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In Dreams


Sara
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Early May, 74AD

"Please Taranis, give me strength." Charis breathed, arms outstretched, palms up to the dark night sky. Beneath her lay an assortment of items; crusts of bread, an earthenware cup of wine, two flowers plucked from the gardens around her and a glinting coin. "Senuna give me guidance...this is all I can offer you, but I need your strength."

Charis had not slept well since she had arrived in this household, a little over a month ago. Whether it was the chatter or noise of the other slaves who shared the room, or the heat or unfamiliarity she didn't know. But being awake well into the night whilst the rest of the domus slept at least gave her an opportunity. She had always preferred her worship outside, grounded in nature and the courtyard garden in her new home was all she had access to. So, for the second time this week she had crawled from her straw pallet silently, gathered her votives and crept through the dimly lit house to the garden for some much needed peace and guidance. 

She didn't have any particular asks of her Gods, not tonight. When she had first arrived she had asked for a sign of her family, a sign that they were alive or well, but nothing had come. Now, some six weeks later she knew better than to ask. The Gods were knowing, but perhaps she wasn't ready to hear of her family's fate? Perhaps the time wasn't right? Tonight all she wanted was comfort. The weeks had worn on, and despite brief moments of relief - through Cynane and Teutus, largely, she already felt like she was forgetting herself and her past life. That was what drove her to the garden. She needed reminding of her own strength and life, before the constant 'yes, Domine' wore her down to oblivion. 

Palms still outstretched to the sky and eyes closed, she breathed in the fresh scents of the flowers and felt relief. "I want to be strong for you now, but I need your help. Please. Give me your strength." She said with renewed vigour, in her own language. 

A sound tore her from her prayers and she quickly snapped open her eyes, glancing over her shoulder in the darkness. She was not dressed for company, her waist length hair (as she had worn it in Britannia) was loose about her shoulders, and her tunica unbelted. Nor was she in the mood for company. Expecting to see Rhoda or one of the other slave's faces peer through the darkness, she snapped (in rapidly improving Latin); "Who there?" She gritted her jaw, irritated, "I want to be alone."

 

TAG: @Atrice

Taranis was a Celtic God of war, and Senuna is often associated with strategy and wisdom. 

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It was late at night and for some reason, Tertius couldn’t sleep tonight. Was it a full moon? Although that more often affected women than men, but sometimes it would shine so brightly that he couldn’t sleep. By his side lay Hector, handsome and warm and Tertius brushed some curls away from the young slave’s forehead. Well he could sleep, it seemed, but Tertius lay there a little while, staring at the window nearby. When he’d turned a few times, trying to fall asleep again, he gave up and decided to sneak to the kitchens and find something to eat or drink.

He put on a light tunica and walked on his bare feet through the quiet domus. Everyone were sleeping, even Antonia, even Teutus, it seemed. The light was faint, but he passed the garden and heard someone talking there. Who else was up at this hour and out there alone? He looked from the darkness in the peristyle to the garden and saw his newest slave there. She spoke a language he didn’t know, had her arms stretched to the sky and it almost sounded like a chant. She was quite beautiful, standing there with her long hair loose and also just wearing a simple tunica.   

Tertius took a step closer – he was curious - and that apparently made a sound, because now she stopped, took her arms down and looked over her shoulder. She wondered who was there and even seemed irritated. Tertius stepped out into the light where she could see him. He was also quite simply dressed; much more simply than the Dominus she was used to seeing around, wearing fine colors and a toga.

“It is only me.” Tertius said and looked her over, “What are you doing out here, in the middle of the night?”

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Charis' eyes widened as she saw who stepped into the light. Gods, of all the people you could send me...him, really? She internally cursed. They evidently hadn't enjoyed her prayers and were mocking her. Almost immediately, she dropped to her knees and hurriedly cleared away her offerings into the small sack she had carried them in. "I am sorry, Domine." She wasn't really, she needed to pray. But better act humble.

Having swept up her wares and holding the beaker of wine, she stood. Her eyes lowered but to his chest - not the floor - as Teutus had instructed her. "I...was...praying to Gods, Domine." She gestured with her spare hand up to the sky, as if willing them to appear for her now. 

How much of an explanation did he want? Hesitating before she spoke again, she nonetheless continued in her accented Latin which had, at least, improved since she was first brought here. "I always prayed out in nature at home, Britannia. I...could not sleep and want to talk to Gods, see if they hear me." Surely he couldn't begrudge a woman her faith? The Romans were God-fearing, she understood, just like her people. 

Standing awkwardly, she cast a cautious glance at him. He didn't look as he had those weeks ago in their first, and only proper conversation. Dressed simply, much like her, she wondered if he saw the irony - that they were really all the same, underneath the grandeur and pomp. Tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear, she kept her eyes lowered but nonetheless smiled, "Can I get something for Domine?" What she really wanted to know, of course, is what he was doing out here. Was the moon keeping him awake? Or was he spying? But deciding against asking for now, she only shrugged her shoulders. "Or can leave you, if you want?"

 

TAG: @Atrice

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It was obvious what she was doing, but he would give her a chance to explain herself. She seemed surprised to see him though, her eyes widened and for a moment she forgot herself, but then he watched her drop to her knees and quickly gather whatever items she brought with her. She apologized and then she stood, with a beaker of wine in her hand and explained that she had been praying to her gods. But with items and wine and… out here? They had the shrine for that. But before he could comment, she said how she’d always prayed out in nature, in Britannia. Well that was more or less all they had, wasn’t it? Poor houses and plenty of nature. If it was anything like Germania – he’d never actually been in Britannia.

“I see.” Tertius said. He felt he ought to comment, he wanted to know more about this and what did she pray for, to her gods? But he’d have to choose her words and Charis then wondered if she could get him anything or if he would prefer if she left.

“Don’t leave. Since we’re both awake and here, we might as well be it together.” Tertius said, “I was actually going to the kitchens, see if there was anything to eat. You have wine already, in your hand… so you can bring that. And help me find something.” Tertius added and waited for her to come. He did know the kitchens, it just wasn’t a place he came to so often. So it might be good to have Charis there, hopefully she had figured out where everything was now.

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Relieved he didn't seem angered by her actions, she was surprised he wanted her to stay. If a little irritated that she couldn't continue with her prayers. She'd have to wait for him to go back to sleep and then she'd be free to resume the conversation with her Gods. If they were listening, which judging by this situation, they weren't. 

Glancing down at the beaker of wine in her hand, she blinked. It was supposed to be an offering, to Senuna, but if he wished to drink it, who was she to stop him? Nodding, "Of course, Domine." She moved and slipped past him, back into the house. She was relieved he had not spotted the coin, which she had taken from another slave's trinket box. To be returned of course, she wasn't a thief - not really. Just one long enough to appease her Gods. 

Moving silently, she padded on bare feet to the kitchen. Whilst never a great cook, she had at least improved a little under Rhoda's instruction in the kitchen. The older Greek slave even seemed to like her a little more. Glancing over her shoulder at him as they walked, but not meeting his eyes as instructed, curiosity got the better of her and she asked softly; "You not sleep, Domine?" She meant to ask, why he couldn't sleep, but she was tired and her lessons with Teutus on grammar were the last thing she remembered at this time of night. 

As they moved into the kitchens she moved to pour the wine from her beaker into a finer glass cup for him, and set it down on the side. Glancing around, she eyed the ingredients they had. They were due for a delivery tomorrow, and the kitchen was a little sparse. Fingers moving over the surfaces, and lingering for the briefest of seconds on a knife before she realised how it must have looked, she snapped her hands behind her back. "What..." She concentrated on her words, wanting to get them right, "Would you like, Domine?"

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Sure she probably didn’t intend for the wine in her hand to be for Tertius – but this was his household and he was quite sure she didn’t pay for the wine. It was technically his. So she’d be a fool if she wouldn’t serve it to him – but Charis was no fool, that was obvious, for she said the right words and then she slipped past him into the house. Tertius followed her, feeling it would be strange to stand around in the garden all alone. Their feet seemed silent in the night, as they walked through the dimly lit house.

Charis wondered of course why he didn’t sleep, “I woke and couldn’t fall asleep again. Sometimes eating a little helps.” Tertius said. Well he knew why she was not sleeping, although she’d need her sleep if she wanted to do proper work tomorrow. She wasn’t Hector, who was often allowed to sleep in, because he was only there to serve Tertius at all hours, so he wouldn’t have to get up and be ready until Tertius thought it was time.

Soon they entered the small kitchen area of the house and he waited in the door, to see her find a finer cup for him and she filled it. She seemed unsure of what to do next and it was lucky for her he couldn’t quite see what she was doing. And then she returned to him, hands on her back, wondering what he’d like. Well what wouldn’t he like at this hour? She certainly was easy on the eyes and although Hector satisfied him very well, he was no woman… but no, Tertius wouldn’t do it. Even though he thought he easily could, with her.  

“Some bread and olive oil would be fine.” Tertius then said. Hector was sleeping, so he wouldn’t bring whatever he got to eat back with him. Perhaps he should go back to the garden and sit, but he would want Charis to accompany him. And he would learn more about why in the name of Hades she’d want to pray to her gods at this hour. And what she prayed for…

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Charis glanced at him, standing like a shadowy figure in the doorway. It made her uncomfortable, but she was determined not to show it. Then again, this man generally made her uncomfortable - but something about being alone in the dark only amplified it. Shaking such thoughts from her head, she nodded dutifully and moved to cut fresh pieces of bread from a loaf, hoping that it was a fresh one. She tried to avoid looking at him as she did so. 

When she was finished, she retrieved a small jug of olive oil and decanted some on a trencher for him. Awkwardly wishing she could have some herself, as she hadn't been hungry enough at her own evening meal, she set it on the side with the cup of wine. Tentatively, she unwound a long strip of fabric from her wrist, which she had been using since her arrival to tie up her hair into a long braid or messily attempted style on her head. She had never been one for fashions, but the heat of the day here made it impossible to work with her hair loose around her shoulders. She spoke to him confidently, as she moved to fasten up her hair, as for some reason she didn't enjoy him seeing her like this. "Would want me to bring it to cubiculum, Domine?" 

She didn't risk a glance at him, but surely if he wanted it brought back to his bed and his lover, he could have asked her when she was in the garden, rather than going through this awkward charade? She'd not had any real interactions with his body slave, Hector, but she presumed he could have also fetched it for him, if that was what he wanted. Still attempting to fasten her hair up, she stood awkwardly, awaiting instruction. Just like a dog, Erea. Gods. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

 

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Not that he could make out much of what she did, here in the dark, but she knew her way around by now and that was a good thing. It was rare he interacted with her, because of her place in the kitchen, but she had been here a few weeks now and he enjoyed having her so far. She didn’t seem to cause trouble or be defiant, she had in fact acted just like he had wanted her to. It was almost too easy and he hoped she wouldn’t lash out at some point. Sometimes slaves did that; they worked so hard to be good, but if there was just the tiniest spark… it could be lit…

He pushed that thought out of his head for now though, since Charis had actually been good and hopefully she’d stay that way. Now she seemed finished with finding everything for him and then she stopped to move her loose hair up into a style, so it wouldn’t just hang down her back and over her shoulders. It fit her though, to look like that. It made her look very sweet… almost virtuous…

She wondered if she should bring the food to the cubiculum, but he shook his head, “No, Hector is sleeping… I’ll have it in the garden, where we met. Then we won’t have to turn on any lights.” The moon was definitely bright enough tonight. Tertius turned to walk back towards the garden and the marble bench placed in a corner here. Quietly he waited for Charis to join him with food and drink and once she was there, he tilted his head, looking at her, “Sit down with me.”

@Sara

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Finished with her hair, she frowned at him, and mumbled before she could stop herself, "Lucky Hector." Before she realised what she had said and swallowed, hoping he hadn't heard. It seemed so unfair, that Hector could be a slave like her but so free to sleep in a bed (a bed!), and come and go as he pleased. Whilst she was stuck here, in this room, cooking food she detested and burnt half the time. 

As he left for the gardens, she followed dutifully, but kept a wary distance. Gods he was a nightmare to read, she mused. He seemed so calm and collected, quite unlike any man she'd spent time with before. Her family, her husband, most of her settlement wore their hearts and emotions on their sleeve - much like her, and to meet somebody that was able to mask them so well, was peculiar. She didn't like it. 

As they moved into the garden, she smiled genuinely and sighed, breathing in the floral scents. Even in the dark, she felt better being out here. But as he bid her sit, she glanced up to his face, confused. Did she hear him right? Snapping her eyes back away almost immediately, she set down the plate and cup on the marble bench next to him. Not wanting to raise his ire, but feeling deeply uncomfortable, she took a seat. It was a relief that the food was between them. She always hated awkward silence, and quickly picked up the cup, holding it to him. "Wine, Domine?"

Brushing a strand of hair away from her face which had escaped the band of linen she had tied it with, she tried conversation. If he wanted her to sit here quietly, then he must have wanted her to speak, right? "It is beautiful night, Domine, the heat better at night." That's all you want to say, Erea? Gods above... "Would...would you like me be quiet?" She winced. Why wouldn't he just send her away? 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Tertius arched a brow at her words, he heard what she said about Hector. So she thought Hector was lucky? Well maybe he was, but he also worked very hard to please Tertius in all of his waking hours. He would do anything Tertius told him to, and he was so good at guessing what Tertius wanted. If all slaves were like Hector, it would all be so easy. He was sweet and beautiful to look at and so satisfying to be around. He never spoke out of turn but he also knew when he could talk. And he would only look at Tertius if he knew Tertius wanted it. So of course he could sleep when he was tired, he deserved it!

He said nothing for the moment though, but walked to the gardens and heard Charis follow him. Once there, he sat down and she placed the bread, the oil and a cup on the marble bench. She took a seat when he asked her to and wondered if he wanted wine, “Yes. I told you already, didn’t I?” He said, now that he’d thought about Hector it was easy to get annoyed when she didn’t just go ahead and give it to him, but had to ask. They didn’t bring the cup or the jar of wine here just for fun, did they? He took the cup and drank a sip, while she brushed a strand of hair away from her pretty face and then commented on the beauty of the night. And then she winced, wondering if she should be quiet. Gods, really?

“You don’t like the heat here in Rome? I know it can be… too much sometimes. It’s not so bad yet though.” But the high summer was coming and then it would be really warm. Tertius had his mind elsewhere though and he eyed her, “So you think Hector is lucky? And if he's lucky, what do you think he does to be so, Charis?”

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"I not used to it, is all Domine...Britannia can be very cold." She remembered lying under a mountain of furs and blankets, teeth chattering as snow felt outside. Did it even snow in Rome? Gods she hoped so, else she'd have to add another thing to the mental list of things she'd miss from home. It was already getting enormous. 

She was glad they were outside, where there was scenery to distract her because as he spoke again, she wanted to be anywhere else but that bench in that moment. "I..." she hesitated, wincing. "I did not mean it badly." She countered a little flustered, trying to gather her nerves which had been shot over the last month and a bit. Gods, what had happened to the confident young woman she was in Britannia. Pausing, and trying to collect her thoughts and her backbone, she continued - although her nails curled and dug into the marble of the bench. "He look after you, Domine." She arched a brow. She'd heard what they did. The walls, even in a house as grand as this, were thin enough for her to hear. 

"He knows what you want," And as if to prove a point, she raised the plate with bread and oil on for him. If he wanted to play games, so be it. She continued, through a gritted jaw - irritation replacing fear at this little charade. "And he please you at night." She paused for a heartbeat, "Domine." She still sounded respectful, but there was an edge in her voice. She might be down but she was not out, and wouldn't be browbeaten by words. Lashes and slaps, maybe, but if he wanted to make her afraid he would not do it via conversation. 

"I only meant I think he lucky," She smirked a little, "To have Dominus like you." Gods she hoped he didn't sense the sarcasm in her accented words, because she regretted the words as soon as she said them. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He recalled Northern Gaul and Germania could be cold too, but she would have to get used to the weather here in Rome. Tertius didn’t plan on leaving anytime soon. Maybe they’d go to the countryside when it got warmer, but he hadn’t planned it yet. And the weather didn’t matter so much to him right now. Not with how she spoke about Hector and Tertius had to ask into that. She said she didn’t mean it badly. She didn’t? She didn’t wish it was her in that bed, sleeping comfortably, while she sat here, serving him in the middle of the night?

Then she answered his second question and it turned out she didn’t know what Hector did, so that he could be lucky. She said he looked after Tertius, knew what he wanted and pleased him at night. She even raised the plate with bread and oil, as if to prove she also knew what Tertius wanted, but it wasn’t the same as when Hector did it. You didn’t have to ask him to guess what Tertius wanted. He just… did it. Then she added with a smirk that Hector was lucky to have Tertius. Was that what she thought already? Tertius thought there was an edge to her voice and the way she said the words…

“He is lucky because of what you just said. You say he is lucky to have me… but maybe I am lucky to have him?” Tertius then said, arching a brow and picking up a piece of bread, “I am lucky to have a slave who looks after me so well. He’s still the best purchase I made. Maybe you could learn from him, Charis. Maybe you’ll one day be lucky too.” He said, kept watching her intently to see her reaction. Not that he meant he’d want to bed her and have her sleep in his bed – he didn’t plan on replacing Hector – but it was more the fact that she ought to want to live up to his expectations of her.

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You're lucky to have any of us, you fool. She wanted to snap, but bit down hard on her tongue to stop herself. She hadn't spoken a great deal to Hector, but from what she had seen he had seemed sweet enough, if a little imperious. As if he had been born into this role and thrived in it. Still, she couldn't help but recoil at his suggestion she could be lucky. She had no idea what he was insinuating, but if it was anything like what she assumed, she was horrified.  "Lucky how?" She asked uncertainly, hopeful it was not what she was imagining. Then again, if he wanted that, to bed her, he could well of taken her by now. He dwarfed her diminutive frame and from what she'd seen on the road, and heard from other slaves, most masters didn't have the restraint he seemed to be exercising. 

But she had to stifle a yawn as they continued to sit there. And she briefly fluttered her eyes shut before pulling them open again, feeling tiredness seep in. The only thing she was maybe jealous of was a bed. A proper bed. Her pallet in the slave quarters was thin enough to feel the ground beneath it, and the hushed whispers of other slaves kept her awake long past what was sensible. She missed her richly stuffed pallet and furs from home. Another two things to add to her list. 

Still holding the plate for him, she glanced at him - but respectfully kept her gaze from his face. She was still, irritated, however, and couldn't keep it from her voice. "It is hard to please Domine in when I am in kitchens all day...I do not see you." She replied firmly. "I can..." Come on Erea, get it out, "Please you...other ways, instead." She'd asked in that first meeting, if she could be moved from her post but he'd done nothing to see to it. Cautiously and without prompting, she stood and placed the plate down next to him. Instead, she moved to run her fingers over the flowers blooming. "I can make better, pick flowers for Domine and Antonia Varia, plant more, grow herbs." She glanced across at him again, "Easier to please you when outside, than...stuck in kitchens, hmm?"

 

TAG: @Atrice

 

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Charis wondered how she might be lucky and Tertius arched a brow. If she thought Hector was lucky, was that the kind of lucky she’d be? To be treated with luxurious moments in Tertius’ bed and without having so many duties other than him… “You said before you wanted to be rewarded. Is that what you long for? To be spoiled.” Although you shouldn’t spoil a slave and especially not one who asked for it! The thing was, Hector never asked and never said he wanted anything. And that’s why Tertius wanted to spoil him, almost as a pet. He deserved it.

He tasted the bread and dipped it into the oil to enhance the flavor. Charis looked at him, although she did not meet his eyes. Then she said how hard it was to please him when she didn’t see him. And then she spoke of other ways to please him. She set down the plate, stood, ran her fingers over the flowers and she spoke of how she could make the garden better. Tertius watched her move about in the moonlight, touching the flowers so gently that you almost wished to be underneath that touch… then she looked at him again, said she could please him better here.

So she wanted to please him. And right now it almost felt as if she was teasing him, trying to tempt him. She certainly was alluring, in her own and delicate way… “You did mention you’d like such work before.” Tertius said, his eyes still following her and he brought the goblet of wine to his lips. Was he tempted by this new slavegirl, really? It had been long since he had a woman, of course… “Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to see you out here. If you so long to please me.” He paused, “Come over here again, Charis.”

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I long to go home, you fool, she thought to herself, but she couldn't say that. Instead she just shrugged her shoulders lightly. "Just...treated kind, you do not need...spoil me." She kew what Hector did to earn those spoils and the thought made her shudder. She was a married woman, and the man before her had bought her like cattle or a dog. She gave her affection or respect to men that offered affection and respect to her in return, not to somebody that would keep her as a pet. 

Still standing, she breathed deeply and glanced cautiously at her face, but finding him watching her she lowered her gaze back to the flowers. His look made her so...uncomfortable, and she only nodded when he asserted she liked to work in the gardens; "I do, Domine. I like gardens, I like outside." Not slaving over meals and foods she couldn't even pronounce. 

The way he spoke made her breathing heavier, and she dropped her fingers from the flowers. Instead, she folded her arms over herself protectively. She had not meant to please him like that but she realised, with growing horror, how it must have looked. She wanted to impress him, get his trust, but only to serve her own interests. But she had never meant...this. As he asked for her to return to him, she hesitated. She considered that she'd honestly rather be anywhere else than here right now. Without looking at him, she spoke calmly, trying to be assertive; "I should go back to bed, Domine." Her nails dug into the skin of her arms as she kept her protective stance.

Hesitantly, she took a couple of paces forward until she was stood in front of him. She needed him to like her, but...the right amount. "It late and if you wish me in garden tomorrow," She shook her head. She needed to assume, to make it sound as if it was a done deal as he'd agreed to it; "Now I be in the garden all the time, I need sleep." She was wide awake, and sleep was the last thing on her mind, but she hoped he didn't see that. 

 

TAG: @Atrice

 

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She said she didn’t need to be spoiled, she just wanted to be treated kindly. Well didn’t everyone want that? And he hadn’t been mean to her at all, had he? There had been no reason to treat her unkindly so far, although he still held a slight grudge towards her for thinking Hector was lucky because he could sleep in Tertius bed and Tertius didn’t want to wake him. But he was slowly forgetting about that, now that she stood and moved about in the garden, while she mentioned how good she would be here… and how she could please him better here than in the kitchens.

She admitted again how she liked the gardens and liked being outside. Maybe he should let her work here, just for a little while, to see if she would stick to her word. If she promised him beautiful flowers and flavorful herbs, that’ what he would expect. And it would give him more of a chance to look at her and she was rather pleasing. But when he asked her to come back to him, she stopped and looked at him. She folded her arms around her in a protective manner. She said she should go back to bed.

“Should you?” He asked with an arched brow, but then she finally moved over in front of him. She had great excuses suddenly for going back to sleep, “Maybe you shouldn’t have been up in the first place. But now you are here. And I have not yet said you will work in the gardens from now on. I said maybe.” Tertius pointed out. He kind of wanted to see how badly she wanted to please him, so he would want to reward her. And he kind of also enjoyed, of course, to see her fear him like that. He enjoyed that no matter her thoughts, he still owned her and he had the control over her. Gods, he could ask her to please him right here and it would be his right to do so. But he wouldn’t, he just needed to see… how much she wanted to be a good a slave, “Get down on your knees, Charis.”

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She pressed her lips into a thin line, anger bubbling in her blood. He voice was clipped, irritated. "Yes Domine, of course...I hope you say I can." Of course she had to wait to be invited to work in the gardens. Of course she had to stay here because he asked it of her. She had no idea why every other slave, born into it or not, could stand the indignity. But then she supposed that they had to. She'd heard of what happened otherwise; branding, whippings, cruxifixction. She shut her eyes briefly to take a deep breath and steady her anger. Careful, Erea. 

But then he spoke again, and she audibly choked in horror. An overwhelming part of her wanted to slap him, but she managed to restrain herself. What she couldn't restrain, however, was the blurted out "No..." that rang out loud and clear across the silent garden. Shit shit shit shit. 

In panic, she glanced up at his face and as usual, couldn't read what he wanted. Snapping her gaze away, she glanced quickly around the garden to see if there was any way out of this that didn't involve what she imagined, was his pleasure. Seeing nobody else to intervene, she turned her gaze back to him but respectfully kept her eyes on his chest and no higher. "I..." She started, but didn't know what else to say.

But then her eyes found the flowers behind him, and she felt the cool breeze against her bare neck and she sighed. This life, as she was currently living it, wasn't sustainable. She knew she'd go mad, she couldn't bare the monotony of life in the kitchens - separated from her family, her friends, her interests and passions. She needed...something, some small way to make it better - and she supposed it was within her reach. If she did this, would it prove her loyalty? Would it afford her a modicum more of respect, and allow her to spend her hours planting and pruning rather than cooking and cleaning? Swallowing, she made her decision. With grace she was surprised she had, she slowly moved to her knees. 

Inside her head, she hoped that her husband would forgive her. "I...I'm sorry, Domine. I...am new to this." What else could she say? 

 

TAG: @Atrice

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He’d pointed out to her that he had not yet promised she could work in the gardens – so far it was just a maybe and he had to see how badly she wanted it. What she would do for him, to get what she wanted. How determined was she? How submissive was she, to him? She hoped he’d say she could work in the gardens and then Tertius asked her to kneel. He heard her choke, was it that surprising to her? She first then said no and Tertius inhaled a breath. She would not do what he told her to do? Even if it meant she might gain what she wanted; a job in the gardens rather than the kitchens.

“No…?” Tertius said. As alluring as she was just before, as much did she annoyed him right now. So she wasn’t willing to submit that much. There was still fight left in her, apparently. He’d have to find a way to make her want to submit. But she wasn’t doing that now, she’d looked to his face, as if she was confused. He just told her what he wanted her to do! What could possibly confuse her about that part? She seemed to almost begin to stutter and Tertius considered putting up a wooden post in the garden and she could be chained to that, then he’d see how badly she wanted to be here. That might teach her to behave.

But the she did it. She found some inner control and she moved to her knees in front of him. She apologized, made an excuse about being new, “When I tell you to do something, Charis, you do it. You do not question my orders. Why would I want to reward a disobedient slave?” Tertius said, his words firm. He might also just be in his simple tunica he slept in, but she was his slave and she had better just do as told! Yet she did it, after a pause that was too long.

“With that said, it’s good you came to your senses.” Tertius said, trying to calm himself. He reached out a hand with a few fingers he brushed her cheek, caressed her almost gently, as if she was a pet, “I just want you to be a good slave, Charis. As I said before… that will make life easier for both of us. Now…” He paused, “Tell me again why I should let you work here, in the garden?”

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Charis shut her eyes, breathing hard through her nose to steady her nerves at his diatribe. She shook her head. "You would not want to," She agreed, hoping to placate him. "I do not want to be disobedient, I..." She stopped herself from saying anything else, besides "I am sorry, Domine." She did not want to look weak, or pitiful, and explaining her upset at being forced to do his whims against her will was hardly going to make her appear strong. It would undoubtedly just irritate him. And so she stayed quiet, wincing at the pain from the stone beneath her knees. 

She had learnt, since their first meeting some six weeks ago and this time she didn't flinch as he touched her face, nor did she look at him. When she did open her eyes, she kept them on the ground. Nonetheless, she felt sick inside. 

Trying to feign long-lost confidence, she inhaled a breath and spoke slowly - her Latin having improved considerably, but still nowhere near perfect. She had to concentrate on every word. "Because I want to please you." Gods save me, this is humiliating, "Because I have skill, and can plant and pick beautiful flower and herbs for healing and food." Her forte had always been on the medicinal, but she was confident she could expand her work.

Fingers curling into her palms, she shrugged her shoulders lightly; "And you can...look at me, here, in garden." She wasn't looking at him to see his reaction, but hoped it had the desired effect. In truth, she felt caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, the thought of him...looking at her, doing anything with her made her feel ill. But on the other, she knew that maybe it was the only chance she stood of getting reward, money, help in securing her freedom. She was nonetheless clear though, all she wanted to do was get him to like her and nothing more. The other slaves had said he hadn't taken a woman since his wife died, and before that hadn't bedded a female slave since Teutus' mother. That gave her hope. If she could just...suggest a temptation, perhaps, without having to follow through - that might be the best of both worlds. In that vein, she offered a fake, half-smile. "Does Domine like to look at me?"

 

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He saw her close her eyes at his touch. Was this still so… foreign to her? Although she of course understood he’d not reward disobedient slaves and then she apologized again. So she knew. She just had to learn and remember and not disobey him again. You didn’t say no to your master, no matter what he told you to do. What would be the point in having a slave if they didn’t follow your orders? But she behaved now, and that was good. He kept trailing her skin with his fingers, brushed the strand of hair away from her face again. She was very young and pretty, she really was. Her life before didn’t matter. But Tertius had chosen himself a very fine slave.

Tertius asked her again to tell him why she should be allowed to work here. Usually a slave did not get to decide where they’d work, so this was actually stretching it a bit for Tertius. She kept her eyes down and said she wished to please him and that she had skills with plants. And then she added that he could look at her in the garden. There it was again, she’d understood that it pleased him to look at her and that she could please him like that. There was a small smile as she wondered if he liked looking at her.

“I do. You’re a very lovely woman to look upon.” Tertius dared to compliment her now. She was behaving and doing as he wanted, so then he wouldn’t mind being kinder to her, “I think I’d like looking at you here, in the garden. If Rhoda needs help though, you go and help her. But else you can be here and tend to the garden…” He trailed off, pulled his hand back from her, “… and me, when I ask you to. Then we will see how eager you are to behave and maybe gain some of that luck you so desire.”

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Charis let out a breath as he remarked he enjoyed watching over, but he said it with kindness, rather than overt lechery at least. She knelt still as he continued to speak, eyes on the ants beneath her knees which were already sore from the stones beneath them. Relief washed over her as she realised it worked, and a small smile of genuine glee upturned the corners of her lips. Men were so predictable, and so long as he didn’t go father than looking at her, this arrangement would suit her perfectly. Not that she was concerned, he seemed far too occupied with Hector. All she needed to do know was shake was shaking the discomfort she felt as he studied her.

After a moment, she smiled; “Thank you, Domine. You very kind.” Although it did occur to her that Rhoda would be short staffed and likely still require her to help...so in essence she was only doubling her work. Still, at least she’d be with nature again. Maybe the Gods were smiling on her after all - providing her an easy man to control and opportunities out of the realms of most slaves. 

Still, she chose to ignore his later comment. Tending to him...was surely above her; that was for Hector. Perhaps he just meant by providing flowers and serving at meals? She was going to stay quiet but felt a stone dig into her leg as she adjusted her position on the floor and gasped. She felt the faintest trickle of blood run down her shin and winced visibly. Hesitantly, she spoke; “Can I get up, Domine? The rocks...hurt.” Gods this was humiliating, but at least it’s all the humiliation he wants from me.

 

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He knew he had to be careful. She had tried to tempt him and tease him and it had worked and he was now allowing her to work where she wanted to work; in the gardens. He had listened to her and because he did enjoy looking at her and because she was behaving right now, he gave in. Last time he gave into a slave and gave them more than he ought to, it got to his head. And he’d ended up selling that slave. Tertius didn’t want to fall in love with his slaves. Didn’t want to be so enchanted by them that the boundary between master and slave disappeared.

Maybe he was also getting a bit tired again, but he was definitely in a better mood now than just mere moments ago. She smiled at his words and thanked him. Said he was kind. Well he could be, if the circumstances were right.

“I’m glad you think so.” Tertius replied to her. She shifted where she sat before him and then she gasped and winced… and wanted to get up because the rocks hurt her. Good, he thought. That might be a reminder to her of his power over her. On the other hand, he didn’t want her to think of him as less kind because of it.

“Of course.” Tertius held a hand to her, to help her up, “Are you hurt?” He then asked. They ought to get back to bed, but if she was hurt, she ought to at least clean the wound.

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She glanced at his hand cautiously. She felt not unlike a little girl asking for her older brothers help, knowing there was a good chance he could well push her back down into the mud. Hesitantly, she took his hand gently and lifted herself up from the floor with a wince. “Thank you, Domine.” Even stood, her height and frame were dwarfed by him. 

“Just little cut.” She shrugged her shoulders and eyed the trickle of blood working its way down her shin. She tried to sound noncommittal, but it stung like a bitch. “I had worse on journey to Rome and when child.” She had a fine collection of faint scars from childhood scrapes and falling on her journey to Rome. Of course, the thin white line across her shoulder blades from the lash stood out most prominently. 

Brushing down her simple tunica, she tried to ignore the throbbing pain in her knees and instead leant to hold the cup of wine out for him, should he wish for another sip. “Gods answered my prayers,” She remarked absently as she stood in front of him. Offering a half smile she shrugged, “I ask them for guidance and then you appear.” 

 

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First he had ordered her to kneel before him, and now he offered help to get up. Of course that could be seen as confusing… or it could be seen as a master who had seen that his slave was indeed obedient and well-behaved, so now he would not mind lending her a hand. She took it after a moment of wonder and he felt her smaller hand in his. It was very delicate, compared to his own. Soft and warm. When she stood, she still wasn’t very tall, but he looked up her youthful face as she thanked him.

“You’re welcome.” He replied with a smile, but he’d also wondered just how hurt she was. Charis said it was just a little cut and she had worse before. But Tertius looked her over and saw that there was blood trickling down her shin and he frowned a little, “Maybe you had worse before. But you bleeding was not my intention.” Tertius said. She might not work so well if she had a cut and she was hurting. How could she get on her knees and do work in the garden, if she had a wound that ought to heal?

Charis went on with work though, picked up the cup of wine for him and offered it and then spoke of how the gods had answered her prayers, because she wanted guidance and Tertius came. He took the wine from her fingers, “You believe the gods made me wake this night and find you here?” He wondered. It sure was a strange coincidence. And if the gods willed it, that’s not something you should ignore, “That’s interesting.” Maybe a visit to a temple would be a good plan for the morning. He sipped the wine though and set it down again, “I think however, I am ready to go back to sleep. After we’ve made sure that your cut won’t turn bad.” A sick slave wasn't very useful. And if the gods had indeed willed this, then she had to be useful to him.

@Sara

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Charis had to hold herself still to stop from rolling her eyes. Was not his intention? What was his intention for getting her to kneel, if not to cause her humiliation or pain?  "It fine Domine, only hurts a little." It actually stung quite deeply, but it was nothing she couldn't weather, and it would heal with a compress and sleep. 

With a little shrug she spoke slowly, "I...ask them for guidance and strength." There was nothing incriminating about that, was there? "And who come out, in middle of night, not able to sleep but not sure why?" She offered a forced smile and a sigh, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear before moving to cals her hands together in front of her waist. "It was them...sending me you, Domine, for guidance." No, it was the Gods sending her her Domine as a test, as a mockery, surely? Charis was't sure what she'd done to deserve such wrath. Then again, they'd also offered her an opportunity, and a chance to use her wiles to better her situation - successfully. Their will and signs were above her mortal mind. 

Relieved that this interaction appeared nearly over, she smiled in solace. But glanced down at her leg, confused. "Domine you do not need to, I take care of cut." Please Gods, let him go back to sleep, let him leave me alone"You my master...you not need to look after me." She leaned forward again, to pick up the plate that was next to him. "That my job, to...tend to you." She said, using his own words, but had to shake off the feeling of nausea that washed over her at the words. 

But before she could say anything further, another sound caught her attention and she turned to look over her shoulder to see another figure standing a little way off in the peristyle. She squinted in the moonlight to make out their face before realising who it was and turned her attention back to Tertius, gesturing with her head to the shadowy figure behind her. "Hector, Domine..." Gods she hoped she didn't have to make an enemy out of the body-slave to make her own life more bearable, but judging by his suspicious glance at Tertius and herself, she was well on the way. 

 

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