then war and battle had been enough to distract him from his problems and allowed him time to focus on something else. Octavius had received word that the two sons had both survived, even prospered and that was good tidings. His garb was still the darker colours of mourning, and out of respect for his cousin's spouse and his cousin. He wore the beard of mourning to share his grief and entered the home. Octavius had not spent a lot of time in the company of Caesennia, and now there was no way to spend more time. He was concerned for his cousin. There were many who would fall at least, temporarily into darkness after there had been a passing of a loved one, and he was determined to ensure that his cousin did not. 

Octavius was admitted into the home and led into the atrium without fuss or issue. He gave Titus a concerned look before he pulled him towards him, wrapped his arm around him and pulled him into a warm and affectionate hug. There was no need to be cold as marble, a trait desired by the Roman elite when it came to leadership and governance over the population. "I'm sorry, Titus.... I'm so sorry," He murmured in his cousin's ear. Octavius stopped and drew backwards to look back at Titus' face. He was pale, dark rings under his eyes and looked exhausted. 

"Eat something, cousin. You need to keep up your strength for the children," He encouraged. Attia and the twin boys. Each of them were a blessing that Titus had received from his late wife. Octavius knew of the elevation of Titus' status within the Honos Curum, as expected and now he would need to deal with the gangs of Rome. He wanted to congratulate his cousin but it would not be appropriate to do so. At least, not yet. 

@Gil

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That hug...lingered, longer than a more normal, every day, commonplace greeting type hug. Titus was not given to much in the way of outward displays of emotion. But for a moment, he clung to Octavius, his older cousin, a man who was like a brother to him, really. Their bond was one of family, but it ran deeper than just that, much deeper. Men who serve together, fight together, face death together, form ties that tether soul to soul. He clung to Octavius, his fingers briefly twisting in the dark fabric of his tunic. It was not over long. But it was telling, and as he pulled back out of that embrace, the lines on his face deepened. He nodded, in acknowledgment of Octavius' words - words that never could say enough - but Titus had been there himself. Offering condolences where pain was deep and palpable always seemed so inadequate. But words, and the comfort or presence, was all one could offer.

He knew too that Octavius himself had once, years ago, gone through what he must now endure, and he knew, Octavius really understood, and was sincere in his sentiments.

"Yes, you are right," he replied, as he gestured for Octavius to sit. "Life remains. Precious life. That must be the focus now." His words were not empty. His children were the reason for moving on, moving forward, trying not to dwell on the past. Like so many in his family, he had lost so much, a decade before. All a man could do was to keep his eyes turned towards the future, and do what he could to make sure his children, and grandchildren, and their children, would have what they needed to carry the hopes and dreams of their ancestors forward into time.

He took his seat again and smiled wearily. "Twin sons. I have indeed been blessed." It didn't quite feel that way, but he supposed he should be feeling that way. Perhaps in time, when the pain of loss eased (if it ever did) he would find more joy in his boys.

"Titus Flavius Alexander Minor and Lucius Flavius Alexander Caesennius." He had a bemused look on his face. "Another Titus for the family," he said with a tiny smirk. "I think I shall call him Flavius, otherwise we'll never know which Titus we're talking about."

@Gothic

 

 

Edited by Gil
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He did not release his cousin until Titus chose to pull away. Silent support and brotherly love. 

Fortunately, Titus was blessed with a pair of sons and Caesannia's passing was not in vain. Occasionally, he wondered what his first son would have been like if the Gods had not decreed that he enter the next life. Octavius sat along with his cousin, smiled at the mention of the blessing and doubted that Titus felt that way now. Later when his sons had started to grow, he would see it then and hoped to see that day. Octavius did not see Titus as the type to hold their mother's passing against the children. 

"The family is most blessed, and yes, another Titus to add to the mixture," He smiled cheekily. Octavius was surprised that another member of the family wasn't already referred to as Flavius. There was one thing to be said for their family. They were fertile. "Have any other members of the family come to see the latest additions yet?" Octavius asked, grinned cheekily and he expected for Titus' sister, Cordelia (and her brood) to show up. However, the rest of the family would likely send either messages of support and love or would visit in person. He had wanted to bring Valeria and his children, and would have, if Caesannia had of survived. 

They had been there for the funeral, and supported Titus. Times of death and pain were often torn. It was painful to watch someone you loved and cared for be in pain. The children would help. 

"How is little Titia?" He asked. Sometimes there were rivalries when another sibling came on the scene, and Octavius wondered how she was coping with the loss. 

@Gil

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