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Late March, 74 AD

It had been a few days since he bought that little slave from Britannia. He didn’t have a great experience with German slaves and he didn’t like those from Africa either, so Britannia seemed to be a good choice. And she was new, so he had the chance to make her the slave he wanted her to be. No one else had broken her yet, no one else had harmed her (or so he thought at least), so this was his chance to be a good slave owner, if only she’d behave. And he hoped she would. He had brought her home that first day and made sure she was tended to – cleaned up, dressed, showed around by some other slave. The day after, Tertius had to attend some meetings and do some actual work, so he didn’t have time to look after her. He was sure though, that the other house slaves would do that just fine.

Now she had slept here two nights and no one had complained about her, so it must be true that she was a quiet and obedient slave. Tertius had time to meet her properly today though, so he sat down in his tablinum and did some paperwork and had another slave go and fetch the new girl. He named her Charis. It was a Greek name for the good graces – goddesses of beauty, charm and kindness. He thought it would fit her well, as that it would also fit a slave quite well.

At last there was a knock and Tertius looked up from his desk, “Enter.” He said, hoping she knew enough Latin to at least understand that. From what he’d learned, she knew a little, but not a lot yet. He’d have to make sure she learned somehow – maybe Teutus could help her? First things first though, Tertius wanted to make sure she understood who was her Dominus and what he expected from her.

@Sara

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Charis was dreading this meeting. She had been living in fear of it. The life she was now supposed to lead was not altogether unpalatable; the work was just as hard as it was at home, although the people were far less friendly. But the idea that there was somebody...directing it all, in control of her made the new slave feel nauseous. She hadn't been able to get a good sense of him at the market, given how tired and weak she had felt after her journey, but now she would. 

She at least looked more presentable. Her skin, white and pale like most Briton's had been cleaned and her hair washed and combed. The clothes, equally, were new and she found them at least more suitable for this infernal heat, even if they weren't to her tastes. As she walked towards the room where she was told her Dominus was, she pulled at the fabric and brushed back loose pieces of hair from her face. Even if she didn't want to be here, even if anger and fury bubbled in her stomach (along with a fear she was deeply suppressing), she needed to make a good impression. How else would she be able to speak to him about what had happened, and the dreadful mistake that brought her here? 

As she knocked tentatively and heard him bid her in, she opened the door and stepped inside. She didn't know what to do, besides the fact that she knew she should call him DomineNot realising her place, she glanced around the room - she couldn't tell if this was one of the grand houses the slaver had spoken about it, but for a young woman who had grown up in the wild countryside of Britannia, it was a palace. Finally resting her eyes on the man that she recognised rom the market, she offered a forced smile and inclined her head down. 

"Domine" She spoke in accented Latin, hesitating before speaking again as she tried to find the words; "You asked to..." She struggled, "...See me?"

 

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Tertius definitely thought she looked presentable, when she finally entered the tablinum. Her hair was cleaner than what he saw at the market, her fair and pale skin too and her clothes were nice and there were no patches on them. They weren’t rags anymore. She cleaned up very nicely, in fact. It was almost a pity he didn’t take his female slaves to bed, but he couldn’t risk having another Teutus, could he? One illegitimate child was plenty. He knew others had them too, but for some reason, he just didn’t like the idea of a child of his born by a slave. So he just wouldn’t risk it. No matter how pretty the slavegirl was.

She glanced around the room at first, when she came in, as if she was curious and it was all new to her. And then she finally addressed him. Tertius stood and walked around his desk, to rest on the edge of it just in front of her.

“I did, yes. Charis. It suits you, the name.” He said with a small smile, looking her over. She was not very tall, definitely slender, but in a delicate way. Charis was really perfect for her. He didn’t know her by any other names and he didn’t care. That’s how it was like here.

“I’m Tertius Quinctilius Varus, and I am your master. You will only address me as Domine though.” He said, but then recalled she might not speak his language so well you, “Do you understand, Charis?”

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As Tertius moved around the desk, she unconsciously took a step back, widening the distance between them. She eyed him with distrust but not malice, as if intrigued. She had not been given a good look at him from the cage in the market - being told to keep her eyes averted (a painful task for somebody as naturally curious as Charis). Now, standing in front of him, she took in his measure and felt...intimidated. Her own diminutive size made him dwarf her, and he had a good few years on the young Briton age-wise as well. Awkwardly fiddling with the bracelet on her wrist to calm her nerves, she nonetheless met his gaze directly. 

"What does it mean? Charis?" Had she been born into slavery she might have been schooled not to be so direct or to not ask impudent questions. But not understanding, she spoke to him with curiosity. Although she was astute enough to keep her own negative feelings on the name to herself. 

Still, as he continued, she listened with concentration, and lowered her eyes. Master. She felt sick to her stomach. She had been a free woman, and now she was owned by a man with a name she couldn't even pronounce if she wished to. Whilst not catching every word he said, she understood the gist of his meaning and nodded, slowly. "Yes. I know." She meant to say she understood, and corrected herself after hesitation. "Yes. I...understand," She glanced up at him curiously, not sure if she should continue but added, "Domine." For good measure. 

Still awkwardly spinning the bracelet her husband had given her on her left wrist, unsure of what to do or say she glanced at him. Better to ask now, she mused, than keep in suspense. "What...will I do...here?" The cook had barely given her a glance before leaving her alone in the kitchen, and Teutus had been kind but she supposed it would be up to the man standing before her now to fill her in on the details. She offered a brief smile, "I...don't know what to do...Domine."

 

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He noticed how she took a step back when he moved closer to her – was she afraid of him? Well it was better than her not being afraid, because then she might be defiant and he didn’t want that. He did also however want a loyal slave and a respectful slave, but she was entirely new to this, that much was obvious. It was up to Tertius how she’d behave as a slave. She fiddled with a bracelet on her wrist, but then she also looked up at him when he mentioned how her name would suit her well. Well she was new. And she'd learn to lower her eyes soon enough.

“Charis is Greek. Charis are goddesses of charm, kindness and beauty.” He explained to her. She certainly was keen on the eyes. Whether she also had kindness and charm, time would tell, but he thought she did appear to be such a person. Now she also lowered her eyes, when he told her his name and how she was supposed to speak to him. She nodded and said she understood and then used the correct term to address him.

“Good.” He simply replied, sensing she had more to say and he let her talk. She wondered what she was supposed to do here, apparently she didn’t know. She didn’t know? The other slaves hadn’t informed her? Not even Teutus? The slave she was replacing came from the kitchens and that would be her main area also, but… if she didn’t know… he inhaled a breath, thinking he’d need to have a good talk with the other kitchen slave. And maybe Teutus. His son was usually good at taking care of the new slaves. It was a mistake to not take good care of the new girl and Tertius disliked such things.

“You will cook and clean. Mainly cook. Do you know how to cook? The slaver told me you knew these things.” Tertius said, hoping she understood at least some of it. It seemed she did know some Latin, at least. More than he expected, to be honest… “I’m sorry the other slaves haven’t taken good care of you. I’ll make sure they do, from now on. I want you to appreciate being here.” An unhappy slave wasn’t a good slave. And he wanted her to be good.

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Glancing at him, she shrugged her shoulders lightly, but with a slight smile - as if this was all some elaborate joke. "I know Briton cooking." Truth be told, even in her homeland she had let her younger sister do the lion share. Her husband had once remarked that if it weren't for her beauty, she'd be far better suited as a man given her talents in organisation and trade rather than cooking and homemaking. "Roman cooking...?" She shrugged her shoulders again and raised her hands, as if gesturing she didn't know, gauging his reaction. But to ensure she didn't come across completely inept she continued; "But...I learn...quick. And want to do...well." She didn't know whether she had to add in Domine at the end of every sentence, and so didn't. 

But she raised her hand as if to interject and stop him speaking. Shaking her head as she gleaned his meaning, she said forcefully; "No...no they have been good...they have...looked after me." That wasn't strictly true. The elder cook had all but ignored and abandoned her, but Teutus had been exceptionally helpful, and kind. His revelation, however, did make this interaction with her master, his father, far more awkward. Nonetheless, she didn't wish to land them in trouble, not within her first week. 

She didn't, however, understand the last word. Appreciate? Frowning, and keeping her eyes on his face, she repeated it hesitantly; "App-reciate?" Did it mean that he wanted her to be happy here? Thankful? The suggestion was almost laughable, if that is what it meant. Shaking her head, she sighed lightly, and pulled back a wisp of brunette hair behind her ear. "I...don't know what to do...because I have never been slave." She watched his reaction, but she would play this interaction very safe, very respectfully (or so she thought). "The slaves here...have been good...helpful but...I was free woman...I don't know rules." Cooking and cleaning she could pick up. The rules now governing her life and every moment? She didn't have a clue. 

 

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It was a pretty smile she had, however small it was. She said she knew Briton cooking, but not Roman. Really? He’d have to go back to that slaver, get some of his coin back. It wasn’t her fault he’d been lied to, although it was annoying. He nodded at her words, “I’m sure you will. You’ll learn.” He said. The only kind of cooking Tertius had ever done, was ages ago when he was serving up in Northern Gaul close to Germania. Soldiers did their own cooking, often, and he knew how to do that, but it was ages ago and in Rome, he never cooked. He didn’t know how it worked. And since he was a Senator, not even his sister or his late wife knew how. They had people for that; slaves.

Charis said the other slaves had been good though and looked after her, but Tertius would make sure anyway. He would have a chat with them and find out. He didn’t want her to cover for them if they didn’t do their work properly. Tertius had said also that he wanted her to appreciate being here. He knew she was a new slave and he didn’t know if many slaves liked what they did (well Hector did, but he was… Hector), but at least she could learn to tolerate and appreciate her new position somehow. She didn’t seem to know what he meant, she even frowned and she kept looking at her face. Then she said she didn’t’ know what to do and didn’t know the rules.

Tertius stepped closer to her again, “You’ll learn the rules. I’ll teach you.” Tertius explained, looking at her. He kind of liked her petite shape… so delicate and such a contrast to his own. But it wasn’t about that, right now.

He honestly didn’t care much about her having been free; she was a slave now and she’d have to accept that. If she didn’t, she’d turn defiant and defiant and disobedient slaves weren’t treated as kindly as those who were loyal and obedient. Oh he’d prefer if she turned loyal and obedient! It would be a pity to have to harm her, but that was sometimes the only way to make the cheeky slaves understand.

“First thing you need to know… don’t meet your master’s eyes unless he wants you to.” He said, maybe a little bit more firmly than his other words, but she needed to learn this, “And you must follow orders. No matter what they are.” Tertius said. Slaves belonged to their masters and their masters owned them completely. If they failed to follow orders, they were not good slaves, “And if you are very good… and you want to be good, don’t you? Well, you must learn to guess what is needed, before I tell you. I hope you will learn that.”

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This time Charis held her ground as he took another step closer to her, gritting her jaw, as if she wanted to move but was willing herself to stay. There were no doubt a thousand rules she should know, but based on what Teutus had said and inferred, infractions were not severely punished if they were honest mistakes. Which was a relief. She was struggling enough to pick up the language, let alone the thousand rules that she now had to abide in her new position.

Charis blinked at him as he said she should avert her gaze. It felt unnatural to her, to look down. It felt like weakness. Still, this was the beginning of something and if she was ever to gain his trust - which was seemingly necessary to move up or on in this new, strange place, she needed to appear to be respectful at least. With some obvious hesitation, she finally lowered her eyes to the floor, her nails working themselves into her palm in frustration, enough to leave marks on her skin. Patience, Erea. You have to keep calm. 

Keeping her eyes still on the ground, she moved one hand back to spin the bracelet on her wrist, a nervous habit. She frowned to herself. "What if...other slave tells me...order...that you would not...like." She meant to ask how high she was in the pecking order; whether she was able to give opinions or not, and whether she had to listen to the other slaves as well as him, but it came out wrong. 

Without thinking, as he continued to speak, she raised her gaze to glance at him, a little amused, as if what he had said was a joke to her. Guess what he wanted? She barely knew him! Remembering herself, she dropped her eyes to the floor again and nodded with a sigh. "Yes Domine. I hope I learn that." Honestly though, what hope did she have? But given she was new, and given she had been told he was a good master, she decided to risk it and ask what might have been considered an impudent question. But she hoped, given her complete lack of experience as a slave, it would be taken as naivety rather than rudeness; "I...have never been here, Rome. Will I...look it?" She shook her head, "See it?" She doubted she'd have an abundance of free time, but if she had to spend all day every day in a kitchen preparing food, she feared she'd go mad. Despite not being a place she wanted to call home, Rome looked enticing and intoxicating and if she was to be here for the foreseeable future, she wanted to experience it.

 

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This time she didn’t move when he approached her, which was interesting. She didn’t want to show that she feared him? Or was it defiance? It better not be. Just because she was new as a slave, didn’t meant she couldn’t already learn how to submit. She did it well though, looking down and there was of course a reason why. If she thought it felt like weakness, it’s because it was. A slave was inferior to the master and should act as if they were. Meeting someone’s eyes made you appear stronger and more superior.

When he told her to do as he told her to, she wondered what to do if another slave told her something he’d not like, “If you’re unsure, ask me, not them. You have other slaves that are above you here, but I am the master of this household. I have the final say in any matter.” Tertius explained, “So if you think I won’t like something, let me know. And I’ll tell you.” He informed her, before of course also letting her know she had to learn to guess his needs. But if she was already wondering what to do in case he wouldn’t like an order another slave told her… she was on the right path at least.

She looked up for a short moment though, but then said she hoped she’d learn. Good girl. Then she had a question – or rather, a request. She wanted to see Rome.

“If you follow orders and prove your loyalty, I’ll allow you to leave the domus. But be careful… Rome is a big city. Don’t run away. And don’t get lost.” He’d just hate losing her, because it would mean lost coin. He just bought her and losing her would mean he’d lost his money. If she ran away she might get caught and he’d most likely chose to brand her and sell her to somewhere else. And she’d be lower in rank than now, even, if she was branded a fugitive slave.

Her being curious about Rome made him wonder though… “Do you like Rome so far, from what you’ve seen?

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She did smile to herself as he suggested she'd be allowed out, but kept her eyes respectfully lowered. "Thank you, Domine." She said with genuine pleasure in her accented voice. The chance to get out was exhilarating although as he warned her about escape, she nodded dutifully. She had seen what had happened to the girls that had tried to run away on the road, and before she was put up for show chalk-footed at the slave market. She still heard their screams as they were branded.

"I will stay" She glanced up briefly to gauge his reaction, trying to joke; "Britannia is...far..I have nowhere to run." Maybe it was different for Roman-born slaves, but for a woman with her accent and fair skin, she'd stick out like a sore thumb if she tried to get away.

"I..." She hesitated when he asked her opinion of Rome, thinking about it. "I do not know." She said uneasily and moved to clasp her hands together in front of her waist, as if protecting herself. Reliving the journey was traumatic to say the least, as was her first impression of Rome. "Journey was long and...I am from small village, close by Petuar." Given the poor victory of the Romans there, the day she lost her father, she'd be surprised if he hadn't heard of it. "I like green...country, fields, nature..I never saw place like this until I was taken." She shrugged, "Rome...is very b-big and little bit...frightening." She didn't have a problem admitting that as a weakness. She'd be surprised if anybody wasn't scared of the business of Rome. 

But she offered a smile to him, glancing up briefly, "Because I like green and nature...I like your garden, it is...lovely...Domine." When Teutus had brought her into it she had felt a faint glimmer of happiness for the first time in weeks. "I would like to go to bigger garden in Rome. When you let me...when I am loyal." She forgot herself, and didn't look down, instead she kept his gaze.

 

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She smiled again, when he said she might be allowed to leave at some point. Although probably not the first few weeks, at least not on her own. She needed to learn the ways of this household and needed to think of this as her home. Now Charis promised to stay, as she had nowhere to run. Well that was probably true. Then he’d wondered what she thought of Rome, but she was unsure, clasped her hands together, spoke of her own village and what she liked and how Rome was not anything like that. Rome was frightening though? Well it was probably one of the biggest city in the entire world, at least as far as Tertius knew. Still though… frightening?

“I hope you’ll learn to admire Rome. It’s beautiful here too.” He replied to her and then she smiled and looked up, said she liked his garden and how she’d like to visit a bigger garden in Rome. Once she was loyal. And obedient. And about that…

“I hope you will be soon.” Tertius said and reached out, cupped her chin with his one hand, this time nearly forcing her to not look away, to meet his eyes, “But you need to learn your place here first. I’d hate having to punish you for disobedience. So please, Charis, do as I tell you. It will make everything easier for both you… and for me.” He let go of her chin, “What did I tell you just before, about looking up at me?”

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Charis noticeably flinched as he reached to touch her face, but willing herself still, let him and kept vivid blue eyes looking up at him. The threat, veiled, made her skin crawl and a blush of humiliation coloured her cheeks. It was not that men never raised hands against their wives or families at home, but this was different. Immin had never hit her, or even threatened it, and this man - standing in front of her now, was a man she did not know. The whole act was too familiar.

Blinking at him, out of wilfulness she kept her eyes on him for a moment. Just a moment. Before respectfully lowering her gaze to the floor, eyes searching the mosaic beneath her bare feet. 

Her voice sounded forced as she spoke. As if she was having to push each word through gritted teeth. "I am sorry, Domine." The flush still brightened her cheeks at the embarrassment of this spectacle. It could have been worse, however, she supposed. The slave-market, being gawked at like an animal was worse. And for those that had been forced to strip, even moreso. She had at least been able to keep her modesty intact there, but here and now it felt like she was being laid bare in another way. Shaking her head, she finally relinquished the grip on her husbands bracelet. "I thought...when talking I could look. I will be good, next time...I don't want to...hurt." She had been punished on the road. The sting of the lash across her shoulder blades felt like yesterday. She felt sick. This was to be her life now? Constantly looking at her feet? 

Deciding to try and get back on safer footing, and resisting the overwhelming temptation to look up as she asked a question, she spoke quietly. "Can I get you anything Domine. Wine?" She heard the Romans liked their drink, and she wanted him to think her useful, she wanted to be useful. If only to serve a higher purpose for herself. 

 

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When she flinched, Tertius’ hold just grew a little tighter. She had just been told to look away, but now he was forcing her to keep looking at him while he spoke. Sometimes this was a good way of proving a point and that’s what he was doing now. Making her listen and pay attention. She clearly didn’t like him touching her like this, so maybe she’d remember it now. Her pretty eyes looked up at him and when he let her go, she looked down and apologized and even blushed. Then explained why she’d done what she did.

“Only if I want you to. If I don’t meet your eyes, don’t meet mine.” Tertius explained to her, “I’m sure you will be better next time.” He thought she didn’t want to get hurt – who really wanted that, other than a stupid slave who refused to know their place? Oh he’d met a fair few of such too! But Charis was new and he was sure she wasn’t stupid. She would learn.

Then she changed the subject, wondering if she could get him anything. Oh look at that, she was already learning, see!

“Wine would be nice, actually.” Tertius replied and added, “You can go and fetch it. I’ll wait here.” Just so she knew she was dismissed for now and allowed to go and pick up the wine, then come back to him. He’d have to somehow tell her he didn’t want to hurt her. He didn’t want to punish her. But he would if he had to. So she could make her life here quite good, if only she was obedient and loyal and attentive. Tertius was kind to such slaves. He didn’t see himself as one of those mean slave owners. He was only fair.

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Charis nodded dutifully. “Yes Domine.” And quickly turned her back and strode from the room. Her hands were shaking as she walked, far more out of anger and humiliation than fear. Although the latter was still present too. He wanted her to nod and look away, play fetch and stay quiet. It occurred to her that he wanted a pet rather than a person, and she groaned loudly, slumping against a wall in the slave quarters as she finally crossed the curtain. 

Wine. Where was she supposed to get wine? Glancing around, and relieved to still see the other kitchen slave still in the culina, she moved in. “Wine. Dominus want wine.” She said tersely. The older woman glanced up at her with a glare, hesitating for a moment, before gesturing wordlessly to a pitcher on the side. 

Responding in kind by not speaking, she snatched it up. Still, she took her time as she walked back to him, wanting to delay the inevitable as long as was reasonable. When she did make it back, she knocked quietly and slipped inside, eyes to the floor. “Wine, Domine. W-would you want me to...” She tried to find the word, “Pour?”

She resisted the temptation to look up. “Can do anything else, Domine?”

 

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How good that she all by herself asked if he wanted wine. Once she had gone to fetch it, Tertius sat down by his desk again to wait. He didn’t really think about the time it took, but finally she reappeared with a jar of wine in her hands. Good girl. Tertius looked up at his pretty new little slave, who stood there, looking at the floor and wondered if he wanted her to pour the wine. There was luckily a cup on his desk and he pushed it towards her, “I’d like that, yes.” Tertius replied, looking up at her and then she wondered if she could do anything else.

All he wanted today was really just to meet her properly and have a talk with her. Find out what she was like and if she could learn to be a good slave – and he was sure she could, now.

“I don’t think so, unless you have any further questions for me. Is there anything you’re uncertain about? Regarding… the household or your boundaries or anything else?” Tertius then asked her, leaning back in his seat, watching her intently.  

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She moved swiftly to his desk but paused before she poured the wine. Her hands were still trembling out of anger and shame. Swallowing her pride, she moved one hand to steady the cup and the other poured, managing to avoid spilling any, she let out a pent up breath. Pushing the cup back to him and setting the pitcher of wine down, she inclined her head and took a step back - widening the distance between them.

She wanted to get out of the room as quickly as she could manage. Whilst the day before had lifted her spirits slightly, Teutus being helpful, if a little cold, this interaction had most definitely brought her back to earth. She didn’t know what she had been anticipating, maybe that he was not like the others she’d heard about, but he was. Whilst not unkind, he still evidently enjoyed the power he held, and she felt a renewed wave of humiliation wash over her. 

Shaking her head, she said slowly. “No...Domine...I am sure others will teach me.” But a thought occurred to her, something Teutus had mentioned. Keeping her eyes on the mosaic floor before her, she considered her words carefully. “One thing...Domine...” Careful, Erea, it might be a sensitive subject... “You have daughter? Teutus said?” She stole a very fleeting glance up at him before returning her gaze to the floor, and her fingers to her husbands bracelet. “If you need woman...to help her...care for her...I good, I had...have little sister. If it please you Domine...” What did she want out of this? To watch after a child? Have that risk on her shoulders? She didn’t quite know, and doubted he’d be willing but the idea was certainly more palatable than being stuck in the kitchens all day...

 

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It was true that Tertius did enjoy the power he held over his slaves – he had always enjoyed being in control of things and maybe that was one reason why he had, at least at first, disliked having a son with a slave. He hadn’t been able to control that part, with her getting pregnant. It wasn’t part of the plan. It was a mistake and it was only after that, that he learned how he could control such things. He could simply stop sleeping with his female slaves. And he’d done that. Not that it wasn’t ever tempting, but he’d been able to stop himself.

Quietly Charis poured the wine and he had wondered if she had any other questions for him. She shook her head first, said the others would teach her. Tertius nodded, but she didn’t move away. Instead she stayed, kept her head bent and said there was one thing. Tertius didn’t reply; meaning she was free to continue talking.

“I have a daughter, yes. Antonia Varia.” He replied and she looked down again. Again she touched that bracelet around her wrist and he gave it a glance for once; this had not been given to her by this house, had it? It had to be her own. Something to remind her of the past she would need to forget about. She continued talking, saying she could take care of his daughter.

“You want to be Antonia’s slave?” He wondered. Well she would turn 10 years old this year. Perhaps it was about time she had her own slave to tend to her… “I’ll consider your offer, but first I wish to see how you function in my house. Antonia is very precious to me. So… maybe… if you please me.” Tertius added, using her own words from just before. If she pleased him, she might be granted such a task.

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"N-not always...not always her slave...but I can help..." She corrected herself. Teutus had briefly explained the role of a body slave and the thought of being in that proximity to the little girl made her nervous. "In women things...when she older, Domine." She spoke carefully, and hoped the bluff of 'women's matters' was enough to make him understand. She remembered the difficulties with her younger sister when she was on the cusp of womanhood, and just hoped- even as she loathed her newfound position - that the young Antonia Varia had the support Ardra had from Erea...or Charis as she was now. 

She wasn't, however, surprised at his reaction. She supposed she should be grateful and forced a smile on her face as her eyes remained lowered. "Thank you...Domine...I will please you." She felt sick, "I hope." She didn't even know what the punishment would be if she didn't. She had heard rumours of whipping, of flagellation and of women being forced into bed against their wills. There had also been passing mention on the road of something called crucifixion for the most severe offences but she had yet to glean what exactly it entailed. 

She didn't know what to do. She was tempted to ask for permission to leave - but where would that land her? Alone back in the kitchens to prepare a meal with no clue how to do it? No. As much as she felt uncomfortable in his presence, she at least felt safe here. Or safe, given the circumstances. The feel of his fingers on her face still felt as they were burnt into her skin. Thinking on it, she asked, perhaps a touch too bold; "Will I see you a much Domine?" Teutus had mentioned he had served at meals, but she was not so sure she would be given the task. She wanted to at least glean, before she left, whether he could be avoided in the future. "If I stay in culina...I will not see you?" She tried to show him a smile, but she was not sure whether it looked forced. At least that was one benefit of being shut away in the recesses of the house, she supposed, that she wouldn't be prey to him or his friends. 

 

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Charis seemed very interested in helping out with Antonia and when she mentioned how she’d help her with ‘women things’, Tertius nodded. That was a good point right there! Antonia didn’t have a mother and Tertius had not married a new wife. There were no adult women who could take good care of her in such matters and Tertius certainly couldn’t! So Charis made a very good point, “I will definitely consider it.” He said with a smile to her and had also explained that Charis might get such a job, if she pleased him. And she hoped she would.

“I am certain you’ll do your best to not disappoint me.” He replied to her and she remained standing there, apparently she still had more questions. She wondered if she’d see him much or if she would stay in the kitchen. The way she asked though, was a little off to him somehow.

“You will mostly help out in the kitchens and maybe with cleaning. If you like the garden, that might be another good use for you, to tend to that.” He didn’t have a slave just for the gardens, he didn’t have that many, so they had different chores and some had more than one. Placing Charis both in the kitchen and in the garden might be a good plan. If she liked the garden, she might be good at it. Back to the other thing he thought about though…

“I hope you will not try and avoid me. I’m not an… unkind master. If you obey and carry out your duties well, this is not the worst house to be in. I may even reward you, if you're good.” She could have ended up in a brothel or ludus or at his brothers house. Secundus still wasn’t sane and he was much more violent and lost his temper much more easily than Tertius. He recalled the day he’d stopped Secundus from beating their sister for some minor mistake. Charis should be glad she was in his house.

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Teutus had just entered the atrium from the slave quarters, having discharged his errand. He could hear voices, one male (his father's) and one female (Charis'?).

It could not, overall, be a good conversation; his father was not the easiest of masters to serve, and Charis was new - new to the household, new to Rome, new to slavery itself!

He knocked on the door to alert his master to his presence, and waited, eyes down, to be acknowledged.

@Atrice

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Charis actually smiled a little, genuinely, at the thought she could work in the garden. She had cultivated her own herb garden back at home, in Britannia, and despite the inclement weather it had thrived. "That will be kind Domine...I would enjoy that, garden work." It would also give her an opportunity to enjoy the grander side of the house. The slave quarters, whilst serviceable, were oppressive compared to the grandeur of his quarters. To be outside, enjoying the fresh air and beauty of the gardens would be a welcome relief, even if she was dreading the heat. 

Oh she so desperately wanted to look up! She was finding this 'staring at the ground, like a kicked dog' routine painful but she willed herself to do it. There was no point inciting his anger by crossing him again, despite how unnatural it felt. "I...will not avoid Domine," That was a lie, she'd try her best to steer clear of him as much as was possible. The idea of a reward intrigued her, however. What constituted as a reward to a Roman master? A few more coins? Or a few more freedoms? She suspected it would be pitiful, but couldn't help but ask, intrigued, "Reward?" Gods, she really was like a dog. Looking for any scraps to make this life more palatable. 

Still, before she could say more, a light knock interrupted her and she glanced over her shoulder to find Teutus stood a little way off. Her demeanour completely changed at the sight of him, in a worryingly visible display. Her posture became a little straighter, but her shoulders relaxed and a genuine smile - much wider and more relaxed - stretched across her face. Whilst in another life, given their evidently different personalities, they might never have been friends, here and now Charis valued his company - or at least found it preferable to that of his father. Forgetting herself, or not understanding it wasn't her place, she spoke to him, smile still on her face; "Teutus!" She spoke with her head turned away to Tertius, still glancing at his slave son, "Teutus been very helpful Domine."

 

TAG: @Atrice & @Sharpie

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Tertius felt he did what he could to let her know, that if she obeyed orders and worked well and pleased him, he would not be unkind to her and life here could be good. He would only punish disobedient and defiant slaves, but Charis did not appear to be such a slave and he hoped she wouldn’t become one. It would be good living here, if she would submit. And she said she thought it was kind of him, if he would let her work in the gardens. Tertius nodded, glad that she seemed to like the idea.

But there had been a note to the way she spoke just before, when she wondered how much she’d see him… and he hoped she would not avoid him. He wanted her to respect him and maybe fear him a little, but not so much she would avoid him. She promised she’d not avoid him and then wondered how he might reward her for being good.

“Reward, yes. It could be a day off or some extra coin or something else you might enjoy.” Tertius explained to her and just then there was a light knock nearby and he looked up to see Teutus standing there.  

Charis noticed him too. She noticed him very much. Tertius noticed the change in her posture, her whole expression, body and face, and then she exclaimed Teutus’ name and said he’d been helpful. Tertius arched a brow. Helpful, hm… she seemed very fond of Teutus. Not that he wanted her to not like Teutus, but he would prefer that she did not prefer his son over himself. Tertius was the master here, after all. Teutus wasn’t, he wouldn’t even be master of the house when he was freed. Not until Tertius was gone. He inhaled a breath, feeling a little bit annoyed. What was Teutus doing here anyway, interrupting them?

“I’m sure he has.” Tertius replied and looked at his son, “What is it, Teutus?”

@Sharpie @Sara

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Tertius had sounded awfully abrupt with him, and Teutus could only hope that it wasn't because he'd interrupted whatever had been going on - though the way that Charis had said his name, and brightened when he'd knocked didn't bode well, particularly. Tertius didn't like it when anyone seemed to be favoured over himself, at least within the household.

"Please forgive the interruption, Domine, but you wanted me to bring you these as soon as I got back," Teutus said, and stepped into the tablinum to set down the burden he was carrying - some fresh rolls of paper for his father's business dealings, and some other stationery. "And the change, Domine," he added, laying that down on the desk too, before stepping back, hands folded and eyes down, just like any other slave in Rome would do.

Well, nearly any other slave in Rome. Was he going to have to have another conversation with Charis, just to tell her how slaves were expected to behave? Surely they had slaves in Britannia, she must have some idea, at least.

@Sara @Atrice

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Charis frowned, both at the tone of her master, and the brusqueness of the son. Had she done something wrong? By addressing him? Or was this tension something else entirely? She supposed that any man that would keep their son enslaved was a complex one, and she doubted she'd understand the intricacies of this relationship any time soon. 

As Teutus entered and set down his wares, Charis kept her eyes on the floor. This meeting had not gone particularly well, but then again, it hadn't gone spectacularly badly either from what she could tell. But what she could tell, was very little - the man that now owned her was proving almost impossible to read. Better to ere on the side of caution, Erea. He seemed irritated, and she didn't want to give him any more cause to. Instead of looking at Teutus as he moved to stand next to her, she followed suit by folding her hands and keeping her eyes on the floor. She imagined what the Gods must have seen if hey looked down; two little people standing like idiots, looking at their feet. How ridiculous. 

In an effort to lighten the tension, as Tertius hadn't seemed to be completely opposed to her speaking in their conversation so far, she offered in a lighter voice; "Teutus has shown me domus...and Latin words for rooms so...I can help better." She clenched and unclenched her fingers in their folded position, feeling awkward and stuck for words. She did not want  to get drawn into the middle of something between them. She was wholly ill-equipped. 

 

TAG: @Atrice & @Sharpie

Sorry she's a bit quiet/not very active, she's sort of trying to stay out of the way of father-son relations...

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It was good at least that Teutus knew his father and knew what he liked and disliked. It wasn’t like Tertius was very good at hiding his emotions either, at least not to someone who knew him so well and had known him as their master their whole life. Teutus entered the tablinum and delivered some paper rolls and more he’d been sent out to get. Tertius had almost forgotten and he gave Teutus a small smile when the other also set down the change.

“Very good, you’re right. I forgot about all of that, but it is good then that you didn’t.” He added as Teutus stepped back and acted properly. He hoped Charis made mental notes of how he acted, so she’d know how she ought to act. Certainly not like she just did! Now she was acting as she ought to though, but then she suddenly spoke up, explaining how Teutus had shown her the domus and helped her learn a bit of Latin.

“That is good.” Tertius said, “I’m sure you will learn it all in no time.” He said and glanced at his son, “What do you think of her so far, Teutus?”

@Sara @Sharpie

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